Cartagena to Quito Trip Notes

Cartagena to Quito

Last Modified: 16 Nov 2015
Cartagena to Quito
Trip code: GDOW
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2016
Be a part of Colombia's revival on this exciting overland adventure. Travel through the Colombian countryside and discover quaint cities, coffee plantations, sleepy seaside towns and grand volcanic landscapes. With lots of opportunity to interact with friendly locals, this is a great chance to have a genuine travel experience to talk about for years to come. Taking in the best spots and attractions of this fascinating country, this journey provides a unique insight into a nation that is rapidly evolving. See Colombia and be touched by the authenticity of this flourishing country.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency funds
ThemesGroup sizeVisas
MapYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
ItinerarySingle travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationHealth
Culture shock rating Meals introductionSafety
Physical ratingMealsTravel insurance
Physical preparationTransportResponsible Travel
Included activitiesGroup leaderA couple of rules
KittyJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsCarbon offset
Spending moneyArrival complicationsFeedback
TippingFinish point
Departure taxEmergency contact
  • Our Basix style trips are designed for travellers who want exceptional value, plenty of free time and having the flexibility to choose where and how their time and money is spent. By working plenty of free time into the itineraries and keeping many of the activities optional, we aim to make travel possible for those on even the most slender of budgets. After all, why pay for an activity or excursion you wouldn’t otherwise be interested in? Or a level of comfort you don’t require? As a wise person probably once said, a bed's just a bed when there's exploring to be done.

Day 1 Cartagena
Border Information: if joining in Cartagena, you will most likely enter Colombia at Cartagena Rafael Núñez International Airport. There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel -
please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting. In Cartagena we stay in a comfortable hotel just outside the historical centre. If you are continuing on from Panama, then your leader will have assisted you with airport transfers for your included flight to arrive in time for the joining meeting. Hotel for the night: Villa Colonial
Villa Colonial
Calle de Maravillas (C10)
No 30-60, Getsemani
Tel: 664 4996 / 664 5421
About Cartagena:
Cartagena is one of the most historic cities in South America. It is legendary both for its history and beauty and tends to be a favourite of all travellers who visit it. Having been the centre of many battles, the city is heavily fortified and huge defensive walls surround its narrow cobbled streets and colonial buildings. The city is made up of various districts, the new town with its high rise hotels, apartments and nightspots; and the older colonial parts of the city. The old city is the main attraction particularly the inner walled town, packed with churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. Wandering through the streets you get a real feel of the sense of history of this amazing city. The waters of the Caribbean surround Cartagena on three sides. It is possible to take a day trip by boat to the idyllic coral islands of Rosario. This archipeligo of small coral islands is surrounded by the largest and most magnificent coral reefs on the Colombian Caribbean coastline. Marine life is abundant and the whole area is protected under National Park status.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Cartagena
Today we will have a full day in the beautiful coastal colonial city of Cartagena. In the morning we will have an included walking tour of the city, and then the afternoon will be free to explore the city further, enjoy the many optional activities on offer, or simply relax on the beach.
Activity Approximate Cost
Discover the brutal history of the Spanish Inquisition at their former headquarters in Cartagena, the Palace of the Inquistion COP 15000
Learn all about Cartagena's naval tradition and history at the Naval Museum of the Caribbean COP 15000
Visit the historic coastal Spanish fortress of Castillo SanFelipe COP 17000
Explore the mud volcano of Totumo, and take a rejuvenating mud bath in its crater USD 25
Explore the fascinating colonial city of Cartagena and learn all about its incredible history on a guided walking tour Included in Kitty
Head out by speedboat to the stunning beaches on the Islas del Rosario off the shores of Cartagena COP 60000
Head out for a day of scuba diving amongst the reefs surrounding the Islas del Rosario in the Caribbean Sea USD 60
Included Activities
  • Guided tour of Cartagena
Optional Activities
  • Volcan de Lodo Totumo, Cartagena - COP45000 - COP45000
  • Snorkelling to Islas del Rosario - USD10
  • San Felipe de Barajas Castle - COP20000
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Tayrona National Park
Today we have a short drive to Tayrona, one of the most popular national parks in Colombia. Leaving our main luggage stored on the truck, we take a daypack/night-bag and go on a moderate walk in to the park to where we will stay. Mules to carry your luggage can be hired at an extra cost. Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is
essential on any overland trip!). The following day is a free day to explore this stunning coastal park. We have the opportunity to trek to El Pueblito, a pre-Hispanic settlement of the Tayrona people, do some snorkelling, or just relax on the beautiful beaches. In Tayrona National Park we will stay in rented hammocks. The hammocks are equipped with mosquito nets but please note that the nets are not treated with Permethrin or similar pesticides. There is also an option to bring tents if you prefer to stay in a tent rather than a hammock, but please note that mules will have to ber hired to carry your tent, at an extra cost.
