Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

26 Apr - 8 May 2021
  • Cultural Tours

About the tour

Ecuador is a compact country with enormous cultural and natural diversity. Its bio-diversity includes the extraordinary Galapagos Islands and its cultural legacy encompasses the descendants of Spanish conquistadores and many distinct indigenous communities, markedly different in dress and lifestyle. This beauty of this tour is that it encapsulates this great variety without the need to cover long distances, including four nights on a private charter yacht - Tip Top II - in the Galapagos, all at an ideal time of year in the company of naturalist tour leader, Jan Beccaloni. Jan will also give specialist talks ranging from butterflies, spiders, to Darwin and Wallace, giving context to your visits along the way. There is an optional excursion into the Amazon after the tour.

Travel from stunning colonial Quito, the second highest capital city in the world after La Paz in Bolivia, into the enchanting cloud forests of Mindo with its jewelled hummingbirds and unique eco system for two nights. Continue into the Andean highlands to the thermal hot springs of Papallacta and see condors soaring over magnificent snowcapped mountain scenery. Visit a traditional Andean market and continue to the jewel in Ecuador's bio-crown - the Galapagos Islands. Sail on an exclusive private charter yacht for four nights, visiting a wide range of islands, each offering a unique experience. The remote island group is a land of cool lava landscapes, cactus forests, lush green highlands, turquoise coves and perfect white sand beaches, and is the only place in the world where it is possible to swim with penguins and tropical parrot fish at the same time.

Fly back to Quito after the cruise, where there is the option to take an extension into the unspoiled Amazon forest to stay at a luxury eco lodge.

This once in a lifetime tour has been carefully designed to visit Ecuador at the best time of year, on a superb private charter yacht in the Galapagos and in the company of an experienced tour leader, who is also an expert natural historian. This tour is strictly limited to fifteen people.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, Jan Beccaloni

Jan Beccaloni

Jan Beccaloni is a museum curator specialising in spiders and their relatives and a respected natural historian. She is the Meetings Secretary of the British Arachnological Society, the former Secretary of the Wallace Memorial Fund and the author of the acclaimed book “Arachnids’. Jan is an experienced and popular tour leader who enjoys travelling and has conducted scientific fieldwork in the UK, Brunei, Madagascar and Costa Rica.

Need more information?

  • Tel: (Toll Free) 1-8777-398-764
  • Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
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Itinerary at a glance

