Day 1 – Arrival Quito
Upon arrival in Quito you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Rich in history, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world, founded in 1534 by Spanish Conquistador Sebastian de Benacazar. For nearly three centuries, the arts and intellectual societies flourished under Spanish colonial rule until 1809, when Quito established the first self-governing junta in the colonies. Liberator Simon Bolivar led the country as part of the Republic of Greater Colombia until 1830, when the Republic of Ecuador announced its independence with the adoption of the Constitution signed in Riobamba. Due to the city’s preservation of its blended past, UNESCO declared Quito one of the “world’s cultural heritage sites” in 1978.
The remainder of your day is free to enjoy Quito at your leisure.
Ecuador Expedition Day 2 – Quito
This morning’s sightseeing demonstrates some of the reasons why Ecuador’s capital has earned its honor as a world cultural site. Marvel at the city’s ornate churches, cathedrals and baroque architecture, and experience a long history of local culture in Quito’s “Old Town” and in the San Francisco Church and Monastery. Rich in art treasures, fine woodcarvings and an altar of gold leaf, the church is an historical icon dedicated to Quito’s patron saint. You will be welcomed by spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the city below before culminating your tour with a visit to the Equatorial monument – an irresistible opportunity to straddle both hemispheres.
Enjoy lunch at local restaurant.
During the City Tour of Quito we have organized have a ‘behind the scenes’ visit to the studio and art collection of Mr. Osvaldo Viteri – one of the most outstanding and most well known artists in contemporary Ecuador. During his illustrious career he has taken part in more than 50 solo exhibitions and over 120 shared exhibitions, both within Ecuador and internationally including London, Bonn, Venice, and numerous Latin American cities.In addition, Osvaldo is the owner of one of the largest private collections of colonial religious art. During your visit, you will tour historic works from his collection, and also visit his own working studio. Mrs. Viteri, your hostess, speaks perfect English, and will personally guide you around their home.
Day 3 – Quito / Cochasqui / Cotacachi
This morning, drive north from Quito through dramatic mountain landscapes dotted with tiny villages, white churches and blue lakes, to Cochasqui, where the ruins of pre-Inca pyramids remain a testament to the religious ceremonies of Caranqui natives. Enjoy lunch at a charming country inn before continuing on to your resort.
Relax in an old‑fashioned atmosphere of Spanish haciendas, horse‑drawn carts, cobbled streets, and shady parks or enjoy the hotel’s many amenities – it’s an excellent time to choose one of the many optional spa services offered.
During a visit to the famous market town of Otavalo, you will have the opportunity to visit Indian homes for a fascinating textile demonstration. Native weaving techniques are centuries old, are traditional to the area, and are known throughout South America for their quality. You will witness the entire process: from cleaning the wool, to spinning it, dying it, and watch how it is woven on the looms. No trip to Otavalo would be complete without the opportunity to go shopping as well, but this special experience offers a look behind the scenes of the textile products found in the marketplace.
Ecuador Expedition Day 4 – Cotacachi / Peguche / Cotacachi
Today, enjoy the famed local market villages, showcasing their acclaimed handicrafts. Visits include San Antonio de Ibarra, a nearby village famous for its woodcarvings; Ilumán, well known for its traditional felt Indian hats; Peguche, home of the Otavalo Indians and where the carpets and hangings at tomorrow’s market are made; and Cotacachi, renowned for its leather goods.
Your tour to Otavalo can be enhanced by visiting a primary school for children of Indian and Mestizo origin. The school is committed to make education accessible to every child regardless of his/her social, racial or economic background. (Available only Mon-Fri from October to June.)
Day 5 – Cotacachi / Cuicocha Lake / Otavalo / Quito
Patio Andaluz Hotel
Enjoy a short hike among the orchids at Cuicocha’s Crater Lake with beautiful views of volcanic peaks, before continuing on to Otavalo.
With a population of about 18,000, Otavalo is justly renowned for its friendly people and their market, a gathering that has occurred here since pre‑Incan times. Although native Ecuadorians meet in Otavalo to trade for animals, food and other essentials, you may be more interested in the wide selection of crafts on display. Otavaleños are the most prosperous Indian group in the country ‑ surely because their weavings, carpets, bread‑dough sculptures, colorful ponchos, Indian jewelry and needlework are so attractive!
Arriving back in Quito later this afternoon, your evening is free to explore at your leisure.
Days 6-8 – Quito / Coca / Kapawi
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Coca (Kapawi).
The Kapawi Project began in 1993. The goal was to commence a new trend in eco-tourism, in partnership with the OINAE, by providing a monthly means of economic support and jobs to the Achuar located in Kapawi as well as in other communities. In 15 years, all installations will belong entirely to the Achuar Indians. The lodge accommodates up to 40 visitors and was built in accordance to the Achuar concept of architecture (not a single nail was used!).
Environmentally friendly methods such as solar energy and trash recycling are also being utilized.
Achuar is the name of one of the four groups of the linguistic family Jivaro, (Achuar, Shuar, Aguaruna and Huambisa). With a global population of about 80.000 people, the Jivaro group is by far the most important homogeneous culture on the Amazon Basin. Well known in the past for their internal wars, the Achuar live today in peace, mostly in small villages, a way of living suggested by the missionaries, wherein they obtain their products produced in small plots -“chacras”- and from hunting, fishing and gathering in the rain forest.
At the beginning of the 1970’s the Achuar were the only Jivaros who had not suffered any loss of culture due to contact with the western world.
