This fantastic adventure has been created to meet the needs of all types of travelers who want to explore and discover what Ecuador has to offer and who don’t want to miss a thing. This itinerary combines the best treasures of Ecuador from the Galapagos Islands to the majestic Andes Mountains. You will experience first-hand how life has been created on this planet by visiting the Galapagos Islands in the best way possible; both overland and by sea. In the Andes, you’ll get a taste for local living by learning about Indian cultures first-hand. You’ll go to the heart of the mysterious Amazon rainforest to explore wildlife and hike in the unspoiled jungles. In between adventures, you can relax in the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, shop in the famous Otavalo Indian market or if you haven’t had enough adventure, opt for more in the lively little city of Baños. This is an example itinerary which can be 100% customized and personalized to your needs and preferences.
We have nothing planned for our arrival day. You will be picked up at the airport by one of our trip leaders and on the way to the hotel, there will be plenty of time to discuss details and answer any questions about the adventure. Depending on when your flight arrives, you can spend your time relaxing or exploring Quito.
About Quito: Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Ecuador’s capital. It’s considered the cultural capital of South America and the second most important city of the old Inca Empire. Because of its strategic location in the middle of the Andes, you can organize fantastic day trips such as Quito City tour, including trip to the Equator Line, Mindo Cloud Forest, Cotopaxi National Park, Quilotoa Crater Lake, Otavalo Indian market, Papallacta hot springs, Pululahua inhabitant crater, and more.
Ecuatraveling has many options for all types of travelers during their stay in Quito and has incorporated outdoor activities into each experience, such as Cotopaxi biking, Pululahua crater horse riding, Mindo canopy zip lines and tubing, Papallacta trekking, Hatu Yacu river rafting, etc.
Please see the menu of adventures we have to offer and contact us if you are interested in further exploration in and around Quito.
DAY 2: MINDO CLOUD FOREST
Explore the diverse natural landscapes of Ecuador on a private tour to the Mindo Cloud Forest Reserve from Quito. See gorgeous waterfalls and rushing rivers amid the tropical rainforest, and catch sight of unique species of butterflies, insects and birds. During your hike, customized to your comfort level, your expert guide will inform you about the flora and fauna – from the mossy forest floor to the canopy. This trip is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and bird-lovers! (L)
DAY 3: OTAVALO INDIAN MARKET
We will begin our day heading up to the northern Ecuadorian Andes. On our way, we will stop at the look-out located at the entrance of Imbabura province, where we will get a breathtaking view of the Imbabura volcano as well as sparkling Lake San Pablo. After a 15 minute drive, we arrive at Otavalo, where we will have the opportunity to experience and spend time with local people from the surrounding Andean villages. You will see them wearing their traditional dresses and hear them speak in their native languages. We will visit the Otavalo market, which is considered one of the largest indigenous markets in South America. Here you will be able to bargain for local crafts authentic to the area. Popular market items include sweaters, blankets, alpaca products, hammocks and jewelry. (B, L)
DAY 4: PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS
We will drive up to 4000 meters through the western range of the Andes on a road between two national reserves (Antisana and Cayambe Coca), both located in the high altitude Paramo and known for its short vegetation and for being the home of some incredible animals such as the spectacle bear, deer, puma, Andean condor and the cara-cara. After enjoying the great views this landscape offers, we will arrive to Papallacta Hot Springs, where we will relax and enjoy soaking in the volcanic pools, which are surrounded by mountains with colorful flowers and birdlife. (B)
DAY 5: ITAMANDI AMAZON ECO LODGE
Early in the morning, we will descend a curvy road towards the Amazon Basin, where you will observe how the landscape and vegetation change drastically as we descend from an altitude of 3000 meters to 500 meters. Our first stop will be at Guango Lodge, where we will observe different species of hummingbirds in their natural habitat. These small and colorful creatures are famous for their incredible capacity to flap their wings rapidly as well as for their bright colors. After driving for an hour, we will stop at the Macaw Look-Out from where we will appreciate the tropical rain forest named “The Amazon” after the warrior women that fought the Spanish conquistadores during their expedition to this unknown place.
