You will discover the magic of Ecuador on this tour. You will get to know the most important cities of this wonderful country and discover beautiful landscapes in our three regions of Continental Ecuador.
Day 1 : Arrival In Quito
Upon arrival at Quito airport, you will meet with your guide, who will transfer you 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 the 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 : Quito Six Senses City & Equator Line Tour
Your day starts exploring the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical center in the Americas in a unique adventure for the senses. Together we will uncover traditions, history and local life of this enchanting city.
Our route takes us through the street of the seven crosses. We enjoy views of the facades of old colonial homes and churches on our way to the main Square or Indpendece Square in which is located the Goverment Palace.
Photo: Facebook – San José de El Poblado
As we continue through these historic streets we get a chance to meet a local family that makes their living by creating traditional sweets called Colaciones!
We walk deeper into the heart of Quito, passing by historic buildings made of volcanic stones. The stunning views of the sculpted Compania Church will leave you longing for a visit of its interiors.
To learn more about this and other churches we make our way to the workshops of the master craftsmen from “The Escuela Quiteña”. These artists keep the secrets of the colonial art in Quito’s churches and museums, they are the people who have been in charge of restoring the altars and painting in these historic gems. They will share their secrets with us and allow us to try our artistic skills to create our very own crafts.
Our next stop will be at La Ronda, a historical and bohemian neighborhood of the city. It is a traditional street, associated with the art, crafts gastronomy and fun of Quito. It is also the oldest street in Quito.
Over there we will also enter at a traditional coffee shop to try some interesting ice cream flavours or a traditional sweet (depending on the weather).
Finally you will visit “Panecillo” hillside with its breathtaking views of the old and modern city surrounded by the rolling Andes Mountains. And on the top is located one of the most iconic monument of Quito: the Panecillo Virgin. It is built of nearly seven thousand pieces of aliminum and what makes this representation so unique are the wings: it is the only Virgin Mary that has wings in the world.
As an addition to the Quito Six Senses City Tour, you will go to the “Equatorial line” complex. Its monument is located at the latitude 0º 0´0″ and provides a 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 cosmovision 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.
At the end of the day you will return to your hotel.
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Day 3 : Papallacta Natural Hotsprings Tour
After a well deserved rest and a lovely breakfast, you are going to meet your guide again, but this time to start the adventure and go into the jungle.
First of all, you will visit Guango Lodge, a small tourist facility surrounded by 180 hectares of temperate forest with great mixed flocks of birds. Located at 2,700 metres, here you will do a litlle hike while you experience fantastic views and photo opportunities of the 15 species of Hummingbird that frequent the area.
Then you will be visiting a natural spring between the Andes and the Amazon, called Papallacta. If you are lucky, you can see the beautiful Antisana Mountain, while you are taking a bath in the hot spring, which is included in this place.
After Luch you will be heading to Hakuna Matata in Napo Province. This private hacienda mesures approximately 150 ha and is the perfect place to enjoy to the fullest a never-ending series of activities, which this area lends itself to more than any other.
When you arrive at Hakuna Matata, the staff will help you carrying your luggage. They will also provide a complementary welcome drink and dinner in the famous Pangaea Restaurant.
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Day 4 : Hakuna Matata Program
After an early wake up you will leave the Lodge with your guide at 5.30 am to enjoy a day filled with adventure and experiences. You will drive to the calm and small Arajuno River which is a branch of the huge Napo River, where you will board your canoe.
The Arajuno River winds its way through the forest, passing high shores abundantly covered with vegetation. While watching birds you will realize how calm and little sailed the river is. The magnificence of birds will stun you – you will discover egrets, red-rumped cacique, tangaras, and more species.
After landing with your canoe there will be a short walk to the salt lick which attracts birds. It is recommended to bring binoculars to better observe the landing of the birds on the trees and afterward their way to the salt lick. There are a lot of parrots and parakeets, mostly the dusky-headed parakeet. You might be lucky and also see free-living monkeys, but don’t wonder about their noises that might fright away the birds. In case of rain, your guide will decide how to change the program and might switch around some points of the program.
