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My 2-Week Ecuador Itinerary – Wild Junket Adventure Travel Blog

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My 2-Week Ecuador Itinerary – Wild Junket Adventure Travel Blog

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Last Updated on April 23, 2023 by Nellie Huang

Welcome to Ecuador, a land of contrasts and natural wonders that never cease to amaze. Here’s our 2-week Ecuador itinerary that will show you the best of Ecuador.

On our 5-month South America backpacking trip, Ecuador was our favorite country. The country may be small, but it sure packs a punch with so many bucket-list worthy sights — from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon Rainforest, the Pacific Coast surf towns to the spectacular Galapagos Islands.

We recently returned to Ecuador for our daughter’s birthday trip (after 15 years!) and it was just as spectacular and impressive as we remembered. It didn’t come as a surprise that Kaleya loved it as much as we did. In this article, I will be sharing our 2-week Ecuador itinerary as well as details on where we stayed, ate and did throughout this journey of rediscovery.

ecuador itinerary 2 week

Ecuador Itinerary & Guide

You’ll need at least 2 weeks in Ecuador to see the country’s highlights: from the colonial charm of Quito to the imposing Andes Mountains and the impressive Galapagos Islands. This will allow you to explore Ecuador’s best sights, though you’ll barely scratch the surface of the Ecuador.

On our first trip, we spent 3 weeks in Ecuador; Instead of going to the Andes, we went south to explore the Amazon Rainforest, with Baños as our base. We also spent some time in the coastal city of Guayaquil, making trips to nearby Montañita and Salinas. If you do have extra time, I highly recommend adding the Amazon into your Ecuador itinerary.

Here is a summary of our 2-week Ecuador itinerary. I will be giving a day-to-day breakdown below.

  • Days 1-3: Quito
  • Days 4-5: Otavalo
  • Days 6-7: Cotopaxi
  • Days 8-11: Santa Cruz, the Galapagos
  • Days 12-14: San Cristobal, the Galapagos

Download my Ecuador itinerary on Google Maps.

view from cruz loma - ecuador itinerary


How to Get to Ecuador

The starting point of our Ecuador itinerary is the main international airport in Quito, the capital city. The Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) is the busiest airport in Ecuador, serving as the primary gateway for visitors.

TAME Airlines is the flag carrier and state-owned airline of Ecuador. Flights from New York to Quito are affordable, with airfares as cheap as US$400 return. Flights from Los Angeles to Quito are around US$500.

Madrid is usually the main hub if you’re flying from Europe. Direct flights from London to Quito usually cost around US$890 return. Madrid to Quito flights are slightly cheaper at $900 and are direct.

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Getting around Ecuador

By Car

For this Ecuador itinerary, we suggest renting a car or taking a bus for the first part of the trip. Renting a car in Ecuador is not expensive; our 1-week car rental cost around US$200. We always book car rental on Discover Cars as they’ve consistently given us the best rates and customer support. Driving in the city can be stressful, but once you get out to the mountains, it’s easy and straightforward. 

Book your car rental

By Bus

In general, bus travel in Ecuador is convenient and comfortable. Numerous bus lines operate regionally and also throughout South America. Just bring a jacket because the air conditioning will be cranked up and be prepared for a long journey around the mountains. Pre-book your bus tickets here to ensure availability.

By Air

You’ll need to fly when traveling to the Galapagos Islands. LATAM and Avianca of the main airlines that fly to the Galapagos. There are only flights from Quito and Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands (Baltra or San Cristobal). Foreigners are only allowed to book flights on premium class, so expect to fork out around US$300-400 for roundtrip tickets to the Galapagos. Search for flights here.

galapagos islands - ecuador itinerary


2-Week Ecuador Itinerary 

Ecuador Itinerary Day 1: Arrive in Quito

Take it slow on your first day in Quito. Ecuador’s capital city lies at 2,500m above sea level, flying in can result in mild altitude sickness. You might feel dizzy, nauseous and short of breathe so give yourself some time to acclimatize. 

Quito’s airport is around a 30-minute drive from the center. Pick up your rental car (details above) or take the airport shuttle bus, Aerovía, which connects the airport to the city’s northern bus terminal. Alternatively, book a private transfer that’ll bring you straight to your hotel.

I recommend staying in Quito’s historic center, where everything is within walking distance. Just be aware that it can also get noisy, crowded and gritty. La Mariscal is a vibrant area just outside downtown with tons of restaurants and affordable hotels; we stayed in this area on our first trip to Quito and really loved it. La Floresta further north is an upmarket business district with nice apartments, food courts and malls in proximity.

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Where to Stay in Quito

Luxury: Casa Gangotena

Located in Quito’s historic center, this elegant hotel occupies a beautifully restored colonial mansion. The hotel features spacious rooms with antique furnishings, a gourmet restaurant, a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city, and a bar serving craft cocktails. Check rates here.

Midrange: Hotel Patio Andaluz

This charming boutique hotel is housed in a 16th-century colonial mansion in the heart of Quito’s historic center. The hotel features cozy rooms with colonial-style decor, a restaurant serving Ecuadorian and international cuisine, a bar with live music, and a rooftop terrace with views of the city. Check rates.

