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Best of Ecuador
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Best of Ecuador

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 12 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 8 people
Destination(s): Ecuador  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey   National Parks  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2746 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 3093 US Dollar (USD)

Independent Vacation (min 2 people):

Day 1: Arrival in Quito. Arrival in Quito, greeting at the airport and private transfer to Hotel in Quito. This service includes tips to porters at airport and hotel. Balance of day at leisure. Overnight 3 nights in Quito.

Day 2: Private Scenic Tour of Quito. In the morning your private guide and driver will collect you from your hotel for your private half day scenic tour of this ancient city. The capital of Ecuador has a setting that few cities can match. During the 13th century it was the prosperous center of the Kingdom of Quitus. It later became the northern capital of the Inca Empire. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Colonial architects built formidable temples, monasteries and mansions, creating an urban jewel designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

Day 3: Day of Leisure. A free full day today - if you wish to do an additional tour of special interest, please let us know in advance. Alternatively you might like to just keep this day free

Day 4: Quito to the Ecuadorian Amazon. The journey to Ecuadorian Amazon (considered the best) begins in Quito, Ecuador`s capital city. From here, a 25 minute flight takes you over the Andes Mountains` majestic snow-covered peaks and down over 8500 feet (2600 meters) into the town of Puerto Francisco de Orellana. Here, a covered motorized canoe will be awaiting you for a 21/2-hour, 50-mile (80-kilometer) trip down the Napo, the largest river in Ecuadorian Amazonia.

Along the way, you will feast your eyes upon the numerous shore birds, including herons, kingfishers, spoonbills and ospreys. Upon arrival to Sacha Lodge`s 3200-acre (1300-hectare) private reserve, guests will take their first walk along a raised boardwalk through dense flooded palm forest to Pilchicocha lake, a blackwater paradise where dugout canoes (and even paddlers!) await to carry you to the Lodge. Overnight 3 nights at Sacha Lodge.

Days 5-7: Sacha Lodge. Sacha Lodge takes pride in the international quality of its meals, and our chefs will be happy to prepare special dishes for vegetarians. The lodging at Sacha was carefully designed to offer comfort to the traveler yet preserve the environment and rainforest ambience. Each of their 10 double cabins, with high thatched roofs and private shaded terraces, is constructed with traditional materials and nestles well concealed in the lush surroundings. Guests may use free time to enjoy a raised lookout above our bar and lounge, which offers a scenic view of Pilchicocha Lake and excellent opportunities to birdwatch. Electricity is provided by a distant, nearly inaudible generator. Private, modern bathrooms provide hot showers. All cabins are screened against insects and contain two comfortable double beds.

Sacha Lodge`s guests will be divided into small groups, each of which will be led by a native guide with expert knowledge of the rainforest`s medicinal and other useful plants, and a bilingual naturalist guide, educated in the biology and ecology of the area. Activities are spread out over a wide area and allow visitors to explore several distinct but equally fascinating habitats. Your days at Sacha usually begin at sunrise or earlier so as to take advantage of the cool morning hours when the rainforest`s animals are most active. Each group may decide on is own waking and breakfast hours, as well as the level of difficulty and length of outings. In the afternoon, visits begin between 3:00 and 4:00 and often continue into the evening, when you will be serenaded by the nocturnal insects and frogs.

Several trails lead through pristine terra firme forest, where 150 foot kapok trees tower above and roots form huge buttresses to give trees support. Others follow strategically raised boardwalks in seasonally flooded forests, where walking on the ground would be nearly impossible during most of the year due to groundwater. One trail many choose to follow even leads across fallen tree trunks and a steel cable zip-line through rich swampland! A favorite activity of our guests is to paddle dugout canoes along tannin-rich black-water creeks and lakes, where luxuriant lianas, bromeliads and palm trees thrive. Swimming and piranha fishing are also activities not to be missed... but don`t worry! Piranhas are scavengers and the guides will prove that swimming is perfectly safe! For adventurous souls, the day does not necessarily end with dinner. Night walks and canoe trips, with the aid of flashlights, often reveal creatures seldom seen during daylight. Caimans (of the alligator family) and giant insects rule the jungle after sunset... Do you dare search for them?

Day 7: Ecuadorian Amazon to Quito. This morning after breakfast after an amazing 3 night stay at Sacha Lodge you will begin your journey back to Colca for your flight back to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito, you will greeted by a private transfer for your overnight stay in Quito. Overnight 1 night in Quito.

Day 8: Quito to Riobamba. Transfer to the old train station of Quito to start the adventure. The one car autoferro, which resembles a bus that runs of metal wheels along the train tracks, is ready to depart towards the south. As the autoferro advances along the ancient railway, the mood aboard makes you adjust to another tempo, and leisurely enjoy the way of traveling of past centuries. One of the highlights of the trip is to ride the roof with a panoramic view of the stunning Andean region of Ecuador. The autoferro ascends to the station of El Boliche, within the National Recreational Area of the same name, which is covered with pine trees, planted in 1928 as a scientific experiment to prove that foreign conifers could adapt to high-altitude ecosystems. White-tailed deer and many bird species have found an excellent refuge in these forests. Continue the voyage along the Avenue of the Volcanoes among magnificent natural scenery, to visit an Indian market.

