Galapagos & Ecuador Highlands

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Archipelago is one of the last places on the planet to be relatively untouched by man. With only 3 percent of the landmass inhabited, the islands support a remarkable ecosystem and have one of the planet’s most important marine reserves. The “Enchanted Islands” lie at the crossroads between science, nature, literature and exploration. And we have found the perfect place for exploring the Galapagos Islands by land and sea to maximize your time at this world heritage site.

Yet there is still more in Ecuador to see!

“Often when you step away from the well known there will be more delightful surprises. On our first trip to the Galapagos Islands, I was curious on what more we might find in Ecuador. So when I discovered a special hacienda set among the Andean mountains with four centuries of Ecuadorian history seeped in Pre-Colombian, Spanish and Ecuadorian tradition, I thought what a perfect contrast with the nature of the islands…” Jo Ann Taylor, co-founder of The Walking Connection

So we have combined the Galapagos Islands with more of Ecuador and the Andean Highlands.

On your private adventure you will experience Hacienda Zuleata a colonial working farm of over 4,000 acres that has been owned and operated by the family of Mr. Galo Plaza Lasso, former President of Ecuador, for over 100 years.

Dating from the late 17th century it is located in a stunning Andean valley at 9,600 feet. It is easily reached from Quito and only a short drive from the famous Otavalo market. Hacienda Zuleta offers a fascinating landscape to discover through a variety of onsite activities. There are miles of hiking and biking trails weaving across the property where you can experience with your private guide, bustling agricultural activity, the tranquil rural life of the local people, and the untarnished surrounding natural world.

Your Walking Connection vacation includes 4 nights at the Galapagos Safari Camp, a unique way to see the Galapagos. This eco-luxury tented camp—pioneering in Latin America—follows the African safari tradition in which guests enjoy total comfort under canvas while experiencing nature in its purest form. This will be a perfect combination with a stay for 2 nights at Hacienda Zuleta.


  • It’s the Galapagos!
  • Andean Highlands
  • Expert Naturalist Guides
  • Luxury eco-tented camp
  • Authentic Ecuadorian hacienda
  • View Giant tortoises
  • Visit Charles Darwin Research Center
  • Optional kayaking and horseback riding
  • Snorkeling & scuba diving opportunities
  • Encounter sea lions and Galapagos penguins
  • Island nature walks and hikes.
  • Condor Rehabilitation Center
  • The Embroidery Workshop
  • World famous Otavalo handicraft market

# # #

This trip begins in Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
This trip ends in Quito, Ecuador

Special Note: The Galapagos Safari Camp portion of this itinerary is a set departure meaning that activities are with a group, with no change option. A custom private experience is available for a different price. Hacienda Zuleta is a private experience so that you can discuss with your guide what suits your needs while there.

Day 1 – Pre-Arrival Day – Quito, Ecuador

Pre-day arrival in Quito will more than likely be necessary in order to catch a morning flight to Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. Since many Walking Connection travelers are interested in extending their stay on their own, hotel and airport transfers are not included in the quoted price. However, we can assist with any arrangements that you would like to make.

The hotel stay this evening is not included in the price of your tour. Please contact us so that we may assist you with booking recommendations.

Day 2 – Arrival & Highlands

Welcome to the Galapagos! An English-speaking naturalist guide meets you at Baltra Airport to escort you on your excursion of the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Enjoy a delicious, locally-sourced lunch at a farm in the western hills. Take in the area’s natural beauty, pit craters, lava tunnels, and learn more about the Scalesia and Guayabillo forests. At the Tortoise Reserve, share some time in the giant tortoises’ natural habitat, surrounded by the abundant bird life of the area. End this day at Galapagos Safari Camp with a sunset cocktail followed by dinner.

Meals Included: Lunch and Dinner

Overnight: Galapagos Safari Camp (1 of 4 Nights)

Day 3 – Boat trip to North Seymour Islet

Travel with your group to the Itabaca Channel for the 1-hour boat trip to North Seymour, a low island consisting of submarine lava. The dry landing is rich in wildlife: sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls, lava gulls, tropicbirds, brown noddy terns, and pelicans. Along the shore, you will traverse a wide expanse of sand, which is a nesting area for marine iguanas. Just off the trail, frigate birds guard their nests in the saltbush clumps, and another trail leads to a flat area —a nesting site for blue-footed boobies. The lovely Palo Santo forest, which is very arid during the dry season, turns green almost overnight once the rains begin. Other endemic plants include the Opuntia cactus, Croton, Castela, and Sesuvium. In the afternoon you may visit Las Bachas Beach, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Its soft, white sand is derived from decomposed coral, a favorite nesting site for sea turtles.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Overnight: Galapagos Safari Camp (2 of 4 Nights)

