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Cloud forest, Andes & Galapagos - 11th May - 24th May 2019


Summary of Trip

  • Max 15 guests - price per person £4797 (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 Tip Top II
  • All meals included

Outline Itinerary
11th May – Arrive in Quito
12th May – Quito – Cloud forest
13th May – Cloud forest
14th May – Cloud Forest – Northern Andes
15th May – Northern Andes – Hacienda Cusin
16th May – Northern Andes – La Jimenita
17th May - 24th May – Galapagos Cruise

£4797 per person
Price – is based on two people sharing a double room and includes:

Includes: Fully escorted tour with services of tour leader Santiago Bejarano from 11-24 May, Galapagos National Park Guide during the cruise and bilingual specialist local guide from 11-16 May, all airport transfers, all transport in mainland Ecuador, all meals from dinner on 11 May until Breakfast on 24 May, flight Quito – Baltra – Guayaquil, unlimited tea, coffee and water during the cruise, 8 days on board the Tip Top II, all accommodation as detailed on a double basis (Single rooms are available also on request), US$20 Galapagos Migration Card, snorkel mask, tube and fins on yacht.   

Does not include: international flights, US$100 Galapagos National Park entrance fee, alcoholic drinks and beverages and bottled soft drinks, services not detailed, tips, personal expenses, wetsuit hire (approx. $40 for the week). 

** Single supplement for mainland Ecuador £347 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

11th May – Arrive Quito You will be met at the airport in Quito and taken to our hotel – Hotel Quito, the first hotel to be built in Quito, which has one of the best locations the city with beautiful views across Quito on one side and Tumbaco on the other. Our trip will start with a welcome dinner this evening. Overnight Hotel Quito.

Humming Bird12th 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.

13th 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 Cusin14th 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 Ande15th 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.

Quitsato16th 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

Galapagos17th May – Flight to Galapagos and the start of the cruise. The Tip Top II is one of the newest catamarans in Galapagos, with great service and a very friendly crew, accommodating 16 passengers in 10 double cabins each with private shower and toilet. There is a bar, dining room, library, sundeck and diving platform. Just some of the luxuries you'll enjoy on the yacht's three decks are air conditioning, a TV, a VCR, a full sound system, an inviting dining room, a fully equipped bar, a spacious sundeck, and snorkelling equipment. This is a great itinerary visiting central and southern part of the archipelago, with a superb mix of Galapagos wildlife and excellent snorkelling.

Baltra - Arrival at the airport in Galapagos Upon arrival to Baltra, once we have passed through the migration control and taken to the island of Santa Cruz, to visit the highlands of Santa Cruz. We will have lunch up in the highlands in a private ranch which has wild giant tortoises roaming free which will give us our first chance to see these magnificent giants in the wild.

Humming BirdSanta Cruz – Highlands 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. This is an excellent area to look for some elusive endemics like the Woodpecker Finch (one of only a few bird species in the world to use tools), Small Tree Finch, Vegetarian Finch and Galapagos Rail. The highlands of Santa Cruz are one of the best places to see Giant Tortoises in the wild. From here will board our yacht, the Tip Top II, our home for the next 7 nights.

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

Humming Bird18th May – Santa Fe A volcanic uplift, this island offers a great chance to see the Land Iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) endemic to Santa Fe Island. Some of these can be 5 feet long and have a beautiful golden-yellow colour that shows off the scales to advantage.

In the same area you’ll also see a forest of Giant Prickly Pear Cactus. After your visit swimming and snorkelling will often follow..

Activities: Hiking
Difficulty:
Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Land Iguanas, giant endemic cacti (Opuntia)

South 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 (Opuntia) 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 (0.8 mi / 1.2 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.s

Humming Bird19th May – Chinese Hat or Sombrero Chino Located just off the southeast tip of James Island, this island owes its name to its shape. A truly beautiful island, surrounded by crystal clear waters, this is a great location for sea lions.

Perhaps more than any other site, this islet gives you a sense of Galapagos volcanic origins as the beautiful white beach gives way to an almost primeval landscape of volcanic rubble.

Activities: Hiking (0.3 mi. / 0.4km) Snorkelling & Kayaking.
Difficulty:
Easy / Moderate
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Walk along the shore visiting a small colony of Galapagos Sea Lions. Penguins.  Snorkel: Penguins, Reef sharks, Parrotfish, Puffers.

Humming BirdRabida A red sandy beach with Sea lions and nesting Brown Pelicans, which sometimes afford a rare glimpse of chick feeding. There is a short walk inland which offers great views of the beach and lagoon. Years ago Flamingos where regularly seen at the salty lagoon, but nowadays this is a rare sight. Geologically, Rabida is said to have the most diversified volcanic rocks of all the islands. It also provides a great opportunity to snorkel with Sea lions and has a great diversity of near-shore and pelagic fish.

Activities: Hiking (0.5 mi / 0.8 km) Kayaking and Snorkelling
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals:Red sand beach, coastal lagoon, Galapagos Sea Lions, Seasonal colony of Brown Pelicans, Galapagos Hawk. Snorkel: Sea lions, Butterflyfish, Parrotfish, Eels.