Photo: Mark Alexander
Once bird watching is over, your guide will take you to the next stop, the Santa Bárbara indigenous community with 23 families totalling up to 120 inhabitants. The head of the community will welcome you and will show different traditions and customs, including the production of “Chicha”. This is a traditional drink which can be tasted once it is finished. You will surely be hungry, for this reason, it will be curious for you to be part of a jungle buffet together with the community. There will be carachama and catfish, both from the catfish family, smallmouth, a fish from the salmon family, roasted chontacuro (which is a specialty in the region), yucca, ripe plantain, heart of palm salad, guayusa leaf tea (known for its abilities to limit hunger) fruits, and cocoa. All of these are freshly picked or caught and prepared for you on the spot. Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
In case you don’t feel full yet, the guide will bring some sandwiches and fruit, for that time and even for earlier in the morning. Strengthened by this healthy and organic food, you will have the opportunity to learn about the culture of the community. The typical dances will be performed by children, and you will also test your skills with the blowgun and the spear. During a short walk, you will see the Ceibo which is the giant tree of the jungle with its impressive roots. Then, you will have the opportunity to buy some crafts made by the community. The income from sales will always be directed to the common box of the community that is used to buy parts for canoes, feathers, fabrics, or other objects.
After a short farewell from the community chief, you will head to the large 2,500-hectare Jatun Sacha Reserve. This incredible protected area consists of tropical forest in which you will once again discover flora and fauna, such as bamboo, walking palm trees that move up to 10 centimeters per year and Pambil, that has taken this day in the form of a 2-meter long blowgun. After a ride of 1 hour and 30 minutes by canoe you will return by car to head towards the small town of Misahualli, where you will enjoy a typical lunch. Then, you take a short walk on the beach to be greeted by several capuchin monkeys.
Then you will come back to the hotel to enjoy some time at its facilities and have a three-course meal.
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Photo: © Hakuna Matata
Day 5 : Hakuna Matata Program
On this day you will be part of a Chocolate tour. You will learn to produce an authnethic chocolate from the bean to the bar.
It has traditionally been held that the point of origin for the domestication of cocoa was found in Mesoamerica between Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, where its use is attested around 2,000 years before Christ. However, recent studies show that at least one variety of Theobroma Cacao has its point of origin in the Upper Amazon (Ecuador) and has been used in the region for more than 5,000 years.
On this tour you will start all the process with this Theoborma Cacao variety. You will open, smell and try the pure fruit that comes from the cocoa beans and then, after all the process, you will end up with the brown gold.
Then you will be back at the Lodge to enjoy and relax by the pool, in a hammock with a cocktail or continue exploring the area by walking or horse riding.
In the evening another three-course meal will be waiting for you in a special jungle atmosphere.
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Day 6 : Banos Waterfalls Tour
After full breakfast in Hakuna Matata Lodge, you continue to Baños situated in a valley of waterfalls and hot springs, It has become a mecca for international travelers seeking year-round temperate weather, a small-town atmosphere, and a base for exploring the great Ecuadorian outdoors.
Baños or bath in English is named after its famous hot springs and thermal baths. There is lots on offer from waterfalls to horse riding. Don´t miss the active Tungurahua volcano which is visible from anywhere in Baños. You will take a short tour and visit the center. The city enjoys a pleasant subtropical zone climate. Later, we begin the route of waterfalls, including Agoyán, Heavens Door (Puertas del Cielo), Weddings Veil (Manto de la Novia), Devils Pan (Pailón del Diablo), Machay, and many more.
You will continue on the road towards Riobamba to have an amazing experience at ShamuiCo. It is a restaurant in which the main ingredient is respect for the flavors of each product, the exquisite combination of textures and an impeccable presentation of each dish. Samuel is the chef and owner of ShamuiCo, where he works with his family and several collaborators in a common dream: the rescue and reapretial of the traditional products, aromas, and flavors of the Ecuadorian Andes.
