Where else can you straddle the equator, cruise from one volcanic island to the next, and snorkel with sea turtles? From rich indigenous culture to mind-boggling wildlife, this trip is an explorer’s paradise.
Standing in two hemispheres at once
Living your Planet Earth fantasy
Snorkeling with sea lions, sharks, and sea turtles
Hanging with flamingos and super-rare iguanas
Scoping out souvenirs at vibrant local markets
What you'll get
Round-trip flights & airport transfers (or book 'em yourself)
4 nights in handpicked accommodations
3 nights aboard a private, fully staffed ship
An expert Tour Director
5 guided tours
2 snorkeling excursions
- Day 1: Fly to Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! Quito is the second highest capital city in the world, soaring 9,000 feet above sea level. Deep breaths, because you’re in for an adventure (and because the air is thinner).
- Meet an EF representative and fellow travelers as they arrive at the airport.
- Transfer to your hotel to check in and check out your room.
- Day 2: Explore Quito + Welcome Dinner
Get to know Quito, a cultural melting pot with Andean Mountain views and the first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Process the fact that you’re smack dab in the middle of the world, then gawk skyward at Cotopaxi, a towering active volcano.
- Stroll through the historic Old Town and Plaza de la Independencia, the main public square, on a city tour with your Tour Director.
- Visit some of Quito’s beautiful churches and catch views from the Virgen del Panecillo.
- Plant your feet on either side of the equator at Mitad del Mundo.
- Enjoy a Welcome Dinner with fellow travelers at an authentic local spot.
- Day 3: Free day in Quito or optional Antisana Ecological Reserve excursion
Quito is calling. Wander the colorful streets, tuck into some street food, and have yourself a day. Feeling more adventurous? Take in the natural beauty of Ecuador and the Andes on an optional visit to Antisana Ecological Reserve.
Free time suggestions
The Teleférico: Take one of the highest cable cars in the world up the side of Pichincha Volcano for jaw-dropping views of Quito and the surrounding Andes Mountains.
Templo del Sol Pintor Ortega Maila: Learn about the native people of Ecuador at this museum built by indigenous painter and sculptor Ortega Mailia to preserve Andean culture.
Antisana Ecological Reserve excursion (extra cost)
Explore the flora and fauna of the Andes, then chow down at a traditional Ecuadorian ranch.
- Day 4: Fly to Santa Cruz Island + Galápagos cruise
Let’s Galápagooo! You’re embarking on a three-day cruise through the Galápagos Islands. Get your first glimpse of the archipelago’s stunning wildlife on a dinghy ride to the ship—and try not to giggle when your guide points out the blue-footed boobies.
- Hop on a plane to Santa Cruz Island and meet a naturalist guide at the airport.
- Climb into a dinghy, or a small boat, for the ride to the ship.
- Observe sharks, blue-footed boobies, and tropical fish as you glide through the turquoise waters.
- Board the ship and check out your floating abode, then enjoy an included lunch and dinner.
- Day 5: Genovesa Island + snorkeling in Darwin Bay
First, cannonball into the ocean. Second, cruise to Genovesa Island where tropical seabirds fly, fur seals bask, and the floor is lava (well, the ground is volcanic rock). After an included lunch, head to Darwin Bay for a Finding Nemo-level snorkel sesh.
- Grab your walking shoes for a tour of Genovesa Island and Great Darwin Bay.
- Visit El Barranco, or Prince Philip’s Steps, to see fur seals, iguanas, wedge-rumped storm petrels, and the rare red-footed booby.
- Snorkel with sea lions, rays, hammerheads sharks, and colorful reef fish in Great Darwin Bay.
- Relax on the ship over an included dinner with your group.
- Day 6: South Plaza Island + Sante Fe Island
Rise and shine, explorers! Today you’re in for a treat, and by treat, we mean super-rare lizards. Hike through South Plaza Island and marvel at the array of birds, cacti, and marine life. After an included lunch, snorkeling at Sante Fe Island awaits.
- Hike the cliffs of South Plaza Island, known for bonkers vegetation, a huge sea lion population, and the rare hybrid iguana.
- Spot some of Darwin’s famous finches among the island’s unique prickly pear cacti forest.
- Gape at Sante Fe Island’s giant cacti, nesting birds, and MORE sea lions before snorkeling in Barrington Bay.
- Feast on an included dinner with your fellow travelers and savor your last night on board the ship.
- Day 7: Bachas Beach + fly to Quito
Spend your last morning in the islands soaking up the sun at Bachas Beach, named for wrecked World War II barges that are still visible in the sand. In the afternoon, it’s back to the mainland.
- Disembark your ship-away-from-home at Santa Cruz Island.
- Stroll the powdery sand of Bachas Beach and check out the flamingo ponds for a glimpse of the iconic pink beauties.
- Board your afternoon flight back to Quito.
- Share some laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included Farewell Dinner with your group.
- Day 8: Otavalo Market + Peguche Waterfall
Your Ecuadorian dream is almost over. Shop for souvenirs at Otavalo Market, one of the largest indigenous markets in South America. After an included lunch, visit the Peguche Waterfall to admire a little more natural beauty before your flight home.
- Visit Otavalo, the handicraft center of Ecuador and a beautiful city in the Imbabura Province just outside Quito.
- Pick up last-minute gifts and handcrafted trinkets at Otavalo Market.
- “Ooh” and “aah” at the magical Peguche Waterfall before your trip ends.
- Head to the airport and board your overnight flight home.
- Day 9: Arrive home
Your next destination awaits—your casa. Arrive on your overnight flight in the late morning or early afternoon. Time to start planning another adventure!