Ecuador Discovery 21 days

 

Day 1. Quito arrival
We will leave early for Lima airport to go to Quito. Upon your arrival our team will be waiting for you to accompany you to the hotel.

Note: Rooms are available from mid-day. For those arriving on morning flights, an early check-in can be arranged for a fee.

Day 2. Quito – Galapagos – San Cristobal
According to the time of your flight you are transferred to the airport. Upon arrival in Galapagos you are transferred to San Cristobal. We have lunch before leaving to visit the Cerro Colorado where we can see the giant Galapagos tortoises in a breading centre. We return to the boat where dinner is served. 

Day 3. Gardner Bay – Punta Suarez
After breakfast we make a so called wet landing – meaning you have to take your shoes off and walk to the beach. We visit Gardner Bay which is located on the north coast of Española Island. The main attraction is the colony of sea lions, which inhabit the beach in great quantity during the breeding season. We can also observe both resident and migratory birds. We return to the boat for lunch and in the afternoon we make a dry landing – where you don’t get your feet wet in Punta Suarez. During the walk on the island you can see sea lions, marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, Nazca boobies, Darwin finches, Galapagos hawks, albatrosses, lava lizards and herons. We have dinner on the boat.

Day 4. Floreana; Post Office Bay – Punta Cormorant
In the morning we make a wet landing in Post Office Bay. This is one of the few sites which is visited for its human history. Whaling Captain James Colnett established the wooden post barrel in the early 1793. At the time whaling was a big industry, ships were typically gone for 2 years at a time and the Galapagos Islands were a frequent stop for these ships. Outbound ships would drop off letters after rounding the cape and the ships returning home would mail them. Over the years thousands of ships have stopped to send and receive mail at Post Office Bay. Many have posted a sign of driftwood or other materials memorializing their visit. After lunch we visit the Punta Cormorant where we make another wet landing. This site has a sandy olivine beach for walking and swimming as well as a flamingo lagoon – a quite different setting for observing flamingoes than the South Lipez! - and also a white sand beach where sea turtles nest from December to May. Dinner is served on the boat.

Day 5. Santa Fe – Tortuga Bay
After breakfast we make a wet landing in Santa Fe where we can go snorkeling in the rocky coast of the island, to see a variety of fish and sea turtles.You can see colonies of sea lions, land iguanas, frigate birds, Galapagos doves and lava lizards. On the island you can see a forest of giant cacti and Palo Santo trees. After lunch we make a dry landing and go for an interesting walk to the Turtle Bay beach, perhaps the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos, we can swim and snorkel observing colonies of marine iguanas, pelicans, Darwin’s finches, sharks, sea turtles, the incredible forest Giant Cactus. Dinner is served on the boat.

Day 6. Santa Cruz – Baltra - Galapagos – Quito
In the mornign we make a dry landing to the El Chato reserve. The reserve is divided into two areas; Caseta and Chato. The trail begins at Santa Rosa, 22 km from Puerto Ayora, with the Caseta route being the more challenging. The reserve allows visitors to observe giant tortoises in the wild during the dry season, and is also a good place to spot short-eared owls, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, Galapagos rails and paint-billed crakes. After this last visit you are transferred to the airport for your flight back to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito you are transferred to your hotel where the evening is free.

Day 7. Quito City Tour of Quito and the Equatorial line
Today we go for a tour of Quito. The historic centre of Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas and was one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978. We walk through the Main Plaza, visit the Government Palace, the Cathedral and some of the most important churches built around the XVI and XVII centuries. The tour continues to the north of Quito where we have lunch in a local restaurant with delicious typical dishes before we visit the Equatorial line, known locally as la mitad del mundo (the middle of the world), and some of the museums. Archaeological evidence indicates both pre-Incan and Inca civilizations recognized and worshiped the path of the equator as the marker of the equinox.  Late in the afternoon we return to the hotel and the evening is free.

Day 8. The Otavalo colourful market and Cuicocha Lake
After breakfast your guide will be waiting for you in the hotel lobby to take you on a visit to one of the most prosperous communities of the country, the Otavalo where you will find the famous Ponchos’ Market. Here you can find colourful handicrafts like rugs, clothes, Panama hats, pictures, jewellery, etc.  The tour continues to the Hacienda Pinsaquí, one of the most beautiful haciendas in the country, where a delicious lunch will be served. In the afternoon you visit the Cuicocha Lake in Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve and on the way you will stop in Cotacachi town known for its famous leather handicrafts. The Cuicocha Lake lies inside the crater of an active volcano surrounded by flora and fauna. This place is considered as a sacred lake and used by the native people to celebrate traditional rituals to purify and clean their souls. Late afternoon we return to Quito where the evening is free.

