This tour of Ecuador focuses on natural history: the Andean highlands, Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands.
From Quito you will spend the day in Cotopaxi National Park, located on the high Paramo and home to the "highest active snowcapped volcano on earth" (19,314 ft.). Your time in the park will include hiking and birdwatching. With additional days in Quito you may opt to include a city tour or other day trips to outlying areas.
Fly the remote lowland jungle town of Coca, from where you will travel by boat down the Napo River – an Amazon River tributary - to a lodge from where you will base your daily explorations. Guided excursions include river trips, jungle hikes, wildlife spotting and birdwatching.
Return to Coca, fly back to Quito and transfer to the exceptional Mashpi Lodge in the highland cloudforest. In this unique environment you will be amidst different flora and fauna.
Explore the Galapagos Islands and surrounding waters while based at lodges located on Santa Cruz and Isabela islands. Lodge-based programs have become an attractive alternative to cruises. You will discover the extensive variety of underwater wildlife on Scuba diving or snorkeling excursions (for those without diving certification) as well as observe the flora and fauna above ground on foot.
This particular trip features a 6-day Scuba diving package with 6 dives. Shorter / non-diving programs can be arranged.
Upon your arrival into Ecuador you will be met by your private guide and driven to your Quito hotel. Enjoy the highly elevated Ecuador capital known for its historic architecture and surrounded by spectacular volcano peaks. Overnight Patio Andaluz, breakfast included - 2 nights.
Today you will set off with your guide for Cotopaxi National Park, home to the "highest active snow-capped volcano on earth", Cotopaxi at 19,314 feet above sea level. You will explore the Andean paramo (over 11,000 ft.), the Limpiopungo lagoon situated at the foot of two volcanoes (Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui) and you may have the opportunity to watch highland birds, including, if you are lucky, the Andean Condor. Weather permitting, you may hike up to the snowline at over 14,000 ft. Lunch is included at a typical hacienda along with a visit to a local Indian market. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Coca. Upon arrival you will transfer via motorized boat along the Napo River to your luxury ecolodge - the Napo Wildlife Center. Lodge accommodations feature private cabanas and luxurious amenities for your downtime after full days of exploring the rainforest. All meals and daily guided excursions included.
Daily morning, afternoon and evening excursions will give you an up-close and authentic perspective of your jungle surroundings. These tours, led by knowledgeable and bilingual guides, will give you the best chance of seeing the diverse wildlife that inhabits the region such as 11 species of monkeys, a colorful variety of birds such as toucans and parrots, giant otters, and larger mammals such as jaguars, pumas, tapirs, giant anteaters, and giant armadillos. Visit parrot clay licks, take moon-lit jungle hikes, and early morning boat rides that will give you a truly unique experience in the Amazon.
Transfer by boat back to Coca. After a flight to Quito you will be met by a representative who will drive you to the luxurious and exotic, Mashpi Lodge.
You arrive at the entrance to the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve, which extends over the surrounding 1,300 hectares. – a haven for wildlife and biodiversity. Here, you'll stop at the Hummingbird Viewpoint to learn more about these irrepressible flying machines and enjoy a drink.
For a truly spectacular birdwatching experience, for experts and beginners alike, you can wake up early and walk out to the terrace. Morning activities are organized before breakfast. Spend your time taking guided hikes around the lodge to waterfalls, or peddle your way through the canopies on the Mashpi sky bike. When the sun sets, you will see different kinds of life on the exciting night hike.
This morning, there’s an early breakfast, followed by a shorter morning activity and check-out. There’s then time to relax at the Lodge, watch a video presentation or bird watch from the terraces. A substantial snack is served at 10.30 am before leaving the hotel at 11 am. About an hour away, you visit the intriguing archaeological site of Tulipe. Drive eastwards, winding up the Andes towards the capital, arriving at Quito hotels between 3 and 4 pm (depending on traffic, location and number of passengers). All meals and guided excursions are included. Overnight Quito hotel, breakfast included.
Hotel pickup and transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos.
Upon arrival, pay Galapagos Entrance Tax and Visitor Control Card. You will be met and transferred to the ferry for the crossing to Santa Cruz Island (10-min ride). Upon arrival at Santa Cruz you will transfer to the Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge. Lunch at Aventura Lodge.
Afternoon tour to Garrapatero Beach
Depart for a 25-minute bus ride to Garrapatero beach. Depart along an easy trail for about 15 minutes to the beach. This beautiful white sandy beach is known for its flamingos and finches and a place where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. This is one of Santa Cruz's most peaceful and tranquil settings, the 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of sand that compose El Garrapatero Beach is a tropical paradise. It is about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) northeast of Puerto Ayora. Surrounded by beautiful mangrove trees, the beach is home to an incredible array of birds, most notably, flamingos and mockingbirds. You can also find marine iguanas, shrimp, Galapagos penguins, oystercatchers, and patillos amongst the white sands and clear blue water. There's also a freshwater lake nearby that is home to even more tropical animals, such as herons, grebes, and many of shore birds. Briefing and dinner at Aventura lodge. Overnight at Aventura Lodge.
