- Explore the charm of Ecuador's capital city of Quito
- Go bird-watching, ziplining, and river tubing in the majestic Mindo Cloud Forest
- Take a day and night trek in the Amazon and learn about its ecosystems
- Sail up the Cuyabeno River to Laguna Grande on a motorized canoe
- Explore the spectacular Galápagos Islands and their endemic wildlife
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito||Quito|
|Day 2||Expedition to the Mindo Cloud Forest||Quito|
|Day 3||Day Trip to the Volcanic Quilotoa Lagoon||Quito|
|Day 4||Arrive at the Amazon Rainforest||Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve|
|Day 5||Start Your Adventure in the Amazon||Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve|
|Day 6||Meet the Indigenous Siona Community & Visit Laguna Grande||Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve|
|Day 7||Return to Quito||Quito|
|Day 8||Transfer to San Cristóbal Island in the Galápagos||San Cristóbal Island|
|Day 9||Spot Galápagos Wildlife on a Nature Hike & Boat Trip||San Cristóbal Island|
|Day 10||Snorkeling & Bird-Watching at Kicker Rock||San Cristóbal Island|
|Day 11||Depart Ecuador|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito
Welcome to Quito, the capital of Ecuador! Upon arrival at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), your driver will meet you for the one-hour transfer to your accommodation in the city center. Situated between mountain peaks, the city of Quito stands at an altitude of 9,350 feet (2,850 m) and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Spend today exploring Quito at your own pace. Visit the historic Old Town to discover the colonial churches of San Francisco, La Compañia, and other historical landmarks, or head to the fascinating Equator Monument, which also houses the Ethnographical Museum. If you're feeling adventurous, ride a cable car up the slopes of nearby Volcán Pichincha for dazzling views over the city from 12,942 feet (3,944 m). You can explore the city's vibrant nightlife and culinary scene in the evening. Think picturesque plazas, local craftspeople, and bustling market stands.
Day 2: Expedition to the Mindo Cloud Forest
Today you'll explore the lush green cloud forest of Mindo. Its location on the western slopes of the Andean highlands gives this region mild temperatures and lots of rainfall. Stretching over 48,000 acres (19,200 ha) and reaching heights of 15,700 feet (4,778 m), it's one of the most biologically diverse forests in the world, known for its rich plant and birdlife. Its lush subtropical forest provides a mystical environment to roam and adventure.On today's day trip, you'll get the chance to visit a butterfly farm, trek to waterfalls, go river tubing, fly between the treetops on a zipline, and taste locally made chocolate and coffee. Mindo is also one of the premier birding destinations in the world. You can spot more than 500 different types of birds here, and it regularly holds the annual world record attempt for the most bird species counted within 24 hours. In the afternoon, after a day you'll remember forever, you'll return to Quito for a good night's rest.
Day 3: Day Trip to the Volcanic Quilotoa Lagoon
Tuck into a big breakfast to fuel you up, as today you'll visit the picturesque volcano lagoon of Quilotoa. Here you can walk along the crater's rim and enjoy the incredible view across the water or hike down a path to the crater lake. The return journey can take longer, so there will be an option to rent a mule for the uphill hike. In the afternoon, you'll return to Quito.In Quito, you'll head to the meeting point at Blue House to board an overnight shuttle bus that will take you to El Puente del Cuyabeno, a small docking station for the canoes that leave for the lodges in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Arrive at the Amazon Rainforest
In the morning, you will arrive at "El Puente," the main entrance to the Cuyabeno Reserve and the last point of real civilization. Here you will have a box lunch and then drive on the Cuyabeno River in a motorized canoe for three hours until you reach the lodge.With a bit of luck, you'll have already spotted some of the different species of monkeys and tropical birds here, as this part of the river is narrow enough to observe wildlife closely. After you arrive at the lodge, you'll have more time to rest and then take an introductory tour around the area. After dinner, your bilingual tour guide will give you information about the coming days' activities.
Day 5: Start Your Adventure in the Amazon
After an early breakfast, you will start your exploration, taking advantage of the early hours of the day, which is the best time to observe the flourishing activities of the tropical forest. During your guided walk in the rainforest, you'll learn and understand how life in the jungle coexists in a fragile balance. Your guide will also explain the use of medicinal plants, a knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation and is still applied by the local population today. Look for amphibians, butterflies, centipedes and millipedes, snakes, birds, monkeys, and other mammals along the trail.Later you will return to the lodge for your lunch. Afterward, set out an excursion that will take you along the Cuyabeno River to discover the animals that live in the dense forest along its banks, especially monkeys, toucans, and sloths. There'll be the opportunity to spot river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis and Sotalia fluviatilis) in the magnificent landscape. Before having dinner, you'll head into the dark forest to find its nightlife, such as insects, spiders, snakes, or colorful frogs, accompanied by the nocturnal sounds of the jungle.
