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GALAPAGOS ISLANDS & OTAVALO HIGHLANDS

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS & OTAVALO HIGHLANDS

$3199 per person

Discover the heart and soul of Ecuador on this fantastic tour through the Andean mountains and the Galapagos Islands. Explore the exceptional city of Quito and the spectacular market in Otavalo. Hike by beautiful mountain sceneries and crater lakes. Experience the most amazing wildlife, nature and landscapes on the Galapagos Islands. Snorkel with sea lions, sea turtles, sharks and penguins. Enjoy kayaking in crystal clear water and hiking along volcano craters.


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

Meals included: none.

2
DAY 2; ARRIVAL IN GALAPAGOS
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. A magical place, where dreams of swimming with sea lions, turtles and fish become true.
We will board a morning flight from Quito to the island of Baltra. Once arrived, we will head to the town of Puerto Ayora, the biggest town in Galapagos. From here we will take a fast boat to Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago and the place where most volcanic activity in the Galapagos is reported. The island is formed by 6 shield volcanoes (Alcedo, Cerra Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf). 5 of them are still active and therefore the island is one of the most volcanically active place on earth. 

Accommodation: Cormorant Beach House or Similar

Meals included: Breakfast.

3
DAY 3: LAVA TUNNELS SNORKELING AND KAYAK SEARCHING FOR TURTLES, PENGUINS, RAYS AND SEA LIONS
Today we will travel along the coast to explore the amazing lava formations which appeared by the volcanic activity on the island. This magical place has been used by the staff of BBC/National Geographic for documentaries. It is a labyrinth of lava arches and tunnels, both above and below the water. The water is crystal clear and full of huge sea turtles, eagle rays, sea lions, fish, white-tipped reef sharks and more. Turtles will navigate their own highway from the mangroves to the open sea through "Los Tuneles". Here we will have the best opportunity to snorkel with all these beautiful animals, including the curious Galapagos penguin playing around. In the afternoon we will take our kayaks. Paddling the shoreline along "Las Tintoreras" we watch out for some wildlife. Later there will be time to enjoy a breath-taking sunset at the beach of Puerto Villamil.

Accommodation: Cormorant Beach House or Similar

Meals included: Breakfast.

4
DAY 4: TREK TO SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO AND SNORKEL IN TINTORERAS
After a healthy breakfast we will get our backpacks ready and drive up to the trailhead where our hike begins. We will hike to the rim of Sierra Negra Crater, an active volcano which last erupted in October 2005. The hike is about six miles along the craters widest point. During the hike your guide will tell you about the flora and fauna of this area. Upon arrival you can take in the breathtaking views of the massive, lava-filled crater. According to the weather conditions and timing we may continue to Volcan Chico, another crater with wild landscape and colorful lava formations. In the afternoon we will visit the Tintoreras, located only a short distance from Puerto Villamil. It is the home to a great variety of wildlife. While snorkeling in the turquoise, crystal clear water you will get the chance to spot white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. One of it´s beaches, surrounded by mangroves, is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully.

Accommodation: Cormorant Beach House or similar

Meals included: Breakfast.

5
DAY 5: SANTA CRUZ HIGHLANDS & CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION

In the morning, traverse from Isabela to Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. 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 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.

Accommodation: La Casa de Judy or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.

6
DAY 6: FLIGHT BACK TO 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: Swissôtel Quito or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.

7
DAY 7: OTAVALO INDIGENOUS MARKET

Otavalo's market is South America's most famous Indian fair. An early depatrure from Quito (through dramatic mountain scenery northwards) will give you plenty time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, where you can admire Otavalo Indians who are  wearing blue ponchos, white trousers and long braided hair. Also you can explore the handicraft market with its wonderful textiles, native paintings, ceramics, jewelry, tapestries and more at bargain prices. Continuing the trip we will go to Cotacachi, famous for its leather articles, where lunch can be taken. Finally we will head to Peguche, a small village known for its waterfalls and wind instruments fabrics.