Activity Approximate Cost
Relax and unwind on the stunning unspoilt beaches of Colombia's Tayrona National Park ARS
Discover some of Tayrona's abundant species of fish and aquatic plants by snorkeling in the calmer areas of the ocean along the coast USD
Explore some of Tayrona National Park's scenic walking trails, including a hike to the mysterious ancient ruins of Pueblito hidden in the jungles high above the coastline
About Tayrona National Park:
Tayrona National Park is a protected site and an excellent example of ecotourism. Tayrona Natonal Park shows a huge diversity of animal and plant species. This is due to the variation in geology of the area. At sea level the climate is arid, making for perfect beach conditions. Further biodiversity is
present offshore, in the warm water of the many coral reefs, which offer an excellent opportunity for snorkeling and swimming. As you travel away from the beach you travel upwards, into the sub tropical climate of the cloud forests, on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In total in the park there are over 2000 species of animal and almost 800 species of plant. This can all be explored on foot by designated paths, an attempt to minimize human impact on the habitat
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 5-6 Mompós
Today we will have an early morning start to walk back to the park entrance, rejoin our truck, and drive to the peaceful and rarely-visited colonial town of Mompós, where we will stay 2 nights. Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours. The following day we go on an included short boat trip down Rio Magdalena to
observe the riverside life and do some wildlife spotting. There will also be plenty of free time to explore this historical colonial town, the first town in Colombia to declare independence from Spain, wander the beautiful streets and soak up the atmosphere of the architecture. In Mompós we stay in a lovely local hotel.
Activity Approximate Cost
Explore the beautiful and serene colonial town of Mompos USD
Explore the area of Mompos by boat, on a beautiful short trip out on the Magdelena River Included in Kitty
Optional Activities
  • Day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia - USD1
  • Medellin Botanical Gardens - USD1
  • Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe - USD1
  • Catedral Metropolitana - USD1
Hotel (1 nt), Hostel (1 nt)
Day 7 Aguachica
Today we will drive south, stopping for the night in the town of Aguachica. In Aguachica we stay in a hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours.
Hostel (1 nt)
Days 8-9 San Gil
Today we will drive to San Gil, the outdoor capital of Colombia and a mecca for extreme-sports enthusiasts! Tonight we will enjoy a vegetarian Indian buffet from the campsite's in-house restaurant.
Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours. The following day is free to enjoy some of the myriad of adrenaline activities on offer in the area, or to spend the day relaxing on the farm. In San Gil we camp in a coffee and cattle farm outside town.
