Ecuador: Galapagos Cruise and Amazon Cultural Explorer

Ecuador boasts history, fascinating indigenous cultures, slow winding rivers and lush tropical forests, as well as some of the most exciting wildlife on earth. Your journey will include a 8 day cruise of the incredible Galapagos Islands followed by an excursion to the enchanting Amazon rainforest. The glass bottom boat and experienced on deck crew of naturalists offers an unforgettable Galapagos experience. Your trip to the Amazon will take you beyond the exotic scenery and exciting wildlife. During this journey visitors are given a unique opportunity to share time with people from ancient Amazon forest cultures: the Huaorani, the Secoya and other native people that share and preserve this globally important ecosystem. Here you will see this special world through the eyes of the people that live here, and learn what it means to have the rainforest as a home and have to fight to preserve it. This custom itinerary effectively condenses the perfect blend of Ecuador's exotic culture and environment into a 14 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 - Playa Ochoa - Leon Dormido

Arrive at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island, where our crew meets you at the airport and escorts you to your anchored yacht. This afternoon, visit Playa Ochoa, where we enjoy a subtle introduction to the Galapagos with a beautiful, white, powder-sand beach. As the sun sets, we cruise around Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), a vertical tuff cone formation that abruptly juts up almost 500 feet out of the ocean. Watch sea lions, blue-footed boobies, masked boobies and magnificent frigate birds on the cliffs.

Overnight: Eric, Letty, or Flamingo Yacht (All meals included)

Day 3 - Genovesa

We spend the entire day on Genovesa (Tower), one of the most spectacular Islands in Galapagos. After a wet landing on Darwin Bay’s coral beach, wind your way past tide pools where swallow-tailed and lava gulls gather. Enter a forest of mangroves where colonies of great frigate birds nest. The males inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females that fly overhead. After swimming or sea kayaking, take a panga ride along the jagged shoreline. See the beautiful red-billed tropic bird. At Prince Philip’s Steps, find storm petrels and the elusive short-eared owl, and watch the famous red-footed boobies nesting in Palo Santo trees.

Overnight: Eric, Letty, or Flamingo Yacht (All meals included)

Day 4 - Isabela - Fernandina

This morning, we visit Tagus Cove, Isabela. Six volcanoes flowed together and formed Isabela, the largest Island in Galapagos. On a nature walk, discover a salt-water lagoon, a scenic overlook, and a spectacular view of lava fields, volcanic formations and the ocean. Note graffiti dating back to the 1800's is written on the rocky cliffs. Explore Tagus Cove in pangas or sea kayaks and find Galapagos penguins and other seabirds. After lunch, we cross the Bolivar Canal and disembark at Punta Espinoza, Fernandina. Located in the western part of the archipelago, Fernandina is the youngest and most pristine Island found in Galapagos. Hundreds of marine iguanas, the largest colony in Galapagos, bask in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory. Flightless Cormorants build their nest on the point and Galapagos Hawk fly overhead. Evidence of recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast.

Overnight: Eric, Letty, or Flamingo Yacht (All meals included)

Day 5 - Santiago - Sombrero Chino

This morning, stroll along the shore at Puerto Egas, Santiago (James) looking for octopus, starfish and other sea life caught in the tide pools. The trail brings us to a colony of the endemic Galápagos fur seals. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon emerald green algae beds. Sombrero Chino is a tiny island just off the southeast tip of Santiago. Its name (Chinese Hat) describes the island's shape. After a dry landing, enjoy exploring this special landscape.

Overnight: Eric, Letty, or Flamingo Yacht (All meals included)

Day 6 - Bartolome - North Seymour

On Bartolome, it seems like we are walking on the moon. This young Island is inhospitable to most plants and animals. After a dry landing, climb 30 minutes up a steep slope to the summit of a once active volcano. Pause along theway to marvel at lava bombs, spatter cones and cinder cones. From the top, gaze out across a panoramic view including the famous "Pinnacle Rock", an eroded tuff cone. Down below, crystal clear water invites you to snorkel with schools of tropical fish. Galapagos Penguins often swim in this area. On the other side of the Island encounter sea turtles and white-tipped sharks. This afternoon, we disembark on North Seymour, also a small geological uplift. After a dry landing, we follow a trail that leads us to sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls and blue-footed boobies. Visit the largest colony of magnificent frigatebirds found in Galapagos. As we stroll along the beach, watch for sea lions body surfing the northern swells.

Overnight: Eric, Letty, or Flamingo Yacht (All meals included)

Day 7 - Charles Darwin Research Station and Santa Cruz

This morning, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here we witness the efforts and results of all the field work done in the name of science. Observe year-old tortoises and learn about the captive-breeding program. Then, a stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora will allow you to see how Galapagueños live in this magical paradise. After lunch on board, we climb aboard a bus and take an excursion to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Here you'll have the special opportunity to view the islands’ most famous reptile: the giant tortoises in their wild habitat. What a privilege to see an endangered species roving in this lush environment! The vegetation of the area includes the Scalesia Forest and birds such as the vermilion flycatcher, will delight everyone with its scarlet feathers against an emerald green forest.

