Ecuador is four different worlds, straddling two different hemispheres, with one set of islands (re: the Galápagos Islands) that are unlike anywhere else you’ve been. Get closer to giant tortoises and seals than you ever thought possible, climb volcanoes, swim in some of the most picturesque places, and hike through the Amazon Rainforest. It’s Mother Nature meets Animal Planet meets secluded paradise. It’s the feeling you get when you clean your room, take a step back, and it seems like no one has ever lived there—that’s Ecuador and the Galápagos. Untouched. Unbelievable. Unparalleled to anywhere else in the world.
What are the top highlights?
- Explore jungles, mountains, beaches, and more
- Take a scenic train ride (called Devil’s Nose) down the side of a cliff in Alausí
- Visit a cacao plantation and learn everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate
- Swim with many, many, many seals on San Cristobal Island
- Escape from the urban jungle and head to an actual jungle in Baños
- Feel tiny as you hang with giant tortoises
- Snorkel the crystal-clear blue waters of Santa Cruz Island
Your trip includes
- Round-trip flights & airport transfers
- Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
- Private motorcoach
- 9 nights in hand-picked accommodations
- Welcome Mixer with appetizers & drinks
- Daily breakfast & three-course Farewell Dinner
You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.
Click **here **for examples of where you'll stay.
Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:
- Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
- Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
- Flights are booked with major airlines
- 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
- One checked bag included on most flights
- Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure
Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.
Day 1: Fly to Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! You’re landing in Quito, the capital city and home to the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get ready to feel like you’re on top of the world—because you kinda are; Quito is 2,500 meters above sea level. Deep breaths everyone, you’re in for an adventure (and because the air is thinner).
- Meet a trip representative at the airport.
- Transfer to your accommodation in Quito via private coach.
- Receive the latest schedule and trip updates from your Tour Director.
- Greet your fellow travelers as they arrive.
Day 2: Explore Quito
Quito’s a bit of modern-day meets traditional. As you get to know the area with a guided tour from a local guide, be sure to keep a look out for people wearing traditional Ecuadorian clothes, including ponchos, long dresses, and lots of jewelry. When you’re not enjoying the rather distinctive dress code, be sure to look up at the sky. Is it a bird? Possibly. Ecuador is a bird-watcher’s paradise. Is it a plane? Maybe. It’s one of the busiest airports in South America. But, more than likely, you’re looking at one of the eight volcanoes that surround the city.
- Join your Tour Director on a brief tour of the city and get acquainted with your new favorite city.
- Fulfill your dream of standing in two places at once at Mitad del mundo, the line that divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (AKA the equator).
Free Time Suggestion
Plaza Foch: This is one of the busiest areas in Quito for party, fun, and entertainment. Whether you’re looking for a more chill-type bar or a dance club to get your groove on, in Plaza Foch, the choices are endless.
La Ronda: This cobblestone street, located in Quito’s Old Town, is home to dozens of stores, art galleries, and restaurants.
In the evening, it's time for your Welcome Mixer. Enjoy appetizers and drinks with your new friends and travelers. Afterwards, you’re free to take the party elsewhere!
Day 3: Travel to Baños via Pailon del Diablo waterfall
Today, you’ll descend from the Highlands of Quito to town of Baños, known as the “gateway to the Amazon.” Nestled in a valley with waterfalls, hot springs, and green forests all around you, Baños is sure to hold your attention.
- ·Continue your Ecuador journey south, to Baños.
- Stop at Pailon del Diablo (devil’s cauldron) waterfall and have your mind blown by the sheer power of water.
- Join your Tour Director for an orientation walk of Baños before heading out on your own.
Day 4: Devil’s Nose Train Ride + Travel to Guayaquil
You’re on the move again, and this time, you’ll experience some of the best scenery Ecuador has to offer from bus and train. First, to the town of Alausí, where you’ll catch the famous Devil’s Nose train. After snapping hundreds of photos on the train, continue on to Guayaquil for the night.
- Travel to Alausí via private coach.
- Board the ever-so-cheerfully-named train, the Devil’s Nose, and descend 3,280 feet on your 7.5-mile breathtaking journey.
- Hop on a bus again and make your way to Guayaquil, your gateway to the Galápagos Islands.
Day 5: Explore Guayaquil + Cacao Plantation Visit + Optional Pirate Cruise
As Ecuador’s largest city and an important commercial port city, Guayaquil is growing larger and more interesting every year. While most of Ecuador’s industries are located here, a large student population keeps the city vibrant with plenty of bars and an emerging arts scene.
- Join your Tour Director for a walking and bus tour of some of Guayaquil’s must-see spots—iguana park, anyone?
