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Route

Technical Characteristics:

Route Profile:  Easy. The daily tours are not difficult but the high altitude adds challenge. Some surefootedness and experience with hilly terrain would be of benefit, especially for the cruise portion of the tour.

Travel Season: Any date on request from January 2 to December 31, 2022
*NOTE: Galapagos boat cruises start only on Mondays. In order to participate, the start date of the tour
will need to be organized around the Monday start of the boat cruise.

Accommodation:

3* and 4* hotels, ship

Ecuador is one of the countries with the highest biological diversity in the world. During this fourteen day tour we will visit some of the different eco systems, flora and fauna. The journey starts in Quito. From here, continue to the cloud forest, known for its fantastic bird watching. Visit to Mindo and continue to Otavalo, where you will experience the Andes Mountain landscapes and the Indigenous population. Continue to Galapagos where you will experience an impressive wildlife first from the sea on one of our cruises.

Itineraries

Day 1

Arrival in Quito

Reception at the airport. You will be met by a staff member with a sign with your name. Transfer to the hotel in the northern part of the town, Mariscal. This is a convenient location in the touristic area of Quito, close to restaurants, bars and entertainment.

Day 2

Quito: Full day City tour with “Mitad del Mundo”

Full day private city tour in the historical part of Quito, including La Basilica Church, La Compañia Church and El Panecillo Hill. We leave the hotel in our private transport and will see the transformation from the new part of the city to the absolutely beautiful historical and colonial part of Quito. We will make some stops during the tour and visit all the interesting churches, plazas etc., but also will have time to simply soak up the local atmosphere, the many shops and sellers. Afterwards, we continue to “El Panecillo”, the hill in the center of Quito overlooking the city and the historical center. From here, on clear days, we may observe several of the snow-capped volcanoes surrounding Quito.

Day 3

Bellavista

Arrive around 9:30 am, breakfast at the lodge. The rest of the day enjoy guided tours in the cloud forest. Bellavista is the perfect place for anyone who seeks to immerse themselves in its mysteries, soak in its vast views, anyone who wants to discover its rare and native birds, orchids and other species, anyone who wants to discover true peace and wild places, anyone who loves forests – there are few places like this that are so easily accessible. Add to that the sense of adventure hiking the forest trails, or deep adventure hiking up streams to reach hidden waterfalls, and you have the ingredients for a very unique travel experience. The reserve has about 20 different trails, many of them interconnected. These paths go through primary and secondary forests. The hikes last between one and half to almost three hours depending on the trails, the hikers and the weather. There are easy trails and very hard ones, but we always choose the appropriate trails according to the hikers’ physical condition, their age and the weather. None of the trails are completely flat, and all of them have the common terrain of the cloud forest (mud, stairs, and lots of plants).

Day 4

Half day tour to Mindo – Chocolate, Butterflies & Orchids

Half day tour to visit the chocolate factory, the butterfly reserve
and the orchid farm. Departure from Bellavista after breakfast. We head to Mindo, where the chocolate factory is located. From here
we combine the visit with a tour to the “butterfly reserve”, which is
a beautiful little farm where they breed about 20 different species
of butterflies. Visitors witness the whole process of birth and flight of these lovely creatures. Then we go to chocolate factory. Here you will have around an hour’s explanation of the process of harvesting and processing of cacao, with tasting of flavors and other interesting things. Finally we go to the orchid farm, which houses a fascinating collection of about 200 different species. And not only that – this farm also has
a small viewpoint for bird watching. From here you can see tanagers, hummingbirds and momotos. At noon, transfer back to Bellavista, where we will have lunch.

Day 5

Bellavista – Otavalo

We leave Bellavista after breakfast and have an approximately three hour drive to Otavalo. The drive is fascinating, travelling through the relatively dry areas caused by the “rain shadow” from the volcanoes, and it is easy to observe the sediments suggesting the formation of this part of the Andes. This valley is very beautiful and surrounded by smaller volcanoes and lakes. We visit the Otavalo market where you will find all sorts of souvenirs, and enjoy simply watching the local people and their interesting daily life. In the afternoon, transfer to an authentic hacienda in the outskirts of Otavalo, where you will have a nice dinner.

