The Land and Riverboat cruise
13 days – 12 nights
In Ecuador we have a land cruise awarded internationally, it is called “Tren Crucero”. It’s a journey on board of trains that explore routes that you can’t see by car. This train also passes through the “Devil Nose”, one of the most difficult to build train rail. It goes down the hill in zigzag.
Day 1: Arrival to Quito
Upon arrival at Quito airport, you will be met by your guide, he will transfer to your hotel. Situated in a circle of Andean peaks, Quito is the world’s second highest capital, with arguably one of the finest settings in the world. Originally settled by the Quitu tribe in the first millennium, Quito was an important part of the Inca Empire, before being destroyed and re-founded by Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Benalcázar in 1534.
The colonial center – declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978 – is one of the largest and best preserved in Latin America. It is home to excellent museums, churches and art galleries.
Day 2: Amazon Cruise: Napo River
Departure from Quito. A short 30-minute flight takes us to the frontier town of Coca (Francisco de Orellana) – and transfer to the dock, where we will embark on a motorized canoe and navigate down river about 1 ½ hour, to board the M/V MANATEE AMAZON EXPLORER. Throughout the journey we have a chance to admire the rainforest landscape and banks of the great Napo River.
Immediately after boarding the M/V MANATEE, we continue navigating downstream. Passengers will have their first opportunities to enjoy the exciting features of our cruise ship: the spacious social areas, comfortable suites, and an observation deck that offers spectacular views. An evening walk is organized after sunset; it gives us the opportunity to discover the forest’s nocturnal activity and listen to the incessant sounds of nature.
Overnight: Amazon Cruise
Day 3: Amazon Cruise: Border with Peru (The Heart of Yasuní)
After a delicious breakfast, we disembark on land for our first daylight close-and-personal tropical rainforest experience, where we will learn about the relationship between plants and animals while closely watching out for samples of Amazonia’s fascinating biodiversity at every turn.
After lunch, the M/V Manatee navigates to one of the most pristine and little explored sections of Ecuadorian Amazonia, home to the legendary pink river dolphin, black caiman and anaconda. We may also find river turtles and various species of monkeys, as well as the primitive Hoatzin, a one-of-a-kind bird locally known as “the Stinky Turkey”. The only way to actually visit this flooded ecosystem is by canoe, a ride that will reveal the beauty of a lush jungle world.
For our more adventurous passengers, please inquire about our glamping program.
Overnight: Amazon Cruise
Day 4: Amazon Cruise: Meeting the Community - Island Exploration
Breakfast on board. We visit a school located on the banks of the Napo River, where we will have the opportunity to interact with children of the area and learn about the educational system of a remote jungle community in Ecuador.
We return on board the M/V Manatee for lunch and a moment to relax while we navigate upstream. We will offer a lecture and documentary screening, and if time permits, learn about (and make) typical handicrafts of the area. In the afternoon, we explore one of the largest river islands of the Napo River.
Overnight: Amazon Cruise
Day 5: Amazon Cruise: Observation Tower – Limoncocha
In the morning after breakfast, visit an observation tower 100-feet high, built against a giant kapok tree. From the top of the tower, we will be blessed with this unique perspective of the forest, looming over the treetops and the greatness of the Amazon Basin.
In the afternoon, we visit Limoncocha Biological Reserve, a fascinating protected area where more than 478 bird species and several monkey species have been recorded. This activity will extend into the evening, when we will have a chance to spot black caiman with the help of our flashlights. Return to the M/V Manatee for dinner.
Overnight: Amazon Cruise
Day 6: Flight to Quito
In the morning, disembark the M/V Manatee and transfer by motorized canoe to Coca (1 ½ hour ride); flight to Quito. At the Quito’s airport a tour guide will be waiting to take you at your hotel.
Day 7: City tour and Equator
Quito, the colonial city
Explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas, visiting some its most important churches such as the impressive Cathedral, majestic Compañía and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. We begin the tour the quirky Guapulo quarter; take in the Congress building, before heading to the Old Town. We finish the day at the “Panecillo” hillside with its breathtaking views of the old and modern city surrounded by the rolling Andes Mountains.
