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Highlighting Culinary Experiences
Colonial Quito
historical Hacienda Zuleta
Mashpi Rainforest Reserve & Lodge
along with
nature's greatest show on earth
The Enchanted Isles of Galapagos

18 Days

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Locally Hosted Independent Tour

Suggested Departure Day:

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ITINERARY (Subject to change without notice):

Day 1 - Wednesday - USA - Quito:
Flight south to Quito. Upon arrival, meeting and transfer to the charming boutique hotel Casa Gangotena located in the heart of the historic district of the city for a three night stay.


Day 2 - Thursday - Quito:
Spend the day exploring Quito’s Cultural Heritage. The capital of Ecuador,
Quito is the first city declared a cultural world heritage site by UNESCO in 1978. Quito’s cultural heritage is a blend of Amerindian ancestry and Spanish influence. This walking tour is a chronologic narrative of the history of Quito since its very beginnings. Stroll along downtown Quito, founded by the Spanish on the ruins of an Inca settlement, the best preserved colonial historic center in Latin America. Immerse yourself in the city’s vibe, mingling with the locals in its many plazas. Learn of the first struggles for Independence in South America in the early 1800’s and catch a glimpse of the romantic La Ronda cobblestoned street with flowery balconies, which echoes of timeless songs of love. Lunch is included (B/L)

Day 3 - Friday - Quito: This morning join the chef of the Hotel Casa Gangotena as he leads a small group (maximum six guests) through the streets of the traditional neighborhood of San Roque. Your walk takes you to the fresh vegetable and fruit market of San Francisco. En route, stop at traditional shops that sell a wide assorted variety of Andean/Ecuadorian fresh herbs and spices and Ecuadorian sweet shops where you will find delights such as sugar covered nuts and maize, turrones, guayaba sweets, carmel nuts and more. Once at the market the chef will introduce you to the colors and flavors of the great variety of Ecuadorian produce that play an important role in the cuisine at Hotel Casa Gangotena. The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore the city at your own pace but you may want to make time to enjoy Hotel Casa Gangotena’s “Quiteno Coffee Time” offered every afternoon either in the patio or on the terrace of the hotel. Few know that Ecuador produces fine coffee and teas too are a favorite served with the finest savory and sweet delicacies from Ecuador and beyond. (B)

Day 4 - Saturday – Quito – Otavalo – Hacienda Zuleta:
arly morning departure for the two hour drive north through the scenic country- side and to the town of Otavalo, well known for its excellent textiles and its colorful Indian market. Ponchos, bags, sweaters, rugs, tapestries and the famous Panama Hat (actually made in Ecuador) are good buys. Then enjoy lunch at the charming La Mirage Garden Hotel and Spa. Perched on an Andean hillside, La Mirage was built on the grounds of a 200 year old hacienda. Fragrant hummingbird-filled gardens, impeccable service and gourmet cuisine combine to make your lunch at La Mirage most enjoyable. After lunch, continue the drive to Hacienda Zuleta for a three night stay. Dating from the late XVI century, Hacienda Zuleta lies in the spectacular Andean mountain range and is a colonial working farm of 4000 acres belonging to the family of Mr Galo Plaza Lasso, a former president of Ecuador, for more than 100 years.  (B/L/D)


Day 5 - Sunday – Hacienda Zuleta:
During your stay, you can enjoy the hacienda’s many activities. You can hike and trek with numerous trails for every fitness level. Hike, bike or horseback ride to the Andean Condor reserve to learn about the foundation’s efforts, see rescued Andean condors in their aviary and visit the nearby trout farm. Go mountain biking, enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride or visit the cheese factory. Perhaps you’d like to visit the hacienda’s organic garden, participate in the milking of Zuleta’s over 300 cows, or visit the embroidery  workshop. Also within the hacienda’s grounds,
you will find the archeological sites of the ancient Caranqui culture. Zuleta invites you to explore the hacienda grounds at your own pace and interests. (B/L/D)


Day 6 - Monday – Hacienda Zuleta:
Another day to enjoy activities at the hacienda. (B/L/D)


Day 7 - Tuesday – Hacienda Zuleta – Mashpi:
This morning’s early departure will take you from the cow grazed landscapes heading to a totally different environment, arriving in the afternoon at the
Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve & Lodge. Located in one of the most important global “hot spots” of biodiversity: the Tumbez-Chocó-Darién. considered to be one of the richest on Earth, the wonders awaiting you at the Mashpi Lodge are sure to delight any nature lover. Perched at 3,116 feet above sea level and surrounded by lower montane rainforest and cloud forest, the lodge is surrounded by a profusion of plant species, from ferns and bromeliads to hundreds of orchid species, a staggering 500 species of birds, monkeys, peccaries and even puma make their homes inside the reserve crisscrossed with waterfalls between dramatic, verdant hills.


