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Cloud forest, Andes & Galapagos - 7th May - 20th May 2017


Summary of Trip

  • Max 15 guests - price per person £4196 (excluding international flights)
  • Specially chartered private yacht in the Galapagos
  • Experience some of best and easiest birding in the world
  • Visit tropical forests buzzing with hummingbirds
  • Immerse yourself in spectacular Andean scenery
  • Accompanied every step by some of the best guides in Galapagos and Ecuador
  • Stay at incredible hand-picked hotels and lodges

Join us on a 14-day journey that allows you to experience the best Ecuador has to offer.
Starting in the colonial capital Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre in its own right, you’ll move onto tropical cloud forests literally buzzing with humming birds. The next stop is Ecuador’s Andes with its spectacular scenery and vibrant indigenous communities. The final part of your adventure will take you across to Galapagos for an eight day cruise on a luxury motor yacht visiting some of the most spectacular islands in this remarkable archipelago.

This trip coincides with the time when the seabirds are courting at their most intense with great displays and is one of the best times to visit the Galapagos Islands.

The trip will be led by Santiago Bejarano, one of the leading naturalists in the Galapagos who will also be joined by local expert guides throughout the journey offering unparalleled levels of personal service to each and every guest.

Here’s what previous guests have to say about this trip:

Quote"This is a probably the most wonderful holiday we have ever had. We will never forget all the amazing things we saw. After a lifetime of dreaming I saw Blue Footed Boobies. Seen 60 years or more ago on the television I never thought I would ever see one in real life and I saw loads !!! Thank you for all your work and efforts to give us our holiday to remember."

Quote"I wanted to thank you for leading our trip to Ecuador and Galapagos, your care and attention and amazing knowledge made the trip extra special. I felt safe, excited, curious, happy, amazed… for the entire trip. It was an astonishing and wonderful two weeks"

Read more of our guests comments on our guestbook page.

Details

  • Trip begins in Quito and ends in Guayaquil
  • 1 night in Hotel Quito – luxury hotel in the heart of the capital
  • 2 nights in Septimo Paradiso, Luxury Travel Guide Award winner 2016 for Luxury Cloud Forest Hotel of the Year
  • 2 nights Hacienda Cusin in Otovalo, Andes – a beautiful 17th century estate in the Andes
  • 1 night La Jimenita, Trip Advisor Travellers Choice winner 2015 – gorgeous hacienda style hotel near Quito’s new airport
  • 8 days/7 nights on board luxury yacht The Galaxy
  • All meals included

Outline Itinerary
7th May – Arrive in Quito
8th May – Quito – Cloud forest
9th May – Cloud forest
10th May – Cloud Forest – Northern Andes
11th May – Northern Andes – Hacienda Cusin
12th May – Northern Andes – La Jimenita
13th May - 20th May – Galapagos Cruise

£4196 per person
Price – is based on two people sharing a double room and includes:

Includes: All accommodation, meals, unlimited tea, coffee and water on the yacht, all transport, entrance fees and guide services as detailed in mainland Ecuador and Galapagos, flight Quito-Galapagos- Guayaquil, 8 day cruise full board on the Galaxy, services of tour leader Santiago and bilingual local Galapagos National Park guide, US$20 Galapagos Migration Card.

Does not include: alcoholic drinks and bottled soft drinks, $100 Galapagos National Park entry tax, international flights, tips, personal expenses, services not detailed.

** Single supplement for mainland Ecuador £295 per person – all yacht cabins to be shared except by special arrangement.

 Deposit:  £800 per person

 

If you would like any more information or to chat over the details of the trip we would be delighted to help. Telephone Telephone01964 552292 for more information or email email us today.

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Itinerary

Download: PDF Detailed Itinerary

7th May – Arrive Quito We can help book your international flight with KLM – which allows you to fly from your local airport via Amsterdam arriving in Quito mid-afternoon. You will be meet at the airport in Quito and taken to our hotel – Hotel Quito, which has one of the best locations in Quito with beautiful views across the city on one side and Tumbaco on the other. Light evening meal together at the hotel. Overnight Hotel Quito.

