Ecuador is a compact country with enormous cultural and natural diversity. Its bio-diversity includes the extraordinary Galápagos Islands and its cultural legacy encompasses the descendants of Spanish conquistadores and many distinct indigenous communities, markedly different in dress and lifestyle. The 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, Solaris, in the Galápagos, 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 and 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 altitude 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 Galápagos 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.
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.
Your next stop is Ecuador’s ecological wonderland – the Galápagos Islands. Fly to San Cristobal Island and board the Galaxy private yacht for four nights cruising around Espanola, Floreana, Santa Fe, South Plaza and Santa Cruz Islands. Visit Lobos Island, a small islet separated from San Cristobal by a narrow channel, forming a sheltered bay where sea lion pups play in tidal pools. See male frigatebirds displaying their inflated red balloons, perched on the bushes and trees. Chance to observe blue footed boobies’ famous courtship dance. This evening’s talk is: “Evolution in Practice”
Extension into the Amazon
$7,812 per person (excluding international flights and transfers)