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THE BEST OF ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS

THE BEST OF ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS

$3986 per person

A truly unique lifetime adventure blending the spectacular geography of Ecuador’s mainland of active volcanoes, immense canyons, vast tropical rain forests and powerful waterfalls, with the enchanted Galapagos Islands, where the magic diversity of fearless animals flourishing in a volcanic ecosystem create an awe-inspiring atmosphere. This is a perfect combination that includes a wide variety of outdoor activities, while discovering the highlights of Ecuador in the same journey.
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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: 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: ARRIVE IN GALAPAGOS - ISABELA ISLAND
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 take a quick boat to the largest island in the archipelago and where the most of the volcanic activity in the Galapagos is reported. The island was formed by six shield volcanoes, Alcedo, Cerra 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.
Galapagos Islands are located 600 miles (965.6 km) from the coast of Ecuador, it is really important to understand that you will have to take air, road and sea transportation to get there

Accommodation: Cormorant Beach House or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.

3
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", 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.
Accommodation: Cormorant Beach House or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

4
DAY 4: HIKE AND 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.
Accommodation: Cormorant Beach House or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

5
DAY 5: CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION

In the morning, traverse 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.

Accommodation: Silberstein Hotel 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 have a transfer to Baltra's airport in time to catch the flight back to the mainland.

Accommodation: Swissôtel Quito.

Meals included: Breakfast.

7
DAY 7: FREE DAY IN QUITO

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

MINDO CLOUD FOREST

OTAVALO MARKET FAIR

Accommodation: Swissôtel Quito or similiar.

Meals included: Breakfast.

8
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.

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.
Accommodation: Casa de Luis or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

9
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.
Accommodation: Casa de Luis or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast.

10
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.

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: Amazon Homestay.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

11
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.

Accommodation: Papallacta Spa Resort. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.

12
DAY 12: DEPARTURE

International departures, end of services. Take with you 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: Airfare Quito – Galapagos round trip, comfortable land and sea transportation.
  • Accommodation based in double occupancy: 5 star hotel in Quito, 3+ star hotels in Galapagos, 3 star hotel in Baños, home stay in the Amazon, 4 star spa resort in Papallacta.
  • Meals: 10 Breakfast, 5 Lunch, 1 Dinner.
  • Activities: Hiking to the top of sierra negra active volcano, snorkeling and kayaking in tintoreras, snorkel at the lava tunnels, visit the charles darwin research station, hiking in santa cruz highlands, 3 hours hiking in cotopaxi national park in the andes, 3 hours biking in the llanganates national park, 4 hours white-water rafting on jatunyacu river in the amazon rainforest, 3 hours canyoning at pimpilala waterfalls, bird watching and hiking exploration in the cloud forest, soaking in papallacta hot springs, share time with local indigenous people in the amazon, making chocolate, salsa lesson.
  • Gear: For snorkeling: fins and mask, trekking or hiking: black diamond trekking sticks, biking: trek x-caliber mtb (hydraulic disc brakes, front rock shock suspension), bontrager helmets, biking gloves, canyoning: rubber boots, ropes, black diamond harnesses, rafting: aire and nrs 7-people- rafts, nrs life jackets, nrs paddles, splash jackets.
  • Trip Leader: certified AJ expert english-speaking adventure trip leader and local guides.

What is not included?

  • International flights.
  • Galapagos Ingala Card - $ 20 USD.
  • Galapagos National Park Fee - $ 100 USD.
  • Isabela Pier Fee - $ 10 USD.

  • My own room supplement - estimated budget $785 USD.

  • Airport transfers.

  • Travel insurance (mandatory).

  • Meals not described in the itinerary - estimated budget $200 USD.

  • Tips for guides, drivers and hotels. - estimated budget $180 USD.

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 45 min 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.

PROVINCE: Pichincha, Galapagos, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Pastaza, Napo.

SEASON: All year.

BOATING TIME:

2 hours each way from Isabela to Santa Cruz.

45 minutes each way - Lava Tunnels.

ALTITUDE: 

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

Quilotoa: 3962 m (13,000 ft.).

Baños: 1820 m (5,971 ft.).

Amazon: 510 m (1,640 ft.).

Papallacta: 3300 m (10,827 ft.).

Galápagos: 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.

KAYAKING TIME: 2 hours.

SNORKELING TIME:  

Tintoreras: 1 hour.

Lava Tunnels: 2 times of 1 hour each.

BIKING TIME: 1 hour moderate uphill; 2 hours downhill (terrain: cobblestone, dirt, muddy and asphalt).

TREKKING TIME

Sierra Negra: 30 minutes easy uphill; 1 and a half hours on flat terrain; 30 minutes downhill; 2 hours same way back.

Cotopaxi: 2 hours moderate uphill; 1 hour downhill.

Cloud forest: 1 hour easy uphill; 1 hour downhill same way back.

RAFTING TIME: From 3 to 4 hours depending on water level.

GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS: Andes highlands, Amazon rainforest and Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

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

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Moderate to Challenging: Hiking in Sierra Negra is moderate but long and muddy during the wet season (from July to November); snorkeling is easy. In the cloud forest the uphill biking part can be challenging but there is always a truck behind supporting the team; the whitewater rafting on the Jatunyacu is Class III; the trekking in the cloud forest is moderate.

ACCOMODATION: All prices are based on double-occupancy. If you are traveling 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.

MEALS: Traveling 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.

Vegetarians, Vegans and Gluten Free people are very welcome in our trip, our guides are always ready to coordinate with chefs and restaurants for substitute meals for them, as Ecuador is very well known for its great diversity of gastronomy.

YOUR TRIP LEADERS AND GUIDES: All AJ guides and trip leaders are highly experienced, licensed from the Tourism University to operate in Ecuador and certified as Wilderness Adventure First Aid respondents. They all have approved several extra training courses for kayaking, rafting, biking and horse riding, besides this they all are Ecuadorian and have a fantastic personality. We always carry a complete first aid kit in our trips.

In some locations and for some activities, local guides join the trip leaders to provide an added service and make sure we practice sustainable tourism involving local indigenous people in our operation.
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.

HEALTH INFORMATION: Please inform AJ of any existing medical conditions (i.e. pregnancy, diabetes, etc). Yellow fever, Hepatitis B vaccination and Malaria Medication are recommended when traveling to the tropics. Please ask your doctor for advice.