Galapagos Islands and Ecuador

A Multi activity Adventure

Level

Moderate

Duration

13 days

Route

Arrival Guayaquil, Baltra island  ;Isabela island, Sierra Negra Volcano; Baltra Island, Santa Fe Island; Baltra Island; Guayaquil; Mangalares Churute, Cuenca; Cojitambo; Cuenca; Bellavista Equestrian centre, Cuenca; Quito Otavalo, Angla, Zuleta, Quito, Departure Quito

Ecuador may be one of the smallest countries in South America but it’s packed with the most astonishing contrasts of scenery. The highest concentration of volcanoes in the world, impressive Andean peaks, quiet beaches, and the Upper Amazon jungle full of wildlife characterize Ecuador‘s landscape. With its remarkable biodiversity, extraordinary historical legacy, impressive colonial architecture, vibrant highland markets and ethnic diversity, it’s easy to see why this friendly and unusual destination is so coveted.

THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

A trip to the Galapagos Islands is really once-in-a-lifetime, as you will be constantly surrounded by breathtaking natural settings, secluded beaches, and unique wildlife. It’s all about the untouched, natural and rare wildlife in the Galapagos. You can do everything from swimming with sea lions and turtles, meeting giant tortoises, and snorkeling with penguins (the only wild penguins found north of the equator) to watching marine iguanas, waved albatross mating, and blue-footed boobies, among other exceptional species. And what better way to experience Galapagos than from a kayaking perspective. We offer moderately long trips to paddle through the water, near the coast to admire nature at its finest, making it a worthwhile expedition.

SOUTHERN ANDES

Along the ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’, one can appreciate some of Ecuador’s most dramatic scenery including the magnificent snow-capped peaks of Cotopaxi and Chimborazo. The area is also rich in folklore, culture, tradition and history. Ancient ceremonial temples tell the story of early civilizations and the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca has a rich artistic and indigenous culture. Cuenca has been declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site for its charming buildings, streets and neighborhoods with their Spanish colonial architecture.

NORTHERN ANDES PORTION

Its indigenous markets characterize the picturesque scenery in the Northern Andes. Otavalo Market is one of the largest and most colorful markets in the Andes, with fantastic handicrafts. It boasts spectacular volcanic lake views and some of finest haciendas in all of Ecuador are found here

Facts:

Activities:
Nature/bird watching, trekking, kayaking, boating, surfing, snorkeling; cultural sightseeing, cultural interaction, community service, rock climbing , horse riding

Our operation:

All Rahhalah’s ground handlers and guides are locally employed ensuring more authentic experience for travelers, as well as sensitivity to local customs and cultures.

Sustainability:

We run a low impact operation and we leave no traces behind, contributing to the efforts of protection of the local land, its people and culture.

All our local guides and staff are properly employed and adequately equipped. In addition we emphasize on making extensive use of local products and enhance maximum economic benefits to the local communities.

As you all know 1% of our revenue go back to a local cause and Rahhalah directly takes care of that. This is our pay back promise.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 01: Arrival at Ecuador – Transfer to Quito

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

Accommodation: Wyndham Quito or similar

www.wyndhamhotels.com/wyndham/quito-ecuador/wyndham-quito-airport/overview

Day 02: VISIT EQUATOR SUN DIAL AND ASTRO-ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT – VISIT OTAVALO INDIGENOUS MARKET – HACIENDA CUSIN (B, L, D)

Today, we will drive to one of most fertile valleys in the region to visit a sundial located precisely on the equator. Here, we will meet our astral-archeological expert, who will provide us with an expert’s explanation on why Ecuador has 12 hours of daylight throughout the year. He’ll also teach us how to orientate ourselves from the equator line at different times of the day in different seasons.

Later, we will visit the most famous and largest handicraft fair in South America, the market at Otavalo. The indigenous weavers from Otavalo and the surrounding areas are well talented in the weaving arts. All of these products are traded in the “Plaza de los Ponchos” in the middle of Otavalo city. Nowadays, indigenous artist from all over the country bring their arts and crafts to the Market. In this market, you can find all sorts of art crafts such as woven textiles, shawls, and scarves, as well paintings, ceramics and jewelry. One of the highlights of the visit will be provided by the Otavaleno culture, their costumes, language and food can be fully appreciated during this visit.

