Jordan Harvey's Luxury 13-day Itinerary in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

An itinerary from a member of Travel + Leisure's A-List, a collection of the top travel advisors in the world.

Historical colonial district of Quito and the "Virgin of El Panecillo"
Photo: Eduardo Fonseca Arraes/Getty Images

Jordan Harvey is a member of Travel + Leisure’s A-List, a collection of the top travel advisors in the world, and can help plan your perfect getaway. He is the co-founder of Knowmad Adventures, which, after being founded in Patagonia, operates exclusively in South America and specializes in high-quality, custom adventures. Below is an example of the type of itineraries he creates. To work with Jordan, you can contact him directly at

Day 1: USA to Quito

Fly to Quito likely arriving late evening where you’ll be met and taken to your colonial mansion turned charming hotel situated in historic Old Town Quito.

Stay: Patio Andaluz

Day 2: Quito

Experience an insider’s look at Quito’s historic district, which was the epicenter of the Spanish colonial empire and also the first ever UNESCO World Heritage site.

Stay: Patio Andaluz

Day 3: Quito - Cloud forest

Depart Quito venturing deep into the cloud forest, one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, arriving to the remote and stylish Mashpi, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. Here you’ll choose from a range of excursions to explore the birds (over 400 species), wildlife, and ecosystems that make this highland rainforest so special. Take a thrilling walk in the evening to experience the cacophony of sounds and animals only found at night.

Stay: Mashpi Lodge

Hacienda Zuleta
Courtesy of Knowmad Adventures

Day 4: Mashpi Lodge

Immerse yourself in the upper canopy spotting toucans and more on Mashpi’s Dragonfly, a mile plus cable car ride high above the rainforest, take light walks or strenuous hikes through lush streams to an abundance of waterfalls and swimming holes, and visit the hummingbird garden and butterfly sanctuary. You’ll also enjoy an unrivaled culinary offering and hospitality at this luxurious cloud forest oasis.

Stay: Mashpi Lodge

Day 5: Mashpi Lodge - Quito

After a final adventure in the forest, head back to Quito where you’ll enjoy a relaxing evening as you gear up for your flight to Galapagos the next morning.

Stay: Patio Andaluz

Day 6: Quito - Galapagos Islands

Island hop aboard an intimate catamaran and get face-to-face with an incredible array of animal species. Whether walking, snorkeling, kayaking or in a zodiac, you will be overwhelmed with wildlife such as the giant Galapagos tortoise, marine iguanas, albatrosses, blue-footed boobies, and more. 5-day Galapagos cruises take visitors to some of the famed sites through the islands while stopping at a few lesser-known locations along the way. (Exact itineraries vary depending on the vessel and your available dates. We select partner ships based on expert naturalist guides, fantastic and diverse itineraries, comfortable cabins, food quality, and overall experience. Let us help pair you with your perfect Galapagos experience.)

Day 7: Genovesa Island

Land on Genovesa Island at Darwin Bay, a beautiful beach formed by the rim of a sunken crater. Here you will walk a short trail that winds through the mangroves filled with nazca boobies, red-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. Further down the path, you may see sea lions playing in tidal pools. Arriving at the cliff, enjoy one of the islands’ most spectacular views.

In the afternoon, you will arrive at a rockfall that forms a natural staircase up the cliffs known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, or the “Stairway to Seabird Heaven.” Here, a marvelous view from the lava ridge compliments the continued sightings of various tropical land birds.

Day 8: Santiago Island

Spot pintail ducks and pink flamingos at Espumilla Beach before exploring Buccaneer Cove. Once a safe haven for pirates, sea turtles and other wildlife now take the pirates’ place near the mangrove trees. This is another great snorkeling spot and home to many marine birds and sea lions.

Head to Egas Port, home to the curious Galapagos hawk. Enjoy exploring trails that lead to gorgeous tide pools and grottos full of fauna, and snorkel nearby with the fur seals and marine birds.

Day 9: North Seymour & Santa Cruz Islands

Galapagos sea lions, blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate-birds are abundant on North Seymour Island. The island was formed by a series of submarine lavas containing layers of sediment that were uplifted by tectonic activity, and is characterized by its arid vegetation zone. Possible activities for this morning’s visit include snorkeling, a dinghy ride, or a hike.

An afternoon visit to the Highlands of Santa Cruz on the northern part of the island is next. Hike through agricultural lands and mist-covered forests, watch the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher or one of Darwin's Finches fly by, and track giant tortoises through the craters and volcanic lava tubes.

Day 10: Galapagos Islands - Quito - Otavalo Highlands

Early this morning you will have a wet landing at Mosquera Islet, located between North Seymour and Baltra Island. This flat, sandy island has a large colony of sea lions, and is also an excellent site to observe shorebirds such as herons and lava gulls.

After your morning with wildlife you fly back to Quito where you’ll be met and taken on a two hour scenic drive north into the rolling hills of the highlands where the indigenous Quechua speaking communities and their traditional cultures thrive. Checking into the former president’s family hacienda, you’ll learn all the property has to offer before a meal that could only come from your Ecuadorian grandma’s recipe book and features mostly all onsite grown products.

Stay: Hacienda Zuleta

Day 11: Hacienda Zuleta

Exploring a myriad of hiking trails, visiting the condor rehabilitation project, horseback riding through the countryside, a guided exploration of Zuleta’s cheese creamery, visiting the Otavalo market, mountain biking, and relaxing in the many courtyards are just a few of the included and additional experiences on offer at Zuleta.

Stay: Hacienda Zuleta

Day 12: Hacienda Zuleta - Quito - USA

After another day enjoying this colonial mountain paradise you’ll be taken to Quito airport for your late-night overnight flight home.

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