Budget: Hostal Downtown

This budget-friendly guesthouse is located in Quito’s historic center. The guesthouse features simple but comfortable rooms with private or shared bathrooms, a communal kitchen, and a rooftop terrace with views of the city. Check rates.

rooftop bar quito - 2 week ecuador itinerary


Ecuador Itinerary Day 2: Wander Quito’s Historic Center

Start your day at Plaza Grande, the palpitating heart of Quito’s historic center. Admire the architecture of the buildings surrounding the square, including the Palacio de Carondelet, which houses the president’s offices, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Next, walk over to Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús. This stunning baroque-style church is considered one of the most beautiful in South America. The church was built by the Jesuits in the 17th century and features intricate carvings, gold leaf detailing, and an ornate altar. Take your time to appreciate the intricate details of the church’s interior.

Cross over to the Plaza San Francisco, a big square surrounded by colonial-era buildings and is a great spot for people-watching. The Iglesia de San Francisco located on one side of the plaza, is one of the oldest churches in Quito and features a mix of Gothic and Moorish architectural styles.

quito center - ecuador itinerary - 2 weeks in ecuador

Have Lunch at an Iconic Cafe

For lunch, head to Cafe del Fraile, an atmospheric cafe tucked within a secret building in the historic center. Overlooking a gorgeous patio, the historic cafe is restored from an old friar’s convent and features black-and-white photos as well as an impressive menu.

cafe del fraile- ecuador itinerary

See the City from Above

After lunch, continue walking to the Basilica del Voto Nacional. This massive neo-Gothic church is one of the most iconic landmarks in Quito and offers great views of the city from its towers. Take the stairs to the top of the church’s bell towers for panoramic views of Quito’s historic center and surrounding mountains. There are souvenir stores, cafes and bars in the towers; stop for a craft beer in one of the bars and enjoy the views.

basilica voto nacional - ecuador itinerary


Ecuador Itinerary Day 3: Explore the Parks

See the National Museum

Rise early to browse the Museo Nacional de Ecuador, one of the most important museums in Ecuador. It is located in the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana building. The museum’s collection includes artifacts and exhibits that cover the history and culture of Ecuador from pre-Columbian times to the present day. My favorite was archeology gallery, which features a range of artifacts from Valdivia, Chorrera, and Inca cultures.

quito old town - ecuador itinerary

Take the TelefériQo 

Next, head over to the base station of the TelefériQo to take the cable car up to the top of Pichincha Volcano, which offers stunning views of Quito and fun short hikes. The gondola takes around 20 minutes to reach the Cruz Loma station at the top, which sits at an impressive altitude of almost 13,123 feet (4,000 meters).

At this altitude, the air is thinner (and chillier) and you might find it harder to breather. I was panting just from taking a few steps. There are several viewpoints, hiking trails, farmers offering their llamas for photo opportunities, as well as a giant swing. The simple eatery at the end of the trail serves amazing parilladas (grilled meat) and freshly made empanadas!

TIP: The TelefériQo operates daily from 9 am to 8 pm, with the last ascent at 7 pm. A round-trip ticket costs US$8 per person. You can buy your ticket at the ticket office located at the base station.

   cruz loma quito - ecuador itinerary

Wander Parque Itchimbia

In the afternoon, head up to Parque Itchimbia in the south of the city. The hilltop park is green and lively especially on a sunny day. Locals love to come here for a walk —my daughter loved the playground and vast green space here! There are panoramic views of the city and the iconic orange ‘Quito’ letters.

The park is also home to the Centro Cultural Itchimbia, a cultural center that hosts a variety of art exhibits, concerts, and other cultural events throughout the year. You can check their website or local listings to see what events are happening during your visit.

For dinner, walk a few meters downhill to the legendary Cafe Mosaico, an eclectic bar and cafe with glorious panorama of the city. Catch sunset here with a beer in hand and watch the city light glow in gold by night.

parque itchimbia- ecuador itinerary


Ecuador Itinerary Day 4: Visit the Market Town, Otavalo

Stop at Mitad del Mundo

Time to hit the road! Drive an hour north to your first destination, Mitad del Mundo, a monument that marks where the equator passes. The centerpiece of the site stands at the exact location of the equator line — you can stand with one foot in each hemisphere and take some fun photos! The monument itself is a museum with different exhibits on each floor; the top level offers gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.

The whole complex has several museums, including the Intiñan Solar Museum, which offers interactive exhibits on the science and culture of the equator. The Ethnographic Museum shows the history and culture of Ecuador’s indigenous communities. There are also restaurants and touristy shops.

mitad del mundo - ecuador itinerary

Head to Otavalo Market

Continue driving 1.5hours to the Andean town of Otavalo, famed for its handicraft and textile market. Located at Plaza de Ponchos, the market is opened all week, though Saturdays are the best time to come and see it as its liveliest. There’s a wide range of products on sale, including textiles, jewelry, ceramics, woodcarvings, and paintings.

