15 Day Ecuadorian Rainforest/Andean Highlands/Galapagos Islands

From $10,339 USD per person

Overview

TOUR OVERVIEW

This Ultimate Ecuador Adventure is a ‘Trip of a Lifetime’ and one not to be missed! I have done this trip seven times and I absolutely love going back. There is always so much to see and so much to experience and I love seeing it through the eyes of each group that I host. There are three very distinct components of this trip and each offer a unique and different experience for the group. You will travel by plane, by dugout canoe and motorized canoe, by bus, by zodiac and by foot. It is almost like a traveler’s ‘Smorgasbord of Adventures’!! You will be talking about this trip for many years to come!

Itinerary

Depart: Saturday, 02 November 2019
Return: Sunday, 17 November 2019

Day 1 / Date: November 02nd Quito

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador. Sitting at an altitude of 2,850 meters, under the gaze of Volcan Pichincha, Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned for this day.

Arrival Transfer

Marriott Hotel

Day 2 / Date: November 03rd Destination
Meals included: breakfast

Today you’ll have the free day to enjoy Quito at your own and explore this magnificent city located in the middle of the world.

Accommodation

Marriott Hotel

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/uiodt-jw-marriott-hotel-quito/

Day 3 – 5 / Date: November 04th – November 06th Coca – Sacha Lodge
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Once you have arrived at Sacha Lodge, you are free to create your own itinerary with your guide, choosing from our list of activities. Please note, some activities are dependent on the weather.

After making your reservation, Sacha Lodge will book your flight from Quito to Coca. From the moment you set foot at Quito airport you will be in the safe hands of one of our bilingual team members, and will be guided all the way to the Lodge.

After arriving at Sacha Lodge around lunchtime and meeting your guide – who stays with you for the entirety of your trip – you will take your first excursion into the forest. Once you have returned and had dinner, you will set out for your first nighttime adventure: snake spotting in the jungle, or canoeing among caimans on the lake.

A typical day at Sacha begins at sunrise or earlier, in order to take advantage of the cool morning hours when the rainforest’s animals are most active.

Each group agrees on a wake-up time, when their guide will knock on their door for a rude awakening! Breakfast will begin half an hour after that.

Wherever the destination, our excursions proceed slowly in order to appreciate the fascinating details that our guides point out around you.

You might begin the day paddling dugout canoes along tannin-rich black-water creeks and lakes, where luxuriant lianas, orchids, bromeliads and palm trees thrive, always with the possibility of spotting animals, from the tiny pygmy marmoset to the feared ocelot or puma. Then, you could board the motorized canoe for a short ride along the Napo River to visit the Providencia Community of Yasuní, learning about their jungle way of life and testing out their cooking techniques, stopping to watch the parrot disco of the clay lick along the way.

You will return to the Lodge in the late morning, in time for a 1PM lunch. In the time between lunch and your afternoon adventure, you are free to enjoy the Lodge, lounging on sun chairs with a book on the Balsa, or cooling off in the Lake Pool. Activities begin again between 3:00PM and 4:30PM and often continue into the evening, when the nocturnal insect and frog chorus begins. An afternoon excursion might see you trekking through pristine Terra Firme forest, where 150-foot kapok trees tower above and roots form huge buttresses to give trees support, your guide pointing out the crest owl territory and calling to the howler monkeys. You could then climb 94 feet (30 meters) up to the Canopy Walk, a 940-foot (275-meter) bridge across the treetops from where you can spot dozens of animals and birds.

Days at Sacha Lodge do not end with the fading of the light, or even with dinner. Night walks and canoe trips, with the aid of flashlights, often reveal creatures seldom seen during daylight. Caimans (of the alligator family) and giant insects rule the jungle after sunset. Do you dare search for them?

*Please note: activities are subject to weather, though Forest Walks, the Kapok Tower, and Canopy Walk are the keystones of the Sacha Lodge experience.

Accommodation

Sacha Lodge – http://www.sachalodge.com

Day 6 – 7 / Date: November 07th – November 08th Quito – Cotacachi – La Mirage
Meals included: breakfast, dinner

Early in the morning you’ll be transferred to El Coca city airport to take your flight back to Quito.

After your arrival your leader will take you to La Mirage, perched on a hillside, less than three hours from Quito, you will find the hidden secret of Ecuador: a hotel mixed with the native flavor of the Andes. Most of our accommodations, with fireplace and sitting area, have a beautiful view of the mountains and gardens.

This former hacienda is a paradise of plant life filled with a thousand fragrances from its bougainvilleas, hibiscus, roses and orchids that you will also find in freshly cut bouquets in your room or suite. The sumptuous Spa offers many treatments, including the healing powers of a female shaman. La Mirage is distinctive for its elegant fusion of traditions, cuisines, decor and services from Ecuador and further afield.

Accommodation

La Mirage – http://www.mirage.com.ec/

Day 8 / Date: November 09th Quito
Meals included: breakfast

After breakfast you’ll take your transportation to get back to Quito to spend one last night in this beautiful city before you’ll continue your travel to the Galapagos Islands.

Accommodation

Marriott Hotel

Day 9 / Date: November 10th

Baltra / Punta Carrion
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Please note the pick-up time will usually be as early as 4am as the airport is a one-hour drive and you must allow for delays and check-in times. (Your tour leader will confirm this time with you at the pre-departure meeting on Day 1. A US$20 per person transit card is payable on departure at Quito Airport and a US$100 per person national park entry fee is payable on arrival on the islands. Please have cash on hand for these transactions as using credit cards can be time consuming.

