Nature Tour – Galapagos Cruise

Enjoy a wonderful trip around Ecuador from Quito to Guayaquil  and Galapagos Islands

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ITINERARY

Day 1: Sunday. Quito IN

Arrival at Mariscal Sucre Airport, Quito. Transfer to Hilton Colon Hotel.

Accommodation: Hilton Colon Hotel 4+*

Check in – 14:00

Day 2: Monday. Quito City Line

Breakfast.

Quito city tour is perfect for seeing fascinating panoramas, churches, domes and roofs that have an important historical value. You will admire and learn about colonial art, architecture, culture, legends, and traditions. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city and stands at an altitude of 9.350 feet. Despite the 1917 earthquake, the city has the best-preserved, least altered historic Center in Latin America. The architecture and rich interiors, are pure examples of Quito School of sculpture, which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art. After four incredible hours exploring the Old Town, you’ll understand why Quito was the world’s first city named to UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage list.

Lunch at El Crater Restaurant.

At the afternoon, you will visit: “Cuidad Mitad Del Mundo” and Intiñan Museum

  • “Ciudad Mitad del Mundo”

“Ciudad Mitad del Mundo” is the touristic, cultural, scientific and commercial smallest city of Ecuador. Its architecture is based on colonial style. An obelisk and a museum relevant to its geographical location were built at the Middle of the World site. All of this is found among the drastic landscape surrounded by nature and modern buildings. The monument is crowned by a metallic sphere that represents the Earth. It is named Equatorial Monument and it geographical orientation coincides with the four cardinal points and is located precisely at Earth’s midpoint — 0 degrees latitude, 0 minutes, 0 seconds.

  • Intiñan Museum

Since the year 1960, the Intiñan Museum in Quito has been a center for the promotion of the many aspects of Ecuador’s culture.  This museum offers interactive exhibits on how the Incas determined the middle of the earth, plus interesting science experiments such as balancing an egg on a nail.

Return to the hotel.

Accommodation: Hilton Colon Hotel 4+*

(Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 3: Tuesday. Quito - Baños

Breakfast.

After breakfast we will drive to the famous Quilotoa Crater Lake from Quito through the Panamericana  “The Avenue of the Volcanoes”.

Before going to Quilotoa, we will visit a beautiful rose farm, to learn everything about the process of growing, harvesting and exporting roses.

On our way we will pass by the Tigua workshop and admire some impressive local artwork with impressions of life in the Andes.

At our arrival to the Quilotoa Loop, we will appreciate an emerald green lake inside the crater of an extinct volcano with steep jagged cliffs. We are going to trek into the crater to the lake shore and the return to the top of the crater is a mule ride. Kayak on the lake (optional).

Accommodation: Luna Runtun  4+*

(Breakfast,Dinner)

Day 4: Wednesday. Baños - Riobamba

Breakfast.

Baños is known as “The Gate of the Amazon Region.” Baños are located on the outside of the eastern range of the Andes. It is the perfect place to relax and explore. This small town is famous worldwide for its natural crystalline waterfalls.

Here you can see how it is made the famous “marshmallow” (candy, which is made from sugar cane).

Baños is the main tourist attraction for adventure, there are several ways to enjoy nature through hiking, horseback riding, cycling and rafting.

We will start the city tour and the visit the waterfalls: “Agoyán”, “Manto de la Novia” and “Pailón Del Diablo” and enjoy the “Swing at the End of the World”.

Continue to Riobamba.

Accommodation: Hacienda Abraspungo 4 *

(Breakfast)

Day 5: Thursday . Riobamba - Cuenca

Breakfast.

After breakfast you will continue driving south to the train Station of Alausí. On your way to Alausí you will visit the church of Balbanera. Enduring the pass of time, this is one of the oldest catholic churches in Latin America built by Sebastian de Benalcazar in 1534.

