Galapagos and Ecuador – 9 Day
- Galapagos Islands – encounter animals you’ll see nowhere else on earth.
- Swim with sea lions, see the remarkable Blue Footed Booby and witness the recent eruption of The Wolf volcano.
- Observe flamingoes, penguins and all kinds of lizards in their natural habitat.
- Meet Giant Turtles at Darwin Station and learn about Darwin’s theories.
- Hike volcanoes and explore lava tubes.
- Quito – the highest capital city in the world: experience life at over 9,000ft.
- Explore the precise Middle of the Earth to learn about the phenomena that occur only there.
- Experience the historic Otovalo market and engage with Ecuador’s native people.
Full Program Itinerary
|Day One – Welcome to the Top of the World|
|Today we fly to Quito, the capital of Ecuador and the highest capital city in the world. (9,350ft above sea level!) Upon arrival, we will be met by our Travel Manager and local staff, who will begin our introduction to Ecuador as our motorcoach winds through the highlands from the airport into Quito. Once settled into our hotel, we will have dinner, a short briefing and then get a much-needed night’s rest.|
|Day Two – The Middle of The World|
|This morning our guide will meet us and we will explore the old city of Quito with its beautiful plazas and examples of Spanish architecture dating back to 1534. We will visit the spectacular Society of Jesus Church, which offers the best expression of the Baroque architectural style found anywhere in Latin America. Following lunch, we’ll drive to “The Middle of the World”. The geographic center of the Earth is located a short 30 min drive from Quito. Guides will demonstrate strange phenomenon that occur at the equator. Did you know that you weigh less at the equator? Can you balance an egg on a nail? Our visit will reveal all.|
|Day Three – Let the Island-Hopping Begin!|
|This morning, we’ll fly out to the Galapagos Islands. When we arrive at the Baltra airport, our expert naturalist guide will orient us to the adventures and discoveries that lie ahead. We’ll make our way to the main town of Santa Cruz Island, Puerto Ayora (yes, there are people who actually life on these islands). This afternoon, we’ll take a speed boat to the biggest island in the Galapagos: Isabela Island. Here, we will visit the famed and colorful Flamingo Lake and begin to learn about the staggering diversity of life waiting to be discovered on each individual island, and in the sea.|
|Day Four – Volcanoes, A Hacienda & Marine Life|
|After an early breakfast, we’ll head to the Sierra Negra volcano, with the second largest crater in the world. You’ll want your cameras at the ready to capture the spectacular views over this rare landscape. Then we’ll head out for lunch at a typical hacienda, where you can also taste the fruit cultivated in this water-starved region. This afternoon, we’ll explore “Tintoreras,” a group of small islands near Puerto Villamil. You’ll meet some friendly sea lions, the rare Galapagos penguins and you won’t believe the diversity of fish that thrive in the shallow sea. There’s also a small channel where you can observe sharks!|
|Day Five –Darwin Station, Giant Turtles & Surreal Lava Tubes|
|We’ll start our day by boating to Santa Cruz, where we’ll visit the famous Charles Darwin Research Station. We’ll learn the facts about Darwin’s experiences in the islands, his research and the theories that were born here. Then we’ll learn everything you’ve always wanted to know about Giant Turtles at the breeding center. You’ll learn about characteristics, behaviors and habitat while observing different generations up close. Then we’ll hike to the highlands of Santa Cruz, with its deep green topography, which contrasts dramatically with much of the dry lower islands. We’ll also explore the fascinating phenomenon of lava tubes, some of which are over half a mile long underground chambers. Walking through the tubes is a unique, surreal experience.|
|Day Six – Dry Forest, Sea Lions & Blue Footed Boobies|
|Today we’re headed to San Cristobal, where we’ll explore the island’s unique Dry Forest. We’ll see an incredibly diverse array of cacti, acacia, palo santo and Galapagos cotton. Along trails of lava rock we’ll hike toward Frigate Hill, with splendid views of the coastline. We’ll encounter the local array of Galapagos wildlife, such as frigate birds, blue footed boobies, brown pelicans, gulls, herons and land birds including Darwin finches, warblers and mockingbirds. By now, your understanding of the biological and ecological importance of these islands will be taking shape.|
|Day Seven – Tying it all Together|
|On our last morning in the islands, our Guide will take us to the San Cristobal Interpretation Center. This is an important educational center where we’ll learn more about the history of the islands in their natural, human and conservation contexts. We’ll get answers to lingering questions and you can put some of your own theories to the test with your naturalist island experts. Once our visit concludes, we’ll head to the airport for a flight back to Quito.|
|Day Eight – Otavalo|
|This morning we’ll board our motorcoach and drive North on the “Panamericana” to Otavalo. This is home to a colorful Indian market that has endured at the “Plaza del Poncho” for many years. This is an ideal place to explore the diverse cultures and traditions on display, while admiring the clothing typical for local native people. It’s also an excellent place to purchase leather and woven products, rugs, “shigras” (colorful straw or linen woven bags), as well as hand-carved wood products, and many other items. Next, we’ll visit Cotacachi and their well-known “leather stores.” Our final afternoon will include a visit to Cuicocha Area, considered one of the most beautiful natural reserves on earth. After a farewell dinner, we’ll have to prepare for our journey back to the United States.|
|Day Nine – Farewell Amazing Ecuador|
|After breakfast this morning, we’ll transfer to the airport and board our flight back to the US. We’ll probably sleep most of the way home, so we can hit the ground ready to start exercising our new bragging rights.|