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Combined Ecuador and the Galapagos: Best of Land and Sea

Combined Ecuador and the Galapagos: Best of Land and Sea

12 days /
11 nights

From 450 / person / day

Based on 2 people All Pricing Info
Destinations
QUITO, MINDO CLOUD FOREST, SANTA CRUZ ISLAND, BARTOLOME ISLAND, NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND, ECUADORIAN ANDES, OTAVALO

Combining the best of Ecuador’s mainland with a land-based tour of the Galapagos Islands is a unique and memorable alternative to the traditional Galapagos cruise options. This combined Ecuador and Galapagos itinerary will first explore the highlights of Quito including its Old Town and equatorial line museum, followed by the pristine Mindo Cloud Forest. Here you can enjoy nature walks, birdwatching trails and elevated viewpoints aplenty as a scenic introduction to what comes next, a land-based Galapagos adventure. Visiting Santa Cruz Island and its closest neighbors North Seymour and Bartolome Island, time will be spent admiring pristine beaches, observing Sea Lion colonies, families of Blue-footed Boobies, Herons and countless other native Galapagos species as well as the depleted volcanic craters, nature reserves and the Charles Darwin Research Center. Then you head back to Mainland Ecuador and the dramatic High-Andean wilderness to meet local communities, visit traditional villages and craft markets, explore stunning valleys and even enjoy the chance to see Giant Andean Condors close-up, before returning to Quito and home.

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Itinerary

DAY;

1

Arrive Quito, Ecuador

Having been greeted at Quito Airport by your guide on touchdown, a private transfer will take you straight to your hotel in Quito Old Town for check-in; a fitting start to this combined Ecuador and Galapagos vacation. Once here, you are ideally placed to explore the atmospheric streets, bars and restaurants of Old Quito this evening, as well as already being onsite for tomorrow’s walking tour.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Hotel Patio Andaluz or similar

Meals

DAY;

2

Walking Tour of Quito

Spend the early morning at leisure, starting with a wholesome breakfast at your hotel before a private walking tour of Quito’s Old Town, which provides a fascinating introduction to Ecuador’s capital. The city’s historical center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978, and it’s not hard to see why, with its exquisite colonial architecture comprising sublime churches, the Cathedral, Presidential Palace and Municipal Building. All of this stands proudly alongside cobblestone streets and the grand Independence Square, making Quito Old Town a marvel to behold. After lunch, a further delve into Ecuadorian life comes this afternoon at the Intiñan Solar Museum. This fun-filled Quito attraction is located on the line of the equator and exhibits artifacts from various cultures and tribes around the country, as well as hands-on science experiments and a planetarium. Here you can also visit the Mitad del Mundo (‘Middle of the World’) Monument and gardens, located on the very spot where a French explorer calculated the equatorial line’s location back in 1736!

Optional Activities:

Overnight Hotel Patio Andaluz or similar

Meals B

DAY;

3

Mindo Cloud Forest

Day three of this combined Ecuador and Galapagos tour takes you to the ethereal Mindo Cloud Forest, a biodiverse haven that’s brimming with birdlife, abundant plant species and fun activities too. The drive to Mindo takes roughly one hour 30 minutes, though it’s a gentle journey along country roads with scenic lookout points along the way. On arrival, you are treated to one of Ecuador’s natural highlights, a unique ecosystem covering nearly 50,000 subtropical acres that are home to around 400 different bird species, lush trees, orchids and waterfalls. You can visit them all with a guided tour plus time at leisure to explore Mindo’s many nature trails, butterfly gardens, treetop cable cars and, for those brave enough, an adrenaline-packed zip-line adventure.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Hotel Patio Andaluz or similar

Meals B,L

DAY;

4

Santa Cruz Island

Next up, your Galapagos land adventure package begins, as you fly from Guayaquil on Ecuador’s western coast to Baltra Island Airport, where our guides assist with any luggage, before crossing the crystalline Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island. Your destination is Semilla Verde Boutique Hotel, a homely Galapagos eco-retreat big on yoga, conservation, and exploring the best of the archipelago. This afternoon is spent at leisure, maybe unwinding on the lawn, strolling along one of the nearby nature trails or trying a spot of yoga. Why not pay a visit to the harborfront streets of Puerto Ayora and the all-important Charles Darwin Research Center? Here, exciting exhibits and interactive displays go together with real-life conservation projects, including Giant Tortoise breeding programs. A suitable start as you witness the legacy left on the Galapagos Islands by Darwin himself.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B

DAY;

