Blue Footed Booby bird on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Witness natural beauty that spans from the legendary Amazon to the unequaled Galapagos with thriving latino and indigenous culture in between. Ecuador bursts with fantastic flora and intriguing fauna standing as a pillar of natural abundance. Unravel the secrets of this kaleidoscopic country with Zicasso’s premier custom itineraries.

Sample Itineraries

You can have any trip tailor made for your private travel.

Galapagos Islands Tours

Galapagos Travel Post Covid-19

Juan Xavier, a Zicasso specialist for the Galapagos, reminded us that in this unique archipelago, travelers have always maintained social distance from the wildlife! With limited numbers of travelers allowed year-round, the Galapagos are uniquely positioned to serve travelers as we emerge from Covid-19. As the archipelago is close to reaching their goal of being Covid-19 free, we await word on how this region may begin to reopen.

Opportunities to explore this region include both small ships and yachts, as well as land based excursions. An exclusive region where advance planning is always necessary, there are some opportunities to maximize your trip budget by considering travel to the Galapagos in late 2020 or 2021. At the moment, ship rates can be advantageous, reduced airfare is available, and there are some great options for those able to move forward now with planning. Paying attention to terms and conditions will be imperative, but this is easily done alongside a Zicasso travel specialist that is an expert in the region.

Planning a trip can happen anytime. It costs nothing to fill out a Trip Request with Zicasso and learn more.  Booking your trip can happen when you are comfortable to do so, as our Zicasso team can offer flexibility based on real-time global events. A customized trip with Zicasso has many advantages, and your local specialist is positioned to ensure your health and safety.  At the same time, you enjoy an itinerary designed specifically for you. Local knowledge and connections matter, as does the agility of a travel specialist to shift your plans for any reason.

Zicasso is here to help you.  Please contact us at 1-888-441-2418, and we are ready to connect you to a local travel specialist for the Galapagos today.

How to Book a Galapagos Tour

The unique tropical ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands brings to light a different world, where wildlife reigns supreme on lunar landscapes and fragile volcanic soils. The biodiversity reaches near mythological proportions with a minimal human footprint across more than 13 large islands, six smaller islands, and 42 islets. From sweeping landscapes to the transparent Pacific waters and local penguins to flightless cormorants, the Galapagos islands allow you to arrange your perfect combination of destinations and experiences. Making sure that you are able to see and experience everything you desire can be tricky when scheduling on your own, so Zicasso is here to assist you.

There are three ways to plan and book a trip:

1. Get a customized tour planned and booked by a travel professional. Travel independently on your own schedule.

2. Book a group tour. Join an escorted group tour with a fixed departure date.

3. Plan and book a trip yourself.

Zicasso offers the best solution for a customized tour by matching you with top travel specialists who plan and book the trip for you. Our travel agency division, Marageti, specializes in helping you book an escorted group tour. There is no extra cost to you for either service.

Custom Tours

A customized tour is one that is planned by a travel specialist according to your specific interests, preferences, and schedule. Whether you desire a family-friendly adventure or a romantic getaway, each of the accommodations, activities, and destinations is tailored to your preferences.The knowledge and experience of your travel specialist makes a big difference. Zicasso has spent thousands of hours vetting the best travel partners. We act as a referral service, matching you with specialists that best meet your goals and priorities.

Escorted Group Tours

A group tour offers the advantage of convenience at a great value. The schedule is fixed, the itinerary is pre-planned, and a dedicated tour director travels with the group throughout the trip. A group tour can be 30 - 50% less expensive than an equivalent customized tour. Out of the many hundreds of group tours, how do you select the right one for you? Our travel agency division, Marageti, has sales agents who specialize in helping travelers weigh the pros and cons of each group tour. We give you personalized recommendations to find the best tour for you.

Goals and Priorities

What are your goals and priorities for the trip? These should drive your decision for either a customized tour or a fixed departure group tour. We are here to help you make the right decisions to make your dream trip a reality.

Must-See Destinations in Galapagos Islands

Alongside our Galapagos travel specialists, we have compiled recommendations for any length of trip. A custom Zicasso tour designs your perfect itinerary based on your needs and goals, but the following suggestions act as guidelines depending on how time you have.

Most travelers from the United States spend approximately seven days on a Galapagos trip. The majority of travelers also include at least two nights in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. A large number of travelers experience the islands on a four to five night Galapagos cruise. With the cruise, the added time in Quito highlights a different side of Ecuador’s culture, scenery, and history that can bookend the scenic exploration.

