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ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS EXPERIENCE

ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS EXPERIENCE

$3964 per person

A truly unique lifetime adventure blending the spectacular geography of Ecuador’s mainland of active volcanoes, immense canyons, and powerful waterfalls, with the enchanted Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos forest, and the lots of wildlife. The tour also provides many benefits to local communities and is socially and environmentally responsible. Be part of an educational and inspirational journey of a lifetime in one of the most fiercely protected marine wilderness’ in the world!

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  • Departure
    Quito / Ecuador
  • Included
    Activities
    Domestic flights
    Land Transportation
    Meals detailed in the itinerary
  • Not Included
    Fees and entrances to parks and museums
    Airport tranfer in & out
    International flight
1
DAY 1: GUAYAQUIL ARRIVAL DAY

Welcome to Guayaquil! the largest and the most populous city in Ecuador, as well as that nation's main port. The city is the capital of the Ecuadorian province of Guayas and the seat of the namesake canton.

Guayaquil is located on the western bank of the Guayas River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Guayaquil. Because of its location, the city is the center of Ecuador's fishing and manufacturing industries.

Accommodation: Unipark Hotel or similar

Meals included: none.

2
DAY 2: SANTA CRUZ TORTOISE RESERVE

Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Island of Baltra in the Galapagos Islands. On arrival you will be picked up and transferred to Santa Cruz a nearby island, crossing the narrow Itabaca channel by ferry. From here we will continue by car to our first stop in the highlands of Santa Cruz.

The highlands are home to the iconic giant Galapagos tortoises. Here you will visit a private ranch where you will enjoy lunch before heading out for a walk-in search of the giant tortoises. During this visit, you will also visit some lava tubes, which are formed when the surface of a lava stream solidifies. After this tour, you will continue by private vehicle to your hotel. Here you will have a meet and greet with your local guide who will explain the following days itinerary to you. Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure to relax and introduce yourself to this beautiful Island.
Accommodation:  La Casa de Judy or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

3
DAY 3: ACADEMY BAY TOUR

Today after breakfast you will enjoy a half-day tour of Academy Bay. Be sure to pack everything you need for this trip. Optional snorkel equipment will be provided free of charge to anyone who wishes to use it. During the tour, you will take a boat to Academy Bay where you can swim and snorkel with all kinds of exotic fish and marine life, as well as the famous sea lions; they are very curious animals and like to approach to swim next to you underwater. Here you can also see the sought after blue-footed boobies. Afterwards, climb to a nearby viewpoint, and if you are lucky, you can see white-tipped reef sharks swimming in the ocean below.

Afterwards, take a walk along the Playa de los Perros, where many sea iguanas are found basking in the sun. The enormous cacti, the deep, red color of the rocks and the turquoise, sparkling ocean make for great photo opportunities.
Accommodation: La Casa de Judy or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

4
DAY 4: CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION

In the morning, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. 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, you will travel by speedboat to San Cristobal Island. Once we arrive, we will check in at the hotel.
Accommodation: Blue Marlin Hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast.

5
DAY 5: ISLA LOBOS EXCURSION

Today after breakfast you will be met and transferred to a dock where you will take a quick boat ride to the nearby Isla Lobos. During this boat trip, observe many marine animals before even setting foot on the island. Upon arrival, enjoy a guided tour where you will have the chance to observe frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, manta, sea lions and sometimes sharks that all inhabit the island and its surrounding waters. The white coral beaches of San Cristóbal are great to walk around, relax and swim at before you return back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Accommodation: Blue Marlin Hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

6
DAY 6: FLIGHT BACK TO QUITO

Enjoy some more free time this morning before transferring to the airport of San Cristóbal. From here, you will take a flight back to Ecuador's mainland. Upon arrival in Quito, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel for one more evening at leisure before saying goodbye.

Accommodation: Swissôtel Quito or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.

7
DAY 7: QUITO AT LEISURE

On this day you will have time to explore this charming city by your own.

Optional day tours (upon request): Quito city tour, Quilotoa Loop, Antisana Volcano.
Accommodation: Swissôtel Quito or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.

8
DAY 8: EQUATOR, CRATER AND CHOCOLATE

On this day of our adventure, we will drive north of Quito to witness the equator monument complex. Visiting the middle of the world is a mandatory stop once you are in Ecuador, you’ll have the opportunity to 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.

