EXPLORE ECUADOR’S ANDES AND GALAPAGOS

Ecuador is a small treasure-trove of a country. With four very different regions from active volcanoes to the peaceful sleeping sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, passing the threatening anacondas in the deep Amazon jungle, Ecuador will amaze you in every step. Too much to choose from? Count on our experts’ advice to create the perfect customised trip for you. You’ll get to meet the locals while enjoying exotic dishes in astonishing landscapes, and we will take care of each step of your trip.

Day 1:  Transfer in

On arrival at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre Airport, you will be welcomed by one of our professional guides who will assist you with the private transfer to your hotel and help you accommodating and giving helpful information for your stay in this world heritage city.

Accommodation including breakfast at either

Hotel Casona de La Ronda (https://www.lacasonadelaronda.com)

or

Casa Gardenia (http://www.hotelcasagardenia.com)

Day 2: Biking at El Chaquiñan & a City Tour of Quito

El Chaquiñan is one of the best bike experiences in Latin America. The name of the trail comes from the indigenous Quechua words chasqui meaning foot and ñan meaning trail and dates back to the pre-Inca period.

It is one of the city’s best known cycle routes.  Before the Quito Municipality took over ownership of the trail it was known as ‘El Muerciélago’ (Bat trail), because colonies of these animals were found in the tunnels that are part of this route. It has been upgraded and has created an historical trail that is adventurous but can be enjoyed by everyone.

To go there, we reach Cumbayá, a valley located 25 minutes from Quito and continue descending to get to the 22 kilometre traffic free track. The cycle route crosses a section of the old railroad that used to link the north of the country with the Sierra and the Ecuadorian Coast. It goes down a canyon getting to see some nice small villages. It is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Sunday.

One of its main attractions is to ride through the tunnels in complete darkness adding a sense of adventure. It is recommended, if it is the first time you ride the route, take a flashlight for this section. It does not exceed 500 meters and receives natural light as there are three viewpoints to take photographs or simply enjoy the landscape.

The minimum height of the route is 2385 meters above sea level (Chiche River bridge), while the maximum height is 2434 meters above sea level (Portal La Lomita – Puembo).

There are some rest stops with potable water and clean public bathrooms, and a picnic area. The bike parking includes bike fixing stations and pumps. There are large maps showing your current location, indicating all road crossings, mentioning future rest stops, and marking every kilometre, so you know exactly how far you had to ride before arriving at the next station. There are also some cafes, including a bike café and some small shops.

After this tour we will continue with a panoramic view of Alameda Park and a visit to the Basilica where you can take some photos of the city, followed by a walk down the street of the Seven Crosses, then continue with a short visit to Independence Square.  From here, we’ll see the Presidential Palace and the main cathedral.  After this, we will visit the amazing La Compañía Church and its gold-plated interior, San Francisco Church and its surrounding area that are the reasons why in 1978 Quito was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

La Compañía Church

Day 3: Quito – Otavalo

Leaving Quito after breakfast with your guide, heading to Otavalo, famous for its artisan market, full of vibrant colours, where you will find typical handcrafts and souvenirs. On route we will pass by Guayllabamba town where you can try its typical fruit the cherimoya.  We continue our trip, and we will have a short stop at the San Pablo Lake to enjoy the views.

We can admire the beautiful landscape and snow-capped mountains in the area.  When getting to Otavalo, one of the most famous markets in Latin America, we will visit the Plaza de los Ponchos to find all kinds of handcrafts, our guide will give you some free time to enjoy bargaining and buying souvenirs to the nice Otavaleños.

In the afternoon we will visit Cotacachi, where you can find leather handicrafts and a short visit to Cuicocha Lake which used to be a Volcano and now it is converted into a magic lagoon.

Accommodation including breakfast at either

Hacienda Cusin (http://www.haciendacusin.com )

or

Pinsaqui (https://www.haciendapinsaqui.com )

or similar including breakfast.

Day 4:  Otavalo – Quito

After breakfast we head to an Hacienda for some horseback riding. This can be 1 or 2 hours in duration.

It leaves from the hacienda and it’s route is through the outskirts of Imbabura and ends when you arrive at the Parque Condor.

Then we will visit some of the nicest towns around Otavalo area where you will find many artisans at their workshops and enjoy seeing their hand made products.  One of the nicest is San Antonio de Ibarra where you can find craft objects made in wood.

We will offer a nice dinner at Octava de Corpus including soft drink and a glass of wine, you will have the opportunity to admire the wine cellar and some of the special pieces they have from all the world.

Accommodation at Hotel Casona de La Ronda or Casa Gardenia including breakfast.

Day 5.  Quito – Baltra for 6 days / 5 nights Island Hopping Tour

Transfer to airport to take your flight to Galapagos

On arrival in Baltra, our guide will take us to Puerto Ayora in a private car to visit Puerto Ayora Highlands

The island of Santa Cruz has the largest and most developed town in the Galápagos; almost every visitor to the islands spends at least some time here, even if it’s simply commuting from the airport on nearby Isla Baltra to a cruise ship in the harbour of its town Puerto Ayora. However, to anyone who stays for longer, the island of Santa Cruz is more than just a way station or place to feel connected to the modern, man-made world; it’s a destination, full of visitor sites, easily accessible beaches and remote highlands in the interior, and a base for adventurous activities far from the tourism trail.