Activity Approximate Cost
Explore the beautiful scenery around San Gil on one of the area's many walking trails, perhaps to the colonial town of Barichala or on the old road to Guane village Discover the scenery of the San Gil region on a horse riding trip through the surrounding hills USD 40
Head out on an exhilarating white water rafting trip - the area has options for all levels, from beginner-level rapids on the nearby River Fonce, through the aweinspiring canyon scenery on the fast rapids of the River Chicamocha, or the crazy Grade 5 rapids of the River Suarez! COP 50000
Explore the incredible underground caves of Cueva del Indio or Cueva de Vaca underneath the area of San Gil on a fully-equipped caving tour USD 20
Head out to the natural swimming and diving pools of Pescaderito, an area very popular with San Gil's locals and visitors Get your adrenline flowing on a downhill mountain-biking ride through the spectacular scenery of the down the nearby Suarez Valley or the Chicamocha Canyon USD 90
Explore the atmospheric old town of Barilacha, and discover its cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings, and red-tiled roofs that look almost as new as the day they were created some 300 years ago
Take a pleasant stroll and a swim in San Gil's Parque El Gallineral, getting lost amongst the magical forests of trees covered in wispy climbing shrubs COP 6000
Take a short trek to the base of the Juan Curi waterfall, a dramatic 180m-high cascade where you can swim in the natural pool beneath or even abseil down part of the cliff! COP 7000
Included Activities
  • El Penon de Guatape
Optional Activities
  • Trek to waterfalls - USD6
  • Mountain bike hire - USD3
  • Kayak hire - USD6
  • Horse riding - USD6
Hostel (2 nts)
Day 10 Villa de Leyva
This morning we will continue our journey with a drive to Villa de Leyva, one of the country's most beautiful colonial villages. Nestled high in the arid semidesert away from any trade routes, the town has escaped development and modernisation for centuries and is one of the most authentic old-towns in South America. We will take an included walking tour of the main sights of the city in the afternoon.
In Villa de Leyva we will camp in the grounds of a hacienda. Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.
Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the nearby mysterious ancient religious site and observatory of the Muisca people, dramatically named 'El Infiernito' ("The Little Hell") by the conquistadors (if time allows) COP 3000
Discover the delightful Spanish colonial town of Villa de Leyva on a guided walking tour, and explore its cobblestoned streets, huge original plaza, and 16thCentury buildings Included in Kitty
See the gigantic near-complete 120-million-year-old fossil of a Kronosaurus (a huge aquatic reptile from the Early Cretaceous Period), still in the spot where it was discovered in 1977 (if time allows)
COP 6000
Included Activities
  • Coffee Plantation Tour, Manizales
  • City tour
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 11 Honda
Today we will drive south to Honda, a historic river town where we meet the Rio Magdalena again.
In Honda we will stay in a local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 8 hours.
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 12-13 Manizales
Today we will head to the town of Manizales, where we stay for 2 nights on a coffee plantation.
Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours. During our time in Manizales we will enjoy a night of traditional music and dancing, take a fascinating tour of the coffee plantations, and visit the Sagrada Familia charity - a local Dragoman-supported charity that provides education, nutrition, and psychological support to poor children in the area. In Manizales we will camp with facilities within the grounds of the finca.
Activity Approximate Cost
Enjoy a night of traditional live Colombian music with a delicious BBQ dinner at our coffee finca nea Manizales Included in Kitty
Stay for 3 nights on a coffee finca near Manizales, and learn all about coffee production on an informative tour of the plantations Included in Kitty
Visit the Dragoman-supported Sagrada Familia project in Manizales, who work to provide education, nutrition, and psychological support to young children from poor backgrounds in the area
Included in Kitty
About Manizales:
Manizales is a friendly city right in the heart of Colombia's coffee region with a comfortable climate and plenty to see and do. Although still opening up to international tourism, Manizales has a lot to offer the visitor in the way of outdoor activities and ecological attractions. The town itself is a relaxed and friendly place centred around the magnificent cathedral with attractions such as the botanical gardens, thermal springs and eco-parks all easily access able from the centre of town. Venturing a little further, you will find coffee haciendas and plantations in the surrounding area as well as some beautiful
country landscapes perfect for trekking or just taking a relaxing break in the great outdoors. In Manizales we stay on one of these working coffee plantations covering approximately 480 acres which provides people from around the world a taste of the finest Manizales fair trade coffee. The plantation employs around 100 people all throughout the year and about 400 people during the peak picking
Optional Activities
  • Cali Water Park - USD5
  • Evening chiva bus tour - USD10
  • Salsa lesson - USD20
  • Museo Arqueológico la Merced - USD2
  • Museo del Oro - USD1
  • Cali zoo - USD5
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 14 Salento
This morning we have a short drive to the small town of Salento, the gateway to the spectacular Valle de Cocora. In the afternoon we will have an included guided trek through the Cocora Valley to see the Quindio wax palm trees, the largest palms in the world and the national tree of Colombia. In Salento we will camp in a well-equipped campsite, 15 minutes drive out of town. Estimated Drive Time - 3 hours.
