Adventure Journeys is an Ecuadorian tour operator that provides group tours of the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador. They are perhaps the most well-known and reputable of the local operators.
In April 2023, we traveled with Adventure Journeys as part of a 3-week trip wherein we explored the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador on the “Best of Ecuador” tour.
In this review, we will discuss our personal experience as guests on an Adventure Journeys tour and provide as much insight as possible as to who should (and should not) consider booking a tour of Ecuador with them.
For full transparency, we were invited to join the group in exchange for our photography services and an honest review of our experience. This is not an advertisement or endorsement, but simply a genuine account of our time with Adventure Journeys.
Disclosure: In order to keep providing you with free content, this post likely contains affiliate links. If you make a booking or purchase through one of these links we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. So a HUGE thank you to you if you click one of these links 🙂
Adventure Journeys is a boutique tour provider based in Quito that specializes in cultural and adventure travel throughout Ecuador.
The company has established a solid reputation as one of the most professional and communicative tour operators in Ecuador.
Their founder, Henry Sisa, was a naturalist guide for National Geographic prior to creating Adventure Journeys.
While group tours in the B2B space have traditionally been their primary market, the company prides itself on the ability to provide curated experiences to meet any specific needs and/or limitations of its customers.
Adventure Journeys is an honest, reputable, and ethical company. They are committed to providing authentic Ecuadorian experiences while being mindful of the potential impact tourism can have on local residents and wildlife.
If you are reading this wondering if it is safe to book a tour with Adventure Journeys, the answer is a resounding yes.
Whether or not Adventure Journeys is the right choice of tour operator for you is a personal and subjective decision, but you need not worry about scams or questionable business practices from AJ as a company.
You also don’t have to just take our word for it! They have hundreds of 5-star TripAdvisor reviews you can and should also check out if you still have doubts.
On a personal note, our mainland guide (Jorge) was so incredible that we plan on having him as our guest back home in Oregon this year!
We spent 3 weeks in total exploring Ecuador, 12 days of which were spent with Adventure Journeys on the Best Of Ecuador & Galapagos Tour.
Of those 12 days, 5 of them were spent exploring the Galapagos and the other 7 were spent seeing the best of mainland Ecuador.
In all honesty, we felt the Galapagos portion of the tour could be dialed in better. Unfortunately, we preferred our self-guided time on Galapagos to the tour portion, but we are also very experienced travelers fluent in Spanish and likely needed guidance less than the typical tourist.
That said, the mainland Ecuador portion of the tour was unbeatable! We would have never gotten so much out of our time without Adventure Journeys and our guide, Jorge.
All in all, we absolutely recommend Adventure Journeys for anyone who wants to do a group tour, does not speak Spanish, and/or has never traveled Latin America independently before.
Adventure Journeys provides an exceptional value and is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys group tours. We especially recommend them for mainland Ecuador tours.
If you have decided you want to visit Galapagos and Ecuador via tour and are simply wondering if Adventure Journeys is a good tour operator, the answer is absolutely yes.
Adventure Journeys has been in operation a long time and is extremely organized. They will expertly and reliably take care of all the details of your vacation so you can just focus on enjoying the trip of a lifetime.
With all of that said, backpackers and experienced travelers who speak Spanish will find that a self-guided trip will be cheaper, more flexible, and provide more autonomy along the way.
If you have backpacked extensively AND speak at least conversational Spanish, you do not need to book a group tour. You still may want to, especially as visiting Galapagos independently is a bit complicated.
If you are anyone else, then you should strongly consider booking a group tour with Adventure Journeys, especially if you plan to visit Galapagos.
You should book a group tour with Adventure Journeys if:
You should NOT book a group tour with Adventure Journeys if:
In April 2023, we spent three weeks exploring the Galapagos Islands and mainland Ecuador.
For this trip, we (Sophie and myself) were joined by my 70-year-old mother who had never visited South America before.
During those three weeks, we spent around 10 days on a self-guided trip in Quito and the Galapagos before joining Adventure Journeys for the “12-Day Best of Ecuador & Galapagos Guided tour.”
Below, I’ve detailed our personal experience traveling with Adventure Journeys for the first time.
As already stated, this is an honest and genuine review!
While we were not charged for our seats on the tour, they were only accepted on the condition that no terms be set that would inhibit our ability to freely express our opinions.
For most travelers the booking and planning process will be simple: find the tour you want, book it, and plan your flights and accommodation around the start and end date.
As we enjoy solo travel, we weren’t the norm and wanted to ensure we allowed plenty of extra days to experience the country on our own.
We had a myriad of requests, all of which Adventure Journeys were able and willing to accommodate. For example, we flew to the Galapagos 8 days prior to the start of the tour in order to explore San Cristobal (which was not included in the itinerary).
