Quito & Galapagos 8 days/7 nights
Your private itinerary starts any day day of the year
Costs start at $5,720 pp
Similar itineraries can be customized to suit budget.
Type of trip:
Customizable luxury private itinerary
What a colorful country! Traditional costumes with distinctive hats, lively markets, and exquisite handicrafts. The parallel rows of snow-capped volcanoes provided striking vistas. Home to the Galapagos Islands and many other hidden gems.
600 miles off the coast of Ecuador lies an isolated chain of islands known as the Galápagos. The wildlife that arrived here evolved in such unique ways that all the reptiles and nearly half the birds and plant life are found nowhere else in the world. This is what inspired Charles Darwin’s “Origin of species.” You’ll find prehistoric land iguanas, colorful birds and the 600-pound tortoise that gives the archipelago its name. Most wonderfully, the wildlife in their isolation has never developed a fear of humans. Come snorkel with sea lions, swim with penguins, or watch the mating dance of the blue-footed boobies.
Duration: 8 Days
Highlights: Quito, Otavalo, Cotopaxi, Equator, Galapagos Cruise, Nature
Often combined with Peru
Itinerary can be customized to suit individual requirements
Day 01: Arrive Quito
After clearing customs and collecting your luggage, you are met by a representative of Maxim Tours and transferred to your hotel. Your driver will be holding a paging board with your name.
Quito is Ecuador's capital, the country's second largest city and the capital of the province of Pichincha. Nestled in a long narrow valley, Quito is one of South America's most attractive destinations. 9,300 ft high, this city of 2 million was founded in 1534. The site of the city dates back to pre-Columbian times when it was settled by the Quitu people.
Day 02: Full Day Village of the Highlands and Quito City Tour
This morning we head north 2 hours on another scenic drive to the Highlands to explore 3 villages: Otavalo, world famous for its colorful blankets and weavings and its Saturday market, although handicrafts are available any day; Peguche, where we will learn about the native lifestyles and observe farmers working in their fields and weaving in their homes; and lastly Cotacachi, where you can observe the local villagers working on their looms creating beautiful wall hangings. After lunch at Puerto Lago (open menu), we head back to Quito for a city tour.
Colonial Quito at twilight is magical. The Quitenos are bustling about shopping, visiting friends, going to church and hurrying home for dinner. You will admire the richly sculptured façade of Ecuador’s House of Congress which depicts scenes from Ecuadorian history, the Independence Square with the Presidential Palace, and the Cathedral. Visit La Compañía Church with its breathtaking gold-plated altars, considered the finest baroque jewel of America, and the church and monastery of San Francisco, dating to the early 16th century. Afterwards you will be dropped off at your hotel or you can ask the guide to drop you off a local restaurant for dinner.
Day 03: Full Day Sasquisili Market and Cotopaxi National Park
Today you drive 2 hours south along the fabulous Avenue of the Volcanoes until you reach the Thursday market at Sasquisili. This is the most authentic indigenous market in all of South America. You will see the animal market where locals barter for squealing pigs, snorting llamas and all types of pigeons. The best part is watching a group of men try to shove a slippery recalcitrant pig onto a pick- up truck! Next is the produce market where locals buy their fruits and vegetables. Try a few new delicacies! Lastly is the handicraft market where you can find bargains for local weavings and artisans’s works. This is photographer’s heaven but be respectful of anyone who does not wish to have their picture taken. Ask first.
After a stop for lunch (included) at San Agustin de Callo, you proceed to Cotopaxi National Park for some hiking and hopefully gorgeous views of Cotopaxi Mt, which is often shrouded in clouds.
Day 04: 4 Night Galapagos Cruise
You will be met at your hotel and transferred to Quito airport for your 2 hour morning flight to Baltra, in the Galapagos. There will be a touchdown in Guayaquil to board passengers. You will be given airport assistance in obtaining your cruise ticket and your airline boarding pass.
Upon arrival at Baltra Airport, a guide will meet you, help you collect your luggage, and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbor. Motorized rafts, called ‘pangas’ will transport you to the Cormorant and the crew will welcome you aboard.