Activity Approximate Cost
Head out on a half-day guided trek through the spectacular Cocora Valley, and see the incredible 50mtall Quindio wax palms, the tallest plam trees in the world! Included in Kitty
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 15 Popayan
Today we will drive to the beautiful town and former colonial capital of Popayan. In Popayan we stay in dormitory accommodation in a local hostel. Estimated Drive Time - 8 hours.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 16 Ipiales
About Popayan:
Nicknamed the White City, Popayan is a beautiful colonial town of whitewashed houses and grand churches encircled by rolling green hills. Although the capital of the Cauca region and the former capital of Southern Colombia, Popayan somehow retains it's relaxed small town feel. The friendly locals can often be found sipping coffee in one of the city's excellent cafes or relaxing in one of the shaded parks, catching up with friends and watching the world go by. The cool and sunny climate of the lower Andes makes Popayan a very comfortable place to stay and as the main university town of the region, there's a young, sociable feel to the city. The leafy parks marked with elegant church
towers provide a sociable and relaxed location where you could easily spend an afternoon, while an evenings entertainment could be chatting with the friendly locals in a classy cafe bar or salsa club.
Whilst staying in the town there are some lovely walks offering excellent views of the Historic Centre, several worthwhile museums and galleries and many good cafes, bars and restaurants to make the most of. Another highlight of this area is the Silvia Indigenous Market. This beautiful Andean market town is absolutely bursting with colour and energy when the market opens on Tuesdays. Guambiano Indians from the surrounding communities make their way into Silvia to sell their produce and socialise with friends from neighbouring towns. Today we will have a full day drive to the border town of Ipiales.
In Ipiales we will stay in a local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours.
About Ipiales:
Ipiales is the border town on the Colombian side of the Colombia/Ecuador frontier. The town has some pleasant plazas squares and the sight of locals using a horse and cart gives it a quaint, countryside feel.
The star attraction of Ipiales, 7 km outside of town, is the famous Santuario de Las Lajas, the site of many a miracle and apparition over the years. Set amid breath-taking scenery, El Santuario is a spectacular gothic-style church straddling a dramatic gorge with rushing river below. It is one of the most impressive churches on the continent and its fantastic setting and quirky museum make it a highlight of any visit to Colombia.
Activity Approximate Cost
Explore the serene old colonial capital of Popayan, and soak up the charming atmosphere amongst its whitewashed houses and rolling green hills COP
Included Activities
  • Visit to Santuario la Lajas
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 17 Otavalo
Border information: Exit Colombia at Ipiales, enter Ecuador at Ipiales. Today we will have an early start to visit the famous Santuario de las Lajas church outside of Ipiales. We will then head south and cross the border into Ecuador and to the market town of Otavalo. In Otavalo we will camp in the grounds of a rural guesthouse overlooking the town. Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.
Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the jaw-dropping church of Santuario de las Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales, built on a bridge spanning a 45mdeep river gorge Included in Kitty
Take a short walk to the beautiful Peguche Waterfalls near Otavalo (if time allows) USD
Explore the famous Andean handicrafts markets of Otavalo at the Plaza de los Ponchos USD
About Otavalo:
Otavalo is a small town known for it's market, nestled in beautiful surroundings a short distance north of Quito. Many of the local indigenous communities in this area still wear their traditional clothing made from intricately woven and decorated fabrics, and the men tend to wear their hair in long ponytails. Infact, the Otovalan's weaving skills are quite renowned and they are rightly famous for their textiles, so rugs, wall hangings and knitwear are all well worth buying here. There are numerous other activities to do in the surrounding area, including horse-riding and trekking into the surrounding hillsides. If you have time, it may also be possible to visit the hot springs at Papallacta.