But we didn’t come for the market — Otavalo is one of the most deeply-rooted indigenous towns in Ecuador. The Otavalos have a history that predates the Incas, and a language that’s different from other indigenous languages spoken in Ecuador. The Otavalo people today continue to dress in traditional wear — the women in white blouses and black skirts, men have their black long hair tied up in braids and a black hat to top it off.

Inty-Huasi by the market square is a good spot to have lunch. We had a filling almuerzo (set lunch) for $7 here, and it included locro de papa (potato soup), a choice of trout fish or steak, and a dessert. After lunch, check into your mountain lodge (there are many in the outskirts with access to beautiful hiking trails.)

otavalo market - ecuador itinerary

Where to Stay in Otavalo 

Luxury: Hotel Otavalo

This is a charming boutique hotel located in the heart of Otavalo, just a short walk from the market. It offers comfortable rooms decorated in a traditional Andean style, a rooftop terrace with stunning views, and a restaurant serving delicious Ecuadorian cuisine. Check prices here.

Mid Range: Ushaloma Airbnb 

We stayed at this beautiful Airbnb (pictured) perched on the hilltops of Ushaloma outside Otavalo. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the cottage open up to glorious views of Laguna San Pablo and the volcano. By far the best place we stayed at on this Ecuador trip!

Mid-range: Hacienda San Juan de la Vega

This is a beautiful 17th-century hacienda located in the countryside just outside of Otavalo. It offers luxurious rooms and suites, beautifully landscaped gardens, and a range of amenities, including a spa, restaurant, and horseback riding. Check rates.

Budget: Hostal Otavalo Inn

This is a simple and affordable hostel located in the center of Otavalo, just a few blocks from the market. It offers basic but clean rooms, a communal kitchen, and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Check prices here.

otavalo airbnb - ecuador itinerary

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Ecuador Itinerary Day 5: Explore Otavalo Surroundings

Hike around Laguna Cuicocha 

Laguna Cuicocha is a beautiful volcanic crater lake located about 20 km from Otavalo. The 7.5-mile (12km) loop hike around the lagoon usually takes most people 4-4.5hours to walk and offers stunning views of the surrounding Andes Mountains. We didn’t get to do the whole loop as my daughter small. Instead, we went to this observation point for beautiful views of the lake and walked a little around the area.

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Chill at Laguna San Pablo

After the hike, treat yourself to a nice meal by the shores of Laguna San Pablo. About a 45-minute away, San Pablo is a volcanic lake backdropped by the Imbabura Volcano. It’s a scenic spot and you can catch a boat or go kayaking on the glassy water surface.

Puertolago Country Inn has a restaurant right on the water, serving traditional Otavalo dishes. I had a plato tipico Otavaleño made up of mote (white corn), platano maduro (plantain), carne colorada meat stew, and llapingacho (potato patties). A heavy but satisfying meal!

laguna san pablo - ecuador itinerary

See Wildlife at Parque Condor

In the afternoon, head to Parque Condor, a bird sanctuary dedicated to the conservation and rehabilitation of Andean birds of prey. The star of show here is of course the Andean condor, one of the largest birds in the world. See these magnificent birds up close and learn about their behavior, habitat, and importance in Andean culture. 

The park runs regular flight demonstrations, where they release the trained birds into the sky. In addition to the Andean condor, you’ll also see other birds of prey, including eagles, hawks, and owls. It’s a great educational spot especially if you’re traveling Ecuador with kids.

condor park otavalo - ecuador itinerary 2 weeks


Ecuador Itinerary Day 6: Head to Cotopaxi

It’s time for some adventure! This Ecuador itinerary continues on to Cotopaxi National Park (a 3-hour drive from Otavalo) where you’ll get a glimpse of Ecuador’s second tallest mountain, with an elevation of 5,897 meters (19,347 feet). Cotopaxi is one of the most active volcanoes in the world — it last erupted for 6 months in 2015 and was closed to the public until October 2017. Fortunately, the volcano is now accessible.

Many people come to the national park on a day trip, but I highly recommend staying the night. There are many lodges dotted outside the park, close to the northern gate, and these usually take care of all your meals and organize activities like guided hikes and horseback riding. That said, these lodges are not cheap and these activities/meals are US prices.

Some lodges have simple activities on-site so check with the place you’re staying. We stayed at Chilcabamba Lodge and spent our first afternoon at the lodge, going on a short hike along the hotel’s trails, trout fishing in the hotel’s pond, and making s’mores on the open fire at sunset. 

cotopaxi national park - ecuador itinerary

Where to Stay in Cotopaxi

Luxury: Chilcabamba Lodge

We stayed at this intimate, small-scale lodge (pictured) just outside the national park. The rooms are stylish with a touch of rustic elegance. From its backyard, you get a spectacular view of Cotopaxi. The lodge organizes plenty of activities and provides 3-course dinners for $22. Check rates.

Mid-range: Secret Garden Cotopaxi

Secret Garden Cotopaxi is a hugely popular lodge also located just outside the national park. The lodge has unique hobbiton-style cabins as well as normal lodge rooms with private or shared bathrooms, as well as a restaurant, bar, and outdoor hot tub. Check rates here.