Humming Bird8th May – Quito - Cloud Forest This morning you will begin your city tour of Quito, Ecuador’s capital nestled high in the Andes. A UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its beautiful colonial architecture. Chance to see the changing of the guard at Ecuador’s Presidential Palace, before a light lunch in the heart of the old town. After lunch you will head out of town towards the beautiful cloud forests of Mindo.

The cloud forest here has some of the best and easiest birding in the world that will thrill both the novice and experienced birders alike! It also has the highest diversity of epiphytes (plants that grow on top of other plants) of anywhere in the world, along with an array of orchids and other stunning tropical flora, including a host of butterflies and moths (which we get to photograph during a visit to a butterfly farm, as well as around the lodge).

forestThe lodge, your home for the next two nights sits in its own 420 hectare reserve of pre-montane and montane cloud forest which boasts some 9,000 species of plant with 322 bird species recorded in the valley near to our lodge, Septimo Paradiso.

The altitude within the reserve drastically changes from 950 meters to 1650 meters above sea level. In addition the isolation of the region has created one of the most delicate, but rich and complex ecosystems known in the Mindo region.

Overnight Septimo Paradiso.

Making A Difference Septimo Paradiso Cloud Forest Reserve is a private protected area, created in 2001, with the aim of saving and preserving the forest and the diverse ecosystems that are contained within it. The reserve is managed by the Green Mindo Foundation, which is in charge of its conservation and ongoing studies. They are actively reforesting pastures and are working with Rainforest Alliance in their Good Management Practices Programme.

9th May – Cloud forest We have the full day today to explore the area around the lodge and Mindo. The area around the lodge itself has easy trails and a hummingbird feeding area outside which is literally buzzing with hummingbirds. Overnight Septimo Paradiso

Cloud forest – Otavalo –  Hacienda Cusin10th May – Cloud forest – Otavalo –  Hacienda Cusin This morning after breakfast, some more time to enjoy the hummingbirds and wildlife at the lodge, before we set off to drive back towards Quito and then head North to the Andean region of Ibarra, stopping for lunch at a charming local restaurant on the way.

Your home for the next 2 nights will be the beautiful Hacienda Cusin, a restored, 17th-century estate at 8.500ft/2.600m in Ecuador’s Northern Andes. The hacienda was converted into a charming country house hotel in 1990, preserving its history and ambience. The terracotta tile roofs, winding cobblestone pathways, courtyards and perennial gardens all add to the charm. There are 25 cosy rooms, suites and cottages, all with garden and snow-capped mountain views. The individually styled rooms have log-burning fireplaces, high-beamed ceilings and fine Andean Craft furnishings. There is also a bar, dining room and two acres of beautiful gardens.

Otavalo and the Northern Ande11th May – Otavalo and the Northern Andes The Otavaleños, who are the indigenous group from the area around Hacienda Cusin are skilled textile weavers, who gather at the market in the city of Otavalo to sell their products, as they have since pre-Inca times. Although the most famous market takes place on a Saturday, a smaller market is held in the main square each day with hundreds of colourful beautiful weavings and other crafts which we will visit this morning.

We will also have chance today to visit some of the craft villages nearby where people still use centuries old traditions and see some of the communities from this area.

We will also have a chance to see some of the beautiful scenery from this province, whose name means “Lake Province”, with lunch today by one of the most famous of the lakes, Lago San Pablo. Overnight Hacienda Cusin.

Quitsato12th May – Hacienda Cusin – Quitsato – La Jimenita A leisurely morning, to explore on your own the beautiful grounds of the hacienda, then around noon we will set off back towards Quito, driving back an alternative route, through beautiful scenery, and stopping to visit Quitsato equator site, which sits exactly on the equator, and provides a fascinating insight into some of Ecuador’s pre-Incan cultures.

