Ecuador is four different worlds, straddling two different hemispheres, with one set of islands (re: the Galápagos Islands) that are unlike anywhere else you’ve been. Get closer to giant tortoises and seals than you ever thought possible, climb volcanoes, swim in some of the most picturesque places, and hike through the Amazon Rainforest. It’s Mother Nature meets Animal Planet meets secluded paradise. It’s the feeling you get when you clean your room, take a step back, and it seems like no one has ever lived there—that’s Ecuador and the Galápagos. Untouched. Unbelievable. Unparalleled to anywhere else in the world.
What are the top highlights?
- Explore jungles, mountains, beaches, and more
- Venture into Cotopaxi National Park and hike around the snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano
- Escape into the jungle of Baños with an adventure to Pailon del Diablo, aka “Devil’s Cauldron”
- Visit a cacao plantation and learn everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate
- Swim with many, many, many seals on San Cristobal Island
- Feel tiny as you hang with giant tortoises
- Snorkel the crystal-clear blue waters of Santa Cruz Island
Your trip includes
- Round-trip flights & airport transfers
- Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
- Private motorcoach
- 9 nights in hand-picked accommodations
- Welcome Mixer with appetizers & drinks
- Daily breakfast & three-course Farewell Dinner
You’ve selected an UltimatePlus departure. Nice choice! You’ll be staying at upgraded hotels throughout your trip. Each property is located in a safe and convenient area to ensure a comfortable stay, in rooms that are only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Actual accommodations will be made available to you 30 days before your trip.
Looking for our standard accommodations? Choose a departure date without the starburst icon, and you’ll stay at a combination of boutique hostels and hotels.
Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:
- Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
- Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
- Flights are booked with major airlines
- 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
- One checked bag included on most flights
- Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure
Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.
- Day 1: Fly to Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! You’re landing in Quito, the capital city and home to the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get ready to feel like you’re on top of the world—because you kinda are; Quito is 2,500 meters above sea level. Deep breaths everyone, you’re in for an adventure (and because the air is thinner).
- Meet a trip representative at the airport.
- Transfer to your accommodation in Quito via private coach.
- Receive the latest schedule and trip updates from your Tour Director.
- Greet your fellow travelers as they arrive.
- Day 2: Explore Quito
Quito’s a bit of modern-day meets traditional. As you get to know the area with a guided tour from a local guide, be sure to keep a look out for people wearing traditional Ecuadorian clothes, including ponchos, long dresses, and lots of jewelry. When you’re not enjoying the rather distinctive dress code, be sure to look up at one of the eight volcanoes that surround the city.
- Join your Tour Director on a brief tour of the city and get acquainted with your new favorite city.
- Fulfill your dream of standing in two places at once at Mitad del mundo, the line that divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (AKA the equator).
Free Time Suggestion
Plaza Foch: This is one of the busiest areas in Quito for party, fun, and entertainment. Whether you’re looking for a more chill-type bar or a dance club to get your groove on, in Plaza Foch, the choices are endless.
La Ronda: This cobblestone street, located in Quito’s Old Town, is home to dozens of stores, art galleries, and restaurants.
In the evening, it's time for your Welcome Mixer. Enjoy appetizers and drinks with your new friends and travelers. Afterwards, you’re free to take the party elsewhere!
- Day 3: Travel to Baños via Cotopaxi National Park
Today, you’ll descend from the Highlands of Quito to the town of Baños, known as the “gateway to the Amazon.” Nestled in a valley with waterfalls, hot springs, and green forests all around you, Baños is sure to hold your attention. Before Baños, though, enjoy an afternoon hike through Cotopaxi National Park and enjoy views of the mountain, park, and Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes!
- Continue your Ecuador journey south, to Baños
- Stop at Cotopaxi National Park, known for its snow-capped volcano, vast wildlife, and forested area
- Join your Tour Director for an orientation walk of Baños in the evening
- Day 4: Pailon del Diablo Waterfall and Hike Sendero de los Sauces
Don’t go chasing waterfalls, because we’ll bring you to them! This morning, embark on an adventure to the Pailon del Diablo - or “Devil’s Cauldron” - a waterfall on the Rio Pastaza which flows into the upper basin of the Amazon. After ooh-ing and aah-ing at the waterfall on your guided walk, continue the active day with an afternoon walk on the Sendero de los Sauces.
- Hike to the Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) waterfall and have your mind blown by the sheer power of water
- Opt to pay extra to access an out-of-this-world staircase carved into the cliffs of the waterfall
- Walk the Sendero de los Sauces, a trail with pristine views of Baños and the volcano Tungurahua
- Day 5: Travel to Quito & Visit Quito Historic Center
Travel back to Quito this morning for another day of exploring! With your Tour Director, explore Quito’s Historic Center and get your camera ready for snaps of the Old Town, Independence Square, San Francisco and La Compania Church and more.
