South Expeditions

Cover Itinerary - South Expeditions The Best of Ecuador

Galapagos - Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the most ethnically, culturally and naturally diverse countries in Latin America.

14 DAYS/13 NIGHTS

The Best of Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the most diverse countries in Latin America. The Galapagos Islands showcase renowned natural wonders and distinctive wildlife found nowhere else in the world. This archipelago was the source of Darwin’s theory of evolution and still remains a priceless living laboratory for scientists. The Andes region has strong cultural significance due to the contrast between its indigenous background and colonial history. Its picturesque art, craft, and food markets, complemented by untamed volcanoes, hot springs, inspiring landscapes, misty cloud forests, and barren paramo vistas, make of La Sierra, the highlands region, Ecuador’s most diverse and iconic region. The Amazon rainforest has the highest concentration of plant and animal life on the planet, and it is considered a paradise for birdwatchers, adventure junkies and wildlife lovers alike.

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TRIP HIGHLIGHT

Rating:

*****

Activities:

Culture - Walking - RockClimbing - MultiSport - SpecialInterest - Wildlife

PRICE PER PERSON

14 DAYS/13 NIGHTS

  • Visit Cuenca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Snorkel, swim, and surf in Galapagos’ most iconic spots.
  • Appreciate picturesque handicraft towns and markets in the Andes.
  • Discover Ecuador's Amazon, its culture and remarkable biodiversity.
  • Hike along scenic routes with a unique backdrop whether it is mountains, crystalline waters or lush rainforests.

Day by Day

DAY

1

Transfer-In Guayaquil

Upon arrival, a representative will meet us at the airport, assist us with our luggage, and transfer to the hotel.

DAY

2

Wetlands & Tortoise Breeding Center

In the morning, we will fly from Guayaquil towards Baltra Island from where we will connect with our small aircraft for an inter island flight towards Isabela Island. This seahorse-shaped island is the largest in the archipelago, 80 miles long. After lunch, we will visit the Tortoise Breeding Center, an initiative of the National Park for the conservation of Isabela’s tortoises. Then, we will visit the marshlands or humedales, where elevated walkways take us over tidal lagoons that include four mangrove species and provide habitat for flamingos and numerous migratory birds. We will walk along the beautiful white-sanded beach of Puerto Villamil in order to get back to our hotel.

DAY

3

Volcan Sierra Negra & Surf Lessons

In the morning, we will drive, for about an hour, to the highlands of Isabela where you will notice a big difference between one environment and the other as vegetation and weather vary significantly. Just as the environment changes, so does the animal species present. So, you will spot varying species of animals. The path leads you to the edge of the Sierra Negra volcano, which is still active. Its most recent eruption was in 2005, which deposited a dramatic new layer of volcanic lava on the landscape. Currently, it has the second largest caldera in the world (spanning approximately six and a half miles). In the afternoon, our instructor will prepare us for surfing in one of the island’s most beautiful beaches.

DAY

4

San Cristobal - Hike Tijeretas

In the morning, we will take a boat ride to San Cristobal and stop at Cerro Tijeretas Environmental Center. Here, we will learn how exactly is it that volcanic activity has led to the formation of the spectacular rocks all around the Galapagos Islands. On top of Cerro de las Tijeretas (Frigatebird Hill), we will enjoy breathtaking coastal views characterized by frigate birds—“the pirates of the seas”— that often steal food from unassuming boobies. As we come down, we will have enough time for a short snorkel session at Darwin’s Bay to swim with sea turtles and sea lions. Our day’s excursion will culminate at Carola Beach where we will arrive in time for sunset.

DAY

5

Snorkel Kicker Rock - Manglecito Beach

On this day, we will sail for thirty minutes to the spectacular Kicker Rock, also known as the Leon Dormido (Sleeping Lion). The history behind this formation is intriguing: the remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea to form two vertical rocks rising a staggering 500 feet from the ocean. That, plus the huge variety of vibrant-colored fish, makes this the best spot for snorkeling. Afterwards, we will stop at Manglecito beach, the perfect spot to relax. If we choose to stroll along the beach, we will be able to see blue footed boobies diving for food, pelicans, boobies and sea lions relaxing under the tropical sun, and finches and warblers going after salt flies.

DAY

6

Flight to Guayaquil - Drive to Cuenca

In the morning, we will fly to Guayaquil and take a scenic drive to Cuenca, a UNSECO World Heritage Site. During our drive, we will witness dramatic changes in temperature, humidity and scenery as we approach the southern Andes. Once we arrive, we will check in, rest and get ready for a relax dinner and evening.

