The Wondrous Wildlife of Ecuador & Galapagos

14D / 13N

Experience a luxury tour of the Galapagos Islands highlighting the spectacular history
and nature spanning the vast terrain of Ecuador. Learn about the unique geography,
culture, and wildlife in Ecuador during this once-in-a-lifetime expedition.

Begin your journey in the historic capital city of Quito, and connect with local artisans and musicians in the nearby town
of Otavalo. Scratch the surface of the Ecuadorian rainforest staying in the luxurious Mashpi Lodge. Embark on
an adventure in the Cotopaxi National Park hiking amongst active volcanoes. And, of course, discover the unique creatures
of all shapes and sizes in the Galapagos Islands.




  • Step into the UNESCO-recognized history of Ecuador’s rich colonial capital of Quito.
  • Hop between hemispheres at the Middle of the World equator marker.
  • Mingle with local artisans and hunt for a bargain at Otavalo, the setting of South America’s oldest, largest, and most famous market.
  • Be immersed in a cloud forest while enjoying the comfort of a luxury eco-lodge.
  • Relax with a luxury tour of the Galapagos Islands – where Charles Darwin’s revolutionary theory of evolution was born.
  • Observe remarkable wildlife such as dawdling giant tortoises, strutting blue-footed boobies, and plenty of other curious creatures.
  • Go in search of hidden treasures as you snorkel on pristine beaches.
  • Indulge in the comfort of boutique, sustainable accommodations, ranging from characteristic lodges to luxury hotels.


Welcome to Ecuador! An enriching adventure awaits in Quito.

Meet your Kuoda host upon arrival and head to your hotel where you can enjoy a restful evening before the excursions begin in the morning.

Step into Quito’s history with a tour of the city.

Spend the day seeing Quito’s historic sites, and wandering this UNESCO-recognized city. Your private tour with a stop at the Basilica del Voto Nacional, one of the largest churches in Ecuador and one of the most important works of Ecuadorian neo-goth­ic architecture. While the outside of the building is known for its stone carvings, the inside consists of 24 ornately designed chapels.

Continue on to the vibrant Plaza Grande, or “Independence Square”, surrounded by Quito’s main Ca­thedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building, and the Archbishop’s Palace. Walk through the church of the “Compañia de Jesus” to discover its impressive golden interior. Your tour of the city will end with a birds-eye view of the city from the panoramic “Virgin of Quito” monument atop El Panecillo Hill overlooking the capital. Savor the breathtaking views of Qui­to from above, and – if the weather permits – the distant sight of Ecuador’s spectacular “Volcano Avenue,” two parallel mountain ranges with many of the country’s highest peaks.

From here, we will head 15 miles north of Quito to the Mitad del Mundo (“Middle of the World”), a monument built to com­memorate the French scientists who made history by determining the shape of the planet thanks to their studies at this location back in the 1830s.

Here, you will be able to stand with one foot in each of the earth’s hemispheres. We will also visit the Intiñan Solar Mu­seum, where you can test various scientific experiments like balancing an egg on a nail or losing weight in a second. After your journey to Earth’s center, we will drive you back to your hotel.

Mingle with locals in Otavalo and La Mirage

We begin today’s trip to the town of Otavalo, home to Ecuador’s largest indigenous market and one of the best known in all of Latin America. Spend a few hours wandering through these bustling stalls selling local handicrafts and delicious street food.

On the way, we will make a brief stop in the town of Cayambe to visit a rose plantation and learn about the beautiful floral export of Ecuador. With over 300 varieties of roses growing here, there are plenty of amazing opportunities to see fields of this lovely floral species.

We will then visit a family of weavers in the nearby village of Peguche who not only have amazing wares but will ac­tually demonstrate how they weave on their traditional back-strap looms, showing you their age-old techniques for creating vibrant colors from local plants.

We will have lunch in a typical Ecuadorian restaurant before going to Cotacachi town, famous for its leather crafts, and then visit the nearby beautiful volcanic Cuicocha Lake. Take a short hike and an optional boat ride around the lake if you want the best views before heading to your hotel for the night.