In the nineties, in search of better education and better opportunities, together with his family, they emigrated to Catalonia, Spain. His culinary skill and dedication led him to carry out his internship in a restaurant in the area, which, unknown to him, was nothing more and nothing less than El Celler de Can Roca with three Michelin stars. His performance and contribution were fantastic and once he graduated with honors, he was given the opportunity to work for a while at the icon of experimental food: El Bulli, with one of the best chefs in the world, Ferran Adrià. From his experience of having worked in Europe, he comments that he learned the value of time, responsibility, and the know-how to innovate every day.
With this vast experience, he returned to Ecuador to give life to his dream of having his own restaurant, first in Saraguro, his native community, and now in Riobamba. You will undoubtedly enjoy a unique and unrepeatable experience.
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Day 7 : Incas Ruins Tour
On this day, first, you will visit Guamote; it is a little mountain village in central Ecuador, about an hour south of Riobamba. The majority of the village is indigenous, and Kichwa is still one of the main languages spoken by its inhabitants. Here tradition still plays an important role in the everyday life of its inhabitants who are proud of their heritage.
One of those traditions is the Market people dressed in colorful and traditional clothes. The first part of the market is meant for large animals. Here you will see sheep, cows, bulls, and pigs.
On the second part of the market, small animals are sold, such as chicken, guinea pigs, rabbits, and little pigs. It is fun to see the people arguing and comparing their animals to each other in order to agree on a price.
After this visit, you will continue on the Panamerican Highway and you will visit Ingapirca. These ruins are the most important architectural legacy of the Incas in Ecuador, dating back to the 15th century. They are a significant part of Ecuador’s pre-hispanic legacy. They are located in the province of Cañar, about an hour and 45 minutes from Cuenca.
You will be taken on a guided tour of the ruins, which is believed to be both a religious and administrative center, as well as a fortress. The vast archeological complex includes a roofless fortification, courtyards, terraces, temples, houses, and a ¨castle¨, possibly the Temple of the Sun. A museum is now open at the site, with both archeological and ethnographic displays. There are also exhibitions of ceramics and jewelry.
Finally, you will be leaving Ingapirca heading toward the historical city of Cuenca when you will spend the night.
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Day 8 : Cuenca City Tour
Cuenca is a beautiful city, it is Ecuador’s third-largest city, yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Its red-tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas, and museums make it very special and the city is considered by many the most beautiful in all of Ecuador.
Today you will enjoy a full day city tour to discover, at a leisurely pace, the beauty and charm for which Cuenca has been recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site. This includes a walking tour in the colonial downtown area of Cuenca, in which you will have the opportunity to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of its people, the colorful parks and plazas, religious monuments, and handcraft shops, plus an explanation of Cuenca’s history.
In the afternoon, you will visit a workshop where Panama straw hats of the best quality are made. Also, you will discover that the Panama Hats actually are made in Ecuador.
Then drive up to the hill of Turi to admire the city and on our last stop enjoy and discover the flavors of the famous “Tortillas de Trigo” wheat.
Before returning to the hotel, you have dinner at La Matilde. The restaurant is located at the heritage house of “Casa del Parque”, a tourist and gastronomic complex in the Downtown area of Cuenca. La Matilde is part of this complex and is expressed through a unique experience in the city that stands out for its magical atmosphere and wonderful gastronomic proposals. The menu explores international cuisine dishes, interpreted with local products and flavors. The Turquoise Tea Room is an exquisite space where you can experience this ceremony accompanied by delicate snacks. Bar 1880 is the perfect place to enjoy the best expression of classic cocktails.
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Photo: El País – John Coletti (Getty images)
Day 9 : Gualaceo & Chordeleg Tour
During the morning you visit the Gualaceo and Chordeleg communities. And in the afternoon you will visit a convent with a lot of history.
First, you visit Chordeleg town, well known nationally and internationally for its ceramics, jewelry, shoemaking, fabrics, and toquilla straw hats. Nowadays, Chordeleg artisans have developed their initiatives and have established policies of customer service and handicrafts production, linked to a tourism development plan. Chordeleg is considered the land of the jeweler, Here you can find jewels of all sizes, models, and weights, for all tastes. About 60 jewelry stores give you the chance to choose the item of your choice.