- Join your Tour Director for a walking tour of Quito’s Historic Center
- Walk through the Old Town and Plaza de la Independencia, the central public square of Quito
- Stop outside the Catedral Metropolitana, San Francisco & La Compania Church, and the Loma El Panecillo (Virgin of El Panecillo), all significant monuments and sites representing Quito’s religions
- Day 6: Travel to Santa Cruz Island
As you head to Santa Cruz, the most populous of the islands, get ready for some of the best views of the Galápagos. When you think of the Galápagos Islands, you probably think of giant tortoises. But get ready for all kinds of animals in addition to giant tortoises, including tons of birds. Be sure to look up and spot the different kinds that you can’t find in the U.S.—but probably best to keep your mouth shut.
- Take a flight and then water taxi to Santa Cruz for your island adventure.
- Enjoy a guided tour of the highlands and its lush forest compared to the lowlands and beaches that are to come.
- Head underground into lava tunnels and explore the various passageways.
- Get ready to meet the self-proclaimed chillest animals ever—giant wild tortoises.
- Go on a quick hike to Las Grietas, where the earth has literally cracked open, and lucky people like you get to snorkel in between the two cliffs.
- Day 7: Travel to San Cristobal Island
Follow in Darwin’s footsteps (although he most likely didn’t travel by speedboat like you’ll be doing) to San Cristobal, the first island he explored back in 1835. With only 7,000 people living on this island, it’s one of the quieter ones, so feel like you’re on your own private paradise for two days.
- Take a speedboat ride to San Cristobal, the oldest island in the Galápagos.
- Join a local guide and head to Junco Lagoon, a freshwater lake where you’ll see birds on birds on birds.
- Visit the Galapagueras de Cerro, a tortoise reserve focused on helping increase the tortoise population.
- Day 8: Snorkeling + Free Time
Get ready for more animals, snorkeling, and hiking during another epic day on San Cristobal Island.
- Go on a quick hike in the morning for more breathtaking views of the island.
- Gaze at the fish swimming below you during your snorkeling adventure.
- Spend the afternoon exploring the island on your own.
Free Time Suggestions
Interpretation Center: Want to learn about the history and significance of the Galápagos? Enter the Interpretation Center. Near the center, there are also a number of nature trails that give you epic views of the surrounding area and coast.
Beach it: Head to one of our favorite beaches, Playa Mann, for fine white sand and calm turquoise waters. It’s a great beach, you know, if you’re into great beaches and relaxing without a care in the world.
- Day 9: Return to Quito + Farewell Dinner
You’re headed back to the mainland. Spend today exploring more of Quito. You still have so much to see, do, eat, drink, and every other type of verb imaginable. At night, enjoy a farewell dinner with the rest of your fellow travelers.
Free Time Suggestion
La Foresta: Explore this up-and-coming neighborhood with awesome street art and plenty of places for you to up your Instagram game.
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.
- Day 10: Otovalo Market, Peguche Waterfall, & Overnight Flight Home
Your time is almost over, but that doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. Make today count and head to the famous Otovalo Market, one of the largest indigenous markets in all of South America - be sure to pick up some last-minute souvenirs while you’re there! After an included lunch, visit the nearby Peguche Waterfall (weather permitting) for one last “ooh” and “aah” at Ecuador’s natural beauty before your overnight flight home.
- Shop in Otavalo, the handicraft capital of Ecuador, and a beautiful city of the Imbabura Province
- Pick up last-minute gifts and trinkets at the Otavalo Market, surrounded by the Imbabura, Cotocachi, and Mojanda Volcanoes
- Chase your last waterfall at Peguche Waterfall before your trip ends
- Head to the airport and board your overnight flight home.
- Day 11: Arrive home
Your next destination awaits—home. Arrive in the late morning or afternoon from your overnight flight.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5
Based on 22 authentic traveler reviews
AmazingAnonymous, traveled Aug 2021
Wonderful trip, great tour guide and amazing experiences. Perfect amount of free time verses activities. I love you go go go environment. I recommend taking this trip to get the full experience of Ecuador
High altitude = High expectationsTaylor Cusack, traveled Aug 2021
I’ve traveled with EF before but this was absolutely the best trip I’ve been on! So much to see and do and such diversity in the places you get to explore. The Ecuador and Galápagos Islands trip covers it all from urban terrain to mountains, rainforests and beaches. We got to see a lot of native wildlife and learned so much about the country’s culture. It is... See more
Incredible!Kori Ames, traveled Sep 2021
Ecuador is amazing. The food, the people, and the views are absolutely incredible. Baños and San Cristobal were my favorite places that we visited. I really hope I'll be able to make it back there some day.
Best One YetLogan Tachick, traveled Aug 2021
The best EF tour I’ve done yet! This was my 4th trip with the company and Chris was an outstanding director. Despite Covid killing the travel industry’s vibe, they really delivered a safe, fun, and memorable trip.