DAY

7

Cojitambo Ruins, School & Rock Climbing

Today, we will visit the elementary school, “Dr. Angel Enrique Montalvo” in Cojitambo. During the visit, we will exchange stories with local kids and faculty. This is important feedback and helpful in improving the conditions of the school. We will conclude our visit with a fun activity such as a competition, a dance, or a quick soccer match. Very close by lies the Cojitambo Archaeological complex, strategically placed by the Incas back in the day. From here, we will enjoy spectacular views. Then, we will go rock-climbing on the breathtaking Cojitambo Mountain, the most famous climbing spot near Cuenca. With over a hundred routes spanning this marvellous volcanic formation, it is a rock climber’s paradise.

DAY

8

City Tour, Cooking Class & Fly to Quito

Cuenca is a beautifully preserved colonial city nestled in the lush hillsides of the Andes. Although it is Ecuador’s third largest city, Cuenca exudes a predominantly small town feel, boasting a distinctive Spanish architectural style sprinkled with French influences. For lunch, locals will impart their knowledge of Ecuadorian cuisine—a fusion of traditional ingredients, colonial Spain, and Andean fare. We will visit a lively local market to pick up some fresh ingredients, after which we will learn how to rustle up some exquisite Ecuadorian culinary creations! In the afternoon we will catch a flight to Quito, Ecuador’s capital.

DAY

9

Flight to Coca - Navigate Napo River

Once we arrive in the city of Coca, we will navigate on the Napo River to the Pañacocha Protected Forest and the Amazon Dolphin Lodge. During our trip, we will have lunch and visit an archeological museum where we will learn about the culture and history of the Amazon. We will arrive at lodge in time for dinner. Afterwards, we will head out for our first exploration, a night walk along a short trail to observe insects, nocturnal rodents, and reptiles, among other animals that come together to immerse us in the classical sounds of the jungle.

DAY

10

Kayak Panayacu River - Piranha Fishing

After breakfast, we will navigate along the Panayacu River before getting on our kayaks for a deeper exploration of the Amazon’s wonders. (Throughout our exploration, we will have plenty of opportunities to look for the Pink Amazon River Dolphin). In the evening, we will engage in a piranha fishing activity.

DAY

11

Medicinal Plant Trail - Kayak Panacocha

Today, we will set out on a 3-hour hike. We will observe a huge variety of wild plants that are currently used by the local indigenous communities for medicinal purposes. For lunch, we will head back to the lodge before going on a kayak excursion across Panacocha Lake. We will also have the opportunity to learn about local weapons as our native guides share their knowledge and insight. After dinner, we will board rowing canoes (piraguas) for a nocturnal exploration along the Panayacu River and Pañacocha Lagoon. (We will have plenty of opportunities to look for the Pink Amazon River Dolphin)

DAY

12

Kayak & Navigate to Yarina Ecolodge

We will kayak along the Panayacu River and then navigate on the Napo River towards Yarina Ecological Reserve, which has the highest diversity of microhabitats in the Napo area. Once we arrive, we will have time to relax and have dinner before going on a night canoe exploration across Sapococha Lagoon.

DAY

13

Navigate to Coca - Flight to Quito

After breakfast, we will return to the city of Coca in order to catch our flight back to Quito.

DAY

14

Transfer-Out

Today, one of our representatives will meet you, assist us with our luggage, and take us to the airport in time to catch our flight.

Hotels

Amazon Dolphin Lodge

It is located in the Pañacocha Protected Forest Reserve and it serves as a biological corridor linking Yasuni National Park and the Cuyabeno Wildlife Refuge. Thanks to their central location in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon, professional local guides, multilingual staff, and personalized service, they offer a hands-on experience of the jungle.

http://www.amazondolphinlodge.com/

Garden Hotel San Jose

The hotel is a restored colonial building, Hacienda San Jose, which dates back to the XVIII century. It offers both, national and international cuisine.

http://en.gardenhotelsanjose.com/

Wyndham Hotel in Guayaquil

Is a luxury hotel on the banks of the Guayas River in close proximity to the airport and near the Santa Ana hill and lighthouse. It promises a relaxing and unforgettable stay with personalised service from their team.

http://en.wyndhamguayaquil.com/

Hotel Santa Lucía

The house, was built in 1859 by the governor of the province, Don Manuel Vega Dávila. In 1999, a thorough restoration and adaptation transformed it into Hotel Santa Lucía. During the process it preserved and rescued the architecture of this beautiful house as an example of traditional XIX century buildings.

https://www.santaluciahotel.com/

Blue Marlin Galapagos Hotel

The hotel was meant to provide an "at home" feeling through its interior design elements. The Blue Marlin Hotel features an outdoor pool and great service.

http://www.bluemarlingalapagos.ec/

La Casa de Marita

Is a beautiful boutique hotel located in the heart of Darwin’s inspiration. It is right on the beach and offers a unique and cozy environment, as the owner has put careful attention to detail, making each room unique.

http://www.galapagosisabela.com/home.html

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