Ecuador And The Galapagos Islands - A Tour Back To Nature

 Ecuador And The Galapagos Islands - A Tour Back To Nature

Have you ever heard of the term ‘mega diverse country’? The concept was put forward for the first time in 1988 during a biodiversity conference in Washington, D.C and in July 2000, the UN’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre recognized the 17 ‘mega diverse’ countries that house at least 70% of the planet's terrestrial biological diversity. Although it’s the smallest country on the list, Ecuador is one of its most honorary members. With its wide array of landscapes – ranging from the Amazon rainforest to the Andean highlands and the Pacific coast, it is home to thousands of unique endemic species and a favourite playground for naturalists and adventurers from all over the world. On mainland Ecuador, we will visit the capital Quito, we will explore one of the symbols of Ecuador – the Cotopaxi National Park and the city of Baños, known as Ecuador’s adventure capital. We will then fly out to the Galapagos Islands – a place that’s in a league of its own when it comes to wildlife and biodiversity. Journeying around the islands, we will be greeted by their iconic native animals – the Galapagos sea lions, fur seals, giant tortoises, penguins, blue-footed boobies, land and marine iguanas and many more.

Highlights:
♦ Quito – capital of Ecuador and one of the first sites to be named world heritage site by UNESCO;
♦ Cotopaxi National Park - a symbol of Ecuador and home to one of the most active volcanoes in South America – Cotopaxi;
Galapagos Islands - one of the most biodiverse places in the world, known for its endemic species and volcanic landscapes;
Charles Darwin Research Station – named after the renowned naturalist and father of the theory of evolution, the center is famous worldwide for its biological research and conservational efforts.


Itinerary:

Day 1. Arrival
Arrival in the capital of Ecuador – Quito. At an altitude of 2,850 m, the city is one of the highest capitals in the world. Along with Kraków, Poland it was the first site to be named world heritage site by UNESCO in 1978. Overnight in a hotel in the city. -/-/

Day 2. City tour of Quito
Today we will visit some of the highlights of the city. We will walk around the historic center, known for some of the best-preserved colonial architecture and will visit the impressive church Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús. It took 160 years to complete its construction and it is now considered the most ornate church in Ecuador and one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in South America. B/-/-

Day 3. Cotopaxi National Park – Baños
Today we will explore one of the symbols of Ecuador – the Cotopaxi National Park, named after the Cotopaxi volcano. Surrounded by flat terrain, its symmetrical snow-capped cone rises to a height of 5,897 m. It is one of the most active volcanoes in South America with more than 50 eruptions since 1738. We will then continue to the small city of Baños in the Andean highlands. It is known as the adventure capital of Ecuador as it is a gateway to the Amazon basin. B/-/-

Day 4. The Devil's Cauldron (El Pailon Del Diablo) – Quito
Located just about 17 km. away from Baños is the waterfall El Pailon Del Diablo - the Devil's Cauldron. It is one of the most powerful and photogenic waterfalls in the area and a highlight of any visit to Ecuador. The path to the waterfall winds through a semi-jungle region with immersive greenery and abundance of diverse flora and fauna. After visiting the waterfall, we proceed back to Quito where we will spend the night. B/-/-

Day 5. Quito – Santa Cruz Island (Galápagos Islands)
Today we fly out to the Galapagos Islands – a natural sanctuary for hundreds of wildlife species that played an important role in forming Darwin’s theory of evolution. Our first stop is Santa Cruz – one of the biggest islands in the archipelago. We will spend the night in Puerto Ayora. B/-/-

Day 6. Isabela Island (Puerto Villami)
The biggest of the Galapagos Islands and one of the most volcanically active places in the world, Isabela is a highlight for many visitors of the archipelago. The island was formed by the merging of 5 volcanoes about a million years ago. This origin story is the reason for its unique alien-like landscape consisting of extensive lava fields and rock formations. Among the species that call the island home are the giant tortoises, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants and Galapagos penguins. The white sand beaches, on the other hand, together with the relatively few tourists contribute to the island's allure and create a laid-back atmosphere of a small coastal town. Overnight in a hostel in Puerto Villami. B/-/-

