This is a Group Tour
2022 Rate: 16 Days From £6,986 pp / $8,243 pp (Single Supplement £502)
A classic journey starting in city of Quito and driving north to the famed market town of Otavalo. Try bartering in the poncho plaza, walk by crater lakes and volcanoes of northern Ecuador. Stop to enjoy Quito, the first UNESCO cultural world heritage site. Then head south through the Avenue of Volcanoes, visiting Cotopaxi National Park, linger at lush tropical waterfalls near Baños and wander through Inca ruins at Ingapirca. Marvel at the spectacular snow-capped Andean scenery. Absorb the history of beautiful colonial Cuenca and the highland wilderness of Las Cajas National Park. Spend the following week discovering the rich wildlife of the Galapagos Islands from the tall-mast sailing ship, the Mary Anne.
All accommodation, activities, transfers
8-day Galapagos cruise on board the Mary Anne
English speaking naturalist guides and drivers
full ATOL financial protection
Galapagos park fee and transit card $110
Wander through the cobbled historical streets of Quito
Andes Avenue of Volcanoes and Cotopaxi and Chimborazo
Guided tour of Ingapirca Inca site
Cuenca city and Las Cajas National Park
Galapagos cruise with optional swimming with sea lion pups and turtles
To book this tour or start creating your own tailor made itinerary call us on: 0207 407 1478 (UK) or contact us.
2022 Rate: 16 Days From £6,986 pp / $8,243 pp (Single Supplement £502)
2023 Rate: 16 Days From £7,105 pp / $8,383 pp (Single Supplement £623)
Day 1: Otavalo – Arrive Quito transfer to Otavalo / Hotel Otavalo
Day 2: Otavalo – Otavalo market, Cuicocha lake / Hotel Mama Cuchara
Day 3: Quito – City tour of Quito with expert guide / Hotel Mama Cuchara
Day 4: Cotopaxi – Hike Cotopaxi N.P and visit rose plantation / Hacienda Manteles
Day 5: Banos – Excursion to Pailon del Diablo / Hacienda Abraspungo
Day 6: Cuenca – Ride the Devil’s Nose train, continue Cuenca / Hotel Cruz Del Vado
Day 7: Cuenca – City tour of Cuenca / Hotel Cruz Del Vado
Day 8: Guayaquil – Visit El Cajas en route to Guayaquil / Hotel Rio Guayas
Day 9: Galapagos – Fly to the Galapagos and visit Black Turtle Cove / Mary Anne
Day 10: Galapagos – Visit Darwin Bay and Prince Philip’s Steps / Mary Anne
Day 11: Galapagos – Visit Bartolome and Sullivan Bay / Mary Anne
Day 12: Galapagos – Visit Rabida Island and Cerro Dragon / Mary Anne
Day 13: Galapagos – Visit Mosquera Islet and Punta Carrión / Mary Anne
Day 14: Galapagos – South Plaza Islands and Santa Fe / Mary Anne
Day 15: Galapagos – Visit Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez / Mary Anne
Day 16: Galapagos – Visit the Charles Darwin Centre and fly back to mainland
THE LONG ITINERARY
Day 1 – Friday: Otavalo
On arrival at Quito airport, our guide will be waiting for you to transfer to the hotel in Otavalo. The drive is 1½ hours into Imbabura Province, named after the most beautiful mountain in Ecuador.
Stay at Hotel Otavalo
Day 2 – Saturday: Otavalo
Otavalo has the biggest and most important indigenous market in all Latin America. The colourful handicraft and textile market spills into the streets from the main square. Whilst on the outskirts of town is the cacophony of the animal market. The nearby fruit and vegetables market is overwhelming with colours. The Otavaleños expect to haggle a bit for the price of souvenirs. Continue North to visit Cuicocha Lake, a caldera below active Cotacachi volcano. Take an optional boat ride on the lagoon to a steaming vent, before heading back to Quito. Stay in the historic old town.
Stay at Hotel Mama Cuchara (B)
Day 3 – Sunday: Quito
Depart to the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) complex. Take the obligatory photo whilst straddling the Equator. There is a monument housing a museum, beside a replica Spanish Colonial village. This site was highly significant for the ancient Andean people who worshipped the sun and cosmos thousands of years ago.
