Ecuador and Galapagos small group vacation
A wildlife-lover’s dream, this 17-day small-group trip is split between a week in mainland Ecuador and a week in the Galapagos Islands.
Quito Cotopaxi National Park Banos Pailon Falls Otavalo Quitsato Equator Monument Santa Cruz Island Isabela Island Guayaquil Optional trip to Tintoreras Islands Optional activities include: snorkelling
US $4120ToUS $4410 excluding flights
Description of Ecuador and Galapagos small group vacation
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Small group tour:
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. Those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) vacation so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetThe Galapagos Islands have more endemic species than any other archipelago in the world, and in 1979 became became the first natural site to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1998 it was made a Marine Reserve, with some really positive conservation and educational work happening in the area. There are strict regulations governing the number of visitors to the islands, as well as the activities permitted. The hotels that we use take their responsibilities seriously - for example, the Casa Natura Lodge on Santa Cruz island collects rain water for their water supply, and many of the ingredients used for the breakfasts come directly from their garden instead of being shipped from the mainland. The Galapagos is suffering from the worldwide issue of plastic litter, which gathers along coastlines and puts wildlife at increased rish of ingestion or entanglement, so we also advise customers where to replenish and refill water, rather than reusing plastic bottles.
As part of our stay on the islands, we visit the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Centre in Puerto Villamil, which has the aim of replenishing the endangered Giant Tortoise population by breeding and then releasing the animals. The center takes donations from visitors, which go back into their release projects - far from being a 'zoo', this center, along with the two others that exist on the islands, is doing some important work for the survival of the species.
On the mainland, we get to explore many of the country's wild landscapes, including the Cotopaxi National Park. Money from the entrance fee goes back into preserving the park, which is a haven for birdlife and other animals like wild horses. As with all of our tours, our Tour Leaders are trained in our Responsible Tourism policy and brief guests to 'Leave no Trace - ensuring that customers take all rubbish with them and leave the wildlife undisturbed.
As a company we support Cool Earth. Protecting rainforest is one of the most effective actions to tackle climate breakdown. CoolEarth work with indigenous communities empowering them to conserve their forest; keeping CO2 locked in.
PeopleOn most islands tourists must be accompanied by a local guide as part of their trip. Aside from this being an obligation from the Ecuadorian Tourism Authority, local guiding is something that we strongly believe in. All Galapagos guides have been trained in the flora and fauna, and conservation laws within the area. They are passionate about protecting their environment, and using one of these guides ensures that the Galapagos community benefits.
A land-based Galapagos trip is a good way to spend money on the islands, rather than with a cruise company that is often based on the mainland. Our Tour Leaders will advise on the best local restaurants and shops to visit in the evenings, while you'll be using various different boat providers for the journeys between the islands.
On the mainland, our journey around Ecuador is completely land-based, which allows us to explore some of the smaller towns and villages of the Andes, such as the village of Peguche, where we can explore their small local market - this village is known for its local families who make colourful weavings and traditional panpipes, usually selling their wares at the Otavalo Market, one of the largest indigenous markets in South America. We go to the source at the village itself, and allow our travelers the chance to buy souvenirs directly with the maker.
In addition to the above, we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key and so all staff, Tour leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our UK Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage. As well as this, we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of UK travel industry bodies Tourism Concern and AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators.