Discover the fragility of the wonderful world of nature and mankind for which we are so blessed to experience on this planet. Experience the Galapagos Islands and emerge yourself in Ecuador’s Andean culture…

INTRODUCTION

This voyage of discovery begins in the genesis of creation that is the archipelago of the Galapagos Islands. Cast some six hundred miles into the Pacific Ocean no place on this planet comes close to their evolutionary luminescence. Our understanding of this planet has irrevocably changed since Charles Darwin first came ashore here in 1835. You are assured to be captivated and enthralled by this insight into mother nature. In addition, your mainland Ecuadorian adventure will see you undertake a cultural and scenic voyage into the heartland of Ecuador along the Valley of the Volcanoes. Hiking through spectacular volcanic landscapes, high Andean villages and as you pass the heartening experience of meeting, engaging and learning with local people. This luxury Galapagos and Ecuador vacation will create a special life space for you and redefine your being in this- our ever-changing planet.

QUICK OVERVIEW BY DAY:

  • Day 01 – Arrive Quito
  • Day 02 – Morning City Tour of Colonial Quito
  • Day 03 – Luxury Galapagos Cruise
  • Day 04 – Luxury Galapagos Cruise
  • Day 05 – Luxury Galapagos Cruise
  • Day 06 – Luxury Galapagos Cruise & Flight to Quito
  • Day 07 – Quito to Cotopaxi National Park
  • Day 08 – Cotopaxi to Riobamba
  • Day 09 – Riobamba – Alausi
  • Day 10 – Alausi – Ingapirca – Cuenca
  • Day 11 – Cuenca to Quito
  • Day 12 – Quito and depart
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Day 01 – Arrive Quito

Arrival to Quito Airport, collection by our representative and transfer to your Quito Hotel.

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Day 02 – Morning City Tour of Colonial Quito

We begin with a visit to the colonial heart of Quito founded in 1534 by Diego de Almagro. The city was made a UNESCO world culture site back in 1978 denoting its exemplary preservation of some of the finest building in all of the Americas. The finest churches are included on our tour of La Compania, the monastery of San Francisco and we follow with an insight to working life in Quito at La Ronda. To encompass the panorama of the city we will venture up Panecillo Hill aside the famous Virgin of Panecillo, where we will be able to admire the famous Panecillo’s virgin. Followed by lunch in the heart of the old city. In the afternoon we conclude our Quito visit at Republica del Cacao to enjoy and learn the secrets that have driven this brand to represent the ultimate Ecuadorian chocolate experience.

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Day 03 – Luxury Galapagos Cruise

This morning you will fly from Quito across the Pacific some 600 miles to the Galapagos Islands at San Cristobal Airport. You will be met by our representative and transferred to your cruise boat for an introductory briefing on your boat and safety procedures. In the afternoon we set course for Lobos Island and Kicker Rock. This is an excellent location to see pelicans, marine iguanas, sea lions, nesting frigates and blue-footed boobies. The sheltered channel also affords lucid waters for snorkeling to find sea turtles, white tipped sharks and even stingrays.

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Day 04 – Luxury Galapagos Cruise

This morning we arrive at Pitt Point on the east of San Cristobal Island. This location is the best in the islands to see blue, red and masked boobies in their natural habitat. The trek takes about three hours across a surreal volcanic landscape. After lunch, we will carry on to Witch Hill to take a panga boat trip under the carved rick formations of the sea. Your destination today is a secluded pristine beach which is home to sea lions and also an opportunity to partake in snorkeling along the shore. Watch out for the Sally Lightfoot crabs on the beach!

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Day 05 – Luxury Galapagos Cruise

Our arrival to Suarez Point on Española Island is with a mission to view the rare Waved Albatross that choose only this location for their breeding. Other birds too such as Galapagos Hawks and Red Billed Tropics frequent the island. A trek of about two hours allows us to explore the island and see some amazing marine iguanas in a rainbow of colors. Having taken lunch, we will set course for Gardner Bay at the Osborn Inlet. Our panga boat ride will offer opportunity for snorkeling in these calm sheltered waters to view sea lions, stingrays, green pencil urchins, parrotfish, butterfly fish and a host of other tropical varieties.

