Ecuador and The Galapagos
As the smallest country in the Andes, Ecuador packs vibrant indigenous culture, well-preserved colonial architecture, other-worldly volcanic landscapes and dense rainforest into an area not much larger than the United Kingdom. Here too you will see plenty of evidence of its rich agriculture including plantations of bananas, coffee, cacao, sugar, palm oil, palm hearts, rice, roses and corn.
Almost always mentioned in the same breath with Ecuador are The Galapagos Islands: Located some 1,000km west of the mainland, they are still one of the best places in the world to view unique and unusual wildlife at close quarters. The Galapagos are home to nearly 9,000 species, many nearly unchanged since prehistoric times, and a cruise among the islands will provide opportunities to see rare species such as the giant tortoise, the blue-footed booby, the waved albatross and marine iguanas — so unaccustomed to human presence that they are completely unphased. Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and the living proof of evolution will surprise and delight you.
“A single glance at the landscape was sufficient to show me how widely different it was from anything I had ever beheld.”
Fiona’s travel tips
FOR THE LESS ACTIVE: If you don’t want to trek the whole Inca Trail, take the train and hop off early to enjoy a wonderful day’s walk instead.
MY FAVOURITE PLACE: (Once I had got over a slight vertigo moment), sitting atop Wayna Picchu watching the cloud drift over the ruins of Machu Picchu spread out below me.
DON’T MISS: Superb camping at the edge of the Salar de Uyuni. The walk-in tents, though not en-suite, each have a built in stove and the view from the loo is to die for.
TOP TIP: See Lake Titicaca and its floating reedbed islands from the Bolivian side — it’s much less visited than from Peru.
BEST TIME TO GO:
Argentina: October to April
Bolivia: April to September
Chile: October to April
Ecuador: October to June
Peru: April to October
Argentina: 16 hours (indirect)
Bolivia: 18 hours (indirect)
Chile: 18 hours (indirect)
Ecuador: 14½ hours indirect
Galapagos: 14½ hours indirect
Peru: 14½ hours (indirect)
“Your arrangements for our recent trip worked well and we had outstanding help from our guide in Buenos Aires.”
James and Shelagh Westwood, Argentina
Excerpt from an email sent to their guide by our clients:
“We should like to thank you for all the hard work and research which you did, particularly on my behalf, to find out all that you discovered about my grandfather, my uncle and my aunt. Your guided tours each day in Buenos Aires were excellent (it must be so difficult to know what to show clients of your fascinating city) and your choices of where to take us and what to show us were perfect. I now have a much clearer picture of my family background and, thanks to you, have learnt so much more about the Cromwell roots. Once again, enormous thanks for all that you did to help to make our visit to Buenos Aires so unforgettable.”
James and Shelagh Westwood, Argentina
“Having arrived back overnight, I was going to email you, but you got there first! It was a wonderful trip. Awasi, in particular, was amazingly good in every respect. I’ll get to the questionnaire in due course, but I did want to say thank you and how much we enjoyed ourselves. I do hope we will get to travel with Arcturus again”.
Andrew and Hilary Reicher, Argentina and Chile
“The whole trip was successful and memorable. I was very pleased with the private guides you arranged who were charming and helpful. The drivers were excellent and all very polite and pleasant. I had the services of the same guide three times in Buenos Aries and she was she was very keen to make sure that I was safe before she left.”
Eileen Turner, Argentina
“We loved exploring a part of the world that neither of us knew previously. Without your guidance we would not have known where to start and we felt we came away with a very good and broad experience”.Mr and Mrs Charles Pybus, Argentina, Chile and Brazil
“From the moment I contacted Fiona again, I knew that I was going to have a fabulous time. She always seems to make my trips holidays of a lifetime. I loved the dramatic way in which we travelled to the Napo Wildlife Centre and the MV Santa Cruz was great despite being quite a large ship. The guides were tremendous. I cannot thank you enough for all the hard work you put in”.
Charlotte Langley, Ecuador and the Galapagos