Journey to the Centre of the Earth

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial Quito
Cotopaxi - the highest active snow-capped volcano in the world
Puerto Ayora
The tortoises of Charles Darwin Research Station
Frigatebird spotting
Andean town of Banos
Indian market town of Otavalo
The Amazon Basin
  • Tips for snorkelling: spit on the inside of your goggles to stop them fogging up; if water gets into your snorkel just say the word 'two' to clear it; if you see a mermaid you are probably dreaming and not actually snorkelling at all.

    (Was Ecuador & the Galapagos)


    Day 1 - Quito

    In 1978, Quito was named UNESCO's first ever World Heritage site. As far as records go, it's definitely more exciting than "World's First Cat Hotel" or "World's First Necktie Vending Machine".

    • If arriving early, perhaps spend time getting acquainted with Quit
    • Evening pre-departure meeting at approx 6pm (details will be at the hotel Reception)
    • If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

    Day 2 - Baltra, Puerto Ayora Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Station

    Our boat is called The Pelikano. She's got a bar, a chillout area and comes complete with all your snorkelling gear and wetsuits. NB there are no pelicans on this boat.

    • Fly from Quito to Baltra, in the Galapagos Islands -Please note the pick-up time will usually be as early as 4am as Quito airport is a one hour drive and we must allow for delays and check-in times (Your Tour leader will confirm this time with you at the pre-departure meeting on day one.
    • Board the M.Y Pelikano and set sail for Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos
    • Visit the town of Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station
    • Perhaps have a close-up encounter with a giant tortoise
    •  See loads of newborn and young giant turtles, thanks to the research station's breeding program
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 3 - Isabela

    Back in the 16th century, tortoise meat was considered a bit of a delicacy. "The oil from their bodies as pure as butter," is how one bloke put it. We'll just have to trust him on that one.

    Please note there's a US$20 fee paid upon arrival.

    • Visit Isabela, the archipelagos' largest island
    • View the blue lagoons and rocky terrain at Punta Moreno,
    • Enjoy the backdrop of 3 active volcanoes, flamingos and lava formations
    • Stop by Elizabeth Bay and perhaps spot rays, turtles, sea lions, penguins and Sally Lightfoot Crabs
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4 - Fernandina - Punta Espinoza - Bahia Urbina

    When Charles Darwin first saw marine iguanas back in the 19th century, he wrote: "The black lava rocks are frequented by large, disgusting, clumsy lizards." Pretty rough, but we see where he's coming from.

    • Travel to Fernandina Island, the youngest of the Galapagos Islands
    • Walk on lava and see lava cactus, marine iguanas and flightless cormorants at Punta Espinosa
    • Spot the colourful land iguanas and giant tortoises at Bahia Urbina back on Isabela
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Isla Santiago - Playa Espumilla - Buccaneer Cove

    Cabin fever setting in? Shake it off with a swim and a trip to the sea lions, Galapagos fur seals and Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Other famous Sallys in history include: Mustang, Cinnamon, When Harry Met and Fletcher (from Home and Away).

    • Spend the day visiting sites on Santiago Island
    • Stop by the black sand beach of Puerto Egas and see hundreds of marine iguanas, fur seals and sea lions
    • Visit the beautiful Espumilla Beach, an important nesting site for sea turtles
    • Spot flamingos, pintail ducks and stilts in the mangroves
    • Get acquainted with the old sea dog's haunt of Caleta Bucanero (Buccaneer Cove), a place of local legends and stories, where pirates used to careen their ships
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 6 - Daphne – Baltra – Quito

    Grab yourself a bowl of locro de papa (Ecuadorian potato soup) and strike up a conversation with one of the friendly local shoeshiners. Then it's onto Las Bachas, something of a hotspot for egg-laying sea turtles.