Journey to the serene Mashpi Lodge

After breakfast, you will begin the drive to Mashpi Lodge in the northwest of Quito. After getting comfortably settled in your room, you will be greeted by one of the lodge’s naturalists, who will give you an introduction to the cloud forest and its conserva­tion. Together, you and the lodge hosts will plan your activities for the next few days and will provide helpful tips about preparing for any excursions.

Once your welcome lunch is over, head out on the Napa Trail, which cuts through areas where the forest is regenerating large patches of growth. This trail is ideal for demonstrating ecological processes and for explaining the importance of forest conservation in the surrounding Choco region. It’s also a trail with abundantly beautiful views.

Later this evening, guests who are interested in learning more about cloud forest ecolo­gy can attend a presentation from one of the lodge’s naturalists or its resident biologist. Topics include “the Secret Mashpi Wildlife,” “The Trap Camera Project,” and “Choco as a Biological Hotspot.” When darkness falls, a new troupe of creatures emerges, and your guides will accompany you on a nocturnal wildlife walk looking for frogs, snakes, insects, and even tarantulas.

Explore the Life Center, Cucharillos waterfall, and take a nocturnal safari

Head to the Howler Monkey Trail for a morning hike through an ancient forest, home to ancient flora and fauna like the famous “copal” tree. While hiking, your local guide will point out whatever wildlife might appear – from colorful birds to elusive howler monkeys. They will explain the ecology of the forest and discuss conservation efforts being made to protect it.

This hike will lead you to the lodge’s Life Center, a research facility focused on the plants and wildlife native to this region. Here, you will study the butterflies of the area by being shown the life cycle of these creatures from eggs to winged wonders. The cen­ter is also a place where visitors can disconnect by soaking in the views from the expansive wooden deck or meditate in the nearby gardens full of bushes and fruit trees, includ­ing banana and plantain trees, manioc, cacao, hot chili peppers, coffee, and wild raspberries.

When we return to the lodge, take some time to rest or enjoy a relaxing massage or the comfort of the Ja­cuzzi in the wellness area. At around noon, lunch will be ready; after which you will have time to rest until the afternoon excursion.

After a peaceful few hours, hike along a trail named after the Cucharillo tree. This local Ecuadorian species is threatened due to the value of their timber, so trekking here is a wonderful immersive lesson in sustainability and preservation. While this trail is of moderate difficulty it is well worth it for the views of a large waterfall and rocky riverbed with beautiful ponds and smaller falls at the end.

As the sun starts to go down, the cloud forest begins to transform; the sounds of croaking frogs, the calls of night birds, and the incessant buzz of insects all intensify. And if you turn off your flashlight, you’ll discover sparkling fire­flies and sense bats fluttering by. Look carefully on the ground and see the faint glow of biolu­minescent fungi (foxfire or fairy fire) scattered on the forest floor. Continuing this nighttime safari, you’re likely to hear rustling in the branches above as raccoon-like “kinkajous” scramble through the trees in search of fruit. Return to the lodge to enjoy a delicious dinner.

Savor early bird-watching before heading to San Agustin de Callo

Just before the break of dawn, the cloud forest becomes filled with the sound of thousands of birds in search of food. Any early bird travelers who want to experience this ritual should do so from the lodge’s terrace. Guides will be there daily to highlight the incredible diversity of bird species and the beauty of the cloud forest. Accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea, this activity begins at 6.30 am and lasts an hour, after which time you can enjoy a full breakfast before packing up for checkout.

Your private guide will then take you to the famous Hacienda San Agustin de Callo in the Cotopaxi region. From its archaeological importance to the intricately decorated rooms, arranged with fireplaces to warm the bathrooms and artistically painted walls. Llamas enliven the central patio, looking for carrots during their lunch hour. Flowery gardens frame majestic views of Cotopaxi emerging on the horizon. Most impressive, though, is the Inca site on which this lodge stands that really makes this Andean hacienda experience unique.