5

Santa Cruz Island

The Santa Cruz Highlands are a pleasure to explore, with their endemic wildlife, roaming Giant Galapagos Tortoises and, of course, the Los Gemelos craters; two colossal sinkholes which must be seen to be believed. This all makes for a highlight of your Galapagos land-based vacation and provides a great snapshot of the wider archipelago, so is the focus of this morning’s tour. First a pleasant wildlife walk; keep an eye out for Santa Cruz Highlands’ many bird species and varied plant-life. On arrival at Los Gemelos, gaze out over lush foliage filling each of the two huge caverns–one stretching nearly 1,300ft across and 2,300ft deep. Time can then be spent exploring an eerie world of underground lava tunnels here, or seeking out more of those Giant Galapagos Tortoises for one perfectly captured photograph to take home. After lunch your Santa Cruz tour continues by heading east. First enjoy the verdant Cerro Mesa Nature Reserve where the scenic viewpoints are as impressive as the variety of flora that fills this once active volcanic crater, and later to Garrapatero Beach, where mangroves and coastal vegetation open up onto bright white beaches and crystalline seas.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B,L,D

DAY;

6

Santa Cruz Island / Bartolome Island

Today’s Galapagos wildlife tour focuses on Bartolome Island; its lookout spots and rugged coastline. First, moor up at a wooden walkway and begin your ascent to one of the best viewpoints in the Galapagos. The reason is that although Bartolome itself is relatively barren, all volcanic rock and petrified lava flows, from this angle you get a 360-degree panoramic look at the wider archipelago; a completely different perspective on the formation of these islands. This then makes a Zodiac boat ride–the next part of your excursion–all the more enjoyable, as you glide past families of Galapagos Penguins, Herons and Hawks, before the golden beaches and Sea Lion colony of Pinnacle Rock. The waters which border these sands teem with marine life, making them perfect for snorkeling just off the adjacent ancient lava fields of Sullivan Bay; a real-life Galapagos highlight.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B,L,D

DAY;

8

North Seymour Island / Bachas Beach

Swap land for sea as you board the Sea Finch vessel once more. First up is North Seymour Island, where you can hike through a forest of Palo Santo trees–a favorite nesting place for Blue-footed Boobies–and follow coastal trails that provide a privileged view of Brown Pelicans, Frigate Birds and Yellow Land Iguanas. Then, swim with an astonishing array of marine life, such as Rays, White-tipped Reef Sharks and King Angelfish. The final stop is at Las Bachas, a pair of impeccable beaches with white coral sands. Watch Blue-footed Boobies patrolling the shore, or Pink Flamingos, Great Blue Herons and White-cheeked Pintails wading the waters of a nearby lagoon. After swimming in warm seas, sail back to the Itabaca Channel and return to Semilla Verde for your penultimate night at this luxury Galapagos lodge.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B,L,D

DAY;

8

Santa Cruz Island

The final day of your Galapagos adventure takes you to the lesser-visited hidden coves and dramatic coastline of Santa Cruz Island, alive as they are with wildlife and easily accessed from Semilla Verde. Begin with the picturesque islets of Daphne Major and Minor. Among other things, these small islands are well-known for their abundance of native bird species including Galapagos Martins, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Short-eared Owls and Red-billed Tropic Birds. You can explore the shoreline and coastal nature trails here, keeping an eye out for Sea Lions and Reef sharks in the water, before lunch either onboard the boat or beach, and a final stop at Bahia Borrero, a pristine stretch of chalk-white sands and one of the ultimate places to finish this exciting Galapagos tour.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B,L,D

DAY;

9

Ecuadorian Andes

The diverse landscapes, ecosystems and environments of Ecuador keep coming today, as you first fly back to the mainland before driving towards the serene Ecuadorian Andes in the company of your private guide. On arrival at your rural Hacienda, check-in and enjoy a first afternoon of crisp mountain air in this timeless, beautifully scenic region.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Hacienda Cusin or Similar

Meals B,L,D

DAY;

10

Ecuadorian Andes

Day ten of your combined Ecuador and Galapagos land package provides an unforgettable opportunity to admire picturesque, pristine scenery here in the Ecuadorian Andes, as well as visiting some of its traditional highland communities. Driving between stops is a joy in itself, such is the splendor of this mountainous region of towering peaks and sweeping valleys, as can be seen on the way to San Antonio de Ibarra, the provincial capital famous for its incredibly ornate woodworking and tradition of sculpture. From here, it’s on to Peguche where more local culture and an authentic High-Andean way of life can be glimpsed, such as the town’s markets, traditional weaving, music and dance performances as well as a love for celebratory festivals! Picturesque Peguche is also surrounded by stunning scenery, hidden waterfalls and verdant valleys which, time permitting, can also feature as part of your Andean day trip.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Hacienda Cusin or similar

Meals B,L,D

DAY;

11

Condor Park / La Esperanza

A further exploration of the Ecuadorian Andes continues today, as you venture deeper into the landscape to meet some native wildlife as well as the rural communities who dwell here. Begin at Parque del Condor (‘Condor Park’), where not only Giant Andean Condors but Hawks, Owls, Eagles and Falcons are protected and cared for in a semi-natural environment, some of which have been rehabilitated from their perilous position in the wild. Having seen these impressive native birds first-hand, and witnessed a live flight demonstration too, the next stop on day eleven of your Mainland Ecuador adventure is a visit to the indigenous San Clemente Community in nearby La Esperanza. Here there’s the chance to meet locals and share lunch together, learn the community’s traditions and customs as well as enjoying an informative nature walk with them, to see what life is like living among such wilderness. Finally, make your way back to the hotel for one last evening with your Ecuadorian hosts.

