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(Mainland tour available without Galapagos Islands cruise)
Arrive in Quito anytime today and private transfer to your hotel.
Today you will enjoy a city tour of Quito. Quito displays the largest colonial town of the Americas and is the first Unesco’s World Heritage Site. The tour includes parks like El Ejido and Alameda, the monument of Simon Bolivar, Independence Square developed over the past five centuries and flanked by the Presidential and the Archbishop’s palaces and, the Metropolitan Cathedral. Walk along the so-called street of the seven crosses and pass by the Jesuit convent, El Sagrario church with a unique orthodox cross lay out dated back to the seventeenth century and the jewel of the crown, the Jesuit temple of La Compañía de Jesús. From there continue to the plaza of San Francisco, with temple and convent known to be the largest of the once Spanish colonies on the Americas. You will then be taken to the Middle of the World complex and the Equator Monument situated at 0°0’0” latitude, where you will have the chance to step one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other one in the southern hemisphere. The ethnographic museum located inside the monument is filled with clothing, artwork, and lots of information about Ecuador’s indigenous cultures. North of the complex is the Inti-ñan Museum that means “Museum of the Path of the Sun” in Kichua.
Galapagos (Baltra Airport). Departure from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra (approx. two-and half-hour flight). Passengers will be picked up at the airport by our guides and taken to the pier to board the boat.
Egas Port (Santiago Island). Wet landing. This visitor site located at the northwestern portion of Santiago Island, and of important geologic interest, features extensive lava flows believed to have been formed during the last quarter of the 19th century. Egas Port´s black volcanic sandy beach was visited by Darwin in 1835. The unique, truly striking layered terrain is home to a variety of animals including the bizarre yellow-crowned night heron and marine wildlife including lobster, starfish and marine iguanas that graze on algae beds alongside Sally lightfoot crabs. Often you will see colonies of endemic fur seals swimming in cool water volcanic rock pools.
Afternoon: Rábida Island. Wet landing. Dark-red sand covers these unique beaches with incredible landscape; Rábida Island is considered the epicenter of the Galapagos Islands due to the diversity of its volcanic geology. Nesting Brown Pelicans are found from July through September and nine species of the famous Darwin’s finches can be seen. We will also take a dinghy ride along cliffs to observe nesting seabirds, and snorkel off the coast, where marine life is particularly active. Today you will have the option to go snorkeling.
Urbina Bay (Isabela Island). Wet landing on a volcanic “black” beach. Depending on the time of year we may find giant tortoises, large land iguanas and the unusual Flightless Cormorant at their nesting sites and Galapagos Hawks. After the walk inland, snorkeling time is allotted, giving you yet another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions, penguins and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season. We can observe the beautiful colors of plants that attract different insects, birds and reptiles. We will explore the uplifted coral reef that resulted from 1954 volcanic activity, with a spectacular view of Alcedo Volcano.
Afternoon: Tagus Cove (Isabela Island). Dry landing on Galapagos’ largest island where we will learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that form it. The trail leads to Darwin’s salt-water crater Lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations.
We will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where we will admire a variety of seabirds, such as Blue-footed Booby, Brown Noddy, terns, Flightless Cormorant and depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos Penguins which are only 35 cm. tall; the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the equator. They are monogamous and lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, on the lower parts of the island near the shoreline not reached by the ocean waves.
The population of penguins on the islands is about 2,000 individuals, most of which live on this western portion of Isabela; others are scattered further south on the island. We will have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water. Graffiti believed to have been left by 19th-century pirates is a curious reminder of an intriguing past.
Espinosa Point (Fernandina Island). Dry landing. Espinosa Point is the only spot that we visit on Fernandina, and from it we can see the island of Isabela across the Bolívar Channel, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. The largest, most primitive-looking race of marine iguanas are found mingling with sea lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs; a wonderful opportunity to encounter Flightless Cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos Penguins and the “King” of predators on the Islands, the Galapagos Hawk.
“Pa-hoe-hoe” and “AA” lava formations cover the majority of the terrain. Vegetation is thus scarce inland, but we encounter Brachy cereus cacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores.
Afternoon: Vicente Roca Point (Isabela Island). Great deep-water snorkeling at one of the richest marine havens on Earth (Bolívar Channel). We take a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds such as; Nazca and blue-footed boobies, noddies, brown pelicans, penguins and flightless cormorants. The upwelling of cold water currents in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life.
Highlands (Santa Cruz). Dry landing. A 45-minute bus ride will take us to the Santa Cruz highlands, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where we will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the island’s name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and can live up to 150-200 years.
Return to the Galapagos Legend, check out and transfer to the Baltra airport. Return flight to Quito.
