Ecuador: Galapagos Land Expedition and Cotopaxi

Ecuador boasts history, fascinating indigenous cultures, spectacular snow capped volcanoes and some of the most exciting wildlife on earth. Your journey will explore the amazing Galapagos Islands and the spectacular mountain region of Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. Highlights include: a giant tortoise breeding center, hiking, ziplines over mountain valleys, and horseback riding with the Chagras. This 8 day custom itinerary exposes you to two very diverse yet equally incredible regions of Ecuador!

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 Isabella 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 - Cotopaxi

In the morning we will leave Quito and journey to one of the most beautiful parts of Ecuador: the area around Mt. Cotopaxi, at 5,879 m above sea level, the highest active volcano in the world. Before we arrive at the lodge there will be a chanced visit to Cotopaxi National Park where the interpretation center will give you an opportunity to get to know something about the plants and animals that populate this lush green mountain region. You will also learn about ancient eruptions of this truly majestic, snow capped, cone shaped volcano that have left an indelible imprint on the area. After we will start our climb to the Padre Rivas mountain climbers´ refuge, situated at an altitude of 4,800m (15,744 feet) above sea level. Here you will be above the clouds, and the scenery is absolutely spectacular. This is truly the land of the gods. In the afternoon we will explore some of the other interesting areas of this important national park: the beautiful Limpiopungo lagoon situated in the mountain peaks, and the ruins of ancient Inca fortress (pucara) of Salitre.

Overnight: Mountain Lodge (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner included)

Day 7 - Cotopaxi

After a good breakfast an expert ‘chagra’ (Andean cowboy), who will also be our local guide, will show us how to ride a horse provided by the lodge. The ´chagras´ with their colorful clothes and their well groomed horses are a reminder of the days when the horse was the main form of transport in the area. Our ride starts in the foothills of the craggy Rumiñahui volcano, named after a famous Inca general who lead the first uprising against the Spanish conquistadors. During the ride our local guide will share with us his knowledge of the ancient lore and myths of the region. We will be back for lunch at the lodge and in the afternoon we will walk around the hacienda and visit the Manto Blanco waterfall. Or if you prefer, we can relax in the Hacienda take part in some of the activities or just settle in front of the fire and relax before the evening meal.

Overnight: Mountain Lodge (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner included)

Day 8 - Cotopaxi - Quito

Today we will visit the Santa Rita private ecological reserve. We make our way up to the Hacienda Santa Rita Ecological Reserve to explore the forest canopy by zipline. This system was originally used by scientists who were doing research in the forest canopy and includes five cables between 100 and 480 meters long. The zipline provides a great vantage point for bird watching and enjoying the scenery, and will give you a real adrenaline rush as you soar above the trees. After a good picnic lunch, the group will be lead by the Reserve's park rangers as they perform trail maintenance and rehabilitation. The reserve is located on the slopes of Mt. Pasochoa. During our walk we will pass native forest until we get to the open grassland locally know as paramo, at 3,700 m above sea level. From here you will be able to view a magnificent panorama that includes the Antisana, Cayambe, Cotopaxi and Sincholagua volcanoes. In the afternoon we will head back to our hotel in 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.

Mountain Lodge

Each of our lodges (renovated, comfortable ´hacienda´ houses that once belonged to the country´s wealthy land owners) has its own magic, ecosystem and distinctive climate. All three are located in an area known ancestrally as the “Four Corners” where you can see four impressive volcanoes: Mt. Rumiñahui at 4,712 m, Mt. Pasochoa at 4,200 m, Mt. Sincholagua at 4,893 m and Mt Quilindaña at 4,878 m. The haciendas reflect their colonial and even pre-Hispanic history - one was even an Inca refuge - and offer comfortable lodging in one of the most pristine regions of the Andes. You will enjoy the relaxing, inviting facilities with the spirit and essence of Andean buildings: large buildings constructed with local materials such as wood, adobe and sun-dried brick.

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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