  • 26 April (Mon) Quito: Arrive Quito and transfer to the Hilton Colon Hotel. Welcome dinner.
  • 27 April (Tue) Quito: Tour of colonial Quito. Visit Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral and Archbishop’s Palace, La Compania Church and San Francisco Monastery. Walking tour of the old quarter of Quito. Dinner at Urku – a modern Ecuadorian restaurant
  • 28 April (Wed) Quito / Mindo: Drive to the “Centre of World.” Continue to the rim of the giant, extinct Pululahua Volcano. Lunch by the crater with spectacular views. Continue onto Mindo and the Sachatamia Lodge. Take a nature walk in Mindo. Talk: “The Beautiful World of Butterflies”
  • 29 April (Thur) Mindo: Early morning birdwatching, including the hummingbird feeders. Visit the Mariposario Mindo Butterfly Farm. Travel by cable car across the Rio Nambillo with the cloud forest valley below. Take a nature walk to the waterfall the Mindo waterfalls. Talk: “An introduction to Spiders and their relatives”. Nocturnal walk to see spiders and other nocturnal creatures.
  • 30 April (Fri) Mindo / Papallacta: Early morning birdwatching, including the hummingbird feeders. Drive to Paramao High Andean forest to observe the Polylepis trees, some of the oddest and rarest trees on the planet. Continue to Papallacta and check into the Termas de Papallacta, a thermal resort in the Andes.
  • 1 May (Sat) Papallacta: Visit the Antisana National Park in the Andes to see condors and spectacular views of the surrounding snow-capped volcanoes. Walk in the park. At leisure in Papallacta to enjoy the hot springs. Visit the Guyango Lodge for dinner followed by a nocturnal nature walk.
  • 2 May (Sun) Papallacta: Visit the weekly traditional Sangolqui market. Return to the resort and option to enjoy the thermal springs. Talk: “Darwin and Wallace - the Pioneers of Evolutionary Biology” - Jan Beccaloni
  • 3 May (Mon) Papallacta / Baltra, Galapagos: Transfer to airport to fly to the Galapagos and board the Tip Top II private yacht. In the afternoon visit the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding centre, located in the same premises as the Charles Darwin Research Station. This is the only place where it is possible to see many different species of giant tortoises at the same time. Evening talk: "Evolution in Practice.”
  • 4 May (Tue) Floreana Island / Post Office Bay and Cormorant Point: Floreana has an unusual human history and was home to the very first person to live full time in the Galapagos, a fearless Irishman called Patrick Williams who was marooned and lasted 2 years, from 1807. Floreana has a unique human story which will be explored. This morning make a wet landing at Post Office Bay where one can still send a postcard in the lava tube of a post barrel. Continue to cruise round Baroness viewpoint. Return to the yacht for lunch and then make a wet landing at Cormorant Point on the northern point of Floreana, before a final stop at Champions Islet, one of the best snorkeling spots in the whole archipelago.
  • 5 May (Wed) Espanola / Punta Suarez / Gardner Bay: Land at Punta Suarez to spot sea lions, red and green marine iguanas, Espanola lava lizards and diverse seabirds including Galapagos hawks, mockingbird, finches and many more. Take a walk along the beach and observe a colony of sea lions. In the afternoon explore Gardner Bay with an opportunity to snorkel and discover the extreme bio-diversity beneath the waves.
  • 6 May (Thur) San Cristobal / Cerro Brujo and Kicker Rock: Make a wet landing on Cerro Brujo and walk on the white sand beach whilst observing brown pelicans, marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies. Cruise to Kicker Rock, a nesting site for many sea birds. Optional snorkelling. Visit the interpretation centre Jacinto Gordillo and embark on a highland tour to explore the interior, home to nesting waved albatross and mating frigate birds.
  • 7 May (Fri) Black Turtle Cove / Quito: Visit Black Turtle Cove, a mangrove estuary, home to sea turtles,black and white-tipped reef sharks, spotted rays, a variety of seabirds and various endemic plants. Transfer to airport for flight back to Ecuador, transfer to The Hilton Colon Hotel and enjoy a farewell dinner.
  • 8 May (Sat) Quito: At leisure or take Amazon extension (below) until transfer to the airport.

Extension into the Amazon

  • 8 May (Sat) Quito /Sacha Lodge, Amazon: Transfer to the airport for flight to Coca.Arrive and transfer by river to Sacha Lodge. Nocturnal guided tour
  • 9 May (Sun) Sacha Lodge, Amazon: Take dugout canoes along creeks and lakes, past orchids, bromeliads and palm trees, looking for wildlife spotting from the tiny pygmy marmoset to the ocelot or puma. Trekking through pristine Terra Firme forest, where 150-foot kapok trees tower above and roots form huge buttresses to give trees support, look out for the crest owl and howler monkeys. Optional night walk
  • 10 May (Mon) Sacha Lodge, Amazon: Board the motorized canoe along the Napo River to visit the Providencia Community of Yasuní. Learn of their way of life and experience their cooking techniques, See the 'parrot disco' on the clay lick along the way back. take the Canopy Walk, a bridge across the treetops to spot dozens of animals and birds. Optional night canoe trip for caiman spotting.
  • 11 May (Tue) Sacha Lodge / Quito: Transfer back to Coca. Fly to Quito and transfer to the Hotel Hilton Colon.
  • 12 May (Wed) Quito: Transfer to the airport.

Tour cost

Cost: US $7,243 per person (excluding international flights and transfers)

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