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Day 06 – Luxury Galapagos Cruise and Fly to Quito

This morning we come ashore at Bachas beach to marvel in its turquoise waters, sea-lions and the dark black lava shoreline, lofty sand dunes and witness the pink flamingos that abound around a salt-water lagoon. We conclude our cruise voyage with a visit to the interpretative center on Santa Cruz from where your guide will escort you to the airport and connect you to your onward flight to Quito. Overnight Quito Hotel.

All in all, your cruise will have enlightened you to the broad diversity of habitats that are so unique to the Galapagos. The most important thing you can bring away from your luxury Galapagos vacation is a new mindset of understanding the fragility of the wonderful world of nature for which we are so blessed to experience on this planet.

NOTE: Due to Galapagos National Park regulations, tour descriptions are subject to change at any time. Photos shown on this page are for reference only. The cruise ship included in the program may vary depending on the level you require and departure availability.

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Day 07 – Quito to Cotopaxi National Park

Today you will visit Cotopaxi National Park, home to the Cotopaxi and Antisana volcanoes and learn of their eruptions at the interpretative center. After gaining an insight to the region we will visit Lake Limpiopungo and do some hiking in this scenic location before venturing on a two-hour hike to J. Ribas refuge (4,800 m / 15,750 ft) on Mount Cotopaxi. The views here are breathtaking of the Northern Andean peaks in addition to the nearby glacier and the summit. We then descend to your overnight at the excellent El Porvenir Lodge.

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Day 08 – Cotopaxi to Riobamba

Today we will visit authentic and non-touristic Indian markets in nearby local towns. The market selection option depends on the day of travel. Following on from the market visit we head upward to the green lake at Quilotoa volcano crater and take a fascinating hike around the rim of the caldera. Your return journey will include a visit to the small village of Tigua, home to many traditional artists of the Andean tradition. Julio Toaquiza is a master of this craft and we will visit Julio in his studio. Here you will learn why his work is sought after for its bold and vivid colors, attention to detail and the social and cultural insights which his work portrays. All made possible from the deftness of his imaginative brushwork and clever use of his palette. We overnight at the Hacienda Abraspungo.

9

Day 09 Riobamba - Alausi

This day’s adventure will see you head for the heights of the paramos highlands of Chimborazo and the land of the llamas. We will take time to visit the local community of Palacio Real. Here we can contemplate their genuine efforts to preserve their rural highland traditions and pay homage to their beliefs at their museum of rural life. Your day today includes transport from Riobamba to Alausi. We overnight at Hostería La Quinta.

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Day 10 – Alausi - Ingapirca - Cuenca

On this special day you will embark upon one of the great train journeys of the ‘Devil's Nose’ with its switchbacks and spectacular views of the Andean landscapes. The line commenced operation in 1908 to connect Guayaquil on the coast to Quito in the high Andes Mountains. The line negotiates three kilometers of ascent in just fifty-six kilometers including the formidable wall of rock known as “The Devil’s Nose”. On your descent you will enjoy wonderful views of the Chanchan River and engage in some insights to the Puruhuas people of Sibambe. Here you will learn of their traditions such as the medicine people known as “jambiri” along with their mountain gods. Also, on this tour you will visit the Inca observatory and fortress of Ingapirca. A strategic Inca military site within Ecuador in addition to a place of ceremonial and ritualistic practices of the Inca -Cañari culture. You will overnight at the Santa Lucia Hotel Cuenca.

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Day 11 – Cuenca to Quito

Founded in 1557 Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca is set in a beautiful valley surrounded by a glorious Andean mountain backdrop. The fertile valley of the Tomebamba, Yanuncay, Tarqui and Machangara rivers was even inhabited before the Spanish colonists by the Inca -Cañari people. Today the city is a UNESCO world heritage site and the dome strewn skyline bears testimony to the wonderful authentic conservation of this colonial city. You walking tour today will lead you across cobblestone streets where life still holds an unyielding slow-paced connection with its natural and authentic surroundings.

12

Day 12 Quito and International Departure

Breakfast at hotel, private transfer to Cuena airport and flight to Quito. Connect to onward flight home. This luxury Galapagos and Ecuador vacation will leave you enlightened and enriched by a new understanding of the fragility of our natural planet and yet the resoluteness in living of a proud and welcoming Andean people.

