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Cloud forest, Andes & Galapagos - 12th November - 25th November 2017


Summary of Trip

  • Max 15 guests - price per person £4297 (excluding international flights)
  • Specially chartered private yacht in the Galapagos
  • Experience some of best and easiest birding in the world
  • Visit spectacular Andean scenery
  • 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 Andes with its spectacular scenery and vibrant indigenous communities, then onto Galapagos for an eight day cruise on a luxury motor yacht visiting some of the most spectacular islands in this remarkable archipelago at one of our favourite months in the year to visit.  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 Galaxy II, 1 hotel nights in Quito,  2 nights Septimo Paradiso, 2 nights Hacienda Cusin, 1 night La Jimenita
  • All meals included.

Outline Itinerary
12th November – Arrive in Quito
13th November – Quito – Cloud forest
14th November – Cloud forest
15th November – Cloud Forest – Northern Andes
16th November – Northern Andes – Hacienda Cusin
17th November – Northern Andes – La Jimenita
18th November - 25th November – Cruise Galaxy II

£4297 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 II, 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

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. 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 Bird13th 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.

14th November – 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 Cusin15th November – 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 Ande16th November – 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.

La Jimenita17th November – 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.

Galapagos Cruise18th 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.

A new catamaran which started operations in 2015. Built by the operators of the Galaxy who we have worked with for many years and who offer a great level of service and comfort for the price. With 8 double cabins, with 4 on the upper deck and 4 on the main deck each with private bathrooms, cold/hot water and air conditioned. Built using sound ecological and sustainable tourism principals, the yacht has ample social areas with a library, DVD service, dining room,

The western islands have a pristine untouched quality, which is most evident as you sail along the western coast of Isabela and through the narrow Bolivar Channel separating the Island from Fernandina. The western islands receive a double dose of upwelling (from both the Humboldt and Cromwell Currents) and as a result there is cool nutrient rich water, which makes for abundant marine life, in the form of Penguins, Flightless Cormorants, Marine Iguanas and Whales… not to mention the sea birds, sea lions and the other amazing Galapagos wildlife which thrive here. Going on deck at night and seeing the numerous large bioluminescent particles is quite an experience.

Giant Tortoise18th November – Baltra Arrival at the airport in Galapagos, from here we will be driven across the highlands of Santa Cruz Island and down to the town of Puerto Ayora, where you meet your yacht and have lunch.

Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Station The Charles Darwin Research Station offers a great chance to learn about the work being done to conserve and protect the islands wildlife. For some visitors (depending on the time of year) this is the only time to see Giant Tortoises and certainly the closest range opportunity. It is also a great chance to see the Tortoise Rearing Centre.

Activities: Walking
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Dry and wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Giant Tortoises, Land and Marine Iguanas, Mockingbirds, Darwin Finches.

Giant Tortoise19th November – Isabela Measuring over 1800 square miles, and accounting for over half the land surface area in Galapagos, at about 80 miles in length, the seahorse shaped Isabela Island is the largest in the Galapagos. Isabela is formed from six separate volcanoes (Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf). Being the largest island, it has many visitor sites, covering a large diversity of ecosystems, from barren lava flows to evergreen lush forests.

Las Tintoreras or Shark Reef Canal Located on the other side of a small bay with completely calm turquoise waters, Las Tintoreras is a great place to see Sea Lions, Sea Turtles and Marine Iguanas as well as other Galapagos wildlife. This site gets its name thanks to a large lava crevice where, at low tide, White-tipped Reef Sharks are found resting or swimming. Most of the trail is lava, except for a white sand beach which is home to a small colony of Sea Lions and a nesting site for Marine Iguanas.

Activities: Hike (1 mi / 1,6 km) Snorkel, Dinghy ride
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Reef sharks, Penguins, Marine Iguanas, Sea Lions, Herons.

FlamingosThe Wetlands & The Wall of Tears The wetlands of Isabela Island are located just outside of Puerto Villamil. The Wetlands consist of lagoons, swamps and mangroves and are home to a variety of unique bird species such as Common Stilts, Whimbrels, White-cheeked Pintail Ducks, Gallinules and other shore birds. Ecuador established a penal colony in Isabela between 1945 and 1959. During this period, prisoners shipped from the mainland were treated brutally and forced to build a wall, stone by stone, in isolation, only to be asked to tear it down again and start over. This now historical site standing at 20 feet (6m) took the lives of hundreds during its construction and remains as a vivid reminder of a dark past.

Activities: Hike (5 mi / 7 km) Biking
Difficulty:
Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals:Reef Sharks, Flamingos, Herons, coves, large mangrove trees, coastal lagoons, Marine Iguanas, Giant Tortoises.

Giant TortoiseIsabela – (Villamil) – Tortoise Breeding Centre The Galapagos has 11 different species of Giant Tortoise of which five species are endemic to Isabela. A new breeding facility, built just outside of town by the Galapagos National Park Service is helping to increase the populations of these iconic endangered reptiles. Thanks to this breeding centre and the one located at the Charles Darwin Station in Santa Cruz, the populations of Tortoises, which were on a severe decline until the 80´s, is now recovering and has reached over 30.000 throughout the islands.