Humming Bird20th May – Santa Cruz - Black Turtle Cove (Caleta Tortuga Negra) A beautiful mangrove lagoon on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. The yacht anchors just outside the cove and you will enter on a dinghy, paddling through the calm waters of the lagoon, which is a resting site for Green Sea Turtles. A wonderfully quiet journey, through a beautiful and unique habitat. With good luck as well as Marine Turtles you will see different types of sharks and schools of Golden and Eagle Rays swimming just below the surface, whilst Yellow Warblers sing from above.

Activities: Boat tour in a lagoon, wildlife observation.
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: No landing
Highlights & Animals: Lagoon surrounded by mangroves. Sharks, rays, sea turtles, pelicans and Blue-footed Boobies.

Humming BirdSanta Cruz – Cerro Dragon or Dragon Hill After a dry landing, the walk will take you along the edge of a salt water lagoon behind the beach where you can often see flamingos, Pintail Ducks, stilts and other bird species.

A short walk inland, offers a great view of the bay and a nesting site for Land Iguanas, many of which were repatriated back to Cerro Dragon by the Charles Darwin Research Station, after their near-extinction due to feral dogs and cats.

Activities: Hiking (1 mi./ 1.6km) Snorkelling
Difficulty:
Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry Landing
Highlights & Animals: Coastal lagoon with variety of water birds: Herons, Stilts, Pintail Ducks, Oystercatchers, Flamingos. Giant Cactus, Land Iguanas, Darwin Finches, Mockingbirds.  Snorkel: Parrotfish, Puffers, Snappers, Sea Turtles.

Humming Bird21st May – Floreana - Post Office Bay You will land on a beach and head to a spot where 18th century whalers placed a wooden barrel for use as an unofficial mail box.

The custom continues to this day with Galapagos visitors. So, don´t forget your postcards, and don´t be surprised if the post card arrives to its destination before you even get home!

Activities: Short hike (less than 0.6 mi / 1km) & snorkelling
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals :Barrel Post Office, nice sandy 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.

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: Snorkelling & panga ride & hiking (0.7 mi/1.2km)
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.

Humming Bird22nd 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 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, and the Lava Lizards are distinctive too.

AEspañola is home to thousands of nesting seabirds all year, including Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and Frigatebirds. Between late March and early 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 (1.2 mi / 2 km)
Difficulty:
Difficult
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Hood 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 nested 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, panga ride, kayaking, short hike (0.6 mi /1km)
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: White sandy beach, sea lions, mockingbirds. Snorkelling: colourful fish, sea lion nursery.

Giant Tortoise23rd 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 – Puerto Baquerizo and the Interpretation Centre Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is home to a fantastic interpretation centre, which provides an excellent overview to the islands human history and the conservation work being done to protect it.

Activities: Easy hike (0.2 mi / 0.3 km)
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Interesting information centre focused on the human history of the islands. Around the centre, finches, mockingbirds and endemic plants.

San Cristobal - Leon Dormido Sometimes called Kicker Rock, Leon Dormido is a huge rock formation that is the remains of an ash cone eroded by the sea, 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 & panga Ride
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: No landing
Highlights & Animals: Deep water snorkelling: Sharks, tropical fish, turtles, manta rays (occ.), hammerhead shark, spectacular rock formations, sea birds: Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies & frigatebirds. Second best place to snorkel.

Humming BirdSan Cristobal – Cerro Brujo The striking, eroded tuff cone was one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin, it is has a beautiful white coral sand beach where you can take a leisurely walk (depending on time of year) visited by Brown Pelicans, Blue-footed Boobies, and Swallow-tail Gulls as well as Marine Iguanas and Sea Lions. The beauty of this dramatic area can also be explored by ‘panga’ or small dinghy where you can explore a tunnel that goes all the way through the eroded rock formation.

Activities: Hike, panga ride, snorkelling & kayaking
Difficulty:
Easy walk along the beach
Type of Landing:Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Beautiful rock formations, sea lions, shore birds, land birds: finches and mockingbirds, snorkelling: nice tropical fish, anemones, sponge coral.

Humming Bird24th May – North Seymour  A great variety of Galapagos wildlife is provided in the loop trail on this small island. The highlight of your visit here will be the largest colony of Magnificent and Great Frigatebirds in the Galapagos as well as a colony of Blue-footed Boobies.

In addition, there are Sea lions, Marine Iguanas, Lava Lizards, Swallow-tailed Gulls, and a few secretive, but very large Land Iguanas.

Activities: Hiking (1.2 mi / 2 km), Snorkelling & dinghy ride
Difficulty:
Moderate / Difficult
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Land & Marine Iguanas, Frigatebirds, Blue-footed Boobies, Sea lions, sea birds. Snorkelling: Rays, Reef Shark, fish, Garden Eels.

After this final visit, you will be transferred to Baltra for your flight back to the mainland, or continue your adventure in Galapagos with an extension staying on one of the inhabited islands.

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

Tip Top IITip Top II

The Tip Top II is owned by one of the oldest families in the Galapagos, which has a great reputation for good food, good service and a very helpful crew...

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 "We have arrived back from our Ecuador adventure feeling exhilarated and enriched by our experiences…..  All in all a most memorable holiday that we rate as one of the best we have ever had."

Allan and Paula Briggs, Nov 17

Quote "We had a fabulous holiday, thank you. Most probably the best holiday we have ever had."

Bill and Alison Root, Nov 2017

Quote "Thanks for an amazing holiday and all your thoughtfulness, enthusiasm and vast knowledge of a remarkable and very special place on this earth."

Liz McClory, Nov 2017


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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