ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS LUXURY - 12 DAYS
A truly unique lifetime adventure blending the spectacular geography of Quito UNESCO city with the northwestern cloud forest and with the enchanted Galápagos Islands, the islands offer endless opportunities to witness a unique abundance of wildlife in a setting unlike any other on the planet. This is one of the few places on earth that allows such close and intimate contact with the wildlife. The Galápagos form a natural sanctuary that preserves species; this allowed them to evolve their unique features for countless millennia. This vacation also provides flexible time to spend on your own and explore the sand beaches, trail in the Galápagos and the cloud forest, and share with lots of wildlife. Be part of an inspirational journey of a lifetime in one of the most fiercely protected marine wilderness’ in the world!
Explore the unique wildlife in the Galápagos islands, snorkeling with sea turtles, rays and sea lions, visit highlands with the wild giant tortoises, explore lava tubes in Santa Cruz highlands, Visit Isla lobos, sea lions island.
Hamadryade Lodge is a luxurious hotel located in the High Amazon region. This ecosystem, even if it is still the Amazonian Rainforest, is very different than the one in Lower regions. Therefore, the climate remains pleasant all year round (24°C in average), and the absence of swamps allows easier access to the more remote zones of Primary Rainforest.
Quito´s Colonial churches, Equator line and Colonial Quito.
Day 1: Quito Arrival Day
Welcome to Quito! The largest, best-preserved colonial city of America - declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and is located on the equator in a valley at the foothills of the Pichincha volcano.
One of our staff members will meet you at the airport and will transfer you to the hotel for your welcome briefing depending on arrival time, 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 (please request in advance). In the evening, one of our trip leaders will meet you at the hotel’s lobby for a welcome briefing at 18:00 hours. At this time, we will discuss the details and questions you may have regarding the adventure. Our first day is an acclimation and information day.
Accommodation: Casa Gangotena
Day 2: Isabela Island - Galapagos
Today we get ready to explore the most amazing archipelago in the Pacific coast and the place where Charles Darwin based his theory on the evolution of species. We will board a morning flight from Quito to the island of Baltra. Once we arrive, we head to the town of Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos. From here we will flight to the largest island in the archipelago and where the most of the volcanic activity in the Galapagos is reported: Isabela Island. The island was formed by six shield volcanoes, Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf; five of them are still active which makes the island one of the most volcanically active places on earth.
Flying time: 3 hours (including the stop at Guayaquil city on the way to Baltra airport)
What to wear today: Light pants, t-shirt, fleece top, tennis shoes, hat, sun cream.
Accommodation: Iguana Crossing
Day 3: Snorkel at Lava Tunnels
Explore the amazing formations of lava created by the last eruptions of the volcanic island along the seashore. This magical place has historically been filmed by BBC and National Geographic for their documentaries. It is a labyrinth of lava arches comprised of crystal clear water full of sea turtles, eagle rays, sea lions, sharks and more. The turtles navigate their own highway from the mangroves to the open sea through "Los Tuneles". Here, we will have the best snorkeling opportunity with all these beautiful animals, including the curious Galapagos penguins playing around.
Before or after the trip, you can enjoy some optional activities such as snorkeling at "Concha de Perla", taking surfing lessons, biking or just relax on the exotic white-sand beaches of Isabela Island. We recommend you to take some time to visit the giant tortoise breeding center located walking distance from the hotel.
Boat ride to the Lava Tunnels time: 1 hour each way
Snorkeling time: 2 times of 1 hour each
What to wear today: shorts, water long sleeve t-shirt, sandals or tennis shoes, bathing suit, hat or baseball cap, sun cream, mosquito repellent, buff.
Accommodation: Iguana Crossing
Day 4: Hike & Kayak
After driving up from Puerto Villamil to the trail head, we will prepare our backpacks for the hike into a young forest ecosystem, a world of recent geological history. Our destination is the rim of Sierra Negra Crater, an active volcano which last erupted in June 2018.
Upon arrival, we take in breathtaking views and explore the circumference of the massive, lava-filled crater, a caldera that is over six miles across at its widest point. If we feel energetic enough, we can continue our hike to Volcan Chico, a secondary crater that has a wild landscape of puffing fumaroles and colorful lava formations; great examples of the dramatic geological events that have formed the Galapagos Islands over millennia. In the afternoon we will visit Tintoreras Islet, located at a short distance from Puerto Villamil and home to a great variety of wildlife. Its turquoise, crystalline waters are inhabited by white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos Penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. One of its beaches, surrounded by mangroves, is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully.
