The Best of Ecuador and The Galapagos

The Best of Ecuador and The Galapagos

Come to the best markets, the nicest small villages and the most beautiful volcanoes in Ecuador and continue with island hopping & cruise to the most unique islands in the world. See calculatorinc for culture of Ecuador.

On this trip you will experience some of Ecuador’s absolute highlights. The old town of Quito, Galapagos cruise and beer lapping. You live in the middle of Cotopaxi National Park among wild horses and volcanoes, you visit the market in Latacunga, walk by the Quilotoak crater and marvel at the hummingbirds and waterfalls in the rainforest at the village of Mindo.

After spending a few days in Ecuador’s beautiful capital Quito, a city full of colonial history, the trip heads out to the Galapagos Islands. You combine beer indulgence where you live on two of the islands with a four-day cruise. Among other things, you will hike on volcanoes, snorkel with sea lions and experience how the landscape changes from island to island and see the fascinating wildlife here. The Galapagos is completely unique and you are guaranteed to have an experience of a lifetime. From the Galapagos you travel on to the Cotopaxi volcano where you enjoy the tranquility and wonderful nature and stay in a beautiful lodge. On to the beautiful volcanic crater Quiotoa in the middle of the Andes via the local market in Latacunga. Here you can hike and enjoy nature or just take it easy with a good book. The trip ends in the small nice village Mindo in the middle of the rainforest among hummingbirds.

Day 1: Departure from Scandinavia and arrival in Quito

Departure from Scandinavia to Ecuador’s capital Quito where you will spend the next two days. Quito is beautifully situated in a valley of the Andes at about 3000 meters above sea level. The city consists of an older district and a more modern one. In the old town you will find beautiful historical Spanish churches, cobbled streets and lots of historical museums. In the modern part of the city you will find shopping, restaurants and a lively nightlife. There are also opportunities for hiking outside Quito itself, you can also take a lift up to the viewpoint Cruz Loma at 4100 meters above sea level. You can then hike up to a full 4,680 m.ö.h. and get a magnificent view of Quito and the surrounding area. Another nice excursion is to the “Mitad del Mundo” – the center of the world – the equator itself, which is located just north of Quito. Here you can stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern hemisphere. Inside the city center there are also many sights such as the Basilica de San Francisco – Ecuador’s oldest church or the Plaza de la Independencia – Quito’s central square surrounded by historic and important administrative buildings such as the archbishop’s palace and government building.

Day 2: On a voyage of discovery in Quito

After breakfast, meet up with your English-speaking local guide for a walking tour of Quito’s Old Town. You see the San Francisco Market where there is an opportunity to taste different local dishes and see or partake of a shamanic ceremony. From the market you then go on and see the city’s many charming neighborhoods and sights. The tour ends in the afternoon at your hotel. ( F )

Day 3: To the Galapagos

You have an early morning transfer to the airport from where the flight to the Galapagos departs. You land on the island of Baltra and then drive on to the port where you board the catamaran Aqua which is your home for the next four days. Aqua is a motorboat with room for 16 passengers in eight cabins and was renovated in 2018. On board you get a unique lake experience and cruise around the Galapagos Islands. You can borrow both towels and snorkeling equipment for free on the boat. ( F , L , M )

Day 4-5: Galapagos Cruise

The days on board the boat usually start with breakfast around kl. 07.30 and then an update of the guide on today’s program. Most often, the boat then docks off the coast of the island to be visited and out of consideration for animals and nature, you go with “panga” a small dinghy to land. When hiking on the islands, always hike the marked trails and follow the guide. A visit usually lasts between 2-3 hours before returning to the boat. Lunch is served on board while you go on to the afternoon destination. Now there is also time for some relaxation on the deck before the next excursion. The national park regulations say that you must leave the islands at the latest at 18.00 Dinner is served on board at 19.00. The guide tells about the next day’s program and you have since the evening to take it easy, read a book, have something to drink or think about & talk about the day’s experiences with fellow passengers. (F , L , M )

Day 6: Puerto Ayora

On the island of Santa Cruz, you disembark and go to the hotel in Puerto Ayora. The rest of the day is on its own. Puerto Ayora is the largest city on Santa Cruz, you can walk along the promenade. There are also cafes and restaurants. At the small harbor you see the fishermen coming in in the afternoon with their catch. The fearless sea lions, frigatebirds and pelicans often sit and wait on the bridge. ( F )