You will be met in the arrival hall of the airport by a National Park Guide and transferred to the catamaran ‘M.Y Grand Queen Beatriz’. Lunch will be served on the boat. Your first stop in the afternoon will be Punta Carrion, located in north-eastern Santa Cruz. This is a shallow and protected cove, ideal for your first snorkel and swim in the Galapagos! Wildlife is plentiful; keep your eyes peeled for blue-footed boobies, Galapagos herons, great blue herons and underwater swim among rays and white-tipped reef sharks.

Accommodation

Grand Cruise Beatriz cruise – http://www.grandqueenbeatriz.com/queenitia8.html

Day 10 / Date: November 11th
Isabela Island
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Today you will wake up on the South Coast of Isla Isabela, the largest of the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela was formed by five giant volcanic craters, all of which are still considered active. The island is located in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, having been formed less than 1 million years ago.

This southern coast of turquoise blue waters has the largest area of beaches in the Galapagos. You will visit Las Tintoreras, where from the viewing walkway you can look down into this narrow channel to see a colony of white-tipped reef sharks swimming and sleeping, and the occasional playful sea lion among them! Blue-footed boobies and penguins, marine iguanas and crabs also make their home here, and the waters provide further opportunities to swim with turtles. Here you will also visit the Giant Tortoise breeding center and the Wall of Tears, constructed from lava by prisoners of the penal colony here between 1946 and 1959 as punishment. Please note there’s a US$5 fee to be paid upon entering Isla Isabela.

Accommodation

Grand Cruise Beatriz cruise

Day 11 / Date: November 12th
Floreana Island
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

The island of Floreana is a highlight of any Galapagos cruise, rich in natural wonders and wildlife. You will go ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystals, a glassy volcanic mineral, giving the beach an olive-green color. It is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions.
Today is also one of your finest opportunities to see pink flamingos and other water birds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. Just offshore, the Devil’s Crown is an old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices.

The center of the cone is an outstanding snorkeling spot, perhaps the most remarkable in the entire archipelago, full of sea lions and colorful fish. Floreana is also home to Post Office Bay, where 18th century whalers used a barrel as an unofficial mail drop. This custom continues to this day with visitors to the Galapagos – post one of your own, or see if there are any you could deliver back home!

Accommodation

Grand Cruise Beatriz cruise

Day 12 / Date: November 13th
Santa Cruz Island
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Today you will visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. Afterward you’ll head up into the highlands for a total change of scenery. Beginning at the coast you will travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests. This is a lush humid zone containing miconia bushes, scalesia and inactive volcanic cones. Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any of the other islands and you are likely to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat and perhaps even the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher!

The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic center of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises, you will also observe baby tortoises and land iguanas.

Accommodation

Grand Cruise Beatriz cruise

Day 13 / Date: November 14th
Santa Fe Island / South Plazas
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Santa Fe is home to more sea lions, and these ones are very eager for swimming partners! It’s a lovely place to take a dip, and the landscape on the inland trails is also beautiful, with cacti forests home to a unique sub-species of land iguanas. Hiking towards the cliffs on Santa Fe will lead you to a forest of prickly pear cactus.

A member of the cactus family, their name comes from the pear shaped fruit the plant produces. Santa Fe is home to endemic land iguanas. Once back at the beach you will have free time to snorkel back in the lagoon. Playful sea lions pups and florescent fish make for fascinating company. A small island, Plaza Sur is nonetheless a place of great beauty, where you will get close to sea lions and onto trails past one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations, resting amid cacti and volcanic landscapes colored bright red and green by sesuvium. The island’s rugged southern cliffs are an excellent place to spot tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as ‘the gentlemen’s club’, a gathering of male sea lions either too young or too old to be beach masters!

Accommodation

Grand Cruise Beatriz cruise

Day 14 / Date: November 15th Española Island
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Today you will cruise to the island of Española – the southernmost island of the Galapagos and one of the most spectacular. Because of its remote location, this island has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world’s 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses and also home to colonies of blue-footed and masked boobies.

Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, will lead you right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds

are also often seen. You will also visit the beautiful white sandy beaches at Bahia Gardner, which are great places for swimming and relaxing. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkeling opportunities, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish, often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks.

You will also pay a visit to Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to large and varied wildlife population – a walk along its trails will take you to a cliff top viewpoint, where you’ll gain a magical panorama. Boobies line the rocky shoreline beneath you, while frigate birds may be seen overhead; nearby enormous male sea lions can be seen lounging and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, helping become airborne by the southeast winds that blow across this part of the island.

If you’re lucky you’ll see the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate!

Accommodation

Grand Cruise Beatriz cruise

Day 15 / Date: November 16th
San Cristobal Island
Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

This morning you will visit Punta Pitt on the eastern end of Isla San Cristobal. Walk to the top of the volcanic hill for expansive views of the sparsely vegetated area. A variety of seabirds nest here, including blue- footed boobies and frigates.

Close by you will pass through Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), which is a magnificent rock in the middle of the sea, the shape resembles a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 meters above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel.
You will also visit Isla Lobos, a tiny island almost touching Isla San Cristobal. This is the perfect time to witness the always friendly sea lions as they play in the calm shallow waters here.

Accommodation

Grand Cruise Beatriz cruise

Day 16 / Date: November 17th San Cristobal Island – Guayaquil Meals included: breakfast

As flights to the mainland from Galapagos depart mid-morning, it is an early start for our last morning on the islands. Depending on the time of our flight, our time spent on this final excursion could be limited. Visit the Interpretation Centre in the morning. The center brings the history and geography of the archipelago to life, from its volcanic origins to the present day. The human history exhibit offers an insight into the discovery and colonization of the Galapagos, and the reality of the problems the islands face today is also explored.

This is a great way to complete your time in the Galapagos. This will be your final excursion before you head to the airport in San Cristobal for your flight to Guayaquil.

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