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Ultimate Ecuador

Featuring
Quito
Otavalo & Indian Market
The Spirit of the Andes overland journey
Rainforest by Napo Wildlife Center
Galapagos by Eclipse

22 days

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Locally Hosted Independent Tour

Suggested Departure Day:
Sunday

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ITINERARY (Subject to change without notice):

Day 1 - Sunday - Miami-Quito: Late afternoon departure for flight south to Quito, nestled at 9,000 feet high in the Andes. Upon arrival, meeting by your private guide and transfer to your hotel, the Casa Gangotena, in the heart of the historic district,  for two stay with breakfast daily.

Day 2 - Monday - Quito: Today you will spend the day exploring this charming Andean capital, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Drive by the impressive Parliament Building, whose stone mural records Ecuador’s history, and visit St. Augustine Convent with colonial patio, cloisters, coffered ceilings and the vast collection of paintings showing the life of St. Augustine. Continue to the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace and to the Church of San Francisco, one the of great religious buildings of the New World, among other places of interest. Then drive out of the bustling city through small villages to the "Mitad del Mundo" complex, 23 km from the city. There is a typical colonial town with restaurants and gift shops, international pavillions, an excellent ethno-graphic museum, a planetarium and the Equatorial Line where you can straddle two hemispheres at once!   Lunch is included enroute today. (B/L)

Day 3 - Tuesday - Quito - Patate: Today you will begin a four-day overland Andean Immersion journey from Quito to Cuenca, The Spirit of the Andes. Morning departure for a day of exploring the highlands. The artisans tradition of Quito is present in the visit to the Yanapi Hat Shop, where guests can observe the process of making hats by hand, of wool felt and  fur felt; these high-quality hats are exported to European, Australian and American markets.  Along valleys and mountains, arrive to Cotopaxi National Park, which surrounds the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano, for an up-close view of the Andean paramo habitat and its unique flora and fauna; a number of high-altitude birds can be observed around Limpiopungo Lagoon, and occasionally, wild horses.  On clear days, the perfect snow-capped cone of the Cotopaxi Volcano is quite a sight!  At the foot of the volcano is a charming hacienda, where lunch is served in a room with Inca walls, perfectly preserved through the centuries –a truly archaeological jewel.  After lunch, mingle with the llamas of the hacienda and stroll along a rose plantation, many varieties, many colours, ready for exportation.  From here, descend towards the town of Patate, to spend the night at a 300-year old hacienda, hidden among the mountains, a magical ambience, where, as the afternoon mist descends, stories are told about those who left in search of the treasure of the Incas in the nearby Llanganatis – and never returned.

Day 4 - Wednesday - Baños – Route of the Cascades - Urbina - Riobamba: After breakfast, take a spectacular route along the gorge of the Pastaza River to the town of Baños (Baths), right at the foot of Tungurahua Volcano, from where the thermal waters that gave it its name emerge.  Drive along the Route of the Cascades to El Pailón del Diablo (the Devil’s Cauldron) –the most adventurous will descend (medium difficulty) to observe the impressive cascade up close, surrounded by subtropical vegetation and orchids.  The force and sound of the waters can also be appreciated from a lookout point without descending.  Lunch is served at an hacienda / hostel in the surroundings, and in the afternoon a short stroll along Baños –a town with an international pulse, full of people from all over the world as well as many locals who pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Holy Water.   From here, the route to Riobamba is up the mountain, to where the clouds can be touched, alongside the massive Chimborazo, the highest mountain of Ecuador, on the high paramo where vicuñas graze and scamper – this is a protected Faunistic Preserve.  On the hillsides, where the land is worked beneath the plow, one might think the farmer’s true objective was to paint the hills in fascinating patterns, not just to till the dark, fertile soil. Great photo ops on this route!  Arrive to Riobamba for dinner and overnight at Hosteria Abruspango. (B/L/D)

