03S Along the Avenue of the Volcanoes Family Tour


Otavalo & the Avenue of the Volcanoes

Galapagos Albatross

Guided colonial Quito tour; Otavalo Valley-cultural centre; Famed 'Avenue of Volcanoes'; Four-night luxury Galapagos cruise


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Thu 14 Jul 2016Tue 26 Jul 2016 $4600

Optional Single Supplement: $1320 (number of singles limited).

Tour Overview

Despite its inferior size, Ecuador manages to cram just about everything the traveller could want within its borders. We touch down in the capital, Quito, the second most populous city in Ecuador, where we find the country's history depicted in the well- preserved colonial buildings, mediaeval architecture and picture-perfect courtyards; and if dwelling in the past isn't quite your speed, then there's always Quito's modern side; a glistening of glass skyscrapers, grand mansions and first-rate shopping opportunities. Alluring volcanic, alpine and forest landscapes, beautiful ranges of architecture and ancient indigenous cultures and traditions are but a few of the features that make travellers fall in love with Ecuador and as we travel through the Otavalo Valley, down the incredible Avenue of the Volcanoes and to the natural wonderland of Chimborazo Reserve, we discover a country of untold scope. The final four days of this adventure are spent on a ferry cruise of the inimitable Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands put all other destinations to shame when it comes to offering diversity and uniqueness of natural wonder. Endemic and exotic species of plant and animal, both on- and offshore, abound in this special destination that has changed little since the days of Darwin. Each island presents new topography, new wildlife and new exciting adventures; what better way to end our tour than this world-renowned naturalist playground?

Regions visited: South America
Countries visited: Ecuador

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrive in Quito
Arrive in Quito and transfer to our hotel. Quito (2788 m / 9,200 feet) is Ecuador's lovely capital city, nestled against Pichincha Volcano high in the Andes.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Quito - Otavalo Valley - Ibarra
Today we journey north to the Otavalo Valley region.

In early years the Otavalo Valley was filled with farmers who raised crops in fertile lands where they lived. In the 14th century the Inca expansion reached north into the Otavalo area. The Caraquis who inhabited the area resisted the invaders. For 17 long years fierce fighting continued as the defiant Caraquis refused to be subjugated by the Incas. The Spanish arrived a few years after the Incas. They established a Hacienda system of workshops where Otavalenos were forced to work 15 hour days weaving fabrics. Today this weaving tradition forms the basis of a lucrative industry that has allowed the Otavaleno indigenous peoples to join the world economy while retaining their traditional values and skills. During our time in the valley we will have a chance to visit with the local Otavalenos and see them working their craft. We visit a traditional home with adobe walls and visit with the owners who raise guinea pigs, a local delicacy.

Our hosteria is located nearby the colonial town of Ibarra (2121 m / 7,000 feet), known as the "White City" since many of it houses are colonial style, red-tiled and whitewashed.

Overnight in Ibarra.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Ibarra - Otavalo Market - Avenue of Volcanoes - La Cienega
This morning we visit Otavalo to experience the market. This market is centered around 'Poncho Plaza'. All day long, the whir of cotton candy machines, Andean pipe music, and Quichua, the native tongue derived from the Incan tongue, drift across the square. A blinding maze of coloured textiles spills from the square across the town.

We depart Otavalo to follow in the footsteps of the German scientist, Alexander von Humboldt, and rediscover what in 1802 he called the "Avenue of Volcanoes," a 325 km (202 mi) long valley between the major cordillera ranges. Massive and standing alone, the volcanoes provide brooding, snow-covered contrast to the green equatorial lushness. We see snow-capped summits, mystical brooks and rivers, terraced farmlands, small villages and fascinating cultures.

The area is also home to a number of exceptional haciendas, some of which date back to the 16th century. La Cienega Hacienda is located near the village of Lasso near the foot of Cotopaxi and has been witness to centuries of important events in the history of Ecuador.

Overnight at Hosteria La Cienega.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 La Cienega - Banos
Today we continue our journey to Banos. This small town's elevation gives it an extremely agreeable climate and the surrounding mountainsides are brilliant green against the white summit of the Volcano Tungurahua. En route we have a short walk to view one of the most impressive waterfalls in South America, the Devil's Bowl.

