Travel The Highlands & Paradisiacal Galapagos Islands

Travel The Highlands & Paradisiacal Galapagos Islands

This program is designed for people who like to be involved by the destination´s culture when they travel. It is for those who wish to relax and have new experiences. This cuddly program will give you the chance to see the most amazing places in the Ecuadorian Andes.

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Trip Details

17 Days / 16 Nights

Day 1: Transfer and accommodation.

An Equatortrekking representative will pick you up at Quito´s international airport and take you to a wonderful Boutique hotel.

Day 2: City Tour Quito Colonial & The Middle of the World

In order for you to get acclimatize we will explore both the Quito Colonial and Middle of the World. You will find out why Lonely Planet or National Geographic Traveler consider this city as one of the “must go” places in the world.
Quito is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America and was the first city worldwide declared “Patrimony of Humanity” by UNESCO. On day 2 we will have the opportunity to explore the most important churches, theaters, convents and colonial palaces of Quito as you walk through the small antique streets of the city.
The afternoon will be spent at the Middle of the World monument. This monument is well known due to its unique location at parallel 0 and meridian 0, 0´ 0. Here we will be able to see how Coriolis Effect work in a very fun way and take your picture with one foot on each hemisphere. By night you will be taken to a delicious dinner in one of the best restaurants in Quito, then back to your first class hotel for overnight. (B/L/D)

Day 3: Quito – Otavalo - Quito

In the morning we will visit the amazing handicraft market in Otavalo city, one of the most important artisan markets in South America. Here you will get to interact with the vendors and learn about their crafts and their well preserved traditions. Items available at the market include handmade textiles as well as pottery, jewellery, panama hats and more. Then, proceed to Peguche, an Indian village near Otavalo that is home to the artisans who do the weaving in their homes; guests can learn about their culture and everyday life. Lunch is at Lake San Pablo´s Cabañas de Lago. This night we will stay at the same beautiful first class hotel in Quito. (B/L/D)

Day 4: Quito – Highland Lagoon Trek + Hotsprings Spa + Hacienda

After breakfast we will travel 90 minutes east of Quito to Cayambe-Coca National Park for a beautiful trek near Sucos Lake. The landscapes from this highland protected National Park are amazing, flora and fauna are wonderful and if you are lucky you will have the chance to see some dears, tapirs, spectacled bears, among other species. Then we will drive a few minutes to a local restaurant for a delicious lunch and a relaxing afternoon at the spa and thermal waters of Papallacta. Then we will depart towards an authentic Andean farm near Cotopaxi´s National Park for dinner and overnight. (B/L/D)

Day 5: Hacienda and Cotopaxi´s National Park

Travel to a beautiful Hacienda in the heart of Ecuador's "Avenue of the Volcanoes", just one hour south of Quito. Here you will find traditional hospitality with a touch of luxury and you will be welcomed with a roaring log fire in the sitting room, and in your bedroom when the nights are cold.
All meals are tailored for hungry travelers, riders and hikers, and combine delicious Ecuadorian and international cuisine.
This day you can choose among activities such as: horseback riding, bicycling, hikking, canopying, or just take a drive tour inside Cotopaxi´s National Park visiting Limpiopungo Lake and meeting some llamas, free wild horses and luckily a Condor. (B / L or LB depending on the chosen activity / D)

Day 6: Quilotoa Lagoon Trek - Pujili´s Indian Market – Riobamba Hacienda

The Quilotoa Volcano (3.900 m / 12.795 ft) is located in the Cotopaxi Province, Parish of Zumbahua and is part of the Ecological Reserve of the Ilinizas. Its name comes from indian language "quiru" meaning tooth and "toa" meaning queen, due to the form of the lake that is in the crater. It has a diameter of 3.15 kilometers approximately and 440 meters of altitude from sea level to its upper border. Average depth of 240 meters.

Trekking around the lake has a spectacular view. During the walk, we will remain at 3900 m (12.795 ft); will take approximately 4 hours through rocky regions, flowered highlands, native forests, and sands; always with the marvelous view of the intense turquoise colored lake.