Day 4 – Tortuga Bay

Tour the Charles Darwin Research Station in the morning, followed by lunch in one of Puerto Ayora’s vibrant restaurants. Spend the rest of the day relaxing at Tortuga Bay with its long white sandy beach. There is a good trail to get there, with some very impressive cacti along the way. At the far end of the bay is a large, mangrove lagoon, rich in wildlife and ideal for swimming.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Overnight: Galapagos Safari Camp (3 of 4 Nights)

Day 5 – Boat trip to Santa Fe Island

Drive with your group to Puerto Ayora for the 2-hour boat trip to Santa Fe. Anchor at a beautiful, sheltered bay and snorkel with sea lions, surgeonfish, damsels, parrotfish, stingrays, and white tip reef sharks. This rugged island is composed of uplifted basaltic lava, and much of it is a faulted-plateau covered with Opuntia cacti. The trail, where Santa Fe land iguanas and Galapagos hawks are seen, takes you around to a beach inhabited by sea lions and blue-footed boobies.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Overnight: Galapagos Safari Camp (4 of 4 Nights)

Day 6 – Hacienda Zuleta

On your last morning in the Galapagos enjoy the camp at your leisure and the beautiful sunrise before your airport transfer to fly back to Quito.

At the Quito Airport you will meet your private guide in the late afternoon and drive through lush pasture lands on your way to Hacienda Zuleta. With some luck you will have stunning views of the snowcapped volcano, Cayambe, which is just a few miles away from Zuleta.

With a warm personal welcome upon arrival you will be shown to your lovely guest suite. Once settled, one of the family owners or managers will personally tell you about the activities the hacienda offers and find out about your personal preferences, needs or questions over tea or coffee.

After planning your stay with your guide, you will be shown around the main building. You will learn more about Zuleta’s history, see ex-President Galo Plaza Lasso’s private library, their chapel and wander through the beautiful gardens.

As the sun sets, it gets chilly at Zuleta, so enjoy some wine and farm made cheese in front of the fireplace while reading from their vast libraries prior to dinner.

Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Overnight: Hacienda Zuleta (1 of 2 Nights)

Day 7 – Condor Reserve

If you are an early morning person you might want to enjoy a short walk around the property prior to breakfast. There is a profuse variety of bird life that is attracted to the gardens, and adjacent to the main courtyard, the milking barn is usually full of activity right at daybreak as some of the more than 300 Holstein dairy cows are being milked by the Hacienda staff.

After an exquisite farm fresh breakfast of eggs, pancakes, muesli, fruit and homemade bread we suggest a guided visit to the cheese factory in order to learn more about Zuleta´s semi-aged handmade cheeses, how the process has changed throughout history and where the cheeses are sold both domestically and internationally.

As mornings are usually sunny throughout the whole year, it is best to take advantage and use the morning to hike to the Condor reserve. In the morning, you are more likely to see a wild condor flying. The reserve is located 3 km from the guesthouse directly in a native forest valley. Learn about the foundation’s efforts, see rescued condors in the aviary, and visit the nearby trout farm. You will travel back through pastureland walking between ancient monuments of the Caranqui culture; seeing both small burial mounds dating back to 700 A.D. and giant ceremonial truncated pyramids from the 13th century.

At lunchtime enjoy freshly caught trout, then have coffee on the patio while admiring the giant hummingbirds that come frequently to feed.

In the afternoon there will be an option for a more challenging hike up to Condor view where you have a nice overview of the area with the possibility of seeing a family of Spectacle Bears.

Or if you would rather, unique to Hacienda Zuleta are options to experience the work of the Galo Plaza Lasso Foundation; sustainable development projects carefully designed for the needs and context of the local community and environment: “The Embroidery Workshop” where Zuleta is working with the local indigenous population in conserving their cultural identity and artistic expression through providing a sustainable income from their hand produced embroidery.

“The Zuleta Library” where local children receive after school tutoring and homework assistance while extending traditional academic subjects to include workshops on organic agriculture, responsible citizenship, recycling and sustainable living.

Either way at the end of the day, the hot tub will give your day a lovely finish where once again you will say, “ahhh I am so glad I am here!”

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Overnight: Hacienda Zuleta (2 of 2 Nights)

Day 8 – Departure Day

After another unbelievable feast you will be on our way to Laguna de Cuicocha for a hike around the orchid lined deep blue lake with spectacular views of the volcano. You will then visit the colorful bustling outdoor markets of Otavalo and rub shoulders with indigenous Otavalenos, renowned for their musical talents and woven crafts.