Included Activities
  • Village Tour Otavalo
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 18 Quito
Today we will stop quickly at the markets of Otavalo (if time allows) before driving to Mitad del Mundo, the monument that marks the Equator. After this we will complete our drive to the Ecuadorian capital of Quito. In Quito we will stay in a friendly local hotel in the 'New Town'. Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.
Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the monument to mark the Equator at Mitad del Mundo Included in Kitty
About Quito:
Quito has a more relaxed atmosphere than most Latin American capitals. Lying in a hollow at the base of Volcano Pichincha, the old town is a maze of steep, cobbled streets with intricately carved, overhanging balconies. Its mixture of old colonial and modern architecture and the mix of European and Indian cultures make this a really fascinating city. Wandering around, you will come across stalls displaying Indian textiles, colourful wall hangings, jewellery, pottery and woodcarvings - and the old town has some of the best examples of Spanish colonial art and churches anywhere in the Americas.With so much to see and do, it is well worth extending your time in South America to ensure you experience all that Quito has to offer.
Included Activities
  • Mitad del Mundo
Optional Activities
  • El Teleferico cable car - USD4
  • Museo de la Ciudad - USD2
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 19 Quito
Border information: if you are finishing in Quito, you will most likely exit Ecuador at Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport. Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Quito. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight.
Activity Approximate Cost
Visit one of the countless art galleries in Quito, such as the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana or the Museo Guayasamín USD 6
Take a trip on Quito's Telerifico to the top of the Cruz Loma mountain, getting breathtaking views over the city from a height of 4,270m USD 8.5
Visit the excellent Museo de la Ciudad, housed in Quito's oldest building, which explores the history of everyday life from pre-Colombian times all the way up until the present day USD 3
Take a walk around Quito's incredible Botanical Gardens, which showcases all of Ecuador's various ecosystems and their flora USD 3.5
Visit the Museo Mindalae, the extremely original project showcasing Ecuador's rich cultural diversity
Freely explore the stunning historical Old Town of Quito, and wander its ancient streets marvelling at the outstanding architecture and wonderful atmosphere USD
Enjoy the fantastic view over Quito's Old Town from the statue of the Virgin Mary on top of the nearby Cerro Panecillo USD
Get away from the busy city with a stroll around one of Quito's numerous parks, all of which are very beautiful and popular with the locals USD
Visit the Museo Nacional del Banco Central, showcasing the country’s largest collection of Ecuadorian art and housing an impressive gold collection USD 2
      Itinerary disclaimer
      Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
      Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
      We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
      Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
      Culture shock rating

      Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
      Physical rating

      Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
      Physical preparation
      In these parts of the world you'll need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate; from hot deserts through to the cold of high mountain areas.
      Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You'll need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high, can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day.
      Included activities
      Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
      On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and all included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases.This Kitty price indicated on the trip notes below is indicative only. Please refer to the 'Check availability' page on the website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.
      Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.
      You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
      If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.
      Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
      Kitty does not cover food while staying in hotels and hostels.
      We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.
      As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
      Optional activities
      A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
      Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
      Money Exchange
      The official currency of Columbia is the Columbian Peso (COP).
      The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar (USD).
      Please note that in Ecuador automatic money machines often limit the amount you can withdraw. This can be $100 or $200 per day depending on your card.
      With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
      Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day.
      It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
      USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
      Spending money
      Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
      If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
      The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
      Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
      Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest USD2-USD4 per passenger per day.
      Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest USD1-USD2 per day for drivers.
      Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD2-USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
      In total, we recommend you budget approx USD5-USD10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
      Departure tax
      Please allow US$44.30 for international airport departure tax in Quito.
      Important notes
      Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
      The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
      Group size
      Maximum of 22 travellers per group.
      Your fellow travellers
      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
      Single travellers
      Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
      Hotel (9 nts), Camping (with facilities) (5 nts), Hostel (4 nts)
      The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hostels or hotels. Where it's not practical to camp (ie: in towns and cities), we use hostel or hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hostel and hotel stops depends on the route and area.
      Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. On some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, which allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
      Please note that camping is participatory, which means you will be expected to set-up and pack down your own tent.
      Meals introduction
      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
      On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger - you're part of the crew. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple!
