Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport

From: $4,399

per person dbl occ

Dates: Jan-Dec - see all dates

Total Days: 12

Activity Level: 3

Reserve This Trip

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Price:

2014

REI member: $4,399

Non-member: $4,699

2015

REI member: $4,699

Non-member: $4,999

Additional Fees

Internal flight, transit fee: $590

Galapagos National Park fee: $100

Single supplement: $1,399

Holiday supplement: $200

Additional fees subject to change. Special payment and cancellation policy applies to all departures; see Trip Details tab for more information.

Trip Dates:

2014

  • Apr 27 – May 8
  • May 11–22
  • May 25 – Jun 5
  • Jun 8–19
  • Jun 22 – Jul 3
  • Jul 6–17
  • Jul 20–31
  • Aug 3–14
  • Aug 17–28
  • Aug 31 – Sep 11
  • Sep 28 – Oct 9
  • Nov 9–20
  • Nov 23 – Dec 4
  • Dec 7–18
  • Dec 16–27 H
  • Dec 21 – Jan 1 H
  • Dec 25 – Jan 5 H

H = Mandatory holiday supplement applies.

2015

  • Jan 4–16
  • Jan 18–29
  • Feb 1–12
  • Feb 15–26
  • Mar 1–12
  • Mar 15–26
  • Mar 29 – Apr 9
  • Apr 12–23
  • Apr 26 – May 7
  • May 10–21
  • May 24 – Jun 4
  • Jun 7–18
  • Jun 21 – Jul 2
  • Jul 5–16
  • Jul 19–30
  • Aug 2–13
  • Aug 16–27
  • Aug 30 – Sep 10
  • Sep 13–24
  • Sep 27 – Oct 8
  • Oct 11–22
  • Oct 25 – Nov 5
  • Nov 8–19
  • Nov 22 – Dec 3
  • Dec 6–17
  • Dec 15–26 H
  • Dec 20–31 H
  • Dec 23 – Jan 3 H

H = Mandatory holiday supplement applies.


Or, book a
private departure.

Group Size: 4-12

Activity Level: 3

Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Cycling
  • Snorkeling

Accommodations:

Classic inns/hotels with private bath, 9 nights; Hacienda/resort, 2 nights.

Trip Highlights

  • Experience the best of Ecuador, from the Otavalo Highlands to the Galapagos
  • Hike volcanoes, swim with sea lions, and witness unique wildlife
  • Hike the Otavalo Highlands before relaxing in hot springs
  • Stay in comfortable lodges and hotels; follow expert naturalist guides

For many, the Galapagos Islands are a dream-come-true adventure. Kayaking clear waters, swimming with friendly sea lions, and hiking along the flanks of active volcanoes are just the tip of the iceberg for those wanting to take an active vacation in this treasure trove of wildlife.

Our journey starts in the volcanic highlands north of Quito, where we take a gorgeous crater-rim hike along Laguna Cuicocha. We visit artisan villages and the colorful, indigenous market of Otavalo. Relax with a soak in the finest set of thermal pools in Ecuador at Papallacta Hot Springs.

Leaving the mainland, we discover the natural history and rich biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands as our multisport tour continues. On the water, kayaking and snorkeling show off the archipelago's teeming marine life. Later, we bike to the historic Wall of Tears and walk among marine iguanas.

From the highlands to the islands, this adventure belongs on every "life list"—an absolute must-do!

Traveling with kids under 18? Check out our Amazon Basin – Galapagos Islands Family Adventure.

Itinerary Summary

  • Day 1 - Welcome to Ecuador's vibrant colonial capitol, Quito.
  • Day 2 - Shop the indigenous market in Otavalo and hike to Peguche Falls.
  • Day 3 - Hike around Laguna Cuicocha, relax in the Papallacta Hot Springs.
  • Day 4 - Walk in a nature reserve or soak in thermal pools.
  • Day 5 - Trek to Frigate Hill on San Cristobal Island for fantastic vistas.
  • Day 6 - Kayak from Playa de Oro and snorkel at Kicker Rock
  • Day 7 - Near Isabela Island, walk among marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins.
  • Day 8 - Hike the rim of Sierra Negra volcano for views of an alien landscape.
  • Day 9 - Bike Isabela's sandy roads to the historic Wall of Tears.
  • Day 10 - On Santa Cruz Island, hike El Chato reserve and kayak lava channels.
  • Day 11 - Visit Charles Darwin Research Station before heading to Baltra Island.
  • Day 12 - Depart Quito or explore more of this magical country.

See full itinerary

Trip Itinerary and Details

Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.

  • Day 1 - Welcome to Ecuador's vibrant colonial capitol, Quito.

    Your trip begins today in Quito, Ecuador. Arrive in Quito at any time today, pass through customs, gather your luggage and transfer on your own (or book a private transfer with REI Adventures) to our hotel for the evening. Dinner on your own if flight time allows.