Budget: Hosteria Papagayo Cotopaxi

Backpackers rave about this hostel with affordable dorm rooms, restaurant, bar, and shared lounge area. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the lodge is a great option for those looking for basic amenities and a convenient location. Book here.

chilcabamba lodge


Ecuador Itinerary Day 7: Hike around Cotopaxi

Start the next day bright and early with a drive into Cotopaxi National Park. The park covers an area of over 33,000 hectares (82,000 acres). Entry to the national park is free, you just need to register your name to enter. The South Gate is a more popular entrance as you enter right through the Panamerican Highway. We drove in from the North Gate as our mountain lodge was just a short drive from it.

hiking cotopaxi - what to do in 2 weeks in ecuador

Hike to the Cotopaxi Refugio

To climb to the summit, you need to be an experienced mountaineer, plus you’ll have to apply for a permit beforehand— but there’s a hike to the refugio (refuge hostel) that’s hugely popular and the views up there are spectacular.

However, Refugio Jose Rivas is at an altitude of 15,950 ft  (4,862m) and the starting point is the parking lot at 14,750 ft (4,500m). At this altitude, every step is difficult as your body struggles with the thin air and lack of oxygen. Even though the hike is only 0.6 miles (1km), it can be challenging. We made it only halfway as I was suffering from altitude sickness and the summit was completely shrouded in fog and rain.

From the parking lot, it should should take between 1 to 2 hours, depending on how fit, prepared and acclimatized you are. Look for ‘Parqueadero al refugio’ on Google Maps. There are two ways to hike up, the gradual zig-zag trail and the direct straight route. The zig-zag trail is gentler and easier to climb, while the straightforward route is very steep and has a lot of loose rocks. From the refugio, it’s an additional 40-minute walk to the edge of the Cotopaxi Glacier to see the glacier from close.

TIP: Alternatively, you can book a guided trek that gives you the option to cycle back down the volcano. 

ecuador itinerary - hiking cotopaxi

Walk the Laguna Limpiopungo Loop

There’s a restaurant at the refugio; if you don’t make it all the way to the top, drive over to Tambopaxi Lodge for lunch. Its onsite restaurant has pretty decent and well-priced food.

After lunch, continue driving towards the southern gate and stop by the picturesque Laguna Limpiopungo. Sitting at an elevation of 12,696 feet (3,870 meters), the lake is surrounded by stunning views of the Andean mountains — here’s where you can get the best photo of the iconic Cotopaxi volcano when it’s not cloudy!

The name “Limpiopungo” is derived from the Kichwa language and means “clear pond”, which accurately describes the crystal-clear waters of the lake. The lake is fed by melting glaciers and is an important source of water for the surrounding ecosystems. We spotted a variety of bird species here, including the Andean gull and Carunculated Caracara.

There’s a popular trail that goes around the lake: the Sendero de la Laguna, a 2.4 km (1.5 miles) loop trail that takes visitors around the perimeter of the lake. The trail is easy and suitable for all ages and abilities, our daughter enjoyed it.

cotopaxi laguna - ecuador itinerary with kids

Visit the Interpretation Center

Just a short drive away in the Interpretation Center at the South Gate. The center is small but has some exhibits that showcase the park’s natural and cultural diversity. Learn about the flora and fauna found in the park, as well as the geology and history of the area. It was right here that we saw a wild white-tailed deer!

If you still have some extra time, head to the pre-Columbian ruins of Pucará de Salitre on the eastern end of the national park. Not much of the 13th century ruins are left, but the area is thought to have been a ceremonial center for the indigenous people who lived here. You can hike to the ruins and drink in views of the valley from above.

wildlife in cotopaxi - 2 week ecuador itinerary


Ecuador Itinerary Day 8: Fly to the Galápagos Islands 

The next half of your Ecuador itinerary will take you to the Galapagos Islands! Situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from mainland Ecuador, the Galapagos islands are home to unique animal species found nowhere else on Earth. Blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and marine lizards roam freely on this archipelago. Read my detailed Galapagos Islands guide here.

Today, over 97 % of the land is national park, and Ecuador limits who may live there and how many tourists may visit. The Galapagos Islands are some of the most unspoiled places on Earth thanks to protection laws and conservations efforts.

Flights from Quito/Guayaquil to Galapagos Islands cost around US$300 to $400 roundtrip. All flights are with either LATAM or Avianca, which are both reliable South American airlines. Foreigners are only allowed to book flights on premium class (and sadly they are very strict about it). It’s important to note that flights to the Galapagos are tightly regulated, and your bags will be checked for food items.

*TIP: I recommend flying into Baltra and out of San Cristobal like we did on our recent trip. It’s the same price as flying return to either island.

ecuador itinerary 2 weeks - sealions

Galapagos Islands Entry Requirements

All tourists must pay $20 for a Galapagos Transit Card in Quito before checking in. Then upon arrival, you’ll then pay an entry tax of $100, while children pay $50. This entry tax may seem a bit high, but it is important to keep in mind that these fees finance the conservation of biodiversity of flora and fauna, and benefit the local community.