7 to 9 Day Trips

If you have between seven to nine days to travel in the Galapagos, we recommend that you visit Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, and San Cristobal. A cruise is the best way to maximize time and money by visiting more places in a shorter period of time; however, a cruise does not offer the same flexibility as a land-based tour. Organizing your days will help you maximize your travel time and experiences. Your Zicasso travel specialists will ensure that your trip is designed with your specifications in mind.

7 Days

Days 1-2: Quito

Days 3-4: Santa Cruz

Day 5: San Cristobal

Day 6: Floreana

Day 7: Santa Cruz

8 Days

Days 1-2: Quito

Days 3-4: Santa Cruz

Day 5: San Cristobal

Day 6: Floreana

Day 7: Isabela

Day 8: Santa Cruz

9 Days

Day 1: Quito

Day 2: San Cristobal

Day 3: Genovesa

Day 4: Santa Cruz

Day 5: Fernandina

Day 8: Santiago

Day 9: Santa Cruz

If you have more time (10-14 Days), we recommend:

If you can spend approximately two weeks in Galapagos, we recommend expanding your discovery into greater Ecuador to experience the country’s four distinctive regions of the Galapagos, Andes, Amazon, and coastline. By doing so, you will experience much of Ecuador’s biodiversity.

All Zicasso tours are customized to your preferences, but here is how we recommend you spend your time:

10 Days

Days 1-2: Quito

Days 3-4: Santa Cruz

Day 5: San Cristobal

Day 6: Floreana

Day 7: Santa Cruz

Days 8-10: The Amazon

12 Days

Day 1: Quito

Days 2-3: Isabela Island

Day 4: Puerto Villamil

Day 5: Santa Cruz

Days 6-7: Quito

Days 8-12:Cloud Forest/Amazon Basin

14 Days

Days 1-2: Quito

Days 3-4: Santa Cruz

Day 5: North Seymour Island

Days 6-7: Guayaquil

Days 8-9: Cuenca

Days 10-12: Amazon Basin

Days 13-14: Quito

If you have more time (15-16 Days), we recommend:

Many visitors to the Galapagos take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South America. As a result, they wish to add extra destinations, such as cities in Colombia or Peru. Additional experiences to your Galapagos trip can include Cusco and Machu Picchu in Peru or Bogotá and Cartagena in Colombia. This type of trip would take a minimum of 15 days and could cover only the highlights of two countries, such as the Galapagos, Amazon, coffee, beaches, and gorgeous colonial cities.

A 15-day trip focusing just to Ecuador will give you plenty of time for an immersive exploration of specific regions, such as the Galapagos and the Amazon.

How many days is enough to see Galapagos?

Six to seven nights is a great amount of time to experience the Galapagos. While four to five nights offers a nice sneak peak of the wildlife and ecosystems of the islands, seven nights will give you enough time to enjoy the variety of experiences each island and the overall region offers.

Essential Experiences for the Best Galapagos Vacation

During your Galapagos tour, you can discover the volcanic islands and marvelous biodiversity of the remote islets, traverse the cobbled lanes of Quito or visit the Middle of the World. You can also enjoy sandy beaches, delicious cuisine, chic art galleries, and exceptional wildlife safari adventures.

Best Way to Experience Quito

The capital of Ecuador sits in the Andes between jagged mountain peaks. Buildings wind up the slopes amid shops and twisting roads that reveal contemporary culture and traditional heritage. Overflowing markets, sophisticated nightlife, and decadent restaurants showcase the rich diversity of Quito. During your Ecuador trip, you can enjoy the following essential experiences for your first time in Quito.

What to See & Do

The Main Must-Do Tours in Quito (2-3 Days Depending on Pace)

1. Ciudad Mitad del Mundo

  • The national landmark stands on the equator and represents the unique variety of cultures within Ecuador with exhibits that depict Highland and Amazonian heritage.

2. Old Town

  • Colonial Old Town hums with cafes, galleries, and traditional artisans that line cobblestone streets. Vendors hide in narrow alleys and help keep the historic ambiance of the neighborhood active, engaging, and lively.

3. El Panecillo

  • The lookout towers above the southside of Quito hosts a luminous statue of the Madonna that crowns the summit. The epic panorama is best in the morning before the afternoon clouds fill the sky.

