Ecuador Galapagos

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Ecuador Galapagos

Destination

Ecuador

Current Grades

9th-11th

length

16 Days

view dates and prices
Airports

Arrive: Quito (UIO)
Depart: Quito (UIO)

When one hears the word Ecuador, one usually thinks immediately of the Galápagos, and that’s where we’re headed. The volcanic Galápagos Islands are known the world over for their incredible number of indigenous wildlife. Get up close and personal with the Galápagos tortoise, known to live up to 150 years. You’ll also meet marine and land iguanas, penguins, bottlenose dolphins, and many species of birds. Snorkel among angelfish, manta rays, and sea turtles; learn to sail; and volunteer with animal conservation organizations. We’ll then head to mainland Ecuador for a thrilling day of whitewater rafting; a challenging yet rewarding hike around the country’s most beautiful volcanos; and a well-deserved visit to the world-famous hot springs of the Andes.

 

Overview Image

Ecuador Galapagos Itinerary

Days 1-3: Welcome to the Amazon!

Our first few days will be spent exploring Tena, a bustling town that sits at the edge of the Andes Mountains, which are home to the world’s highest peaks outside of Asia. We’ll begin with a day hike to Cascadas de San Jacinto, a beautiful waterfall near Tena. Later that afternoon, we’ll gather ingredients for our dinner from a local farm to prepare an Ecuadorian feast. Day two will bring us to a day hike around the 13,090-foot Sumaco Volcano, a very unique mountain due to its geologic composition. While in Sumaco, we’ll be fortunate to meet Amazonian Kichwa families who will show us some of their traditions, including making homemade delicacies like chicha (a sweet, fruity corn juice). Our third day will take us beneath more thundering waterfalls, through cave systems, and even to secret, locals-only swimming holes in slot canyons!

Accommodation: Eco-lodge

Days 4-5: Whitewater rafting and hot springs

We’ll whitewater raft 13 miles down the impressive Río Jatunyacu, whose crystal-clear waters offer inhibited views of the river bottom. Surrounded by vibrantly green jungle, Jatunyacu means “big water” in the Quechuan language, and the consistent class III wave trains do not disappoint! Another afternoon spent with a Kichwa village will teach us the ancient art of chocolate making before we make our way further into the Andes near Otavalo, a town surrounded by 16,000-foot peaks. We’ll take a dip in volcanic hot springs with the 18,714-foot Antisana Volcano as our backdrop. 

Accommodation: Mountain lodge

Days 6-7: Lago Cuicocha Crater Lake

We won’t leave the Andes without a visit to Cuicocha (a Kichwa word meaning “lake of guinea pigs” due to its largest island’s shape), a crater lake within a caldera beneath the dormant Cotocachi Volcano (16,200 feet). We’ll hike around the rim and get to know the area’s flora, which lives in extremely nutrient-rich soil due to the volcano’s eruption more than 3,000 years ago. (Don’t forget your camera—this is an extremely beautiful area!) The next day, we’ll visit Otavalo’s famous market named Plaza de los Ponchos; in fact, this is Ecuador’s largest and are known for their bright and vibrant homemade goods, clothing, and crafts. We’ll visit the Parque del Condor, a bird sanctuary for rescued predators like condors, owls, vultures, sparrow hawks, eagles, and falcons. We’ll even attend a condor flight show! 

Accommodation: Mountain lodge

Days 8-9: Climb Fuya Fuya Volcano

Today we’ll experience one of the highlights of the trip: a summit attempt of the 13,986-foot-tall Fuya Fuya Volcano! This mountain is actually part of a two-volcano massif (the other being Mojanda). Fuya Fuya collapsed about 165,000 years ago, leaving behind rocky twin summits. At the top, we’ll see surrounding crater lakes like the familiar Cuicocha, San Pablo, and Laguna Mojanda and neighboring volcanoes like Cotopaxi and Cayambe. Before we head out to the Galápagos, we’ll straddle the equator at the Quitsato Sundial, literally standing on two continents at once.

Accommodation: Mountain lodge and hotel

Days 10-15: Welcome to the Galápagos

It’s time to fly to the Galápagos Islands! We’ll land on Isabela Island, the largest in the archipelago. Isabela’s formation (six volcanoes collided to form the island) is unique among its Galápagos counterparts and contributes to its extraordinary wildlife. We’ll see wild tortoises, spotted eagle rays, penguins, marine and land iguanas, pelicans, hawks… the wildlife list is endless! The island’s wetlands, a vibrantly green area, is home to pink flamingos and the Tortoise Breeding Center, where we’ll watch turtles lay eggs in the sand.

Up next is a stroll through the lava moonscape of Sierra Negra, one of the volcanoes that formed Isabela. We’ll sea kayak on calm waters among white-tipped reef sharks (don’t worry—they’re not scary!) in the Las Tintoreras islet; many penguins nest here, and it’s common to see youngsters at play. Our epic five days of getting up close and personal with Galápagos wildlife concludes at the fascinating Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz, which is dedicated to preserving the fauna and flora that inhabit the islands. Then we’ll head to the famed Tortuga Bay, where we’ll likely see more giant tortoises, reef and tiger sharks, crabs, brown pelicans, and beautifully colored tropical fish. 

Accommodation: Hotel

Dates and Prices

Departure 1
  • Departure Day
    07/01/20
  • Return Day
    07/16/20
  • Grade
    9–11
  • Price
    $5,488
  • Availability
    Open
Departure 2
  • Departure Day
    07/19/20
  • Return Day
    08/03/20
  • Grade
    9–11
  • Price
    $5,488
  • Availability
    Open
Departure Day Return Day Grade Price Availability
07/01/20
07/16/20
9–11
$5,488
open
07/19/20
08/03/20
9–11
$5,488
open

Accommodations & Service

Community service: Approximately 10 hours
  • Otavalo Village: Humanitarian projects vary based on the community’s needs
  • Rio Muchacho: Learn and assist with organic farming techniques
  • School project: Teach English to students at a local school
Accommodations:
  • 11 nights of bed and breakfast–style accommodations. We stay in small, comfortable, and authentic places.
  • 4 nights of bamboo cabins. There are bathroom facilities and clean water on site.

Community service: 10 hours

Hiking

Snorkeling

Sailing

Whitewater rafting