Ecuador Highlands and the Galapagos Islands
Private roundtrip transfers airport/hotel
Transportation between islands
Entrance fees to sites & excursions as specified in Itinerary (shared)
Meals as indicated (B-breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)
International & domestic air tickets and airport taxes
Meals not specified on the itinerary
Tips & gratuities
8 NIGHTS / 9 DAYS
Day 1: Quito
Arrival in Quito and transfer from the airport to the hotel. Overnight in Quito.
Day 2: Quito (B)
Explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas, visiting some its most important churches such as the impressive Cathedral, majestic Compañía and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. We begin the tour the quirky Guapulo quarter, take in the Congress building, before heading to the Old Town. We finish the day at the “Panecillo” hillside with its breathtaking views of the old and modern city surrounded by the rolling Andes mountains. As an addition to the Quito Colonial City Tour, we travel to “La Mitad del Mundo” complex. Its monument is located at latitude 0º 0º 0º, and provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to straddle both hemispheres, or hop between the two in the blink of an eye. The monument forms the focal point of a park and leisure area with gift shops and restaurants. The site occupies an important place in the solar-based Andean cosmovision, since ancient Andean people were aware of its significance many thousands of years ago. The Ethnographic Museum at the complex provides a fine overview of Ecuador’s varied cultures and geography. Overnight in Quito.
Day 3: Highlands and Otavalo (B, L, D)
First stop at the village of Calderon, known for the making of bread dough figurines. Enjoy the marvelous indigenous market and a series of different sites around Otavalo. After visiting the market, head to San Antonio de Ibarra, known for its woodwork, and enjoy a delicious lunch in a nearby historic colonial hacienda. In the afternoon, visit Ilumán, an indigenous community dedicated to hat production and famous for its traditional healers, shamans. Overnight at a hacienda.
Day 4: Otavalo-Cotacachi-Quito (B, L)
Visit Cotacachi, dedicated to leather manufacture, where you can find amazing quality in leather designs. Then head up to Cuicocha, a beautiful lagoon located in a crater, with two small central islands in the middle of a spectacular setting. Lunch in a centuries- old hacienda or Hosteria. In the afternoon, visit Peguche, a small town famous for its wonderful textiles, visit to weavers at their looms and admire local handicrafts. Return to Quito. Overnight in Quito.
Day 5: Galapagos Islands (B, L, D)
Transfer to airport for your flight to Galapagos. Transfer to Anahi Catamaran. Guides will meet you, collect your luggage and escort you on the short bus ride to the harbor. Motorized rafts, called ‘Pangas’ will transport you to the M/C Anahi and our crew will welcome you onboard. After departure and lunch, the first island visit is made.
Afternoon: Plaza Island
These are two small islets that were uplifted a short distance from the East Coast of Santa Cruz. The unusual vegetation and location of the island create an interesting landscape in which the fauna and flora of Galápagos are enhanced. Moreover despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the archipelago occur here. It is possible to guarantee the observation of land iguanas that often are in the shade of a cactus. Nesting on the rugged southern cliffs, are usually swallow -tailed gulls, which seen along with various other sea birds. The protected rocky seashore is a prime habitat for a large colony of noisy sea lions.
The principal attraction of Plazas is the land iguanas, the sea lions and the swallow – tailed gulls. Also we can see yellow – tailed mullets, Audubon’s shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and brown pelicans gliding past the cliff.
Day 6: San Cristobal Island (B, L, D)
The interpretation centre was built with the cooperation of the Spanish Science Centre. It gives a very good introduction to the Galapagos islands, its marine and land life, fauna and flora. It is located in the outskirts of the small city of Pto. Baquerizo Moreno, which is the capital of the Galapagos Province. The trip to the Hill takes approximately 20-40 minutes. Once there, visitors are treated to a spectacular view of the white beaches on one side and the roofs of Puerto Baquerizo on the other. Here it is possible to see Magnificent Frigatebirds and Great Frigatebirds in the same colony. This is the perfect place to compare and learn to distinguish them. This site offers some safe snorkelling without strong currents. It is great for beginners. You can find stingrays, barberfish and butterfly fish.
Afternoon: Isla Lobos (Sea Lion Islet)
This small islet, located only an hour by boat from Pto. Baquerizo Moreno is separated from the main Island by a narrow stretch of calm water. Upon its rocky shores, blue-footed boobies nest and sea lions rest. The atmosphere is one of tranquillity and primitive beauty. This shows a very typical Galapagos environment.
Day 7: Española Island (B, L, D)
Morning: Española island – Gardner Bay
Located on the northeastern coast of Hood, Gardner Bay provides an excellent beach for relaxing, swimming and an opportunity to observe sea lions. Here we can also observe sharks on the crystalline waters of the ocean
Afternoon: Española Island -Punta Suarez
This rocky point of land sustains one of the most impressive and varied colonies of seabirds in the Galápagos. Along its southern shore, high cliffs rise up from the sea affording the visitor spectacular views of soaring birds and of the blowhole, where water spouts up to 50-75 feet into the air according to the intensity of the surf.
Day 8: Floreana Island and Post Office Bay (B, L, D)
Morning: Floreana Island – Cormorant Point
This site probably, offers one of the largest and the best flamingo lagoon in the Galapagos. It is situated between two tuff cones that give the area a special atmosphere. There are various species of shorebirds to be seen besides flamingos, the most frequent are common stilts, white-cheeked pintail ducks and other migratory birds. This is a unique zone due to the high percentage of endemism in the plant life. Is also very interesting the two distinct beaches: the “green beach’ (due to high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand) and the “Flour sand beach” made up of coral.
Afternoon: Post Office Bay
Historically, this site is the location of a wooden barrel that was placed in the 18th century by the crew of a whaling ship. It has been used since this time by mariners and tourists as a post office. The idea is to carry letters or postcards to their destination by hand. Apart from being the Post Office Barrel, this site was the landing area for some of the first colonists.
Day 9: Santa Cruz Island (B)
Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come here to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are carried out. One of the principal attractions is National Park information centre, Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises, Lonesome George (tortoise from Pinta), adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.
After your visit to Charles Darwin station, transfer to the airport in Baltra for your flight back to Quito and connect to a flight back home or to an on-going destination.