- Wander through Barrio Las Peñas, Guayaquil’s first and most colorful neighborhood.
- Visit a cacao plantation, learn how chocolate goes from seed to plant to bar, and enjoy an included lunch.
Pirate Cruise (extra cost)
Start chanting “yo ho yo ho a pirate's life for me” as you board a replica schooner pirate ship called the Henry Morgan. Sail along the Guayas River, learn about Guayaquil’s pirate history, and take in the city views from a different perspective. Have a few drinks with your fellow travelers, and think about what life was like for actual pirates a few hundred years ago, sailing on a ship not so different than yours.
Note: Eye patch and shoulder parrot not included.
Day 6: Travel to Santa Cruz Island
As you head to Santa Cruz, the most populous of the islands, get ready for some of the best views of the Galápagos. When you think of the Galápagos Islands, you probably think of giant tortoises. Which is good, because that’s exactly what’s there (among other animals). Get ready for all kinds of animals, including tons of birds. Be sure to look up and spot the different kinds that you can’t find in the U.S.—but probably best to keep your mouth shut.
- Take a flight and then water taxi to Santa Cruz for your island adventure.
- Enjoy a guided tour of the highlands and its lush forest compared to the lowlands and beaches that are to come.
- Head underground into lava tunnels and explore the various passageways.
- Get ready to meet the self-proclaimed chillest animals ever—giant wild tortoises.
- Go on a quick hike to Las Grietas, where the earth has literally cracked open, and lucky people like you get to snorkel in between the two cliffs.
Day 7: Travel to San Cristobal Island
Follow in Darwin’s footsteps (although he most likely didn’t travel by speedboat like you’ll be doing) to San Cristobal, the first island he explored back in 1835. With only 7,000 people living on this island, it’s one of the quieter ones, so feel like you’re on your own private paradise for two days.
- Take a speedboat ride to San Cristobal, the oldest island in the Galápagos.
- Join a local guide and head to Junco Lagoon, a freshwater lake where you’ll see birds on birds on birds.
- Visit the Galapagueras de Cerro, a tortoise reserve focused on helping increase the tortoise population.
Day 8: Snorkeling + Free Time
Get ready for more animals, snorkeling, and hiking during another epic day on San Cristobal Island.
- Go on a quick hike in the morning for more breathtaking views of the island.
- Gaze at the fish swimming below you during your snorkeling adventure.
- Spend the afternoon exploring the island on your own.
Free Time Suggestions
Interpretation Center: Want to learn about the history and significance of the Galápagos? Enter the Interpretation Center. Near the center, there are also a number of nature trails that give you epic views of the surrounding area and coast.
Beach it: Head to one of our favorite beaches, Playa Mann, for fine white sand and calm turquoise waters. It’s a great beach, you know, if you’re into great beaches and relaxing without a care in the world.
Day 9: Return to Quito + Farewell Dinner
You’re headed back to the mainland. Spend today exploring more of Quito. You still have so much to see, do, eat, drink, and every other type of verb imaginable. At night, enjoy a farewell dinner with the rest of your fellow travelers.
Free Time Suggestion
La Foresta: Explore this up-and-coming neighborhood with awesome street art and plenty of places for you to up your Instagram game.
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.
Day 10: Free Day in Quito + Optional Cotopaxi Volcano Hike + Overnight Flight Home
Your time is almost over, but that doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. Make today count and head back to some of your favorite places or explore some new ones. There are no wrong choices.
- Spend the day hanging with your group before you leave tomorrow.
- Walk around and stop in some of your favorite cafes, bars, and restaurants.
- Take more pictures, make more memories. You know, the usual.
- Head to the airport and board your overnight flight home.
Free Time Suggestion
Museum me: Quito has some of the best museums in South America. Whether you want art, history, or a little of both, there’s no shortage of options for you to choose from. Our favorite? Museuo de la Ciudad (Museum of the City) that details the life of Quito from 10,000 BCE to today.
Cotopaxi Volcano Hike(extra cost)
Cotopaxi is probably Ecuador’s most iconic natural landmark, and for good reason. Not only is it extremely good looking, but it also offers exceptional hiking opportunities. Travel two hours by bus to Cotopaxi Volcano National Park, where your bus will drop you off part-way up the mountain. Once you get off the bus, you can hike 1–2 hours with a local guide. Spoiler: the views of the mountain and surrounding park are enough to make you wish you could stay in Ecuador forever. Don’t forget to bring layers, rain gear, and a good pair of walking shoes!
Please note: Depending on your departure time tonight, you may need to go straight to the airport after the excursion.
Day 11: Arrive home
Your next destination awaits—home. Arrive in the late morning or afternoon from your overnight flight.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.