Andes and Galapagos - 8 Days
Day 1.- Welcome to Ecuador (Monday)
Today you arrive in Quito, one of the highest capital cities in the world! At 2850 meters (9350 ft) above sea level, you will need to take it slowly, but the views surrounding this magical city will surely make you want you to start your holidays straight away. Upon arrival, you will be transferred from the airport to your hotel in the Andean capital, where you can enjoy a welcome drink.
Day 2.- Quito City Tour & Middle of the World
Your first morning is dedicated to a tour of Quito, a beautiful city surrounded by volcanoes, most prominently by Pichincha volcano (15,750 ft). Quito was founded by the Inca civilization and developed by the Spanish colonizers. Its historic center is a
true architectural jewel, dating back to the XVIth and XIXth century and registered by UNESCO for its unique touristic sites. Visit La Compañia de Jesús, the first and best example of Latin American baroque architecture, boasting an ornate and completely gold-leafed interior. After this, travel to “The Middle of the World”, to the north of Quito, where the fictitious Equator line runs along the monument.
Day 3.- Quito - Cotopaxi or Quito - Otavalo
Drive to the beautiful Andean region of Otavalo. Stop for a panoramic view of San Pablo Lake, dominated by the majestic Imbabura mountain.Today you will visit the indigenous artisanal market in Otavalo, famous for its large variety of textiles and handicrafts, or tour the community, meeting its residents and farmer. Once you reach Otavalo, you and your private guide will walk through the market to browse the different stands and meet local people. Otavalo is one of the most visited indigenous markets in South America, rich in traditions and customs. As you make your way through the maze of stalls selling alpaca sweaters, ponchos, hammocks, pan flutes and other souvenirs, you can admire the multicolored handicrafts and have a go at haggling with the merchants. You can also learn about indigenous weaving workshops as you visit one in Peguche village. Enjoy a delicious traditional lunch at one of Ecuador’s oldest haciendas, ideally located at the flanks of the Imbabura Volcano and in the heart of Ecuador lake province. You will also visit the villages of Peguche and Cotacachi, famous for its leather goods and Cuicocha Lagoon, located in an ancient crater at the foot of the Imbabura and Cotacachi Volcanoes, before heading back to Quito where you will stay the night.
Drive along the Avenue of Volcanoes to Cotopaxi Volcano. Optionally you can visit one of the indigenous market in the Cotopaxi region: Pujili, Saquisili, or Zumbagua (open Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday respectively) Visit to the Cotopaxi National Park and return to Quito.
Day 4.- Quito - Galapagos Archipel
Transfer to the airport to take the flight to the islands. Upon arrival at Baltra Airport, travelers pass through an airport inspection point to ensure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands, as well as to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless it has been prepaid). Your guide will meet you at the airport, assist you with the luggage and accompany you on the short bus ride to the harbor of Puerto Ayora. Here you will climb aboard the yacht Archipel I. After greeting the crew and the captain, your cabins will be assigned to you and then you will enjoy your first lunch onboard.
This 5-day south-eastern tour aboard the Archipel allows you to see the most impressive places of the archipelago. You will start with the amazing highlands landscapes and finish with the coral sand beach in Cerro Brujo, and a swim with sea lions in Isla Lobos. Because wild Galapagos giant tortoises don’t stop at official National Park boundaries, dozens of them also roam on the adjacent woodlands in the populated agricultural zone of Santa Cruz. Thanks to their concentrations around their favorite muddy pools, these semi-open pastures and moist scalesia-woodlands are the best place for a quick visit. After this excursion, you will have some time to visit the surroundings.
Day 5.- Cormorant Point & Post Office (Floreana)
AM: Cormorant Point (Floreana)
The peninsula of Cormorant Point forms the extreme north cape of Floreana, which was formed by a number of smaller volcanic cones, covered with tropical dry forest (palo santo). At the landing beach, you will be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion-colony. You can spot schools of stingrays who love burying themselves in the sandy bottom. During the first months of the year, Pacific green turtles come ashore to bury their eggs.
PM: Post Office Bay (Floreana)
While having lunch we will navigate back to Post Office Bay (about 1hr). Post your holiday greetings in the historical barrel, one of three nearby visitor sites on Floreana north coast (short displacement, wet landing) and relax. Besides Galapagos sea lions, Pacific green turtles and golden cownose rays you might spot Galapagos penguins! This is the only place in the south-eastern archipelago where penguins reside. Explore by inflatable dinghy – or at your own pace by sea-kayak – another submerged crater rim around the bay of Baroness Lookout. Climb the miniature basaltic cone of Baroness Lookout and take in the paradisiacal coastal views.
Day 6.- Gardner Bay & Punta Suarez
AM: Gardner Bay (Española)
On the north-eastern coast of the island of Española, Gardner Bay offers a wonderful place to refresh in the turquoise sea and to admire the large number of colourful reef fish. You will also have the opportunity to snorkel side by side with green sea turtles, or to enjoy the proximity of the playful Galapagos sea lion. The white sand beach is also an important breeding ground for the green sea turtles. In the crystal-clear ocean, sometimes whales can be sighted under certain circumstances.
PM: Punta Suarez (Española)
This rocky area is home to the most impressive and diverse seabirds of the archipelago. The endangered Galapagos albatross returns to Española (March - December) annually. This allows visitors to admire the balances of pipes and bows (especially in October). Blue-fronted and nazcat oil pipes, black-tailed gulls and red-billed tropic birds are native to this island. Along the southern coast, high cliffs allow spectacular views of ascending birds and the sea water shot through air holes.
Day 7.- Punta Pitt & Cerro Brujo
AM: Punta Pitt (San Cristobal)
Two wind sculptured tuff cones at Pitt Point constitute the extreme eastern end of San Cristobal.
On the small green sand beach, you will be welcomed by a cacophony of barking Galapagos sea lions. From saltbush and spiny shrubs behind the beach a trail leads up to an area of tropical dry forest vegetation: most of the year leafless palo santo trees, yellow cordia shrubs, tiny prickly pear cacti and carpetweed, that turns red in the dry season. After the pretty steep climb through a gully to the cliff top, you can wander around the only colony in Galapagos that is home to all species of booby.
PM: Cerro Brujo (San Cristobal)
The primary attraction of this site is the coral sand beach. It is an excellent place to swim and snorkel. Cerro Brujo is the remains of a tuff cone. It is one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. Captain Fitzroy climbed to the top of the hill to scout out reefs. It has an impressive landscape, where it is often possible to see coastal and migratory birds, including pelicans, Blue-footed Boobies, and Swallow-tailed Gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. At times the lagoon is completely dry and deposits of salt may be found in the bottom. The people of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno used to use the lagoon as a salt mine.
Day 8.- Galapagos - Guayaquil - Return
AM: Isla Lobos
The island is named after the amount of sea lions that rest on the seaside. Though at first sight it appears to just be barren rocks overgrown by palo santo, this low islet is home to male blue footed boobies and great frigate birds that try to impress the females with clumsy dances heaving their striking blue feet or blowing up their balloon-sized scarlet pouches. You can also find a lot of life in the intertidal zone, including striking bright orange sally lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas on the boulders. On the horizon you can distinguish the contours of Kicker Rock. That impressive rock islet has become one of the landmarks of Galapagos.
PM: Transfer to San Cristobal Airport
After this visit you will return to the yacht to take your luggage, and be transferred to San Cristobal Airport where you will take your flight to Guayaquil.
2018 price per person: US$3395 double occupancy.
Add $20 to end in Quito instead of Guayaquil
minimum of 2 people