  • Day 2 - Shop the indigenous market in Otavalo and hike to Peguche Falls.

    Following breakfast and ready to depart, meet your guide and other group members in the hotel lobby. We head immediately north of Quito to the highlands. For centuries, regional markets have played an important role in Indian life, providing regular gathering places for trade and socialization. Today we explore one of the most famous Ecuadorian Indian markets in Otavalo. This colorful market dates back to pre-Inca times and is well known for its fine textiles, tapestries and Indian jewelry. While in the Otavalo region we will also visit one or two of the local communities such as the Peguche, Carabuela or Quichuqui, known for their tradition of ancestral healing practices and fine craftsmanship. If time allows, we may stop for a quick hike at Peguche Falls, a pretty waterfall nestled in the green rolling hills just outside of Otavalo. This evening we retire to the lovely estate of an historic hacienda. Originally built in the 1700s and 1800s, haciendas today have modernized amenities but maintain their warm character and authenticity. Take a step back in time as you wander the lush grounds of this colonial style estate. All meals included.

    Optional hiking: 2-3 miles, 1 hour, between 10,000' – 11,000'.

  • Day 3 - Hike around Laguna Cuicocha, relax in the Papallacta Hot Springs.

    This morning we continue to explore the highlands and emerald Laguna Cuicocha (10,638'), a crater lake surrounded by the rim of Cotacachi volcano. Winding up to the lake, we drive through incredible Andean cloud forest scenery, glimpsing views of nearby snowcapped mountains. We dedicate the day to hiking and exploring this fascinating crater lake region. The flowers are superb and so is the birding. You may see such Andean birds as caracaras, buzzard eagles, hummingbirds, ducks, hawks and the occasional condor. On a clear day the views of the surrounding countryside are breathtaking. It is the perfect spot to enjoy a fantastic picnic lunch. Following our hike we will stop to visit the true Equator line, and then it's off to Papallacta Hot Springs Resort which involves crossing a 13,000' pass that offers stupendous Andean scenery. Relax in the thermal baths (some of the best in all of Ecuador) before dining on delicious local cuisine. All meals included.

    Hiking: 4-5 hours between 10,000' – 11,300'.

  • Day 4 - Walk in a nature reserve or soak in thermal pools.

    After breakfast, we visit the nearby highland interpretation center to learn about the unique paramo ecosystem and the Atlantic-Pacific continental divide. Your guide will present you with several options today. Perhaps take advantage of the nourishing waters at Papallacta by scheduling a massage or soaking in the sulfate and alkaline rich waters of the spa pools. Or, choose to join your guide on a hike in a very scenic reserve, part of the larger United Nations Biosphere Reserve. The environment here is endemic highland paramo (moorlands) with patches of cloud forest. This area of the Andes retains great amounts of water as it is the source to the largest water system in the world. It features a great number of lakes, possibly the highest concentrations in the Andes range. Numerous species of orchids thrive in this lush, damp environment. While hiking, keep an eye out for birdlife. We may see up to three different species of deer and, if we're lucky, the elusive spectacle bear. We return to the resort in time for lunch. The remainder of the day is free to spend as you like at the resort. All meals included.

    Hiking: Optional 5-7 miles, 4-5 hours; Terrain: Uneven trails that may include slippery or rocky sections at altitudes up to 14,000'.

  • Day 5 - Trek to Frigate Hill on San Cristobal Island for fantastic vistas.

    It's off to the Galapagos Islands this morning! A transfer is provided to the airport where we board our flight to the islands, located roughly 600 miles offshore. After our plane makes a brief stop in Guayaquil, we land on San Cristobal Island where we spend the next two days hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. Upon arrival in the Galapagos you are obligated to pay a park entrance fee of $100 per person (subject to change) - you should have this handy in U.S. dollars. After lunch overlooking the ocean, we head out for an afternoon of exploration. Our first stop is the impressive San Cristobal Interpretation Center where we learn about the volcanic formation of the Galapagos archipelago and the unique evolution of life on the islands. Our walk this afternoon is along trails of lava rock into dry forest of cacti, acacia, palo santo, Galapagos cotton, and other endemic vegetation and features splendid views of the rugged coastline. As we approach Frigate Hill, be on the lookout for blue footed boobies, the magnificent frigate bird, Darwin finches and much more. On our way back to our lodging, we may stop for a refreshing dip at Carola or Mann Beaches. In the evening we explore the small town of Port Baquerizo Moreno before dining at our waterfront hotel. All meals included.

    Hiking: 3 miles, about 2 hours.

