Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
- 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.
- Quito – the highest capital city in the world: experience life at over 9,000ft. Explore the precise middle of the earth, where latitude and longitude zero converge.
- Amazon: journey to the edge of the Amazon rainforest and experience a completely different ecosystem from the high Andes and Galapagos Islands.
- The Throat of Fire: journey down the Avenue of Volcanoes to the active eruption known as “The Throat of Fire.” At night, when this volcano is active, it’s like nature’s own fireworks.
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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 delegation manager and taken to our hotel where we will have dinner and a good 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. Following lunch we will 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 – Indigenous Markets and Volcanic Lakes|
|Today we head north to Otavalo where we will visit one of the largest indigenous markets in South America. The Otavalo Indians are known for their woven products, rugs, “shigras” (woven bags) and hand carved wooden products. Later we will see Tsui-cocha which is known in English as The Lake of the Gods, a beautiful lake located in the crater of an ancient volcano. Our visit concludes with a visit to the artisan town of Cotacachi which is famous for its leather products. This evening we will learn to cook Pizza at a local restaurant.|
|Day Four – Soaking in Hot Springs at 10,000 feet|
|This morning we depart Quito and head to the thermal baths of Papallacta, a famous hot spring on the on the way to the Amazon. The hot spring is located at an altitude of more than 10,000ft above sea level. There are a number of thermal pools located on the property and we will spend the afternoon soaking in the warm waters and enjoying the scenery of the high Andes.|
|Day Five – Down, Down, Down to the Amazon Rain Forest|
|Early this morning we head down to the Amazon Rain Forest. During our drive we will descend from over 10,000ft to 1,500 feet. The temperature will change from the cool temperatures of the Andes to the steamy heat of the Amazon jungle. Our home for the next few nights is a tranquil Amazonian refuge located on the shore of Ecuador’s majestic Napo River. Perched comfortably above the riverbank and the small Quechua Indian village of Ahuano, La Casa del Suizo, an Eco lodge surrounded by tropical rainforest.|
|Day Six – The Amazon!|
|Today is an opportunity to explore the wonders of the Amazon. Working with your eco guide you will be able to choose from a variety of activities. You may decide to travel like a local up river to the primary rain forest. There your guide will explain how the Amazonian Indians of the area use plants for food, shelter and medicine. You may decide to visit AmaZoonico, a shelter for injured and abused animals. Their mission is to rehabilitate animals that have been found or confiscated from animal traders and set them free. You never know what you may get to see at AmaZoonico. Later you could decide to float down the river on an inner tube. If you are interested in butterflies you may decide to arrange a visit to a butterfly farm where 20 species of butterflies are bred. The guide will explain the lifecycle of the butterfly, show you the various stages of development and walk through “The Flying Room” where you can see butterflies feeding from various plants. Perhaps you will decide to visit a local indigenous tribe where they will demonstrate the many uses for the Yucca plant and demonstrate the use of blowguns.|
|Day Seven – Ascending the Andes|
|This morning we will head back up the Andes to our destination for the evening, Patate where we will spend the night in a traditional Hacienda. On the way we will visit Baños. This city is also called “The Door to the Amazon Jungle” is located at the foot of the Tungurahua volcano. After lunch we will visit the Pailon Del Diablo waterfall and then continue on to the Hacienda.|
|Day Eight – Cotopaxi, the Sleeping Giant|
|After breakfast, we head to the Cotopaxi National Park, which is located 70 miles south of Quito, in the middle of the Avenue of the Volcanoes. Snow capped Cotopaxi is the most picturesque of the Ecuadorian volcanoes. Later we will visit a flower farm to learn about this important industry and flower export. We then return to Quito for the evening.|
|Day Nine – On to Darwin’s Galapagos Islands|
|Very early this morning we head to the airport for our flight to the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands have very strict rules about what can be brought onto the islands to protect the fragile environment so the airport procedures take a little time to complete. Upon arrival in Baltra we will be transferred to Primicias Ranch which is known for the giant tortoise that migrates to this area in search of food, shade and water.|
|Day Ten – Flamingos and Turtles and Sharks! Oh My!|
|Early this morning we will leave Santa Cruz with a speedboat to Isabela Island, the biggest island of Galapagos. When we arrive in Puerto Villamil, we will tour the bay and the Tintoreras, a group of small islands just off the coast of Puerto Villamil. Here we will experience encounters with sea lions, penguins, and countless fishes in the bay. There is also a small channel where we will observe sharks. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to visit to a flamingo lagoon and you will visit a turtle breeding center on the island.|
|Day Eleven – Volcanoes, Lava Lizards and Haciendas|
|After an early breakfast we will enjoy a full day tour to the Sierra Negra volcano, the second largest crater of the world, located just 13 miles from Puerto Villamil. Lunch will be at a farm, Hacienda Campo Duro, where we will learn about farming in the Galapagos, the history of the people that live here and will be able to taste some of the delicious local fruit which is cultivated on the island. In the afternoon, we visit the “Muro de Las Lagrimas” (Wall of Tears), an impressive place built by prisoners of a penal colony. The path to the Wall of Tears is abundant with lava lizards, the males are larger and striped and the females red-throated.|
|Day Twelve – Marine Iguanas, Sea Lions and Giant Tortoise|
|Today we will travel to Puerto Ayora by Speedboat. After arrival we visit Tortuga Bay; this is one of the most beautiful beaches of Galapagos where marine iguanas, pelicans and sea lions occur in abundance. A short walk through a forest of Opuntia cactus leads to the ocean where we can swim surrounded by the creatures that Darwin studied. After lunch we will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station where we will learn about the evolution of the islands. This is also a breeding center of giant tortoise from all over the islands and our guide will point out the distinctions between the various species and explain their adaptations to the varied environments of their native islands.|
|Day Thirteen – Farewell Darwin, Farewell Galapagos, Farewell Amazing Ecuador|
|Sadly today we return to the airport at Baltra and prepare for our journey back to the United States via Quito.|
|Day Fourteen – Arrive Home|
|Our overnight flight back to the US will get you home bright and early so you can get a head start on exercising your new bragging rights.|