We continue our journey to Hacienda Cusin. Hacienda Cusin, a restored XVII century estate, is surrounded by 7 acres of beautiful gardens and fountain courtyards. This hacienda lies in a lush green valley under Cotacachi and Imbabura volcanoes’ shade.

Accommodation: Hacienda Cusin or similar (http://www.haciendacusin.com/)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 03: VISIT A LOCAL SCHOOL OF ANGLA – HIKE TO ZULETA COMMUNITY (B, L, D)

After breakfast, we will drive to the small town of Angla. Here, we will spend time with the local children and teachers, giving them a hand with their daily school activities. Then, we will go for an easy-to-moderate, two-and-a-half hour hike through eucalyptus forests, cattle farms, pastures, and hills, until we reach the Zuleta Community. From there, we will drive back to Hacienda Cusin.

Accommodation: Hacienda Cusin or similar (http://www.haciendacusin.com/) 

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 04: PAQUIESTANCIA TOWN: HIKE & ORGANIC FARMING (B, L)

We will drive to the town of Paquiestancia, located at the base of the outstanding 5791 meter-high Cayambe volcano. Here we will have the chance to hike through evergreen primary Andean forests, and visit some local organic farms in order to learn how locals cultivate a variety of goods for their own consumption. After lunch, we will drive to our hotel in Quito for a relaxed afternoon.

Accommodation: Hotel Patio Andaluz or similar (http://www.hotelpatioandaluz.com/en-gb)

Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Day 05: VQUITO’S CITY TOUR – FLIGHT TO CUENCA (B, L, D)

Today, we will visit the colonial temples and monasteries of this urban jewel, declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. We will visit St. Augustine Convent, the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, La Compania de Jesus, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building, the Archbishop’s Palace, and the Church of San Francisco, one of the greatest religious buildings of the New World.

After lunch and a short rest we will be transferred to the airport in order to take a 45-minute flight to the charming City of Cuenca. Upon arrival, our guide for this portion of the trip will meet us at the airport and assists us with our luggage and our short transfer to the hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel Victoria or similar (http://hotelvictoriaecuador.com/)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 06: COJITAMBO SCHOOL VISIT – ARQUEOLOGICAL RUINS – ROCK CLIMBING (OPTIONAL) (B, L )

Cojitambo is a beautiful town located 15 miles north of Cuenca at 9,800 feet above sea level and it is one of the hidden gems of Ecuadorean tourism. This little town in the Cañar province claims to have the largest Inca ruins of Ecuador, which were built by the Incas in the 1400’s. Here, we will visit a local school to share with kids and teachers (the idea is to prepare an English class and teach in one of the classrooms, if necessary, the group will be divided and each group will have some students in charge, this activity will take about 30 minutes). After the class we will play a football match.

Then, at the highest point of Cojitambo, we will enjoy spectacular views of the archeological site as whole and surrounding valleys. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that this spot was strategically picked by the Incas for its significance and great location. Here, we will enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. Cojitambo Mountain is considered the most famous rock climbing spot around Cuenca, with some hundred routes already open and hundreds more waiting to be discovered. In this volcanic formation, you will have the opportunity to try your hand at rock climbing; our expert will teach you how.

Accommodation Hotel Victoria or similar  (http://hotelvictoriaecuador.com/)

Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Day 07: BELLAVISTA EQUESTRIAN CENTRE - COOKING CLASS - CUENCA CITY TOUR (B, L)

  Today, a 20-minute drive from the city of Cuenca will take us to the Bellavista Equestrian Center. Here, we start by learning, and practicing the basics before heading out. All of the horses have been carefully trained and are very easy to ride. To guarantee a secure ride, our local expert will provide you of a helmet and safety instructions. Our ride will be across the hills overlooking the Tarqui Valley, through agricultural fields and the unique Andean moorlands ecosystem.

Afterwards, we will visit the colorful farmers market, where native families from rural areas bring their organic food to trade in the colonial city of Cuenca. Here, we will purchase local ingredients, many new to us, that we will bring to the kitchen of a local family nearby. They will take us in and teach us about local cuisine and cooking techniques used by locals. Then, we will head for a culturally enriching city tour of Cuenca, a beautifully preserved colonial city with its distinctive Spanish style with touches of French influence. Since the Incas inhabited Cuenca and its surroundings (at that time was populated by the Cañari people), churches, murals, stained glass, ceramics and weavings depict a true mixture of Spanish and indigenous skills. Due to its rich culture and architecture, UNESCO proudly declared Cuenca a World Heritage Centre.