Day 9. Quito – Antisana Reserve – Cotopaxi
After breakfast your guide will be waiting for you in order to depart to the east range of the Andes at the Antisana Ecological Reserve, where you will admire the beautiful Lake Mica and the majestic Antisana Volcano (5758m/18.886.24ft). This reserve is considered a hot spot for bird watching, and we can find the Carunculated Caracara known as Caracara Curiquingue here. This bird is famous because of its movements and characteristics and in the local festivities people will dress up in Caracaras costumes. The Antisana Ecological Reserve is also one of the best places to spot the Andean Condor in its natural habitat. After a delicious box lunch we depart to Cotopaxi Province where you overnight in one of the incredible haciendas located close to the National Park.

Day 10. Saquisili Market - Quilotoa Lake – Baños 
Early in the morning after breakfast we leave to the Quilotoa Lake. On our way we stop at the Saquisilí market, this is one of the biggest indigenous markets in the Ecuadorian highlands, the colorful blend of textiles, heaping piles of produce, and local people in traditional Andean clothes is really interesting. We also stop in Tigua, a small town, where you can find amazing handicrafts made by animal skins and beautiful and colourful masks that represent some local animals. Upon arrival at the Quilotoa Lake we can walk down from the border of the crater to arrive at the lake (depending on weather conditions). You have time to visit the area and for the return you have the possibility to hire a mule. After a delicious box lunch we continue to Baños where you get installed in a new Hacienda. After dinner at the Hacienda the evening is free.

Day 11. The Waterfall Avenue – Riobamba 
After breakfast we visit the town of Baños where you can see how people extract a delicious juice from the sugar cane, production of melcochas, and you can buy beautiful handicrafts made by balsa and tagua. We visit the famous waterfall route where you can see beautiful waterfalls like the Manto de la Novia waterfall, where you will cross the Pastaza river by a rustic lift, hanging more than 200m/656ft above the river, Pailon del Diablo, Agoyán and others. After this visit your guide will drive you a local restaurant where a delicious lunch will be waiting for you. In the afternoon we continue to the Chimborazo province where you will overnight.

Day 12. Riobamba – Cuenca; Devil’s Nose train – Ingapirca – Cuenca
Early in the morning, after breakfast your guide will drive you to the Alausí train station located 2 hours south of Riobamba, where you will take the train that goes to the famous Devil's nose. Work on Ecuador’s first railway, which would link the coastal city of Guayaquil with the capital, Quito, in the highlands was achieved in 1908. The greatest obstacle, which prompted the line to be dubbed “the most difficult railway in the world”, was met 130km east of Guayaquil at a near-vertical wall of rock, known as El Nariz del Diablo (The Devil’s Nose). The ingenious engineering solution was to carve a series of tight zigzags out of the rock, which allowed the train to climb 800m at a gradient of 1-in-18 by going forwards then backwards up the tracks. Currently, only the 12-km stretch from Alausí to Pistishi (usually advertised as Sibambe) at the end of the Devil’s Nose descent, is open, which is the trip you will be taking. The tour offers stunning views of Chimborazo and Carihuairazo and a thrilling descent down the Devil’s Nose itself. At the end of your train adventure, your guide will be waiting for you in Alausí town from where you will continue with your trip to the Ingapirca ruins. The Ingapirca archaeological site is the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. The most significant building is the temple of the sun, an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock. The building is constructed in the Inca way without mortar in most of the complex. The stones were carefully chiselled and fashioned to fit together perfectly. The temple of the sun was positioned so that on the solstices, at exactly the right time of day, sunlight would fall through the centre of the doorway of the small chamber at the top of the temple. Most of this chamber has fallen down. After our visit we continue to Cuenca where the evening is free.

Day 13. Cuenca City Tour – Quito 
After breakfast your guide will be waiting for you in the hotel lobby ready for your visit of the town. You will walk through magnificent churches, beautiful old buildings with wrought iron balconies and carved wooden doors, flower and handicrafts markets, art galleries, workshops and all the wonders that Cuenca, with its colonial style and pleasant atmosphere, offers to its visitors. You will also ride along the Tomebamba River admiring the ancient houses perched on the riverbank above. Also you can visit some modern neighbourhoods and enjoy of a panoramic view of the city from the vantage point of Turi. After the tour your guide will drive you to a local restaurant where you will enjoy of a delicious typical lunch. Late in the afternoon you will be transferred to the airport in order to catch your flight back to Quito. At Quito’s airport your driver will meet you and transfer to your hotel and the evening is free.