Day 5 - Thursday -  Riobamba - Calpí - Colta - Guamote - Alausi - Ingapirca - Cuenca: After breakfast, visit the Museum of the Conceptas, housing one of the most important collections of religious art in Latin America, exhibited in several rooms that were originally the cloisters or cells where the nuns lived – a few nuns still live here in seclusion.  The treasures of art, culture, traditions and religiousness of Riobamba are kept here thanks to the contribution of the visitors.    Close to Riobamba is the Indian Community of Palacio Real, where an interesting visit to the Museum of the Llama is offered, an interactive community project to show the important role of the llama in the pre-Columbian ancestral cultures –both in the spiritual part as well as daily life; a short stroll in the community is possible.   Next stop is at Guamote, an Indian town, for a short visit to Inti Sisa, an Educational Centre for the Development and Sustainability of Adults and Children.   These visits are an important support to the efforts of improvement of the communities, and tourism is one of the main means to do so, while at the same time, guests can have a direct contact with the local people.  Then, towards Alausí, where brunch is served to regain strength and continue exploring the Andean world to the south, visiting the Inca Fortress of Ingapirca en-route.  Arrival to Cuenca at dusk for dinner and overnight at the charming Hotel Santa Lucia. (B/L/D)

Day 6 - Friday - Cuenca - Quito - Otvalo: Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city; yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air.    Its red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special.  This comprehensive visit includes the Plaza of San Sebastian, a colorful artisans market, where handicrafts are sold.  Then, visit the Museum of Modern Art, featuring an excellent collection of contemporary fine art.  Next is a visit to the flower market at the small plaza in front of the carved stone entrance to the church of El Carmen de la Asunción.  From here, a stroll to the main square, surrounded by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral, the Court of Justice, the Municipal Palace, the Governor’s Palace and the Church of El Sagrario.  Then, a drive along the Tomebamba river to admire the city’s overhanging houses.  Lunch is at one of the excellent restaurants in Cuenca, and in the afternoon, drive for a short visit to a ceramics handcraft shop.  Then, observe the whole process of making the famous Panama Hats of high-quality toquilla straw.  Afternoon flight to Quito where you will be met upon arrival and depart immediatrely for the scenic two hour drive north towards Otavalo. Time permitting, you may make a visit or two en route to the town of Cotacachi and the Relais & Chateau country inn,  Hosteria La Mirage  for two  night stay with dinner each evening in the Hosteria's charming restaurant and breakfast each morning at the glass Hummingbird Restaurant. (B/D)

Day 7 - Saturday - Cotacachi: In the morning your local interpreter-guide will take you to visit the town of Otavalo and its colorful Indian market. Plenty of time to visit the market and shop for souvenirs and textiles. This afternoon explore the surrounding area and towns, such as Cotacachi, a leather center; San Antonio de Ibarra, a woodcarving center and Peguche, a textile center. (B/D)

Day 8 - Sunday - Cotacachi - Quito: Morning return transfer to Quito with drop-off at the Casa Gangotena, for overnight stay.  This afternoon, you'll take the Teleferico to the summit of Mount Pichincha. The Teleferico, completed only in 2005, has eight cars with a capacity of 6 persons each. The ascent takes 8 to 10 minutes traveling some 2500 linear meters, going from 2950 meters (8850 feet) to 4050 meters (12,150 feeet) altitude. At the summit there is a collection of boutiques and shops, and pathways going up to as high as 4600 meters (13,800 feet) offering spectacular vistas and panoramas. (B)

Day 9 - Monday - Quito - Napo Wildlife Center:  Morning transfer to the airport to begin your rainforest journey. The flight takes 35 minute flight over the snow capped volcanoes to Puerto Francisco de Orellana, locally know as Coca. where staff from the Napo Wildlife Center will meet and transfer you 5 to 7 minutes to the river where you embark on covered motorized canoe for approximately 2 hours ride (50 miles) downstream on the Napo River. During this trip a good number of birds can be spotted, including herons, kingfishers, ospreys among many others.  The boat will arrive at the northwest boundary of the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, where the Napo Wildlife Center (NWC) is located by the Anangucocha Lake. To access the lodge you may either take a guided 2 1/2 km (1 1.2 miles) hike with rich forest wildlife, or embark on a quiet and enjoyable paddle dugout canoe ride for 1 1/2 hours along a creek with dense flooded palm forest. On either route it is possible to see several species of monkeys, colorful birds and other potential wildlife. At the end of the walk and near the end of the paddle, there is a superbe view of the lodge across Anangu Lake.

NOTE: There is a luggage weight limit of 20kg per person plus a carry-on such as hand luggage with reading material, camera, binoculars and personal documents. Additional or excess baggage is charged directly by the airline by pound.