Overnight: Eric, Letty, or Flamingo Yacht (All meals included)

Day 8 -Espanola

This morning, step onto Gardner Bay, Espanola (Hood). Walk along seemingly endless stretches of sandy beach where you’ll find colonies of sea lions. Swim and snorkel with the sea lions and enjoy the colorful diversity of sea life near Gardner Islet. This afternoon, we disembark at Punta Suarez, Espanola, where we witness the highest rate of “endemicism” in the Galapagos. Sea lions noisily green us as we land on their beach. Curious mockingbirds peck at our shoelaces. From April to November waved albatross perform their wild mating rituals only on Espanola.

Overnight: Eric, Letty, or Flamingo Yacht (All meals included)

Day 9 - San Cristobal - Quito

Visit the San Cristóbal Interpretation Center, and get a deeper understanding of the natural history of the Galápagos. Afterwards, you can stroll through Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, where souvenir shops and Internet cafés welcome world travelers who are willing to catch up with the world, and share the many wonders witnessed, before heading back to the mainland. Transfer to the airport to take the flight back to Quito.

Overnight: Anahi Boutique Hotel (Breakfast included)

Day 10 - Quito - Amazon Rainforest

Getting to the Huaorani’s world is part of the experience. We drive from Quito to the town of Shell, passing through the spectacular ‘Avenida de los Volcanes’ where you will be able to see some of the most magnificent scenery Ecuador has to offer. In Shell, a town named after the oil company, we board a small plane, flying for 35 minutes to Quehueri ´ono over spectacular rainforest panoramas. A dug- out canoe will then take us to the Lodge where, after settling in, you will get your first taste of the Amazon, and explore one of the short forest trails close to the Lodge.

Overnight: Huaorani Ecolodge (Lunch and Dinner included)

Day 11 - Amazon Rainforest

This is the day we get a chance to know the people of the Huaorani Community of Quehueri’ono. You will be able to join them in some of their daily activities and have a chance to share some of their history, myths and magic. Later, in the warmth of the evening we will relax in the company of the sounds of the Amazon rainforest.

Overnight: Huaorani Ecolodge (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included)

Day 12 - Amazon Rainforest

On the Hunting Trail. Accompanied by our guide and a member of the community equipped with lance and blow pipe, we explore the ways of the forest and the animals, entering the world the Huaorani share with them. You will be able to try your hand (or mouth) at the blow pipe and get to know more about this marvellous world that is now threatened by oil fields and palm plantations.

Overnight: Huaorani Ecolodge (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included)

Day 13 - Amazon Rainforest

A visit to the community of Nenkepare and a hike to a stunning waterfall are on the agenda. One of the highlights of the day is the early morning departure in dugout canoe or kayaking, poling silently as the sun begins to rise and the mist dissipates on the Shiripuno River. This is a chance to see forest animals that are often active at this hour. We will camp overnight at Nenkepare in comfortable, fully serviced tents and relax alongside the river listening to the forest chorus.

Overnight: Nenkepare Campsite (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner included)

Day 14 - Amazon Rainforest - Quito

Leaving our fully serviced campsite in Nenkepare, we travel on the Via Auca to the town of Coca (the formal name is Puerto Francisco de Orellana after the Spanish conquistador/explorer) where we will board the flight back to Quito. The journey will be revealing. The road was constructed by Texaco in the nineteen seventies as a way to access the oil fields and as we move along its eroded surface we will experience what the oil industry brochures don’t show, and appreciate why the Ecolodge is so important to the rainforest , the Huaorani and their way of life.

Overnight: Anahi Boutique Hotel

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.

Eric, Letty, Flamingo Yachts

These superior first-class sister yachts accommodate no more than 20 guests and feature three decks of spacious staterooms with polished teak interiors trimmed with shiny brass fittings. Accommodations include ten double outside-facing cabins with a window or porthole view, one double bed or two twin lower beds, fully air-conditioned with private bath (hot and cold water showers), soap/shampoo dispensers, hair dryer, closet, drawers, intercom and separate climate controls for your comfort.

There’s a dining room, well-stocked bar and conference area with a flat screen TV and panoramic picture windows. Or you can relax in a lounge chair on the sun deck, enjoying sea breezes, sunshine or a sky full of stars.

Huaorani Ecolodge

Huaorani Ecolodge is an intimate, harmonious and environmentally sustainable stay in the Amazon rainforest. It is a way to share time with the Huaorani and experience the richness of their natural environment, while creating the least possible impact on the surroundings.

The Ecolodge provides accommodation for a maximum of ten people housed in five comfortable, traditionally built, palm thatched cabins. All cabins are fully meshed to keep you safe from biting insects, and are spaced to provide privacy and a chance to enjoy the sounds of the balmy Amazon nights.

The restaurant provides nutritionally balanced meals, hygienically prepared with care and artistry by the local chefs. Locally grown produce is used wherever possible. Fruit, tea and coffee are always on hand and a bar is available for beer, wine and soft drinks. Locally made handicrafts and souvenirs can be bought from the community shop.

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