The Best of Ecuador and the Galapagos
The Best of Ecuador and the Galapagos
9 Days / 8 Nights
- Shop a market that has been in existence since pre-incan times in Otavalo.
- Experience the cultural hybrid that is Quito.
- Hike to iguana nesting sites in the Galápagos.
- Snorkle with penguins and hammerhead sharks.
- See giant tortoises amble in a forest of daisy trees.
Fully Customized – Private Tour – Daily Departures
This sample itinerary takes you on an unforgettable cruise of the Galápagos, where you will come into contact with the islands’ unique wildlife, from Blue-Footed Boobies to giant tortoises to marine iguanas. You will also have the opportunity to explore Quito and the Otavalo market, one of South America’s best craft markets.
Day 1: Arrival in Quito
Welcome to Ecuador
Upon arrival in Quito, you will be met by your Kuoda host, who will escort you to the San Francisco de Quito hotel, check you in, review your itinerary and answer any questions you may have.
Day 2: Otavalo
Visit to the Otavalo Market
Early in the morning you will depart from Quito to pay a visit to the Otavalo Market, which is one of South America’s most famous crafts markets. The market dates back to pre-Inca times and is famous for its textiles woven on back-strap and shuttle looms.
After visiting the market you will return to Quito and your hotel for a tranquil evening.
Day 3: Quito
Quito City Tour
In the morning you will explore the city of Quito. You will begin with a drive through the northern residential section of modern Quito and continue to the historic colonial centre, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
This area is said to have more than 40 churches and chapels, 16 convents and monasteries with their cloisters, 17 plazas and courtyards and 12 museums. You will continue to the Parque Alameda, which houses the oldest astronomical observatory in South America, move on to Independence Square and finish the tour at the Church of San Francisco, Quito’s oldest church and monastery, and one of the great religious buildings of the New World.
Day 4: Quito to the Galápagos Islands
Begin Your Cruise
In the morning, your Kuoda host will escort you to the airport for your flight to the extremely bio-diverse Galápagos Islands. Upon arrival, you will be taken to the dock to board your cruiser.
After an introductory welcome speech and lunch, you will travel among mangrove-lined islets to Santa Cruz Island, an area of past volcanic activity. In this area and the waters surrounding it, various types of birds can be seen, such as boobies, frigates, and pelicans. You might also see the marine iguana, marine turtles, rays and sharks.
After a dry landing and a short hike, you will observe bird species such as greater flamingos, common stilts, and pintail ducks. You will continue hiking to Dragon Hill (Cerro Dragon), which offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. This is the nesting site of a large number of land iguanas.
Day 5: Cruising the Galápagos
In the morning you will disembark at Bartolomé Island and prepare for a steep climb, aided by a wooden staircase, up to the summit of the hill. The view from the top is worth the effort, as you can look down upon the entire island and surrounding turquoise waters. After descending, enjoy a panga ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock and snorkeling next to Galápagos Penguins.
After lunch aboard ship, you will travel to Puerto Egas, which is a wonderful place to see all kinds of shore and land birds. Walking along the pitch black shore you arrive at the temporary home of a colony of sea lions. You might also be able to spot some marine iguanas grazing upon deep-green algae beds.
Day 6: Cruising the Galápagos
Darwin Bay (Tower Island)
After breakfast, you will come ashore at a small white-coralline beach. You will take a stroll, observing hundreds of birds, including great frigate birds, red-footed and Nazca boobies and a variety of finches. Afterwards, you may either return to the beach for a bit of peaceful snorkeling or you can snorkel along the cliffs seeking hammerhead sharks.
Back onboard, you will spend the time after lunch spotting whales and dolphins.
Later in the day, you’ll arrive at North Seymour Island. An afternoon walk takes you to see colonies of Blue-Footed Boobies, magnificent frigate birds and swallow-tail gulls. The sandy shore teems with Galápagos sea lions and marine iguanas.
Day 7: Cruising the Galápagos
Santa Fe (Barrington Island)
Early in the morning you will disembark to visit Santa Fe (Barrington) Island, which has the oldest rocks of all of the Galápagos. You will follow a trail that leads to large land iguanas, which are endemic to Barrington Island.
In the afternoon you will sail to Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is staffed by international scientists conducting biological research and conservation projects. Here you will see the giant tortoises, the impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest, as well as many different land birds.
In the afternoon, you will be driven up to the lush highlands to see the Scalesia (a giant daisy tree) forest and the twin pit craters, “Los Gemelos.” Here, you will look for the endangered giant tortoises roving in their wild habitat.
Day 8: Return to Quito
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno / Flight to Quito
In the morning you will visit Puerto Baquerizo Moreno Island. This small attractive port is the provincial capital of the Galápagos Islands. You will visit the San Cristóbal Interpretation Center, where you can obtain information about the natural history of the Galápagos Islands.
Afterwards, you can take a walk through colorful Puerto Baquerizo Moreno with its souvenir shops and internet cafés.
Later in the day, you will be transferred to the mainland for your return flight to Quito. Your Kuoda host will bring you to your Quito hotel.
Day 9: Quito to Home
At the appropriate time, your Kuoda Quito host will take you to the airport for your international flight home.
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