Otavalo & Galapagos holiday
Combining the appeal of a 16th century hacienda in the Andes and a luxurious modern motor yacht in the Galapagos, this holiday is a real winner.
Otavalo and Galapagos
Prices from: £6,350pp for 10 nights
From the outset you can tell this is a special holiday. Warmly greeted at Quito airport, your guide will convey you to your first hotel, an historic jewel of a mansion in the city’s main square. .
Having had time to explore the capital you’ll head north into the highlands, via the famous market at Otavalo, to your hacienda, owned by the family of a former President of Ecuador no less! In fact this is still very much a working farm and one you are welcome to look round, even lending a hand should you wish. And don’t miss the cheese museum! Lovers of the great outdoors will be in their element, whether on foot, by bike or horse, there’s something for everyone.
Just when you think it can’t get any better you’ll be whisked off to the far flung Galapagos Islands, to your top-of-range motor yacht, with stylish interiors, spacious decks, twin Jacuzzis and a smiling crew. You’ve got 6 days to appreciate all this and the natural wonders and wildlife of the Galapagos.
It’s a heady combination of first class accommodation, top quality service, stunning scenery and animals and birds you’ll see nowhere else.
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to Galapagos Islands. Tell us what you want, and we will tailor make your perfect trip.
- Quito – 2 nights
- Hacienda Zuleta – 2 nights
- Quito – 1 night
- Sea Star Journey – 5 nights
DAY 2: FRIDAY This morning your guide will collect you from the hotel to take you on a half-day city tour. This will introduce you to the history and culture of the Quito, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, and will help you find your bearings. The tour starts near your hotel in the main square and concludes on El Panecillo, the ‘bread roll’, a hill that provides panoramic views of the city. Breakfast
DAY 3: SATURDAY After breakfast you’ll be collected for the drive north through the highlands to Hacienda Zuleta. You’ll stop on the way at Otavalo, a small town noted for its market. Although there is a market every day, the main event occurs on a Saturday, so you’ll be here to witness it! Locals shop for food, farmers trade animals, and there are all sorts of handicrafts, woven fabrics and jewellery which make great gifts. You’ll continue on to Hacienda Zuleta, a charming working farm in the Andes. Breakfast, dinner
DAY 4: SUNDAY You’ll have a wide choice of activities today. You can follow waymarked walking trails, do some bird watching, go mountain biking, have a guided tour of the farm and cheese factory, and spend time in the local village, all at no extra charge. Other activities such as horse riding are available for an additional fee. Of course you’re also welcome to relax in the hacienda, catching up with some reading and chatting to other guests. Breakfast, dinner
DAY 5: MONDAY You’ll have the morning free to explore the lovely grounds of the hacienda, or to visit the condor rearing centre nearby. In the afternoon you’ll be driven the 2 hours back to Quito and your hotel near to the airport. Breakfast
DAY 6: TUESDAY After breakfast you’ll be transferred to the airport for the flight to San Cristobal in the Galapagos (about 4 hours). A guide from Sea Star Journey will greet you and accompany you to the vessel. Having lunched on board you’ll enjoy your first guided excursion, to the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Protection Centre. As well as watching the tortoises you can follow a trail for views of finches, flycatchers, Galapagos mockingbirds and yellow warblers. You’ll be back on Grand Odyssey for drinks and dinner. Full board
DAY 7: WEDNESDAY Today you’ll be exploring Espanola, the southernmost island. Landing at Gardner Bay you’ll be impressed by the long stretch of sand and the basking sea lions, and you’ll be able to go swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. In the afternoon you’ll observe varied birdlife at Punta Suarez, both on the cliffs and high above you on the thermal currents. You’ll also witness an impressive blowhole, spurting water up to 20 metres into the air. Full board
DAY 8: THURSDAY Today your guide will lead you inland from Punta Cormorant on Floreana, to a lagoon which attracts common stilts, white-cheeked pintail ducks and flamingos. In the afternoon you’ll visit Post Office Bay where historically sailors left letters in the hope of their being collected and delivered by fellow mariners. The day ashore finishes with sweeping views from Baroness Viewpoint, much loved by a noteworthy and notorious former island resident. Full board