  • Day 6 - Kayak from Playa de Oro and snorkel at Kicker Rock

    Today is all about being on the water! We slip into our ocean kayaks and spend the morning paddling along the coast, past Carola Beach and into Darwin Bay, the site of the first landing of the HMS Beagle. The route is home to colonies of sea lions, marine turtles, blue-footed boobies, and frigate birds. Following lunch, we take a motor yacht to Leon Dormido, locally known as Kicker Rock, the jagged remains of an old tuff cone whose flanks are home to thousands of sea birds. At Leon Dormido we enjoy excellent snorkeling. There is a good chance of seeing Galapagos sharks, eagles and golden rays, as well as dozens of species of tropical fish, clams, starfish, and marine invertebrates. With a little luck we may also swim with hammerhead and white-tipped sharks. We return to our hotel for dinner and our last evening on San Cristobal. All meals included.

    Kayaking: 3 hours; Snorkeling: 2-3 hours.

  • Day 7 - Near Isabela Island, walk among marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins.

    After an early breakfast we take a flight from San Cristobal to Isabela Island, the largest island in the archipelago. Isabela was formed by six volcanoes - Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf. Five of these volcanoes remain active, making this island one of the most volcanically active places on earth. This is a remarkably beautiful island and one of the youngest in the archipelago. Isabela is also known for its beautiful and expansive white sand beaches. After lunch we head to Las Tintoreras, a set of small islets within Isabela bay, to walk through the otherworldly landscape of lava rocks. The islets are filled with wildlife - marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, whitetip reef sharks, marine turtles, penguins, and much more. The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy the lovely white sand beaches in the port town of Puerto Villamil. All meals included.

    Hiking: 1 hour; Snorkeling: 1 hour.

  • Day 8 - Hike the rim of Sierra Negra volcano for views of an alien landscape.

    Today we explore the fascinating Galapagos highlands! We get an early start this morning to begin our hike over rugged terrain to the rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano, the second largest intact caldera in the world after Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. The trail can be quite muddy or dusty depending on the season, but the walk is well worth it as the vantage point from the rim offers fantastic views of the six by five mile wide lava-filled caldera as well as the other volcanoes beyond and the surrounding coastline. After catching our breath, we can choose to continue along the trail to Chico Volcano. With its puffing fumaroles and striking lava formations, it offers an out-of-this-world environment and good examples of the dramatic geological events that have forged the Galapagos Islands over millennia. In the afternoon we return to our lovely hotel with free time to wander the beach, swim or watch the iguanas and sea lions before dinner at our hotel. All meals included.

    Hiking: 3-9 miles. Up to 5 hours. Terrain: uneven trails that may include slippery or rocky sections.

  • Day 9 - Bike Isabela's sandy roads to the historic Wall of Tears.

    After breakfast we gear up for a bike tour of Isabela Island and El Muro de las Lágrimas - Wall of Tears. With miles of unpaved, sandy streets, mountain bikes are the perfect way to explore the island. We ride along the coast with spectacular views as we pedal through mangroves and salty lagoons that are home to the mangrove finch, endemic to Isabela. We can also spot American oyster catchers, herons, flamingos, and many other shore birds. We reach the Wall of Tears, a historic site that dates back between 1946 and 1959 when Isabela was a penal colony. The wall was built by prisoners using huge blocks of lava for no other reason than to keep the prisoners busy from the madness of isolation. On our way back we ride by and explore Isabela's gorgeous white sand beaches. In the afternoon we can take the opportunity to walk through mangrove forest to Concha y Perla bay, whose clear waters are perfect for snorkeling. All meals included.

    Mountain biking: 8-10 miles, unpaved, sand and gravel roads with some rolling hills; Snorkeling: 1-2 hours.

  • Day 10 - On Santa Cruz Island, hike El Chato reserve and kayak lava channels.

    After an early breakfast, we transfer (flight or fast boat depending on oceanic conditions) from Isabela to Santa Cruz Island. Once there we head to El Chato Reserve in the upper part of Santa Cruz Island – the natural habitat of the Santa Cruz tortoise, the largest in the Galapagos. The most recognized symbol of the Galapagos, the tortoise weighs over 500 pounds and may have a shell measuring almost five feet! While we seek out these lumbering giants, we'll also come across pintail ducks, egrets, flycatchers, finches, and frigate birds bathing in freshwater lakes. We enjoy lunch at a traditional highland hacienda where we also explore lava caves featuring incredible volcanic tunnel formations. On a clear day we can see Media Luna from here, an old collapsed crater on top of Santa Cruz Island. After lunch we slip into our kayaks and paddle around Divine Bay and Punta Estrada, traveling through multiple lava channels of calm, turquoise waters. Within the channels, white tipped sharks and rays patrol beneath the waves while colonies of blue footed-boobies, tropic birds, herons and marine iguanas perch along the jagged cliffs. Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening as you wrap up your adventure to one of the most magical places on earth. All meals included.

    Kayaking: 3 hours.

  • Day 11 - Visit Charles Darwin Research Station before heading to Baltra Island.

