DISCOVER DARWIN’S ARCHIPELAGO & HELP PRESERVE ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST UNIQUE BIOLOGICAL SITES.
Our journey begins in Quito, the capital of Ecuador and the best preserved colonial city in all of South America. Here we will tour the historical sites of the city and also get a taste of modern urban life with a salsa dance class. We will continue our journey in the small cloud forest town of Mindo where we will tour a coffee farm, go tubing down a rushing jungle river, go on a chocolate tour, and interact with thousands of exotic butterflies–amongst other activities. Next stop, the famous Galapagos Islands! The Galapagos Archipelago is one of the most unique and remote places on the planet. A cluster of volcanic islands jutting up from the floor of the Pacific Ocean over 1000 km from the South American continent, these islands are home to the highest concentration of endemic species in the world and have captured the imaginations of biologists, seafarers,and adventurers for centuries. This is a once in a lifetime destination as you can experience the islands as few do–as active participants and stewards, not just as tourists passing through. On this trip you will have the opportunity to swim with sea turtles, sea lions, manta rays, and marine iguanas; but you will also have the opportunity to get your hands dirty working to preserve this very special place.
Transportation, certified specialized guides, tour leader, all meals, all accommodations, activities, entrance fees, 24/7 in country emergency contact, round trip flights Quito-Galapagos, Migration fee
Travel Insurance, tips, personal expenses, flights to Ecuador, National park entrance fee
DAY 1: ARRIVAL
Upon arrival at the Quito airport, you will be met by your Trip Leader and taken via private transport to a nearby hotel to rest for the night.
DAY 2: QUITO: CITY TOUR & SALSA CLASS
Quito’s historical heart is the largest, least-altered and best- restored in the Americas. The city has invested $400 million since the turn of the century in its c cultural heritage – more than any other Latin American city. In 2013, it celebrated 35 years as the first city nominated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The capital’s heart beats with renewed cultural life and pride, as citizens and visitors alike enjoy its unique attractions. Later that evening, we will enjoy salsa dance classes at our accommodation, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant.
DAY 3: A CLOUD FOREST RETREAT
After breakfast at our hotel, we will travel to the small mountain village of Y Yunguilla. Upon arrival, we will have an orientation of the community. The following activities will be available for the day:
After a full day, we will eat dinner with the community and then head to our hotel near the airport.
DAY 4: TRAVEL TO GALAPAGOS / HACIENDA TRANQUILA
After breakfast, we will make the trip back to the airport to begin our journey to t he Galapagos Archipelago. After a 2.5 hour flight, we will arrive on San Cristobal Island. We will be welcomed at the airport by our Galapagos naturalist guide(s), and driven into the highlands to the Hacienda Tranquila, where we will stay for 2 nights. Hacienda Tranquila is a project where local people are working to reforest the land with endemic plants and eradicate the human introduced species that are harmful for the fragile local ecosystem such as blackberries and guayaba trees. Lunch will be served in the hacienda. In the afternoon, we will be introduced to the activities that we will be participating in over the next couple days and learn more about the hacienda where they also have social projects in the small community of “La Soledad”.
DAYS 5-6: SERVICE PROJECT AT HACIENDA TRANQUILA
Today we will work all day at the Hacienda. Projects vary slightly depending on w when you visit, but all are dedicated to conservation and reforestation. All meals today will be at the Hacienda.
DAY 7: SAN CRISTOBAL – FLOREANA – ISABELA
Breakfast will be served in your hotel. Then you will be picked-up to go to the pier where you depart around 7AM to Floreana island. The private boat ride lasts for a about 2,5 hours. Upon arrival, you will visit the highlands, a place called “Peace Asylum”, where the first colonists of the islands settled – the guide will tell you all about the mysteries. During the short hike you will be able to spot Galapagos giant tortoises. After lunch in the small village “Puerto Velasco Ibarra” you will go snorkeling at a beautiful, black sanded beach nearby the pier. Afterwards you will continue on the boat to Isabela Island (approximately 1,5 hour ride). Isabela is one of the youngest islands which still has moderate volcanic activity. It’s a beautiful island with a long white sandy beach and a clear bay located near to the pier. Upon arrival you will be driven to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
DAY 8: ISABELA
In the morning you will visit the Tintoreras Islet near the pier, where you have a short hike and snorkel. There you can spot small Galapagos penguins, sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and often you can even spot white-tipped sharks in one of the channels. Lunch and in the afternoon you will go to the Wetlands by bike. This is a nice ride going through mangroves with wildlife and stops to hidden beaches. You will spot tortoises, iguanas, finches. We will also pass by a lagoon with flamingos.
DAY 9: ISABELA – SANTA CRUZ
You will take after breakfast a private speedboat to Santa Cruz island. The ride takes approx 2h30 long. At arrival you will go to the hotel for check in and then t time free until lunch. In the afternoon you will go to the beautiful Tortuga Bay beach. This is a white sand beach where you can spot a lot of iguanas! To get there you walk along a 3km trail going in a forest of giant endemic opuntias cactuses. Two hours before our flight, we will be picked up and taken to the airport to fly back to the Ecuadorian mainland. Upon arrival, we will be transported into the city of Quito for lunch. In the afternoon we will go on a tour of the Botanical Gardens and have a little bit of downtime before dinner in the city.
DAY 10: RETURN TO MAINLAND
Two hours before our flight, we will be picked up and taken to the airport to fly back to the Ecuadorian mainland. Upon arrival, we will be transported into the city of Quito for lunch. In the afternoon we will go on a tour of the Botanical Gardens and have a little bit of downtime before dinner in the city.
DAY 11: DEPARTURE
On our final morning, depending on departure times, we will head to Quito’s largest artisan market. Here you will have the chance to try your hand at testing your Spanish to bargain down prices and buy unique souvenirs to remember your travels in Ecuador. In the evening we will load our bags up and head to the town of Cumbaya for a special send off dinner and closing ceremony. From here it is a short drive to the airport to catch a red-eye flight home. Buen Viaje!