At Alausí you will board the train for a thrilling adventure with a 45-degree descent by a zigzagging railway built in the ledge of the Condor Puñuña Mountain, known as La Nariz del Diablo. This engineering achievement finally allowed to connect the coast with the Andes region and brought a new era for the republic of Ecuador.

After visiting the reserve, we go to the ruins of Ingapirca. Ingapirca is the largest and best preserved archaeological site in Ecuador, is located 80 km from the city of Cuenca, in Cañar province. It was built with millions of hewn stone in the middle of the eighteenth century. In the complex you can see the different architectural units, among which stands the Temple of the Sun, which have an elliptical shape 37 feet long and 12 meters wide, was used to perform ceremonies and rituals Cañari-Inca culture. In addition, you can observed the oldest building Ingapirca Pilaloma which consists of a series of rectangular rooms.

After visiting the ruins we will go to Cuenca, here you can rest and enjoy your free time.

Accommodation: Santa Lucia Hotel 4*

(Breakfast, Box Lunch)

Day 6: Friday . Cuenca

Breakfast.

Cuenca, 2560 m. high (8400 feet), the third largest city in Ecuador and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated in a fertile valley in the southern highlands of Ecuador. Cuenca has kept its old-world architectural charm and its colonial ambience. The Old Town is best visited on foot. Our tour takes you along the cobblestone streets admiring the historic buildings, hanging balconies, carved wooden doors, the craft fair and colorful flower market, the main plaza with the Old Cathedral, which has been converted to the “Museum for Religious Art”, and the magnificent blue-domed Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. See silversmiths at work and handicrafts of almost every kind. You end the tour with a visit to the “Panama Hat” factory.

Accommodation: Santa Lucia Hotel 4*

(Breakfast)

Day 7: Saturday Cuenca - Loja

Breakfast.

In the morning we will visit Mirador de Turi, is one of the most popular excursions in Cuenca. Turi is located in the perfect place to bask in the breathtaking panorama of the entire city of Cuenca. Then we will continue to visit the Panama Hat Factory. The factory has become a popular place to visit) because the museum provides daily tours to the public on the past and current ways of producing the different kinds of panama hats.

After lunch we will continue to the Saraguro Community. The Saraguro people are very welcoming and willing to show us part of their daily life, turning this trip into one of the best experiences of rural, agro and community tourism. They are very proud of their indigenous roots so they wear their typical customs and practice ancestral rituals.

We will continue to Loja.

Accommodation: Grand Victoria 4*

(Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 8: Sunday. Loja - Podocarpus - Vilcabamba

Breakfast.

After breakfast we will visit Loja. Including the “gates of the city” The gates of the city are modeled after the Coat of Arms of the city, presented by King Felipe II of Spain in 1571. The gate is on Av. Gran Colombia, and houses four galleries which show contemporary Lojano artwork, and a cafeteria and gift shop. A stunning view of the city is found by climbing the clock tower. Loja contains a number of historic churches; the city’s board of tourism has approached finding them in a novel manner. Beginning at the Puerta de la Ciudad, one of the first thing a tourist will notice is a large orange stripe painted on the sidewalk. Following the stripe takes the interested tour of the main historic churches and areas of Loja.

Also we will visit the Jipiro Park. It covers an area of 10 hectares, and features some architectural replicas of famous buildings from around the world. Among its main attractions are the Cathedral of San Basilio Moscu – Russia, a Chinese Pagoda, an Indian temple, the Colonial Bridge, an Arab Mosque, the Euro-Latino Castle, the Sun Door, and more.

After visit Loja, we will continue to the Podocarpus National Park, is a park located in the provinces of Zamora Chinchipe and Loja, in the south-east of Ecuador. It was created in 1982. In the park you can find a great variety of landscape and habitat leads to high biodiversity of flora and fauna. The native vegetation of this area, lush and varied, so the National Park is considered Poducarpus Botanical Garden of America.