As an addition to the Quito Colonial City Tour, we travel to “Equatorial line” complex. Its monument is located at the latitude 0º 0´0″ and provides once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to straddle both hemispheres, or hop between the two in the blink of an eye. The monument forms the focal point of a park and leisure area with gift shops and restaurants. The site occupies an important place in the solar-based Andean cosmo vision, since ancient Andean people were aware of its significance many thousands of years ago. The Ethnographic Museum at the complex provides a fine overview of Ecuador’s varied cultures and geography.
Day 8: Tren Crucero: Quito – Otavalo – Ibarra
Today after breakfast you will be transfer and Check in at Swissôtel lobby from 06:30 am. At 07:30, departure by bus to Otavalo. The stretch Otavalo to Ibarra is operated with an steam locomotive across the northern valleys. Visit to woodcarving workshops at San Antonio, discovery of local traditional food in Andrade Marin and a show of local music and textile weaving at San Roque train station.
Day 9: Tren Crucero: Quito – Boliche – Ambato
Journey across the Avenue of the Volcanoes, exploration of Andean woods an ecosystems at el Boliche area, in Cotopaxi National Park, amazing views of Yambo lake and visit to Baltasar, the last ice-harvester in the Chimborazo slopes.
Day 10: Tren Crucero: Riobamba - Devil´s Nose
Riobamba – Colta with steam engine, visit to one of the very last Andean indigenous market: Guamote. Devil´s nose crossing and the impressive climatic transition while traveling from the Andes Mountain Range to the Pacific coast.
Day 11: Tren Crucero: Naranjito – Duran
Cacao and chocolates tasting at Naranjito in a Coastal Hacienda. Yaguachi to Duran (Guayaquil) with steam engine. Arrival to Duran train station at 16:45. Complimentary shuttle to selected hotels in Guayaquil.
Day 12: Guayaquil city tour and Parque Historico: Guayaquil tours
Today after breakfast your guide will take you on a full day tour of the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. The city tour in Guayaquil consists of various panoramic visits and walks through the city. Our first stop will be the Administration Plaza, around which you will observe the City Hall, the Monument Sucre and finally the Seminario Park, also known as Iguana Park.
After, we will take private transport to the Southern Malecon 2000 where you will appreciate the Integration Plaza with its famous Southern Marketplace and then continue on to the Olmedo Plaza, very important for its monument to Jose Joaquin Olmedo, a recognized poet of Guayaquil and ex president of Ecuador.
We will walk on toward the Rotonda Monument where the statues of Simon Bolivar and San Martin can be found. We will then proceed to visit the rest of the Malecon 2000, with its many restaurants and recreation places for children. Optionally you can visit the garden area of the Malecon where you will be able to see lots of tropical plants such as: Teca, Guaba, Mango, helechos, bromelias, ficus, almendra…
After the visit to the Malecón, we will go to the Peñas neighborhood. This is the oldest part of the city in which you will have the opportunity to climb to the Cerro Santa Ana where you will have wonderful views of Guayaquil and the river Guayas.
Finally we will end our tour at Guayaquil’s historical park located in Canton Zamborondón, only 30 minutes away from the city. It is one of the biggest parks in the country and here you get the opportunity to learn more about the culture, history and tradition of the city. There are three main parts to the park: the Traditions Zone, the Wildlife Zone and the Urban Architectural Zone, each covering approximately eight hectares.
The Wildlife Zone gives you the chance to see many different types of animals and learn more about the flora and fauna of the area. The Traditions Zone demonstrates the native rural architecture of the Montubio (native people) as well as labor instruments, clothing, house hold items and other daily life objects of the countryside community.
Day 13: Transfer out
The adventure ends. We will take you to the airport and hope we made your stay more than wonderful.
- Privates transfers and transportation
- Meals detailed in the itinerary
- Hotel accommodation
- English speaker guide
- Amazon Cruise
- Tren Crucero
- Additional meals and drinks (soft & alcoholics)
- International flights and airport taxes
- Tips and personal expenses
- Travel and medical insurance
Contact a Galapagos & Ecuador Specialist