On our way, we will also stop for a view of the Pululahua crater, the third largest inhabited volcano crater in the world, hosting more than 400 people.
After, we will reach 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, especially for hummingbirds!
In the afternoon we will visit a chocolate distributor, where you can take a tour of 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: Séptimo Paraíso or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.

9
DAY 9: MINDO CLOUD FOREST

We will explore the pristine cloud rain forest of Mindo, crossing cable cars and hiking along waterfalls, surrounded by a lush green forest filled with toucans, hummingbirds and colorful birds. In the afternoon, you will have some free time to enjoy the several optional outdoor activities offered in this area.

You can go whitewater rafting or "tubing" (several large inner-tubes tied together) as our steely-nerved guides steer you through thrilling rapids. Or try a canopy zip-line (sailing along one of 13 zip-lines over the beautiful canopy of the cloud forest.)
One of the highlights of today is the visit to the butterfly nursery, 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.
Accommodation: Séptimo Paraíso or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.

10
DAY 10: OTAVALO MARKET

Drive back up into the highlands and reach the Pan-American Highway heading north on the way to the famous indigenous town of Otavalo. Here, admire the endless number of handicrafts from the local people. Take time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, which are filled with Otavalo indigenous people wearing the traditional blue ponchos. Visit their handicraft market, with its wonderful textiles, native paintings, ceramics, jewelry, tapestries and more at bargain prices. In Otavalo, there will be enough time for shopping and cultural interaction.

In the afternoon, we will drive to Cotacachi to witness the impressive leather goods of the town and enjoy the beauty of this small village. There will be some free time for you to explore the shops or simply relax while sipping on one of the best coffees in Ecuador in the main plaza.
Later we will arrive at the beautiful, historical hacienda of Pinsaqui where we will stay overnight. Enjoy a typical Andean cocktail as welcome, and learn about the history of this place.

 
For lunch, we will head to Pijal, a small village located in the heart of the Andes to visit one of the AJ sustainable projects called Sacha WarmiKuna (women from the mountain). This is one fantastic effort developed by AJ and the local women with the main purpose to support their families and encourage the position of the women in the local society, providing them an alternative side work beside housekeeping, as a new option for an in-come. Once at the project you will experience an unforgettable cultural encounter, immersing yourself in the true spirit of the South-American woman and their skills for textiles and a deep culinary knowledge coming from the past generations. You will be part of the preparation of “Aji”, a local spicy salsa which is part of their identity, you will also share precious time with them and a tasty traditional lunch in which local women have used the fresh products harvested the same day from the surrounding organic fields. Later we will learn more about the weaving process of their textiles. Don’t miss the amazing opportunity to have the chance to give back, by buying handmade scarfs here. Later we will arrive at the beautiful, historical hacienda of Pinsaqui where we will stay overnight. Enjoy a typical Andean cocktail as welcome, and learn about the history of this place. .
Accommodation: Pinsaquí Hacienda or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner.

11
DAY 11: CUICOCHA CRATER LAKE & PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS

Today we will first visit Cotacachi Cayapas ecological reserve to see the breath taking scenery of the crystalline-clear waters of this active volcano and the amazing surrounding landscapes. At the end of an hour long hike along the rim of the Cuicocha Crater Lake, we will take a boat ride to the center of the crater to observe the activity of this volcano, watching bubbles coming up from the center of the caldera.

Later, we will head to Peguche, a small village located in the heart of the Andes, where you will live an unforgettable cultural experience, immersing yourself in the true spirit of the South-American highlands. You will taste a traditional delicious lunch in which locals have used the fresh products harvested the same day from the surrounding organic fields to share precious moments of conviviality with you.
In the late afternoon, we will reach the luxury volcanic hot-springs resort of Papallacta, where you will have the chance to relax at the spa resort surrounded by the view of the majestic Andean mountains.
Accommodation: Termas Papallacta

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

12
DAY 12: COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK

After breakfast, following a last dip in the open-air hot springs, we will drive south on the Pan-American Highway to the highest active volcano in the world, Cotopaxi. The snow-capped volcano is surrounded by the national park, home to abundant plant life, a rich fauna and Inca ruins. We will begin our visit at the interpretation center at the entrance of the park, before continuing our drive across the páramo to the Limpiopungo Lake. During a short walk around the lake we can observe a variety of birds and enjoy the stunning views of the almost symmetrical cone of the Cotopaxi volcano. Afterwards, drive back to Quito for our last dinner.