The word Banos means "baths" and, as the name indicates, the highlight is the numerous hot spring baths in the area. Today we have opportunity to visit the hot springs as well as wander the streets and market of this picturesque town. You can also hike into the nearby hillsides, along farmers' donkey trails through fields of corn, passion-fruit, and various other local products. A must-see is the Basilica dedicated to the Virgin of the Holy Water, credited with performing many miracles in the Banos area.

Overnight in Banos.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Banos - Riobamba
After lunch in Banos we travel through open farmland flowing over the high ridges of the Western Andes. On arrival in Riobamba we will have a walking tour including the cathedral and the restored 1920's era Post Office, with free time for independent wanderings.

Overnight in Riobamba.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Riobamba - Chimborazo Reserve - Quito
We depart Riobamba and head for Chimborazo Reserve for a scenic drive around the base of this almost perfectly-conical dormant volcano. Chimborazo (6310m / 20,833 ft), the highest summit in Ecuador, is the gem of the reserve along with the neighboring Carihuairazo Volcano. In the Indian language, Chimborazo means "mountain of snow". It is an enormous mass of overwhelming scale. Alexander Von Humboldt made an unsuccessful attempt to climb the mountain in 1802, and believed it to be the highest mountain in the world. This distinction lasted until the discovery of Mt. Everest fifty years later. Chimborazo was finally climbed by Edward Whimper in 1880. The Reserve of Chimborazo was created in October of 1987 to protect the extensive moors, the flora and the fauna of the region.

We will make several photo stops on our drive, and enjoy this starkly beautiful volcanic landscape. We have a chance to see a vicuna, an endangered species. Vicuna are the smallest of the Camelid family standing at just 2ft 8"-3ft 7" at the shoulder. They are extremely refined and delicate to look at, cinnamon in colour with an apron of long white hair on their chest. The vicuna produces one of the finest fibres of any animal in the world. We also visit an interesting indigenous community at the foot of the mountain where they have been successful in creating a responsible travel and tourism industry.

We continue north to Quito.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Quito: City Tour
Today we tour old Spanish Colonial Quito, preserved by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. As we enter the streets of Old Quito we step into the past, surrounded by centuries-old architecture. We stop at the commanding Legislative Palace, whose murals record Ecuador's history. We will see Quito's most beautiful religious buildings, including the cathedral, the Independence Plaza, San Francisco Church, and visit one of Quito's most impressive religious buildings, La Compania church, whose ornate facade and solid gold altars make it one of the most famous of South American churches. We visit the famous Panecillo Hill with its towering winged statue of the Virgin of the Apocalypse with views of north and south of Quito and the surrounding mountains.

This afternoon we travel 22 km (14 miles) north of Quito to the Equator line monument, known as the "middle of the world," where you can stand with one foot in the Northern and the other in the Southern Hemisphere. We also visit the excellent on-site ethnographic museum with exhibits pertaining to the many indigenous peoples of Ecuador.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to logistical reasons, this is a "floating day" that may occur at a different point of our programme.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Quito - The Galapagos / Baltra / Santa Cruz Island
This morning we fly from Quito to Baltra Island and board our cruise vessel for our exploration of the unique and beautiful Galapagos Islands.*

An archipelago of 12 large and several hundred smaller volcanic islands occupying a 4800 sq km (3,000 sq mile) area about 1000 km (620 miles) west of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands have become one of the world's premier adventure travel destinations. Over the course of your visit, you'll enjoy up-close views of unusual, specially-adapted animals, plants and terrains including sea lions, tortoises, iguanas, land and sea birds, volcanic landscapes, unusual cacti and vegetation. Little has changed about the islands since Charles Darwin's visit in 1835 to "this little world within itself" inspired his first theories of evolution. Nearly the entire archipelago is a natural sanctuary where you'll have thrilling encounters with some of the world's last completely untamed wildlife that has never learned to fear the presence of humans.

We will be navigating the Galapagos on board the M/V Galapagos Legend, a 110-passenger expedition ship totally converted in 2001. The M/V Galapagos Legend has all-new passenger accommodations with 1800 sq m of social areas and was built with marine certified materials qualifying with Safety of Life at Sea specifications. All cabins are booked in outside 'Standard Plus' class (Junior Suite cabin upgrades available; view cabins on www.gogalapagos.com). Private bathrooms feature hot and cold water, shower, and a hair dryer. Also aboard, a highly trained crew, 24 hour physician, and naturalist multilingual guides. An auditorium for conferences, spacious social areas, dining room, 24 hour coffee bar, swimming pool and sun decks, observation platforms, cocktail bars, long distance calls, fully air-conditioned.