Day 7. Isabela Island - Sierra Negra Volcano
Today we will continue exploring the wonders of Isabela Island with a hike to the Sierra Negra Volcano. It is the only volcano on the island that visitors are allowed to hike. The trail is of moderate difficulty and is about 15 km long. It starts amongst lush vegetation where we will often stop to take a look at the unfamiliar and curious bird and plant species surrounding us. Climbing up, the scenery changes gradually - we will find ourselves in the middle of  extensive lava fields reminiscent of the volcano's most recent eruptions. You can also join an optional snorkelling tour to explore the just as impressive underwater world and swim with the iconic turtles and iguanas. B/-/-

Day 8. Tintoreras Islands / optional tour / -Santa Cruz 
Just offshore of Puerto Villami is a small group of islets known as Tintoreras. Although most of the islets are relatively small, they suprise with their incredible biodiversity. During this short tour we will have a chance of spotting the white-tip sharks, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, Galapagos penguins, pelicans and incredible diversity of marine life. Alternatively, you can choose to spend the whole day on Isabela Island and explore its sights on your own. Return to Santa Cruz Island for overnight in Puerto Ayora. B/-/-

Day 9. Optional tours -  Seymour/ Plazas/ Bartolome/ Santa Fe Island
Today you can opt for a visit to one of the surrounding islands that best suits your taste and preferences. Alternatively you can stay on Santa Cruz  and continue exploring the island on your own. B/-/-

North Seymour Island+ The Bachas Beach
If you are interested in ornithology or just find the blue-footed boobies incredibly curious, this is the tour for you. Among the species we will observe are frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, snakes, herons, hawks, sharks, rays. We will also visit one of the most pristine white sand beaches of the islands - Bachas beach. Price: 200 EUR pp

South Plazas + Punta Carrion
South Plaza is the most colorful of the Galapagos Islands thanks to its specific vegetation consisting of Opuntia cactuses and Galapagos carpetweed - it's endemic for the island and changes its colours throughout the year giving the island distinctive red, violet, green and yellow appeal. After visiting the island we will head to one of the most popular snorkelling sites of the islands - Punta Carrion. Price: 190 EUR pp

Bartolome
Bartolome is one of the most scenic postcard-perfect islands of the archipelago. It's know for its jaw-dropping volcano landscapes and rock formations, as well as its great opportunities for diving and underwater life exploration. After climbing the wooden stairway to the highest point of the island, we will be rewarded with a breathtaking  360-degree panorama view over the whole island. Price: 200 EUR pp

Santa Fe
Santa Fe is the oldest of  the islands and is among the most diverse ones. Its landscape is dominated by the palo santo trees and pear cactuses and when it comes to wildlife - it is home to two endemic species- the land iguana and the rice rat. Price: 170 EUR pp

Day 10. Tortuga Bay - Charles Darwin Station
This morning we will take a short walk to Tortuga Bay. We will enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the dreamy sand beach, known for the black sea turtles that nest here. In the afternoon we will visit the Charles Darwin Station and learn more about the conservational efforts and research of the hundreds of scientists and volunteers working here to preserve the pristine nature of the islands. Overnight in Puerto Ayora. B/-/-

Day 11. Santa Cruz – Guayaquil
Today we fly back to mainland Ecuador. We will spend the night in the city of Guayaquil. Free time to explore the city on your own. B/-/

Day 12. Departure
Transfer to the airport for departure. B/-/-


Price Includes:
accommodation in standard hotels with breakfast included
flight Quito - Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz - Guayaquil
flights Quito - Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz - Guayaquil
Natural Park Tax for Galapagos Islands
tours as per itinerary excl. the optional tours
boat from /to Isabela Island
local guides on day 2,3,4,5 and 7
tour Leader from Penguin Travel. (at min. 8 participants)

Not Included:
entrance fees
flight from/to Ecuador
meals not mentioned
optional tours

Additional Services:
Tintoreras Islands Tour (day8) - 70 EUR pp
Optional snorkelling tour(day 7 Isabela Island ) - 130 EUR pp.


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Ecuador And The Galapagos Islands - A Tour Back To Nature (Rated 4.9 / 5 Based on 95 Reviews.)
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