Best Of Ecuador & Galapagos Wildlife

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Run by: Rainbow Tours

Reference number: ITN-GAL010

From: £7195.00

From deep in the Amazon rainforest, surrounded by a lush canopy of green, to the wildlife haven of the Galapagos Islands, this holiday lets you experience firsthand some of the best wildlife that Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands have to offer. In the Amazon, stay at an eco-lodge and explore small tributaries and waterways by dug out canoe, explore the rainforest under the cover of darkness and get a bird's eye view of the jungle canopy from observation towers as the sun rises. Once in the Galapagos, days are filled with a host of activities such as snorkelling, hiking and wildlife watching. Experience landscapes, flora and fauna unique to this incredible destination.

Itinerary

Day 1 Depart the UK today on your overnight flight to the Ecuadorian capital of Quito via Bogota.

Day 2 Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the heart of the old town. This UNESCO World Heritage area is the perfect location to stay with its maze of cobbled streets, picturesque plazas flanked with colonial architecture and ornate churches.

Day 3 Today on a private city tour, explore the highlights of Colonial Quito. This is a city of narrow cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed walls , the city's many steeples and cupolas rise above the numerous ornate historic churches. Quito has one of the best preserved colonial centres in all South America, and it was declared a World Cultural Heritage site in 1978. For fantastic views of the city and the encircling volcanoes and mountains, visit the El Panecillo lookout point, instantly recognisable by the Virgin of Quito statue at its summit.

Day 4 Today fly to Coca, the gateway to the Ecuadorian Amazon. From here board a motorised canoe as you travel down the river to your jungle lodge, home for the next 3 nights. Getting here is certainly part of the adventure and upon arrival, enjoy lunch and settle in before your first excursion into the forest commences. After dining, venture out on your first night-time adventure.

Day 5 A typical day in the Amazon begins at sunrise or earlier, taking advantage of the cool morning hours when the rainforest’s animals are most active. You might begin the day paddling dugout canoes along tannin-rich black-water creeks and lakes, where luxuriant lianas, orchids, bromeliads and palm trees thrive, always with the possibility of spotting animals, from the tiny pygmy marmoset to the feared ocelot or puma. Then, you could board the motorised canoe for a short ride along the Napo River to visit a local community, learning about their jungle way of life and testing out their cooking techniques, stopping to watch the parrot disco of the clay lick along the way. You will return to the Lodge in the late morning, in time for lunch. In the time between lunch and your afternoon adventure, you are free to enjoy the Lodge, lounging on sun chairs with a book, or cooling off in the lake. Activities begin again between 3:00pm and 4:30pm and often continue into the evening, when the nocturnal insect and frog chorus begins. An afternoon excursion might see you trekking through pristine Terra Firme forest, where 150-foot kapok trees tower above and roots form huge buttresses to give trees support, your guide pointing out the crest owl territory and calling to the howler monkeys. Days at the lodge do not end with the fading of the light, or even with dinner. Night walks and canoe trips, with the aid of flashlights, often reveal creatures seldom seen during daylight. Caimans (of the alligator family) and giant insects rule the jungle after sunset.

Day 6

Day 7 Return to Quito today by air from Coca. Spend a night here relaxing before heading off to the Galapagos tomorrow!

Day 8 This morning, transfer to the airport for a flight to the Galapagos via Guayaquil. Once on San Cristobal Island, you will be taken to your floating home for the next 7 nights. In the afternoon Visit the El Junco Lagoon. Located in the highlands, 19km from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, El Junco is located in the caldera of an extinct volcano. The highlight here is the beautiful lagoon that fills the crater of the extinct volcano, fed by rainwater. Frigate birds and occasionally some species of local water birds are spotted.

Day 9 In the morning visit Witch Hill, otherwise known as Cerro Brujo. Located on the northern coast, this eroded hill and its surroundings present one of the most picturesque beaches in the Galapagos with its white powdery sand and the abundance of animals. Wildlife includes sea turtles, rays, and various types of booby birds. The clear water provides an excellent opportunity for enjoying swimming and snorkeling. Highlights here include beautiful rock formations, sea lions, shore birds, finches and mockingbirds, snorkeling with tropical fish, anemones, sponges and coral. In the afternoon, visit Punta Pitt, a tuff formation that serves as a nesting site for many sea birds including all three types of boobies – blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca, both frigatebird species, swallow-tailed gulls, storm petrels, shearwaters and brown pelicans. Punta Pitt is considered one of the best sites for birds in the archipelago, and is also home to a colony of sea lions. At Pitt Rock, snorkel or swim with sea lions and colourful fish such as King Angel and Surgeon fish.

Day 10 This morning visit Suarez Point. On the trail you will have the chance to see blue-footed boobies, albatrosses, and Nazca boobies. This island is the breeding site of nearly all of the world’s 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses. Between April and December, they are known to perform their wild mating ritual. You will also visit a beautiful site on the ocean front where there is a cliff that the large albatrosses use as a launching pad! Marvel at the famous blowhole that spurts sea water into the air. Highlights include spotting the Hood mockingbird, Nazca boobies, waved albatross (from the last week of April until the last week of January), red-billet tropicbirds, lava lizards, Galapagos hawk, blue-footed boobies, large cactus finches and marine iguanas. This afternoon takes you to the spectacular Gardner Bay. Walk across a lovely white-sand beach amongst a busy sea lion colony or dive into the water to swim with sea lion pups. You may also see curious mockingbirds on the beach. Highlights here are the colourful marine life and the sea lion nursery.

Day 11 This morning head to Floreana Island’s northernmost point - Punta Cormorant – named after the British naval vessel HMS Cormorant and dating back to the late 19th century. From the landing beach a short track leads to a shallow lagoon that is famous for its flamingos. The brilliantly pink birds skim the salty waters for shrimp and tend to chicks on the nest. The trail then scales a low hillside through scattered Palo Santo trees to reveal an idyllic white-sand beach on the other side of the point. Standing at the edge of the lapping waves, look out for mammoth female sea turtles hauling themselves out of the sea to lay eggs in the sugar sand dunes that lay high above the tide line. For the birders White-cheeked Pintails, Blue-footed Boobies, Yellow Warblers, and Medium and Small Ground Finches can be found here. In the afternoon, visit the famous Post Office Bay. You will land on a beach and head to a spot where 18th century whalers placed a wooden barrel used 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!

Day 12 This morning, head into the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Accessible by bus from Puerto Ayora, the highlands of Santa Cruz are a deep green which contrast beautifully with the dry, lower part o...

This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website

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