Activities: Hike (1 mi / 1,6 km)
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Wetlands, salt and brackish lagoons on the way to the Breeding centre. Flamingos, Stilts, adult and baby Giant tortoises.

Iguana20th November – Elizabeth Bay Located on the west coast of the Isabela, no landings are permitted here, but it makes for a beautiful dinghy ride. This is one of the best areas to see Galapagos Penguins as they prefer the cooler waters found on western Isabela. Flightless Cormorants and Marine Iguanas are common and often seen basking in the sun on rocks along the shore. As you then enter a narrow cove lined with large Red Mangrove trees, you will see Marine Turtles, Rays and shore birds.

Activities: Two-hour dinghy ride
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: No landing
Highlights & Animals: Mangrove forest, Sea Turtles, Penguins, Rays, Herons, Sea Lions.

Urbina Bay In 1954, almost 4 miles of coastal seabed dramatically uplifted about 15 ft exposing the sea floor and killing thousands of fish and turtles. This then, vegetation has largely colonized the area but many signs of the uplift can still be observed. This area is now a nesting site for Land Iguanas and occasionally, giant tortoises coming from the moist uplands. This is a good trail to see Darwin finches and it is not rare to see Galapagos Hawks

Activities: Snorkelling, dinghy ride & hike, 2 trails: short (0.6 mi / 1 km), long (1.9 mi / 3km)
Difficulty:
Easy (short trail) / Difficult (long trail) 
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Land Iguanas (the biggest in Galapagos), Hawks, uplifted coral reef, Giant Tortoises. Snorkelling: Turtles, Rays, tropical fish.

Iguana21st November – Fernandina Island - Punta Espinosa Punta Espinosa, is a truly spectacular visitor site and a real highlight for any visitor to the Galapagos. A narrow strip of land extending out from the base of the Fernandina Volcano, it is home to the largest colonies of Marine Iguanas in the Galapagos. You will also have the chance to see Flightless Cormorants here, sea lions, and Galapagos Hawks often perch on the mangrove trees looking for prey. Along the coast, tidal pools provide a perfect environment for invertebrates and shorebirds, such as Oystercatchers, Plovers, Turnstones and Whimbrels.

Activities: Hike of approx (1.2 mi / 2 km). Snorkel.
Difficulty:
Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry but sometimes slippery at low tide
Highlights & Animals: Sea Lion colony, Flightless Cormorant, vast numbers of Marine Iguanas, Sea Turtles, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, shorebirds, Herons. Snorkel: Penguins, Marine Iguanas feeding underwater, Cormorants, Sea turtles.

Vicente Roca Point Beautiful volcanic scenery, amazing lava intrusions and huge sea cliff make this place one of the most scenic in the Galapagos. Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies sit along the cliffs whilst Flightless Cormorants stay along the shoreline and if you are lucky you will see Penguins in the water. The upwelling of cold water currents have created an abundance of marine life here, making for great snorkelling.

Activities: Dinghy ride, snorkel.
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: No landing
Highlights & Animals: Spectacular landscapes, Sea Turtles, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Penguins, Flightless Cormorants. Snorkel: Sea turtles, Penguins, Gorgonians and other invertebrates.

Reef22nd November – James – (Santiago) -  James Bay (Puerto Egas) This was the island where Charles Darwin spent the majority of his land visits in Galapagos. At James Bay, the Fur Seal Grottos provide great chances to get close views of both Fur Seals and Galapagos Sea Lions in a series of rocky pools. This visit also provides some of the best opportunities for tide-pooling in the Galapagos, and chances to see shore birds such as Plovers, Sandpipers, Herons and Oystercatchers. The snorkel from the beach is excellent.

Activities: Snorkelling, hiking (1.2 mi / 2km)
Difficulty:
Easy / Moderate.
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: Galapagos Fur seals, Galapagos Sea Lions, tidal pools and “grottos”, Galapagos Hawk, Oystercatchers, Marine Iguanas, finches. Snorkelling: Reef Sharks, Turtles, Rays, nice underwater formations.

CrabRabida 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. It 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. 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.

Blue Footed Boobie23rd 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 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.

Santa Cruz - Bachas Beach A beautiful white sandy beach punctuated by lava formations. The wonderfully soft sand here makes it a favourite site for nesting Sea Turtles. Here you will also see White Mangroves, one of the four mangrove species found in the Galapagos. There is a small coastal lagoon behind the sand dunes where Flamingos, Stilts, Pintail ducks and other water birds are regularly seen.

Activities: Walking along the beach, swimming, snorkelling.
Difficulty:
Easy
Type of Landing: Wet landing
Highlights & Animals: World War II remnants, Sally Lightfoot crabs, Hermit Crabs, Black-necked Stilts, Whimbrels, Flamingos, Sea Turtles.

24th November – 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 on rocky shore and wet landing on 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.

BartolomeBartolome 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 to 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.

25th November – 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. The highlands of Santa Cruz are one of the best places to see Giant Tortoises in the wild.

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

From here you return to Baltra for your flight back to mainland Ecuador or you can extend your Galapagos trip with a stay 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

GalaxyGalaxy II

Beautiful spacious and comfortable, great value for level of quality, great service, good local operator, launched in 2007, excellent crew, good food...

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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