Ecuador & Galapagos Premium, Pure Life Adventure 11 days
Join this authentic trip to explore Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands! This trip offers you the advantage of combining an extraordinary tour of the Islands of Galapagos with a visit to the Ecuador highland and cloud forest regions, enjoying an incredible diversity of culture, nature and wildlife! You will also be able to encounter a large number of different animals and take part to multiple activities, like hiking, biking, tubing, zip-lining, snorkeling, kayaking, and more.
- Learn how to prepare chocolate in the traditional way at a chocolate factory in the tropical cloud forest
- Snorkel through lava formations with sea turtles, penguins, sea horses, sea lions and sharks at Lava Tunnels
HIKE TROUGH THE 7 WATERFALLS
VISIT AN ORCHID'S FARM
STAND ON THE EQUATOR LINE
KICKER ROCK AND SEA LIONS ISLAND IN SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND
HIKING THE TOP OF SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO
HIKING TO THE SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO
SNORKELING WITH SEA TURTLES, RAYS, PENGUINS AND SEA LIONS
TINTORERAS AND LAVA TUNNELS IN ISABELA ISLAND
CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION IN SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
TORTUGA BAY, MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACH IN GALAPAGOS
ENCOUNTER WITH WILD GIANT TORTOISES
RELAX ON THE WHITE SAND BEACHES
Day 1: Quito
Welcome to Quito! The biggest, best-preserved colonial city of America was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and the second most important city of the old Inca Empire.
Depending on arrival time, a representative of EPL will be waiting for you at the airport to give you a first look of the city, then you can spend your day exploring the old town of Quito and the surrounding area. Adventure Journeys can help you to organize a day trip.
In the evening, one of our trip leaders will meet you at the hotel for a welcome briefing and there will be plenty of time to discuss details and answer any questions you may have regarding the adventure. Our first day is an informational and acclimation day. Later, the best place to end the day, a traditional meal in a lovely restaurant!
Accommodation: Dann Carlton Hotel or similar visit website
Day 2: Mindo Cloud Forest
On the first day of our adventure, we will drive north of Quito to the Equator monument complex. The visit to the middle of the world is mandatory once you are in Ecuador, the place where you will be able to stand on both sides of the hemispheres, north and south at the same time and feel the neutral forces of the equator. A little over an hour from Quito we can find the little town of Mindo, nestled into the cloud forest. This area is filled with a wide variety of plants and animal life – perfect for a nice introduction to the diversity of Ecuador. Mindo and its surrounding cloud forest are a birdwatcher's paradise! One of the highlights of today is the visit to the butterfly farm, where we watch gargantuan butterflies dry their wings after emerging from their jewel-like cocoons. You can dip your fingers into a banana concoction and then be thrilled as butterflies the size of birds land on your hands for a snack.
But there's more to do in Mindo! You can go whitewater rafting or "tubing" (with several large inner-tubes tied together) as our steely-nerved guides steer you through thrilling rapids. Or try canopy zip-line (sailing along one of 13 zip-lines over the beautiful canopy of the cloud forest).In the late afternoon, we will visit a chocolate factory, where you will have the chance to follow the process of the cocoa, from harvesting the seed to the final product, like as a delicious brownie or a cup of real hot cocoa.
Accommodation: Septimo Paraiso or simila visit website
Day 3: Quito
Our adventure starts early in the morning, enjoying the bird life just outside of our magical eco-lodge and taking a trip in the pristine cloud forest, crossing cable cars and hiking along waterfalls, surrounded by a lush green area filled with toucans and colorful birds.
After a nice hike, we will have lunch in one of the local restaurants and then return to Quito. On our way, we will stop for a view of the Pululahua crater, the third biggest inhabited volcano crater in the world, hosting more than 400 people.
Accommodation: Anahi Boutique Hotel or similar visit website
Day 4: Galapagos - San Cristobal Island
Today we get ready to explore the most amazing archipelago in the Pacific coast and the place where Charles Darwin based its theory of the evolution of species.
We will board a morning flight from Quito to the island of San Cristóbal. Once we arrive, we will have a transfer to the hotel, and a short briefing of the next days before the adventure begins.
After lunch, we will head to "La Loberia", which is the home beach for large Galapagos sea lions and also a nursery for them. We can spot them launching over rocks or just lazy dozing in the sand. We also get to see yellow warbler birds, frigate birds, and several species of Darwin finches along the beach. In between the rocks we can find marine iguanas, which you only see in Galapagos.
We will also have time for a refreshing swim, to explore the waters with our snorkel equipment, and to enjoy the beach. The evening is free to explore the town of Puerto Moreno, where our hotel is located.
Accommodation: Hotel Arena Blanca or similar visite website
Day 5: Kicker Rock - San Cristobal Island
In the morning we will take a speed boat to Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), also known as the Sleeping Lion because of its resemblance. This site is located off the coast of San Cristobal. The remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea, two vertical rocks rising 500 feet above the ocean, form a small channel that is navigable by small boats. This Galapagos Islands natural monument has become a favorite sight due to the many tropicbirds, frigate birds and boobies that fill the surrounding air. Beneath the sea, the crystal waters offer a brilliant show of colorful tropical fish, such as rainbow fish, and sharks, like hammerhead-, reef- and white tip sharks.
