Day 1 (Tuesday) : Quito International Airport
After arriving at the airport, our helpful guide will meet you, plus he will serve as a translator, and assist with the private 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 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.
Overnight at Illa Experience Hotel or Similar.
– / – / –
Day 2 (Wednesday) : Historical Center & The Middle Of The World
Early in the morning and right after breakfast, you and our local guide start the travel tour at the downtown area, well known as Quito Colonial. You start your journey along the “churches ́ trail” by visiting first the cathedral. In the cathedral, you learn about its history and the guide explains the internal design of the cathedral such as the “mudejar ́s” influence on its first stage, the area with 3 longitudinal wings, and a small transversal wing behind the choir.
After finishing the round in the cathedral, we have a short walk to the church La Compania along with the guide’s expertise. The guide will enlighten you with history and fun facts about every place, in this case, La Compania. Its decoration is based on muslin features and the altars are covered by gold leaf along with faces and birds carved. It is considered an architectonic jewel in the American baroque style. It also has a religious value, because the rest of Saint Marianita of Jesus is located there, and according to some, she is the protector of the city.
Afterward, we visit San Francisco, which is famous for the Cantuña story. San Francisco is well known due to its legends and stories, which make the place culturally wealthy. At the San Francisco church, there is a local handcraft store called Tianguez, where you can find a variety of items from the Ecuadorian culture. Here, you can buy postcards, books, Ecuadorian music, natural products, and even get a coffee with Humitas (which is a sweet corn tamale) offered at the local Café Cantuña located at the Plaza San Francisco.
Around midday, you head to “Mitad del Mundo”, a monument at the equator line that passes through our country. You may choose to either visit the Ethnographic or the Inti Ñan Museums, both located near the monument. Along the way, our guide will recommend you some places to have a light lunch.
After the tour, you will return to Illa Experience Hotel to have dinner at Inés Restaurant, which is an oasis in the heart of Quito, carefully made and thought for fine dining experiences. His chef Juan Carlos trained in the world’s top Michelin restaurants will take you on a journey of culinary flavors and textures.
Overnight at Illa Experience Hotel or Similar
B / – / D
Day 3 (Thursday) : Otavalo Fd Or Cotopaxi
This morning you depart to Otavalo town,famous for its artisan market. On route, you stop at Guayllabamba, a small town where you can try a typical fruit called Chirimoya. Also, a quick stop at Cayambe, a little town where the famous bizcochos (a mix between a cracker and bread) are made.
In Otavalo you visit the textile market located at the “Plaza of Ponchos”; this is one of the most famous markets in South America. Here you find all kinds of handicrafts including tapestries made on the Spanish weaving loom as well as the indigenous back-strap loom. Over there you have some free time for bargaining and buying from the friendly Otavaleños.
After an early morning breakfast, depart towards the Cotopaxi National Park. The Cotopaxi Volcano is one of the most important landmarks in Ecuador as it is the highest active volcano in the world. Lush endemic flora and fauna of the area can be observed, including one of the most representative species is the Chuquiragua (also known as the mountaineer’s flower) wild horses, deer, llamas, and more. Whilst in the National Park one can also visit Limpiopungo Lake, located near Rumiñahui volcano (4757 meters), or hike. After this experience, you will to your hotel in Quito.
Day 4 (Friday) : Baltra Airport & Santa Cruz Highlands
Flight from Quito to Baltra´s airport where a naturalist guide would transfer you to Puerto Ayora.
Continuing with the itinerary, the guide will take you to the highlands of Santa Cruz where you will see tortoises in their natural environment.
The Highlands of Santa Cruz is a deep green, contrasting beautifully with much of the dry, lower islands. The dominant vegetation of the highlands is the scalesia trees, which grow in lush green color. The lava tubes, over half a mile long, are underground, and walking through them is a very unique, surreal experience.
Nex stop, Gemelos, is a visit to two sunken “holes”, similar to craters, known as “Los Gemelos” (Twins) formed naturally by volcanic activity millions of years ago, it is now an interesting visitor site.
Afterward, return to the hotel for a delicious dinner and accommodation.
Note: To execute this itinerary, it is important to choose an early flight that arrives maximum at 10 am to Baltra.
B / – / D
Day 5 (Saturday) : Bartolome, Pinzón Or Isabela Island
On this day, you will sail to another destination,
It has an altitude of 114 meters, from where we can observe one of the most beautiful sceneries of the Galapagos Islands such as Volcanic cones, lunar-like craters, lava fields, and the famous Toba-formed pinnacle eroded by the sea. There is very little vegetation on this island.
It has two breathtaking beaches where marine turtles exist and at the base of the pinnacle, as well as a very small colony of Galapagos penguins.
The passengers will be transported for about 45 minutes to the Galapagos National Park control site. Then, you will begin a trek to the Sierra Negra and Chico Volcano. In the afternoon, you will return to the hotel. Afterward, prepare to go to Tintoreras Islet. Go to the dock of Puerto Villamil in order to embark on small speedboats.