DAY 9: FRIDAY You’ll visit 2 small islands today. The first, Santa Fe, is home to many endemic species including land iguanas, Galapagos hawks and mockingbirds. A path leads past prickly pear cacti and offers plenty of chances to see wildlife. The second island is tiny South Plaza with its distinctive, small land iguanas and plentiful birdlife including frigatebirds and red-billed tropicbirds. Full board
DAY 10: SATURDAY A circular walk from the beach on North Seymour offers excellent chances to see blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls, ending back on the shore among sea lions. This afternoon you’ll visit Bachas Beach, where flamingos are frequently seen in the lagoon. The beach is named after the WW2 barges that were abandoned by the Americans when they closed their base on Baltra. Tonight you’ll enjoy a farewell dinner on Grand Odyssey, and a chance to thank your crew. Full board
DAY 11: SUNDAY Mosquera Islet, between Baltra and North Seymour, will be your final shore excursion. You’ll be able to watch sea lions, shorebirds and colourful Sally Lightfoot crabs, and go for a swim. Later you’ll be disembark Sea Star Journey and will be taken to the airport in Baltra to board the flight back to the mainland. Breakfast
Price from (pp sharing): £6,350 (ex. international flights)
Includes: Airport transfers, 10 nights twin share accommodation (3 nights hotel, 2 nights hacienda and 5 nights Sea Star Journey), ground transport, half-day guided tour of Quito, tour of Otavalo town and market, meals as shown, guided excursions on cruise as offered by Sea Star Journey, drinking water, tea and coffee on cruise, snorkelling equipment and kayaks on cruise, return flights to the Galapagos Islands from the Ecuadorian mainland..
Excludes: International flights, departure taxes, visas (not currently required by British passport holders), travel insurance, Galapagos National Park tax currently US$100 payable locally in US$, meals not shown as included, drinks, tips, items of a personal nature.
Getting there: This holiday starts and ends in Quito. Flight prices from the UK start from around £675. We normally book these for you.
Departure dates: If you take this exact itinerary you need to start in Quito on a Thursday due to the departure days of Sea Star Journey in the Galapagos.
NOTE: We can also arrange this trip using different cruise vessel if you prefer, in which case a different departure day might be required and the price will alter according to the yacht chosen. Please click here for the full collection of Galapagos yachts.
Plaza Grande is an elegant five-storey building on the main square and retains many of the original features such as elaborately carved ceilings, glistening crystal chandeliers and fine wood panelling. You’re right in the heart of the city, perfect for sightseeing. This is an all-suite hotel, with modern features like air conditioning, Wi-Fi, cable TV, a minibar and a jacuzzi. Gorgeous gourmet meals based on Ecuadorian cuisine are served in La Belle Epoque, the main restaurant with decor reminiscent of 1940s France. If you want something a little more casual the Cafe Plaza Grande offers a variety of regional dishes. After a busy day sightseeing and shopping you’ll be glad to head back to the comforts of the hotel, to unwind in the lounge, enjoy a drink and maybe relax with a visit to the sauna.
This luxury 17th century hacienda is set in vast grounds and is owned by the family of a former president of Ecuador. Relaxing in the living room furnished with antiques and family portraits, browsing through a book in the library and enjoying home-cooked meals and the delicious cheese made on the farm you will soon feel part of the family. There are numerous patios and terraces where you can savour the mountain views and watch hummingbirds feed. Your room has a wood burning stove, ideal for cool evenings, and when you retire for the night you will find a hot water bottle warming your bed. Games, DVDs and Wi-Fi are provided for indoor entertainment, but you probably spend most of your time outside, walking, trekking, horse riding or just chilling.
Sea Star Journey
Sea Star Journey, launched in 2011, is a sleek motor yacht offering stylish contemporary accommodation. There are 9 spacious suites, all with picture windows, air conditioning, TV, minibar and a bathroom with hot and cold running water ensure a more than comfy stay. Social areas include the dining room and lounge with books and DVDs. Outdoors there are open and shaded areas and 2 jacuzzis. If you want to do some exploring of your own the Sea Star Journey has snorkelling equipment and kayaks available at no extra charge. For sheer indulgence you can’t beat a visit to the mini spa for a soothing massage.
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We know and love the Galapagos Islands, and would be delighted to help you plan your perfect Galapagos holiday. Call 01473 890499 and speak to one of our Galapagos travel specialists today.