Galapagos & Ecuador Expedition

DAYS

16

Style

Accommodated

EX

Quito – Quito

From

TBA

Overview

Next Tour: TBA

This tour to the South American country of Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Rainforest, will certainly be a trip of a lifetime as you take part in one of the most exciting natural history expeditions in the world. It is hard to imagine the vast array of unique birds, plants, mammals, reptiles, geological and photographic opportunities you will experience while exploring the varied and glorious scenic habitats and unique culture of this remarkable wilderness area.

Your tour begins in the city of Quito. After visiting some of the many highlights this city has to offer, you will fly to the Amazon Rainforest; one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth. Experience rich greenery, prolific bird and animal life and unique culture from a well-appointed lodge deep in the jungle. From top to bottom, there is no finer canopy experience in Eastern Ecuador. Flocks of colourful tanagers pass right through the canopy, Blue-and-yellow Macaws fly past, in nearby trees, Spider Monkeys search for fruit, two species of large toucans call in the early mornings and afternoons, and the life of the forest opens before you.
After spending time in the jungle you will fly to the Galapagos Islands to undertake a seven-night cruise onboard the luxury Archipell II. The islands of the Galapagos vary from stark, volcanic islands with immense lava fields to islands rich with vegetation and rimmed with sandy beaches. In 1835 Charles Darwin arrived in the Galapagos and decided that “the natural history of these islands is eminently curious and well deserves attention”.

While visiting many of the islands you will learn about and view much of the wildlife including masked and blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds, giant tortoises and the prehistoric-looking marine iguanas. With this relaxed itinerary and comfortable accommodation, this will be an unforgettable tour.