During your stay, you will enjoy the many excursions and activities of the lodge to explore the rainforest. Experience its life as you enter the realm of the rainforest on nature trails, night walks and the 85 foot observation tower. Visit the Life Centre, a place of learning and discovery about the many species of butterflies in the reserve, as well as frogs and toads, orchids and bromeliads. Take a ride on the aerial Sky Bike, hike to refreshing waterfalls, and coming in May of 2013, canopy gandolas will glide guests through and above the forest canopy on an exciting exploration of the reserve’s ecosystem. (B/L/D)


Day 8 - Wednesday – Mashpi:
Full day of activities and excursions discovering the rainforest. Also choose from a culinary experience ranging from ceviche class, sharing with the chef the preparation of one of Ecuador’s most delicious foods. For the chocoholic, perhaps you would prefer a chocolate tasting paired with port and red wine or for coffee lovers, a tasting of fine coffee produced in Ecuador. For the true gourmand, a wine pairing to accompany the tasting menu can be arranged guided by Mashpi’s chef. (B/L/D)


Day 9 – Thursday – Mashpi – Quito:
One last chance for an early morning exploration and breakfast. Your local guide will call for you and transfer you back to Quito. En route visit the Center of the World: The Equator makes water spin in different directions in different hemispheres...right? The dividing line between the northern and southern hemispheres has fascinated people for centuries, resulting in an over-abundance of myth, legend and hearsay. Stand with one foot in each hemisphere and find out for yourself. Lunch will be en route, and drop-off at the
hotel Casa Gangotena in Quito for overnight. (B/L)


Day 10 – Friday - Quito - Galapagos:
Morning transfer for flight via Guayaquil to San Cristobal Island in the
Galapagos Islands and transfer to the Yacht La Pinta for a 7-night cruise of these Enchanted Isles.


NOTE: This itinerary is a combination of La Pinta’s Eastern 3 night and Northern 4 night itineraries which operate every other week. The alternate “Western” 7 night itinerary on La Pinta is available on alternate weeks.  


Once aboard, briefing on the islands and lunch. After lunch, back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and drive 40 minutes to the island’s southern shore. At Cerro Colorado Tortoise Centre, visit the breeding center of the highly-endangered giant tortoises in the midst of a fantastic deciduous forest, home to dozens of bird species and the endemic San Cristobal lava lizard. (B/L/D)


ABOUT GOING ASHORE: Excursions ashore take place each morning and afternoon. Landings are “wet” (step out of the boat and walk ashore in the surf) or “dry” (using natural promontories as make-shift piers). Walks are generally not difficult though some sites, such as Hood can be challenging but not impossible for the average person. Essential gear for shore visits include hat with brim or bill, plenty of sun protection, insect repellent, good walking shoes (but not overkill mountain trekkers!) and plenty of film.


SPECIAL NOTE:  If you don’t like animals and you don’t like being an active ingredient in the wildlife experience, don’t visit the Galapagos. The sole reason to go to the islands is the flora and fauna, and you have to go ashore and exert energy to experience it. The guide teaches you a motto the first day you arrive: “Take nothing from the islands but memories and leave nothing but footprints.”


Day 11 – Saturday – Galapagos:
Morning Punta Pitt, San Cristobal Island. Morning landing at the eastern tip of San Cristobal Island (wet landing). Pitt Point is an eroded tuff cone; the trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, as well as the two frigate species, plus a colony of bachelor sea lions along the beach. After the walk, if conditions are favorable, there is a chance to swim from the beach. 


Afternoon Cerro Brujo, San Cristobal Island. A dinghy ride along the shores of tuff-stone layers takes you to white coralline beach (wet landing) great for walking, with rewarding bird watching and viewing seabirds like blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, herons, frigate birds and more shore birds. Also, look out for the Galapagos sea lions. These are the same shores that Charles Darwin walked upon back in September 1835, as San Cristobal was the first island where he set foot in the Galapagos. (B/L/D)


Day 12 – Sunday – Galapagos:
Morning Punta Suarez, Hood Island. Morning outing (dry landing) for an exciting walk on lava/boulder terrain to visit its unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses (April-December), Nazca (masked) boobies, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tail gulls, and the famous blowhole. Also look for red-green-black marine iguanas.  


Afternoon Gardner Bay, Hood Island. In the afternoon, disembark (wet landing) at a white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches or enjoy the beach. There is great snorkeling in this area (snorkeling equipment is available on board at no extra cost), kayak or ride the glass-bottom boat. (B/L/D)


Day 13 – Monday – Galapagos:
Morning disembarkation (dry landing) to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island and the “rearing in captivity” program for the giant tortoises. Here you will witness the efforts and results of all the field work done in the name of science. An impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest and many land birds can also be seen. Bid farewell to those guests who are taking a shorter cruise. Welcome those guests who are arriving today to join the cruise.


Board the bus to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island where you will learn about the unique montane ecosystems and biodiversity. Lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, travel by bus to El Chato Reserve, one of the best places in the archipelago to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The tortoises are easy to spot, lumbering around, eating grass and leaves and wallowing in the small pools that are common in the reserve. You may also spot some highland birds, like cattle egrets, mockingbirds, finches or flycatchers. There are several lava tunnels in the reserve, a great place to spot the barn owl. There is also a small lagoon covered in red algae where gallinules and Galapagos pintails can be found. Bus ride back to Puerto Ayora to board La Pinta. (B/L/D)


Day 14 – Tuesday – Galapagos:
Morning Bahia Bellena, Santa Cruz Island. Morning disembarkation (wet landing) at a beautiful olivine beach (a volcanic crystal that forms in fast-cooling lava). The area has historical relevance since a small community lived in this area in the late 1900s, collecting lichen (Rosella Tictoria), used in the textile industry. The trail leads to an old water hole used by the former settlers. There are boobies, land birds and beautiful views of the northwest side of Santa Cruz Island to enjoy. Several activities are possible after the walk, such as snorkeling or a panga ride along the shoreline.


