Otavalo, Chaski Route Train, and 5 Day Galapagos Legend Cruise

10 Days/9 Nights

From $3,589 per person

  • If you want an expert to plan the perfect vacation for you...

  • We can customize this tour to suit your requirements.

  • We can also book your airfare at below published rates.


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 five day Galapagos Islands cruise aboard the Galapagos Legend.

Lodging, Meals, and Airfare: This tour includes accommodations for 9 nights (4 nights in Quito, 1 night at the Magdalena Karanki Community, and 4 nights aboard the Galapagos Legend), 19 meals (9 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners), and domestic airfare in Ecuador.

Best Time to Go: Year-Round.

Destinations: South America, Ecuador, and Galapagos.

Interests: Adventure, Culture & History, Expedition Cruising, Scuba Diving, Sea Kayaking, Snorkeling, and Wildlife Viewing.

Places Visited: Quito, Otavalo, and the Galapagos Islands.

Day-by-Day Itinerary

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.

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.

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)

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)

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)

Morning transfer to the airport in Quito for the flight to Galapagos. Passengers are picked up at the airport by our naturalist guides and taken on a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.

Black Turtle Cove is located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, and is accessible only by sea. Four species of mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon and turtles enjoy swimming in the calm waters, raising their heads above the surface while fish, rays and small sharks circle below. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat, and sea birds, including pelicans, herons and egrets, all feed in the cove. The cove has been declared a “Turtle Sanctuary”. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Sullivan Bay (wet landing). This visitor site is located at the southeastern portion of Santiago Island, and is of important geologic interest. It features extensive lava flows believed to have been formed during the last quarter of the 19th century.

Rábida. Dark-red sand covers unique beaches with an incredible landscape; Rábida is considered the epicenter of the Galapagos Islands due to the diversity of its volcanic geology. Nesting Brown Pelicans are found from July through September and nine species of the famous Darwin’s finches can be seen. You will also take a dinghy ride along cliffs to observe nesting seabirds, and snorkel off the coast, where marine life is particularly active. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Urbina Bay. Wet landing on a volcanic “black” beach. Depending on the season, you may find giant tortoises, land iguanas and the unusual Flightless Cormorant. After a short walk inland, snorkeling time is allotted, giving you yet another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season. You can observe the beautiful colors of plants that attract different insects, birds and reptiles. You will explore the uplifted coral reef that resulted from 1954 volcanic activity, with a spectacular view of Alcedo volcano.

Tagus Cove. Dry landing on Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos, where you will learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that form it. The trail leads to Darwin’s salt-water crater lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations. You will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where you will admire a variety of seabirds, such as Blue-footed Booby, Brown Noddy, terns, Flightless Cormorant, and depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos Penguins, which are only 35 cm. tall; the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the equator. They are monogamous and lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, on the lower parts of the island near the shoreline not reached by the ocean waves. The population of penguins on the islands is about 2,000 individuals, most of which live on this western portion of Isabela; others are scattered further south on the island. You will have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water. Graffiti believed to have been left by19th-century pirates is a curious reminder of an intriguing past. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Punta Espinosa (dry landing). Punta Espinosa is the only spot that you visit on Fernandina, and from it you can see the island of Isabela across the Bolívar Channel, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. The largest, most primitive-looking race of marine iguanas are found mingling with sea lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs; a wonderful opportunity to encounter Flightless Cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos Penguins and the “King” of predators on the Islands, the Galapagos Hawk. “Pa-hoe-hoe” and “AA” lava formations cover the majority of the terrain. Vegetation is thus scarce inland, but you encounter Brachycereus cacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores.

Punta Vicente Roca. Great deep water snorkeling at one of the richest marine havens on Earth (Bolívar Channel). You take a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds. The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

Highlands of Santa Cruz (dry landing). A 45-minute bus ride will take you to the Highlands of Santa Cruz, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where you will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the Island’s name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg. and can live up to 150-200 years.

After the visit, you will be transferred to Baltra Airport for your return flight to Quito. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)

Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Itinerary Map

Galapagos Legend B Itinerary Map

Prices & Dates

Price per Person

Category Single Double Triple
Standard Plus Cabin n/a $3,589 n/a
Junior Suite n/a $3,959 $3,659
Legend Suite n/a $4,459 $4,159
Balcony Suite n/a $4,789 $4,489
Balcony Suite Plus n/a $5,089 $4,789
** The prices shown above are in U.S. Dollars. See the cost of this tour in your currency here.


  1. The above prices are valid until December 10, 2016.
  2. Minimum of two passengers required for this tour.
  3. Hotel upgrades are available upon request.

Departure Dates

Alternating Sunday departures throughout the year.

What's Included

Price Includes

  • 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.
  • Quito-Galapagos-Quito airfare ($449).
  • Fuel surcharge for the ship ($90).
  • 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.



Swissotel Quito, Quito, Ecuador

5 Star – Swissotel Quito


Galapagos Legend, Galapagos Cruise Ship

First Class – Galapagos Legend

Additional Details

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.