    Early this morning we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about conservation and management efforts in the archipelago. For 40 years, the research station was home to "Lonesome George", the famed Galapagos tortoise that became a symbol of the islands and their unique ecosystem. We then transfer to Baltra Island where we board our flight back to Quito. We say goodbye to our guide this afternoon and then have free time to explore Quito or shop for last souvenirs. Meet your group in the hotel lobby this evening for dinner at a local restaurant. All meals included; light lunch on flight.

  • Day 12 - Depart Quito or explore more of this magical country.

    You can depart at any time today, or extend your stay to explore more of this wonderful country. The transfer to the Quito airport is on your own, or book a private transfer through REI Adventures. Breakfast included.

Note on Itinerary

Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.  This includes changes to activity locations in the Galapagos due to changes in regulations and permitting by the Galapagos National Park Service.

Price Includes

Accommodations and meals as noted in the daily itinerary; private transfer in Otavalo highlands; airport transfers Quito-Galapagos-Quito; inter-island transfers; sea kayaks and necessary paddling gear, bikes/helmets, snorkel/mask/fins; services of a skilled bi-lingual guide throughout.

Not Included

International airfare to and from Quito; airport transfers on international flights in and out of Quito; round trip airfare from Quito to Galapagos, Galapagos Islands transit card (mandatory add-on cost & subject to change); Galapagos National Park entrance fee; 2 dinners; travel/evacuation insurance; optional activities; optional wet-suit for snorkeling; excess baggage charges; airport taxes; alcoholic beverages or soft drinks; optional gratuities to your guides; items of a personal nature.

Payment and Cancellation Policy

In addition to the required $400 deposit to reserve your space on this trip, the cost of the internal flight to the islands and the Galapagos Transit Fee is also due at the time of registration. The deposit, flight and fee are non-refundable 90 days prior to departure. If you needed to cancel your participation on this trip for a reason covered by your optional Travel Insurance plan, this flight cost would be reimbursable by that plan.

Qualifications

This trip is rated Moderate [3].  It contains a variety of activities including moderate hikes, mountain biking, and sea kayaking. Although not particularly strenuous, the entire hike in the Otavalo highlands is above 10,000' and, as a result, can be more tiring than expected. In general, the island hiking is moderate in both length and terrain. We are not moving at a fast pace as our primary objective is to take time to enjoy the wildlife. The biking on Isabela Island is on unpaved, sand and gravel roads with some small rolling hills. You can choose not to bike this portion. Sea kayaking is broken up with stops to take advantage of the snorkeling opportunities.

Weather

Quito is at 9,200 feet above sea-level and maintains a spring-like climate year round. The temperature ranges from 55° at night to 70° at midday, with the average temperature being in the mid-60s. In the Highlands, the average temperatures range in the mid-50s to upper 60s/low 70s year round. Be prepared for some rain at any time of year. In cloudy and/or rainy conditions temperatures may feel cooler. The Galapagos have two seasons. The warm and rainy season lasts from January to June, and the average air temperature ranges from the low 80s to the low 90s with the average water temperature around 75°. There are many warm, often hot, sunny periods interspersed by rain showers. From July to December, the cooler and dryer months, the average air temperature is in the 70s with an average water temperature hovering between 64-68°. There may be occasional mist and overcast skies due to the garúa (fog) that sometimes pervades the islands at this time of year. A sweater or jacket is often needed at night. Note that at any time of year, the highlands on the islands are often enveloped in mist and fog keeping them much greener than areas near their shores.

Single Travelers

If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.

General Information

This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).

We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.

Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport Gear List

The key to staying comfortable during this trip is layering. To obtain maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection.  This gear list has been created to help you choose your clothing and gear for this trip. Bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. 

Gear Checklist

Provided Gear
  • Hybrid bicycle
  • Bicycle helmet
  • Mask, snorkel & fins
  • Kayak & related gear
Official Papers
  • Passport
  • Airline tickets
Luggage
  • Luggage, one piece, wheels and handle ok
  • Duffel bag, medium size, frameless
  • Daypack to carry camera, water, sunscreen, etc.
  • Passport pouch or money belt
  • Luggage tags and luggage locks (2 sets)
Clothing
  • Lightweight, easily washable items for city wear - casual and comfortable clothes are recommended
  • T-shirts, at least two synthetic
  • Long-sleeve shirts (for cool evenings and sun protection)
  • Hiking pants (zip-off legs are great)
  • Hiking shorts
Clothing Accessories
  • Sun hat - this is essential!
  • Fleece / warm hat (for the highlands)
  • Lightweight gloves
  • Bandana
  • Swimsuit(s) and cover-up
  • Hiking socks
  • Lightweight 2 or 3mm neoprene short wetsuit – highly recommended
Outerwear
  • Mid-weight fleece or pile jacket
  • Lightweight rain / wind jacket
Footwear
  • Lightweight hiking shoes with good tread and sole support
  • Watersport sandals
Travel Accessories
  • Two 1-quart water bottles or hydration system
  • Personal first-aid kit
  • Sunglasses and retainer strap
  • Toiletry kit
  • Sunscreen and lip balm, high SPF rating and water-repellent
  • Flashlight or headlamp and spare batteries
  • Insect repellent
  • Plastic bags to keep your gear dry inside your daypack and to separate wet/dirty items from dry/clean items
  • 1/2 roll toilet paper (useful for public restrooms)
  • Hand sanitizer gel
Optional
  • Guide books to the Galapagos Islands for identification of species
  • Stuff sacks, various sizes for organizing clothing and gear inside duffel
  • Camera, film/memory card and spare batteries
  • Underwater camera
  • Binoculars - highly recommended
  • Small dry bag for camera gear while kayaking – highly recommended
  • Reading and writing materials
  • Watch with alarm or travel alarm