Once we arrive to the Itamandi Eco Lodge we will have the opportunity to explore the majestic Amazon jungle, by planning some night hikes, visiting parrots clay licks, and learning more at the Amazon animal rescue centers. (B, D)
DAY 6: ITAMANDI AMAZON ECO LODGE
In the morning, we will take a motorized canoe down the largest river in Ecuador, Napo River, to experience the feeling of navigating on one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River on our way to the “Amazonico“ Rescue Animal Center”. Here, we will have the opportunity to see many different species of Monkeys, Capibaras, Caimans, Ocelots, Toucans, Parrots, and other animals that live in this area. After approximately an hour, we will get back on the boat in order to go to the Ahuano village with the purpose of appreciating the skills of the indigenous women manufacturing handmade pottery (ceramics). This is the main handicraft and source of income for this area. We will enjoy our lunch by the river right before we canoe up-stream for an exciting hour of pristine forest on our way back to Itamandi Eco Lodge. Here we will spend the afternoon relaxing in the Amazon and enjoying the facilities of this pristine lodge. (B,L,D)
There is an optional night hike in the jungle after dinner.
DAY 7: RETURN TO QUITO
Today we will bring you back to Quito by private transport. Depending on the time we arrive, you will have time to relax or explore Quito.
DAY 8:QUITO – BALTRA – SANTA CRUZ – TORTUGA BAY KAYAKING
In the morning we will take our two-hour flight to the Baltra airport, after the short boat ride to Santa Cruz Island, we will drive for 45 minutes to Puerto Ayora village. After checking at the hotel, we will start our adventure walking to Tortuga bay. This beautiful place will give us the opportunity to view some different animal species such as white tip sharks, sea lions, marine iguanas and colorful fish while kayaking. In the late afternoon, we will have some free time to enjoy the sunset on the beach.
DAY 9: GRIETAS – ISABELA
After a very healthy breakfast, we will hike to Grietas. In this unique place, we will have the chance to snorkel into a canyon formed by the sea water into the land. In this area we will also have the chance to see blue footed boobies, red crabs, frigate birds, and other bird species. After lunch we will take a speed boat to Isabela Island, here we will spend the night in the hotel right in front of the beach. (B)
DAY 10: SIERRA NEGRA ACTIVE VOLCANO TREKKING – TORTOISES BREEDING CENTER
Early in the morning, after breakfast, we’ll take an excursion to the Sierra Negra Volcano. This volcano is located 13 miles from Port Villamil and has the second-largest volcanic crater in the world, measuring 6 miles in diameter and 300 feet deep. To arrive at this incredible sight we travel in bus or similar vehicle for 45 minutes to the Galapagos National Park where we will register our visit after which we begin our hike to the Sierra Negra Volcano.
We will then proceed to the Chico Volcano, where you can feel the warmth of the ground as proof of the volcano’s activity. Here we’ll stop for a box lunch before returning to the hotel.
After a brief rest, we will sail to TINTORERAS ISLET. This tiny island has got its name due to a large crevice with very clear, calm water in which white-tip sharks (known as “Tintoreras”) come daily to rest on the bottom. We can also observe penguins, sea lions and marine iguanas while we enjoy the beaches of Isabela. Snorkeling with sharks as well as other colorful tropical fish is another possibility. (B,L)
DAY 11:LAVA TUNNELS SNORKELING – WALL OF TEARS
The tunnels are located 45 minutes by boat from Puerto Villamil, and are one of the most impressive spots around the islands. They are located in the western part of Isabela, where lava formed arcs in the ocean. It is a great place to spot huge manta rays, turtles, sharks, penguins, blue-footed boobies and sea horses. The tour consists of a short stroll over the lava formations followed by an eye-opening underwater experience with a myriad of sea life to be discovered.
At the afternoon we will bike to “The Wall of Tears”. From 1946 to 1959, Isabela was designated a penal colony by the Ecuadorian government. Prisoners were obligated to build a wall with enormous blocks of lava. Due to the arduous labor and harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived, this site is now known as «EL MURO DE LAGRIMAS». Additionally, we will visit a small lava tunnel and a flamingo lagoon, and then we will return to the hotel. (B,L)
DAY 12:BACK TO SANTA CRUZ – CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION
Today we will take the speed boat back to Santa Cruz Island, where we will visit the CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION and its Interpretation Center. With the help of the IUCN/UNESCO, and conservationists worldwide, the Charles Darwin Foundation was founded under Belgian Law in 1959. Since then, CDF has been instrumental in stabilizing the ecosystem and preserving the natural wonders the islands offer. Here we will have a great opportunity to see and explore this famous place. (B)