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Extended Trip Details

Itinerary

Day 1ARRIVE TO QUITOArrive in Quito where you will be met by your guide after passing through the customs area. You will then be transferred to your boutique hotel in Quito. Accommodation: Hotel Patio Andaluz
Day 2FULL DAY QUITO TOURThis interesting and renovated city tour starts with a visit of the Itchimbia neighbourhood, a place that offers a spectacular view of the old and new city. You will then visit the old colonial Quito starting in Santo Domingo Plaza, where we walk through one of the oldest streets in the town, ‘La Ronda Street’. Here you will see how the colonial houses were built and how the Quiteños lived in the sixteen hundreds. Your walk takes you through the city museum to San Francisco Plaza, making a quick stop to try the typical sweets of Quito. San Francisco is the oldest church in Quito and is full of history and legends. Next, we will visit La Merced church to see the arabesque and baroque style that was used to decorate the church. Finally, you will visit the main square where the Presidential Palace, the main cathedral and some other important buildings can be appreciated. The last stop before your guide takes you to the Equator is the La Compañía de Jesus church, which is one of the most beautiful churches in South America, perhaps the world. Accommodation: Hotel Patio Andaluz BL
Day 3QUITO – COCAThis morning your guide will take you from Quito to the airport for a 50 minute flight to Coca over the eastern Andes mountain range. Upon arrival, it’s only a short transfer from the airport to Port Francisco de Orellana where you will transfer onto a comfortable covered motor boat. From here we’ll cruise along the Napo River for about 2 1⁄2 hours; enjoying a boxed lunch box en route. Along the way, birds such as herons, kingfishers and others can be spotted. After arriving at the Napo Wildlife Centre (NWC) entry dock, we disembark the motor boats and take a majestic and peaceful 1 1⁄2 hours dugout canoe ride to where the lodge is located. There is a good possibility of sighting various species of monkeys as well as large birds like toucans, parrots or even macaws. We expect a late afternoon arrival to the NWC lodge at Añangu Lake. Upon arrival enjoy a welcome drink as well as the lodge facilities. After dinner you will be able to join an optional caiman observation around the lake and enjoy natural sounds of the night. Accommodation: Napo Wildlife Centre Lodge BLDIt is an early start today to reach the best and most easily accessible parrot clay licks in Ecuador, about 1 hour away from the lodge. We arrive just before parrot activity kicks off at the clay lick between 7:30 - 8:30 am. A total of 11 species of parrots, parakeets and macaws can be seen here. This visit depends on weather conditions but is usually successful. Later today we will hike along a forest trail to visit the Quichua community of Añangu and enjoy time with a family and their activities. Returning to the trail, we’ll hike through a Terra Firme Forest for about 30 minutes until we arrive at the second parrot clay lick. If the weather conditions are favourable we will be able to find different species of parrots, parakeets and even macaws. We will enjoy a packed lunch at the parrot clay lick observatory, and return to the lodge late afternoon. Accommodation: Napo Wildlife Centre Lodge BLD
Day 4AMAZON ADVENTUREIt is an early start today to reach the best and most easily accessible parrot clay licks in Ecuador, about 1 hour away from the lodge. We arrive just before parrot activity kicks off at the clay lick between 7:30 - 8:30 am. A total of 11 species of parrots, parakeets and macaws can be seen here. This visit depends on weather conditions but is usually successful. Later today we will hike along a forest trail to visit the Quichua community of Añangu and enjoy time with a family and their activities. Returning to the trail, we’ll hike through a Terra Firme Forest for about 30 minutes until we arrive at the second parrot clay lick. If the weather conditions are favourable we will be able to find different species of parrots, parakeets and even macaws. We will enjoy a packed lunch at the parrot clay lick observatory, and return to the lodge late afternoon. Accommodation: Napo Wildlife Centre Lodge BLD
Day 5AMAZON ADVENTUREAfter an early breakfast we’ll depart from the lodge and make our way to the finest experience at a canopy tower on the Napo. The 36m high canopy tower opened to guests in November 2004 and is a great way to experience the life above the forest floor. This is the second tower at the Napo Wildlife Centre (the first is attached to the dining hall and allows great views of the lake). The canopy tower is located about 20 minutes from the lodge deep within the terra firme forest. As you ascend the 12- story tower, you pass through different levels of the forest and emerge on top of a huge Ceiba tree. Here you cross onto a wooden platform that is actually built into a tree and experience a view formerly reserved only for the birds. The metal tower itself was constructed to the highest safety standards and carefully inspected by engineers. Safety is the priority. The platform in the top of the tree was constructed by tree platform specialists brought from Eco-Ecuador's Peruvian partner organization Perú Verde. From top to bottom, there is no finer canopy experience in Eastern Ecuador. Flocks of colourful tanagers pass right through the canopy of the tree, Blue-and-yellow Macaws fly past, in nearby trees Spider Monkeys search for fruit, two species of large toucans call in the early mornings and afternoons, and the life of the forest canopy opens before you. Birds that are virtually impossible to see from the forest floor far below are suddenly right beside you, oblivious to your presence. Accommodation: Napo Wildlife Centre Lodge BLD
