Combine the highlights of Ecuador & Galapagos and experience some of the best accommodation on offer.
Whilst in Quito stay at one of the cities finest hotel, the Illa Experience. This new beautifully stylish yet modestly extravagant hotel is located in the heart of the city. Whilst in town, explore the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site of the historic centre, visiting the ornate churches, cathedrals and markets.
Head out into the cloud forest for a stay at Masphi Lodge, one of the country's most famous properties as featured on BBC's Life Beyond The Lobby. The lodge is an enchanting haven tucked away in a private reserve and offers guest the offortunity for prime birdwatching, cloud forest exploration both from the jungle floor and their very own sky bikes as well as fantastic nature walks.
Next stop is the mysterious and intriguing archipelago of the Galapagos; observe wildlife from close quarters, explore a colourful underwater world and marvel at otherwordly landscapes. Accompanied by expert naturalist guides, take to the Galapagos in style aboard the wonderful Ayla catamaran.
End your adventure at the wonderfully charming Hacienda Zuleta. Surrounded by the stunning Andes, relax on the property enjoying delicious home cooked food, its luxurious lounge areas and in the vast gardens. Alternatively, explore the surrounds on horseback, on foot or by bike; look out for spectacled bears, condors (wild and at thier condor rehabilition centre) and some of the best scenery in the country.
Day 1 Depart the UK today on an overnight flight to Quito via Bogota.
Day 2 After your overnight flight from the UK, arrive in Quito mid-morning and transfer to your hotel in the heart of the historic old town. Spend the next two nights at the wonderful Illa Experience hotel. This historic house strongly reflects the elegant style of the mansions of Quito in the early 20th Century. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
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 Leave Quito today to head into the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest. Arrive at the entrance of the Mashpi Cloudforest Biodiversity Reserve which covers 1,300 hectares and is a sanctuary for wildlife. Stop at the Hummingbird Viewpoint to find out more about these birds and enjoy a drink. Wend your way up by electric buggies to the lodge itself and enjoy a refreshing welcoming drink and lunch. There are afternoon activities which vary dependant on group size, weather and ability. Meet your Naturalist Guides before dinner and enjoy an optional night walk.
Day 5 If you wish to enjoy the forest at dawn when the birds are active there are early morning activities. After breakfast leave the lodge to explore the area and spend the day enjoying nature walks and meals. The property has its own Sky Bike, for guests to get a birds eye view from the canopy. Climb the observation tower to spot monkeys, birds and take in the panoramic views. Ride the Dragonfly - an open-air gondola to observe the reserve from overhead. Discover numerous trails, waterfalls and abundant flora and fauna accompanied by expert naturalist guides.
Day 6 Return to Quito today, enjoying the contrasting landscapes as you return from lush forest to the Andes. Before departing Masphi there is time for one more excursion so head out on a forest trail, swim in a different waterfall or find a little nook to allow the whole experience to sink in. Upon arrival to Quito, the rest of the day is at leisure before heading off to the Galapagos tomorrow!
Day 7 Today you will leave Quito, flying out to the Galapagos Islands. Landing at Baltra airport you will take a small ferry across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island and then be driven to the port to board your Galapagos cruiser. The luxurious Ayla cruiser will be your home for the next 4 nights. In the afternoon visit the island of North Seymour. Look out for Galapagos sea lions, blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds. The island was formed by a series of submarine lava containing layers of sediment that were uplifted by tectonic activity. The island is characterised by its arid vegetation zone and abundant land and marine life.
Day 8 This morning visit Darwin Bay, this white sand coral beach offers a nice walk that then wends through mangroves filled with land birds. Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls can be spotted here. Further down the path are tidal pools where sea lions swim playfully. Look out for Nazca boobies, red- footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls. Underwater, keep your eyes open for rays, colourful reef fish and hammerhead sharks. In the afternoon visit El Barranco. Also known as Prince Phillip's Steps, El Barranco’s steep, rocky paths leads up to a high cliff-face. A marvellous view can be appreciated from here. This site is also home to palo santo vegetation as well as red-footed boobies, short-eared lava owls, Galapagos swallows, and Galapagos doves.
Day 9 This morning visit Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island. There is a beautiful white coral sand beach, where you can walk, swim and snorkel amongst the wildlife of marine iguanas, sea lions, sea turtles, flamingos, dolphins and sharks. Santiago Island is the perfect place to experience the unique wildlife and volcanic origin of the Galapagos. The coral beach leads to a lava field as far as the eye can see, a truely amazing volcanic experience! This afternoon, enjoy an invigorating climb up the wooden staircase on iconic Bartolome Island. The dramatic views of this volcanic spot of land stretching out in front of you are definitely worth the climb. After this walk take a dinghy ride round to the magnificent Pinnacle Rock, a volcanic cone resulting from the exploding magma from an underwater volcano. The beach here is perfect for snorkelling and there are possible sightings of Galapagos penguins.
Day 10 This morning visit Dragon Hill. Situated on Santa Cruz Island, Dragon Hill is one of the newest visitor sites accessible to tourists in the Galapagos Islands. One of the lengthier Galapagos walking trails will lead visitors along a beach and up a trail to the lagoon lookout where bright flamingos, pintail ducks, and land iguanas can be spotted. In the afternoon, stop at Black Turtle Cove. This inlet is surrounded by mangroves and is only accessible by dinghy. The shallow cove is a safe haven for young marine life. Black-tip and white-tip reef sharks, sea turtles, and a variety of rays are often spotted here.
Day 11 Today the Galapagos for your flight back to Quito. Upon arrival you will be driven to Otavalo for the next two nights. Stay at Hacienda Zuleta, once home of an Ecuadorian President, the property is a 4,000-acre working hacienda with general agriculture, forestation and dairy farming operations. Surrounded by the stunning Andes, relax on the property enjoying delicious home cooked food, its luxurious lounge areas and in the vast gardens.
Day 12 Today is at leisure to enjoy Hacienda Zuleta. There are a variety of excursions included in the package, hike to the hacienda's condor rehabilitation project or visit the hacienda's cheese factory, it's embroidery workshop and learn all about the farm’s purebred horses. ...
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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