The 6-day/5-night Land & Sea Adventure includes Baltra Airport transfers, accommodations, all meals, guided excursions.
Diving off Santa Cruz with opportunities to see Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, Hammerheads, White-Tipped Reef Sharks, Galapagos Shark, Stingrays, Marbled Rays, Tiger Snake Eels, Moray Eels, Garden Eels, Sea Stars, Sea Turtles, Jacks, Blue and Gold Snappers, Flag Cabrilla, Creolefish, King Angelfish, Barracuda, Heiroglyphic Hawkfish, Frogfish, Yellowtail Surgeonfish, Spotfin Burrfish, Scorpionfish, Cardinalfish, Nudibranch and more!
This afternoon you will enjoy a fascinating guided tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station. Founded in 1964 with the purpose of studying and preserving the natural wonder that is Galapagos. The station is supported by over 100 scientists and researchers from around the world, instrumental in the conservation efforts of the islands.
The Charles Darwin Research Station is also home to Lonesome George, also known as the world’s rarest creature. He was discovered in 1971 on Pinta island and is the very last of his kind. Learn more about Lonesome George and much more fascinating natural history at this amazing center.
Another morning dive off Santa Cruz.
Return by 1:00pm and transfer to Isabela Island.
Isabela Las Tintoreras and Bay Tour
Walk through a jagged 'AA' lava field, passing abundant colonies of marine iguanas, to see a small canal full of resting white-tipped reef sharks. The black, treacherous lava field, the emerald green sea, the forest green mangrove and the cloud capped volcanoes of Isla Isabela is the sort of afternoon backdrop you will not soon forget.
Once you return to the dock, you can snorkel in this warm, shallow bay surrounded by mangrove, with an opportunity to see white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, penguins and more.
Dinner and overnight at the Isabela Lodge.
After breakfast you will depart for Isla Tortuga for 2 dives where you will have a chance to see Mantas, Stingrays, Sea Turtles, White-Tipped Reef Sharks, Hammerheads, King Angelfish, Yellowtail Surgeonfish, Barberfish, Blue-Chin Parrotfish, Bumphead Parrotfish, Galapagos Groupers, Galapagos Sheephead, Harlequin Wrasse, Grey Grunts, Tuna, Barracuda, Corals, Tubes and more. Possibility of Sunfish and Orcas.
This afternoon begins with a drive out of town along the most beautiful, white sand, palm-lined beach in the whole of the Galapagos - Long Beach. This travel magazine cover stretches on for 3 kilometers before you enter the National Park and begin with a walk up the stairs for astounding vistas from the top of Cerro Orchilla. As you drive down the road, you will very likely see the largest of the Galapagos marine iguanas sunning by the side of the road. And don't be surprised if you have to wait for a Galapagos tortoise to cross the road in front of you. You will visit the Muro de Las Lagrimas (Wall of Tears), which was built with backbreaking effort by prisoners of a local penal colony by carrying jagged volcanic rock long distances.
The path to the Wall of Tears is abundant with lava lizards. The males are larger and striped and the females red-throated. If you visit during breeding season, be careful not to step on or disturb the many nests along this trail. They appear as holes that a gopher might have dug, but in fact are nests.
Birds are also incredibly abundant and your Naturalist Guide will assist you with identification. Isabela has more tortoises in the wild than any other island with several sub-species, since lava fields created a barrier that limited their mobility to freely roam.
On your way back to town, you will visit the Interpretation Center, a breeding center for the giant Galapagos Tortoises and the only place to view the rare, remaining flat-backed (so-called 'tabletop' shells) Galapagos tortoises, many of which still bear the scars of volcanic activity from Sierra Negra.
Dinner and overnight at the Lodge.
Diving in 4 Hermanos, a series of 4 islands and islets where you can have a chance to see Manta Rays, Sea Horses, Lobster, Nudibranch, Sea Cucumber, Octopus, Sea Horse, White-Tipped Reef Shark, Yellowtail Surgeonfish, Peruvian Surgeonfish, Wrasse, Sea Turtles, Tuna, Panamic Horse Conch, Tiger Snake Eel, Sea Stars and so much more.
Free afternoon to enjoy the white sandy beach or explore downtown Puerto Villamil and take in some of the unique island culture and flavor.
This morning after breakfast, there will be an early departure by boat to Santa Cruz then a short drive to the airport at Baltra for your return flight to the mainland (Quito or Guayaquil). Connect with your international flight.
|Price from||$7,094.00 per person, based on double occupancy|
Includes transfers, accommodations, meals and guided excursions as specified.
Round-trip air Quito-Coca, round-trip air Quito-Galapagos, Galapagos Entrance Tax and Tourist Card.