After lunch we will visit Sea Lions Island. This appropriately named island is ripe with noisy, frolicking, jolly sea lions who will welcome us to their home with open fins. This island also offers great snorkeling opportunities as well as the chance to see Blue-Footed and Nazca Boobies.
Accommodation: Hotel Arena Blanca or similar visite website
Day 6: Isabela Island biking adventure
In the morning, we will take a short flight to Isabela Island, the largest island in the archipelago and the place where most volcanic activity in the Galapagos is reported. The island is being formed by 6 shield volcanoes, Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador Sierra Negra and Wolf, 5 of them still active and therefore the island is one of the most volcanically active place on earth.
In the afternoon, we will head out on our mountain bikes to explore the beautiful coastline on an exclusive trail, taking us through an incredible ecosystem with a variety of wildlife. We will start with a visit to the Wall of Tears, a massive wall built with lava rocks. This site dates back from 1946 to 1959, when Isabela was used as a penal colony, and prisoners were forced to build the wall to keep them from going mad, because of the isolation they experienced. We explore pristine, white sand beaches, mangrove forests and lagoons as we continue our ride along the coast. This area is filled with birdlife, including American oyster catchers, herons, flamingos, finches and many shore birds, as well as the ubiquitous sea lions and marine iguanas.
After dinner we can enjoy a breathtaking sunset at the beach of Puerto Villamil.
Accommodation: Isabela Beach house or similar
Day 7: Isabela Sierra Negra volcano trekking
After driving up from Puerto Villamil to the trailhead, we will prepare our backpacks and hike into a young dry forest ecosystem, into a world of recent geological history. Our destination is the rim of Sierra Negra Crater, an active volcano which last erupted in October 2005. Upon arrival, we will take in breathtaking views and explore the circumference of the massive, lava-filled crater, over six miles across at its widest point.
In the late afternoon, we will return to Puerto Villamil and we will enjoy some optional activities (at an extra cost) like snorkeling at "Concha de Perla" site, kayaking in Tintoreras, surfing lessons or just relax at the beach
Accommodation: Isabela Beach House or similar
Day 8: Isabela Island lava tunnels
Today, we explore the amazing formations of lava created by the last eruptions of the Volcanic Island along the seashore. This magical place is been used by the staff of BBC /National Geographic for documentaries. It is a labyrinth of lava arches inside the breakers with crystal clear water full of huge sea turtles (sometimes man-size), eagle rays, sea lions, fish, white tipped reef sharks and more. Turtles navigate their own highway from the mangroves to the open sea through "Los Tuneles". Over here, we will have the best snorkeling opportunity with all these beautiful animals, including the curious Galapagos penguin playing around you.
It is time to relax in the afternoon to enjoy our last moments at the exotic white-sand beaches of Isabela Island. We recommend you to take also some time to visit the breeding Center, for a general understanding about the giant tortoises, its evolution and natural history.
Accommodation: Isabela Beach House or similar
Day 9: Santa Cruz Island
In the morning we will embark on a fast boat from Isabela to Santa Cruz Island. During our island crossing, we will be on the lookout for dolphins and whales (July to October). Once we arrive, we will check in at the hotel.
We will have time to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about many of the endemic species we met during our adventure, as well as the ongoing conservation and management efforts on the Galapagos Islands.
In the afternoon, we will head to the 'El Chato' Reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz, home to the famous Galapagos tortoise. Hiking through El Chato's beautiful scenery with those lumbering giants is an unforgettable experience! We also see other highland wildlife such as pintail ducks, egrets, flycatchers and finches on our hike. We can also observe frigatebirds which gather to wash the salt off their feathers at a fresh water lake.
We will return to Puerto Ayora to spend the evening in Galapagos' most populous town.
Accommodation: Silberstein Hotel or similar visite website
Day 10: Quito
After our final breakfast on the Galapagos Island and the last photos taken of sea lions, we will have a transfer to Baltra's airport in time to catch the flight back to the mainland.
Accommodation: Dann Carlton Hotel or similar visit website
Day 11: Departure
Today our trip will end and you will have your International departures. Take with you your memories and photos and leave a piece of your heart, as you will want to return to Ecuador soon to experience more of this enchanted land. We wish you a "buen viaje"!
- Activities: Visit to the Middle of the World, river tubing, hiking in the cloud forest, cable-car ride, visit to butterfly farm and chocolate factory, snorkeling at Kicker Rock and Isla de los Lobos, trekking to the top of Sierra Negra active volcano in Isabela Island, snorkeling in Tintoreras and Lava Tunnels, kayaking in Tintoreras, biking to the Wall of Tears, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, hiking in Santa Cruz highlands.
