Ecuador, a single nation symbolising our planet’s diverse natural history. 43 volcanos, 1600 bird species, cloud forests, the Galapagos Islands, Andes mountains and Amazon Rainforest. All within a country that’s smaller than Italy. But can you explore this incredible natural history in comfort?
We love Ecuador’s upward trend. Over the last ten years, Ecuador has made nature accessible and luxurious. This isn’t where you find spiders in your jungle toilet, it’s where you stay in the former president’s house.
This is the itinerary you could experience.
Day 1 – Quito
Casa Gangotena is a Relais & Chateaux hotel inside the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site. A good place to rest and dine after the international flight.
Days 2 – 5 – Galapagos Islands Cruise
There are hundreds of Galapagos boats and thousands of possible itineraries, so for a more complete understanding, check out our Galapagos Islands cruising guide.
We arranged a four-night cruise in Central Galapagos on the 16-berth Galapagos Elite, the newest luxury catamaran in the archipelago. The itinerary also crossed the equator to visit Genovesa island, a very important detail in our planning. It meant our clients could experience famous Galapagos highlights, like walking with tortoises and kayaking with sea lions, but also see some of the rarest natural sites, such as a nesting colony of red-footed boobies.
Days 6 – 7 – Hacienda Zuleta, Avenue of Volcanoes
After four nights on the Pacific Ocean, Hacienda Zuleta is ideal for getting comfortable on land. It’s the weekend home of two former Ecuadorian presidents, set in its own nature reserve. Zuleta is a real insight into Ecuador’s elite circles while continuing the connection with nature.
Days 8 – 10 Sacha Lodge, Amazon Rainforest
Into the Amazon and a completely different natural world. Ecuador is a lot smaller than Peru and Brazil, making it easier and quicker to access the Amazon for a short stay. It’s a short flight plus two hours by motorised canoe, not a long flight followed by half a day going upriver.
Plus there are some very good high-end lodges, like Sacha Lodge. Never expect a trip to the Amazon to have the same level of luxury as a five-star city hotel. Sacha isn’t opulent. It’s comfortable and authentic, with loads of great activities in the biggest rainforest of them all.
Want to Holiday in Galapagos?
Day 11 Quito
Most Ecuador itineraries will have the odd night in Quito, as it’s the important hub when flying domestically. We like how the city can be experienced differently each time. There’s history, culture and exploring, such as an organic chocolate workshop at Pacari. But also the comforts of a modern city if you just want downtime.
Days 12 – 14 Mashpi Lodge, Andean Choco Rainforest
Mashpi is one of the standout accommodations anywhere in South America. A modern and sustainable five-star lodge in its own nature reserve, a cocoon from which to discover another natural world.
Here there are monkeys and pumas but it’s genuinely luxurious. We think it’s ideal as a final stop, because you don’t need to be very active in order to experience nature. Our clients told us that Mashpi was the number one highlight of their entire trip.
Day 15 Quito
With the flight times it’s convenient to spend a final night in Quito before the journey home. Plus, Quito has amazing food, like Somos restaurant.
Day 16 Departure
Back to Europe. After the first ever World Heritage Site, five days in the Galapagos, two nights in a president’s home surrounded by volcanoes, three days in the Amazon Rainforest and three days in the cloud forest. Can you imagine anywhere else in the world where such diverse experiences would be possible in only two weeks?