Find out why Travel + Leisure is featuring this wildlife and culture filled odyssey that goes deep into the famed Galapagos while also taking you to lesser-known spots brimming with mainland Ecuador’s natural beauty and culture, all with a touch of casual luxury.
We’re excited and honored to have Travel + Leisure highlight a sample trip itinerary for which I’ve always had a real soft spot: A Galapagos & Ecuador Luxury Adventure.
Galapagos & Ecuador Luxury Adventure HIGHLIGHTS
Pinch Me Moment Swimming amongst playful sea lion pups, sea turtles, and nurse and hammerhead sharks, only to finally hit the beach and find giant tortoises crossing the nearby trail. Hiking by a massive toucan in the cloud forest and watching my son Trey’s eyes pop, and then seeing his pride swell after a successful horseback trail ride to Zuleta’s condor rehabilitation project. Oh, and scoring that perfect oil painting of the countryside at the massive indigenous Otavalo market and giving it to Tara. OK, there’s too many on this one.
Where you lay your head This trip starts in Quito, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site and an incredibly historic city. Patio Andaluz is a colonial mansion turned hotel. Not in-your-face fancy but nice, a caring staff, and a mix of truly local character paired with an absolutely perfect location — proximate to both the main and the Presidential plazas — makes Andaluz a winner. From here you head deep into the cloud forest (think jungle but not as hot and even more birds!) to an insane project that has protected thousands of acres, Mashpi, which is a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. Don’t miss the ‘dragonfly’ which takes you for miles through the high canopy. In Galapagos, based on what’s the best expedition and vessel for you, choose from one of our incredible partner yachts such as Ocean Spray, Endemic, and Origin (VIP treatment and best pricing guaranteed when booking with Knowmad!). After returning from the Galapagos and heading to the countryside full of colorful indigenous cultures, stay in the family hacienda of a former Ecuadorian President at Hacienda Zuleta, where you’ll be part of the family at this charming piece of history in a relaxing paradise.
Why I love It There’s something about island hopping and landing at remote deserted beaches by private, small yacht that conjures up both my inner child and James Bond. Then, getting up close and personal with the diversity of animal species who know no natural predators and seeing firsthand their curiosity for humans is so cool. This approach has travelers stay a bit longer, slow it down, and also explore mainland Ecuador as opposed to keeping it to a week or rushing off to Peru to cram a ton of stuff into two weeks. When they come home and tell us how thankful they are that they opened themselves up to these places they had no idea about and how they were every bit unexpected highlights of the trip, well that’s a proud moment for a travel designer. This style itinerary nearly guarantees this kind of post-trip feedback.
In a Perfect World This itinerary has you taking a yacht-based expedition throughout the Galapagos. For me this is almost a must as it gets you to far flung corners of these 21 islands and the most hands-on with wildlife consistently. However, I really love pairing it with a couple nights land-based at Galapagos Safari Camp whose hospitality and unique qualities just make it, well, special. Or if you’re feeling ready for a bit less lavish and even more adventurous, or want to save some dough while being land-based, Magic Galapagos and its lava tunnels where you can enjoy a meal is incredibly cool.
Knowmad Adventures works closely with independent-minded travelers creating innovative trips to South America. Our Ecuador + Galapagos Trip Specialists are eager to collaborate and create a trip as unique and authentic as you are, and our experienced South American operations team guarantees you get an insider’s perspective, superior values, and a flawlessly operated trip. Reach out to our award-winning Knowmad Trip Specialists today to plan your perfect Ecuador + Galapagos Islands trip.
13-Day Galapagos & Ecuador Luxury Adventure Itinerary
FROM $7,625* • 13 DAYS ECUADOR
Extensive and luxurious, this adventure highlights all the best. Stay in a restored colonial mansion in Quito, spot wildlife in the lush cloud forest canopy, island hop the Galapagos aboard a small-ship expedition, and finish at the former president’s cozy hacienda nestled in the highlands from where you’ll experience Ecuador’s fascinating indigenous cultures.
QUITO • 3 NIGHTS
Explore the history, architecture, and sights and sounds of the Spanish Colonial empire and the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, and stay in a restored colonial mansion.
CLOUD FOREST / MASHPI LODGE • 2 NIGHTS
Cable car through the clouds and lush canopy, walk to remote waterfalls and swimming holes, visit the hummingbird observatory, butterfly sanctuary, and more in this lush temperate (higher altitude makes for much less heat and humidity than tropical rainforest) ecosystem of unparalleled biodiversity. Your home, Mashpi Lodge, is a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS • 4 / 6 NIGHTS
Enjoy some of the world’s most unique wildlife experiences on a luxurious small-ship catamaran. Galapagos wildlife know no predators and are as curious about you as you are them!
HIGHLANDS / HACIENDA ZULETA • 2 NIGHTS
Experience Ecuador’s indigenous cultures and heritage visiting South America’s largest market, hike to an Andean Condor rehabilitation project, or simply relax in quite possibly the world’s most charming hacienda.
Follow this link to view the full, customizable Galapagos & Ecuador Luxury Adventure
It is always Knowmad’s goal that our travelers feel prepared for and excited about their adventure to South America. If you have any questions we can help answer, or if you’d like to discuss planning your own Ecaudor + Galapagos Islands trip, give one of our Trip Specialists a call today at at 612-315-2894, or fill out the short form below to begin planning your personalized South America itinerary.
Happy Adventuring! Jordan
Jordan is a Co-Founder of Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. He has been honored as a Condé Nast Traveler Experience Maker for Patagonia, and has won Travel + Leisure’s prestigious Top Travel Specialist for Patagonia, Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador/Galapagos countless years in a row. “Travel brings me incredible experiences and challenges, highlighting the world’s natural beauty while connecting me with inspiring people. I am convinced that travel makes us better people, and better people make a better planet.” Read Jordan’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.