After a nice lunch box we will go to Pujilí, an Indian town where we will interact with the people and if it is sunday we will go to the market which is a non touristic one, so you will get the authentic feeling of the Andes.

This night we will go to a Hacienda near Riobamba and enjoy a wonderful dinner and a cozy overnight. (B/LB/D)

Day 7: Alausí – Devil´s Nose Train – Ingapirca Ruins - Cuenca

After breakfast we will drive you to the train station in Alausí to catch the train on the route known as “Devil´s Nose”. Both the scenery and the engineering are amazing. In the 45 minutes ride down, it drops nearly 1000 feet to Sibambe where you will be entertained with some traditional dancing before you go back up. Train departs daily except Mondays.
Once back in Alausí we will drive towards Ingapirca Inca Ruins, always accompanied by a great view of the south Ecuadorian Andes. After lunch we will visit the impressive Ingapirca ruins that are the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador.
This night accommodation and dinner is going to be at a stunning Hacienda near Cuenca. (B/L/D)

Day 8: Spectacular Highland trek + Cuenca City tour

Early in the morning we will go on a trek in Cajas National Park. In this park situated only 20 miles west from Cuenca, we can find more than 230 lagoons like the famous La Toreadora. All of them formed by glaciers unlike most lakes in Ecuador, formed by volcanic activity.
In the afternoon we will go on a city tour and then we will have time to wonder around this fascinating city. Due to the many historical buildings the center of Cuenca was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site and the world famous International Living Magazine choose Cuenca as the number 1 Retirement Haven, once there you will understand why. (B/L/D)

Day 9: Cuenca – Vilcabamba Spa

After a delicious breakfast we will go to a “Panama hat” factory near Cuenca. The misnamed Panama hats are not made in Panama, they have always been Ecuadorian hats. After this short visit we will go to Vilcabamba, a town famous for the longevity of its inhabitants. In the way we will pass through Saraguro home of the Saraguros Indians, which have maintained their traditions and costumes almost intact. This night accommodation will be at a very comfortable Eco Resort. (B/L/D)

Day 10: Vilcabamba

Today we will experience the characteristic peace of this marvelous city and choose among activities such as: horseback riding, trekking, or just take a drive tour to its surroundings. The afternoon is for yourself and by yourself, you will have time to wonder around the town and relax with a visit to a nice spa with superb scenery. Afternoon activity not included. We don´t include your dinner for this day so you can choose where you want to eat.
(B / L or LB depending on the chosen activity)

Day 11: Vilcabamba – Loja – Flight to Quito

Today we will drive to Loja to take our plane back to Quito. Flight schedule depends on the day of the week. Once in Quito you will have time in your hotel so you can prepare for next day travel to the Galapagos Islands!! (B)

Day 12: Flight Quito–Galápagos - Arrival to San Cristobal, Interpretation Center visit, Hike and Snorkel at Darwin Bay

We travel on a morning flight to San Cristobal Island and continue to the finest accommodation on San Cristobal Island for a delicious lunch and short overview of our trip. Our Galapagos experience starts with a visit to the local Interpretation Center where we learn about the Galapagos’ unique wildlife, geology, natural history, and social dynamics. Next, we hike to Frigate Hill over lava rock trails, and along the way, your naturalist guide will explain all about the Galapagos cotton, palo santo, acacia, and cacti surrounding you. You also spot bluefooted boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, herons, gulls, warblers, mockingbirds, and finches among vegetation and sea cliffs. This walking tour provides marvelous views of the rugged coastline and the small town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
On the way back, we snorkel or swim at beautiful Carola Beach. We´ll find sea turtles, sea lions, and marine iguanas!
After a gorgeous sunset and dinner, we explore the friendly and laid-back town. We recommend you take stroll down the boardwalk to view the immense colony of endemic Galapagos sea lions. Overnight at first class hotel (L, D)