Farm products, wares and handicrafts are displayed everywhere on the plazas and the colorful fruits, vegetables and costumes provide countless opportunities for taking pictures. After lunch, continue toward the impressive mount Chimborazo, and visit the train station of Urbina, the highest point in the Quito & Guayaquil railway. Here is an Indian hut to observe the way of life of the inhabitants of the Andean region, the produce of the Andes and a loom to see the weaving process. There are also llamas and sheep. At the house of the station - which is used for climbers to acclimatize before ascending the Chimborazo- a typical hot drink of cinnamon and firewater (canelazo) is served. There is also a small workshop where tagua nut objects are being hand made. Continue on to Riobamba for a short visit of the city. Overnight 1 night in Riobamba.

Day 9: Riobamba to Cuenca. After an early breakfast, transfer to the train station to board the autoferro for a scenic ride to Alausi. Twist and turn over the Andes, tunneling through rocky impasses, bridging ravines and river gorges. Ride past Cajabamba, Riobamba`s original location, now beneath a huge scar on a hillside from the devastating earthquake of 1797. On the shore of Colta Lake is the Church of Balbanera, the oldest in Ecuador, built by the Spanish in 1534. Arrive to Alausi 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 Alausi. Disembark in Alausi, and board the motorcar to continue the trip by road along the Andes towards the south. Arrival to Ingapirca for a visit to the Inca Ruins of Ingapirca.

Upon arrival at Ingapirca stop at the on-site museum, and admire the stone fortress with several trapezoidal doorways and stone walls perfectly fit together, without mortar, of the Inca construction. There is an elliptical platform, known as the Temple of the Sun used for religious and ceremonial purposes, the barracks, the stone Inca Face and the zoomorphic carvings. Box lunch en-route. Continue on to Cuenca to arrive at dusk. Overnight 2 nights in Cuenca.

Day 10: Cuenca. Cuenca is Ecuador`s third largest city; yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Its red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special. 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. This is a walking tour in the colonial downtown area of Cuenca, an opportunity to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of its people, the colorful parks and plazas, religious monuments and handcraft shops, plus an explanation of Cuenca`s history. Lunch is served at one of the cozy restaurants of the area. In the afternoon, visit a workshop where Panama straw hats of the best quality are made and then drive up to the hill of Turi to admire the city. The last visit is to the Museum of the Central Bank, and its very interesting ethnographic museum featuring lifesize figures of the many different Indian groups that inhabit Ecuador.

Day 11: Cajas National Park & afternoon flight onto Guayaquil. Excursion to Cajas National Park. A jacket and walking shoes are necessary when heading for the area of Cajas, 19 miles (30 Km.) west of Cuenca. Cajas is lake country, a protected 28,800-hectare area starting at 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) above sea level; the region shows remains of intense volcanic activity and glaciation. The highest point is reached on the road at Three Crosses, the water divide of those than go to the Pacific and to the Atlantic.

The wind and drizzle can make it very cold, but the scenery surrounding these 230 lakes is splendid, for walking and hiking, for observing flora, fauna and bird life. The vegetation includes small forests of quinua trees, a high protein grain. These dwarf forests are home to many species of birds like hummingbirds and the gray-breasted mountain toucan. The cold lakes of Cajas are full of trout, which is prepared in various ways for lunch. Return to Cuenca in the afternoon and transfer to the airport for the return flight. Upon arrival in Guayaquil you will be meet at the airport by a local guide and driver for your transfer to your hotel. Overnight for 1 night in Guayaquil.

Days 12: Guayaquil to Galapagos Islands. Today after breakfast you will fly to the Galapagos Islands, the flight take approximately 2 hours. Arrive normally before midday and you will be transferred to your selected cruise. Please see Cruising the Galapagos under Galapagos Islands in Ecuador to select your cruise and cabin type.

Note: Please check the departure dates of each of the flights, we will re-arrange your itinerary to fit if needed with consulting. Dates for all cruises should be checked.

Last Day: Departure from the Galapagos. On the last day after breakfast we fly you back to Guayaquil to connect with your on-going flight.

- Low Cost (minimum 3 stars)
- Standard (minimum 3 stars)
- Superior (minimum 4 stars)
* Luxury Packages are also available.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- First Class Sightseeing & Transfers
- Day 4: Quito. Flight to Puerto Francisco de Orellana
- Days 4-7: Ecuadorian Amazon. 4days/3nights Sacha Lodge including transfers, meals and guided sightseeing
- Day 7: Puerto Francisco de Orellana. Flight to Quito.
- Days 8-11: Ecudorian Amazon. 4nights/3nights Chiva Express including all meals and guided sightseeing
- Day 11: Cuenca. Flight Cuenca to Guayaquil
- Day 12: Guayaquil. Flight to the Galapagos Islands
- Last Day: Galapagos Islands. Flight to Guayaquil.

Price Excludes:
- Galapagos NP fee of $100 per person to be paid in cash upon arrival
- INGALA Tax of USD$10 per person payable at GYE Airport
- International Departure Tax from Guayaquil of USD$42 per person.

Note: We recommend you to submit the request at least 2 months in advance to the approximate time of travel. This is to avoid disappointment as spaces are strictly limited per departure.

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South America   Ecuador   Local Culture   Cultural Journey   National Parks