Explore Cotopaxi and see Limpiopungo

After a delicious breakfast, you will have the chance of witnessing the Cotopaxi colossus, covered by layers of thick snow and ice. This imposing giant is often the backdrop for the landscapes of the central highlands and possesses a history of dramatic eruptions.

The volcano is located within Cotopaxi National Park which spans across the beautiful plateau of the Ecuadorian highlands. Here, you can find wild horses grazing on vast plains or gathering to drink the calm waters of Lake Limpiopungo. A view as impressive as this one will certainly stir up a feeling of awe for nature lovers.

In the afternoon, relish the unique opportunity of taking a horseback ride in the surroundings of the local hacienda. The views are magnificent, with glacier-covered, snow-sprinkled volcanoes lining the central valley.

From Zumbahua to Quilotoa and the return to Quito

Today we will take a two-hour car journey through the western Andes mountain range, one of the most impressive areas of Ecuador. Heading south, the tour will take us to Zumbahua, a small colorful town consisting of just 40 families.

Ten kilometers farther lies the blue and green Quilotoa Crater Lake, one of the most beautiful volcanic lakes in the Ecuadorian Andes. From the crater, you can see multiple snow-topped volcanoes dotting the horizon. After a few hours of hiking down to the bank of the lake, you will enjoy a traditional lunch with spectacular views. Then, return to Quito before your next adventure.

Fly to the Galapagos Islands and explore Santa Cruz

Today you will begin an unforgettable tour of the Galapagos Islands, one of the world’s most incredible natural spectacles. Early this morning we will escort you to the national airport in order to board your flight to the wondrous Galapagos Islands (approximately 2.5 hours). Upon landing, a Pikaia representative will escort you from the VIP airport lounge to the ships that will take you to Pikaia Lodge.

After checking in, enjoy lunch in the lodge’s Evolution Restaurant or on the Pool Terrace. The rest of the afternoon, you will have a chance to relax and familiarize yourself with the lodge’s facilities. We recommend walking, jogging, cycling the lodge’s trails, or going for a swim in the pool. This afternoon is also a good chance of encountering resident tortoises who live on the campus. Sip on a complimentary welcome cocktail offered at the DNA Bar while you listen to a briefing of the week’s activities and special features about Pikaia Lodge and the Galapagos.

After dinner, enjoy a screening of Sir David Attenborough’s Galapagos documentary in the Pikaia’s Explorers Lounge if you want to learn more about this unique archipelago.

Venture through Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay and Bartolome Island

Today we will board the lodge’s Pikaia I yacht for a cruise through the archipelago. Private cabins are assigned and guests have the option of having breakfast onboard. Upon arrival at South Plaza Island, the morning invites you to hike or snorkel until midday. A lunch buffet with authentic Ecuadorian food is served as you sail to North Seymour Island. Here, you will find fascinating flora and fauna that includes hordes of sea lions, Hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, land and marine iguanas, a colony of frigatebirds, and Blue-footed Boobies.

Then, visit the beautiful Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz Island to stroll across the white sand surrounded by lava rocks and black lagoons. You will also have a chance to see Pacific green sea tur­tles, flamingos, Lava gulls, Sally Lightfoot crabs, and small non-aggressive sharks at the edge of the water. Two hours before sunset, the yacht will set sail for Pikaia Lodge. While sailing, you can relax and freshen up in your private cabins, or enjoy the yacht’s amenities and surrounding views.

Santa Cruz Island: The Highlands and the Charles Darwin Research Station

Weather-permitting, today begins with a land tour on Santa Cruz Island for a walk on one of the many beaches on the island. With luck, the calm waters will allow you to see different types of sharks, like the Whitetip reef shark, and schools of golden-colored Mustard rays.

Next, we will head for one of the most visited spots in the Galapagos, the Charles Darwin Research Station, an international scientific research center on the out­skirts of Puerto Ayora. Learn about the geology, climate, natural history, and conservation efforts of the Galapagos Islands. The highlight of your visit here will undoubtedly be the research facility’s Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center, which breeds giant tortoises.