Day 13: Wildlife and snorkel along the Northern Coast of San Cristobal Island

Today, we head out on an incredible snorkeling adventure! We take a boat and discover Isla Lobos, searching coves and cliffs for sea turtles, sea lions, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, and Nazca boobies. Once there, you´ll snorkel with sea lions, marine iguanas and countless reef fish. This site consistently proves to be the best sea lion encounter in the Galapagos Islands – after all, Isla Lobos translates to Sea Lion Island.
We head to open sea for Kicker Rock, two breathtaking rock massifs (tuff cones) that jut out from the ocean. Above the waters, thousands of sea birds cling to their walls, while millions of fish swim under the surface. The channel between the two rock walls is home to some of the best snorkeling in the islands. You´ll probably see spotted eagle rays, golden rays, Galapagos sharks, starfish, clams, and fish of every shape, size, and color. You might even see hammerhead sharks! After a full day exploring the seas, head back to our hotel, for a delicious gourmet dinner and a relaxed evening. (B, L, D)

Day 14: Discover Beaches, Lagoons and Islets in Isabela Island

After breakfast, we take a short plane ride to Isabela Island. This is the largest island in the Galapagos, constantly changing and evolving due to 6 shield volcanoes that render it one of the most thrilling, volcanically active spots on the planet.
We hike and visit “El Muro de las Lagrimas” (Wall of Tears), a towering wall of lava rocks built by prisoners during the time Isabela was a penal colony, for no other purpose than to keep the inmates distracted from the madness of isolation. We continue along white sand beaches, an alluring poison apple forest, a lava tube, and dark mangroves and brackish lagoons. The area is filled with giant tortoises and birdlife including flamingos!
After lunch, we explore beautiful Tintoreras, a set of small islets filled with hidden coves and beaches. Here, we find the endemic and incredibly fast swimmer, the Galapagos penguin, as well as reef sharks, sea turtles, and sea lions! At the end of the day, retire to the gorgeous, the newest and most innovative hotel Isabela Island. Relax in its infinity pool, hot tub, or neighboring white sand beach. After a fusion dinner of latin and exotic flavors, feel free to take a stroll down the seemingly endless beach or down the sand streets of this idyllic lazy town. (B, L, D)

Day 15: Tortoises, Lava Tunnels, Pirates and Endemic Forests in Santa Cruz Island

After breakfast, we journey by a speedboat to Santa Cruz Island. Along the way we must look out for whales and dolphins! We arrive and head to “El Chato” reserve, a natural habitat in the Santa Cruz highlands, home to the giant tortoise. We believe it to be an honor to hike among these fascinating giants, who can live to be over 175 years old. We will also see pintail ducks, finches, frigate birds, egrets, and hopefully the vermillion flycatcher - a red jewel of a bird.
We continue our natural history exploration by walking through some incredible lava tunnels where pirates frequented and perhaps hid Inca gold! We continue to “Los Gemelos”, two deep volcanic sinkholes at the top of the island. Our walking tour takes us through a forest of endemic scalesia trees, where we´ll lookout for the short-eared owl. The trees are covered with ferns and epiphytes and exude an almost eerie feel. In the late afternoon, we retire to our first class Santa Cruz hotel. Expect fine pampering at this lovely boutique guesthouse privately nestled in the bay. The beautiful waterfront property offers magnificent views of the bay, coastline, and town. (B, L, D)

Day 16: Visit Charles Darwin Research Station and Return Flight

After breakfast, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, we learn about the ongoing conservation efforts on these enchanted islands. The Research Station rears endemic Galapagos plants, land iguanas, and giant Galapagos tortoises for educational, scientific, and conservation purposes. We compare the diverse evolutionary paths of the various giant tortoises from different islands. We transfer to Baltra Island for our return flight to the mainland.
An Equatortrekking representative will pick you up at Quito´s airport and take you to your boutique hotel where you will have a free afternoon. (B/L)

Day 17: Transfer out

An Equatortrekking representative will take you to Quito´s international airport so you can take your flight home. Time to say goodbye, or better yet, until the next time. (B)


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Contact info
Av. Oswaldo Guayasamín E4-145 y Siena.
La Primavera, Cumbayá - Quito - Ecuador
Telephone: +593-2-604-4000
Mobile: +593-99-642-2612

Additional Contacts
Andrés Karolys (General Manager)
Telephone: 593 9 99333698
Skype: andres.equatortrekking


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