Itinerary for 3 Weeks in Ecuador AND the GALAPAGOS!

One of the many churches in Quito photo cred

One of the many churches in Quito photo cred 


As you might be able to tell, I am seriously excited about this trip! I have read and learned about the Galapagos for years and now I will finally be able to go this December! Also, I have wanted to take some surf lessons for more than 10 years (the one and only time I tried it was in Honolulu, Hawaii in April 2003) and I will be able to combine it with some intensive Spanish lessons! The Galapagos, Quito, Cuenca, and anything else I might see along the way is simply icing on the cake.

A few months ago I wrote a blog post asking people if it is possible to backpack the Galapagos. I have met a few travelers who backpacked the Galapagos and loved it. However, since then, I have talked to a few more people on my trip to Colombia who have convinced me that if you negotiate well, you can get a cruise for about the same cost as backpacking and doing day trips. Considering that I only plan on going to the Galapagos once in my life, I feel like I owe it to myself to do lots of research, to negotiate, and go on the cruise so I can get to see all of the wildlife that the Galapagos are known for!

So here is a possible itinerary I created to kinda budget my time (and money!) in Ecuador and the Galapagos. I would love to read any insight and tips you might have regarding the timing and places that I plan on seeing. Is it too fast? Am I trying to cover too much?

I still haven’t bought my flights to the Galapagos nor have I purchased my spot on a cruise yet so I am still looking for deals if you have any leads for me!  Here is my itinerary

Day 1/2– Arrive Friday Dec. 18 at 11:15 PM in Quito, Ecuador. Go to hostel and sleep! Stay at The Secret Garden – $12/n f/6 bed dorm

Day 1– Saturday Dec 19- Explore in Quito The Old Town –a UNESCO site. Iglesia de San Francisco –one of Quito’s oldest and prettiest churches. Explore the Middle of the Earth (Mitad del Mundo)

Day 2– Sunday Dec 20- Fly to Santa Cruz, Galapagos.Take pics with giant tortoises. Try to book a cruise if not already booked ahead of time.

Day 3– Monday Dec 21- Santa Cruz- Leave for a seven-night cruise to the Western Islands (I really want to see Isabela, Fernandina, Bartolome, and North Seymour if possible).

Day 4– Tuesday Dec 22- cruise

Lonesome George is gone, but there are still many other giant tortoises to be found in the Galapagos

Lonesome George is gone, but there are still many other giant tortoises to be found in the Galapagos

Day 5– Wednesday Dec 23- Cruise

Day 6– Thursday Dec 24- Cruise

Day 7– Friday Dec 25- CHRISTMAS DAY Cruise

Day 8– Saturday Dec 26- Cruise

Day 9– Sunday Dec 27 – Return from Cruise. I heard that people usually return pretty early from the cruise. Is it possible to take an afternoon ferry to San Cristobal?

Day 10– Monday Dec 28- Fly out of San Cristobal and Fly to Guayaquil Bus to Cuenca (3hrs) Stay at Hostal Yakumama $9 for 6 bed dorm p/n

Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Cuenca, Ecuador Photo cred

Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Cuenca, Ecuador Photo cred 

Day 11- Tuesday Dec 29- Cuenca – Cuenca Sign up for a half-day tour to Ingapirca for the following day. Visit the Museo del Banco Central and be sure to walk around the ruins and their botanical gardens. From the museum, take a taxi to Mirador de Turi, a strategic lookout with a beautiful view of Cuenca and its broad valley. Afternoon tour to Chordeleg.

Day 12- Wednesday Dec 30- Do the Half-day Tour to Ingapirca, which is known as the Machu Picchu of Ecuador. Or go to Cajas National Park.

Day 13- Thursday Dec 31- New Years Eve- Will buses still be running on this day? Bus to Montanita (6hrs with transfer in Guayaquil). Stay at Montanita Spanish School or Casa del Sol

Day 14- Friday Jan 1- Montanita Take Spanish and surfing classes

Sunset over Montanita photo cred

Sunset over Montanita- it seems like a lovely spot for Spanish and surfing lessons!  photo cred 

Day 15- Saturday Jan 2- Montanita: Take an AM morning class. Take Spanish and surfing classes.

Day 16- Sunday Jan 3- Montanita: Take Spanish and surfing classes. Take day trip to the Poor Man’s Galapagos (Isla de la Plata)

Day 17- Monday Jan 4- Montanita: Get a massage on the beach. Take Spanish and surfing classes

Day 18- Tuesday Jan 5- Take Spanish and surfing classes

Day 19 – Wednesday Jan 6- Bus to Guayaquil (3 hr, $5.50) then to Quito (another 8 hrs) or fly if budget allows. Stay at The Secret Garden – $12/n f/6 bed dorm

Day 20– Thursday Jan 7- Quito- Day trip to Mindo for zip lining, butterflies, and chocolate. Parque Metropolitano – Very good park on top of a hill and provides amazing views of the city. Teleferico – Located on the eastern side of Pichincha Volcano is the world’s second-highest cable car. At 12,000 feet, you can see over six volcanoes on a clear day. Rides are $4.50 USD per person.

Day 21– Friday Jan 8- Day trip to market town Otavalo. Great for leather bags and silver- two of my favorite things!

Day 22– Saturday Jan 9- Last minute souvenir shopping. Stay at The Secret Garden – $12/n f/6 bed dorm

Day 23– Sunday Jan 10 Fly home 6AM- Arrive in Caracas at 11:48 AM

My estimated budget for the trip:

Flight from Caracas to Quito $1000 RT- EEEK! It went up $300 since the last time I looked at it!

Flights and 8 nights in Galapagos $1400 w/o cruise or $2200 w/cruise

Spanish Classes/Surf Classes/Sleep in Montanita $400

Quito hostel $74

Cuenca hostel $27

Food for 12 days $300

Shopping $150

Buses/taxis $100

Misc $50

Total estimated cost $3500 or $4301 depending on the cruise so let’s just round it up to $3500 or $4300

Help! This is more than I want to spend thanks to the higher cost of the first flight from Venezuela and a cushion for a spendy cruise in the Galapagos. If you, dear readers, have any tips for how I can cut costs I would love to hear them!  What do you think? Is this a good trip or what?! Have you been to any of these places? Do you have any advice for ways to save time and/or cut costs?


9 responses to “Itinerary for 3 Weeks in Ecuador AND the GALAPAGOS!

  1. Good luck! I’ve been hoping to get to the Galapagos for years and decided not to go when I was in Ecuador and save it for when I had enough to spend – which I still regret. Just spent whatever you can and it’ll defs be worth it!!


    • Thanks! I think I will need all the luck I can get if I am going to be able to stay anywhere near my budget!

      I started saving for this trip using SmartyPig a couple of months ago, but if necessary I have a 0% interest credit card and savings that I can get into. I really want this trip to be memorable!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. You are a crazy planner. Since this is your Christmas holiday, I think it’s going to be expensive. I’m not saying “that’s the way it is” but you have your work cut out for you as, you know, Christmas is a BIG deal in S.Am.

    Looks wonderful, but all I did was live in Cuenca, so I hope you have find some good info on the web. And as you already know, budget more. I’m sure you’ll figure it out 🙂 Sounds like an amazing holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

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