Travel from Baltra to Santa Cruz

After landing in Baltra, you will need to take a bus for $5 to the canal, a barge to cross the canal for $1, and finally another $5 bus (or $25 taxi) to Puerto Ayora, the biggest town in the Galapagos. It’s all very organised and well-signposted; follow the crowd and you’ll know where to go. Alternatively, book a fuss-free airport transfer here.

Wander around Puerto Ayora

Puerto Ayora is a lively town especially in the evening; its pier is always full of snoozing sealions, swimming sharks and hungry pelicans. As compared to 15 years ago (when we first came here), the town now has proper tourism infrastructure with a range of restaurants, hotels, tour operators and shops.

The town is small enough to navigate by foot. You can walk to most attractions (some places are a 30-45 min walk) or flag down taxis (the white open-back trucks). We rented bikes from Blue Bike Rental for US$12/day — they have kids bikes and they also rent by the hour ($3/h).

puerto ayora galapagos - backpacking in ecuador itinerary

Where to Stay in Puerto Ayora

Luxury: Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel  

Undoubtedly the best hotel on Santa Cruz, this stylish hotel is slick and unpretentious. It’s got a beautiful swimming pool and beachfront location, with even its own pier and private yacht. Excellent place if money isn’t an issue! Check the rates.

Midrange: Casa Paloverde 

We booked this Airbnb (pictured) for our whole family and it was fantastic! Lots of space, great location and great amenities. The house has 4 bedrooms, a big kitchen and comfortable living room. There are even bunkbeds for kids and a play area. Check the rates.

Midrange: El Descanso del Guia 

This new midrange hotel offers panoramic views over the coast from its rooftop. It also has a nice swimming pool, and clean and spacious rooms. Check the rates.

Budget: Hostal Gardner Galapagos 

On our first trip, we stayed at this place located in the heart of town and minutes from the pier. Rooms are cheap and spacious, and relatively well maintained. Great value! Check the rates.

How to Travel around the Galapagos Islands

The most popular way is island-hop is on a Galapagos expedition cruise, which brings you to several islands within a short time. But a 1-week Galapagos cruise can set you back around US$2,500 for budget standards or $8,000 for luxury cruises. This includes all expenses, food and snorkeling equipment.

On both of our trips to Ecuador, we traveled around Galapagos Islands independently. We based ourselves on Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal islands and did day tours to other islands from there. There are plenty of accommodations on both islands, though their prices are much higher than on the mainland. If you’re traveling Galapagos Islands with kids, like we did, land-based travel is much easier and cheaper for families.

Most Galapagos Islands day tours cost around $150-250. They are usually boat tours with snorkeling and food included; some also include short hikes. You’ll get cheaper deals booking the day tours when you arrive, but they have a fixed schedule. On our recent trip, we visited during Easter (high season) and many tours were fully booked — we were lucky to get a last-minute cancellation for our Bartolome day tour!

Here are the day tours we did and highly recommend:

Kicker Rock day tour from San Cristobal island (pictured)

North Seymour day trip from Santa Cruz island

Bartolome day trip from Santa Cruz island

Floreana day tour from Santa Cruz island


Ecuador Itinerary Day 9: Explore Santa Cruz Island 

Swim with Marine Iguanas at Tortuga Bay

Make Tortuga Bay your first stop on Santa Cruz — it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos and a great spot to find marine iguanas and sea lions. The beach is a 45-minute walk from town; pack lots of water and snacks. There’s hardly any shade on the beach, so don’t forget your sunscreen, rashguard and hat. 

The first beach is a wide open bay with big waves (and a red flag!) that our kids loved. Walk further down the coast and you’ll find a second beach with calm waters and lots of marine iguanas hiding among the mangroves. The third beach is a cove with gentle waters and a lot more shade, but a lot more people.

galapagos with kids - swimming with marine iguana 

ecuador itinerary - tortuga bay

Visit the Charles Darwin Research Center

Next, rent a bike (we did!) and catch a taxi to the Charles Darwin Research Center, a breeding centre and rehabilitation facility for animals from local islands. Stop by the Ruta de las Tortugas for a guided tour ($10) — they run tours in both English and Spanish every hour. The guide brings you on a short walk and shows you the tortoise breeding area (which is fenced up). At the end of the tour, you’ll be led into a room where the famous Lonesome George (the last tortoise of its kind who passed away in 2012) stands immortalized. 

After the tour, walk to the end of the centre to visit the museum and learn more about the wildlife of the Galapagos. There’s also a station beach where you can swim and see black-tip reef sharks. All in all, the research center is a great spot to visit if you are traveling the Galapagos with kids. 

ecuador itinerary - giant tortoise

Enjoy a Night Out in Puerto Ayora

In the evening, stroll over to Los Kioskos, a street lined with small, local stalls selling freshly caught seafood. You’ll hear sizzling from the charcoal parillas and smell grilled fish long before you stumble across this little alley. Food here is reasonably priced and oh so bueno! It can take a while to get your food thou, but there’s always ice cold beer to keep you busy.

