Galapagos Islands - Touring Holidays
On an escorted tour to Ecuador there is so much to discover, from colonial cities and Andean villages to the astounding Amazon Rainforest and the awe-inspiring Galapagos Islands. If you’re looking for the holiday of a lifetime, this surely is it.
A good place to begin your exploration of this small South American country, sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, and straddling the equator, is its capital Quito. Nestled high up in a narrow valley in the snowy peaks of the Andes, this charming city is compact enough to explore by foot, with its many churches and chapels, cafés and museums all set against a spectacular backdrop. Take time not only to acclimatise – Quito has an altitude of around 9,000 feet – but also to discover the Old Town, whose plazas, cobbled streets and well-preserved colonial-era architecture take you hurtling back in time.
North of the capital is the town of Otavalo, surrounded by towering volcanoes and famous for its market. Locals use the market today much as their pre-Colombian ancestors would have done, so head here to experience Ecuadorian culture, sample the traditions of the Andes and pick up a souvenir or two, from ponchos to pan pipes.
Hikers and climbers will want to beat a path to Cotopaxi National Park, home to the famed Cotopaxi Volcano, which dominates this relatively flat terrain. Wolves, pumas and bears inhabit the park in abundance, and it’s an exceptional location for bird-watching. In fact, for sheer diversity of birds, Ecuador is hard to beat. Here, 15% of the world’s bird species are recorded in less than 0.2% of the earth’s surface, with a high proportion of them permanent residents rather than migratory.
That’s just the start of the amazing natural wonders to be found in this incredible destination. The Ecuadorian Amazon boasts unbelievable biodiversity and can offer the lucky adventurer 800 species of fish, 350 types of reptiles, more than 300 different mammals from monkeys to jaguars, and thousands and thousands of insects, plants and trees to feast their eyes upon.
Of course, Ecuador is also your gateway to the incredible Galapagos Islands, which lie 620 miles off the coast – where better to round off your journey of a lifetime. Amongst dramatic volcanic landscapes discover an abundance of endemic creatures, many of which are found nowhere else on the planet. This unique wildlife includes giant tortoises, marine iguanas and Galapagos finches – it was these birds in particular that led English naturalist Charles Darwin to conceive his ground-breaking theory of evolution, published in his 1859 book ‘On the Origin of Species’.
Every Travelsphere holiday offers exceptional value for money. Included in the price are return scheduled flights/rail travel and internal flights, where applicable, overseas transfers and transportation, carefully chosen hotels, many meals and excursions and the services of a Travelsphere Tour Manager or Local Guide.
Articles about the Galapagos Islands
Gentle giants of Galapagos
The most famous of the unique fauna of the Galapagos Islands is the giant tortoise. Known as the Galapagos tortoise, the islands were named after these creatures, with early explorers describing them as galapago – an old Spanish word for saddle, hinting at the shape of their shells.
Quito a Capital city with a dramatic setting
Nestled in a central valley more than 9,000 feet up in the Andes, flanked by active volcanoes such as Pichincha, Quito is one of the world’s highest capital cities, and few can be more dramatically situated. It boasts a bustling modern downtown area, La Mariscal, beautiful natural parks, and the Mitad Del Mundo monument and park, marking the Equator, but it’s the Old City that attracts most attention, and which helped make it one of UNESCO’s first two World Cultural Heritage sites.