From here we head onto La Jimenita, a charming country house hotel, which is located with great access to the new Quito airport which will be our home for the night. A pre-Galapagos briefing tonight, before the next stage of the journey begins.

Overnight La Jimenita

Making A Difference Owned and run by a local family for more than a century, this spacious hotel has the feel of a cosy cottage. Set in an extensive plot, with llamas roaming its grounds, it has plenty of walking trails to explore, with spectacular views of the Cotopaxi Volcano. Its clean, charming rooms are tastefully decorated with handmade wooden furniture. Enjoy an evening meal made with produce from their organic garden and served in the dining room by the roaring open fire. Known for their friendly and personalised service which makes you feel comfortable and at home.

Galapagos13th May – Flight to Galapagos and the start of the cruise. An early breakfast this morning before we head to the airport where we will take our flight out to the Galapagos Islands, to the islet of Baltra, where our local guide and some of the crew from our private yacht – the Galaxy – will be waiting to greet us.

The Galaxy is a beautiful motor yacht, launched in 2007, excellent crew, good food and very spacious and comfortable interiors. Run by a local company with a very good reputation it has been one of our favourite yachts in recent years. The yacht is relatively fast, which means less time navigating than on slower yachts. The cabins are all very spacious with comfortable lower beds and outside views and crucially the yacht has a wonderful 8 day itinerary including the Central, Southern, Northern and Eastern part of the archipelago, including Genovesa and Espanola Islands the two most spectacular Islands in the archipelago at this time of year.

Mosquera This tiny islet, nestled between Baltra and North Seymour islands is a beautiful long narrow beach with a large population of Galapagos Sea Lions. As with other areas in Galapagos this area has been geologically uplifted. A great opportunity for swimming and snorkelling off the beach.

Activities: Wet landing. Short walk along the beach (0.5 Mi). Snorkel.
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Galapagos Sea lion colony, Lava Gulls, Herons. Snorkel: Sharks, Rays, Parrotfish, Angelfish

14th May – Santiago – Sullivan Bay This site is of great geological interest and is located southeast of Santiago Island. Sullivan Bay offers a rare look at a recently formed lava-field. Located on the eastern coast of James Island, just across from Bartolome, this lava field is thought to have been created in eruptions that took place around 1890.

Activities: Hike (1.3 mi  / 2 km) swimming and snorkelling  
Difficulty:
Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry landing at the rocky shore and a wet landing at the white sand beach
Highlights & Animals: Pahoehoe lava flows, which has hardened in accordion-style formation.  Small glass-like bubbles of lava can be found, called “hornitos”.  Penguins in the coastline.

Bartolome Home to one of the most iconic scenery shots of Galapagos, this small island is located off the eastern shore of Santiago Island. The striking volcanic landscape looks almost lunar and provides a great introduction to the volcanic origins of the islands, with spatter cones and cinder cones some of which are eroded shaping striking formations like Pinnacle Rock. On the way to the top of Bartolome you will observe good examples of pioneering plants, including some beautiful strands of lava cactus. At sea level, this is a great place for swimming and snorkelling, if you are lucky with Galapagos Penguins.

Activities: Dinghy ride & snorkelling. Hike uphill (1.2 mi / 2 km)
Difficulty:
Moderate/ difficult. Walk up to the top of volcano 114 meters, 375 wooden steps.
Type of Landing: Dry and wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Pinnacle rock, panoramic view, moonlike landscape, Penguins, pioneer plants, lava cactus. Snorkelling: Penguins, Reef Sharks, Rays, great colourful fish.

Genovesa15th May – Genovesa (Tower) A highlight of any visit to the Galapagos, a truly beautiful island thanks to the richness of its birdlife. Located in the northeast portion of Galapagos, the island is an outpost for many seabirds (as is Española in the South). Interestingly there are no land reptiles here and only very small Marine Iguanas, due to direction of ocean currents which apparently would not have carried terrestrial animals here. You will visit the following sites.