We will continue to Vilcabamba, called the Valley of Longevity. Vilcabamba was little known by outsiders until scientists discovered that a strikingly large percentage of residents were over a hundred years old.

Accommodation: Izhcayluma 3*

(Breakfast, Box Lunch)

Day 9: Monday. Vilcabamba - Jocotoco

Breakfast.

In the morning we will visit the Jocotoco Foundation; established in 1998 to protect land of critical importance to the conservation of Ecuador’s endangered birds and associated biodiversity not otherwise protected by Ecuador’s existing system of protected areas. The Foundation primarily achieves this aim by purchasing lands and managing them as ecological reserves.

The Lodge is settled in the lower portion of Buenaventura Reserve, at 500 m elevation. This reserve is home of a remarkable set of flora and fauna, including almost 300 bird species, many of them being endemics. Special climate conditions have resulted in a wide variety of habitats used by birds.

You will have the opportunity to stroll through the forest, accompanied by a guide who will tell you all the secrets of the reserve. Walking through the forest takes from 1.5 to 4 hours, depending on the chosen trail.

Accommodation: Umbrellabird Lodge 4*

(Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner)

Day 10: Tuesday. Jocotoco - Puyango - Guayaquil

Breakfast.

After breakfast we will visit Puyango. The Puyango Petrified Forest, or the El Bosque Petrificado de Puyango, is a very unusual reserve. It is home to the largest known area of exposed petrified wood, of which a lot comes from the Araucarias family – a tree that is not often fossilized. Forests like this are not easy to come by, as trees that are dying will normally just decompose. However, here we have an excellent example of fossilized trees and marine fossils due to the dry nature of the ecosystem. The marine fossils that you will find in the forest occur because of the area having once been completely under water. The area is estimated to be about 500 million years old. Apart from the intriguing tree fossils you can also see a wonderful array of wildlife. There are more than 130 different types of bird species to be found here throughout the year, with equally beautiful butterfly species.

We will continue to Guayaquil. On the way, we will visit a  banana plantations (optional).

Accommodation: Wyndham Guayaquil 4*

(Breakfast,Lunch)

Day 11: Wednesday. Guayaquil - Galapagos

Breakfast

Transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands.

Assistance will be provided for you when you arrive to the airport by one of our representatives after you have landed.
You will arrive at San Cristobal Island in the morning. After passing through immigration and baggage claim you will be met by Cormorant staff and transferred to the yacht. You will be shown to your cabin where you will have some time to settle in before lunch and a welcome briefing.

In the afternoon you’ll be able to enjoy a dinghy ride and snorkeling around Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), also known as the Sleeping Lion because of its resemblance.  This site is located off the coast of San Cristobal.  There are remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea and two vertical rocks rising 500 feet above the ocean which forms a small channel that is navigable by small boats.  This Galapagos Island’s natural monument has become a favorite sight for cruises due to the many tropic birds, frigatebirds and boobies that fill the surrounding area.  Beneath the sea the crystal waters offer a brilliant sight of colorful tropical fish and invertebrates.

Possible Activities: Snorkeling & Dinghy Ride
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Landing: No Landing (Kicker Rock/Leon Dormido)
Highlights: Deep water snorkeling, sharks, tropical fish, turtles, manta rays (occ.), hammerhead shark, spectacular rock formations, sea birds such as Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies & frigatebirds; second best place to snorkel in Galapagos.

Accommodation: M / C Cormorant 5 *

(Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner)

Day 12: Thursday. Galapagos Islands

In the morning, we will begin the day at Suarez Point on a trail where you will have the chance to see Blue-footed Boobies, albatrosses and Nazca Boobies. We will also visit a beautiful site on the ocean front where there is a cliff that large albatrosses use as a launching pad! You’ll also have the chance to see the famous blowhole that spurts water into the air. The landscape is great for photography.
Possible Activities: Hike (1.9 mi / 3 km)
Difficulty: Difficult
Type of Landing: Dry Landing
Highlights: Hood Mockingbird, Nazca Boobies, Waved Albatross, Red-billed tropicbirds, lava lizards, Galapagos Hawk, Blue-footed Boobies, blow hole, amazing landscape.

