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Stay in Quito and Cuenca and head to the Galápagos Islands to witness its incredible biodiversity on educational guided tours

The Galápagos Islands have long been considered one of the world's most incredible landscapes. Here you'll discover lush green highlands, idyllic bays, distinctive lava formations, beautiful white-sand beaches and, of course, exceptional wildlife everywhere you look.

Join us on a tour of the fascinating archipelago that inspired Charles Darwin's revolutionary theory of natural selection. These extraordinary islands are 600 miles from the coast of Ecuador, where your tour begins.

You'll have time to discover the highlights of Quito, one of the best-preserved colonial cities in The Americas, the Mindo Cloud Forest, El Cajas National Park and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca. You can also look forward to a visit to the Equator Line and the unique experience of standing in the Northern and Southern hemisphere at the same time.

After a week in Ecuador, it's time to head to the Galápagos Islands. Despite their tiny size, the islands have had a profound impact on the scientific world.

You'll have numerous opportunities to get up close with the unique wildlife of the islands, including iguanas, sea turtles, pelicans, finches, flamingos, sea lions, Galápagos penguins, white-tipped reef sharks, and rays.

A highlight is sure to be a tour of the famous Charles Darwin Research Station, where you'll be able to see the remains of 'Lonesome George', the last surviving Pinta Island tortoise, as well as pens where baby giant tortoises are being looked after.

Throughout your adventure you'll be staying at a range of excellent three to five star hotels, all perfectly located for your excursions.

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Price includes

  • Return flights and transfers from the UK to Quito
  • Checked luggage
  • 13 nights in three to five-star accommodation (such as Septimo Paraiso Lodge 3*, Hacienda La Andaluza 4*, Four Points by Sheraton - Cuenca 4* and similar)
  • 13 breakfasts, four lunches and three dinners
  • Guided tour of Quito
  • Visit the Equator line
  • Tour the Mindo cloud forest
  • Visit Pululahua, the largest inhabited volcano crater in the world
  • Tour of Cotopaxi National Park and visit a rose farm.
  • Visit to El Cajas National Park
  • Guided tour of Cuenca and visit a Panama hat factory
  • Explore La Loberia's white sand beach
  • Boat trip to Isla Lobos and visit to the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre.
  • Visit Santa Cruz Island and the El Chato highland reserve.
  • Boat tour of nearby Academy Bay
  • Expert Tour Manager throughout

Availability

From
Fri, Fri, Nov 1, 2024
To
Sun, Sun, Nov 30, 2025
Duration
16 days
Price per person
£5,299*

* From price is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room, subject to availability and based on 17 January 2025 departure date. Departures available from Nov 2024 - Nov 2025, please call for details. Price and itinerary correct at time of print but may be subject to change. Single supplement from £755. Deposit £500pp. Local charges such as tourist tax may apply. Offers are not valid in conjunction with any other offers or promotions. Travel insurance is not included and should be taken out at time of booking. Images used may not reflect your actual tour experience. This holiday may be sold through other selected brands. Tour is operated by and subject to the booking conditions of TS Travel Ltd and Riviera Tours Limited.

Call now to book 02039934304
Quote ref: RIVECUADORGALAPAGOS
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Itinerary

  1. Days
    1-2
    Arrive in Quito, Ecuador
    Quito, Ecuador

    Embark on your South American adventure, flying to Quito from the UK.

    Once you land in Quito, you'll get the chance to explore one of the largest, best-preserved colonial cities in The Americas. Just south of the equator at the foothills of the Pichincha volcano, Quito was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 and is considered the Cultural Capital of South America.

    Your tour of the city includes the leafy Independence square, overlooked by the Presidential Palace, cathedral and Archbishop's Palace. Just a short walk away is the baroque Jesuit church of Compania de Jesus, with its incredible gilded interior. Another of Quito's highlights is the church and convent of San Francisco, the largest religious complex on the continent.

  2. Day
    3
    Cross the Equator
    Mindo, Ecuador

    Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience today as you get the chance to stand on both the north and southern hemisphere at the same time. You'll head to the Equator line, where you'll learn about its interesting history and the physics of the location.