Things to Consider

  • Always pack essential items such as your passport, trip insurance confirmation, money, eyewear, medications, hiking shoes and one set of spare clothes in your carry-on baggage in case your luggage is delayed.
  • The inter-island flight in the Galapagos has a 20 pound checked luggage + 5 pound carry-on bag weight restriction (25 pounds per person luggage allowance). Pack into one piece of luggage per person (wheels and retractable handle are fine) and bring one medium-size, frameless duffel bag with its own luggage tag and lock, and one daypack. Before you depart for the Galapagos Islands, you will pack into your medium-sized duffel and your daypack. Your main piece of luggage will be stored until your return to Quito on Day 11.
  • Quick-drying, synthetic clothing items are advisable. In the Galapagos, you can hand-wash in your hotel room or send out laundry (allowing for a 24-hour turn around).
  • Cotton is wonderful in warm weather. However, once it becomes wet it drains your body heat. Plan on bringing at least two synthetic t-shirts made of fabric such as Capilene®, MTS® and Thermax®.
  • Make sure your hiking boots/shoes are broken-in, and bring moleskin, Second Skin® or Blister Block® for foot treatment. Thin liner socks worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters (the liner sock should be silk or synthetic).
  • A 2 or 3 mm wetsuit (short or full length) is highly recommended for June to December travel, which is the "cold" season in the Galapagos Islands. While it is possible to snorkel without one, you will be much more comfortable and be able to snorkel and enjoy the marine life longer while wearing one. Wetsuits are typically available to rent from a gear shop on each island we visit for a nominal fee.
  • A mask, snorkel and fins are provided, but you can bring your own for best fit and comfort.
  • The hotels in the Galapagos Islands will provide fresh beach towels daily.
  • The sun is particularly strong on the equator, so a good sun hat and a long-sleeved, light-colored shirt are important. Bring plenty of water-resistant sunscreen.

Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
REI AdventuresGalapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport
 
4.9

(based on 41 reviews)

98%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Guides (40)
  • Group camaraderie (36)
  • Accommodations (35)
  • Food (33)
  • Well organized itinerary (32)

Cons

  • Quality equipment provided (3)

Best Uses

      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Casual adventurer (21), Avid adventurer (17)
      • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
      • Active adventures (35), Destination (34), I liked the itinerary (32), All the details planned for me (29), Travel with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts (23)

    Reviewed by 41 customers

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    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Excellent Honeymoon

    By David Chen

    from Seattle, WA

    About Me First-Time Adventurer

    Site Member

    Pros

    • Food
    • Group Camaraderie
    • Guides
    • Once in a Lifetime Experience
    • Well Organized Itinerary

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

        Our guide, Alfredo, was quite good, being both friendly and knowledgeable. He was great about accommodating the needs of the group. He put in an opportunity for some of us to ride bikes down from a hike rather than just taking the van, a chance to do some surfing, and when some of the travellers didn't feel up to snorkeling he had the boat driver give them a mini-tour while the rest of us snorkeled. He also shifted what activities happened when based upon the weather.

        We had three course meals nearly every lunch and dinner, with quite excellent local food.

        There seemed to be plenty of wildlife to see on the islands and in the water. Marine iguanas, tortoises, sea lions, rays, sea turtles, a lot of fish, whales, penguins, blue-footed birds; I didn't feel that a lack of wildlife was an issue.

        The pacing of activity vs downtime was nearly perfect for us; maybe a bit easier than expected. Most days, you have a few hours to relax by yourself, and otherwise you'd be traveling or doing activities.

        The accommodations had a lot of character and were pretty nice. There was a bit of an issue with hot water if other people were using the showers at the same time, but the water would still be warm.

        We had a good time talking with the other tour group members while in the van and in the evenings.

        • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
        • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary
        • Why did you choose this trip?:
        • I was looking for a good honeymoon option, and this hit all the points I was looking for. A relatively exotic location that neither of us had been to, but still stress free due to a guide and REI's reputation. A trip that had a lot of variety in activity and sights.
        • What was the highlight of your trip?:
        • We flew in a small plane, snorkeling, a short hike, and biking on a trail, all in one day. The great variety of sights and activities was a lot of fun, and it was my first introduction to mountain biking. There were so many animals.
        • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
        • If you do your own laundry, it was sometimes necessary to turn on air conditioning to dry out clothes due to humidity. Wet suit rental selection wasn't always great; some people ended up several sizes off. Arrive in Quito a couple of days early to adjust to the elevation and visit Old Town.
         
        5.0

        An amazing trip with a fantastic guide

        By Leslie Taylor

        from Bethesda, MD

        About Me Active Traveler, Avid Adventurer, Curious About The World

        See all my reviews

        Site Member

        Pros

        • Accommodations
        • Activity Level
        • Exceeded Expectations
        • Great Activities
        • Group Camaraderie
        • Guides
        • Incredible Animals
        • Once in a Lifetime Experience
        • Unique Ecosystem

        Cons

          Best Uses

            Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

            Our guide Miguel made this trip truly wonderful. If there were any issues/problems, we were unaware of them because he seems to know everyone in Ecuador and makes sure things go right! So many memories of seeing amazing animals and plant life, the volcano hikes, Ecuadoran food and great traveling companions who were easy-going and equally excited to be on the trip.

            • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
            • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
            • Why did you choose this trip?:
            • Have wanted to go to the Galapagos for many years. The timing and itinerary and activity level were perfect for me.
            • What was the highlight of your trip?:
            • Seeing animals I never expected to see in my life in a unique ecosystem. The snorkeling among eagle rays, sea turtles and sharks was definitely a highlight. Seeing the beauty of Ecuador.
            • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
            • Go to Quito a couple of days early to acclimate to the altitude. Be sure to have some immodium in case of stomach upsets. Get in shape! Read something about the Galapagos! Prepare to be amazed!
             
            4.0

            Highland part just average

            By Creakey Knees

            from Wisconsin

            About Me Activity Level Higher, Casual Adventurer

            Site Member

            Pros

            • Accommodations
            • Best Guide I've Been With
            • Food
            • Guides

            Cons

            • Quality Equipment Provided
            • Too Much Tine In An Old V

            Best Uses

              Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

              Great culture information, great sites and wildlife. Too much packing and unpacking, more free time to explore at your own pace

              • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
              • Good Value
              • Why did you choose this trip?:
              • I wanted to see the destination. I wanted to be forced to be active.
              • What was the highlight of your trip?:
              • Snorkeling
              • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
              • Spend time reading about your destination, you will understand more of what the guide tells you.
               
              5.0

              Wonderful trip

              By rtanyc

              from santa fe

              About Me Avid Adventurer

              Pros

              • Accommodations
              • Activity Level
              • Food
              • Group Camaraderie
              • Guides
              • Well Organized Itinerary

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

                  Tomas Espinosa is the best guide I have had out of 6 previous REI adventure trips.

                  • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                  • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, Good Value, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                  • Why did you choose this trip?:
                  • See Galapagos
                  • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                  • Too many to describe
                  • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                  • Just do it!
                   
                  5.0

                  Loved Tomas, our stellar guide!

                  By Celtic Light

                  from Seattle

                  About Me Avid Adventurer

                  Site Member

                  Pros

                  • Exceeded Expectations
                  • Food
                  • Group Camaraderie
                  • Guides
                  • Once in a Lifetime Experience
                  • Well Organized Itinerary

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

                      Otavalo Highland Laguana Cuicocha hike was exhilarating. Galapagos snorkeling was the best. Giant manta ray beside our boat. Mating sea turtles. Fabulous multicourse meals.

                      • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                      • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                      • Why did you choose this trip?:
                      • Variety of activities and locations with experienced guide, Tomas.
                      • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                      • Swimming with spotted rays, turtles, and a hammerhead off of Kicker Rock, Galapagos
                      • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                      • Ask for Tomas, our guide!Travel light. Bring your own snorkel and mask.
                       
                      4.0

                      Galapogos and Highlands

                      By Mike Bikes

                      from Nashville, TN

                      About Me Avid Adventurer

                      Site Member

                      Pros

                      • Accommodations
                      • Food
                      • Group Camaraderie
                      • Guides

                      Cons

                      • Water Extra With Meals

                      Best Uses

                        Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

                        This was a very nice trip. Guide (Tomas) has a laid-back, yet focused way about him. Really adds to the trip experience. 3 particpants got sick early in the trip from water/food issues. Later in the trip it happened again to me and I wasn't taking any known risks. Suspect food preparation was a bit off (washed with non-filtered water). Can't stress enough to be careful when bathing and eating to be cautious. Also, minor quibble...drinking water was not included with the all-inclussive meals during a few stops on the trip (and you can't consume "tap water") I expect added charges for soft drinks and alcohol, but, this a bit out of alignment with the trip quality.