Afternoon Sombrero Chino Islet. Less than a quarter-of-a-square-kilometer in size, this tiny island gets its name from its appearance: a Chinese hat. Lying just off the southeastern tip of James Island, this island, only formed fairly recently, makes a beautiful visit as one explores along its 400-meter long trail, which begins at a crescent-shaped white sandy beach. Several species of shore birds can be spotted, along with marine iguanas, lava lizards, Galapagos penguins and sally lightfoot crabs. The cove offers excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities with white-tipped reef sharks and tropical fish. (B/L/D)


Day 15 – Wednesday – Galapagos:
Morning disembark (dry landing) at Bartolome Island for a hike to the summit. A great way to start the day! This is a steep climb up a wooden staircase with handrails and several resting and observation stops; the view from the top is worth the effort. Following the walk, a dinghy ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock is rewarding, followed by time to enjoy the beach (wet landing) and some snorkeling, with possible Galapagos penguin sightings. You can also ride on the glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.


Afternoon Sullivan Bay, James Island. Board the panga for the short ride to the landing site at Sullivan Bay on the east coast of James Island. Wet landing on a white coral beach and a walk over lava that flowed here less than 100 years ago. This is the perfect place to see and feel the volcanic origin of Galapagos. The last major eruption on James Island was probably in the early 1900s. One observer aboard a sailing vessel reported that the ship approached the lava flow so closely that the pine tar used to seal the hull of the ship began to soften, and the captain had to hurry the ship away from the bay. (B/L/D)


Day 16 – Thursday – Galapagos:
Morning Darwin Bay, Tower Island. A wet landing for an easy stroll observing thousands of birds, mainly frigate birds, red footed and masked boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. Optional walk over sharp lava and uneven terrain for dramatic views, or return to the beach to enjoy swimming and snorkeling at this beautiful natural harbor. The more adventurous can snorkel along the cliffs or paddle sea kayaks.


Afternoon Prince Philip’s Steps, Tower Island. Starting with a very interesting panga ride along the cliffs and then disembark (dry landing) on rocks for a steep climb (90 feet) up some stairs. Once at the top of the stairs, the land is flat, allowing for a stimulating walk of about a mile to the other side of this small island, observing large colonies of masked boobies, frigate birds and storm petrels. Those not wishing to disembark can enjoy a longer panga ride along the cliffs, depending on weather conditions. (B/L/D)


Day 17 – Friday – Galapagos - Quito:  
Disembark on Baltra Island. Your ship's staff will give you complete instructions concerning on-board check out and will transfer you to the airport for your return flight to the mainland. Meeting and transfer to the hotel Casa Gangotena for overnight. (B)


Day 18 – Saturday - Quito-USA:
Morning check-out and transfer to the airport for your return flight back to the USA. (B)


SAMPLE LAND AND CRUISE RATE PER PERSON: (All rates subject to change without notice)
YEAR Single Occupancy Twin Occupancy - P/P Each of 4 - Double Occupancy - P/P
2017 Request $14,845 to $17,500 Request
2018 estimate 10% increase
Plus Air fares and USA Departure Taxes
PAYMENTS: By credit card; special form required & must carry Card Holder's signature
Deposit - Per Person 2nd deposit - Per Person Full Payment Due
$ 1000 in order to confirm To complete a total of 30% deposit
upon confirmation of all space
65 days prior departure
After reservations confirmed If new documents are required
$25 per change $25 per change + $50 re-issue documents
Cancelled Between Up to 91 days 89 to 61  days 60 to 31 days 30 to 00 days
Fees Per Person $1000 30% 50% 100%
  • Hotel accommodations with hotel taxes and service charges
  • Meals as indicated, table d'hote basis
  • Transfers as indicated, with English speaking guide
  • Luggage handling at airports
  • Sightseeing as indicated, with English speaking guide
  • Culinary workshops and experiences as outlined
  • Surface and overland travel as indicated
  • 4-day / 3-night Hacienda Zuleta including all meals and activities as offered
  • 3-day / 2-night Mashpi Reserve & Lodge including all meals and activities as offered
  • 7-night Galapagos cruise aboard the Yacht La Pinta with all meals and shore visits, Galapagos Park Taxes, Galapagos Transit Card, air Quito-Galapagos-Quito, Fuel Surcharges
  • Air fares
  • USA and Foreign airport departure taxes
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips to drivers, guides, hotel bellboys, ship's personnel
  • Meals not specifically indicated as included
NOTE: Information was last updated February 2, 2017. Information & rates subject to change.
Responsibilities, Terms & Conditions