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Cloud forest, Andes & Galapagos - 12th Nov - 25th Nov 2016


Summary of Trip

  • Max 15 guests - price per person £3847 (excluding international flights)
  • Specially chartered private yacht in the Galapagos
  • Experience some of best and easiest birding in the world
  • Led by top guides in Galapagos and Ecuador
  • Small group of up to 15 guests

A 14-day journey that takes you from the tropical cloud forests literally buzzing with humming birds, to Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes with its dramatic scenery and colorful markets, then onto Galapagos for an eight day cruise on a luxury motor yacht visiting some of the most spectacular islands in this remarkable archipelago. The trip coincides with the best time to see Giant Tortoises in the wild. 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 service.

Details

  • Trip begins in Quito and ends in Guayaquil
  • 8 days/7 nights on board the yacht, 1 hotel nights in Quito, 2 nights La Carriona, 3 nights Septimo Paraiso.
  • All meals included.

Outline Itinerary
12th November – Arrive in Quito
13th November – Quito – Cloud forest
14th November - 15th November – Full day cloud forest
16th November – Cloud Forest – Quito
17th November – Saquisili – Avenue of Volcanoes
18th November - 25th November – Galapagos

£3847 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 Tip Top III, 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 £265 per person – all yacht cabins to be shared except by special arrangement.

 

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

12th November – 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. The group will then be met 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 the valley of Tumbaco on the other. A light evening meal together.

Humming Bird13th May – Quito - Cloud Forest After breakfast we set straight off to the Andes to the west of Quito and the area of Mindo. Approximately 2 hour drive, we stop along the way at some of our favourite spots including an orchid reserve and Pululahua Volcano, arriving for lunch at the lodge. 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). The lodge 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 Paraiso.

he 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.

Making A Difference Septimo Paraiso 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.

Humming Bird14th November - 15th November – Cloud forest We have two full days to explore the cloud forest. The area around the lodge has easy trails and a hummingbird feeding area outside which is literally buzzing with hummingbirds. The location of our lodge also allows us to visit some of the best reserves in the area of Mindo, Los Bancos and the Milpe Sanctuaries.

16th November – Cloud forest – Quito After breakfast on 16 November we set off to the Equator Monument then onto Quito for a tour of the old section of the city. Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO the historical centre of Quito has some beautiful colonial buildings and gives a real taste of Andean culture. In the afternoon we will drive on to a beautiful 200 year old colonial hacienda in the valley of Los Chillos called La Carriona where we spend the night.

Humming Bird17th November – Avenue of Volcanoes After breakfast we drive south through Ecuador’s Avenue of Volcanoes, with spectacular scenery punctuated by snow-capped peaks and onto the Saquisili market, to see their main market day. Every Thursday, hundreds of indigenous people from the mountains prepare to make the journey towards Saquisili where they gather for their market. The whole town is converted into a vibrant market where we can walk together through the central plaza. The market vendors will sell everything from pots and pans to pigs and goats as well as colourful handicrafts. The market, as with others in the Andean region is a chance for locals not only to trade, but also to socialize and an opportunity to wear their finest!

As well as being a chance to shop for some handicrafts for those who wish to, it will provide fascinating glimpse of Andean culture where such markets are a vital part of life.

Lunch together in a local hacienda, La Cienega before we then head back to La Carriona for the night. Evening meal together with a pre-Galapagos briefing.

Humming Bird18th November - 25th November – Galapagos Islands After breakfast we take our flight to the Galapagos Islands, arriving to Baltra airport at around noon. From here we will be transferred to our private yacht, the Tip Top III, a spacious and comfortable motor yacht. A fantastic friendly crew and is run by one of the oldest families in the Galapagos.

The yacht accommodates 16 passengers in 10 double cabins each with private shower and toilet. Just some of the luxuries you'll enjoy on the yacht's three decks, air conditioning, a TV, a VCR, a full sound system, an inviting dining room, a fully equipped bar, a library filled with a variety of reading materials, a spacious sundeck, and snorkelling equipment.

Moreover, each of the craft's homey cabins is outfitted with a private bathroom with both hot and cold water, a personal safe, and a wardrobe.

The vessel is also equipped with the most advanced navigational and safety equipment, all of which meets or exceeds international Coast Guard safety regulations.

The next glorious 8 days will be spent cruising the Galapagos:

Humming Bird18th November – Quito – Galapagos (Baltra) This morning we set off to the airport for our flight to Baltra in the Galapagos, upon arrival we will be met by the crew from the Tip Top and will then travel to the island of Santa Cruz were we go in search of Giant Tortoises in the wild. We have lunch together up in the highlands of Santa Cruz, then late in the afternoon we board our yacht.