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Ecuador Itinerary Day 10: Explore Santa Cruz

Take a Bay Tour 

The best way to see the various beaches and inlets around Santa Cruz island is on a half-day bay tour which typically lasts around four hours and costs only US$35. The tour begins with a short boat ride from the main harbor in Puerto Ayora to the entrance of the bay. Along the way, we spotted blue-footed boobies perched on the rugged cliffs and red-throated fregate birds soaring overhead.

Once inside the bay, you’ll go for a short hike to see the Tintoreras and Playa de los Perros (popular with marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs), before snorkeling in the Shark Channel. We saw so many white-tipped reef sharks here that even our guide was amazed! 

santa cruz bay tour - 2 weeks in ecuador itinerary

Descend into the Lava Tunnels at Reserva El Chato

In the afternoon, hire a taxi to see wild giant tortoises and lava tunnels. Reserva El Chato is the best place in the Galapagos to see both — entry fee is US$10. The Galapagos giant tortoises roam freely, with no fences or walls around them. Book your entrance tickets here.

And descending into the lava tube tunnels is like taking a journey into the center of the Earth! The tubes were formed when cooler outer parts of lava flows hardened into thick rock walls, providing insulation to keep a flow going inside; eventually the flow subsided, leaving long empty tunnels easily big enough to walk down.

giant tortoise at el chato - ecuador itinerary galapagos


Ecuador Itinerary Day 11: Day Trip to Bartolome 

Bartolome Island is the most scenic island in terms of landscapes, and one of the most popular places to visit in the Galapagos Islands. For the same reason, day tours to Bartolome are also the most expensive and hard to book. We were lucky to get a tour (which cost US$220 per person) due to last-minute cancellations, but I highly recommend booking it online if you really want go there. 

A day tour to Bartolome Island starts with a two-hour cruise (we spotted dolphins and turtles along the way). Once there, we did a guided hike to the top of the island for 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape. The volcanic island has a desolate and stark landscape, that contrasts sharply with the turquoise and indigo colors of the sea. The hike is relatively short but steep. 

After the hike, we took a zodiac to see the iconic Pinnacle Rock up close and watched a colony of Galapagos penguins swim and splash. There was only a 30% chance of seeing penguins, so we felt extremely lucky to spot 5 of them! Then we snorkeled around the Pinnacle Rock and saw tons of marine life, including manta rays, parrot fish and black-tipped reef sharks. I even swam with a cheeky penguin right next to me!

ecuador itinerary 2 week - bartolome island

penguin colony - bartolome

TIP: On our first trip to the Galapagos, we did a day tour to North Seymour island— and it was just as amazing! The guide led us on marked hiking trails that were literally flanked by yellow land iguanas and blue-footed boobies (just standing there, posing for pictures!). Hundreds of red-throated fregate birds were perched on trees — many males with their red throats inflated to attract females. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for an alternative day tour!


Ecuador Itinerary Day 12: Ferry to San Cristóbal 

Next morning, rise early to catch a ferry to San Cristobal, the easternmost island in the Galapagos. The inter-island ferry costs US$35 per person each way and the journey takes 2 hours. Most tour operators sell tickets, though they get booked up at high season. To ensure availability, you can also book these ferry transfers that include hotel pickups! 

We absolutely loved San Cristobal as it has a smaller town and the island feels a lot more pristine and untouched than Santa Cruz. It’s also home to one of the biggest sealion colonies in the Galapagos. You don’t have to go far to see them — hundreds if not thousands of sealions often splay out on the beach in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

ecuador itinerary 2 week - san cristobal

ecuador itinerary 2 week - sealions

Swim with Sea Lions at La Loberia

After dropping your bags at your hotel, walk 30 minutes or take a taxi ($4) to La Loberia, where you can snorkel with tons of sea lions. We had SO much fun swimming with the sea lions and just watching them waddle up and down the sandy beach! There were also lots of green turtles in the shallow parts. The beach is free to enter, just bring your own snorkeling gear or rent one beforehand.

2 weeks in ecuador - loberia san cristobal

ecuador itinerary - sealion in galapagos  galapagos with kids - sealion in the water

Road trip to El Junco and Puerto Chino 

After lunch, hire a taxi (for $50-80) to bring you on a half-day trip around the island. Make your first stop at  Laguna El Junco, the largest freshwater lake in the Galapagos. Located in the highlands of San Cristobal, the lake itself sits in a caldera (collapsed cone) of an extinct volcano and is about 300 m wide. Reaching the crater requires a short uphill walk; but from the crater there is a view over the island.

Nearby, La Galapaguera is a breeding station and sanctuary for giant tortoises. You can observe giant tortoises living in a semi-natural habitat, and also learn about their origin, evolution, and threats by introduced animals.

Puerto Chino is a spectacular beach on the southeastern end of the island, just a few km from the Galapaguera. The stunning cove is usually empty and its sparkling white sand is absolutely picture perfect — especially with sea lions lazing by the water’s edge.It is best to take food, water, and spend the day there. 

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Where to Stay in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

Luxury: Hotel Indigo

The best hotel on the island is an ultra modern, slick hotel right on the Playa del Oro beach. It’s just a short walk from town and has an infinity pool and upscale restaurant. Check the rates.