Day 6AMAZON ADVENTUREThis morning we will have an early departure in order to return to Coca and then fly back to Quito. The trip back to Coca will again be a great opportunity to see Giant otters, Monk Saki monkeys or many other rare birds as we cruise along the river. After arriving in Coca we will take our flight to Quito airport. Upon arrival, we will transfer to the valley of Guayllabamba only 30 minutes away where you will have the opportunity to enjoy a BBQ, use the facilities, relax and learn about our local plantations. We will then transfer back to Quito and check in to our first class hotel, Dann Carlton. Accommodation: Dann Carlton Hotel B
Day 7OTAVALO FULL DAY TOURThis land is rich with friendly and colourfully attired indigenous people, historic working haciendas, and towering volcanoes with verdant slopes. Our destination is the Otavalo Indian craft market. As we pass into the highlands, we’re treated to a sweeping view of Imbabura and Cotacachi Volcanoes rising above San Pablo Lake. The Otavalo market dates back thousands of years and is famous throughout the Andes for its handicrafts, textiles and tapestries. Today lunch will be served at one of the local haciendas built between the 17th and 18th centuries with a typical Andean ambience. After lunch we’ll visit the village of Peguche where native weavers demonstrate their craft as they have for centuries. We will return to our hotel in the late afternoon. Accommodation: Dann Carlton Hotel BL
Day 8FLY TO GALAPAGOS & BOARD THE M/C ARCHIPELL IIToday marks the start of our Galapagos Adventure. AM: Transfer to Quito airport in time for the 07:50am departure to Baltra Island at 09:50am. We will then transfer to the catamaran M/C Archipell II. Begin your 7-night cruise through Darwin’s “Enchanted Islands”. All cabins on board are spacious and feature outside views, bath/shower and air-conditioning. All meals, lectures and shore excursions are included. PM: Isla Lobos, San Cristobal Island. The Lobos Islets beach harbours a colony of Galapagos sea lions. As in other colonies in the archipelago, you can approach nurturing females within a few metres. In the breeding season this colony is also visited by territorial males, defending and mating the harem on their part of the beach. This low islet is home to more than just Galapagos sea lions. Two other emblematic species breed here: male blue-footed boobies and great frigate birds who try to impress the females (and tourists) with clumsy dances, heaving their striking blue feet or blowing up their balloon-sized scarlet pouches. BLD
Day 9CRUISING THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDSAM: South Plazas Island South Plaza is located to the east of Santa Cruz Island and forms part of a pair of islands known as “Islas Plazas”. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the Galapagos are found here. The Plazas land iguanas are smaller than their relatives on other islands. Throughout the island there are several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a marine iguana with a land iguana. They are unique and can be recognized at a glance by their black/grey colour, with a land iguana’s crest, but face and tail of the marine iguana. The large population of iguanas is due to the presence of tuna, their favourite food. Swallow tailed gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs are seen along with other seabirds, including the Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropic-birds, frigate birds and brown pelicans. PM: Santa Fe Island From here, passengers follow a rocky 300-metre circuit, which passes through one of the tallest stands of opuntia cactus in the archipelago, some reaching heights of over ten metres. The forest is home to a variety of land birds, including the impressive Galapagos hawk. BLD
Day 10CRUISING THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDSAM: Chinese Hat Sombrero Chino - a small island just off the southeastern tip of Santiago - is a fairly recent volcanic cone with a few intact lava tunnels. Although the island is small, it has a beautifully understated BLD BLD panorama: the ambience created by the volcanic cone background, crashing waves, and nearby islets makes Sombrero Chino an exceedingly pleasant stop. The 400-metre trail begins on a small, white-sand beach nestled discreetly in the sheltered cove between Sombrero Chino and Santiago. Sea lions and American oystercatchers often frequent this beach. The trail continues along the coastline of the cove, passing beside the island's characteristic lava terrain and colourful pioneer vegetation. It offers up glimpses of lava lizards, marine iguanas, and Sally Lightfoot crabs battling the changing tides. The trail ends at the island's rocky shore, which is spattered with scenic tide pools lined with green algae, and marine iguana passersby during the cool season. PM: Dragon Hill – Santa Cruz Island Dragon Hill, named after the large land iguanas that once thrived here, is home to a brackish lagoon, where the greater flamingo sometimes appears. The visitor site at Dragon Hill has been open to visitors since 1993. This site is located in northwestern Santa Cruz Island and consists of a trail that leads to a hyper-saline lagoon behind the beach, frequently visited by flamingos, pintail ducks and other species of birds. This site has been re-populated with land iguanas from Seymour, Isabela and Santa Cruz island. There is a short walk to the hill, which offers a beautiful view of the bay. BLD
