Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

21 Apr - 3 May 2020
  • 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 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 natural historian, Secretary of the Wallace Memorial Fund, the Meetings Secretary of the British Arachnological Society 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

  • 21 April (Tues) Quito: Arrive Quito and transfer to the Hilton Colon Hotel. Welcome dinner.
  • 22 April (Wed) 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
  • 23 April (Thurs) 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”
  • 24 April (Fri) Mindo: Early morning birdwatching, including the humming bird 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.
  • 25 April (Sat) Mindo / Papallacta: Early morning birdwatching, including the humming bird 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.
  • 26 April (Sun) 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.
  • 27 April (Mon) 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”
  • 28 April (Tues) Papallacta / San Cristobal Island, Galapagos: Transfer to airport to fly to San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos and board the Galaxy II private yacht. At this time male Frigate Birds are attracting a mate by showing off their red throat pouches. Panga ride to Lobos Island, the habitat of seals, frigate birds, finches, marine iguanas, lava lizards, and the small endemic Galapagos snake. Here, there are options to swim and snorkel. Evening talk: "Evolution in Practice”
  • 29 April (Wed) Santa Fe and South Plaza Island: Santa Fe Island is known for its beautiful bay of turquoise water protected by a natural barrier of rocks. The bay is home to colonies of seals and two species of land iguanas. Crabs, nocturnal herons, hawks, marine iguanas, cucuves and land doves are seen frequently. The bay is an excellent place to swim and snorkel with marine tortoises, rays, sea lions and tropical fish. Cruise to the South Plazas, two islands, created by land uplift known for its smaller iguanas are known to be smaller and colony of up to a thousand sea lions.Take a hike along cliffs where many sea birds nest.
  • 30 April (Thurs) North Seymour Island / Mosquera Islet: Visit North Semour Island with its verdant vegation, large land iguanas, frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. April is the time of the mating dance of blue-footed boobies on North Seymour. Cruise to Mosquera with some of the largest colonies of sea lions and many species of birds.
  • 1 May (Fri) Genovesa Island – Darwin Bay and Barranco: Land at a coral beach with an adjacent mangrove forest. Explore the area the habitat of frigates birds, marine iguanas, red-footed boobies and masked boobies, the great terrestrial finch, seagulls, herons and the cactus finch. There is the option to swim in the bay. Land at Barranco and hike up Prince Phillips stairs and along the Barranco path and en-route observe tropical birds, petrels, common frigate birds, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, doves and finches.
  • 2 April (Sat) Santa Cruz / Quito: Cruise to Punta Carrión in northeastern Santa Cruz. Navigate around this point with opportunities to see various sea birds nesting on the cliffs. Disembark the yacht and drive into the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to look for Giant Tortoises in the wild. Fly to Quito and transfer to the Hilton Colon Hotel. Farewell dinner.
  • 3 May (Sun) Quito: At leisure or take Amazon extension (below) until transfer to the airport.

Extension into the Amazon

  • 3 May (Sun) Quito /Sacha Lodge, Amazon: Transfer to the airport for flight to Coca.Arrive and transfer by river to Sacha Lodge. Nocturnal guided tour
  • 4 May (Mon) 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
  • 5 May (Tues) 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.
  • 6 May (Wed) Sacha Lodge / Quito: Transfer back to Coca. Fly to Quito and transfer to the Hotel Hilton Colon.
  • 7 May (Thurs) Quito: Transfer to the airport.

Tour cost

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

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