Kapawi is a place of multiple choices and is characterized by its flexibility. In Kapawi you can do many activities. Most of the itineraries will include visits to the Achuar communities. You can share a day with Achuar families, hike in the rain forest, canoe in rivers and lakes, swim, watch piranias, pinks dolphins, see caimans and other animals of the area, as well as birdwatch 480 species of birds.
Day 9: Kapawi/Quito
Patio Andaluz Hotel
On arrival at Quito airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Day 10: Quito/Galapagos
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival in San Cristobal, you will visit the Lobos Island.
Lobos Island is located north of San Cristobal. Here it is possible to find see lions on the lava shores.
Highlights: sea lions, Blue footed Boobies, and Great Frigatebirds.
The Interpretation Center offers to the visitor the opportunity to learn more about the natural and human history of the islands.
Day 11- Santa Fe Island / Caleta Tortuga Negra
M/Y Galaxy (Main & Upper Deck)
Location: 20 Km southeast of Puerto Ayora.
Facilities: None, wet landing.
Visitor Sites: Santa Fe’s opuntias are the tallest of their type in the archipelago; the Island is covered with arid-zone vegetation and the trail takes to a place where endemic land iguanas can be seen. The island offers one of the best places to enjoy the time with the sea lions, most of sea lions pups born in garua season.
CALETA TORTUGA NEGRA (Black Turtle Cove)
Stands out as one of Santa Cruz best costal sites, this is one of the best sites to see schools of spotted eagle and golden rays, red white and black mangroves, herons and pelicans are also there. The place is accessible only by panga. LANDING IS NOT ALLOWED.
Highlights: Juvenile Galapagos sea lions, land iguanas, one of the best places for Galapagos hawks, forest of giant Opuntia Cactus, sea turtles occasionally.
Day 12- Genovesa Island / Darwin bay / El Barranco
M/Y Galaxy (Main & Upper Deck)
Location: 125 Km north of Puerto Ayora
Facilities: None, wet landing at Darwin Bay and dry landing at El Barranco (Prince Philip’s Steps)
Visitor Sites: Darwin Bay/ El Barranco (Prince Philip´s steps)
Genovesa is geologically young; it is formed by the remaining edges of a large sunken crater that forms Darwin Bay. Lava gulls will probably be the first birds you will see and you will be surprised by seabird activity around the cliffs (Red Footed Boobies).
Highlights: Swallow – tailed gulls, galapagos mockingbirds, Red Footed Boobies, sea lions, Lava gulls, frigate birds, Darwin Finches (large ground finch and large cactus finch), herons, marine iguanas.
EL BARRANCO (Prince Phillip´s Step)
Usually we referred to as Prince Philip´s Steps or El Barranco, here you will climb to a plateau that is part of the stretch of land that surrounds Darwin Bay on its eastern side. You will come across Red – Footed Boobies nesting on the Palo Santo trees, Genovesa supports some 140.000 pairs of red footed boobies.
The trail passes through of Palo Santo and Muyuyo trees, you also will see many Galapagos storm – petrels nesting in holes and flying all over. Short – eared owls can be seen if you are lucky, they actively hunt during the day for storm petrels and young red footed boobies.
Highlights: Great frigatebirds, Red footed Boobies, Swallow tailed Gulls, Nazca Boobies, Galapagos storm – petrels, short – eared owls).
Day 13 – Sullivan Bay / Bartolome Island
M/Y Galaxy (Main & Upper Deck)
SAN SALVADOR ISLAND
Location: Central in archipelago, 85 km northwest of Puerto Ayora.
Facilities: None, wet landings.
Visitor Sites: Sullivan Bay and Puerto Egas
Sullivan Bay on the east coast marks the edge of a vast lava flow which was formed about 100 years ago. Interesting for its evidence of volcanism, the lava you will see is of the pahoehoe type. Other important attractions are the Mollugo, a small pioneer plant that grows in the lava fissures.
Highlights: Pahoehoe lava field, reddish spatter cones hornitos.
Location: East of Santiago 115 km northwest of Puerto Ayora.
Facilities: Dry landing and marked trail to summit / wet landing on the beach.
Bartolome is famous for its PINNACLE ROCK that is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the archipelago.You can climb to the highest point of the island: the main reason to climb the cone is get up close with the volcanic phenomena packed into this small island, lava tunnels and lava flows. The view is spectacular. Galapagos penguins live at the shores of the island; you can also swim around the Pinnacle Rock and see them.
Highlights: Galapagos penguins, sea lions, brown pelicans, sharks, Galapagos lava lizards, sea turtles.
Day 14 – Santa Cruz Island: Charles Darwin Station / Baltra / Quito
M/Y Galaxy (Main & Upper Deck)
Location: Central Island
Facilities: Puerto Ayora has hotels (first class to economic), restaurants, bars, internet cafes, shops, dive centers, travel agencies and most services.
Visitor Sites: Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Station, Highlands and The Twins Craters.
CHARLES DARWIN STATION
The station makes a great introduction to conservation programs. Here you will find the giant tortoises that give the name to the archipelago and also the famous Lonesome George, the last survivor of the Pinta Island. You will also see the Galapagos land iguanas.
Highlights: Giant tortoises, Lonesome George, Darwin Station exhibits, Opuntia Cactus, souvenir shopping.
SANTA CRUZ HIGHLANDS
The green landscape of this area gives you a good contrast with the blue of the sea and the small islands that you can see in the horizon. This area is dominated by Scalesia Trees, and Giant tortoises could be encountered almost anywhere on the trail inside or outside of the second biggest Giant Tortoise Reserve.
Flight to Baltra. On arrival, assistance at airport for your international departure flight.