Optional Activities:

Overnight Hacienda Cusin or similar

Meals B,L,D

DAY;

12

Cuicocha Crater Lake / Otavalo Market

As your combined Ecuador and Galapagos land tour draws to a close, there is still time to see one or two more Andean highlights before traveling back to Quito, depending on the exact time of your departing flight. First, some last-minute souvenirs can be picked up from the small town of Cotacachi, a village particularly famous for its fine leather work and crafts. Then, a last-minute nature walk through the forests to Cuicocha Crater Lake, a stunning site, the main attraction of the Ecuadorian Andes and well worthy finale to your tour. Finally, the world-famous Otavalo Market. Otavalo is known across South America for its craftwork, such as weaving and musical instruments, though its most prized asset is their colorful market that has attracted local artisans, buyers and sellers for centuries. It’s a vibrant scene of locals wearing traditional outfits, and stalls topped high with rainbows of fruit, vegetables and textiles. Time permitting, you can pick up some treasures and enjoy lunch here before being driven back to Quito International Airport and home.

Optional Activities:

Overnight

Meals B,L

DAY 

2

Quito

This morning, you are picked up for your half-day private guided tour of Quito, including a walking tour of its historical center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then, the afternoon is at your leisure to spend relaxing or exploring the city further on your own.

Optional Activities:

Private tour of Quito’s colonial churches or insider’s look at the country’s finest Pre-Columbian art collection

Spectacular horseback ride in the high Andes near Quito

2-3 hour hike and birdwatching with Naturalist guide through nearby cloud forest to see hummingbirds and flora

Overnight Casa Gangotena, Plaza Grande, or similar

Meals B

IMPORTANT: We reserve the right to omit any part of this itinerary, to change the order of the places visited, or to alter reservations without prior notice due to weather conditions or road closures, safety concerns, national park policies, or other outside forces that may necessitate revisions to the itinerary. These decisions are based on the traveler’s welfare or are made in the interest of conservation. Please travel with an open mind and a willingness to embrace the spontaneity of your adventure.


all our

preferred

Hotels
and
villas


in Galapagos Islands

Hotel
Lying in the spectacular Andean mountain range of Ecuador is the historic Hacienda Zuleta. This colonial working farm, dating from the late 16th century, was named Outside magazine’s “Top Ten Finds” in the world, and one of National Geographic Traveler’s…
The nineteen suite La Selva Lodge lies in a rainforest paradise overlooking the glassy waters of Lake Garzacocha and bordered by Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. A pioneer of the first Amazonian eco-lodges in…
Deep in the Amazon, on a pristine 5,000-acre ecological reserve, hides the luxurious eco-friendly Sacha Lodge. Hidden amongst the trees, built directly upon Pilchicocha Lake, the dense wildlife creates a vibrant backdrop and magical curtain into…
At the edge of the great Añangu lake, surrounded by pristine rainforest, rests Napo Wildlife Center, one of Ecuador’s most beloved ecolodges. As the only lodge located inside the mesmerizing diverse Yasuni National Park, guests experience Ecuador’s rich…


all our

preferred

Hotels
and
villas


in Galapagos Islands

Named South America’s Leading Green Hotel by the World Travel Awards in 2018, Finch Bay Eco Hotel lies on the remote Galapagos island of Santa Cruz, across the bay from Puerto Ayora. Voted the #1 hotel in Puerto Ayora by Trip Advisor, escape…
Nestled in the wild highlands of Santa Cruz Island with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and National Park sits the stylish Galapagos Safari Camp. Inspired by African safari camps, the hotel’s atmosphere is nothing short of magical. Experience nature…
In the heart of the Galapagos Archipelago, perched between sunny, arid savannas and lush tropical mists of the volcanic highlands, Pikaia Lodge offers luxury by land and sea like no other eco-hotel. Designed for the active, adventurous traveler and…
Villa Galapagos 1 is a charming seaside villa with the character, comfort and class reminiscent of a European home in Tuscany. Characterized by classic island architecture, the villa is situated in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz with a dramatic view to the island’s…
In the heart of the Galapagos Archipelago, perched between sunny, arid savannas and lush tropical mists of the volcanic highlands, Pikaia Lodge offers luxury by land and sea like no other eco-hotel. Designed for the active, adventurous traveler and…
Nestled in the wild highlands of Santa Cruz Island with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and National Park sits the stylish Galapagos Safari Camp. Inspired by African safari camps, the hotel’s atmosphere is nothing short of magical. Experience nature…
Named South America’s Leading Green Hotel by the World Travel Awards in 2018, Finch Bay Eco Hotel lies on the remote Galapagos island of Santa Cruz, across the bay from Puerto Ayora. Voted the #1 hotel in Puerto Ayora by Trip Advisor, escape…
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