Otavalo, Chaski Route Train, and 4 Day Galapagos Legend Cruise
9 Days/8 Nights
From $3,229 per person
(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)
This popular tour begins in Quito, the first city to be included on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list due to its art and architecture. It includes an overnight at the indigenous Magdalena Karanki Community, an excursion to Otavalo, South America’s largest and most famous indigenous market, and a ride on the Chaski Route train from Ibarra to Salinas. The last part of the tour is a four day Galapagos Islands cruise aboard the Galapagos Legend.
Lodging, Meals, and Airfare: This tour includes accommodations for 8 nights (4 nights in Quito, 1 night at the Magdalena Karanki Community, and 3 nights aboard the Galapagos Legend), 16 meals (8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners), and domestic airfare in Ecuador.
Best Time to Go: Year-Round.
Note: The route and program may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and wildlife encounters.
Dry Landing: Guests step from the dinghy directly onto rocks or a dock.
Wet Landing: As the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
Day 1 (Thu): Quito.
Depart to Quito. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito.
Day 2 (Fri): City Tour of Quito-Middle of the World.
In the morning, you will have a city tour of Quito. You will explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas, and visit some of its most important churches such as the majestic La Compania and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. You will drive through the traditional neighborhood of San Juan and finish the morning at the Panecillo hillside, with its breathtaking views of the old and modern parts of the city.
Following the city tour, you will be driven to the “Middle of the World City” complex, which is located 11 miles north of Quito. Here, you will see the monument of the equatorial line, a 98 ft high stone trapezoidal monument with a brass globe on top. The monument forms the focal point of a park and leisure area with gift shops and restaurants. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Day 3 (Sat): Quito-Peguchi-Cotacachi-Magdalena Karanki Community.
Today you depart Quito to the northern highlands of Ecuador, featuring stunning views of Guayllabamba and Pisque valleys. You will have a unique “in situ” opportunity to learn about the formation of the Andes Cordilleras. There will be a photo stop for the snowcapped Cayambe volcano, and you will drive through rose farms and a quilt patched country side with corn, potatoes, quinoa and broad bean fields before arriving in the province of Imbabura, the “lake province of Ecuador”.
You will visit the village of Peguche, which is known for its Otavalo weavers, who continue to work with their traditional and Spanish introduced looms. Sheep´s wool is mainly used in the making of wall hangings, ponchos, sweaters and more. A family that handcrafts wind instruments will demonstrate how they are made and perform native music.
Cotacachi, is a small town at the foot of a volcano of the same name. The kindness of its people, the temperate weather and the artistic abilities of its inhabitants, have made of this small town a retirement retreat for many foreign nationals. The “trade mark” of Cotacachi is the manufacture of leather goods: jackets, bags, belts, wallets and much more. Quality and reasonable prices are on the “menu” of this industrious destination!
You will spend the rest of the day in Magdalena, an agricultural, cattle and sheep raising community located in rolling hills east of the Imbabura volcano. The women of the region traditionally have embroidered the blouses of their costumes, now you can purchase utilitarian goods with this beautiful multicolored embroidery. Learn about their everyday activities such as morning cow milking, shepherding and in season, ox plowing. Stand face-to-face with people untouched by the urgencies of modern life. An authentic Andean home-cooked dinner will be served. Overnight at the Magdalena Karanki Community. (B,D)
Day 4 (Sun): Magdalena Karanki Community-Otavalo Market-Chaski Route Train-Quito.
The Otavalo market is one of the best known markets in South America. It dates back to pre-Inca times when indigenous people would arrive from all over Ecuador to trade or sell their goods. You can shop for textiles, jewelry, musical instruments, leather goods, and hand-painted platters and trays, and experience a mix of traditional and modern Ecuadorian culture.
After the market, you will continue further north to the city of Ibarra to start the train ride that travels on an early 20th century railroad system, built to connect the northern Andes and the Pacific coast. A two-hour ride, dropping from over 8,000 feet to almost half this altitude, embraces high altitude vegetation, dry zones with bromeliad and pear cacti, ending in a sub-tropical zone with sugar cane plantations. The main attraction of this ride is travelling through tunnels and bridges following the Ambi River Canyon. Upon arrival in Salinas, an Afro-Ecuadorian village, you will enjoy lunch and an enriching cultural experience. Overnight at Hotel Quito in Quito. (B,L)
Day 5 (Mon): Quito-Baltra Airport-Bartolome.
Morning transfer to the airport in Quito for the flight to Galapagos. Passengers are picked up at the airport by our guides and taken on a ten minute bus ride to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
Bartolome (dry or wet landing). You discover a fascinating landscape formed by different volcanic parasitic cones – lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones – that resemble the moon. Going up to the summit there will be impressive views of the surrounding islands, including the eroded tuff cone Pinnacle Rock. You also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and blue-footed boobies.