TOUR INFORMATION

Our trips are tailor-made to suit your requirements. Contact a luxury Ecuador Vacation expert for a comprehensive itinerary and pricing:

  • US$ 750+ per person per day (based on 5-star hotels)**
  • US$ 700 – 750 per person per day (based on 4-star hotels)**
  • US$ 600 – 700 per person per day (based on 3-star hotels)**

**NOTE: The price of the trip varies greatly depending on the level of cruise and hotels that are included in your trip. Talk to a travel expert about the level of cruise and hotels that best meets your budget expectations.

Included in the Price:

  • Guided excursions as described in itinerary.
  • Hotel nights + breakfasts.
  • Airport collections and drop-offs with check-in and baggage assistance.
  • 24 Hour emergency contact number and assistance (in-country).

Not Included in the Price:

  • International flights.
  • Domestic flight package. Flights needed Quito – Galapagos – Quito / Cuenca – Quito. Approximate cost US$ 600 – 650. We can purchase these flights on your behalf.
  • INGALA Transit Control Card – US$ 20 pp (subject to change at any time).
  • Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee: US$ 100 pp (adult) / US$ 50 pp (child) (subject to change at any time).
  • Tips or gratuities.
  • Other meals not stated in the itinerary.
  • Travel insurance.

Summary
You can travel to the Galapagos anytime of the year. There isn’t really a good or bad time to travel, simply different times. When you travel could depend on the wildlife that you want to see, breading patterns or when the water is warmer for snorkeling. There are many considerations! December – February offers a warmer climate, and sea temperatures also start to increase meaning that you’ll probably not need a wet suit for snorkeling come February. Over Christmas and New Year cruise prices are usually higher and cruises are usually difficult to find (often booked up 12-16 months in advance). March – April: These are the warmest months of the year and an increasingly popular time to travel. During these months you’ll want air-conditioning in your hotel / cruise to offset the scorching sun. May – July: Temperatures in the Galapagos start to cool off, so a great time for exploring the islands. This is a popular period to travel, so booking with lots of anticipation is important during this period. Towards the end of these months, nighttime temperatures can get a little nippy, so you’ll need to be prepared with a light jacket or jumper. August – November: These are the coolest months in the Galapagos. This period is known as the “garua” period as the islands and seas are encapsulated in a light mist. If hiking in the highlands you may require a light water-proof jacket. August and September are known for having choppier seas. These months are good for snorkeling as the water is clearer, but due to the lower sea temperatures a wetsuit is usually required. This would be considered low season in the Galapagos.

For Quito and the Valley of the Volcanoes April – October is considered the dry season, with November – March the wet season. It is of course possible to travel any time of the year. want to be prepared with a rain-coat during the wet season.

Booking With Anticipation
We highly recommend that you plan your Galapagos vacation with as much anticipation as possible. It is not uncommon over holiday periods and during high-season (April – July) that cruises are booked up 12- 16 months in advance.

Departure Dates:
Dates are flexible and customized to meet your needs. Let us know which dates work best for you and we will tailor the itinerary accordingly.

Suitability:
This Galapagos and Ecuador vacation package is suitable for people looking for an active trip that includes medium level adventure. Due to the active nature of this trip we recommend a minimum age of 10 years for children. Cotopaxi National Park includes treks at high altitude (4,800 m / 15,750 ft), which is considered very high altitude. Consult with your doctor should you suffer from any medical issues that may affect your suitability for this trip.

Difficulty:
Moderate: This Galapagos and Ecuador travel package is suitable for most people. It is recommended to have a good level of fitness and mobility as island / land excursions can include moderately-challenging hikes of 2-3 (often in warm conditions). Some island excursions require wet landings, meaning that you’ll be taken close to the shore in a zodiac boat, and you’ll disembark in shallow water.

Destinations Visited:

  • Quito
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Cotapaxi
  • Avenue of the Volcanoes
  • Cuenca

Vacation Package Type:

  • Sightseeing
  • Hiking
  • Light-adventure
  • Cruise
  • Wildlife

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