Best Way to Experience Santa Cruz

The scenic diversity of Santa Cruz adds to the majesty of the region’s most populated island. Rich vegetation contrasts pit craters and Scalesia forest. Cacti and ferns showcase the different regional vegetation, spanning the 380-square-mile island. The following list offers essential experiences when visiting Santa Cruz:

What to See & Do

The Main Must-Do Tours in Santa Cruz (2 Days Depending on Pace)

1. Lava Tunnels

  • The impressive underground tunnels represent over half a mile of solidified molten-lava flow, which have been shaped by the cooled skin of magma movement.

2. Rancho Primicias Wildlife Reserve

  • The private wildlife reserve immerses visitors in the wonders of local biodiversity, which is embodied in the wild giant tortoises.

Best Way to Experience Isabella

Nature and wildlife dominate the island against the fringing crystalline turquoise water. The relaxed ambiance gives way to gorgeous beaches and neighboring islets, where Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, and sea lions populate the volcanic landscape.

What to See & Do

The Main Must-Do Tours in Isabella (2 Days Depending on Pace)

  1. Las Tintoreras IsletThe marvelous landscape rises out of the turquoise water and supports white-tipped reef sharks, marine turtles, and marine iguanas.

Special Interests & Activities in Galapagos

Traveling with Zicasso provides you with exclusive access to many activities, excursions, and tours for a distinctive experience. The following information offers insight into our recommended experiences and can be tailored to focus on your unique interests.

Best Food & Coffee Destinations

With its topographical and cultural diversity, Ecuador has a marvelous depth of flavors that capture the country’s range of gastronomy, from the four distinctive regions of the Galapagos, coastline, Andes, and Amazon regions. The cuisine reflects fresh local ingredients that differ across the shifting climates, soils, and heritage. Staple foods range from seafood along the shores to potato and cheese in the highlands or rice and yucca around the Amazon. Coffee growth and flavor remains robust along the coastal Manabi Province and edge of the Andes at Guayaquil.

Quito

The developing gastronomic culture around Quito rises out of the avenue of volcanoes with lush soils to support the under-appreciated culinary scene. Ecuadorian chefs have often studied abroad to bring back international gastronomic techniques in addition to focusing on local flavors and ingredients. The new niche of food and culture has brought a new perspective to the seasons and regions of Quito and are accompanied by the small coffee farms that fringe the countryside.

Zicasso’s Exclusive Access to Galapagos Best Food

Zicasso travel specialists can design private tours and organize exclusive visits for food enthusiasts. You can experience private cooking classes, indulge in a local food market, sample award-winning dishes in one of the world’s top restaurants, or learn more about Ecuador’s coffee history, production, and flavors from a local expert.

Art & History

Ecuador is a county where heritage abounds from rich and diverse regions. The geographical diversity has given rise to towns and cities that celebrate their art by preserving artisan works in historic neighborhoods and antique crafts that showcase a connection to the local landscape. Inspiring wildlife in paintings and handmade crafts represent only a fraction of the beauty showcased in the markets and galleries across the country. Museums depict the long history of Ecuadorian culture and customs, dating back to 3200 BC along the Santa Elena Peninsula. Incan rule, Spanish colonial power, and Independence add to depth of art and history, from coastal fishing villages to Andean towns and Amazonian rafts to the Galapagos research centers.

Must-See Art Museums & Attractions:

  • Explore the aesthetic of the 20th century in Ecuador in the Centre for Contemporary Arts of Quito on display in an illustrious structure that was built at the turn of the 20th century.
  • Discover a tribute to the Indigenous people of South America at the Capilla del Hombre museum that displays Guayasamin’s artwork and pre-Colombian artefacts.

History

History in Galapagos feels ancient on the world stage with wildlife that has evolved to suit the conditions of each island’s distinctive character. The diverse regions across Ecuador showcase ancient culture and tradition. New World discovery emerges from Spanish colonial architecture and juxtaposes the Old World heritage of Amazonian and Andean villages.

Old Town in Quito acts as a living museum with preserved buildings that represent modern development. Furthermore, the landscape helps share the stories of the natural world. On a customized Zicasso trip, we can organize custom tours with specialized guides, such as members of Amazon communities, biologists with a PhD, or professors of natural history. We can also organize scenic and wildlife small-group tours with a certified guide.

Active Tours

Active tours in Ecuador immerse you in a different perspective of the wilds and wilderness by unveiling beautiful coastlines, rugged mountainscapes, and the pristine Amazonian basin. We recommend the following active experiences when visiting Ecuador:

Scuba

  • Darwin’s Arch - Venture into the marine wonderland of Darwin’s Arch to find whale sharks and hammerhead sharks in addition to green turtles and manta rays.