Day 14. Quito – Yanacocha – Mindo
After breakfast your guide will pick you up from your hotel for the departure to the Yanacocha Reserve located in the high cloud forest on the volcano Pichincha in 3444m/11.300ft. We travel to the northwest of Quito, crossing the west slope of the Andes range on the old Nono – Mindo road. The Yanacocha reserve protects 964 ha of elfin Polylepis forest which is home to many hummingbirds including a very scarce and endemic specie the Black Breasted Puffleg. We have time to walk on the trails of this  reserve to learn about the flora and fauna of the area and to enjoy of the incredible landscapes; while you continue with your trip you will see other species such as bar bellied woodpecker, masked flowerpiercer, glossy flowerpiercer, shinning sunbeam, great saphirewing, barred fruiteater, hooded and scarlet-bellied mountain-tanagers, giant conebill, pearled treerunner etc. In the afternoon we continue to Mindo where you get installed in the hotel and the evening is free.

Day 15. Mindo – Quito
Early in the morning you will visit the famous Paz de las Aves Refuge where you will have the opportunity to observe the famous cock of the rock lek, four species of Antpittas, the Giant Antpitta, the Moustached Antpitta, Ochre bellied and the Yellow Breasted Antpitta. You visit the feeding station to see black chinned and blue winged mountain tanagers, toucan barbet, dusky piha, sickle winged guan, crimson rumped toucanet, etc. After this morning visit you return to the main house for a typical regional breakfast before heading off to find a ocellated tapaculo being fed with worms, yellow vented woodpecker, powerful woodpecker, crimson mantled woodpecker, orange breasted fruiteater etc. You return to the lodge for lunch and in the afternoon you can go for a walk on the trails of this private reserve. Late afternoon you will be transferred back to Quito where the evening is free.

Day 16. Quito – Rainforest Napo Wildlife Centre
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Coca. The approx. 35 minutes flight takes you over the Eastern Andes Mountain Range to reach the headwaters of the Amazon Basin near the Napo River. At the airport in Coca a representative of the Napo Wildlife Centre will greet you and drive you to the pier where a motorized canoe will be waiting. You will travel on Napo river for approximately 3 hours to reach a creek where you will take a dugout canoe. In this small canoe you will travel through the creek and cross the beautiful lagoon of Añangu. A box lunch will be served on the way and in the afternoon you arrive at the lodge where you get installed. 

Day 17. Rainforest Napo Wildlife Centre 
During the next two days you will visit the Napo Wildlife Centre.

Guests will be divided up into two groups, and lead by a local Añangu guide - who is also an official Yasuni Park Ranger; an expert on the forest's secrets and medicinal plants - as well as an excellent bilingual naturalist guide with great knowledge in tropical forest biology and bird watching.

One of the highlights at Napo Wildlife Centre is going out on a very early excursion to reach two of Ecuador's most accessible parrot clay licks. They are located within the  lodge territory and can be reached by following the Giant Otter creek downstream in a dugout canoe. Species include: Mealy-, blue headed- and yellow crowned parrots, cobalt winged, dusky headed parakeets, orange cheeked parrot, scarlet shoulder parrot let and scarlet macaws. If the weather conditions are really good a minimum of at least 800 individuals of most species can be spotted (on rainy days less). You can choose to make this a ½ day or a full day excursion.

There is a 15m/50ft tall observation tower on a 13m/42ft hill. High enough to get great views of possible troops of spider or howler monkeys passing by and immense tropical scenery. From here you can also observe a number of different bird species - the area holds over 560 species.

The Napo Wildlife Centre has a large lake with two creeks that can be easily explored whilst quietly sitting in a dugout canoe paddled by expert guides eager to spot and show you wildlife. Thanks to the pristine habitat of the area other large species like woolly monkeys can be found as well as groups of giant otters. Creeks are densely vegetated with large trees overhead and calm flowing waters. No one knows exactly what waits in a flooded forest with anaconda or a gentle easy moving three toed sloth.

Hikes along a variety of forest types are possible by visiting different trails. One can appreciate the tropical forest richness; discover new plants and colourful or well camouflaged insects. This is the territory where anything is possible – expect the unexpected! If you are lucky the largest mammals such as jaguar, puma, tapir, giant anteater and giant armadillo have been spotted in the area.

Day 18. Rainforest Napo Wildlife Centre
After breakfast your guide will be waiting for you in the hotel lobby ready for your visit of the town. You will walk through magnificent churches, beautiful old buildings with wrought iron balconies and carved wooden doors, flower and handicrafts markets, art galleries, workshops and all the wonders that Cuenca, with its colonial style and pleasant atmosphere, offers to its visitors. You will also ride along the Tomebamba River admiring the ancient houses perched on the riverbank above. Also you can visit some modern neighbourhoods and enjoy of a panoramic view of the city from the vantage point of Turi. After the tour your guide will drive you to a local restaurant where you will enjoy of a delicious typical lunch. Late in the afternoon you will be transferred to the airport in order to catch your flight back to Quito. At Quito’s airport your driver will meet you and transfer to your hotel and the evening is free.

