Is visiting the Galapagos Islands on your bucket list? This trip will take you to Galapagos, and Quito, Ecuador’s capital with minimal planning and maximum fun.
We did this trip with 3 kids from 8-14 years old. I recommend ~5 days on a cruise, and ~3 days in Quito at a minimum.
This post focuses only on the itinerary aspects of this trip, and makes some recommendations on choices to make. The quickest way to book this is to copy the itinerary section below into an e-mail to a travel agent (recommendations at the bottom) and have them come up with proposals.
- Day 1 – Fly to Quito. Relax
- Day 2-6 – Fly to Galapagos Islands, Cruise, Fly back. Spend 5 days on the boat.
- Day 7-10 Spend time in Quito and visit the surroundings – especially Otavalo. You want a Saturday in Otavalo, and you want to spend Friday night there.
- If you have extra time and interest, consider visiting a rain forest, like Maquipucuna.
- Day 11 – Travel Back.
From SFO and other US cities, it’s a red eye on United through Houston. Stay the night, acclimatize, rest. We stayed an extra day. I don’t like to rush things, but it’s probably ok to just stay one night, or possibly head straight to Galapagos. You may also fly through Guaiaquil.
You have to make a few decisions regarding the ship, foremost Size and Itinerary. We picked a large ship and chose the South Eastern Islands. 5 Days 4 nights.
You are trading stability and amenities of a larger boat against intimacy of a small boat. We chose the go with a 100 passenger boat, which is maximum size of boat allowed by the National Park Service. This is also the maximum number of people they let anchor at any given spot. While a smaller boat may be more intimate, you may end up with multiple boats at the same place.
These boats are on a two week itinerary to most of the Islands. Unless you want to stay 2 weeks on the cruise (why not, if you have the time and means), you will need to pick a part of this. Which Islands mostly depends on the alignment of your travel dates and the ship itinerary.
This itinerary requires some transfers, and various bookings. We don’t usually use travel agencies, but did for this time for the Ecuador part and just booked the flights ourselves (to Quito). I recommend both Gabriela Fuentes our travel agent and the agency. They seem expensive, but we got premium service and everything worked out very well. There is of course no guarantee for that.
We had great drivers, and always felt save. That folks that spoke English, spoke it very well (on one trip we had an extra guide, so the driver didn’t need to speak English, but understood quite a bit anyway). I organized everything over e-mail. As a heads up, you probably end up wiring a lot of money because credit card (or PayPal) fees will be significant on this transaction. Galapagos is not a cheap destination – by design.
Send an e-mail to Columbus Travel, with your dates, and the above itinerary, and you’ll get a few suggestions back.