Hiking

  • Santa Fé - Wander the island trails that lie along the coastline to spot Galapagos sharks, cacti, lazing iguanas, and rolling waters.
  • Lagoon Quilotoa - The breathtaking lagoon that is located over 12,795 feet above sea level will immerse you in adventure and beauty as you discover the water of the crater lake.

Kayaking

  • San Cristobal - Discover the marvelous waters of the Pacific and the magnificent mixture of marine and wildlife, from brown noddies to sea turtles and sea lions to sharks.

Private Excursions and Special Access

Zicasso’s travel specialist partners have unique experience in offering insider activities and special access. Each excursion is customized to your specific interest to help shape your trip of a lifetime. Whether you prefer to charter a luxury yacht around the Galapagos or have a private dinner at the top of a church dome in Quito, Zicasso specialists always go the extra mile to connect you with the experiences you wish to have with endless possibilities.

For a truly special experience, you can take a fast track through Quito airport from the airplane gate to an express lane through immigration to meet your tour representative.

How much is a tour to Galapagos?

The starting price of a custom-tailored Galapagos trip is approximately $400 per person, per day.

For an escorted group tour, the starting price can be approximately $250 per person, per day.

The cost of a Galapagos vacation is dependent on several factors, such as the:

  • Length of your trip
  • Season (month) of travel
  • Class of hotel
  • Number of locations/cities you visit
  • Number of guided day tours and activities (e.g., cooking class, wine tasting, etc.)
  • How much you spend on meals, shopping, etc.

A vacation such as this is often the biggest purchase of the year. It will also likely be one of the most memorable experiences of your lifetime. To get the most out of your trip, we highly recommend using an expert Galapagos travel specialist to plan a customized Galapagos tour that is tailored to your specific interests and budget. You can also join an escorted group tour so that most travel arrangements are pre-planned for you. This way, you can travel hassle-free and relax while a professional tour director and guide takes care of all logistics and any issues that might arise.

This includes:

  • 3-star hotels (shared twin room)
  • Some guided day tours and activities
  • Transportation in Galapagos such as airport transfers and domestic flights

A 5-star, tailor-made Galapagos tour, where most services are upgraded and extra unique experiences are included, typically starts at $700 per person for a 14-day trip.

Everyone’s priorities, interests, and preferences are different. Submit a trip request on Zicasso, and we will personally match you with an expert trip planner who will help you customize your dream trip or help you to select the right group tour while also taking your budget into consideration.

Best Time to Visit Galapagos

The best time to visit Galapagos is between December to May. The winter and spring provide more pleasant conditions to discover the wildlife with active tours, such as hiking or kayaking. These months also represent better sea conditions for those who want to take a cruise.

The climate may vary depending on the season, but while the temperatures may not change drastically, the season can range from cool and dry to warm and wet.

The biggest weather consideration for those taking a cruise should be the water conditions. The currents are strongest between the end of June to the end of September. This results in plenty of food for marine life giving way to ideal conditions for snorkelers and divers but can also result in tough sailing conditions for those who get seasick.

How far in advance should I plan a trip to Galapagos?

You should book your Galapagos trip between six months to one year in advance in order to receive your preferred hotels and excursions around the islands. When not planning on a cruise, you have more flexibility and therefore can plan your trip with less time depending on the time of year you wish to travel.

New Years is usually peak season and should be booked no less than one year in advance, but last-minute bookings are often possible in October, November, and April. Normally, booking through September and December can result in early-bird promotions for the following year.

If you wish to charter a boat, especially when traveling with a larger group, you should reserve your Galapagos trip between one to two years in advance. You can also do a half-charter.

Modes of Transportation in Galapagos

The best way to see Galapagos in 10 days is with a combination of cruise and land-based tours.

A Galapagos cruise offers the best opportunity to view the most wildlife and to travel to remote islands, but the land-based option is more adaptable to your expectations. Cruises can be intense with two activities during the day that begin around 7:30 in the morning each day. The combination of cruise and land excursions in the Galapagos can combine the active exploration with a relaxing island experience.

The typical size of cruise ships in the Galapagos range from 16 passengers to 100 passengers.

Your Zicasso travel partner ensures that your logistics are as smooth as possible by including private airport transfers and domestic flights between destinations to create a stress-free Galapagos tour.