Accommodation Hotel Victoria or similar (http://hotelvictoriaecuador.com/)

Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Day 08: CUENCA – MANGLARES CHURUTE – MAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE: VISIT LOCAL PRODUCTIVE FARM “CACAO Y MANGO” – DRIVE TO GUAYAQUIL (B, L, D)

Today, we will drive to the Manglares–Churute Mangrove Reserve. During our drive, we will enjoy magnificent views and will have the chance to see cocoa, coffee, and banana plantations along our route. After three hours, we will reach the reserve, a site of approximately 123,550 acres, which contains two bio diverse ecosystems: tropical dry forest and the largest mangrove reserve in Ecuador. Mangrove trees grow in ecosystems that bridge the gap between land and sea, along tropical coastal zones. At the reserve, we will take a short boat ride to enjoy the diversity of this environment up-close. From balsa and oak trees to orchids and bromeliads, there will be so much to see that the journey through the reserve may seem short.

Within a short drive we will visit Cacao y Mango’, located 25 miles south of Guayaquil, in close proximity to the Manglares Churute reserve, which is a mere 15 minutes away. Owned and operated by a local family for the past 65 years, this location was chosen for its excellent reputation and opportunity for social interaction with the locals. Currently, the farm produces mainly Cocoa and features a few varieties, with the added bonus of tropical fruits such as delicious mangos, bananas and plantains, and small pools of tilapia fish and rice paddies.

Accompanied by a family member who, with a vision for the farm, offers the farm as a tourist attraction, in the hope of providing much needed income for the family

You will be introduced to rural live in the central coast of Ecuador. Their warm and hospitable nature makes her the perfect guide for a tour of the farm, an introduction to cacao, and then a lesson in making the exquisite chocolate produced on the farm. Yes, not only will you learn, but actually make your own chocolate in the traditional way.

This visit will also feature an incredible lunch prepared by the family using mostly organic products from the farm, another excellent opportunity for greater involvement in the local culture. From the farm, we will drive to the city of Guayaquil.

Accommodation: Wyndham Guayaquil or similar

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 09: FLY GUAYAQUIL TO GALAPAGOS – FLY TO ISABELA ISLAND (B, L, D)

After breakfast, we will take a short transfer to the airport in time to catch our flight to Baltra Island in the Galapagos Archipelago. Upon arrival, we will connect with our 45-minute flight to Puerto Villamil in Isabela Island. Once we arrive, we will check-in and then enjoy the white-sanded beach before dinner.

Accommodation: Casa de Marita or similar (www.galapagosisabela.com)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 10: HIKE SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO – SURF LESSONS (OPTIONAL) (B, L, D)

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). From the caldera’s rim, we will be able to see gas and steam vents, called fumaroles and some odd-looking lava formations—an arresting visual record of the Galapagos Islands’ rich geological history.

After hiking the volcano we will drive back to town to enjoy lunch. Later, in the afternoon, we will head to the most famous beach break of Galapagos’ archipelago is located a few minutes away from Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. Here, our instructor will help us find a suitable board for us, according to our experience and level. We will first practice on the beach and learn all the technical details so we can then ride and enjoy the waves.

Accommodation: Casa de Marita or similar (www.galapagosisabela.com)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 11: FLY ISABELA TO BALTRA ISLAND – VISIT GIANT TORTOISE IN THEIR NATURAL ENVIRNONMENT – KAYAK PUNTA ESTRADA (B, L, D)

In the morning, we will be transferred to the airport in time to catch our flight to Baltra Island. Upon arrival, we will cross to Santa Cruz Island, also known as the Indefatigable Island, by crossing the Itabaca Channel. From here, our private transportation will take us in a 40-minute journey to private farms that conserve pristine, native, and endemic vegetation for the habitat of the Giant Galapagos Tortoises. As we follow the winding trail we will get plenty of chances to marvel at the Galapagos Tortoise in their full splendor. These majestic giant tortoises of Santa Cruz—part of a family best known for their dome-shaped shell and gigantic form—are often found partially submerged in mud ponds to combat skin parasites and/or to regulate their body temperature on warm, sunny days.

