Ecuador Land Excursion: Galapagos, Otavalo, and Cloud Forest

This custom itinerary was formed to advance the goals of sustainable travel and offer the engaged traveler the very best of Ecuador, a small country with a truly astounding variety of cultural and natural attractions and resources. Let us take you on an amazing journey - from pristine tropical beaches on exotic islands, to pueblos and markets, to lush bird-filled cloud forests. This special program will be led by expert bilingual naturalists and the most knowledgeable local guides at every destination. Our gently and expertly guided journey will take you through most of our planet's biological zones as well as diverse indigenous cultures. You will have a chance to meet friendly locals as well as like-minded travelers from all over the world, enjoy rich cross-cultural exchanges, outdoor adventures, as you quietly commune with nature. This custom itinerary effectively condenses the best of Ecuador into a 10 day trip you'll never forget!

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Quito

Arrival at Quito, the Capital of Ecuador. Our travel leaders will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. A brief get-together, orientation talk and discussion will follow over beverages and light snacks.

Overnight: Anahi Boutique Hotel

Day 2 - Quito - Isabella

Leaving Quito in the morning we arrive on the island of Baltra and transfer for a short flight to Isabela, passing over the spectacular Galapagos marine scenery. Once at our destination we will pay a visit to the breeding centre where the Islands’ giant tortoise population is presently recovering. Expert guides will explain the process of breeding and then releasing into the wild these giant slow moving creatures whose Spanish name (meaning saddle) gave the Islands their present title.

Overnight: Isabella Hotel (Breakfast included)

Day 3 - Volcan Chico

We start the day by visiting el Cura and then move on to El Mango with their stunning views of the southern part of Isabela. The walk then takes us up to the spectacular crater of the Sierra Negra, the second largest in the world and then on to Volcán Chico (little volcano) at the eastern rim of the crater.

At Volcán Chico you can see in miniature the process that formed the Galapagos. Two recent eruptions have laid bare the geology of the islands: massive lava flows, small cones and miniature tunnels can all be easily viewed and explored. Here you will be able to picnic on the top of the volcano and enjoy truly spectacular views over the central and northern parts of Isabela, as well as Fernandina, Pinzón and Santa Cruz Islands.

Overnight: Isabella Hotel

Day 4 - Tintoreras

Today we will visit will take a short tour of the small islands of Tintoreras, a Galapagos in miniature. Here we can see white tipped sharks at rest, plus sea lions, turtles, rays and penguins. You will also have the chance to snorkel in the bay.

In the afternoon we walk the Wetlands Trail through the mangroves (all four types can be seen here) and marine iguana colonies while enjoying the network of trails, beaches and historic sites. At the end of the trail is the Wall of Tears, built in the late 1940’s by Second World War prisoners held at the US base on the island

Overnight: Isabella Hotel

Day 5 - Isabella - Quito

Today we say goodbye to Isabela and fly over the spectacular island scenery once more to Baltra where we board our return flight to Quito.

Overnight: Anahi Boutique Hotel

Day 6 - Quito - Otavalo

We leave Quito early in the morning, after a hearty breakfast. Otavalo is a region surrounded by majestic mountain ranges, full of fertile valleys and unmatchable scenic beauty, inhabited by kind people anxious to show you the customs and cultural heritage that make them so distinct. Later there will be a short hike to the Taxospamba waterfall, and on the way your guide will show you the medicinal herbs and plants that grow in the region, as well as the area´s many animals and birds, as well as discussing current conservation issues. In the afternoon we will travel up to the Mojanda lakes. Here you can take a two-hour scenic hike around the lakes and their marvelous scenery. If you feel more like unwinding and enjoying the view we can arrange a plan to fish, or simply relax at the lake.

Overnight: Mountainside Inn (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included)

Day 7 - Otavalo

Today we will head to the town of Otavalo. The town´s famous craft market is one of the most visited sites in Ecuador, and with good reason. The market is filled with interesting colourful and sometimes rare objects and crafts. Later we will have lunch in a local indigenous-owned restaurant and in the afternoon a local guide will take you on a fascinating tour of the villages and workshops of the local artisans, where you can see the techniques used to make the colourful textiles and crafts available in the town. In the afternoon you have the option to visit a rescue center for the protection and recovery of a number of species of birds of prey including the magnificent Andean Condor or if your craving more adventure, kayak around the tranquil lake San Pablo.