Check-in at the lodge, initial briefing on the area and activities. During your stay, all meals and activities as offered by NWC are included. (B/D)

Day 10 -Tuesday - Napo Wildlfe Center: Begin your exploration of the area.  The Napo Wildlife Center supports a unique, 82-square-mile, private nature reserve on the northern edge of the Yasuni National Park. The reserve and associated lodge were created and built by traditional Quichua Indian Community of Anangu in partnership with the nonprofits Tropical Nature and EcoEcuador. Funding for this project came from the charitable contributions to Tropical Nature.

The Napo Wildlife Center is the only lodge on the south bank of the Napo, which harbors 30% more bird and animal species than the north bank. With parrott licks, GIant Otters, Woolly Monkeys and ten other primates, Napo WIldlife Center is the finest wildlife destination in the Amazon of Ecuador.

Activities available include:

Day 11 - Wednesday - Napo Wildlife Center:  Another day to enjoy activities as offered by NWC. (B/L/D)

Day 12 - Thursday - Napo Wildlife Center:  One last day to explore this wildlife rich area. (B/L/D)

Day 13 - Friday - Napo Wildlife Center - Coca - Quito: Morning return to Coca via canoe and motorized canoe, where you catch your return flight to Quito.  Upon arrival, meeting and transfer to the Casa Gangotena, for overnight stay. (B)

Day 14 - Saturday - Quito - Galapagos Islands: Morning transfer to the airport for your 2 1/2 hour flight out to the Galapagos Islands where you will be met and transferred to your ship, the Eclipse, for your 7-night cruise in these Enchanted Isles.  Afternoon ashore at Las Bachas Beach on the north of Santa Cruz with soft, white sand derived from decomposed coral, making it a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind the beach there is a small brackish water lagoon, where it is possible to observe flamingoes and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. (B/L/D)

Day 15 - Sunday - Galapagos Islands:  Morning ashore at Puerto Egas (James Bay), on the northwest side of Santiago, with black beach, remains of a salt mining enterprise , Inter-tidal pools and Fur Seals Grottos, one of the only places in the islands where they can be seen. Time to swim or snorkel off the beach, where you will see sea lions, fish and maybe some turtles and reef sharks. In the afternoon go ashore at Bartolomé, a small island that has two visitor sites. At the first site, you can swim and snorkel around Pinnacle Rock, where penguins are usually seen. Back on board for a quick change of clothes and then it is a short dinghy ride to a dry landing for a climb to the highest point on the island. On the way up, you will encounter different volcanic formations, including spatter and tuff cones, lava flow and lava tubes. From the summit you will have a wonderful view of Sullivan Bay. (B/L/D)

Day 16 - Monday - Galapagos Islands: Morning ashore at Darwin Bay, Tower Island (Genovesa) you will find pairs of swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gull in the world, along with scores of red-footed boobies, with their contrasting red feet and blue bills. Lava gulls, yellow-crowned night herons, whimbrels and other marine birds feed near the shores of a tidal lagoon just beyond the rocky edge that faces the bay. After the land visit you will have the chance to either swim or snorkel off the beach, or go deep water snorkeling. In the afternoon at Prince Philip's Steps, climb up to a plateau that is part of the stretch of land that surrounds Darwin Bay on the eastern side with an incredible number of Nazca and red-footed boobies. The path passes through a dry "palo santo" forest and emerges on the eastern side of the island, where one can see hundreds of storm petrels flying over the extensive lava fields. With a bit of luck, you may even see one or two short-eared owls, the natural predator of the storm petrels. (B/L/D)

Day 17 - Tuesday - Galapagos Islands: Morning at Punta Espinosa, Fernandina Island,  with lava fields stretching towards the ocean from its base. Punta Espinosa is a narrow piece of land where some of the most unique Galapagos species can be seen, including the flightless cormorant, Galapagos snakes, marine iguanas, penguins and the Galapagos hawk. After the walk, you will have the chance to deep water snorkel, with an excellent chance of seeing turtles.  Afternoon ashore at Tagus Cove, Isabela Island, used as an anchoring place for pirates, buccaneers and whalers. Here you will see the names of hundreds of ships painted on the high ridges (a practice now forbidden). Depending on the season, you will either go hiking or snorkeling. and afterwards there will be a panga ride, to see a large number of blue-footed boobies perched on the ledges of the cliffs, as well as marine iguanas, penguins, brown pelicans, brown noddy terns and swallow-tailed gulls. While exploring the channel between Fernandina and Isabela Islands, we sometimes encounter dolphins and whales. (B/L/D)