Upon arrival on San Cristobal, you will transfer to the ship, have lunch, and embark immediately for the Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill on San Cristobal (dry landing).

Dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, capital of the Galapagos Islands. Passengers visit the Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about Natural History in the Galapagos. The Museum of Natural History displays information on the volcanic origins of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, ocean currents, climate, the arrival of the different species and their colonization, among other points of interest. The human history is also showcased, chronologically narrating the most significant events related to the discovery and colonization of the islands.

The Tijeretas Hill optional activity involves a high intensity walk amidst beautiful landscapes and a magnificent view at the foot of a frigatebird nesting colony.

Return to ship for passenger welcome and briefing; there is a presentation of the crew. At this time a safety drill is practiced.

Free time on board. After dinner a guide's briefing on next day activities in the auditorium.

PM - Black Turtle Cove
On the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, accessible only by sea where four species of mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon, turtle enjoy swimming in the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface while fish, rays and small sharks circle below. White tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat, sea birds, including pelicans, herons and egrets, all feed in the cove. This cove has been declared as a "Turtle Sanctuary." Difficulty level: easy. Duration: 1h00

PLEASE NOTE: Most of our 2015/16 dates will operate itinerary "D", except for February and the earlier October dates, which will operate itinerary "B" (shown in this itinerary). You may visit www.gogalapagos.com for more information on the itineraries and vessel.

* The cruise portion of this itinerary has been provided provided by the cruise operator and should be taken as guidance only. Last minute operation considerations and national park policies can result in alterations and deviations from this schedule, sometimes at late notice. Such changes are the prerogative of the cruise operator over which Adventures Abroad has no control.

Overnight Galapagos cruise.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 9 Galapagos Cruise / Sullivan Bay (Santiago) / Rabida
AM - Sullivan Bay (Santiago), Wet landing. This visitor site located at the southeastern portion of Santiago Island, and of important geologic interest, features extensive lava flows believed to have been formed during the last quarter of the 19th century. Difficulty level: difficult, 1.5 km path.
Type of terrain: flat volcanic lava. Duration: 1h30 walk / 1 hour snorkeling/swimming.

Return to ship; the crew will welcome you with canapes followed by lunch.

PM - Rabida, Wet landing. Dark red sand covers these unique beaches with incredible landscape Rabida 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. We will also take a dinghy ride along cliffs to observe
nesting seabirds, and snorkel off the coast, where marine life is particularly active. Difficulty level: easy. Type of terrain: sandy. Duration: 1h30 walk / 1 hour snorkeling / 1 hour dinghy ride.

Return to ship; the crew will welcome you with canapes. Free time on board. Guides briefing on next day activities.

Overnight Galapagos cruise.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 10 Galapagos Cruise / Urbina Bay (Isabela) / Tagus Cove (Isabela)
AM - Urbina Bay (Isabela). Wet landing on a volcanic black beach. Depending on the season, we 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 variety of plant life that changes depending on the season. We can observe the beautiful colours of plants that attract different insects, birds and reptiles. We will explore the uplifted coral reef that resulted from 1954 volcanic activity,
with a spectacular view of Alcedo Volcano. Difficulty level: intermediate. Type of terrain: flat. Duration: 1h30 walk / 1 hour snorkeling.

We may also encounter Darwin's finches, Yellow Warbler and lava lizards. Great snorkeling opportunities with Green Pacific Sea Turtles as well, this island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus pinnatifidus, and Galapagos milkwort. Snorkelers can practice on the main beach among playful sea lions.

Return on board, the crew will welcome you with canapes. Lunch.

PM - Tagus Cove (Isabela). Dry landing on Galapagos's largest island where we 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. We will return by the same path for a dingh y ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where we 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. We 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. Difficulty level: intermediate. Type of terrain: steep. Duration: 2 hour walk / 40 minutes dinghy ride / deep water snorkeling 1 hour.