31 miles (50km) south of Quito in the province of Cotopaxi, the Park is located at 5897 meters above sea level, and rising majestically above the Andean mountains, the Cotopaxi volcano is Ecuador’s highest active volcano. The Park is surrounded by haciendas and trails that provide the opportunity for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and trekking. Inside the Park there is the Limpiopungo Lagoon where you might see Andean gulls, rabbits, llamas and horses.
Today we head to the Amazon rainforest! Transfer by car to Tena Jungle Lodge. We will go from the top of the Andes and descent to the remote corners of the tropical rainforest, the most accessible of any country. Hike in the jungle, enjoy local cuisine, experience local flora and fauna. Meet mammals, reptiles and insects, from monkeys to butterflies, and iridescent macaws, discover endemic flora with an indigenous guide who will teach you their medicinal uses.
Return by van to Quito. International flights may depart any time after 6pm.
Galapagos and mainland Ecuador is a twelve-day tour which includes a cruise on a ship, a visit to a rainforest lodge, and walking around ruins and during city tours. As always, a certain patience is required for the inconsistencies and occasional delays of developing-world travel.
On all Southern Crossings tours you are met at the airport by one of our representatives (holding a Southern Crossings placard) who will accompany you to our joining hotel.
International flights, pre- & post- tour accommodation, visas, vaccinations, personal insurance, meals except where specified above, drinks, laundry, souvenirs, tips while on optional excursions and other items of a personal nature. Medical travel insurance is not included through Southern Crossings and cancellation insurance is advisable.
In the Galapagos, the following is not included:
We will gladly arrange additional accommodation for you before or after your trip.
This tour includes 4-star hotels. We would be happy to give you an upgrade to a 5-star hotel. If you would like to select a specific hotel let us know your preference, we can then work it into your custom itinerary.
If you are travelling alone, a single supplement will be added to your trip price.
All travelers to Ecuador are required to have a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry. Visas are not required for E.U., U.S., Canadian, Australian or New Zealand passport holders. For other nationalities please consult the nearest embassy or consulate. An onward ticket and proof of funds may also be required at entry and should be available to show to immigration. Traveler’s checks, currency or a bank statement from the bank or printed off the internet are sufficient for proof of funds.
Travelers may wish to receive hepatitis vaccinations and should be current on all other standard vaccinations. The rainforest area of Ecuador (approx. 4,000 ft. and below, east of the Andes) has a low risk of malarial and yellow fever. The yellow fever vaccination is recommended and travelers may wish to take malarial prophylaxis (only if your itinerary includes the jungle). Please consult your physician or local health department for more information.
One should come well prepared for outdoor activity at temperatures ranging from 5 to 32 degrees Celsius/40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and for extremes of sun and the possibility of rain. A list of things to bring would include:
It is best to bring from home such items as prescription medications, eyewear and care, unusual film and camera batteries.
For your international flights, please check with your airline. Within Ecuador you are allowed 20 kilos (44 lbs.) of checked baggage as well as one carry-on and another small, purse-like item. The carry-on size regulations are the same as international carry-on size regulations.
The climate in sites you will visit is as follows:
Rain is possible at any time of year especially in high mountains and cloud forest, and one should always be prepared. Quito: days are warm if sunny, slightly chilly if cloudy. Nights are chilly. Rain is always possible. Temperatures can vary between 46° to 70° Fahrenheit or 8° to 21° Celsius. Amazon basin: hot and humid year-round. We recommend light clothing (in weight and in color) that fully cover arms and legs to prevent from getting mosquito bites. Galapagos Islands: hot and humid, rain always possible. Galapagos can have a cooler, more moderate climate depending on current conditions. One should come prepared for outdoor activity with temperatures ranging from 70° to 90° Fahrenheit or 21° to 32° Celsius and for extremes of sun and the possibility of rain.
The unit of currency in Ecuador is the US dollar. Automatic cash points and exchange houses are available in Quito and Guayaquil. Credit cards and cash are accepted on the Galapagos Islands cruise and in Puerto Ayora. Visa, MasterCard, Plus, and Cirrus are the most common usable types of cards. Traveler’s checks are difficult to cash (American Express is best, but you may be charged 5-8%) or a Visa or MasterCard for cash advances are also options. Do not bring Money Grams or International Money Orders, as they are extremely difficult to exchange. Acceptable bills come out of the ATMs in country. Expect to spend about US$5-12 on a meal, US$2 on a beer, water or soft drink in Ecuador. Artisan market prices are usually lower than people expect. Alpaca sweaters for example cost between $5 and $30. The Galapagos Islands are about 20% more expensive than the rest of Ecuador, although most things you would need to spend money on are included within your cruise package.