Day 18 - Wednesday - Galapagos Islands:  Morning at Urbina Bay, Isabela Island, a perfect example of the geological activity of the islands. Part of the shoreline was raised more than four meters, and the remains of a variety of mollusks and other sea organisms that were stranded by the sudden uplift can be seen. In the midst of this bizarre setting, massive marine iguanas wander around with flightless cormorants and, in the wet season, giant tortoises. After the walk you will have the opportunity to swim or snorkel off the beach. In the afternoon visit Elizabeth Bay, one of the furthest points of the Galapagos that we will visit on our cruise. After a panga ride around two islets called the Marielas, where penguins, flightless cormorants, herons, and blue-footed boobies can be seen, we will enter a sheltered cove – a wonderful mangrove ecosystem that is a refuge for sea turtles and rays. (B/L/D)

Day 19 - Thursday - Galapagos Islands: Morning ashore at Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station where you will gain insight into the huge efforts being made by scientists, guides, rangers and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will see the famous Galapagos tortoises that are the islands’ namesake. After the visit you will have some free time to explore the town of Puerto Ayora. In the afternoon you'll explore the highlands by bus  where you will visit a tortoise reserve to search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings. You will also see the twin craters, a pair of giant sink holes left in the ground, which attract Darwin finches and other land birds. (B/L/D)

Day 20 - Friday - Galapagos Islands: Morning ashore at Gardner Bay, Hood Island, with wonderful white sandy beach. It is home to one of the most important colonies of sea lions, and it is also a nesting site for sea turtles. After the beach time you will have a chance to deep water snorkel from the panga at Turtle Rock. In the afternoon visit Punta Suarez, one of the most popular and attractive sites in the Galapagos, with a  high proportion of endemic fauna. A few steps inland from the landing site, groups of Española marine iguanas bask in the sun. Further inland, Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest almost on the trail, Galapagos doves peck around unaware of visitors and finches go about their business. The trail continues towards a blowhole, which is a fissure in the lava where water spurts high into the air like a geyser. The cracks in the cliffs are home to swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds. Further up the cliff in an area of low-lying trees you will find waved albatrosses nesting. The 10,000 to 12,000 pairs of albatrosses on Española represent the entire population of this species on the planet. They perform one of the most spectacular courtship rituals of the animal world. (B/L/D)

Day 21 - Saturday - Galapagos Islands - Guayaquil:  Early morning visit to Black Turtle Cove, one of the most beautiful marine sites in Galapagos with a complex maze of tranquil salt-water inlets, surrounded by three different species of mangrove. Its waters are a resting site for sea turtles, rays and sharks. This site is only accessible by panga. Then on-board check-out and transfer to the airport for return flight to Guayaquil.  Meeting upon arrival and transfer to the Hilton Colon Guayaquil for overnight. (B)

Day 22 - Sunday - Guayaquil - Miami: Morning transfer to the airport for your return flight to Miami where you clear immigrations and customs and make connections to your home city.


RATES and DETAILS:

SAMPLE LAND & CRUISE RATE PER PERSON: (Subject to change without notice)
YEAR Single Occupancy Twin Occupancy - P/P Triple Occupancy - P/P
2017 Request $10,900 to $13,550 Request
2018 estimate + 10%
Plus Air fares and USA Departure Taxes
Rates subject to change without notice
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 30% deposit upon confirmation of space 65 days prior departure
CHANGES:
After reservations confirmed If new documents are required
$100 per change $100 per change + $100 re-issue documents

CANCELLATIONS:

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%
TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE: Highly recommended.
RATE INCLUDES:
  • Hotel accommodations as detailed, with hotel taxes and service charges
  • Meals as indicated, table d'hôte basis
  • Transfers as indicated, with private guide and vehicle when-ever possible
  • Luggage handling at airports
  • Sightseeing as indicated,  with private guide and vehicle when-ever possible.  NOTE: private guide and services are not available at Napo Wildlife Center or in the Galapagos.
  • 4-night Napo Wildlife Center program with all meals, activities and transportation
  • 7-night Galapagos cruise aboard the Eclipse with all meals and shore visits, using Boat Deluxe accommodations
  • Air Quito-Galapagos-Guayaquil
  • Galapagos Park fees & Transit Card
RATE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
  • Air fares
  • USA and Foreign airport departure taxes
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities to drivers, guides, hotel bellboys, ship's personnel
  • Meals not specifically indicated as included
NOTE: Information was last updated January 2, 2017. Information & rates subject to change.

Responsibilities, Terms & Conditions