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Ecuador packs a lot into its compact borders: colourful indigenous markets, charming haciendas, pretty colonial towns, the highest active volcano in the world and the vast Amazon Rainforest. All this and one just a short flight away are the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of national parks nearly a thousand kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, exceptional for its fearless and unique wildlife.
For many, Ecuador is simply the gateway to reach the celebrated Galapagos Islands, Darwin's 'living laboratory', but we think you should take the time to explore this fascinating country while you are there. Overlaying this natural beauty, Ecuador also has a cultural depth unequalled elsewhere in South America: thriving Indian communities throng local markets and proudly maintain their ancient cultures. You might expect it to be insufferably hot due to its location 35km from the Equator, but because of its high altitude, temperatures are spring-like all year round. Quito's historic centre has been transformed and restored in recent years. About an hour south of Quito is a world of volcanoes and mountains: the Avenue of Volcanoes. At 5,900m, Cotopaxi volcano –an almost perfect conical shape –is the highest active volcano in the world, dominating the area and providing an incredible backdrop for several haciendas and Cotopaxi National Park.
Ecuador with A&K
Ecuador will not fail to impress even the most well-travelled; this region has incredible riches and influence far beyond its physical size. From the Amazon –the world's deepest and densest rainforest –in the east, to mountain landscapes patch-worked into tiny fields by indigenous Indians and the world's second-highest volcano.
Ecuador and Galapagos Islands holidays with Abercrombie & Kent will get you closer to the remarkable people, places and wildlife that make the country such a rich travel destination.
Offering the best of Latin America in miniature, within its compact borders, Ecuador has everything a traveller could wish for in abundance. Its national parks and wildlife reserves include some of the richest Amazon jungle to the east of the Andes and the high-altitude forests of Cotopaxi's volcanic flanks. Overlaying this natural beauty, Ecuador also has a cultural depth unequalled elsewhere in South America, with stately colonial buildings in the world's highest capital, Quito, with its dramatic mountainous backdrop, where thriving Indian communities throng local markets and proudly maintain their ancient cultures - a must see for every Ecuador holiday.
The Galapagos Archipelago lies 1,000 kilometres from Ecuador's coastline in the Pacific Ocean. Each of the thirteen islands and countless smaller islets has a unique ecosystem of its own, a living laboratory that inspired Darwin to write his Theory of Evolution while on the voyage of the HMS Beagle. Never connected with the continent, the islands contain many endemic species - only here will you see Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants and marine iguanas, and the giant tortoises that give the archipelago its name. Most expeditions with your expert naturalist guide are by panga - inflatable rubber craft with outboard motor. Snorkels are available for you to explore the fascinating underwater world, a myriad of colourful fish, playful sea lions, dolphins and sunken volcanic craters.
Any visitor to the islands on a Galapagos cruise can swim with sea lions, paddle alongside penguins, be entertained by the 'fool' booby birds and watch 200 kg giant tortoises wallowing in the swamps of Santa Cruz Island. The wildlife is quite literally unique and the landscape barren, volcanic and markedly beautiful. These are the compelling features that define the Galapagos cruise experience. Never connected with the continent, the islands contain many endemic (only found in the Galapagos) species. A quarter of the shore fish, half of the plants and almost all of the reptiles are exclusive to the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands are a two-hour flight from Quito or Guayaquil. Whilst there are seasonal variations, the islands are a year-round destination.
You may wish to end your Ecuador holiday with a visit to Cuenca, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site this city is the third largest in Ecuador and was one of the first cities listed in the Inca Empire.
At A&K all of our journeys are individually tailored to suit your needs and timescale. However, as a guide, a 15 day holiday to Ecuador including the option from our selection of Galapagos Islands cruises will cost from £4,495 per person based on two adults sharing with flights from the UK and subject to availability.
Best time to be there
June to September is the best time to enjoy the Andes whilst the Galapagos are best from April to August - not too warm and plenty of animals in their breeding seasons.
Quito - LAN Airlines, daily via Madrid
GMT -5 hours
Not required for UK passport holders
Yellow fever certificate required if arriving from an infected area
Best time to be thereThe Galapagos are best from April to August - not too warm and plenty of animals in their breeding seasons.
Fly toQuito - LAN Airlines, daily via Madrid flying time 13 hours
time differenceGMT -5 hours
VisasNot required for UK passport holders
Health RequirementsYellow fever certificate required if arriving from an infected area
Our experts can tailor-make the perfect holiday to suit your individual requirements, however, if you need inspiration or a starting point, below are some of our suggested trips and experiences:
Nights: 11 | from £7,585pp
Cruise for seven nights aboard ‘Eclipse’ — an expedition vessel that blends stability, comfort and flexibility — in the Galápagos Islands Find out more
Holiday type: Group departure
Call 01242 547 701 Enquire
Nights: 13 | from £5,730pp
A nature-lover’s dream, this Ecuadorian adventure takes you from the Andes to the Amazon, with the Galapagos Islands in between, to appreciate the country’s... Find out more
Holiday type: Tailor-made
Adventure & Culture
Call 01242 547 701 Enquire
Nights: 12 | from £7,220pp
Highlands, islands and UNESCO-listed splendour: that’s Ecuador. This Latin American nation is small but packs a real punch, from the historic cities and... Find out more
Holiday type: Tailor-made Private set departure
Call 01242 547 701 Enquire
Below are some of our suggested places to stay:
Graeme, Charlie, Melissa, Dave, Kerry and Kelly are experts in designing the perfect holiday in Latin America to suit your personal needs, interests and budget. Their intimate knowledge of our hotels and resorts featured in our portfolio, together with our own network of offices throughout the region, allows us to offer unique in-depth knowledge, unparalleled insider access and the VIP service for which Abercrombie & Kent is renowned.
To find out more about our Latin America team, click on the consultant links below or call them on 01242 547 701 or enquire online
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Quito - Very latin, very different. Fernando, the A&K rep who looked after us was a pleasure to be with. Thanks for organising the holiday Eleanor Mawer and thanks to A&K
- RY, Berkshire