Day 6: Meet the Indigenous Siona Community & Visit Laguna Grande
Enjoy an early morning walk through the forest to see the wildlife, especially monkeys and birds. Return to the lodge for breakfast, then continue by motorized canoe along the "Turtle Path" to visit the Seoqueya community, where several families of the Indigenous Siona group live. One of the family members will demonstrate traditional cooking techniques, including preparing typical yuca bread called cassava. You'll then get to try your hand at making your own bread under instruction from the family as your guide explains local traditions and cultures.In the afternoon, continue by motorized canoe along the Cuyabeno River to Laguna Grande. Here, you'll explore a unique rainforest ecosystem: a flooded forest (igapó) characterized by massive trees and lush greenery. After exploring the lagoon, cool off with a swim in the calm waters and take in the sunset. Continue your adventure downriver to see more nocturnal wildlife, like caimans, before returning to the lodge for the night.
Day 7: Return to Quito
If weather conditions are good, rise early and enjoy a sunrise jungle hike to view the colorful birds that enrich the surrounding area. Take a moment to enjoy the peace in this natural paradise. After breakfast, you'll gather your belongings and prepare to return to civilization. Navigation upriver awaits you to return to El Puente de Cuyabeno, where you'll get on a shuttle bus to return to Quito.
Day 8: Transfer to San Cristóbal Island in the Galápagos
Transfer to Mariscal Sucre Quito International Airport this morning for your flight to San Cristóbal Island in the beautiful Galápagos Islands! After touching down, you'll transfer to your hotel in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and head to the local Interpretation Center. The center was built in 1998 by the Galápagos National Park management and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation. Here, you'll learn about the Galápagos wildlife and environmental conservation through the exhibition and conference rooms. A natural history room explains the origin of the islands, and a human history room describes humankind's presence since the discovery of the Galápagos.Afterward, you'll visit Las Tijeretas Hill, located within walking distance of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. It takes its name from the many tijeretas (frigatebirds) that inhabit and nest in this area. Stop at several viewpoints en route to observe the passage of whales, which can be spotted between June and October. If time allows, you will also visit La Lobería, a great site to view colonies of sea lions and marine iguanas. You'll find patches of salt marsh here and vegetation like common mangroves, palo verde, and muyuyo (yellow cordia). In the evening, return to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to get some rest before your next day of adventure.
Day 9: Spot Galápagos Wildlife on a Nature Hike & Boat Trip
After an early breakfast, a driver will pick you up from your hotel for a visit to Española Island. Española Island is the place to catch a glimpse of the Española albatross, one of Galápagos' most remarkable birds. You'll only be able to see them between March to January, which is their breeding season. You'll then head toward Puerto Baquerizo Moreno dock for a two-hour navigation to Punta Suarez, the starting point of a two-hour hike to spot blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, which nest here, Española iguanas, and pup sea lions.
After the hike and back at the boat, you will move toward Gardner Islet and get your snorkel equipment ready (mask and fins) to explore the waters of Gardner Bay. You'll swim alongside pup sea lions, Galápagos sharks, colorful fishes, and marine iguanas. A box lunch will be served on the boat, as these parts of the islands are uninhabited. Then it's time to return to San Cristóbal, to arrive at Puerto Baquerizo around 5 pm.
Day 10: Snorkeling & Bird-Watching at Kicker Rock
Get your sea legs ready, as today you'll enjoy a day trip to Kicker Rock after breakfast at your hotel. Kicker Rock is one of the best-known spots in the Galápagos. Ride there on a comfortable speed boat that will navigate you along the coast of San Cristóbal. Created from volcanic ash, Kicker Rock towers almost 500 feet (152m) up from the ocean floor and splits into two above-surface structures. The rock is home to many birds, including tropicbirds, frigatebirds, Nazca boobies, and blue-footed boobies.
Once you arrive, you'll explore the underwater world on a snorkeling excursion, where you'll get up close and personal with the area's marine wildlife. Post-tour, have lunch on the boat and head to a beautiful, pristine beach. There, you can take some time to relax in the sunshine before heading back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in the afternoon.
Day 11: Depart Ecuador
It's time to bid the Galápagos and Ecuador farewell. Your driver will take you to Cristóbal Airport, where you will catch your return flight to Quito and mainland Ecuador and connect with your departing flight. Safe travels!