Midrange: Galapagos Sunset Hotel

We stayed at this newish hotel right by the pier and enjoyed the central location and spacious, sparkling clean rooms. Get a room with a balcony for spectacular sunset views. Check the rates.

Midrange: La Zayapa

Located right on the dock, La Zayapa is the heart of the town, offering room with views of the pier. We absolutely loved staying here. Good prices for such excellent location. Check the rates.

Budget: Hotel Cactus & Cactus

With a minimalistic design, this artistic hostel features clean lines and very simple but beautiful decor. Rooms are well-priced for what it is, highly recommend it! Check the rates.

ecuador itinerary 2 week - where to stay in san cristobal


Ecuador Itinerary Day 13: Take the 360 Day Trip

We’ve saved the best for the last! The 360 day trip was a highlight of our Ecuador itinerary. The boat tour circumnavigates San Cristobal, taking you on a loop around the island, stopping at various beaches and snorkeling spots, including the iconic Kicker Rock.

Kicker Rock, known locally as León Dormmido (sleeping lion), is the most dramatic spot of all, with its vertical tuff cone, rising almost 486ft (148m) straight up out of the ocean. Erosion split the rock into two parts, forming a narrow channel that’s home to many sharks and rays. This is an excellent location for diving: manta rays, sea turtles, and sharks are often spotted. (I found the deep waters not really suitable for snorkeling; the water was choppy and we barely saw anything.)

ecuador itinerary 2 week - kicker rock

Stop at Punta Pitt

Before reaching Kicker Rock, you’ll also make a stop at Punta Pitt. A steep gully leads up the cliff to a breeding ground for Boobies of all three varieties: red-footed, blue-footed and Nazca. It’s the only place in the Galapagos where you can see all three species nesting together!

On our day tour, the captain happened to spot a turtle trapped in a driftnet (from illegal fishing). Known as ‘curtains of death’, these nets entangle and kill anything in its path. We immediately entangled the poor turtle and released it — what a special moment that was! Then we hauled the huge net onboard and picked out the small fishes and crabs and released them back into the water. It was incredible to be a part of it and to see how tour operators do their part to protect the ocean.


Ecuador Itinerary Day 14: Head Home

It’s the last day of this Ecuador itinerary! Book an afternoon flight out so you still have the morning to swim with sealions. Right off the pier is Playa del Oro, where sealions love to frolick and play with you in the water. They get so incredibly close to you and it’s just absolutely amazing to interact with the playful creatures! Watch out for the dominant male one, who can be aggressive.

Further down the road is Playa Mann, a bigger and cleaner beach with even more sealions. They come out to play in big groups (especially in the evening) and they aren’t the least bit afraid to get close! We had baby sealions swimming right up to us and even their mums were splashing around us.

ecuador itinerary 2 week - baby sealion

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Hike up to Cerro Tijeretas

A short walk up the hill across the road is the San Cristobal Centro de Interpretacion, a simple museum with information on the history of the Galapagos Islands. If you have time, there’s a boardwalk that connects the museum to the Cerro Tijeretas lookout point that offers a panoramic view of Shipwreck Bay and Kicker Rock. 

It’s definitely a spectacular spot and well worth the two-mile hike there from the visitor center. You’ll be hiking through a dry forest area full of cacti, acacia trees and lava lizards. The trail also leads to a calm, protected inlet along the shore which is a great spot for snorkeling.

This airport is less than 5 minutes drive from the center of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. It costs only $2-$4 per taxi (not per person). It’s a small airport and it doesn’t take long to pass through security. 


Ecuador Travel Guide

Visa for Ecuador

Travelers from most countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and EU citizens) do not need a visa to enter Ecuador. For those who do need a visa, you are eligible to stay for 90 days on a tourist visa, which can be easily extended for 6 months. 

To enter Ecuador, visitors must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry. It is also recommended to carry proof of onward travel and sufficient funds to cover your stay in the country.

My 2-Week Ecuador Itinerary – Wild Junket Adventure Travel Blog


Best Time to Visit Ecuador

Ecuador is a year-round destination, with relatively consistent temperatures throughout the year due to its location on the equator. However, there are two distinct seasons: dry season and wet season. 

The best time to visit Ecuador is during the dry season, which runs from June to September. During this time, the weather is mild, and there is less rainfall. The wet season, which runs from October to May, can be more challenging for travel due to the heavy rainfall and potential flooding in some areas.

However, the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands is from January to May for the best conditions to go snorkeling or scuba diving and cruising around the islands. You’ll have to decide which one is more of your priority. We’ve traveled Ecuador in April and June and it was hot and sunny in the Galapagos and cloudy and mildly chilly on the mainland for both trips.

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Is It Safe to Visit Ecuador?

Ecuador is generally a safe country to visit, but like any destination, it’s important to take certain precautions. Petty theft and pickpocketing can occur, particularly in crowded tourist areas, so it’s best to keep your valuables secure and be aware of your surroundings. 