Day 19. Rainforest Napo Wildlife Centre – Quito – Otavalo
After an early breakfast we start our return to Quito. While you travel in the dugout canoe you will have the last opportunity to enjoy the colourful birds of the rainforest. After one hour you will arrive to the creek where you will take your motorized canoe in order to  reach Coca from where you take the plane back to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito you will continue to Otavalo where you spend the night. 

Day 20. Cuicocha Lake and the Ponchos’ market
After breakfast your guide will be waiting for you in the hotel lobby to take you on a visit to the Cuicocha Lake in Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve and on the way you will stop in Cotacachi town known for its famous leather handicrafts. The Cuicocha Lake lies inside the crater of an active volcano surrounded by flora and fauna. This place is considered as a sacred lake and used by the native people to celebrate traditional rituals to purify and clean their souls. We then visit the famous Ponchos’ Market where we can see colourful handicrafts like rugs, clothes, Panama hats, pictures, jewellery, etc. After lunch in another local hacienda your guide will drive you to Hacienda Zuleta, famous for its beautiful borderies and the production of cheese. 

Day 21. Hacienda Zuleta – Quito
After breakfast you have a full day of interesting activities in Hacienda Zuleta. First you can admire the wonderful organic garden where you can learn about permaculture and discover the origin of the ingredients used for your lunch. Within three hectares they grow seventeen different kinds of vegetables, five different kinds of fruit, several herbs, spices and medical plants. You can hike to Condor Huasi, the condor rehabilitation project, located about 5 km from the house in a valley surrounded by native forest. At Condor Huasi, the only reproduction and liberation site licensed by the governmental condor protection agency in Ecuador, you will be able to observe the eight condors that are in captivity and with some luck you might see wild condors flying above you or even landing on the aviary. On route you will have the opportunity to see the largest and best preserved archaeological sites of the ancient Caranqui culture. There are 132 small earth mounds dating as far back as 700 A.D. and five large square truncated pyramids from 1200 A.D located in this property.  You return to the hacienda for lunch and in the afternoon you can visit the different projects of this hacienda like the embroidery workshop, the cheese production, milk shed, worm farm and others. Late afternoon you will return to Quito where the evening is free.

Day 22. Quito Departure*
According to your time of departure you are transferred from the hotel to the airport in Quito. For international flights it is recommended to arrive at the airport 3 hours before scheduled departure. End of our services.

Important: Itinerary can change because of weather or social conditions and some sights are not always accessible – Lipiko Tours cannot be held responsible for any changes in itinerary and sights not visited as a result.  

 

 

 

General information:
Highlights: Quito, Galapagos, Punta Suarez, Tortuga Bay, Otavalo, Antisana Reserve, Cotopaxi, Riobamba, Cuenca, Mindo, Rainforest Napo Wildlife, Hacienda Zuleta.

Support Team: English speaking tour leader for the entire tour for groups of 4 people or more. For smaller groups it is possible to book this tour without a tour leader. Instead you would have guided visits with a local guide in chosen language. Please contact us directly to receive a personalized quote.

Departure guaranteed: Group Tour: from 4 people. Individual Tour: from 2 people 

Accommodation:22 nights in hotel.

Porterage: Your luggage will be transported either by plane, car, boat, and bus. You will have to carry the personal belongings (camera, water, etc.) which you need during the day. 

Service: For group above 4 people you will be accompanied by a tour leader in the chosen language. His role is to make sure that everything goes smoothly during the tour and that each individual and the group as a whole are safe. Don’t hesitate to ask him if you are unsure of anything and, very important, to follow his advice. 

Included in the price: 
- Water, air and land transfers as indicated in the program 
- Accommodation in hotel/hostel in double rooms, Ecolodge, shelter, home stay, camping, bus and plane as indicated in the program.
- Meals as mentioned in the program 
- The assistance of specialized local English speaking guides, their fees and expenses 
- The assistance of our local teams; driver(s) and logistics department (24/7) 
- Visits as outlined in the program 

Not included in the price:
 
- Entrance fees to sites visited, national parks and museums as indicated in the program (allow for approx. 1500 Argentine Peso (Argentian national currency) per person – in Brazil (allow for approx. 150 Brazilian Real (Brazilian national currency) per person – this is an estimate and actual prices may vary) 
- Meals not mentioned, drinks, tips, individual equipment, everything not mentioned in “included in the price” and all personal expenses 
- Individual obligatory personal travel insurance (this could be included with your credit card – please check with your credit card provider) 
- The supplement for a single room: 390 USD (subject to availability, must be reserved and paid upon reservation). Attention; no single room available for the nights with accommodation in shelter, home stay and camping. 
- Possible visa expenses
- International flights

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