Ecuador: Galapagos Cruise and Cloud Forest

Ecuador boasts history, fascinating indigenous cultures, slow winding rivers and lush tropical forests and some of the most exciting wildlife on earth. Your journey will include an exciting 8 day cruise exploring the Galapagos islands and a excursion into the enchanting Cloud Forest. Highlights include: incredible marine life, snorkeling, glass bottom boat excursions, hiking above the Clouds, first class bird watching, Cock-of-the-Rock Lek, and whitewater tubing down the Mindo River. This custom itinerary effectively condenses the best of Ecuador into a 12 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 - Cloud Forest

After breakfast we will leave Quito for the Cloud Forest. The 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 11 - 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 12 - 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.

Eric, Letty, and 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.

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.

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