Enjoy lunch and wandering the grounds of the Hacienda Pinsaquí. Originally constructed in 1790, this lovingly restored colonial home once hosted General Simón Bolívar, who spent nights here on his way back and forth to Bogotá. In fact, an important treaty between Colombia and Ecuador was signed under its roof. In addition, the Hacienda Pinsaquí was the site of a textile workshop, employing nearly one thousand local weavers and spinners, producing the region’s famous textiles and weavings, destined for the Otavalo market and beyond. The hacienda boasts spectacular views of the Imbabura Volcano from its 200-year old gardens. Late afternoon return to Quito Airport.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

# # #

Itinerary Subject To Change: Please note that the details of this itinerary are subject to change. Many of the planned activities are organized according to availability, events or seasonal dates, appropriate weather conditions, schedules of hosts, or the discretion of our guides. We make every effort to provide the experience described in the itinerary with the understanding that some things may change.

Your Walking Connection Experience Includes:

  • Accommodations in a luxury tent, ensuite
  • All meals as designated in the itinerary. B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner
  • Transfers & ground transportation on a shared basis
  • Boat excursions with snorkeling on a shared basis
  • Wetsuits and snorkeling equipment
  • Shared English-speaking naturalist guide
  • Activities and visits detailed in the itinerary

Your Walking Connection Experience Does Not Include:

  • All international and domestic airfares with taxes not outlined in the above inclusions. Please note that set departures for Galapagos Safari Camp have designated flights to and from the Baltra Airport (GPS) on Santa Cruz Island
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee (US $100 per adult)
  • Tourist transit card (US $20 per person)
  • Beverages at Galapagos Safari Camp
  • All items of a personal nature including laundry and shopping.
  • All passport and visa application fees, vaccination and medical consulting fees.
  • All international departure taxes collected at airport of departure.
  • Gratuities for the local guides
  • Early check in & late check out of rooms
  • Optional tours or items of a personal nature such as drinks
  • Airport transfers and transportation at the beginning of trip if needing to stay an extra night. At end of trip if you are wanting to go back to central Quito and not to the airport.
  • Photographs & phone calls.
  • No discounts or refunds on any unused portion of the tour.
  • Anything that is not expressly stated in the itinerary or on the inclusions page as included.
  • Travel Insurance is not included, we recommend CSA Travel Pro.

2016 Trip Price per person:
$4298.00 USD, double occupancy, 2 guests traveling together
$4128.00 USD, 3 guests traveling together
$4028.00 USD, 4 – 6 guests traveling together
$3898.00 USD, 7 – 9 guests traveling together
Single occupancy: ask for current supplement price

Deposits: A deposit of 20% is required to secure reservations which can be done using a credit card. The remainder of the payment is requested by check. No space will be held without a complete deposit. Our trip prices are subject to change due to currency fluctuation at the time of final payment.

Payments: All payments must be made according to the schedule & are subject to the cancellation & penalty policy. Final payment is due on or before 90 days prior to the trip. We request that all final payments be made by check.

Itinerary: Please note that the details of this itinerary are subject to change due to National Park Regulations. Many of the planned activities are organized according to availability, events or seasonal dates, appropriate weather conditions, schedules of hosts, or the discretion of our guides. We make every effort to provide the experience described in the itinerary with the understanding that some things may change.

Special Supplier Gifts and Items: As a local custom, vendors, suppliers, ground operators, restaurants and hotel properties may offer complimentary beverages that may or may not contain alcohol. Should you elect not to accept this gift, complimentary water may not be offered as a replacement and may only be offered for a fee. This is a local custom beyond the control of The Walking Connection.

Air Arrangements: Flights from mainland Ecuador to the islands can be arranged by request.

Cancellation, Penalty & Refund Policies: Should you have to cancel your tour the following terms will apply: Due to the exclusive and small group nature of this adventure, the following cancellation policy will apply.
10% is non-refundable
20% is non-refundable 120 days prior to arrival.
For Cancellations and no shows 60 days before trip or less, no refunds.
No refunds will be made for any unused portion of the tour.
Cancellation fees will be automatically deducted from deposit.
All cancellations must be made in writing and delivered to The Walking Connection via e-mail and/or United States Post Office. Your cancellation date is the date your notice is received and confirmed by The Walking Connection, not the postmark date.
Should this trip be cancelled by The Walking Connection: 100% Refund.

Travel Insurance: Travel Insurance