It’s also recommended to avoid unlicensed taxis, particularly at night, and to be cautious when using public transportation. Some areas of Ecuador, particularly near the border with Colombia, are known for drug-related violence, so it’s best to avoid these areas.

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How to Stay Connected in Ecuador

Internet connection is limited and slow in some parts of Ecuador (especially on the Galapagos Islands). 

I recommend getting an eSIM card with data plan as that works faster than the WiFI in hotels. I personally use eSIMs wherever I travel these days as they are SO much more convenient – you can buy them online, and don’t need to go to the shop or activate your eSIM through the store. 

Airalo is the world’s first eSIM store and it has eSIMs from over 190 countries and regions around the worlds. I have bought eSIMs from Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Ecuador and Peru from Airalo and never had any issues.

Check out Airalo’s eSIMs here. 


Cost of Travel in Ecuador

Ecuador has been using the US Dollars since 2000. After the collapse of the Ecuadorian currency in the end of 1990s, the government decided to adopt the US dollar in order to boosts its economy.

Travel in Ecuador isn’t quite as cheap as traveling in other parts of South America— the Galapagos Islands in particular are very expensive (50% higher than on the mainland). The islands are so remote and isolated that almost everything has to be imported.  Besides the entry tariff of US$100, you’ll need to keep in mind that accommodation, food and day tours are a lot more expensive than on mainland Ecuador.

Below are the rough prices on mainland Ecuador:

Accommodation:

  • Budget guesthouses and hostels: $10-25 per night
  • Mid-range hotels: $30-80 per night
  • Luxury hotels: $100-300+ per night

Food and drink:

  • Budget meals from street vendors and local restaurants: $2-5 per meal
  • Mid-range restaurants: $10-20 per meal
  • Upscale restaurants: $30+ per meal
  • Domestic beer: $2-3
  • Imported beer or cocktails: $5-10

Transportation:

  • City bus fares: $0.25-0.50
  • Taxis: $1-2 for short rides in the city
  • Domestic flights: $50-150 depending on the destination and time of year
  • Intercity buses: $5-15 depending on the distance

Activities:

  • Entrance fees for museums and national parks: $1-10
  • Guided tours: $30-100+ depending on the activity and duration

ecuador itinerary - sleeping sealion


What to Pack for Ecuador

You will want to pack for all seasons regardless of when you’re visiting. Because of the high altitude in Quito and Cotopaxi, you will need to pack a jacket, trekking pants and proper hiking shoes. The Galapagos Islands will require lots of waterproof gear and tropical-weather clothes.

1. Soft Shell Jacket: Pack a thin waterproof, soft shell jacket regardless of the weather you’re traveling. It’s particularly useful for Quito and Cotopaxi. I packed an ultra light down jacket that is compact and can be squashed into a ball.

2. Quick-dry pants: Bring at least two pairs of comfy trousers for the hikes. Quick-dry and lightweight hiking trousers are the best options as they are comfortable, breathable and easy to wash and dry. I recommend bringing convertible pants that allow you to zip off the bottom part and convert them to shorts.

3. Moisture-wicking t-shirts: Pack several lightweight, moisture-wicking t-shirts that are great for hiking in the hot weather. You don’t want to be wearing cotton, black t-shirts under that scorching sun.

4. Hiking shoes: Make sure you bring some comfortable and light hiking shoes. Some say high ankle boots are better as they protect you from mosquito bites and keep your ankles safe during the hikes. Others say low ankle shoes are better as it gets too hot otherwise. I say anything works as long as your shoes are comfortable and sturdy enough to protect you.

5. Sports sandals: KEEN shoes are the best options for traveling the Galapagos as you can wear them on hikes and in the water. My Teva sandals were fantastic too. I don’t recommend bringing flip-flops as those are only useful for the beach and showers.

6. Rashguard/swim shirt: Pack SPF 50+ rashguards to protect their skin. Wearing normal swimsuits and applying sunscreen aren’t enough to prevent sunburn – we all got terribly burned despite layers of sunscreen.

7. Sunscreen: Another essential thing to bring on this Ecuador trip as you’ll be on the beach, island-hopping, hiking and doing lots of outdoor activity under the tropical sun. I recommend getting at least SPF 30.

8. Dry bag: You’ll need a small dry bag to protect your valuables when you’re island-hopping or kayaking and hiking around waterfalls. A 10L bag will be enough for you and your partner (unless you’re carrying an SLR).

9. First-aid kit: It’s always a good idea to pack a small first-aid kit with bandages, antiseptic, and any medications your family may need. I highly recommend bringing Dramamine for motion sickness as the water conditions in the Galapagos can get rough.

10. GoPro: An underwater camera is really useful in the Galapagos islands, I took thousands of videos of sealions swimming right around us in San Cristobal. Many of them are really curious about the camera and came closer for a peek!

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Further Reading on Ecuador 

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! I hope by sharing my 2-week Ecuador Itinerary, you’ll be able to plan your own adventure around the country. Feel free to print this Ecuador itinerary out and bring it with you. We hope you enjoy your travels to this incredible country as much as we have! Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

Check out other articles I’ve written on Ecuador and other parts of South America:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!

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