In the afternoon, we will visit the spectacular Gardner Bay & Osborn Islet .  After landing, you can walk across a lovely white sand beach amongst a busy sea lion colony or dive into the water to swim with sea lion pups.  It is also the breeding site of nearly all of the world’s 12,000 pairs of Waved Albatrosses.
Possible Activities: Snorkeling, dinghy ride, kayaking, short hike of (0.6 mi / 1km)
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Landing: Wet Landing
Highlights & Animals: White sandy beach, sea lions, mockingbirds. Snorkeling: colorful fish and sea lion nursery.

Accommodation: M / C Cormorant 5 

(Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner)

Day 13: Friday. Galapagos Islands

We will visit two sites on Floreana Island. Floreana is known for its fabulous snorkeling sites, its vibrantly pink flamingos and its black sand beaches.
We will head to Cormorant Point in the northern part of Floreana. Here, land on a green colored beach from the olivine crystals it is composed of. Enjoy a hike to a salt-water lagoon which is home to flamingoes an other sea birds. The trail continues to another beach known as Flour Beach because of the very fine white-sand particles it is made of, it is also really important to turtles that nest there. You will also get to swim in Champion, one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos Islands.
Possible Activities: Hike, Dinghy Ride & Snorkeling (1.2 mi / 2km)
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Landing: Wet Landing
Highlights: Sea lions, flamingoes, rays, olive crystals, rock formations.

In the afternoon, we will visit the famous Post Office Bay and Baroness View Point. You will land on a beach and head to a spot where 18th century whalers once placed a wooden barrel for use as an unofficial mail box. The custom continues to this day with Galapagos visitors. So, don’t forget your postcards, and don’t be surprised if the post card arrives to its destination before you even get home!   Baroness View Point offers spectacular views of the coastline and is a great place to learn more about the endemic Mangroves.
Possible Activities: Short hike (less than 0.6 mi / 1km) & snorkeling, historical views
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Landing: Wet Landing
Highlights: Barrel Post Office, nice sandy beach, Mangrove forest, great views of coastline.

Accommodation: M / C Cormorant 5 *

(Breakfast,Lunch,Dinner)

Day 14: Saturday. Galapagos Islands

In the morning we start at the Charles Darwin Station- Breeding Center “Fausto Llerena” home to turtles ranging from 4-inches (new hatchlings) to 4-feet long.  Here you will observe the various sub-species of turtles interacting with each other, and possibly with you.  Many of the older turtles are accustomed to humans, and will stretch out their heads for a pet.  The babies are only kept until they are about four years old, or large enough to survive in the wild.  These conservation efforts continue to be extremely successful.
Possible Activities: Walking, rocky beach to observe iguanas and crabs, interaction with tortoises
Difficulty: Easy
Type of Landing: Dry Landing
Highlights & Animals: Giant Tortoises, land and Marine iguanas, variety of birds.

After this final visit, you will be transferred to Baltra’s airport in time to catch your flight back to the mainland.

(Breakfast)

INCLUDES:

  • Private transportation and tours with English Speaking Guide in Mainland Ecuador as described on the itinerary;
  • Shared transportation and tours with English speaking guide in the Galapagos Islands as described on the itinerary;
  • Accommodation as listed on the itinerary;
  • Meals as listed on the itinerary;
  • Entrance fees as listed on the itinerary.

NOT INCLUDED:

  • Flight to/from Galapagos Islands;
  • Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee / USD 100 pp (subject to change);
  • Ingala Transit Control Card / USD 20 pp (subject to change);
  • International flights;
  • Travel Insurance (opti0nal)
  • Health insurance (obligatory);
  • Tips;
  • Personal expenses;
  • Items not specified.

 ITINERARY subject to change without prior notice