Ecuador: From Sea to Summit

Experience Ecuador's 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 12 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 - 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 - 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 11 - 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 12 - 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.

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.

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.

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