Head back to city to explore the colonial heart of Quito by foot. Walk down quaint cobbled streets lined with brightly coloured colonial houses, with terracotta tiles and balconies dressed in flowers. The centre is watched over by the winged Virgin of Quito, which stands on top of the ‘Panecillo’ a volcanic feature named for its bread-like shape.
On the south side of Plaza Grande lies one of the oldest cathedrals in South America, an impressive, white-walled building with green-glazed ceramic domes. A block away is Iglesia de la Compañia, a Jesuit church overflowing with Baroque art covered in gold. The great Plaza de San Francisco and its church have been a centre of market activity since pre-Inca times and still buzzing with life.
Stay at Hotel Mama Cuchara (B)
Day 4 – Monday: Patate
Head south along the Avenue of the Volcanoes towards Cotopaxi province. Enter Cotopaxi national park, drive to the plain of Limpiopungo, a lake below the volcano Rumiñahui. At the water’s edge wildlife comes alive: ducks, swallows, frogs and toads, and you may spot an eagle or maybe the great Andean Condor. It is home to nesting Andean Gulls, and the wild horses of Cotopaxi often can be seen grazing in the far distance. Take a walk across the paramo moorland, you might see hawks, foxes, llamas, and maybe deer. Lunch is served in the Hosteria Tambopaxi with stunning views of Cotopaxi. After this visit a nearby rose plantation. Continue south to Baños, to spend the night.
Stay at Hacienda Manteles (B/L)
Day 5 – Tuesday: Baños – Riobamba
From Patate drive down the Andean valley to Baños, located at the foot of Tungurahua volcano, and gateway to the Amazon Basin. Many waterfalls plunge into the gorge of the Pastaza River, around 300 metres deep. At Rio Verde, walk on a path through the cloud forest to ‘the devil´s cauldron’ a waterfall that has eroded a big circular crater. For the more adventurous, there is a small tunnel carved in the rock to the back of the waterfall, a wet walk due to the spray. Return to the vehicle for the drive to the next province, Chimborazo, where lunch is served at a hosteria with a stunning view of Chimborazo volcano. Further south reach the small town of Riobamba, for the night at a country inn.
Stay at Hacienda Abraspungo (B/L)
Day 6 – Wednesday: – Cuenca
Chimborazo is the highest volcano in Ecuador, with an altitude of 6,268 metres above sea level. Once in the foothills of this colossus, visit the reserve to learn about this Paramo ecosystem. The flora and fauna have adapted to extreme weather conditions. After this, continue to Ingapirca, Ecuador’s most important archaeological complex. The ruins are built of perfectly carved stones that fit together seamlessly. The temple of the Sun was used for ritual ceremonies of the Cañari and Inca. After this visit, continue to Cuenca, a city with a charming historic colonial centre.
Stay at Hotel Cruz Del Vado (B/L)
Day 7 – Tuesday: Cuenca
Enjoy a walking excursion of colonial Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador. With its cobbled streets, colourful squares, and markets it’s a beautiful city to explore and a UNESCO world heritage site. Visit the imposing Cathedral, enjoy a stroll along the Tomebamba riverbank promenade and marvel at the myriad blooms on offer at the daily flower market. You also visit one of Cuenca’s famous Panama hat factories where you can see how these famous straw hats are made (yes despite the name these hats originated in Ecuador not Panama). The afternoon is your own to explore at leisure. Cuenca has a proud intellectual tradition that has produced more notable writers, poets, artists and philosophers than anywhere else in Ecuador and it’s easy to feel inspired yourself. Head to the main plaza sit back relax and soak up the atmosphere.
Stay at the Hotel Cruz Del Vado (B)
Day 8 – Friday: Cajas National Park – Guayaquil
This morning head out of the city driving west towards Guayaquil. Along the way you will stop at El Cajas National Park where you will have some time to explore. The park has an astounding array of flora and fauna and over 240 different sized lagoons. Then descend through cloud forests and tropical plantations of rice, cacao, banana, and pineapple towards the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The tropical lowlands offer a complete change of landscape. Arrive in Guayaquil Ecuador’s main port and check into the Hotel Rio Guayas. If time permits take a wander to the Parque Bolivar, Plazas, the Moorish clock tower and Malecon 2000.