                        • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                        • All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary
                        • Why did you choose this trip?:
                        • Chance to see the Galapagos and get away from the cold over Christmas.
                        • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                        • Wildlife on Galapagos was spectacular.
                        • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                        • We've hiked muddy trails in Costa Rica and Puru (Lodge to Lodge mulitday to Machu Pichu). For some reason, the mud in Ecuador and the Galapagos is crazy slick.
                         
                        5.0

                        Unique adventure

                        By I

                        from Seattle, WA

                        About Me Casual Adventurer

                        Pros

                        • Accommodations
                        • Exceeded Expectations
                        • Food
                        • Group Camaraderie
                        • Guides
                        • Once in a Lifetime Experience

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                            Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

                            This was a very cool trip. Every day was something unique with a lot of pleasant surprises. A couple side notes: driving in and around Quito can be hair raising. The Otavalo market is geared to tourists -- great for getting inexpensive gifts, but its all mass produced.

                            • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                            • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, I Liked the Itinerary
                            • Why did you choose this trip?:
                            • We wanted an active adventure in Ecuador and the Galapagos, but had no experience traveling in South America and didn't speak Spanish. Here most everything was planned for us.
                            • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                            • The whole trip was one highlight after another. Loved observing sea lions, iguanas, tortoises, and various birds and sealife in the wild. The snorkeling was amazing in general and just surreal swimming with the sharks at Leon Dormido.
                            • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                            • Pack light. The only thing not on the list I wish I had was a long sleeved water shirt for sun protection while kayaking and snorkeling. Things I brought but didn't need included 2nd water bottle, bandana, toilet paper, travel towel. Never used my bug spray, first aid kit, and drybag, but I can see how those are good to have just in case. I brought my own snorkel mask because I need corrective lenses, but the provided gear and available wetsuits worked fine for those that used them. Climbing approach shoes worked fine for the hiking. We arrived in Quito 2 days early and acclimated well compared to those that arrived the day of. If you do arrive early, stay in old town Quito instead of the modern hotel where the trip starts.

                            (11 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

                             
                            2.0

                            Luxury Vacation

                            By Stumblebum

                            from San Jose, CA

                            About Me Avid Adventurer

                            Site Member

                            Pros

                            • Accommodations
                            • Food
                            • Guides
                            • Luxury
                            • Quality Equipment Provided
                            • Well Organized Itinerary

                            Cons

                            • Activity Level
                            • Fell Short of Expectations
                            • Not Wildlife Oriented

                            Best Uses

                              Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

                              I didn't think that Galapagos and Wild-life can be decoupled. I mistakenly assumed without much research that focus will be on Wild-life but that is not the case. This trip is for semi-adventurous activities such as snorkeling, biking, kayaking and hiking, combined with luxorious accomodations and multi-course meals (drinks not included).

                              It is not an adventure, it is simply a luxury vacation with some safe activities sprinkled in.

                              Wild-life can only be seen from 400-500 feet away from the boat or kayak. Except for the turtles and Iguanas. I would NEVER have thought that focus of ANY trip to Galapagos can be on luxury and easy and safe sports, and not on Wildlife. However, somewhere someone decided that Galapagos is going to be like a Hawaiian experience, and next thing you know, your dreams of being on memorable adventure are replaced by a luxury vacation.

                              There is no independent hiking available. Only access we get to Islands is Walks through the Nature Centers, which is nothing but few displays, and shops and restaurants of the main town. Only hiking opportunity is through either paved walkways or dirt roads and some well defined and restricted trails. The rescue boat is right behind you while snorkeling or kayaking. Biking is on wide dirt or paved road. Point being if climbing mountains or hiking through a jungle is your idea of adventure, you would be severely disappointed.

                              While in Quito, I talked to different tourists and found that CRUISE is the best option to explore Galapagos, as it allows you to go to remote islands and where wile-life is plentiful and easily accessible. I spent thousands of dollars on Photographic gear but could never get great shots, but saw some old ladies in Quito, who had taken a cruise and only had simple point and shoot cameras and had way better pictures, because the trails they took on remote islands, they had to hop over land Iquanas, blue-foot b00bies, and Albatrosses. Only land Iguanas we saw were in the Nature Center Zoo.

                              Yeah, a zoo on Santa Cruz island is where we saw land Iguanas.

                              I might as well have gone to San Diego zoo.