- Gear: Snorkeling mask and fins, life vest, mountain bikes, helmets
- Accommodations based in double occupancy: First Class hotel in Quito, First Class lodge in Mindo, 4-star hotels in Galapagos
- Transportation: Airfare Quito - Galapagos - Quito round trip, airport transfers (national flights), one way flight San Cristobal-Isabela, sea transportation Santa Cruz - Isabela islands, comfortable land and sea transportation
- Meals Included: 10 Breakfasts and 3 Lunches
- Trip Leader: Certified AJ expert English-speaking adventure Trip Leader (minimum 4 people for this service) and naturalist local guides in Galapagos National Park
- Group size: 2-12 people.
- My Own Room supplement $899
- International flights
- Airport transfer (international flights)
- Travel insurance (mandatory)
- Meals not described in the itinerary - estimated budget USD $240 USD
- INGALA transit card: USD $20 per person, cash only (subject to change)
- Galapagos National Park fee: USD $100 per person, cash only (subject to change)
- USD $10 pier-use fee at Puerto VillamilSnorkeling gear (mask and fins) for optional activities: USD $8 per day per person
- Wetsuit for rent: USD $10
- Travel insurance,
- Airline tickets,
- Credit or debit card
- Quick dry clothing
- Fleece top,
- 4 shirts/t-shirts,
- 2 pairs of shorts,
- 2 pairs of long trousers,
- 1 pair hiking pants/track pants,
- Rain jacket
- Rain pants
- Sun hat or cap
- 2 swimming suits
- Sport sandals,
- Hiking shoes,
- Tennis shoes,
- Day backpack 20L. (with rain cover)
- Water bottle 1L. or camelback 1L.
- Watch or alarm clock
- Waterproof binoculars (if possible)
- Insect repellent
- Sun Screen 60 SPF
- Waterproof camera if possible
- Money belt
- First-aid kit(should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, seamotion sickness medication, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking
REMEMBER: IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO TRAVEL 'LIGHT' !
NOTE: IMPORTANT LUGGAGE WEIGHT RESTRICTIONS ON FLIGHTS FROM SAN CRISTOBAL TO ISABELA (25 LB.)
It is our intention to adhere to the itinerary described; however, due to our travel style, on occasions it may be necessary or desirable to make small changes. Weather conditions and unpredictable local circumstances may lead us to make alterations to the route and/or travel times. Hotels and flight schedules might change according to availability. Any mention to specific wildlife in the itinerary or trip details is not a guarantee that it will be seen during the trip.
2h 45' each way from Quito to Galapagos. Regular size aircraft. About 140 passengers.
45 minutes from San Cristobal to Isabela. Small size aircraft. 9 passengers
Pichincha and Galapagos
Quito City, Mindo and Galapagos islands National Park
2 – 3 hours
45 minutes each way - Lava Tunnels
45 minutes each way - Kicker Rock
15 minutes to 1 hour
1 – 3 hours a day
Short hikes 1 – 3 hours, Sierra Negra hike 6 hours
Life jackets, 7-people rafts, paddles, cross country bikes
December to May: 80ºF to 90ºF / 25ºC to 30ºC. June to September: 60ºF to 70ºF / 15ºC to 20ºC. October to December: 70ºF to 80ºF/ 15ºC to 25ºC.
The waters of the Galapagos Islands are a unique mixture of warm and cold water, ranging between 65ºF and 85ºF.
In Galapagos: From sea level (most activities) to 1 200 m (3,937 ft - Sierra Negra Volcano)
In Quito: 2 800 m (9,186 ft)
In Mindo: 1 290 m (4,232 ft)
Day 15-34ºC / 59-93ºF - Night 12-17ºC / 53-62ºF
Moderate to Challenging: In Mindo, the trek is moderate in the woods mostly flat, the tubing is Class II down the Mindo River. 6 tubes are tied together and lead by a local guide, the optional zip-linning has 10 lines, the longest is 400 m (440 yards), snorkelling activities in Galapagos are easy. The trekking in Sierra Negra is moderate but long and muddy during the wet season (from Jluy to November), the biking to the Wall of Tears is moderate up and down road with some very sandy parts.
All prices are based on double-occupancy. If you are travelling solo, you will be matched with another participant of your same sex. If you prefer to have a single room, please contact AJ prior to your departure to arrange your accommodation at an extra cost.
Travelling with Adventure Journeys you will have the possibility to experience and taste local food and snacks. Your guide will help you identify typical food and suggest the best places to enjoy it. Some meals are not included in order to give you some flexibility about where, what and with whom to eat. You have the option to share these meals with the group, however there is no obligation to do this. If you have any allergies or food restrictions, please inform AJ prior to your departure.
YOUR TRIP LEADERS AND GUIDES
All AJ guides and trip leaders are highly experienced, licensed to operate in Ecuador and certified as Wilderness Adventure First Aid responders. We always carry a complete first aid kit in our trips. In some location and for some activities, local guides join the trip leaders to provide an added service. In the Galapagos Islands, minimum 4 participants for the AJ trip leader service are required.
Clients receive interpretation and education about the ecology and conservation of the Andes, Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands, and learn about the factors that threaten it. We aim to promote long-term conservation of both local people cultural identity and the environment. We transport out and recycle all non-organic garbage and we prefer to work with local suppliers. Your visit will encourage the local communities to support responsible eco-tourism as a sustainable alternative for their living.