    • Visit Daphne Island and spot masked boobies, finches and perhaps even the frigate birds
    • Cruise back to Baltra and bid farewell to the Galapagos before a return flight to Quito


    Day 7-10 - Colonial Quito - Otavalo - Amazon Jungle

    Falling asleep in the Amazon is like having one of those "Sounds of the Jungle" tapes comes to life. Expect the occasional squawk. Visit Amazoonica, a rescue centre for injured wildlife like jaguars, monkeys and toucans (non-Froot Loop related we hope)

    Day 7

    • Set off on a walking tour around the Centro Historico
    • Visit the Church of the Society of Jesus (La Compania de Jesus) 
    • Take in the views from El Panecillo (The Little Bread Loaf)
    • Drive north of the city and visit La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world), built on what was claimed in 1736 to be the line of the equator
    • Watch experiments take place at Museo Solar Inti Nan, where the equator supposedly runs through since re-measurements were made
    • Perhaps enjoy an optional meal out in the evening

    Day 8

    • Visit Otavalo and one of the best handicraft markets in the Andes
    • Pass through the surrounding villages and see local indigenous communities making beautiful handicrafts
    • Perhaps have time to visit a crater-lake known as Cuicocha before returning to Quito

    Days 9-10

    • Travel by road over the mountains and down to the Amazon basin
    • Arrive at the volcanic baths at Papallacta and enjoy the hot thermal pools nestled amidst the mountain scenery
    • Journey on through jungle to reach the jungle lodge on the banks of the Napo River for a two-night stop
    • Explore the jungle with a local site guide who shares their extensive knowledge of the local flora and fauna
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 11-14 - Banos - Cotopaxi Volcano - Quito

    It's time to climb. Cotopaxi is the highest active, snow-capped volcano in the world so come and make your mark (not literally, just get a photo like everyone else). Spend the last few days of your trip mountain bike riding, white-water rafting and horse riding. 

    Days 11-12

    • Drive steeply into the Andes, with the scenery of towering mountains and deep gorges all around
    • Take a short trek to El Pailon del Diablo - one of Ecuador's most beautiful waterfalls
    • Arrive in Banos, one of the loveliest settings in the Andes
    • Explore the town during free time or venture off into the surrounding countryside
    • Perhaps take up some mountain biking, white-water rafting or horseback riding

    Day 13

    • Stop by Cotopaxi Volcano before returning to Quito
    • Perhaps venture up to the Cotopaxi refuge, from where there is an easy climb to the snow line and the glacier
    • Enjoy one last optional meal with new found friends

    Day 14

    • The trip ends today after breakfast
  • What's Included

    • - An English speaking naturalist guide on board the Galapagos vessel - Shore excursions during your voyage - Return flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands - Jungle excursions during your Amazon stay - Quito city tour including One museum, Compania Church & Panecillo - Short hike to 'El Pailon del Diablo" (waterfall) - Entry to Cotopaxi National Park - Entry to Cuicocha Lake in Otavalo - Transport, accommodation and meals as listed below

    Not Included

    • International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, entrance fees, US$10 Galapagos transit card, US$100 Galapagos National Park fee, other meals, drinks, optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature. Wetsuit hire US$5 per day

    Safety Information

    Active Volcanoes
    This tour passes through volcanic areas.  In the instance a volcano becomes potentially dangerous and authorities declare nearby towns unsafe for travel, the itinerary will be re-routed. Where possible, Geckos will provide advance notice of such changes. At short notice, when this is not possible, your tour leader will provide up to date information on behalf of Geckos.

  • Trip Dates and Prices

    Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Journey to the Centre of the Earth

    Jessica - Germany, 17 Nov, 2012
    Overall Rating
14 days
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- 16
Boat, Bus, Canoe, Minibus, On foot, Plane, Zodiac
4 nights Cruise boat, 7 nights Hotel, 2 nights Amazon jungle lodge
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador

What to know

On arrival in the islands you must pay US$110 national park fee to enter Galapagos National Park (this includes the US$10 transit fee). There is also a US$20 fee that must be paid when you arrive at Isabela island.

There is a naturalist guide onboard for the Galapagos cruise, but no Geckos tour guide. Your Geckos guide will join you on Day 6 for the land section of your adventure.

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