Vampire FinchesEl Barranco or Prince Philip’s Steps The tour begins with a great dinghy (small dinghy) ride along the base of the cliffs where you see Red-billed Tropicbirds trying to make a precise landing in their nest. Squadrons of Frigatebirds are seen flying back and forth, whilst Red-footed Boobies perch on branches of Palo Santo trees which seemingly grow out of the cliffs. Once you arrive on land and climb to the cliff-top, you enter an area where nesting Nazca Boobies and Great Frigatebirds are found. It is also a great place to see Galapagos Doves and Vampire Finches (Sharp-beaked Ground finches)…ask your guide for the full story on the name! You will also see a large colony of Storm Petrels which attracts Short-eared Owls, often observed stalking at these small sea birds, even during the day.

Activities: Hike (0.9 mi / 1 ½ km)
Difficulty:
Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry, difficult landing
Highlights & Animals: Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds, Short-eared Owls, Storm Petrels, Galapagos Doves, Darwin Finches.

Great FrigatebirdsGenovesa - Darwin Bay This bay is actually the caldera of an extinct, partially eroded volcano, with the surrounding cliffs forming the inner portion of the rim. You will land on a coral beach, and will immediately be struck by the amount of birdlife. The trail is loaded with Great Frigatebirds (mating season from February to May), Red-footed Boobies nesting in the mangroves, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Lava Gulls, Yellow-crowned Night Herons. Your trail takes you past a beautiful tide pool area where herons try to catch small fish.

Activities: Hike (0.9 mi / 1 ½ km), snorkelling, kayaking & dinghy ride
Difficulty:
Easy/moderate
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Nazca Boobies, Red- footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls, mangroves, coral pebbles beach. Snorkelling: rays, colourful reef fish and Hammerhead Sharks .

Giant Tortoise16th May – San Cristobal – Galapaguera Cerro Colorado Located in the south east of San Cristobal, this area is home to giant tortoise corral, where tortoises are kept in near-natural conditions. The site has been developed to help restore the Giant Tortoise population of the island (which was badly impacted by whalers in past centuries) and provides a great chance to see these magnificent giants up close in a natural habitat with paths covering an area of 900 meters. You will also have great chances of seeing the San Cristobal Mockingbird, Woodpecker Finch and Large and Small Tree Finches here. It is also one of the few places that you can see the delicate Calandrinia galapagosa, a critically endangered plant endemic to San Cristobal.

Activities: Short hike (less than 0.6 mi / 1 km).
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: No landing
Highlights & Animals: Dry vegetation of lowlands. Giant Tortoises, San Cristobal Mockingbird, Darwin Finches.

San Cristobal - Isla Lobos A perfect place to swim with playful Sea Lions and snorkel.  This basalt island outcropping lives up to its name of “Sea Lion Island”.  As well as the Sea Lion colony on the beach it is also a nesting place for Blue-footed Boobies.

Activities: Hike (0.5 mi / 0.8 km), dinghy ride, snorkelling
Difficulty:
Short but difficult walk.
Type of Landing: Dry Landing
Highlights & Animals:Sea lion colony, shore birds, seasonal nesting Frigatebirds, Darwin finches. Snorkelling: Sea lions, fish.

San Cristobal - Leon Dormido Sometimes called Kicker Rock, Leon Dormido is a huge rock formation near the coast of San Cristobal, an eroded cinder cone with two vertical rocks rising over 150 meters from the ocean, and a favourite spot for Tropicbirds along with Great and Magnificent Frigatebirds. You will visit this site by boat and it is a great spot for snorkelling.

Activities: Snorkelling & dinghy Ride
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: No landing
Highlights & Animals: Deep water snorkelling: Sharks, tropical fish, Turtles, Manta rays, Hammerhead shark, spectacular rock formations, sea birds: Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies & Frigatebirds.

