Ecuador & Galapagos Natural Wonders

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Run by: Rainbow Tours

Reference number: ITN-ECU010

From: £5070.00

Discover the diversity of Ecuador and the Galapagos on our ultimate wildlife lovers escape. Begin in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Quito and explore the newly restored historic colonial centre before heading 25kms out of town to the Equatorial Monument at latitude 0˚, which marks the exact middle of the world. Transfer by road to the rainforest and spend the next three days at Masphi Lodge where the experience is all about discovering life in the tree tops, trekking along trails, listening to animal calls, bathing in pure waterfalls, or simply relaxing with a view of clouds playing hide and seek with the forest. Head back to Quito for a night then transfer by plane to board your 4-night Galapagos cruise on Yacht Isabela, a mid-sized boat established as one of the islands' top vessels.

Itinerary

Day 1 Quito is set in an Andean valley between volcanic peaks; the scenery here is reason enough to visit. Discover the culture rich museums, beautiful monasteries and stunning golden altars of the churches which give Quito its UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status. There are plenty of cosmopolitan art galleries too, filled with sculptures, contemporary paintings and incredible traditional crafts. Spend the night at Casa Gangotena.

Day 2 Spend today taking in more of Quito. Highlights including the Independence Plaza, the Presidential Palace, the Archbishop's Palace, the Cathedral and the Municipal Building. Visit the Monastery of San Francisco which has a striking façade and atrium that lead to its elaborate interior influenced by Moorish style.. This is one of the great religious buildings of the New World. The temples of La Compañía de Jesús also have incredible gilded interior and are a must see. Next take a short journey by taxi to the Middle of the World. Here you can stand with a foot on each hemisphere. Inside the monument you can explore the Ethnographic Museum which depicts the different Native American groups who live in Ecuador. There is also a town with a main square, gift shops, restaurants and even a bullring. Before you leave you can collect a certificate that states you have crossed the Equator.

Day 3 Leave Quito by coach and pass the Equator Monument and Latitude 0 on your way to the Pacific Ocean. 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. Wind 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 you Naturalist Guides before dinner and enjoy an optional night walk.

Day 4 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.

Day 5 There is an early breakfast today and a morning activity. Check out and head for Quito visiting the intriguing archaeological site of Tuilpie en route. Wind your way up the Andes to the capital and arrive in Quito between 3 and 4pm. Spend the night at Casa Gangotena.

Day 6 Fly to the Galapagos Islands and board the Yacht Isabela for a a 4-night cruise of the fascinating Islands. Guests can enjoy all that Galapagos is famous for, from ancient giant tortoises to penguins, from sleek flamingos to bold sharks, from bizarre flightless cormorants to rugged marine iguanas. You may also spot whales and dolphins on your cruise to dramatic island volcanoes and breathtaking scenery. To top it all off you will visit the Galapagos Marine Reserve (the second largest in the world) on kayaks or on the glass bottom boat. There is also plenty of opportunity for swimming or snorkeling.

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Day 10 Disembark the Yacht Isabela for your flight to Guayaquil. On arrival you will be transferred to the Hilton Colon for an overnight stay ahead of your return flight.

Day 11 Transfer to Guayaquil airport for your homeward or onward flight.

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

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