Day 11CRUISING THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDSAM: Charles Darwin Station and Puerto Ayora – Santa Cruz Island. Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come here to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn about how the protection and conservation of the islands are carried out. The main attractions are the National Park information centre, the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Centre for young tortoises, and adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity. PM: The Highlands of Santa Cruz Island. The island of Santa Cruz has a range of vegetation zones. Here you can see the contrast from the arid coastal zone to the remarkably refreshing highlands. The humid zones provided some of the drinking water consumed in town. The highlands house unusual trees and ferns, colourful land birds, and healthy population of giant tortoises. Sudden rains are common, so bring a light jacket and a plastic bag for your camera. BLD
Day 12CRUISING THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDSAM: Tintoreras - Isabela Island. “Tintoreras” are small islands in front of the Puerto Villamil coast. Here you can find herons on the lookout on mangrove branches, as well as Galapagos Penguins and sea lions that often pop out onto the shore. White-tipped reef sharks (in Spanish: Tintoreras) are common in the archipelago and are very commonly found resting in the shallow waters. PM: Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Centre – Isabela Island The Tortoise Breeding Centre of Isabela is located 1.5 km from Puerto Villamil. You can walk or drive. In this Breeding Centre populations from South Isabela (Sierra Negra Volcano, Cerro Azul): Cazuela, Cinco Cerros, Roca Union, San Pedro, Tables and Cerro Paloma have been reproduced in captivity. In total there are 330 individuals between juvenile and adult tortoises. From the population of Cerro Paloma, there are four males and two females, which so far, are the only survivors. The raising of this breed of tortoise is of particular interest since genetic analysis performed in 1994 based on blood samples has determined that tortoises from this Galapaguera are different from the others. This is compounded by the fact that one of these two females is infertile, as shown by analysis of absent follicles. However, in 1998, the second female nested and now finally has 9 Galapaguitos of Cerro Paloma. BLD
Day 13CRUISING THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDSAM: Punta Moreno – Isabela Island Punta Moreno on the western coast of Isabela Island offers a nice view of the three most active volcanoes in Galapagos: Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul on Isabela Island and La Cumbre on Fernandina Island. The first thing that catches your eye when you arrive at Moreno Point are the vast lava flows. The only vegetation that can be seen at first sight are the mangroves at the shore and some cacti. However, during a hike, you reach some beautiful oasis-like lagoons surrounded by lush green amidst the black lava flows. Abundant wildlife including flamingos can be seen at these lagoons. During a dinghy ride along the rocky shores, you will hopefully not only see blue-footed boobies but also penguins and flightless cormorants. PM: Elizabeth Bay – Isabela Island Elizabeth Bay is located on the east coast of Isabela Island. The bay contains many islets, which can be visited by dinghy or panga rides. Penguins and Blue-footed Boobies can be spotted on the rocky islets. With an abundance of marine life and clear water, the area is perfect for snorkelling and viewing schools of colourful fish, sea lions, and perhaps sharks or whales. BLD
Day 14CRUISING THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDSAM: Tagus Cove – Isabela Island Tagus Cove is located on Isabela Island across from Fernandina Island, next to the Bolivar Channel that divides the two islands. This spot has been frequented by ships since the 1800s that used the area as anchorage. Trails lead from the cove past Lake Darwin up to a ridge displaying wonderful views. Another area of interest is Punta Tortuga located north of Tagus Cove, also across from Fernandina Island, this beach is surrounded by mangroves. PM: Espinoza Point – Fernandina Island No foreign species have ever invaded Fernandina Island, and therefore it is one of the world's most pristine island ecosystems. The volcano "La Cumbre" dominates the landspace with lava fields reaching the ocean. The island's highlight features the flightless cormorant nesting site. This area also provides a great opportunity to see the Galapagos hawk. BLD
Day 15CRUISING THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS - QUITOLocated on the north shore of Santa Cruz, Las Bachas is a swimming beach. One of the few remnants of the U.S. World War II presence in the Galapagos, a floating pier can be seen here. You may see flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black necked stilts, and whimbrels. Sea turtles also nest off the beach. After our activities, we will transfer to the Baltra airport for your flight to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito, transfer to the 4 stars Eurobuilding airport hotel (buffet breakfast included). Accommodation: Eb Hotel Airport By Eurobuilding B
Day 16FLIGHT BACK HOMEToday you have free time to relax before your flight home. The hotels free shuttle between the hotel and airport will transfer from the hotel in time for your flight back home. Remember to be at the front desk of the airline at least 2 1/2 hours prior to departure. B

availability

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Inclusions

  • Internal flights and transfers
  • Meals as per the itinerary
  • Tea and coffee during voyage
  • All Shore excursions per the itinerary
  • Use of snorkel gear and kayaks
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information
  • Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
  • English speaking naturalist guide
  • Australian tour escort from Coates

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