      If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
      All meals when camping
      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
      USD 350.00
      All meals while camping are included.
      Overland vehicle
      Group leader
      On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
      While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. Dragoman trips use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
      We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
      On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
      Joining point
      Hotel Villa Colonial
      Calle de Maravillas (C10) No 30-60
      Joining point description
      The hotel is located on a quiet street just inside the city walls in La Matuna district. It is 50 metres from the Laguna de Chambacu and close to the post office. A family-run operation, the Villa Colonial offers well-maintained, airy rooms painted in pastel colours. Laundry service is available.
      Joining point instructions
      Rafael Nunez airport is approximately 2 km from the hotel and a taxi will cost roughly US$4 and is recommended. There are also taxis from the airport to Plaza San Francisco which cost less than a dollar.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
      Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
      Finish point
      Alston Inn Hotel
      Juan Leon Mera N23-41 y Veintimilla
      Emergency contact
      Dragoman have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left home and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.
      If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.
      Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564
      For further contact details please use the following page:
      Emergency funds
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
      We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
      Australia: Not required
      Belgium: Not required
      Canada: Not required
      Germany: Not required
      Ireland: Not required
      Netherlands: Not required
      New Zealand: Not required
      South Africa: Not required
      Switzerland: Not required
      United Kingdom: Not required
      United States: Not required
      Australia: Not required
      Belgium: Not required
      Canada: Not required
      Germany: Not required
      Ireland: Not required
      Netherlands: Not required
      New Zealand: Not required
      South Africa: Not required
      Switzerland: Not required
      United Kingdom: Not required
      United States: Not required
      Citizens of the Republic of China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia, require an appropriate visa to enter Ecuador..
      Issues on your trip
      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
      What to take
      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).
      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
      You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
      Sleeping Bag - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months. One that zips down all one side is useful for warm nights and a sleeping bag liner for cold nights.
      Mattress or compressed foam - Compressed foams are the lightest, most convenient but probably the least comfortable. Self inflating mattresses are convenient, comfortable, light and small when rolled up; they are more expensive and do puncture so bring a suitable repair kit.
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
      In countries like Argentina, Uruguay and the Patagonia region of Chile, tap water is treated and safe to drink so please avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap.
      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
      Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
      Before your trip:
      Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
      During your trip.
      While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
      Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
      The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.
      A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
      It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
      Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
      We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
      Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
      For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
      The vehicle has fully lockable doors and windows, which is an obvious advantage, but it will probably be necessary to guard it at times and everyone should be prepared to share in this responsibility.
      In most areas there is very little to fear from the point of view of violence. But in all areas 'tourists' are a tempting target for pickpockets and con-men. Always be aware of this and be especially careful when leaving banks or money-changers, in any crowded areas, etc. NEVER leave things lying around - they will almost certainly get stolen. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to always be security conscious and to take all necessary precautions. Great inconvenience and distress can be caused by having your documents or possessions stolen.
      A few of our past group members have had the unhappy experience of having their belongings stolen before the trip starts. Beware of carrying your passport and other valuables around with you in cities. We strongly suggest you deposit your valuables in your hotel safe on arrival.
      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
      Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
      While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
      In order to avoid fraud, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.
      Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:
      Travel insurance
      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
      When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
      If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
      Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
      Responsible Travel
      We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
      Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
      A couple of rules
      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader or local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
      The Intrepid Foundation
      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
      The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
      Responsible Travel projects
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Ecuador include:
      * FUNDAR Galapagos, based on Santa Cruz Island, is an organization that works with the Galapagos community, to develop alternative and responsible approaches to local environmental issues. A key initiative is an organic farming program on FUNDAR’s Pajaro Brujo Reserve. Most produce in the Galapagos is imported from the mainland, and this program is creating opportunities for locals to grow organic food, encouraging healthier and more sustainable lifestyles within the community.
      Through the Intrepid Foundation we are raising funds in support of FUNDAR’s organic farming program as well as its weekly educational workshops for students on farming, reforestation and leadership skills.
      Carbon offset
      Carbon Offset C02-e 548.00 kgs per pax.
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.