Sample Itinerary and pricing valid through Dec. 31, subject to availability
WEDNESDAY – HOME/Quito, Ecuador
Upon arrival to Quito transfer from airport to the hotel. Check into Hilton Colon or similar.
Note: Quito’s elevation is 9.300 ft above sea level.
THURSDAY – Quito and the Middle of the World (B,L)
Stroll in the colonial downtown of Quito, considered the best preserved colonial city in Latin America, be tempted by the allure of secluded patios protected by thick walls, enjoy lunch at one of the excellent restaurants in the equator area and end this memorable experience in the equator area where the north and south hemispheres met. Overnight at Hilton Colon or similar.
FRIDAY– Quito / Riobamba, Avenue of the Volcanoes (B, L, D)
The adventure starts in Quito with a bus ride to the neighboring Valley of Sangolqui, for a visit to its interesting market with many stalls with bright colored produce and interesting fruit. Stop for a snack at a dairy hacienda with cows, horses and llamas. Then the road advances up and down the slopes of Cotopaxi volcano on to the fertile Valley of Latacunga for a visit to a rose plantation and a taste of the products of the land (potatoes and broccoli picked that same morning). Continue by bus to Urbina and at the foot of imposing Chimborazo volcano, to visit a Tagua nut workshop and warm up with a canelazo by the fireplace. Arrive to Riobamba for dinner and overnight.. You will leisurely enjoy the ever-changing scenery. Overnight at Abraspungo or similar, Riobamba city.
Altitude: from 9,200 to 11,841 feet
SATURDAY – Riobamba / Cuenca (B, L, D)
After an early breakfast, transfer to the train station to board the "Chiva Express" for a scenic ride to Alausí. Twist and turn over the Andes, along bridging ravines and river gorges. Arrive to Alausí and prepare to go down the Devil’s Nose switch backs, one of the most impressive feats of rail engineering in the world, and back to Alausí. Continue south along the Andes by motorcar to Cuenca, visiting en route the Inca Ruins of Ingapirca, to arrive at dusk. Overnight at one of the nice Hotel Boutiques in Cuenca.
SUNDAY – Cuenca / Guayaquil (B, L)
Today guests will enjoy a full day to discover, at a leisurely pace, the beauty and charm for which Cuenca has been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Its red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special. Lunch is served at a cozy restaurant. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Guayaquil. Transfer and accommodation at Hampton Inn or similar in Guayaquil.
MONDAY Guayaquil / Galapagos (B, L, D)
Flight to the Galapagos Islands.
Arrival by plane to Baltra Island and immediate transfer by bus (5 minutes) to the dock to board the MV SANTA CRUZ. Cabin assignment and introductory welcome talk. Later, lunch, and ship's boat drill.
Visit to Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) (Santa Cruz Island)
TUESDAY Galapagos Islands (B, L, D)
Disembark at Bartolomé Island (dry landing) for a hike to the summit. Great way to start the day. This is a steep climb aided by a wooden staircase; the view from the top is worth the effort. Panga ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, time to enjoy the beach (wet landing) and snorkeling. Chance to snorkel next to Galápagos Penguins. There is also the possibility to ride on the glass bottom boat for great views of the underwater world. Lunch on board.
Puerto Egas (Santiago (James) Island)
Afternoon outing at Puerto Egas (wet landing). This is a great location to see particularly shore birds, while land birds can be observed a little more inland. The pitch black shores are great places for watching sea birds and their foraging duties. The trail brings us to a colony of the endemic Galápagos fur-sea lions. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon emerald green algae beds. Outstanding snorkeling and swimming from the beach before the walk. ECO Moment and briefing. Weather permitting, stargazing on deck.
WEDNESDAY Galapagos Islands (B, L, D)
Rabida Island (Jervis)
Disembark at Rabida Island (wet landing) on a red-colored beach, due to the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic material. A gratifying stroll along the beach of this small island (1.9 sq. mi.) allows the observation of a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin's Finches. Very close to the beach, hidden behind a strip of green saltbush, is a salt pond where Greater Flamingos can be seen; these spectacular birds feed exclusively on the brine shrimp found in this saline pond. From June to November a large colony of pelicans nest in the surroundings. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach, both for beginners as well as for experienced snorkelers, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes. During navigation to our next island, we will keep our eyes open for dolphins.
Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island)
Afternoon disembarkation (dry landing) to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the rearing in captivity program for the giant tortoises. Here we witness the efforts and results of all the field work done in the name of science. Impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest and many land birds can be also seen. Then, a stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora will allow you to see how Galapagueños live in this magical paradise. Good opportunity to contact friends and family from an Internet Cafe or browse in the many handcraft shops. Return aboard the MV SANTA CRUZ for tonight's ECO Moment, and expedition plan for next day's adventure.
THURSDAY Galapagos Islands (B, L, D)
Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
A morning bus ride will take guests to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island for a special breakfast at a selected property. Then, guests have the opportunity to view the islands' most famous reptile: the giant tortoises in their wild habitat. What a privilege to see an endangered species roving in this lush environment! The vegetation of the area includes the Scalesia Forest (an endemic giant daisy tree) and birds such as the vermilion flycatcher, will delight everyone with its scarlet feathers against an emerald green forest. Look for Darwin's finches (most of them from the tree-finch group), particularly the famous Woodpecker Finch. Back on board the MV SANTA CRUZ.
North Seymour Island
Today's afternoon starts with a dry landing for a view of the coast and the interior of North Seymour Island, one of the few uplifted islands in Galápagos Archipelago. The trail leads guests to explore colonies of blue footed boobies, Magnificent frigate birds, and swallow-tail gulls. The sandy shore teems with Galápagos sea lions and marine iguanas. Vegetation is made up of cacti, Palo Santo trees and Salt Bushes, and here is where land iguanas may be observed. ECO Moment, and expedition plan for tomorrow's outings.
FRIDAY Galapagos Islands / Guayaquil (B)
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal (Chatham) Island) Disembark at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. This small attractive port is the provincial capital of the Galápagos Islands (population 4,000), along a crescent-shaped bay. It was this very same island that Charles Darwin first visited, back in September 1835. Visit the San Cristóbal Interpretation Center, located in a natural setting, where it allows visitors to obtain information that will help them understand more the natural history of the Galápagos, with a great emphasis on human history and conservation. Afterwards, you can stroll through Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, where souvenir shops and Internet cafés welcome world travelers who are willing to catch up with the world, and share the many wonders witnessed, before heading back to the mainland. Transfer to the airport to take the flight back to Guayaquil city, arriving in the afternoon. Transfer to you hotel (Hampton Inn or similar) and overnight.
SATURDAY (B) Guayaquil / Home (or to your next adventure)
Transfer to the Guayaquil international airport.
• Flights Cuenca-Guayaquil
• Accommodations, meals and excursions as indicated
• Airport departure taxes
• flights not specified
. Galapagos Park Entrance Fees
• Meals not mentioned
• Items not specified in itinerary
Includes air fare from Cuenca to Guayaquil
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