Accommodation: Swissôtel Quito or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

13
DAY 13: DEPARTURE

Today our trip will end with your International departure. Take 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 spectacular paradise. We wish you ¡Buen viaje!

Meals included: Breakfast.

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Accomodation
Destination
Value For Money
Overall
Transport
Meals

What's Included?

  • Transportation: Domestic Flights Guayaquil – Galapagos – Quito, comfortable land and sea transportation, sea transportation Santa Cruz – San Cristobal, airport transfers (national & international flights).
  • Accommodation based in double occupancy:   First Class hotel in Guayaquil, 5* Hotel in Quito, 4* Eco-lodge in Mindo, 3+* Comfort colonial style countryside farm in Otavalo, 4+* mountain lodge spa resort in Papallacta and 3+* hotels in Galapagos.
  • Meals: 12 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 1 dinner.
  • Activities: Exploring the tropical forest of Mindo, chocolate making process, discover the Otavalo handicraft market, experience lunch with a local family, relax by hot springs, explore Cotopaxi National Park, walking in Santa Cruz highlands, snorkeling, Isla Lobos, La Loberia “sea lions site”.
  • Gear: Snorkeling mask and fins, life vest, walking sticks for Cotopaxi national park.
  • Trip Leader:Certified AJ expert English-speaking adventure leader and local guides.

What is not included?

  • International flights.
  • Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee USD 100 per person.
  • Single supplement: USD $965.
  • INGALA Transit control card USD $20 per person.
  • Lobito bus USD $10 per person (Santa Cruz Dock).

  • Travel insurance (mandatory).

  • Meals not described in the itinerary.

  • Tips for guides and drivers.

IMPORTANT DETAILS

ITINERARY DISCLAIMER: 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.

FLIGHT TIME: 2:45 hours each way from Quito to Galapagos. Regular size aircraft. About 140 passengers. 45 minutes from San Cristobal to Isabela. Small size aircraft. 9 passengers.

DRIVING TIME

  • 45 minutes Airport transfers in Quito.
  • 45 minutes Airport transfers in Galapagos.
  • 45 minutes each way to Sierra Negra

BOAT TRAVEL TIME

  • 2 hours from Isabela to Santa Cruz.
  • 45 minutes each way - Lava Tunnels.
  • 45 minutes each way - Kicker Rock.

KAYAKING TIME: 2 hours.

SNORKELING TIME: 1 – 2 hours a day.

BIKING TIME: 3 hours total.

HIKING TIME:

  • Quilotoa crater lake: 1 hour downhill from 13,000 ft. to 12,000 and 1 h 20 min uphill same way back.
  • Sierra Negra: 5 hours total.
  • El Chato Tortoises Reserve: 1 hour total.

PROVINCE: Pichincha, Tungurahua, Napo and Galapagos.

TERRITORY: Quito City, Andes highlands and Galapagos Islands National Park.

HIKING TIME: Clould forest: 2 hours total. Cuicocha crater lake: 5 hours total. El Chato Tortoises Reserve: 1 hour total.

ALTITUDE: From sea level (most activities) to 1 200m (3,937 ft -Sierra Negra Volcano).

WATER: The waters of the Galapagos Islands are a unique mixture of warm and cold water, ranging between 65ºF and 85ºF

WEATHER TEMPERATURES: 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

GEAR: Adventure and protective equipment, snorkeling mask, fins, life jackets, mountain bikes, helmets, kayaks and paddle.

AVG. TEMP.: Day 15-34ºC / 59-93ºF - Night 12-17ºC / 53-62ºF

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Moderate to Challenge. This program is located in The Galapagos Islands, includes multisport activities, long hike to the Sierra Negra Volcano, snorkeling almost every day, sea kayaking to view wild life, and biking mostly on flat roads.

ACCOMODATION: 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.

MEALS: 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 EPL 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.

SUSTAINABLE ECO AND CULTURAL TOURISM: 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.

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