After a short ride (approx. 20 min.), you will arrive at Tintoreras. After the hike through the islet, you will snorkel. Over there you can see starfish, multicolor fish, sea-urchins, and with luck manta rays, sharks, and sea lions that may swim very close to you.
Pinzon Island is named after two brothers who captained two ships (caravels) in the Columbus expedition. It has a land area of 18 square kilometers and a maximum altitude of 458 meters.
Pinzón is located in the geographic centre of the “Enchanted Islands” Pinzón is home of endemic subspecies such as giant Galapagos tortoises and sea lions.
Day 6 (Sunday) : North Seymour
AM: ABOARD AT SEAMAN JOURNEY
Afterward an early breakfast at the hotel, your guide will pick you up and will carry your luggage to the bus.
Passengers will arrive at the Catamaran Seaman Journey on a motorized boat called panga, they will start an adventure of 4 days and 3 nights with dinner and beverage included.
PM: NORTH SEYMOUR
North Seymour is an uplifted (as opposed to volcanic) island. Therefore, it is generally flat and strewn with boulders. There are good nesting sites here for a large population of magnificent frigate birds. Blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dance in the more open areas and swallow-tailed gulls perch on the cliff edges.
Despite the tremendous surf that can pound the outer shore, sea lions haul out onto the beach and can be found bodysurfing.
Is a spectacular place to hike, swim, and enjoy snorkeling. The main attractions are the frigates, gulls, hawks, green sea turtles, and the famous Galapagos Sharks.
Day 7 (Monday) : Genovesa Island - El Barranco & Darwin Bay
AM: GENOVESA, ISLAND EL BARRANCO – THE CLIFF
The visitor site of El Barranco is located in the southern part of Darwin Bay from Genovesa Island. The trail is on volcanic rock, consists of 1.5 km and can be done in about 2 hours. The youngest area of the island, from a geological point of view, lies on this area.
The cliff is located in the south, are composed of very fragile lava. The natural erosion in these lava flows has become the ideal place for nesting Storm Petrels. You can see two species of petrels that nest in cavities and holes in the lava.
One of its main predators is the short-eared owl. The red-footed booby nests only in the outer islands of the archipelago, Punta Pitt, Gardner (Floreana), Wolf, Darwin and Genovesa. Also, present on this island is the masked booby. During the “panga rides” along the cliffs, fur sea lions and several species of seabirds can be seen.
PM: DARWIN BAY
This bay has its origin when the crater of this island collapsed below sea level. The wet landing is on a beautiful white coral sandy beach. This is a favorite island for birdwatchers that allow the following species to be seen: red footed-booby, masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels, yellow-crowned, and black-crowned lava herons, and yellow warblers.
Continuing on the trail, visitors climb gradually to the edge of the cliff seeing Red-Foots nesting in the Mangrove trees below. Birdwatching includes sightings of sharp-beaked finches, large cactus and ground finches, Galapagos doves, and swallow-tailed gulls. Reaching the end of the trail, at the cliff’s edge an incredible view of the island and the many birds living there can be observed.
B / L / D
Day 8 (Tuesday) : South Plazas & Santa Fe
AM: SOUTH PLAZAS
Plazas is located at the east of Santa Cruz Island and forms part of two islands known as Islas Plazas. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the Galapagos are found here. The Plazas land iguanas are smaller than its relatives found at other islands.
Throughout the island are several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a male marine iguana and a female land iguana, they are unique, recognizable at first glance by their black/gray color, with a land iguana’s crest, but face and tail of the marine iguana. The big population of iguanas is due to the presence of tunas, their favorite food. Swallow-tailed gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs are seen along with other seabirds as Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and brown pelicans.
PM: SANTA FE
Located in the southeastern part of the Galapagos, this island was formed from an uplift instead of a volcanic origin, this is why it is mostly flat. There are some theories that assure this could be the oldest island in the Archipelago. Santa Fe is the home of a number of endemic species like the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, Galapagos mockingbird, rice rats, and one of the two species of land Iguanas of the islands.
After disembarking in the beautiful and clear waters you will be in contact with one of the many sea lion colonies. Along the trail many salt bushes can be seen as well giant Prickly pear cactus: gigantism is a characteristic of oceanic islands. There are great possibilities for snorkeling with playful sea lions and tropical fish.
B / L / D
Day 9 (Wednesday) : San Cristobal Island - Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Genter & San Cristobal Airport
AM: SAN CRISTOBAL, Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Center
In 2004 the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises Jacinto Gordillo, named after a famous settler, was located in Cerro Colorado, San Cristobal Island, in order to take care of young tortoises. In 2008 an assisted reproduction program started on the island due to the birth of a little turtle in captivity. All of this will be learnt at the Jacinto Breeding Center.
One can not only learn about breeding processes but as well get engaged and experience why this breeding center does what it does.
After the morning excursion, you will be taken to the airport for your flight to the mainland.