Hiking time: 4 hours both ways
Hiking distance: 6 miles (9.6 km) (10 miles -16 km- optional to Volcan Chico)
Hiking elevation gain: 950 feet (289.5 meters)
Maximum elevation while hiking: 3687 feet (1124 meters)
What to wear today for hiking: shorts, t-shirt, tennis shoes, rain jacket, hat, buff, sun cream, mosquito repellent.
Kayaking time: 2 hours
Snorkeling time: 1 hour
What to wear today for kayaking and snorkeling: sandals, shorts, water long sleeve t-shirt, bathing suit, hat, sun cream, mosquito repellent.
Accommodation: Iguana Crossing
Day 5: Charles Darwin Research Station
In the morning, we wil fly from Isabela to Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Once we arrive, we will check in at the hotel. We will then visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about many of the endemic species seen in the wild, 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 tortoises. Hiking through El Chato's beautiful landscape with these lumbering giants is an unforgettable experience! We will also see other highland wildlife such as pintail ducks, egrets, flycatchers, finches and frigatebirds, which gather to wash the salt off their feathers at a fresh water lake. Afterwards, return to Puerto Ayora to spend the evening in Galapagos' most populous town.
What to wear today: shorts, t-shirt, tennis shoes or sandals, hat, rain jacket (for the boat ride), sun cream.
Accommodation: Finch Bay
Day 6: Flight back to Quito
After our final breakfast on the Galapagos Island and the last photos taken of sea lions, we have a transfer to Baltra's airport in time to catch the flight back to the mainland.
What to wear today: Pants, t-shirt, fleece top, tennis shoes, hat.
Accommodation: Casa Gangotena
Day 7: Day at leisure
Today is a day on your own to explore the beautiful surroundings of Quito, ADVENTURE JOURNEYS can help you to organize a day trip:
COLONIAL CITY TOUR & THE EQUADOR LINE
DISCOVER QUITO UNESCO CITY ON TWO WHEELS!
MINDO CLOUD FOREST
OTAVALO MARKET FAIR
Accommodation: Casa Gangotena
Day 8: Hike in Cotopaxi
After breakfast, we leave Quito driving southwards along the gorgeous Avenue of Volcanoes, getting the chance to see the colorful Andean fields. On our way, we will reach 12,000 feet. (3657 meters). After arriving at the Cotopaxi National Park, we will go hiking around Limpiopungo lagoon of the foot hills of the Rumiñahui volcano. From here, we have the best views of Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. If the weather conditions permit, we will attempt to trek to the basecamp at 16000 ft. (4876 m).
In the afternoon we continue our drive towards the Llanganates National Park, known as the sacred mountain, until we reach the town of Baños, located at the entrance of the Amazon. Here we can enjoy the best night life by drinking cocktails and dancing salsa.
Trekking Activity Level - Moderate, this adventure is at high elevation, make sure you drink a lot of water or coca tea (in case of altitude sickness). The trail is on dirt surrounded by bushes and grass.
Trekking Time: 3 hours
Trekking Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Elevation Gain: 1200 feet (366 meters)
Minimum Elevation: 12700 feet (3870 meters)
Maximum Elevation: 13850 feet (4222 meters)
NOTE - In case the weather and physical conditions are good you may trek to the Basecamp and the maximum elevation would be 16000 feet. (488 meters). What to wear today: Pants, t-shirt, fleece, hiking shoes, gloves, hat, buff, bring rain jacket and pants, water bottle, sun cream, binoculars.
Accommodation: Samari Spa Resort
Day 9: Biking in the Cloud Forest
This morning we cross country mountain bike from the Llanganates National Park down to the Pastaza River Canyon, enjoying the beauty of the special cloud rain forest climate. The road brings us through some Andean farms and a great canyon with many waterfalls.
While descending into the jungle, we will have a breath-taking view of Baños, a town well known for its spectacular location right at the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, which has been active since 1999. The volcano is the main attraction of this region. In the afternoon we will have some time to explore the town and also go to The Swing of the End of the World, where the winner of the 2014 National Geographic photo contest took his photo.
Biking Activity Level - Moderate, mostly downhill, the first 45 minutes up hill and then afterwards just down. You will be riding on cobblestone and dirt roads for the first two hours, and 1 hour on asphalt.
Biking Time: 3 hours
Biking Distance: 20 miles (32.18 km)
Elevation Gain: 500 feet (152 meters)
Minimum Elevation while Biking: 5500 feet (1676 meters)
Maximum Elevation while Biking: 10450 feet (3185 meters)
NOTE - In case you want to avoid the uphill, there will always be the support of our transportation, and our driver will be happy to give you a ride till you decide to join the biking group. What to wear today: Shorts, t-shirt, fleece, tennis shoes, buff, bring rain jacket and pants, water bottle, sun cream, mosquito repellent.