Then, you leave Chordeleg and you drive for half an hour, until you reach Gualaceo. It is a town that has preserved the typical characteristics of the Andean population, and colonial architectural elements. It is one of the most important areas in terms of folklore in the country. The guide will suggest some restaurants where you can try some traditional lunch.
After lunch, you return to Cuenca to do a final visit in a Nuns Convent. The Religious Art Museum of the Nun Convent is considered one of the best religious art museums in Ecuador, due to the quality and value of the works it possesses. Visiting its valuable samples you will admire the art and discover the faith of the Ecuadorian people. It will be a very interesting and unforgettable visit.
Finally, you have a free night so you can enjoy eating in some marvelous restaurants that Cuenca City has.
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© Casa de La Cultura
Day 10 : Cajas National Park Tour
Just after breakfast, the tour will depart to Cajas National Park, where you will be able to take part in different activities such as hiking, bird-watching, viewing flora and fauna, and more.
Cajas National Park is a place of water, a network of 786 lakes, lagoons & ponds, connected by crystal clear streams.It is a carpet of sponge-like plants that absorb water and release it slowly over weeks and months. Frequent rains and moist clouds ensure the cycle continues. From water springs life: The moors and cloud forest are teeming with mammals, birds, and unusual plants.
You are going to visit the Interpretation Center placed in La Toreadora Lake (the biggest and the most important in the whole complex). Here you will see pictures and presentations of the park. Then we are going to do a little walk around La Tejederoa and learn more about this ecosystem and why the water that is in the park is very important for the whole of Ecuador.
Cajas have been an important natural passage between the coastal and Andean regions of Ecuador for a long time. Since pre-Inca times there is evidence that roads and trading routes were established, which the Incas further developed under their empire. Within El Cajas national park today there are 28 different archeological sites, proving that there was also some degree of settlement in the area back in those days.
We continue on the road towards Guayaquil we will have lunch at a traditional banana and green plantain Hacienda, over there we will do agrotourism and enjoy a traditional food from the Pacific Coast of Ecuador.
Finally, in the evening we arrive to Guayaquil, which is located at the south coast of the Pacific, on the banks of the majestic Guayas River and crossed by several estuaries such as El Salado. “La Perla del Pacífico”, as it is known, is endowed with a host of attractions that will make your visit an unforgettable experience.
You begin the tour visiting the Historic Park. Here, visitors can get a taste of the geopolitical context of the old days. The park recreates different habitats in which the people of the old province of Guayaquil used to develop their activities, such as the woods, the countryside and the city. This is closely related to the so called “Golden Age” of the main port of Ecuador, whose principal activity was the commercialization of cocoa.
Then, you will be visiting Malecon Simon Bolivar at La Rotonda. It is a historical place where historical people like Simon Bolivar and San Martin met and defined actions regarding the Independence of the countries of South America.
On the early night you will visit the first neighborhood of the city, Las Peñas. Here you will be able to fall in love while walking through the cobbled and narrow streets.
With more than 400 years of history, its characteristic wooden houses painted with bright colors, is a task that no traveler can fail to fulfill. In addition, after climbing the 444 steps of Santa Ana Hill and reaching its lighthouse, you will enjoy a unique view of the city.
The guide will recommend you some places to eat dinner.
Then, you will head up to your hotel.
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Day 11 : Flight To Galapagos & San Cristobal Interpretation Center
Today after breakfast you will be met by your guide to be transferred to Guayaquil Airport in time for your Galapagos flight and to join the Galapagos Seaman Journey Cruise.
AM: FLIGHT TO GALAPAGOS
This day you will fly to the Galapagos Island. Due to the Galapagos Government, a fee of 20 USD must be paid for the migration control card.
Once in San Cristobal, passengers must go through an inspection point at the airport to make sure that no foreign plants or animals are being introduced to the archipelago. Also, this inspection point is where passengers have to pay for the entrance to the Galapagos National Park under the following parameters: Foreign Passengers $100 and Children $50 (under 12 years old).
Later on, your guide will pick you up, and will carry your luggage to the bus. Passengers will arrive to the Catamaran Seaman Journey on a motorized boat called panga.
