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Tren Crucero & the Galapagos Islands

(Tour code: EQJ6)Discover the markets and mountains of South America

This stunning tour combines the highlights of Ecuador with the amazing wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. You'll experience the fascinating culture and volcanic scenery of Ecuador before flying to the beautiful Galapagos Islands for a truly unforgettable opportunity to see some of the world's most interesting wildlife.

Tour Highlights
  • San Pablo del Lago and Otavalo
  • The Galapagos Islands
  • Cuicocha Lake and Quito
  • Journeys on the Tren Crucero and Devil's Nose Train
  • Cotopaxi National Park
  • The Avenue of Volcanos
  • Lasso and Riobamba
  • Guamote and Cuenca
  • Baños del Inca archaeological site
  • Guayaquil
What’s Included (Full details)
  • Heritage Rail Excursion
    3 days on Tren Crucero
  • Breakfast Every Day
    Selected Evening Meals
    15 nights' hotel accommodation
  • Return Scheduled Flights
    Upgrades Available
    Internal Flights

Itinerary & Map

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Departure Times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Quito
Days 1-2

To Quito, San Pablo del Lago and Otavalo

We depart London Heathrow and fly via Amsterdam to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. From here we travel by coach to San Pablo del Lago, a sleepy village set on the shores of the sparkling San Pablo Lake, beneath the Imbabura volcano. We stay at the Hacienda Cusin, a charming hacienda hotel located at the edge of the village. On Day 2 we immerse ourselves in local life and culture with a trip to Otavalo, an indigenous town, surrounded by rugged mountains. Every Saturday, Otavalo comes bursting to life as it welcomes South America's most celebrated market, which allows you to experience Ecuadorian life as it has existed for generations.

Includes:
  • Scheduled flights
  • Day 1 - Lunch (on plane), Dinner
  • Day 2 - Breakfast
  • Day 2 - Otavalo market
Equator Monument, Quito
Days 3-4

Cuicocha Lake and Quito

This morning we take an excursion to Cuicocha, a dormant volcano filled with crystal-clear water. The caldera is three kilometres wide with two tree-covered islands at its centre. From Cuicocha we continue by coach to the Equator Monument, before travelling south to Quito, a city wedged into a space between volcanoes high up in the Andes. On arrival in Quito we check in to the Hilton Colón Hotel for two nights. On Day 4 we enjoy a guided tour of Spanish colonial Quito, passing elegant buildings, pretty churches and charming colonial squares. Your afternoon is free to continue exploring Quito at leisure.

Includes:
  • Day 3 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 3 - Cuicocha Excursion
  • Day 4 - Breakfast
  • Day 4 - Quito tour
Tren Crucero
Days 5-6

Tren Crucero to Lasso and Riobamba

Today we board the Tren Crucero, or 'Cruise Train', for a three-night journey through the heart of Ecuador. The restored four-carriage vintage train is hauled for much of the way by an historic steam locomotive. Our first day on board takes us through an area dubbed the "Avenue of Volcanoes" in Cotopaxi National Park, with the possibility of seeing a variety of local wildlife including Andean deer and the Andean Condor. Lunch is followed by a fascinating traditional indigenous presentation, where we learn about the customs and way of life of the ancient local people. We continue to the town of Lasso, where we spend the night at a local hacienda. On Day 6 we enjoy an excursion to the Nevado Roses flower plantation. After lunch in Ambato we move on to the town of Urbina, where we visit the Interpretation Centre of the Ice Men. This afternoon we reach Riobamba, a city encased by hills and snow-capped mountains, most notably the Chimborazo Volcano, which looms over downtown Riobamba. We stay at a hotel in the centre of the city.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Excursions
  • Tren Crucero
Nariz del Diablo
Day 7

Guamote Market and the Devil's Nose

This morning we visit the Church of La Balbanera, the oldest Spanish-built church in Ecuador. We then continue on the Tren Crucero to the town of Guamote. Every Thursday the town hosts an incredibly lively, colourful market, which we have time to explore. This afternoon we travel along the route of the incredible 'Nariz del Diablo', or Devil's Nose. Completed in 1902, the railway line is a truly staggering feat of engineering which traverses the wild mountainous terrain in a zig-zag manoeuvre. We continue by train to Huigra, where we stay overnight.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Excursions
Cuenca
Day 8

Bucay to Guayaquil

This morning we enjoy an excursion to a local village to meet members of the indigenous Shuar community. The Shuar people live in the rainforests of both Ecuador and Peru and have maintained their traditional way of life. We enjoy lunch at the Hacienda San Rafael before continuing our journey by rail towards the coast, hauled by a steam locomotive. We reach Guayaquil, where we transfer by coach to our hotel for an overnight stay.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Excursions
Ecuadorian cocoa bean
Day 9

Cuenca sightseeing

We transfer to stunning Cuenca, and a sightseeing tour introduces us to the beauty of the city's Spanish colonial centre. We walk through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, before visiting the colourful flower market. We then enjoy a visit to a local hat factory to see how the famous Panamas are made. Your afternoon and evening are free.

Includes:
  • Breakfast
  • Tour of Cuenca
  • Panama Hat factory
Local people
Days 10-11

El Tambo and Guayaquil

This morning we travel by coach to El Tambo, where we join a fascinating rail journey to Coyoctor. Here we visit the Baños del Inca archaeological site, a sacred home of the Cañari people, which was later adopted by the Incas as a ceremonial centre. On our return to El Tambo, we continue to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, located on the immense Guayas River. On Day 11 we enjoy a guided tour, visiting the Plaza Iguanas, the cathedral, Municipal Palace and the waterfront park.

Includes:
  • Excursions
  • Day 10 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 11 - Breakfast
Charles Darwin Centre
Day 12

To the Galapagos

Today we transfer to the airport and fly to the stunning Galapagos Islands. We land on Baltra just outside the Galapagos National Park, from where we sail to the islands and transfer to Puerto Ayora, for four nights at the Hotel Silberstein. Later we are joined by our local guide for our excursion to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here you can discover the islands' history and the work of the Darwin Foundation, and see the tortoise breeding and rearing project at work. We return to Puerto Ayora, where you are free to explore the harbour town.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Dinner
  • Transfer flights
  • Charles Darwin Research Station
Galapagos wildlife
Days 13-15

Exploring the Galapagos Islands

We spend the next few days exploring the many fabulous attractions and outstanding landscapes of the incredible Galapagos Islands. As itineraries are dependent on the season and weather conditions, the exact itinerary may vary. During the next couple of days you may find yourself spotting dolphins or other creatures from the idyllic beaches and rocky crags of Bartolome Island. Otherwise you could find yourself exploring Plazas South Island, known for its lush flora and indigenous sea lions. If you're very lucky, you may discover the elusive blue-footed boobies that make these islands their home. Sometimes it is also possible to spot colonies of other rare birds, that reside in the silvery forest of Seymour Island, or on Cerro Mesa. Your travels may also take you to the dusky caves of Florena, which was once a pirate base. The west side of Florena is also celebrated for its impressive crater. Lunch and dinner are provided on each day of this memorable adventure.

Includes:
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Excursions
Return to the UK
Days 16-17

Return to London

We transfer to Baltra for our flight to Guayaquil. Here we join our flight to London, arriving on Day 17.

Includes:
  • Day 16 - Breakfast, Dinner (on plane)
  • Day 17 - Breakfast (on plane)
  • Scheduled Flights
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