Visitors are enjoying the variety of life and geology. Depart from Puerto Ayora, climbing through the agricultural lands and into the mist-covered forests. Santa Cruz possesses all the various life zones present in the archipelago. As you travel through these zones birders are enchanted. Whether it’s the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher or one of Darwin’s Finch almost every bird present in the islands can be found here.

Santa Cruz offers excellent opportunities for viewing wild Galapagos Tortoises. Tracking tortoises is not the only exciting activity to be found in the highlands. There are also plenty of lava tubes, sinkholes and craters to explore. Theses eerie formations offer a fascinating hike into the belly of the island to view its volcanic make-up.

Overnight including all meals at

Hotel Sol y Mar (https://www.hotelsolymar.com.ec)

or Angermeyer ( http://angermeyer-waterfront-inn.com

or similar

Day 6 Navigation to Bartolome or North Seymour or Plazas Island

Bartolomé, a small island off the coast of James Island, is an adventurer’s paradise. Its summit has one of the most breath-taking views of the Galapagos Islands. And Pinnacle Rock, the eroded remains of an old volcanic tuff cone, is a popular site for snorkelling. Underwater rock formations are spectacular and Galapagos marine animals, including reef sharks, rays and tropical fish, are abundant here.

The white sand beach at the foot of Pinnacle Rock is home to a colony of playful Galapagos penguins and a favourite site among tourists. Sally Light-foot Crabs, marine iguanas, sea lions, and Lava Herons also can be found along the shore.

Located north of Baltra, has a very flat surface (1.9 km ²) and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. It was raised from the ocean layer by a seismic event. Several cliffs with few meters form the beach where swallow-tailed gulls resting on the edge. This island is a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. It is also a small forest of silver and grey colour of Palo Santo trees are very close to our landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bloom again.

North Seymour Island is known as one of the largest spawning blue-footed boobies and the largest colony of frigate real. It also has two endemic species of iguanas, sea and land.

Plazas Islands off the east coast of Santa Cruz is made up of two small crescent-shaped islands, North Plaza and South Plaza. South Plaza Island has a visitor site; however North Plaza is only used for research purposes and is not open to visitors. South Plaza is one of the smallest islands with a visitor site in the archipelago and was formed from an uplifted seabed. Despite its small size, South Plaza is home to a wide variety of species and is famous for its extraordinary flora.

South Plaza Island is a popular site among visitors. Red-billed tropical birds and swallow-tailed gulls are some of the many birds that can be found nesting along the cliffs, and a large colony of land iguanas can be found on the island.

Return to Santa Cruz

Overnight at hotel Sol y Mar or Angermeyer or similar including all meals

Day 7 Santa Cruz Island (Garrapatero Beach)

El Garrapatero is a beautiful beach surrounded by mangroves, where small ponds are home to flamingos.  At this beach we can swim or snorkel on the surface. It also has places for camping with the permission of the Public Use Unit. You can use the grills for campfires.

El Garrapatero beach is three kilometres long, an uninhabited area where it’s common to find many ghost crabs and resident and migratory seabirds in that area.

The fauna of El Garrapatero is represented by birds such as mockingbirds, finches, patillos, Flamingos, Galapagos penguins, shrimp and shorebirds. At the end of the beach can be found zayapas, oystercatchers and occasionally marine iguanas.

Overnight at hotel Sol y Mar or Angermeyer or similar including all meals.

Day 8 and 9 Isabela Island

Isabela is a very beautiful island, is the largest of the Galapagos archipelago and is known as the island of volcanoes as it has 5 active and more than 2500 cones scattered across the island.

His place of access is Puerto Villamil. The entrance to the Bay is a bit difficult due to the large amount of rocks on the coast of low cliffs and deep crevices that make navigation difficult, to which we must add a sea always agitated.

The island has a population of 864 inhabitants, no drinking water but has water underground springs that end on the shores to the south side of the island. In Isabela Island 60% percent of all flora and fauna of Galapagos. Here you can find five species of giant tortoises, flamingos, penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions, sharks easily based on the village of Puerto Villamil.

Overnight including all meals at Hotel Albemarle (http://www.hotelalbemarle.com )

or similar

Day 10 Isabela – Baltra and return

We will embark on a flight to return to Baltra to take your flight to Quito where our guide will meet you and take you to your hotel.

Accommodation at hotel Casona de La Ronda or Casa Gardenia including breakfast.

END OF SERVICES

 The Program in Ecuador

Does Include:

  1. Private transfers and tours with English speaking driver guide
  2. Meals detailed in the itinerary
  3. Breakfasts are included at all hotels
  4. Entrance fees

 

Does not include:

  1. International flights and airport taxes
  2. Additional meals and drinks (soft & alcoholics)
  3. Tips, personal expenses
  4. Travel and medical insurance

The Program in the Galápagos

Does include:

  • Visit to the mentioned islands with an English-speaking naturalist guide
  • All meals
  • Water, coffee and tea
  • Flight Quito – Baltra – Quito
  • Flight on small plane Baltra to Isabela
  • Galapagos entrance fee
  • Ingala transit control document

 

Does not include:

  • International flights and airport taxes
  • Additional meals and drinks (soft & alcoholics)
  • Tips, personal expenses
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Snorkelling equipment
  • Wet suits rental
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