Adventure Journeys was more than happy to arrange our Quito to Galapagos flight to allow for this. Additionally, they arranged for a member of staff to pick us up separately and deliver us to the group when they arrived over a week later.
Upon meeting our group, we learned this willingness to adapt was not unique to us. Several other members had their own personal circumstances, such as later arrivals and major mobility issues, and had received a modified itinerary to meet their specific needs.
One of the other positive elements of booking with Adventure Journeys is the ability to easily book online either through Viator or directly on their website. \
This may seem like a given, but you will soon discover this isn’t the case with all Galapagos or Ecuadorian tour companies! Many require contact through WhatsApp and may even ask for payment through wire transfers or cash on arrival.
Finally, they have both local UK and US phone numbers, making it easy to get in touch with someone should you have any issues or questions.
Based on our personal experience as well as the feedback we got from other members of our tour group, Adventure Journeys gets a 10/10 for booking!
We chose the “12-Day Best Of Ecuador & Galapagos Tour” as we wanted the opportunity to explore both the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador.
Adventure Journeys took care of all the necessary domestic flights, hotels, permits, and paperwork which made the journey back and forth to Galapagos incredibly easy. This is where we found the most value in having a local, trustworthy tour operator design our vacation.
We spent almost two weeks in the Galapagos, but only around 4.5 of those days were with the Adventure Journeys tour group.
There were 13 of us in total in the group; Sophie, my mom, myself, plus another group of 10. The rest of the group seemed thrilled with their time in the Galapagos. However, we were often frustrated with the Galapagos itinerary.
As a trip to the Galapagos islands is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people (ourselves included), we would have appreciated more flexibility to adapt to weather and conditions.
As an example, we spent most of the day on a hike to the spectacular Sierra Negra volcano on Isabela island, despite knowing that the weather up top was horrendous. We trudged for hours through a torrential downpour, to arrive at a viewpoint where we could see nothing, just to turn around and walk back.
Additionally, we spent the majority of a morning kayaking to a spot where penguins can be seen… only to learn that they had not been seen there for over 4 months! We would have much preferred to have spent this time snorkeling, or hiking the volcano that morning instead when the weather was clear.
Of course, we appreciate Adventure Journeys cannot control the weather or conditions. However, finding a way to adapt on the go is something we would advise them to work on.
It is also worth mentioning that ALL tour operators, Adventure Journeys included, have limited options regarding the group tour guides they can hire for Galapagos. Only an official Galapagos National Park naturalist guide is allowed to do group tours and there are not many freelancers available.
We did not love the guide we received but, while not directly stated, we got the impression she was unfortunately among the best available.
Our 7-day guided tour on mainland Ecuador was truly incredible! It is here that Adventure Journeys really shined, and was clear that they have more control (and perhaps experience?) with mainland tours.
We were impressed the minute we met our tour guide, Jorge. Bubbling with enthusiasm and energy, he was clearly passionate about his job and was easily the best group guide we have ever had on any trip in our lifetime.
Unlike the tour guides in the Galapagos who are freelance, those on the mainland are employed by Adventure Journeys directly and seem far more experienced and invested.
As for the itinerary itself, it was absolutely perfect!
By the end, we felt we had seen all of the major highlights of Ecuador without feeling like we spent the whole time in a bus nor feeling rushed. There was a harmonious mix of nature, culture, adventure, and comfort, while still feeling authentic.
The entirety of the itinerary, which included everything from a primitive jungle stay to a 5-star Hot Spring Hotel, was designed perfectly.
There was always something to do but also just the right amount of time to rest, and unlike Galapagos, it felt like not a minute was wasted.
Overall, all three of us were extremely happy with the services provided by Adventure Journeys, particularly by our mainland guide (Jorge).
We would recommend Adventure Journeys with absolute confidence for anyone traveling to mainland Ecuador and for most people seeking group tours to the Galapagos.
Personally, we would also book another mainland Ecuador tour if we saw one that featured stops that we missed on the first visit.
With that said, we would be more likely to recommend a Galapagos Cruise over a land tour to anyone visiting the Galapagos islands.
It should be noted that we discussed the experience with everyone in our group individually and each was genuinely happy with every aspect of the itinerary – our perceived lack of value for the Galapagos portion is in large part due to our comfort in traveling Latin America.
Below are some of the best tours that Adventure Journeys offer in Ecuador and the Galapagos. All of them are 5-star rated so you can be confident that you’re going to have the most incredible time.
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I truly hope you have found this personal review on touring with Adventure Journeys useful in whatever capacity you were seeking information.
This is a company we were excited to experience and a destination that is truly one of a kind. I hope your experience with them is as amazing as ours was.
Now we’d like to hear from YOU!
Do you have any unanswered questions? Concerns? Compliments? Have you just returned from a tour with Adventure Journeys and want to share your experience?!
Help us help others by sharing your thoughts in the comments below!