Accommodating 16 passengers, the Cormorant’s modern and ample accommodation includes jacuzzi, huge sun deck and a private balcony for each of the nine spacious staterooms. The ship will anchor off each island destination, and you’ll be brought to the landing point in small boats. Some landings are “dry” -- step onto a dock -- and some are “wet” – step into knee-deep water. The terrain on the islands can be rough, so you should be in good physical condition. On some islands you’ll swim, some you’ll snorkel, and some you’ll just walk.
PM: Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz Island
This afternoon, after lunch, you will make your first island visit. Located to the west of Turtle Cove, the sand on these two small beaches (Bachas Beach) is made of decomposed coral. As a result, the sand here is very white and soft, making it a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there is a small water lagoon, where occasionally it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. The other beach is longer and has two old barges that were abandoned during the Second World War, when the USA used Baltra Island as a strategic military point in order to protect the Panama Channel.
You stay aboard the Cormorant
Includes: All meals, naturalist guided transfers and excursions in small groups & fuel surcharge. Beverages not included except for breakfast. Tips to guides and service personnel not included. Your cruise director will lecture on appropriate tips.
Day 05: Bartholomew & Santiago Islands
AM: Bartholomew Island
Home of the famous Pinnacle Rock, Bartholomew consists of an extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, black and even green volcanic formations. A trail of stairs leads to the summit of the volcano, boasting one o the best views of the islands. The beach is perfect for snorkeling and possible sightings of the Galapagos Penguin.
PM: Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island
The eastern side of Santiago Island was volcanically active relatively recently (about 100 years ago) and Sullivan Bay is a great place to see lava, sometimes edged with black volcanic glass (obsidian). There is also a small colony of Galapagos Penguins at the landing site.
Day 06: Plazas & Santa Fe Islands
AM: South Plazas Island
This morning you will visit South Plazas. These are two small islets that were formed a short distance from the East Coast of Santa Cruz. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the archipelago occur here. The principal attractions of Plazas are the land iguanas, sea lions and swallow–tailed gulls. It is possible to observe land iguanas relaxing in the shade of cactus plants and swallow-tailed gulls nesting on the rugged southern cliffs (which we will see along with various other sea birds). And that´s not all - as the protected rocky seashore is a prime habitat for a large colony of noisy sea lions. Also we will be able to see yellow – tailed mullets, Audubon’s shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and brown pelicans gliding past the cliffs.
PM: Santa Fe Island
After lunch you will visit Santa Fe Island, about 10 miles south of Santa Cruz Island. Trails here will lead you some of the tallest stands of opuntia cactus in the islands. The Santa Fe land iguana may also be seen, if you are lucky! This species of iguana is found nowhere else in the world. Other attractions include sea lions, marine iguana and, of course, birds.
Day 07: San Cristobal Island
AM: Witch Hill, San Cristobal Island
Located on the northern coast, this eroded hill and its surroundings present one of the most picturesque beaches in the Galapagos with its white powdery sand and the abundance of animals. Wildlife includes sea turtles, rays, and various types of Booby Birds. The clear water provides an excellent opportunity for enjoying swimming, snorkeling and kayaking.
PM: Pitt Point, San Cristobal Island
San Cristobal has the second largest population in the islands. Pitt Point, an interesting visitor’s site, the only one in which you can see all three Galapagos booby species nesting - the Nazca, Blue-footed and Red-footed Boobies. The walk through volcanic tuff formations is a little strenuous but very rewarding. This site is also great for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Day 08: San Cristobal / Flight to Mainland
AM: San Cristobal Island
This morning’s excursion will take you to either the Interpretation Centre or El Junco Lagoon. Built with the cooperation of the Spanish Science Centre, the Interpretation Centre gives a very good introduction to the Galapagos Islands; its marine and land life and fauna and flora. It is located in the outskirts of the small city of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, (the capital of the Galapagos Province). The Junco lagoon, located about 700m above sea level, is one of the few permanent freshwater bodies in Galapagos. Frigate birds are often seen here washing the salt from their feathers as well as white-cheeked pintails and common gallinules. Its name comes from a type of plant that is common in this area called “junco”.
Afterward, you are transferred to San Cristobal airport for the flight back to the mainland.
Meet & Assist on arrival
Accommodation per the itinerary
Private airport transfers
Private touring unless only group tours are available
Breakfast at all hotels and meals as specified in the itinerary
24/7 local assistance