Day 6

Otavalo – Quito

In the morning, after enjoying the nice hacienda, we head towards Cotacachi’s Crater Lake. This lake is beautifully located at the foot of Cuicocha volcano. There will be time to take a short walk and enjoy the magnificent views. Then we will return to Cotacachi, a small village, where we will have the opportunity to buy high quality leather products and enjoy a very nice lunch before heading home.

Day 7

Galapagos Wildlife Cruise Morning - Arrival to Baltra Airport Afternoon - Highlands (Santa Cruz)

Upon arrival at Seymour Ecological Airport, a check-up is carried out first, to ensure that no foreign plant or animal species are introduced on the islands. Furthermore, your TCC (Transit Control Card) is stamped; this must be kept safe during your trip, as it has to be presented again on your return flight. In addition, entrance to the Galapagos National Park is due for entry (US $ 100), if this has not yet been paid. Your guide will meet you at the airport, assist you with the luggage and accompany you on the short bus ride to the harbour of Puerto Ayora. Here you will climb aboard the yacht. After greeting the crew and the captain, your cabins will be assigned to you and then you will enjoy your first lunch on-board. In the afternoon, visit the highlands in Sana Cruz. Because wild Galapagos giant tortoises don’t stop at official National Park boundaries, dozens of them also roam on the adjacent woodlands in the populated agricultural zone of Santa Cruz. Thanks to their concentrations around their favourite muddy pools, these semi-open pastures and moist scalesia-woodlands are the best place for a quick visit. After this excursion you will have some time to visit the surroundings.

Day 8

Morning Cormorant Point (Floreana) Afternoon Post Office Bay (Floreana)

The peninsula of Cormorant Point forms the extreme north cape of Floreana, which was formed by a number of smaller volcanic cones, covered with tropical dry forest (palo santo). At the landing beach, you will be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion colony. The green sand on this beach contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals that have been blown out by the surrounding tuff cones. The ‘flour sand’ beach on the southern side of the peninsula is made up of even finer white coral sand that feels very smooth on your feet. Parrotfish have pulverised it, grinding the calcareous skeletons of living coral. You can spot schools of stingrays who love burying themselves in the sandy bottom. During the first months of the year, Pacific green turtles come ashore to bury their eggs. While having lunch we will navigate back to Post Office Bay (about one hour). Post your holiday greetings in the historical barrel, one of three nearby visitor’s sites on Floreana’s north coast (short displacement, wet landing) and relax. Besides Galapagos sea lions, Pacific green turtles and golden cow nose rays you might spot Galapagos penguins! This is the only place in the south-eastern archipelago where penguins reside. Explore by inflatable dinghy – or at your own pace by sea kayak – another submerged crater rim around the bay of Baroness Lookout. Climb the miniature basaltic cone of Baroness Lookout and take in the paradisiacal coastal views. This viewpoint was the favourite spot of one of Floreana’s first colonists, the eccentric Baroness and self-proclaimed ‘Empress of Galapagos’ Eloisa von Wagner Bosquet, who even built her house a few metres behind. She and one of her lovers were the first in a series of mysterious disappearances and deaths in the 1930s.

Day 9

Morning Gardner Bay (Española) Afternoon Punta Suarez (Española)

In the morning, visit the north-eastern coast of the island of Española. Gardner Bay offers a wonderful place to refresh in the turquoise sea and to admire the large number of colourful reef fish. You will also have the opportunity to snorkel side by side with green sea turtles, or to enjoy the proximity of the playful Galapagos sea lion. The white sand beach is also an important breeding ground for the green sea turtles. In the crystal clear ocean, sometimes whales can be seen under certain circumstances. In the afternoon, visit Punta Suarez. This rocky area is home to the most impressive and diverse seabirds of the archipelago. The endangered Galapagos albatross returns to Española (March - December) annually. This allows visitors to admire the balances of pipes and bows (especially in October). Blue-fronted and nazcat oil pipes, black-tailed gulls and red-billed tropic birds are native to this island. Along the southern coast, high cliffs allow spectacular views of ascending birds and the sea water shot through air holes.