Santa 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. This is also one of the best areas in Galapagos to see Giant Tortoises in the wild.

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

Humming Bird19th November– 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, Snorkel
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.

South Plaza This is the best island for observing Land Iguanas, along with Cactus Finches, Tropic Birds 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 cliffs

Humming Bird20th November – 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 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 0.4 mi. Snorkelling & Kayak.
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 some 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.

The visit also provides a great opportunity to snorkel with Sea Lions and has a great diversity of near-shore and pelagic fish.

Activities: Wet landing. Hiking 0.5 mi. Kayak 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, Butterfly fish, Parrotfish, Eels.

Humming Bird21st November – 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 singing 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, Common 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 1.5 mi. 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 Bird22nd November – Floreana This is the Island where Charles Darwin discovered for the first time about the different varieties of Giant Tortoises in the Galapagos. This morning we will be following his footsteps, in the highlands of Floreana – in search of the Medium Tree Finch, found nowhere else in the archipelago, as well as seeing a variety of Giant Tortoises that are part of the ongoing project to repopulate the island with tortoises by the Galapagos National Park – a great chance to see these magnificent giants in semi-wild conditions.

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.

Humming BirdFloreana – Puerto Velasco Ibarra Puerto Velasco Ibarra is a small town of about 60 people. From here you travel up to the highlands of Floreana where you will see the contrasting lush vegetation, with beautiful forests of Scalesia (Giant Daisies). Near the only fresh water spring on Floreana, (which was used for centuries by pirates, whalers and travellers), there is a corral where a collection of giant tortoises are kept in near-natural conditions. This is also the place where you can see the Medium Tree Finch and the chance to see caves that were dug out by pirates.

Activities: Bus ride to the highlands and hike (less than 0.6 mi / 1km), to fresh water spring and tortoise corral
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Lush highland vegetation, Land tortoises, Medium tree-finch.

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 Great 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: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: An easy walk along a coastal lagoon where Flamingos are often found, along with Stilts and Ducks. White sand beach.

Humming Bird23rd November – Espanola (Hood) This island is one of the highlights of any visit to Galapagos. Espanola 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. Espanola’s Marine Iguanas are unlike other Galapagos Marine Iguanas thanks to their bright colouring. Espanola is home to thousands of nesting seabirds all year, including Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and Frigatebirds.

Humming BirdBetween late March and December the Waved Albatross, perhaps the most spectacular of Galapagos birds, returns to Espanola 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.

24th November – San Cristobal – Punta Pitt Located in the northwest of the island, this is a large eroded tuff cone with dramatic volcanic scenery and is home to a large colony of Sea Lions, as well as a few Red-footed Boobies, Blue-footed Boobies and Nazca boobies.

Activities: Uphill hike (1.5 mi / 2 ½ km), dinghy ride, snorkelling, kayaking.
Difficulty:
Moderate/difficult
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Wonderful landscape, Sea Lion colony, three possible species of Boobies. Snorkel: tropical fish, Sea Lions.

Humming BirdSan Cristobal – Cerro Brujo This striking eroded tuff cone was one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. It has a beautiful 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 from the dingy, exploring caves and looking for sea birds.

Activities: Hike along the beach (1 mi / 1.6 km), dinghy 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: Sea Lions, nice tropical fish, anemones.

Humming Bird5 November – 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(1.5 mi/2.2 km)
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.

Baltra we return to the islet of Baltra today – where you take your flight back to Guayaquil on the coast of Ecuador where we wait to take your connecting flight back to the UK which departs early evening.

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 IIITip Top III

The Tip Top III 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....

Septimo ParaisoSeptimo Paraiso

The altitude within the reserve drastically changes from 950 meters to 1650 meters above sea leve. In addition the isolation of the region has created one of the...

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...

 

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 "This trip far exceeded my expectations.... thank you, thank you thank you!!!! I had the time of my life."

Bill Walters, Cloudforest, Andes and Galapagos Nov 2015


Quote "Thank you for putting together such an excellent itinerary… we have had an adventure of a lifetime and we are extolling 'Think Galapagos ' to all our friends!"

John and Caroline Rathbone, Cloudforest, Andes and Galapagos Nov 2015



Quote " just wanted to say a huge thank you for organising the holiday to Ecuador and the Galapagos. It really was a 'holiday of a lifetime'. So huge thank you... I had an amazing time."

Verity Burton, Cloudforest, Andes and Galapagos Nov 2015



To read these quotes in full, and other reviews from our guests see our guestbook.

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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