Day 7: Explorations on Santa Cruz

You have all day free to continue exploring Santa Cruz and Puerto Ayora. You can visit the Charles Darwin Research Center, get close to the huge turtles, go swimming in Tortuga Bay, paddle sea kayaks, dive with hammerhead sharks at Gordon Rocks, surf at Ratonera beach, mountain bike in Santa Cruz Highlands, take a ride in the volcanic terrain or snorkel among fin-finned sharks and sea lions at Punta Estrada. ( F )

Day 8: Santa Cruz – Puerto Villamil (Isabela)

After breakfast, then leave Santa Cruz and head for the Galapagos largest island, Isabela. The island has only existed for a million years, which means that you will find completely different flora and fauna here than in other places. With a local speedboat you now go to Isabela and the idyllic little town of Puerto Villamil where you are met by your driver and driven to the hotel. The rest of the day is on its own. Here in Puerto Villamil, the atmosphere is nice with sand on the streets and friendly, welcoming people. There are many small, nice fish restaurants with both fresh fish and lobster at humane prices. ( F )

Day 9: Volcano hike on the Sierra Negra

Early in the morning, the trip goes to the huge crater of the Sierra Negra volcano. Here you do a hike of about 12 kilometers to get up to the crater edge where you are rewarded with a magnificent view of the lunar landscape and the Pacific Ocean. On the way up you can see and smell the sulfur clouds coming from the volcano. The most recent eruption here and throughout the Galapagos was in 2005. The journey then continues to the lesser known neighboring volcano Chico before returning to the hotel. Unfortunately, it is currently not possible to hike at the Chicov Volcano so you have to content yourself with enjoying the surroundings and the views. ( F. , L )

Day 10: Snorkeling trip to Tintorera

Today it’s time to take a boat trip from Puerto Villamil to the small island of Tintoreras. In the bay here is a colony of white-finned reef sharks. They live here and in the canals around the island and have also given names to the island (Tintorera = white-finned reef shark in Spanish). You will also have the opportunity to see sea lions, iguanas, blue-footed soles, sea turtles, penguins and other exciting marine life. If you are lucky enough to snorkel under the surface of this enchanted world, you will be joined by both sea lions and sharks. ( F )

Day 11: Puerto Villamil to Cotopaxi

Today you return to Santa Cruz to fly back to Quito. You will be picked up on arrival at the airport and driven to your lodge in Cotopaxi National Park where you have the rest of the day free. ( F )

Day 12: Cotopaxi National Park

You have the whole day on your own in Cotopaxi National Park. You can go cycling, horse riding, hiking or mountain biking in the area or visit the local markets in Sasquisili and Pujili. You can also enjoy a good book by the fireplace and admire the beautiful views of the Cotopaxi volcano. Here you can either be active or just relax and take it easy. ( F )

Day 13: Cotopaxi to Quilotoa via the market in Latacunga

You will be picked up at the lodge in the morning and have your own transfer to Latacunga. Tuesday and Saturday are the big market days when you get the opportunity to experience a real Ecuadorian local market with few tourists and lots to see and buy. Enjoy the atmosphere, shop and take the opportunity to sample some of the local cuisine there before driving to your lodge on Quilotoa Lake. Other days you can visit the smaller and very local markets with a focus on food and local atmosphere. ( F )

Day 14: Quilotoa to Mindo

Quiet morning at Quilotoa; a volcanic crater lake at 3500 meters above sea level. The view is fantastic and you can also walk to or around the beautiful lake. After lunch, the trip goes to the nice little rural town of Mindo. ( F )

Day 15: Among coffee farmers and hummingbirds in Mindo

Enjoy the day among coffee plantations and hummingbirds in the rainforest. For those who are a little adventurous, there are opportunities for ziplining and canyoning. You can also go with a bird expert and make an ornithological excursion and look for the area’s more than 550 different bird species. Visit one of the coffee plantations or sit with a good book with the hummingbirds’ buzzing in the background. Mindo is a magical place where you change down and get in step with life and the surroundings. ( F )

Day 16: Departure from Ecuador

You will be picked up early in the morning from the lodge and driven to Quito International Airport from where the flight back to Scandinavia will depart. ( F )

Day 17: Return to Scandinavia – the time depends on which airline you travel with.

Overnight stays

Two nights in Quito at hotel
Three nights on boat in shared double cabin
Two nights in Puerto Ayora
Three nights in Puerto Villamil
Two nights at lodge in Cotopaxi National Park
Two nights at lodge in Mindo

The Best of Ecuador and The Galapagos

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