Accommodation: Samari Spa Resort
Day 10: Canyoning in the Amazon
This morning we will hit the road of the waterfalls. The first stop will be at the Bride´s Veil waterfall, where we will take the Tarabita (cable car) to get across the Pastaza River. Then we will hike down to the Pailon del Diablo waterfall, the second highest in Ecuador.
Later, we will go deeper into the jungle inside the Llanganates National Park. The name “llanganates” comes from “beautiful mountain” in the local native language. Here, 600 years ago, the Incas hid their golden treasures. Many explorers have spent years looking for these treasures, some have even disappeared with no luck in this dense pristine jungle.
During a hike through the tropical rain forest, we will climb through several waterfall canyons. Our local native guide will teach about the incredible flora and fauna that thrive in this unequaled habitat.
We will spend the night at the Local Basic Jungle Lodge run by a kichwa indigenous family.
Canyoning Activity Level - Moderate, the jungle exploration will be done while hiking on the canyon that has been formed by the waterfalls and the Pimpilala river, so you will be hiking on irregular terrain and water surrounded by rain forest. The weather can be hot and humid which would make this a very refreshing activity. The highest waterfall to climb is 16 feet (4.87 meters) and the rest are smaller, we will use helmets, ropes and bring optional harnesses for people that want to use them.
Canyoning Time: 3 hours
Canyoning Distance: 2 miles (3.22 km)
Elevation Gain: 500 feet (152.4 meters)
Minimum Elevation while Canyoning: 2000 feet (609.6 meters)
Maximum Elevation while Canyoning: 2500 feet (762 meters)
What to wear today: Shorts, water long sleeve t-shirt, water sandals, rain jacket, water bottle, sun cream, mosquito repellent.
NOTE - This is a very basic accommodation, you will have your own room but will have to share the bathroom. The rooms are very clean and all the beds have mosquito nets. There is no electricity in the room but there is a social area where you can have access to power to charge your batteries.
Accommodation: Hamadryade Lodge
Day 11: Rafting in the Amazon
We greet the day by preparing our gear to paddle the wild waves of the Jatunyacu River, located just a 5 minute drive from the homestead. The beauty of this river will inspire you and reveal the magic of the Amazon rain forest. After a very important safety briefing from our rafting guides, we will start our class III rafting expedition down the Jatunyacu River, well known for its clear waters and awesome rapids. We will have a lot of fun playing some games and also exploring one of the canyons. The end of the journey offers us a stop for a picnic, prepared by our guides.
We conclude our day with a drive back up to the Andes, stopping to visit the paradise of hummingbirds at the Guango Reserve. Finally, we will continue up to Papallacta, where we will stay the night and recharge in the volcanic hot springs high in the midst of the cool Andes.
Rafting Activity Level - Moderate, this is considered a class III river for white water rafting. There are some awesome waves and also plenty of flat water to go swimming. The river is surrounded by amazing views of the Amazon landscape.
Rafting Time: 4 hours, depending on the level of the water, it can be less time.
Rafting Distance: 18 miles (28.96 km)
What to wear today: Shorts, water long sleeve t-shirt, water sandals, water bottle, sun cream, mosquito repellent.
Accommodation: Termas Papallacta
Day 12: Departure
Today our trip will end and you will have your International departures. An AJ staff member will pick you up and take you to the airport. 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 “buen viaje”!
INCLUDED (ALL EXPERIENCES BASED ON PRIVATE SERVICE)
• Transportation: Domestic flights Quito-Galápagos-Quito, international and domestic airport transfers, airfare in Galápagos (between islands), comfortable land transportation and sea transportation.
• Accommodations based in double occupancy: Luxury hotels in Quito and Galápagos, Luxury Eco-Lodge in the cloud forest.
• Meals Included: 11 breakfasts, 8 lunches & 5 dinners.
• Trip Leader: Certified AJ expert English-speaking guide.
• My Own Room supplement cost.
• Travel insurance mandatory.
• Galápagos National Park Fee USD $100.
• Transit control Card USD $20.
• Pier use USD $10.
• Entrance fees not listed.
• International air (also applied to trans-border flights).
• Applicable tourist visas.
• Airport taxes.
• Tips or gratuities; recommended $15 to $20 per day for guides and driver.
• Meals not mentioned in the itinerary; food budget USD $300.
• Optional tour or optional admissions.