                              • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                              • Active Adventures, REI service, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                              • Why did you choose this trip?:
                              • I thought the one and only calling card for Galapagos was the pristine and well preserved wilderness with unique wild-life.
                              • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                              • Seeing turtles in their natural habitat and walk through the Iguana beach on Isabella. That is where I came closest to GOAL of my trip: Wildlife.
                              • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                              • The focus of this trip is NOT Wild-life. Focus is multi-sport as the name suggests (which are easy and barely qualify as adventurous). So I am not saying REI misled us or anything, I just made a horrible assumption that only reason anyone whould want to go to Galapagos is to get access to unique and pristine wilderness and view wildlife and adventurous activies were the bonus. That is obviously not the case. It is only accidental and not the focus at all for this trip. Also there is lots of luxury and great multi-course meals. However, if you want all that, then why do you want to be in Galapagos? Aren't destinations like Hawaii, which are cheaper, more beautiful, closer and less restrictive better options? If you want the focus to be on WILD-LIFE then take the CRUISE. They take you to Islands where wild-life is more accessible and plentiful as well as unique, such as Espinola island where you fine Albatross.
                               
                              5.0

                              Outstanding!

                              By Houston traveler

                              from Houston, Texas

                              About Me Avid Adventurer, Casual Adventurer

                              Site Member

                              Pros

                              • Accommodations
                              • Activity Level
                              • Exceeded Expectations
                              • Food
                              • Group Camaraderie
                              • Guides
                              • Once in a Lifetime Experience
                              • Quality Equipment Provided

                              Cons

                                Best Uses

                                  Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

                                  The accomodations on all of the islands were first class. Felipe, our guide, was also very educated about all of the wildlife and the history of the islands; he did an amazing job! I highly recommend this trip to others!

                                  • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                                  • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                                  • Why did you choose this trip?:
                                  • Always wanted to go to the Galapagos and really liked the itinerary.
                                  • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                                  • Not sure, it was all fabulous! Loved the hike at Crater Lake and the stay in the Hacienda built in the 1700s. We were welcomed by a huge pod of dolphins in the Galapagos, which was amazing. Snokeling with the sea lions, sea turtles, and sharks was incredible. The hike to see the giant tortoises was also unbeatable.
                                  • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                                  • Pack light very light! Be sure to bring a hat and a lot of sun screen. Use the REI snorkeling gear.

                                  (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  5.0

                                  If Independent Travel is NOT an Option

                                  By Cyclesafe

                                  from San Diego, CA

                                  About Me Experienced traveler

                                  See all my reviews

                                  Site Member

                                  Pros

                                  • Group Camaraderie
                                  • Guides
                                  • Well Organized Itinerary

                                  Cons

                                    Best Uses

                                      Comments about REI Adventures Galapagos Islands & Otavalo Highlands Multisport:

                                      This trip on a per day basis was 3X what any other trip we have taken has cost. Now, we are not poor, but we are cheap, so parting with this amount of coin was not easy for us.

                                      But hey, things cost. The hotels, the food, the guides, the drivers, the boats, the kayaks, the equipment - none of this is free. All of these were the best of what was available in the places we were. Not the best in the world, but they were the best of what was there. So no whining warranted.

                                      Plan on it being cold and rainy in the highlands. This means base, insulating, and water-proof layers, top and bottom. Oh, and boots are a good idea for the hikes.

                                      For Galapagos be sure to bring a wet suit unless you have lots of body fat and you know that you won't get chilled after more than an hour in 55F water. Get one of those dorky wide brim hats and slather on the sun block. This is no time to work on your skin cancer.

                                      The best things about the trip were the guides. Alfredo, despite doing this trip many many times, was irrepressibly and sincerely enthusiastic as he related for the umteenth time information about what we were seeing. Even when many people were otherwise distracted, as long as just one person was interested in what he was saying, he kept at it.

                                      Our fellow travelers were another highlight. Being with other people who shared our values: interested in science and the environment; were fit, similarly educated, curious etc enhanced the trip.

                                      If you have been an independent traveler in the past, but now feel it is time to let others do the worrying, this trip is a good way to get started. We recommend this trip to anyone who can afford it and we plan to use REI Adventures many times in the future.

                                      • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                                      • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                                      • Why did you choose this trip?:
                                      • My wife and I have traveled throughout Europe and Asia, but we've been reluctant to tackle South America on our own. Since Galapagos has been on our wish list and is a place better seen on foot and while swimming / kayaking in the close company of a guide, this trip seemed like a good way to both accomplish this and to evaluate REI Adventures for other future trips.
                                      • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                                      • Snorkeling with hammerheads. Our guides made this safe by swimming closely to those in our group who were most likely to panic in the current / waves in close proximity to rocks. The fish ignored us.
                                      • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                                      • Altitude and sea sickness affect some people more than others. It has nothing to do with fitness. Manage the first by getting to Quito early (take a city tour!) and deal with the second by taking Dramamine. Sunburn too. Even the most conscientious among us missed with the sun block.

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