PM: SAN CRISTOBAL, INTERPRETATION CENTER
This is an interpretation center with exuberant gardens and stunning ocean views. Visitors at the interpretation center can learn a lot from the geological and human history of the islands, conservation facts and natural history. This is the oldest museum of Natural History in the Galapagos Islands which attempts to preserve the archipelago. It is indeed inspiring and motivating to watch and learn all of their research and attempts.
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Day 12 : Galapaguera & Cerro Brujo
AM: SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND, GALAPAGUERA
A short visit will take place at the Galapaguera, a good place to observe Galapagos tortoises in its natural habitat.
San Cristobal island has endemic species such as: the Mockingbird Nesomimus melanotis, lava lizard (Microlophus bivittatus), Chatham Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus leei) and the tortoises. All of these species can be observed in this place, the beach is really big and it works as a nesting zone for marine tortoises. Between January and May, it is common to find the footprints of the female tortoises who have climbed to the sand dunes to deposit their eggs! This truly is a worthy experience to be a part of.
PM: CERRO BRUJO
Cerro Brujo is a beautiful white coral beach where you can swim and watch birds and sea lions, plus you can snorkel. This is the first coast where Charles Darwin walked on, in 1835. In this marvelous lava landscape, you can watch seabirds like blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, herons, frigate birds and shore birds. The protected bay is well known for its young tortoises which like to swim around.
Day 13 : Gardner Bay & Suarez Point
AM: ESPAÑOLA ISLAND, GARDNER BAY
Located on the north-eastern coast of Hood, Gardner Bay offers an excellent beach to relax, swim and even kayak, plus the opportunity to see sea lions (Zalophus wollebaki). Here, we can also observe sharks in the crystal clear ocean waters.
At this place you can see three species of Darwin finches:
A subspecies of the large-billed cactus finch (Geospiza fuliginosa), which is similar to the large-billed terrestrial finch; The small-beaked ground finch (Geospiza fuliginosa and; The singing finch (Certhidea Olivacea) which is another endemic subspecies. Both resident and migratory birds are observed.
PM: SUAREZ POINT
This area is great for spotting blue-footed boobies, albatrosses and Nazca boobies. A beautiful site on the oceanfront, the large waved albatrosses use the cliff as a launching pad. The famous attraction is the magnificent blowhole, spurting water high into the air at least from 50 to 75 meters high. This site presents wonderful photograph opportunities.
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Day 14 : Cormorant Point & Post Office Bay
AM: CORMORANT POINT, CHAMPION ISLET
This site offers probably the best flamingo lagoon in the
Galapagos; it is also one of the largest in the islands. It’s situated between two tuff lava cones that give the area a special atmosphere. There are various species of shorebirds to observe besides flamingos; the most frequent are common stilts, white-checked pintail ducks, and other migratory birds. It is very interesting to see the two distinct beaches: “The Green Beach” (due to its high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand) and the “Flour Sand Beach” which is made up of coral.
After the interesting walk, the group is taken to Champion Islet, a great place to enjoy snorkeling and underwater wildlife. Some of the animals that can be seen are sea turtles, sea lions, and multiple fish thanks to the nearby coral reef.
PM: POST OFFICE BAY
Historically, this site is the location of a wooden barrel that was placed in the 18th century by the crew of a whaling ship. It has been used since this time by marines and tourists as a post office. The idea is to carry letters or postcards to their destination by hand. Besides, this site was the landing area for some of the first colonists. This day’s afternoon is supposed to be a relaxing time for visitors to enjoy the beach and the beauty of Galapagos.
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Day 15 : Turtles Trail
Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come here to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also
interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are carried out. This path offers the possibility to learn aspects and feel synchronized with nature.
After the morning excursion you will be taken to the airport for your flight to the mainland. Transfer to Baltra airport.
When you land at Guayquil you will be tranferred to the city hotel.
Photo: Alexis Penot
Day 16 : Guayaquil - Transfer Out
After enjoying a wonderful breakfast, depending the time you will be taken to the Airport for your International connection.