These enormous reptiles live up to 200 years and weigh between 250 and 300 kg. The tortoises you will see here are accustomed to hu­mans, so it’s an excellent spot for visitors to take photographs with them and learn how you can help make a positive impact on the longevity of these majestic species.

Alternatively, guests are free to relax and enjoy their day at the lodge at lei­sure. Mountain bikes, helmets, snorkeling equipment, and wetsuits are available without charge at the front desk or onboard the lodge’s yacht. (It is recommended to pre-book to take advantage of any optional third-party activities not included in the package. All extra activities might have an extra cost [e.g. taxis, equipment, guides].)

Floreana Island: Cormorant Point, Devil’s Crown, and Post Office Bay

After a hearty breakfast on board the Pikaia I yacht, you will explore Bartolome Island. Discover the island’s unique moonscape formed by various volcanic formations — including lava bombs, spatter, and cinder cones — as we hike to the island’s summit for striking views of the surrounding islands, Sul­livan Bay, and the towering Pinnacle Rock. Some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos are here at Pinnacle Rock, where you can study marvelous underwater life swimming gently alongside you. You can also spot some speedy Galapagos penguins darting in and out of the waters here, joined by harmless Whitetip reef sharks sunning in these waters.

In the afternoon, travel to Sullivan Bay over on Santiago Island to see unique lava formations and the floral life that emerges around the volcanoes. The bay’s shore is covered with lava cacti as well as a varie­ty of contrasting lava landscapes that resulted from an ancient eruption as well as a newer one from the late 19th century. After exploring these lava flows, you can swim or snorkel with playful sea lions.

Departing Galapagos for Guayaquil

Savor one last look at the Galapagos Islands as you board the plane at Baltra Island airport for your return flight to the Ecua­dorian mainland. Once you arrive in Quito your guide will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel where you will spend your last night in Ecuador.

Arrive in Guayaquil in the afternoon and head to the Boutique Hotel del Parque, a historic build­ing standing elegantly in the city wrapped in a vast botanical garden. Sitting on the waterfront, the hotel’s restaurant, Casa Julián, specializes in the fin­est seafood and freshest fish. Having embraced the local culinary tradition of soups and stews, its chef is also known to skillfully play with the flavors and textures of avocado, banana, and cocoa.

Exploring Guayaquil and returning home

Start your final day in Ecuador and explore Guayaquil’s newly restored historic district, characterized by centuries-old houses and narrow lanes. Las Peñas is the city’s oldest district, and once you’ve navigated its colorful streets you’ll be guided up 444 steps to the summit of Cerro Santa Ana for panoramic vistas of the city.

There is a multitude of exciting activities you may want to include during your day tour. Visit a stately cathedral, explore Iguana Park, or visit the modern Malecon 2000 which hugs the Guayas River and is home to the towering Moorish Clock Tower! Wander the botanical gardens and Chamber of the Rotunda, a monument that marks the historic meeting between Simon Bolivar and José de San Martín in the 19th century.

Going home is the worst part of any luxury tour of Ecuador, but at Kuoda, we’ll do our best to make it as smooth and hassle-free as possible by escorting you to the airport for your flight home. ¡Buen Viaje!


Each journey is tailored to your specific needs and desires, and so our prices vary depending on the number of people
traveling, level of accommodations desired, and activities included, among other factors.

Our travel designers will curate a journey specifically for you. If you have a budget you want us to work with, please let
us know, and we will do our best to achieve it.


  • Personalized itinerary planning
  • A Kuoda host to assist you in every location
  • The majority of meals in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary


  • International flights to and from your home country
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not specified
  • All gratuities


From luxury properties to boutique hotels, our staff handpicks your ideal stay to ensure you get the ultimate comfort during your travels.

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Your Trip Begins Here

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By submitting this form, you agree that we may contact you about your inquiry and send additional travel information and news from which you may unsubscribe at any time.

Note: Trip costs vary by destination, number of days, and number of people traveling



Sustainable Travel

This sample itinerary was tailored to show the impact of your trip and how
you can take concrete actions toward sustainable travel.


Ecuador Itineraries


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