    Afterwards, you'll continue to the little town of Mindo, set amidst lush, forested hills, where you'll check in for two nights in a lodge hotel. Here, you'll be surrounded by the exotic cloud forest, home to an incredible array of birds.

  3. Day
    4
    Mindo Cloud Forest
    Mindo, Ecuador

    Today you'll explore the pristine cloud forests and hike along waterfalls close to your lodge.

    At an altitude of 1,300m, Mindo lies between Ecuador's lowlands and highlands and has a year-round mild climate. This, and the plentiful rainfall, mostly between January and April, has created lush forests, perfect for a wide variety of birdlife - with an incredible 140 species of hummingbirds recorded.

    You can also join an optional activity to head up into the cloud forest canopies on a spectacular open-air cable-car, specially designed for you to take in the most wonderful views. You'll feel completely immersed in this extraordinarily beautiful landscape as you glide over the treetops soaking up the sights and sounds of the forests' fascinating wildlife.

  4. Day
    5
    Pululahua Crater
    Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador

    Head south today on the Pan-American highway and drive along the Avenue of the volcanoes, towards the Cotopaxi National Park.

    You'll stop on the way at Pululahua, the third largest inhabited volcano crater in the world. From the rim of the extinct volcano you can enjoy the panoramic views over the green farmland in the base of the crater.

  5. Day
    6
    Cotopaxi and Riobamba
    Cotopaxi Volcano, Ecuador

    This morning you'll head to Cotopaxi National Park for some stunning views and to see the highest active volcano in the world. Snowcapped year-round, the perfectly symmetrical volcanic cone is one of the greatest sights in South America.

    This afternoon, look forward to a trip to a fragrant rose farm. Ecuador is the world's largest exporter of roses and you can learn more about the growing and exporting process while taking in views of colourful fields.

  6. Day
    7
    Riobamba and Cuenca
    Cuenca, Ecuador

    This morning you'll be free to relax in the surroundings of your historic Hacienda hotel in Riobamba.

    Alternatively, you're welcome to join an optional tour of the local area to appreciate the fascinating life and culture of this agricultural community. Highlights include the Iglesia la Concepción, a beautiful; architectural structure just opposite the Plaza Roja, where you'll fine an artisanal indigenous market, perfect for buying souvenirs.

    This afternoon, you'll continue your journey along the Pan American highway, arriving in the amazing colonial city of Cuenca, where you'll have dinner as a group.

  7. Day
    8
    El Cajas National Park
    Cuenca, Ecuador

    Today you'll visit the incredible El Cajas National Park.

    Less than an hour northwest of Cuenca, this rugged landscape features pristine parkland reminiscent of the Scottish highlands, with rocky green mountains interspersed with over 780 crystalline lagoons and a network of trickling streams.

    For almost as far as the eye can see, the ground is covered in wildflower-strewn shrubs and grasses - the only sounds are running water, wind and the call of birds overhead.

  8. Day
    9
    Cuenca
    Cuenca, Ecuador

    Discover the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cuenca today.

    This city is a treasure-trove of charming colonial churches, mansions and squares, which are all easily walkable. The main square is overlooked by the town's vast cathedral, said to be modelled on St Peter's in Rome.

    The city is also known for its Panama hats, which are in fact hand-made in Ecuador, not Panama!

    Join a fascinating city tour to take in all these sights as well as a visit to a Panama hat factory. The tour ends at one of the fascinating local markets, where you can admire the colours of the fresh produce as well as the traditional arts and crafts of the Andes.

    This afternoon you will fly from Cuenca to Quito.

  9. Day
    10
    Fly to San Cristobal Island, Galápagos
    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    This morning you'll catch the short flight to San Cristobal Island in the Galápagos . As the most easterly island in the archipelago, this was the first to be visited by Charles Darwin in 1835. You'll be staying for two nights close to the centre of the island's small main town of Puerto Moreno.

    On arrival, you'll have some time to settle into your hotel and relax for a while before your afternoon activities.

    Later on, you'll explore the wildlife along nearby La Loberia's white sand beach, with a chance to swim or snorkel. You are bound to spot marine iguanas, sea lions and plentiful birdlife.

    This evening, look forward to dinner at a local restaurant, where you can reflect on your first exciting day in the Galápagos Islands.

  10. Day
    11
    San Cristol & Isla Lobos, Galápagos
    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    Today you'll board a small boat for the short trip to Isla Lobos, where you'll see families of frigate birds and blue footed boobies.

    Although the path on the island is uneven and rocky in parts, the effort is worth it to see these iconic birds up close.

    You'll have lunch on board, followed by an opportunity to swim or snorkel off the boat in the lagoon, where inquisitive seals may come and swim with you.

    In the afternoon, you'll learn about conservation work on the islands during a visit to the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre.

  11. Day
    12
    Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos
    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    This morning you'll catch a speedboat ferry service to nearby Santa Cruz Island.

    On arrival, you'll visit the famous giant Galápagos tortoises in the beautiful El Chato highland reserve - a truly unforgettable experience.

    Within the grounds, you may also explore one of several underground lava tubes, left over from when the island's volcano was active.

    If you wish, you can choose to explore more of the natural wonder of El Chato Reserve, as you wander some of its picturesque trails on a scenic walk. Having worked up an appetite, sit back and relax as you are served a hearty traditional lunch at a local farm then enjoy a visit to a distillery, culminating in a traditional digestif (at own expense).

  12. Day
    13
    Santa Cruz, Galápagos
    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    This morning, look forward to a boat tour of the nearby Academy Bay, with an opportunity to snorkel with the Galápagos ' exotic marine life. You may see the likes of sea lions, rays and even sharks.

    After an included lunch, you'll continue for a tour of the famous Charles Darwin Research Station, where you will be able to see the remains of 'Lonesome George', the last surviving Pinta Island tortoise, stuffed and on display.

    There are also pens where you can observe baby giant tortoises being looked after before being released into the wild.

  13. Day
    14
    Optional Trips: Bartolomé or Santa Fe Islands, Galápagos
    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    Today you're free to enjoy Santa Cruz at your own pace, where you can meander around Puerto Ayora or relax at the unspoilt Tortuga Bay.

    You can also personalise your trip with a pre-bookable boat trip to nearby Bartolomé or Sante Fe islands, subject to weather and availability.

  14. Days
    15-16
    Return to the UK
    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    Today it's time to say your goodbyes to the wonderful Galápagos Islands and fly home via Guayaquil and Bogota, arriving back in the UK the following day with wonderful memories of your once-in-a-lifetime-trip.

Brought to you by

TS Tours as agent for Riviera Travel
This tour is operated solely by TS Tours
TS Tours is acting as agent for Riviera Travel. Tour is operated by and subject to the booking conditions of Riviera Travel.

Established 35 years ago, Riviera Travel offers exceptional experiences at outstanding value for money. They were the highest-rated cruise operator in a 2017 survey by Which? magazine. Riviera is ABTA and ATOL-bonded.

TS Tours Ltd specialises in creating bespoke tours, cruises and rail journeys in the company of experts. Its exclusive trips combine unique experiences as well as access to inspirational people. All trips are ATOL-protected and financially bonded.

For information about TS Tours, click here.
For Riviera Travel's terms and conditions, see here.

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Availability

From
Fri, Fri, Nov 1, 2024
To
Sun, Sun, Nov 30, 2025
Duration
16 days
Price per person
£5,299*

* From price is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room, subject to availability and based on 17 January 2025 departure date. Departures available from Nov 2024 - Nov 2025, please call for details. Price and itinerary correct at time of print but may be subject to change. Single supplement from £755. Deposit £500pp. Local charges such as tourist tax may apply. Offers are not valid in conjunction with any other offers or promotions. Travel insurance is not included and should be taken out at time of booking. Images used may not reflect your actual tour experience. This holiday may be sold through other selected brands. Tour is operated by and subject to the booking conditions of TS Travel Ltd and Riviera Tours Limited.

Call now to book 02039934304
Quote ref: RIVECUADORGALAPAGOS