Celebrate the New Year in a place unlike anywhere else. Spend 11 days swinging over the hills of Baños, getting to know giant tortoises, climbing volcanoes, and snorkeling with fish straight out of National Geographic. That Galapagos sunshine is calling for you.
Hiking around a snow-capped volcano in the Andes Mountains
Snorkeling alongside sea turtles and sea lions
Straddling hemispheres at the equator near Quito
Meeting one of the chillest animals known to man, the giant tortoise
Shopping for handcrafted goods in Ecuador’s largest market
What you'll get
Round-trip flights & airport transfers
9 nights in handpicked accommodations
Expert Tour Director
A New Year's celebration in Quito
2 insider tours/hikes with local guides
Entrance to Cotopaxi National Park
Half-day Galápagos snorkeling excursion
- Day 1: Fly to Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! You’re landing in Quito, the capital city and home to the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get ready to feel like you’re on top of the world—because you kinda are; Quito is 2,500 meters above sea level. Deep breaths everyone, you’re in for an adventure (and because the air is thinner).
- Meet a trip representative at the airport.
- Transfer to your accommodation in Quito via private coach.
- Receive the latest schedule and trip updates from your Tour Director.
- Greet your fellow travelers as they arrive.
- Day 2: Explore Quito + New Year's Celebration in Quito
Quito’s a bit of modern-day meets traditional. As you get to know the area under the guidance of your Tour Director, be sure to keep a look out for people wearing traditional Ecuadorian clothes, including ponchos, long dresses, and lots of jewelry. When you’re not enjoying the rather distinctive dress code, be sure to look up at one of the eight volcanoes that surround the city.
In the evening, it's time for your New Year’s celebration. Enjoy an included celebration over dinner with your new friends and travelers. Afterwards, you’re free to take the party elsewhere!
- Join your Tour Director on a brief tour of the city and its historic center.
- Walk through the Old Town and Plaza de la Independencia, the central public square of Quito.
- Stop outside the Catedral Metropolitana, San Francisco & La Compania Church, and the Loma El Panecillo (Virgin of El Panecillo), all significant monuments and sites representing Quito’s religions.
- Fulfill your dream of standing in two places at once at Mitad del mundo, the line that divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (AKA the equator).
- Ring in the New Year with your new friends in Quito!
Free time suggestions
Plaza Foch: This is one of the busiest areas in Quito for party, fun, and entertainment. Whether you’re looking for a more chill-type bar or a dance club to get your groove on, in Plaza Foch, the choices are endless.
La Ronda: This cobblestone street, located in Quito’s Old Town, is home to dozens of stores, art galleries, and restaurants.
- Day 3: Travel to Baños via Cotopaxi National Park
Today, you’ll descend from the Highlands of Quito to the town of Baños, known as the “gateway to the Amazon.” Nestled in a valley with waterfalls, hot springs, and green forests all around you, Baños is sure to hold your attention. Before Baños, though, enjoy an afternoon hike through Cotopaxi National Park and enjoy views of the mountain, park, and Ecuador’s Avenue of the Volcanoes!
- Continue your Ecuador journey south, to Baños
- Stop at Cotopaxi National Park, known for its snow-capped volcano, vast wildlife, and forested area
- Join your Tour Director for an orientation walk of Baños in the evening
- Day 4: Pailon del Diablo Waterfall + Hike Sendero de los Sauces
Don’t go chasing waterfalls, because we’ll bring you to them! This morning, embark on an adventure to the Pailon del Diablo - or “Devil’s Cauldron” - a waterfall on the Rio Pastaza which flows into the upper basin of the Amazon. After ooh-ing and aah-ing at the waterfall on your guided walk, continue the active day with an afternoon walk on the Sendero de los Sauces.
- Hike to the Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) waterfall and have your mind blown by the sheer power of water
- Opt to pay extra to access an out-of-this-world staircase carved into the cliffs of the waterfall
- Walk the Sendero de los Sauces, a trail with pristine views of Baños and the volcano Tungurahua
- Day 5: Travel to Quito
This morning, enjoy some free time in Baños. You couldpamper yourself by getting a massage at a spa and soaking in thermal baths, or you could peruse the many candy shops and try some homemade taffy.
Later in the day, you’ll return to Quito.
- Day 6: Travel to Santa Cruz Island
As you head to Santa Cruz, the most populous of the islands, get ready for some of the best views of the Galápagos. When you think of the Galápagos Islands, you probably think of giant tortoises. But get ready for all kinds of animals in addition to giant tortoises, including tons of birds. Be sure to look up and spot the different kinds that you can’t find in the U.S.—but probably best to keep your mouth shut.