Beach time is a great opportunity to do snorkeling and see the famous Galapagos Penguins, sea turtles and White-tipped Reef Sharks among a great variety of colorful fish. For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best snorkeling experience. Crystal clear water is the perfect spot to appreciate the incredible marine life it has to offer. Due to its geographical location, the lack of vegetation is immediately noticeable however, there are pioneer plants including the endemic Tiquilia nesiotica and Chamaesyce (known as sand mat or spurge in English), lava cactus, and Scalesia bushes. (Duration: 1.5 hour walk/one hour snorkeling). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Day 6 (Tue): South Plaza Islet-North Seymour.
South Plaza Islet (dry landing). There are two Plaza Islets (north and south) located east of Santa Cruz Island. On the northern part of the Islet, visitors begin the journey along an impressive cactus forest where colorful yellow and red land iguanas live, the population number is around 300 animals; during the dry season they survive on fruits and flowers of the opuntia cacti. A peculiar thing to see in South Plaza is the hybrid iguana (sea and land). When reaching the highest point, tropicbirds can be seen. During the dry season (June-January) the usually greenish and yellowish vegetation changes color creating a bright red landscape (sesuviumedmonstonei plant). (Duration: 2 hour walk).
North Seymour Island (dry landing). Off of Baltra Island and not far from Santa Cruz, North Seymour is located. This landmass was formed by a series of underwater volcanic eruptions, which deposited layers of lava on the ocean floor. You will have an approximately two-hour walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigate birds, and swallow-tailed gulls for an in depth encounter with sea bird breeding cycles and sea lions. You will also encounter land iguanas, and on a lucky day, you might even come across the endemic Galapagos Snake. (Duration: 2 hour walk, 30 minute snorkeling). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Day 7 (Wed): Pitt Point & Islet-Cerro Brujo (San Cristobal).
Pitt Point & Islet (wet landing) followed by a high-intensity hike on rocky terrain. The trail includes a 90 meters long, olivine beach and a path that climbs to the top of a volcanic tuff, through several magnificent viewpoints. This is probably the only site where the three booby species of the Galapagos can be seen together, as well as, two species of frigate birds and a sea lion colony. It is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling, where a good range of sea birds can be observed. (Duration: 2.5 hour walk/40 minute snorkeling & kayaking).
Cerro Brujo (wet landing). Cerro Brujo is an eroding tuff cone that at several locations is composed of AA lava formations and a beautiful white sandy beach, great for snorkeling and sunbathing. There is a lagoon visit where migratory bird species can be seen: Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, other sandpiper species and White-cheeked Pintails. Cerro Brujo offers beautiful views of Kicker Rock, the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast. (Duration: one hour walk/one hour snorkeling). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Day 8 (Thu): Puerto Baquerizo Moreno-Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve (San Cristobal)-San Cristobal Airport-Quito.
Dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno which is the capital of the Galapagos Islands. Passengers will visit the Cerro Colorado Giant Tortoise Reserve to learn about the National Park’s conservation programs. Passengers will also have the opportunity to visit the port village, have a drink, or shop for arts and crafts and other souvenirs. (Duration: 40 minute bus ride to the Reserve/one hour visit).
After the visit you will go to San Cristobal Airport for your return flight to Quito. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Day 9 (Fri): Quito.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
|Standard Plus Cabin
- The above prices are valid until December 10, 2020.
- Minimum of two passengers required for this tour.
- Hotel upgrades are available upon request.
Alternating Thursday departures throughout the year.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Airport/hotel transfers including baggage handling.
- Hotel accommodations including service fees and taxes.
- Accommodations on board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
- All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Evening briefings.
- Use of snorkeling equipment.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare ($475).
- Fuel surcharge for the ship ($50).
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to ship crew and guides.
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Gifts and personal items.
- Travel insurance.
We will be happy to quote the cost of international airfare and travel insurance, and to make these arrangements for you.
Group Private: All services included in this tour are operated on a group basis.
Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level, Magdalena Karanki Community is 10,170 feet, Otavalo is 8,399 feet, Ibarra is 7,231 feet, and Salinas is 5,282 feet.
IGTOA’S Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund: South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association). In support of IGTOA’s Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, we contribute $20 for each passenger that we send to the Galapagos Islands. You’ll travel knowing that you support the lasting protection of Galapagos Islands.
Sixty percent of the funding of this program goes directly to the Charles Darwin Foundation for science, conservation, and education. Their work, carried out through the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park, is vital to the preservation of the islands. You can visit their web site to learn more www.darwinfoundation.org. The remainder goes toward IGTOA’s mission of creating a model of responsible and sustainable tourism.
Passport/Visa: U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Ecuadorian embassy in their country before traveling.
Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.
To Book This Trip: We require a non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person plus the cost of the international airfare (if we make the arrangements for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.
- Personalized Tours
- Destination Expertise
- Reliability (A+ BBB Rating)
- 1000's of Happy Customers
Want Help Planning Your Trip?
Other Tours You May Like
Galapagos Travel Info
Galapagos Blog Posts and Travel Articles