Overnight: Mountainside Inn (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner included)

Day 8 - Otavalo - Cloud Forest

Before leaving the lodge, there will be an optional early bird watching hike. After breakfast, we will leave on a short visit to the local community, less than a quarter of a mile down the road. Here you will have the chance to talk to some of the people of the village and see what they are doing to make progress in their daily lives. This is an opportunity to see what can be done and what you can do to help. Cloud Forest Lodge is located just outside the town of Mindo - recognized as a world class bird watching site by BirdLife International. Besides world-class birding, here you will enjoy hiking in lush cloud forests replete with orchids and bromeliads, river tubing, the spectacular butterflies of the ´Mariposarium´, as well as hikes to a primary forest reserve. In the afternoon our local guide will take you on a 2-hour exploration beside the Rio Mindo and through the nearby forest, where she will help you to find exotic birds and explain about medicinal plants and their local uses. A tasty well prepared dinner will be followed by a short briefing on the next day’s activities.

Overnight: Cloud Forest Lodge (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included)

Day 9 - Cock of the Rock Lek

Today we will make an early start to visit our ´cock of the rock´ lek, a place where these marvellous birds congregate to feed. After a healthy breakfast we will go on a nature walk along the heights of the Cordillera San Lorenzo. Your guide will talk about the birds and animals about that you will see along the way and if the weather permits help you catch a glimpse of spectacular birds such as the Golden-Headed Quetzal, Choco Toucan, Crimson Rumped Toucanet… among others. Back at the lodge after a well prepared lunch and a chance to relax in the peaceful surroundings, you will be able to explore one of our trails or enjoy whitewater tubing on the Mindo River.

Overnight: Cloud Forest Lodge (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included)

Day 10 - Cloud Forest - Quito

On this last morning you have the option of early nature walk before breakfast. After breakfast you can participate in a short walk on one of our trails or enjoy white-water tubing on the Mindo River or simply relax at the lodge main house and enjoy the surroundings, read a book or look around the house and get to know the lodge and its owners a little better. After lunch we will visit ´Tony’s House´, a well known place see more than 24 species of hummingbirds. The owner, Tony, an expert on the birds and their songs, has placed a lot of hummingbird feeders around his house, as well as in the forest, to attract the amazing variety of brilliantly coloured birds you will see here. More than 19 varieties can regularly be seen including some very rare examples.
In the evening we return to Quito.

Overnight: Anahi Boutique Hotel (Breakfast and Lunch included)

Accommodation Information

Anahi Boutique Hotel

Anahi Boutique Hotel in Quito is a charming and stylish boutique hotel, guided by the prestige value of traditional hospitality service, catering to the most discerning travelers. It is modern and stylish yet distinctively Ecuadorian at the same time.

Mountainside Inn

The Lodge´s eight guest cottages are built in traditional style, with compacted earth, wood and other natural materials. Each cottage has a garden and a private terrace with spectacular mountain vistas. The Lodge´s kitchen is a major attraction: here you will enjoy home cooked meals based on traditional Ecuadorian and international recipes, prepared with fresh organic products and grains directly from the farm.

Cloud Forest Lodge

This is not simply a place to stay. The Lodge and its owners are dedicated to preserving and protecting the natural beauty of Mindo, one of the most biologically diverse and endangered Cloud Forests in the world. What makes our Cloud Forest Lodge so special is its small size and personal touches. The lodge has 3 cabañas and a total capacity of 6 to 10 people, and first started receiving guests in 1998. It sits on 110 acres of land... the lodge and its garden and cabañas take up about 2.5 acres. The rest of the land is yours to use for nature walks, bird watching or just enjoying the surrounding forest.

Isabella Hotel

Accommodation is in a range of special locally owned hotels that we choose depending on availability. All are comfortable, pretty, clean, en suite, beachfront in the village of Puerto Villamil

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