Accommodation: Pinsaquí Hacienda or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

8
DAY 8: TREKKING THE LOOP OF CUICOCHA CRATER LAKE
After a nice breakfast our challenge will start with a beautiful 5-hour-hike around Cuicocha Crater Lake, with breathtaking views of this active volcano and amazing valleys located in Cotacachi Cayapas ecological reserve. On this trek we will reach an altitude of 11880f and we will hike 9 miles around the crater. At the end of our hike we will take a boat ride to the centre of the crater to experience the true activity of this volcano and to watch bubbles coming up from the centre of the caldera. 
In the afternoon there will be a transfer back to Quito.

Accommodation: Swissôtel Quito or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

9
DAY 9: 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"!

Meals included: Breakfast.

WRITE A REVIEW

Accomodation
Destination
Value For Money
Overall
Transport
Meals

What's Included?

  • Transportation: Comfortable land and sea transportation.
  • Accommodation based in double occupancy:  5* hotel in Quito, colonial hacienda in Otavalo, 3+* hotels in the Galapagos.
  • Meals: 8 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinner.
  • Activities: Exploring Otavalo market, 4 hour trekking around the loop of Cuicococha Active Volcano, trekking the rim of Sierra Negra, snorkeling Tintoreras and Lava Tunnels, kayaking on Isabela, explore Charles Darwin Research Station and El Chato Reserve.
  • Gear: Hiking sticks, life jackets, kayaks, paddles.
  • Trip Leader: AJ-Expert, English-Speaking leader specialized in adventure expedtions and local guides.

What is not included?

  • Airfair Quito-Galapagos:   USD   535.
  • My Own Room supplement cost USD 630.
  • Travel insurance mandatory.
  • Meals not described in the itinerary.
  • USD 20 Ingala Transit Control Card.

  • Galapagos National Park Fee  USD 100.

  • USD $10 per person for a "pier use fee" at Puerto Villamil (Isabela Island).

  • Personal expenses.

  • Extra meals – food budget  USD 190.

  • Tips.

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: 2h 45min each way from Quito to Galapagos. Regular size aircraft. About 140 passengers.

DRIVING TIME

  • 2 - 3 hours a day while in mainland.
  • 45 minutes Airport transfers in Quito.
  • 45 minutes Airport transfers in Galapagos.
  • 45 minutes each way in Sierra Negra.

BOAT TRAVEL TIME

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

SNORKELING TIME: Tintoreras: 1 hour. Lava Tunnels: 2 times of 1 hour each.

TREKKING TIME: Sierra Negra: 30 minutes easy uphill; 1 and a half hour on flat terrain; 30 minutes downhill; 2 hours same way back. Cuicocha Crater Lake: 5 hours moderate because of the altitude around Cuicocha Crater Lake (elevation gain 500 m (1640 ft.).

KAYAKING: 1,5 hours.

SEASON: All year.

ALTITUDE: 

Quito: 2800 m (9,186 ft.).

Otavalo: 2600 m (8,530 ft.).

Cuicocha: 3621 m (11,880 ft.).

Galapagos: from sea level (most activities) to 1200 m (3,937 ft.) - Sierra Negra Volcano

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

PROVINCE: Pichincha, Imbabura, Galapagos.

TERRITORY: Anden highlands and Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL:

Moderate to challenging:

In Cuicocha the trek can be challenging because of the altitude.

The hiking in Sierra Negra is moderate but long and muddy during the wet season (July - November).

Snorkeling and kayking is easy. No experience is needed.

ACCOMODATION: All prices are based on double-occupancy. If you are travelling solo, you will be matched with another participant of your same gender. If you prefer to have a single room, please contact AJ prior to your departure to arrange your accommodation at an extra cost.

SAFETY: Guides are certified as Wilderness First Aid Responders. We carry a complete first aid kit.

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 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.

SUSTAINABLE ECO AND CULTURAL TOURISM: Clients receive a conservationist interpretation of the ecology of the Ecuadorian Amazon cloud forest and the factors that threaten it. We aim to promote long-term conservation to support responsible ecotourism as a sustainable alternative to surrendering to the oil industry's destructive appetites. We transport out and recycle all non-organic garbage.

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