Day 10

Morning Punta Pitt (San Cristobal) Afternoon Cerro Brujo (San Cristobal)

Two wind sculptured tuff cones at Pitt Point constitute the extreme eastern end of San Cristobal. On the small green sand beach, you will be welcomed
by a cacophony of barking Galapagos sea lions. From saltbush and spiny
shrubs behind the beach a trail leads up to an area of tropical dry forest vegetation: most of the year leafless palo santo trees, yellow cordia shrubs, tiny prickly pear cacti and carpetweed, that turns red in the dry season. After the pretty steep climb through a gully to the cliff top, you can wander around the only colony in Galapagos that is home to all species of booby. The primary attraction of this site is the coral sand beach. It is an excellent place to swim and snorkel. Cerro Brujo is the remains of a tuff cone. It is one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. Captain Fitzroy climbed to the top of the hill to scout out reefs. It has an impressive landscape, where it is often possible to see coastal and migratory birds, including pelicans, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. At times the lagoon is completely dry and deposits of salt may be found in the bottom. The people of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno used to use the lagoon as a salt mine.

Day 11

End of cruise. Travel to Isabela Island

The cruise ends during the morning hours in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz). Some hours free to visit Galapagos biggest town, Puerto Ayora, and to enjoy the restaurants before checking in to the ferry and head for the largest (and some would say the most beautiful) island, Isabela. The ferry takes off at 2 p.m. and it is a three hour boat ride. Arrival to Isabela and transfer to hotel.

Day 12

Isabela – Excursion to the Sierra Negra volcano

Today there is a day excursion to the Sierra Negra volcano. Pick up at the hotel early in the morning and arrive at the foot of the crater. From the entrance, we take a 30 minute walk to the crater, with an amazing view of the 1450 meter volcano. It is the second largest crater in the world, with a diameter of 9.6 kiometers. The volcano is active and had a major eruption in 2005, and we can clearly see the remains of the lava rivers from this eruption. Later we visit the Chico volcano, an area not often visited, where we can appreciate clear signs of volcanic activity such as fumaroles and mineral associations.

Day 13

Isabela – Visit to Tintoreras Island

Depending on the time of the year, you will either have the tour to Tintoreas in the morning or in the afternoon. Pick up at the hotel and a short boat trip to “Los Tintoreras”, named after a shark which is abundant around the Galapagos. On this small island we have the chance to spot many marine iguanas and also the Tintoreras sharks in a canal. The snorkeling is excellent around this island, and we reserve plenty of time to enjoy the waters and the wildlife.

Day 14

Departure

End of Galapagos tour. Early morning transfer to the peer in Villamil and ferry to Santa Cruz. From here transfer to Baltra airport. Flight to Guayaquil and international connection in the afternoon.

Prices

    Included:

    Land Portion of Tour:

    • All transfers
    • English speaking guide during activities/tours
    • All activities/tours in private services except following tours (shared services): Tour to Siona Lodge (max 12 people per guide)
    • Entrance fees (except Galapagos Entrance fee)
    • Domestic flight: Quito – Lago Agrio – Quito
    • Accommodation
    • Meals as described in the itinerary (13 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners)

    Galapagos Cruise Portion of Tour:

    • All meals while onboard
    • Water, coffee and tea
    • Double/Twin cabin accommodation with private facilities
    • All excursions as mentioned in the itinerary (itinerary subject to change) with English speaking naturalist guide
    • All transfers in Galapagos

    Not Included:

    Land Portion of Tour:

    • Domestic and international flights
    • Galapagos entrance fees: Galapagos Park Entrance fee ($100.00 USD), Ingala ($20.00 USD) and Isabela Island Local Taxes  ($10.00 USD)
    • Meals not mentioned in the program
    • Alcoholic and soft drinks
    • Personal expenses
    • Tips
    • Everything not mentioned in the “Included” list

    Galapagos Cruise Portion of Tour:

    • Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100. 00 USD per person, subject to change)
    • Transit Control Card ($20.00 USD per person, subject to change)
    • Wetsuit rental
    • Soft and alcoholic drinks
    • Tips
    • Travel insurance or other items of personal nature
    • Everything not mentioned in the “included” list

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