Española17th May – Española (Hood) This island is one of the highlights of any visit to Galapagos. Española is the southernmost island in the Galapagos, and is also one of the oldest. Numerous Sea Lions are seen here, plus hundreds of Marine Iguanas basking on the rocks. Española’s Marine Iguanas are unlike other Galapagos Marine Iguanas thanks to their bright colouring. Española is home to thousands of nesting seabirds all year, including Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and Frigatebirds.

Waved AlbatrosBetween late March and December the Waved Albatross, perhaps the most spectacular of Galapagos birds, returns to Española by the thousands to perform their amazing mating dance and produce the next generation. Almost the entire population breeds on this island during this time, and they spend the rest of the year at sea.

Punta Suárez Regarding the amount of wildlife, this one of the best trails in the whole islands. Despite the difficult terrain, the walk is an absolute marvel, as from the beginning to the end you will see large quantities of Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, gulls, Galapagos Hawks and during most of the year, Waved Albatross. There are spectacular views of flying birds from the cliffs.

Activities: Hike (1.9 mi  / 3 km)
Difficulty:
Difficult, rocky terrain.
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Española Mockingbird, Nazca Boobies, Waved Albatross, Red-billed Tropicbirds, lava lizards, Galapagos Hawk, Blue-footed Boobies, blow hole, amazing landscape.

Gardner Bay This beautiful bay is nestled between Gardner islet and the beautiful coral sand beach in Española. You will visit a spectacular white sand beach, home to one of the largest Sea Lion colonies in the islands, where you can also see endemic Española Mockingbirds and with some luck, Galapagos Hawks.

Activities: Snorkelling and kayaking. Short hike along the beach (0.6 mi / 1km)
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: White sandy beach, Sea Lion colony, Mockingbirds Galapagos Hawks. Snorkelling: colourful fish, Sea Lion nursery.

18th May – Floreana - Post Office Bay The famous Post Office Bay is where people leave their mail to be picked up and delivered by others in the “post office” barrel—a time-honoured tradition begun by whalers more than two hundreds of years ago.

Activities: Short hike (less than 0.2 mi / 0.3km), lava tunnel & snorkelling
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals :Barrel Post Office, lava tunnel inland (difficult access), nice sandy beach.

Floreana - Punta Cormorant At Punta Cormorant you will walk on an olivine beach (a mineral known for its olive-green quality, that is found in meteorites, the moon and mars as well as on earth), visit a large lagoon where Greater Flamingos sometimes nest, and walk over to Flour Beach, a beautiful white sandy beach to look for Green Sea Turtle nests.

Activities: Hike (1.2 mi/2km)
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: An easy walk along a coastal lagoon where Flamingos are often found, along with Stilts and Ducks. White sand beach.

Floreana – Devil’s Crown One of the highlights of this area is snorkelling at Devil’s Crown, a partially submerged crater teeming with Parrotfish, Wrasse, Surgeonfish, and Damselfish among many other varieties of tropical fish

Activities: Snorkel
Difficulty:
Moderate. Strong current
Type of Landing: No landing
Highlights & Animals: One of the best snorkelling sites in the islands, but a strong current can be a challenge for very inexperienced divers. Sea Lions, Reef Sharks, Sea Turtles, Hammerhead Sharks, Rays, many fish.

Flamingo19th May – Santa Fe This is the oldest of the Galapagos islands. Its paradisiacal bay offers great possibilities to swim and snorkel in crystal clear waters. A hike inland offers a great chance to see a species of Land Iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) which is endemic to Santa Fe Island. In the same area you’ll also see a forest of giant prickly pear cactus.

After your visit you can swim and snorkel both inside and outside the bay.

Activities: Hiking, Snorkelling
Difficulty:
Moderate.
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Santa Fe Land Iguanas, Sea Lion colony, Galapagos hawks, Mockingbirds, giant prickly pear cactus (the tallest in Galapagos). Snorkel: Sea Lions, Reef Sharks, Parrotfish, Surgeonfish.