Stay at Hotel Rio Guayas (B)
Day 9 – Saturday: Galapagos cruise
Early this morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Galapagos. When you arrive you will be met by the naturalist guide and crew and transferred to the port to board the beautiful 16 passenger tall-mast sailing ship, the Mary Anne. All meals, excursions and guides are included on board. This will be your home for the next eight days. Each day you will make at least two excursions to different islands, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. There will be a series of presentations each evening by the naturalist guide to help you learn more about the geology and wildlife of the archipelago. After a spot of lunch, you will navigate to Black Turtle Cove, a large mangrove lagoon on Santa Cruz Island. Here you will take a panga ride to view turtles, sharks, pelicans and schools of golden rays. Return to the yacht for a relaxed evening. (B/L/D)
Day 10 – Sunday: Galapagos cruise
This morning travel to Genovesa Island and reach Darwin Bay. Here you will make a wet landing and hike along the red mangrove and cacti forests in search of red-footed boobies and great frigatebirds. After lunch visit Prince Philip’s Steps and climb the cliff to an impressive nesting site of frigatebirds, Nazca boobies and red-footed boobies. You may also see the red-billed tropicbird and Galapagos storm petrels. Return to the yacht in the late afternoon. (B/L/D)
Day 11 – Monday: Galapagos cruise
After breakfast make a dry landing on Bartolome Island and climb the wooden steps to reach the summit of this spatter cone for breathtaking panoramic views of Pinnacle Rock and neighbouring Santiago Island. In the afternoon arrive in Sullivan Bay on Santiago and walk over the recent lava flow. Along the shoreline you will find Galapagos penguins and herons who are searching for fish. Return to the yacht in the late afternoon. (B/L/D)
Day 12 – Tuesday: Galapagos cruise
Today you will arrive at Rabida and make a wet land. The beach here is deep-red and the island’s saltwater lagoon is home to Darwin’s finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, yellow warblers and much more. After lunch you will head across to Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island where another saltwater lagoon reveals greater flamingos, black-necked stilts, white-cheeked pintails and land iguana nesting sites. (B/L/D)
Day 13 – Wednesday: Galapagos cruise
Step ashore the beautiful white coralline beach on Mosquera Islet this morning, home of the largest colony of Galapagos sea lions on the archipelago. Here you will do a short wildlife hike and have plenty of time for snorkelling with the marine life from the beach. After lunch back on the yacht you will take a panga ride around Punta Carrion to take in the landscapes and observe wildlife, ending the day with more snorkelling in the shallow turquoise waters. Return the yacht in the late afternoon. (B/L/D)
Day 14 – Thursday: Galapagos cruise
This morning, make a dry landing on one of the Galapagos’ oldest docks on Plaza Sur. This island is home to vibrant green prickly pears, deep-red Sesuvium and coppery-orange land iguanas. The impressive cliffs are excellent for a variety of coastal birds. In the afternoon visit Santa Fe Island where you will search for the endemic land iguana, larger and yellower than any others. The largest prickly pear cacti is found here also. Return to the yacht in the late afternoon. (B/L/D)
Day 15 – Friday: Galapagos cruise
This first half of the day will be spent at Gardner Bay on Española where an outstanding beach full of sea lions, marine iguanas and Española mockingbirds can be found. In the afternoon arrive on Punta Suarez and take a spectacular walk along a trail that reveals nesting sites of blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies and the waved albatross. Marine iguanas, lazy Galapagos sea lions and much more can also be found here. End the day at an amazing viewpoint of the famous blowhole. Return to the yacht in the late afternoon. (B/L/D)
Day 16 – Saturday: Guayaquil
This morning you will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to view the giant Galapagos tortoises and learn about the breeding program. In the late morning you will be taken to the airport for your flight back to the mainland and onward journey. (B)
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