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TOUR FULL Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands (FULL)

25 Apr - 8 May 2024
  • Cultural Tours

About the tour

Ecuador is a land of enormous cultural and natural diversity. Its cultural legacy encompasses the descendants of Spanish conquistadores and many distinct Indigenous communities. It also boasts extraordinary bio-diversity, with the jewel in its crown being the incomparable Galápagos Islands.

This remote island group encompasses 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.

This tour encapsulates the great variety to be found within this compact country. Experience colonial Quito, the exquisite cloud forests of Mindo, the high country thermal springs at Papallacta in the Andes and the incomparable Galápagos islands on a first-class yacht. There is the option to journey into the Amazon before the tour and stay at Sacha Lodge, an eco-lodge that blends seamlessly into its forest surroundings. You could see giant otters duck, dive and call to each other as you eat breakfast; caimans gliding under the walkway as you head back to your room; hear monkeys chattering outside your balcony; or see giant sloths hanging out on trees by the cabins.

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.

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Itinerary at a glance

Pre tour extension

  • Day 1: Quito /Sacha Lodge, Amazon (Sunday, 21 April) Arrive and transfer to the La Palma Polo Airport Hotel.
  • Day 2: Quito /Sacha Lodge, Amazon (Monday, 22 April) Transfer for flight to Coca.Transfer by river to Sacha Lodge. Nocturnal guided tour after dark.
  • Day 3: Sacha Lodge, Amazon (Tuesday, 23 April) Take dugout canoes past bromeliads and palm trees, looking for wildlife such as the pygmy marmoset, the ocelot and puma. Trek through pristine forest, with 150-foot kapok trees and roots forming huge buttresses. Look out for the crest owl and howler monkeys. Optional night walk.
  • Day 4: Sacha Lodge, Amazon (Wednesday, 24 April) Motorised canoe along Napo River to visit the traditional Yasuní community. See the parrot disco on the clay lick Take the treetop canopy walk. Optional night canoe trip to see caiman.
  • Day 5: Sacha Lodge / Quito (Thursday 25 April) Transfer to Quito and the Sheraton Hotel to join the main tour.

Main itinerary

  • Day 1: Quito (Thurs, 25 April) Arrive Quito, a beautiful city containing superbly preserved colonial architecture, and transfer to the Sheraton Hotel. Local dinner.
  • Day 2: Quito (Fri 26 April) Explore Quito on a guided tour. Walk through the attractive, palm-shaded Plaza de la Independencia, visit the gorgeously ornate 16th century church of La Compania de Jesus and visit Monasterio de San Francisco, one of the oldest churches on the American continent. Enjoy a welcome dinner at a modern Ecuadorian restaurant.
  • Day 3: Quito (Sat 27 April) Drive into the temperate valley of Guayllabamba, where cherimoyas (custard-apples) and avocados grow. Continue into Andean highlands to vist Otavalo, the biggest and most important Indigenous market in all of Latin America. The colorful main handicraft and textile market spills into the streets from the centre, while the animal market is on the outskirts of town. Return via Peguche, known for its textile and handicraft workshops and an Andean musical instrument workshop.
  • Day 4: Quito / Mindo (Sun 28 April) Drive to El Mitad del Mundo - the ‘Middle of the World’ – and straddle the equatorial line. Drive up to the rim of the biggest volcanic crater in South America, the extinct Pululahua Volcano, for wonderful views and lunch. Lunch by the crater with spectacular views. Continue to Mindo cloud forest, where you will stay at Las Terrazas de Dana Boutique Lodge Spa.
  • Day 5: Mindo (Mon, 29 April) The cloud forests are a unique ecosystem fed by the misty clouds sitting on the slopes of the Andes. Rise early the following morning to watch an incredible variety of birdlife, including hundreds of species of jewelled hummingbirds. Visit the Mariposario Mindo Butterfly Farm.Visit the waterfall at Pahuma Reserve.
  • Day 6: Mindo (Tues 30 April) Enjoy a day at leisure in the lovely boutique spa lodge.
  • Day 7: Mindo / Papallacta (Wed, 1 May) Rise early again to spot the early bird activity in Mindo. After breakfast drive to the high Andes of Ecuador, into the paramo and the montane forest, rich in unusual flora and fauna such as the rare, gnarled Polylepis tree - one of the oddest and rarest trees on the planet. Continue to Papallacta, a thermal area high in the Andes where hot springs bubble up next to the Papallacta River. Check into Termas de Papallactas thermal resort, where the waters are reputed to have healing properties.
  • Day 8: Papallacta (Thurs, 2 May) Visit the Antisana Ecological Reserve in the central highlands, located at the feet of the 5705 metre volcano, Mount Antisana. Explore the dramatic altiplano landscapes with spectacular snow capped mountains as backdrop and look out for the various species of birds, and the Andean condor that inhabit the area. Return to Papallacta late afternoon before dinner at the Lodge.
  • Day 9: Papallacta / San Cristobal Island, Galápagos (Fri, 3 May) Your next stop is Ecuador’s ecological wonderland – the Galápagos Islands. Fly to San Cristobal Island and board the MY Solaris private yacht. For four nights cruise around Espanola, Floreana, Santiago, Bartolomé and Santa Cruz Islands. Tour the Interpretation Centre and see giant tortoises. Cruise to Kicker Rock, a nesting site for many sea birds. Optional snorkelling. Cruise onto Cero Brujo to walk on a white sand beach, and observe sea lions, brown pelicans, marine iguanas and blue footed boobies. Options for swimming, snorkelling or kayaking.
  • Day 10: Espanola Island (Sat, 4 May) Wet landing at white-sand Gardener Bay, home to sea lions, three species of Darwin’s finches, Española mockingbirds, green sea turtles, colorful tropical fish. Walk along the beach to see sea lions and opportunity to snorkel. Take a panga ride around Osborn Inlet and the islets of Gardner to see sea lions, corals and colourful fish including parrotfish. Land at Punta Suarez and see marine birds, including the nesting waved albatross.
  • Day 11: Floreana Island (Sun, 5 May) Visit the historic site of Post Office Bay, where you can still post a postcard in the historic post barrel, and see the ruins of the house of Baroness Eloisa von Wagner. Visit the Devil’s Crown, a submerged volcano and the best site for snorkelling in the Galápagos. Visit Cormorant Point to see Galápagos flamingos and many other birds. Continue to Champion islet to see to see marine turtles, sea lions and many fish. Options for swimming and snorkelling.
  • Day 12: Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay and Bartolome (Mon, 6 May) Visit Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island, which is located next to Bartolome Island and features a dramatic lava field. Option to snorkel in the bay’s calm waters. Visit Bartolome Island for spectacular views and lava cones. See lava lizards, sea lions, Galápagos penguins, herons, finches.
  • Day 13: Santa Cruz / Quito (Tues, 7 May) Visit Black Turtle Cove, a mangrove estuary on Santa Cruz Island, naturally protected and virtually untouched by man, Black Turtle Cove is home to some truly remarkable species of animals and plants. Fly back to Quito and transfer to the Hotel EB by Eurobuilding.
  • Day 14: Quito (Wed 8 May) Depart hotel after breakfast.

Tour cost

Tour cost is US$9,632 per person sharing a room (excluding flights and airport transfers). Tour cost is US$10,087 for a room to yourself

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