Later, we will meet to learn about the proper kayaking techniques and safety talk before setting out on a kayaking expedition. Once we leave the shore, we will be able to observe blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas resting as we drift past the cliffs. We will then cross Angermayer Point and paddle past the beach at Finch Bay before reaching Punta Estrada. Punta Estrada is a calm and beautiful bay where we can kayak close to magnificent mangroves, home to golden cow rays, sally light foot crabs, and lava herons. The 2.5-mile kayaking session is easy and it will take us down a tranquil canal.

Accommodation: Angermeyer Waterfront Inn (http://angermeyer-waterfront-inn.com)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 12: VISIT SANTA FE ISLAND* – DINNER WITH LOCAL FISHERMAN’S FAMILY (B, L, D)

After a hearty breakfast, we will set out on a one-hour boat journey from Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island to Santa Fe Island, also called Barrington Island. Santa Fe is one of the oldest islands in the archipelago and is known for being the only island that harbors one particular species of land iguana, as well as having a large colony of sea lions. It is one of the most impressive snorkeling sites. We will snorkel surrounded by colorful reef fish, rays, and even sea lions, which may decide to playfully swim around us.

In the evening, in our effort to provide a unique cultural experience, we often partner with the locals to offer a unique cultural exchange among visitors and locals. We will meet with Fabian, a local fisherman, to visit his home and dine with his family. Fabian has enjoyed our visits for many years, and he has been a tremendous help in transporting our clients on Santa Cruz Islands. This activity is the best way to immerse in a new culture, as we will share an exquisite homemade meal, exchange stories and learn about each other’s culture and background.

Accommodation: Angermeyer Waterfront Inn or similar (http://angermeyer-waterfront-inn.com)

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 13: FLIGHT FROM BALTRA TO GUAYAQUIL – DEPARTURE (B)

Today, we will be transferred to Baltra to catch a flight to Guayaquil, more commonly known as “The Pearl of the Pacific”. It is the largest city and main port of Ecuador, strategically situated on the coast. Main attractions of the city include: the contemporary boardwalk Malecon 2000, one of the gems of the urban renewal project’s crown, the eye-catchingly colorful Las Peñas neighborhood, and Parque Seminario across from the Metropolitan Cathedral. All these are within walking distance from our hotel in case we wish to explore the city in the afternoon. In the afternoon, our guide will assist you with your luggage and take you to the airport in time for your independent flight back home.

Accommodation: Wyndham Guayaquil or similar (Day use)

Meals: Breakfast

5,100 USD

per person in group of min 4 pax. Double occupancy.

Domestic flights: 1195 USD per person

Internal Flight Guayaquil – Galapagos – Guayaquil (Return)

Inter Island Flight Baltra – Isabela – Baltra (Return)

Internal Flight Quito – Cuenca (One Way)

Trip Dates

20th July 2018

  • This cost is based on Double Occupancy. Single Supplement Applies.
  • Full payment should be made 30 days prior the departure.
  • Domestic and internal flights tickets fares are subject to change at the time of booking. Actual fares will be charged accordingly upon issued.
  • All services stipulated above are subject to availability at the time of booking/reservation. All prices are subject to change.
  • All accommodation subject to change to similar one depending on availability.
  • The itinerary and schedule are subject to change due to weather, road condition and operating conditions.

This Includes:

  • Tour Leader throughout the trip
  • Galapagos Naturalist Guide
  • Accommodation as described. Double occupancy
  • Meals as per the itinerary above
  • Private ground transportation
  • Return airport transfers
  • Marine transportation (Shared services from 2 to 6 clients plus Tour Leader, chartered from 7 clients.)
  • Filtered water and snacks
  • Entrance Fees as per the itinerary above

This Excludes:

  • International airfare
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa and visa fees
  • Additional/optional activities
  • All expenses incurred in the event of early departure (transport, extra hotel nights, etc)
  • Beverages or additional meals
  • Single supplement
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone
  • International departure tax
  • Gratuities and tips
  • 5% VAT on the total cost

Important: The itinerary and schedule are subject to change due to weather, road condition and operating conditions. In any case the guide has the RIGHT to change the program for the safety and convenience of the travelers.

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