IguanasSouth Plaza This is the best island for observing Land Iguanas, along with Cactus Finches, Tropicbirds and Sea Lions. One of your first stops will be through a small “forest” of Prickly Pear Cactus. The walk along the sea cliffs is a wonderful experience, with Galapagos Shearwaters and Red-billed Tropicbirds gliding by. Towards the end of the walk is a bachelor Sea Lion colony, with a battle-scared collection of old bulls in various states of recuperation or total retirement!

Activities: Hike (1.5 mi / 2 ½ km)
Difficulty:
Moderate.
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Land Iguanas, Sea Lion colony, Galapagos Shearwaters, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Nazca Boobies, amazing landscape with cliff.

Scalesias20th May – Santa Cruz – Highlands – Baltra – Guayaquil The highlands of Santa Cruz are home to fascinating geological features, like lava tubes and the twin sinkhole craters of Los Gemelos, which are home to some 300 different fern species as well as a forest of Scalesias, a relative of sunflowers. However, the real highlight of the highlands of Santa Cruz is that it is one of the best places to see Giant Tortoises in the wild, so this morning we have our final visit here to see these magnificent giants in the wild before heading to the airport at Baltra, where you will take your flight to Guayaquil on the coast of Ecuador and connecting flight home.

Activities: Hike (0.9 mi / 1 ½ km)
Difficulty:
Easy/moderate
Type of Landing:
Highlights & Animals: Pit craters, Scalesia Forest, Darwin finches, Warblers, Flycatchers.

Please note: In Galapagos itineraries are unlikely to change significantly but are subject to change. Weather, wildlife breeding, instructions from the Galapagos National Park, specific abilities and interests of passengers as well as operational matters may cause your guide or captain to change the times or nature of your visits. Your guide will always endeavour to have the best itinerary for you within these constraints.

 

If you would like any more information or to chat over the details of the trip we would be delighted to help. Telephone Telephone01964 552292 for more information or email email us today.

Accommodation

GalaxyGalaxy

Beautiful spacious and comfortable, great value for level of quality, great service, good local operator. Galaxy is a beautiful motor yacht, launched in 2007...

Hotel QuitoHotel Quito

The Hotel Quito, has arguably the best location in town, with beautiful views across the city of Quito on one side, and across the valley of Tumbaco...

La JimenitaLa Jimenita

Owned and run by a local family for more than a century, this spacious hotel has the feel of a cosy cottage. Only around 12 minutes drive from the new Quito airport...

Hacienda CusinHacienda Cusin

Nestled in Ecuador’s Northern Andes, around 20 minutes away from the famous Otavalo market, Hacienda Cusin is one of Ecuador’s oldest haciendas...

 

If you would like any more information or to chat over the details of the trip we would be delighted to help. Telephone Telephone01964 552292 for more information or email email us today.

Think Galapagos

SantiagoCall Santiago, Galapagos specialist and trip leader
on 01964 552292
Contcat us online

Quote "Each day was an adventure which was eagerly awaited after the appetite had been whetted by the previous evening’s summary. Cannot heap enough praise on all involved, marks awarded, 11 out of 10. Memories of a lifetime."

Michael & Margaret Bennett May 2016

Quote "This is a probably the most wonderful holiday we have ever had. We will never forget all the amazing things we saw. Thank you for all your work and efforts to give us our holiday to remember."

Denise and Gerald Massey, May 2016

Quote "What a fantastic trip we had. Santiago and the guides, Andres and Carlos, were so knowledgeable and helpful. Thank you so much for making it all possible."

Sandra Kelman, May 2016

Quote “I felt safe, excited, curious, happy, amazed… for the entire trip. It was an astonishing and wonderful two weeks.”

Joyce Rothschild May 2016


Soft landings and extensions
We are very happy to organise ‘soft landings’ and extensions to our trips, arriving early for your tour or taking an extension at the end. This can often help get you in the right time zone at the beginning or give you a rest, or a chance to visit more of Ecuador after the main tour has finished.

Rachel DexCall Rachel, Ecuador and Galapagos Specialist
on 01964 552292
Contcat us online

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