Overnight Galapagos cruise.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 11 Galapagos Cruise / Espinosa Point (Fernandina)
AM - Espinosa Point (Fernandina) Dry landing. Espinosa Point is the only spot that we visit on Fernandina, and from it we 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 we encounter Brachycereus cacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores. Difficulty level: intermediate. Type of terrain: rocky. Duration: 2 hours walk / 1hour snorkeling

PM - Vicente Roca Point (Isabela). Great deep water snorkeling at one of the richest marine havens on Earth (Bolivar Channel). We take a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds; Nazca and blue-footed boobies, noddies, brown pelicans, penguins, flightless cormorants. The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life. Duration: 1 hour snorkeling / 1 hour dinghy ride.

Overnight Galapagos cruise.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 12 Galapagos / Highlands (Santa Cruz) - Quito
AM - Highlands (Santa Cruz) Dry landing. A 45 minute bus ride will take us to the Santa Cruz highlands, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where we 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. Difficulty level: easy. Type of terrain: flat & muddy sometimes (depending on season). Duration: 45 minutes drive / 1h30 walk.

Return to the M/V Galapagos Legend, check out* and depart to the airport for our flight to Quito (via a stop in Guayaquil).

* PLEASE NOTE: As an exception to our general policy regarding the inclusion of tips in our tour pricing, gratuities for the ship's crew are NOT included in tour price. (We have found that trying to pre-pay tips on your behalf is not practical, for a number of reasons). Accordingly, we suggest that you allow approximately USD 90-100 total per passenger for satisfactory service.

Overnight in Quito.

Meal plan: breakfast,lunch,dinner

Day 13 Departure
Departure from Quito.


Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Hosteria La Cienega

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Quito
Country: Ecuador

Hosteria La Cienega is a historic hacienda located in the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. Situated just an hour and
... half from Quito, Ecuador on the outskirts of Volcano Cotopaxi and surrounded by the cordillera’s most beautiful snow-capped peaks, the manor has been receiving guests for the last twenty-five years. Rooms are cozy and full of character.

Read More.

MV Galapagos Legend

Location: Galapagos
Country: Ecuador

M/V Galapagos Legend is a 110-passenger expedition ship with 1800 sq m of social areas and built with marine certified
... qualifying with Safety of Life at Sea specifications. All cabins are booked in outside cabins; private bathrooms feature hot and cold water, shower, and a hair dryer. Also aboard, a highly trained crew, 24 hour physician, and naturalist multilingual guides. An auditorium for conferences, spacious social areas, dining room, 24 hour coffee bar, swimming pool and sun decks, observation platforms, cocktail bars, long distance calls, fully air-conditioned.

Read More.

Trip Information

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Family pricing: Age 12 and under at time of travel 30% off land price, based on sharing with 2 adults; sharing with 1 adult 15% off

Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and restaurants); all meals in isles. All sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary (including Galapagos park entry fee). Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.


Tour Leader gratuity, some lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, domestic and international air taxes (if applicable). Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Tips for ship's crew are NOT included (allow USD 100 per person). Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, shopping, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

Mainland: The cool and dry season runs from May to October. The Cool Season (windy-dry), June to November. The cooler season sees a drop in temperatures 18-27 C on land and 18-23 C in the sea. Rainfall is low, though the islands may seem somewhat moist as an early mist covers the sky. Usually this burns off by mid morning. The seas are moderately strong; surge, choppy waters and some waves should be expected.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Suitability: Age 6 and up. Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have some full bus days, road travel is not particularly arduous as there are plenty of stops of interest. Roads are in good condition though winding on some stretches. Numerous walking tours on uneven surfaces. Most people are not seriously affected by altitude (3000-3300 m / 8,500-9,500 ft)-check with your doctor. Flights via scheduled local carrier.


Well-located, heated / air-conditioned, mid-range (3 star) hotels with en suite toilet and bath throughout. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

The MV Galapagos Legend is one of the most luxurious boats sailing the Galapagos. With space for 110 passengers, the 5-star fully air-conditioned ship offers all the amenities of a cruise liner yet small enough for that intimate experience with nature. All cabins are booked in outside 'superior' class with plenty of space for luggage in the wardrobe closet (Junior Suite cabin upgrades available; view cabins on www.gogalapagos.com). Private bathrooms feature hot and cold water, shower, and a hair dryer. Snorkels & masks provided free.

Porter service is usually available in Ecuador though you should be independent with your luggage, especially at airports.

Staff and Support

10-21 plus Tour Leader

Group Size

Tour Leader and driver on mainland only.