What to Consider When Traveling Through Galapagos

When traveling on a Galapagos tour, you must consider certain logistics, such as safety, travel concerns, and accessibility. The following information offers important considerations for exploring the Galapagos to ensure you have a stress-free travel experience.

Is Galapagos Safe for Travel?

Galapagos is very safe for travelers. The majority of travelers to the Galapagos are over the age of 60 and are most often in the hands of a great travel planner. The inhabited islands have the feeling of small towns that span the archipelago.

When in Quito, it is important to remember that it is a capital city where normal common sense must be applied. The city and greater country are safe in general terms, but issues, such as petty theft, can occur.

Travel Insurance

You’ve booked your dream vacation, now protect it with travel insurance. A wide range of factors can leave your vacation in limbo. Medical emergencies, inclement weather, and unexpected cancellations can cause turmoil for your trip, so in the unlikely event of a disaster, get the travel insurance coverage that provides peace of mind. To get a quote, visit our travel insurance page.

For Families

The Galapagos is very family-focused with captivating wildlife and locals who are excited to share the heritage of the wilderness with visitors of all ages. Your guides are always family-friendly and can help introduce your children to biodiversity in an active and engaging way. Young kids are often given special programs with binoculars and wildlife learning; older kids could prefer smaller boats for a more intimate and family-oriented trip.

For Seniors

Seniors must consider that walking on cobblestone streets in Quito may affect your time in Ecuador in addition to the climate and altitude of the Andes. An expert Zicasso specialist minimizes any mobility challenges or stamina considerations by ensuring that your guides organize your tours and accommodations accordingly. A senior traveling in the Galapagos often prefers smaller ships for a quiet and private experience; however, traveling in small groups through Marageti can also showcase the highlights while taking care of travel logistics.

For Couples

A travel specialist understands the best destinations and experiences in the Galapagos for couples who wish to mix exploration and romance. Honeymooners and couples often prefer smaller ships for a more intimate experience around the islands while still offering access to thrilling outdoor activities. You can also enjoy passionate excursions like a private cooking class that captures spirited flavors or indulge in an exclusive dinner for an unforgettable experience.

For Travelers with Disabilities

Your Galapagos travel specialist can help any guests with mobility challenges by focusing on alternative arrangements to accessibility concerns. Ecuador mainland plans, as well as land-based Galapagos plans, can be flexible for those traveling with mobility challenges; however, Galapagos and Amazon excursions are tricky when wishing to venture away from marked paths or secluded destinations. Our experts’ attention to important detail will ensure that you can find the safe and proper means to enjoy Galapagos highlights with ease.

Best Airports to Fly In & Out of Galapagos

The best airport to fly in and out of when visiting Galapagos is Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) followed by Guayaquil’s Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport (GYE).

For most travelers, the most convenient airport is Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) in Quito.

Find the Best Flight

There are no direct flights to the Galapagos. The majority of flights to the Galapagos depart from either Quito or Guayaquil and arrive at San Cristobal Airport (SCY). The Galapagos islands have two airports:

  1. San Cristobal Airport (SCY)
  2. Seymour Airport Baltra (GPS)

Domestic Flights

Santa Cruz is the hub of the Galapagos islands. Inter-island flights take place twice a day, but you can also charter seaplanes to reach more remote and uninhabited islands without an airport. Flights often travel between Guayaquil and San Cristobal.

Flights Via Zicasso

Zicasso Air Desk is an international air ticketing service that eliminates the stress of finding and booking the right flights for your upcoming vacation by employing the same personalized service you can expect from planning a trip with Zicasso. Our competitive flight pricing, 24xX7 Service & Support, and Complimentary Consultation of Routing vs. Pricing with an Expert Flight Specialist make finding the perfect flight for your trip effortless.

Recommendations for the Return Traveler

When returning for another Ecuador tour, you can travel into the depths of the cities and countryside beyond the essential destinations of the Galapagos islands. The following list offers our suggestions on where you should visit upon your return to Ecuador.

Cotopaxi

The symmetrical cone of Cotopaxi Volcano embodies the captivating ambiance of the greater national park. With a stark-white glacial skirt and windswept plateau that shines with gold and green, the landscape takes center stage with llamas, wild horses, and Andean condors.

Banos de Agua Santa

At the western edge of the Amazon stands the mineral-rich hot springs of Banos de Aguas Santa. Charming waterfalls lead to deep pools, and dramatic rope bridges offer a sense of adventure among travelers who are eager to hike volcanoes, cycle the winding trails, and emerge from the thunderous whitewater.

Related Galapagos Tours by Zicasso

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