- Take a flight and then water taxi to Santa Cruz for your island adventure.
- Enjoy a guided tour of the highlands and its lush forest compared to the lowlands and beaches that are to come.
- Head underground into lava tunnels and explore the various passageways.
- Get ready to meet the self-proclaimed chillest animals ever—giant wild tortoises.
- Go on a quick hike to Las Grietas, where the earth has literally cracked open, and lucky people like you get to snorkel in between the two cliffs. Please note: Your group may alternatively visit to Tortuga Bay, which is a beautiful bay located in Santa Cruz Island.
- Day 7: Snorkeling + Free Time
Get ready for more animals, snorkeling, and hiking during another epic day on San Cristobal Island.
- Go on a quick hike in the morning for more breathtaking views of the island.
- Gaze at the fish swimming below you during your snorkeling adventure.
- Spend the afternoon exploring the island on your own.
Free time suggestions
Interpretation Center: Want to learn about the history and significance of the Galápagos? Enter the Interpretation Center. Near the center, there are also a number of nature trails that give you epic views of the surrounding area and coast.
Beach it: Head to one of our favorite beaches, Playa Mann, for fine white sand and calm turquoise waters. It’s a great beach, you know, if you’re into great beaches and relaxing without a care in the world.
- Day 8: Travel to San Cristobal Island
Follow in Darwin’s footsteps (although he most likely didn’t travel by speedboat like you’ll be doing) to San Cristobal, the first island he explored back in 1835. With only 7,000 people living on this island, it’s one of the quieter ones, so feel like you’re on your own private paradise for two days.
- Take a speedboat ride to San Cristobal, the oldest island in the Galápagos. * Join a local guide and head to Junco Lagoon, a freshwater lake where you’ll see birds on birds on birds.
- Day 9: Return to Quito + Farewell Dinner
You’re headed back to the mainland. Spend today exploring more of Quito. You still have so much to see, do, eat, drink, and every other type of verb imaginable. At night, enjoy a farewell dinner with the rest of your fellow travelers.
Free Time Suggestion
La Foresta: Explore this up-and-coming neighborhood with awesome street art and plenty of places for you to up your Instagram game.
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.
- Day 10: Otovalo Market + Peguche Waterfall + Overnight Flight Home
Your time is almost over, but that doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. Make today count and head to the famous Otovalo Market, one of the largest indigenous markets in all of South America - be sure to pick up some last-minute souvenirs while you’re there! After an included lunch, visit the nearby Peguche Waterfall (weather permitting) for one last “ooh” and “aah” at Ecuador’s natural beauty before your overnight flight home.
- Shop in Otavalo, the handicraft capital of Ecuador, and a beautiful city of the Imbabura Province
- Pick up last-minute gifts and trinkets at the Otavalo Market, surrounded by the Imbabura, Cotocachi, and Mojanda Volcanoes
- Chase your last waterfall at Peguche Waterfall before your trip ends
- Head to the airport and board your overnight flight home.
- Day 11: Arrive home
Your next destination awaits—home. Arrive in the late morning or afternoon from your overnight flight.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.
Traveling with us helps the EF community plant trees, at no extra cost to you.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5
Based on 4 authentic traveler reviews
Exceeded my expectationsWade, traveled Dec.. 2021
This trip far exceeded my expectations, and I had way more fun than I anticipated! Gabby was our guide, and she went a long way to ensure we were safe and enjoyed ourselves. Do yourself a favor and pack light (except for socks and underwear). You will thank yourself later. But, trust me, leave your giant roller behind and bring a duffle bag. If you have to... See more
Ecuador TripKyle, traveled Dec.. 2019
The trip I took to Ecuador was defiantly a trip of a life time. Being able to see a different country, their culture, and the way that the country celebrate New Years. The two of the best things about the trip was our tour guide, David, was amazing. He went above and beyond with making everyones experience on the trip the best. The second best thing was the... See more
Trip of a LifetimeLaura, traveled Dec.. 2019
I had the opportunity to celebrate my graduation by going to Ecuador & Galapagos. It was my first time out of North America and it was so much better than I could have ever imagined. I had David a local of Ecuador as my tour guide. He was an incredible guide he had such a big heart, great sense of humor, so much knowledge of the area, culture and history. He... See more
Must go!Justin, traveled Dec.. 2019
Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands are absolutely amazing. I’ve been on 3 EF trips now and this was by far the best one. I met the most incredible people and we all connected the entire trip which was amazing! The Tour Guide David, is awesome, he is very nice and knowledgeable about every part of the trip. I definitely recommend this trip!