Ecuador and Galápagos | Ultimate Ecuador: Biodiversity in the Amazon and Galápagos

Ecuador and Galápagos | Ultimate Ecuador: Biodiversity in the Amazon and Galápagos

About this trip

Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth, encompassing varied ecosystems ranging from rainforest and cloud forest to highlands and coast. This ultimate Ecuador exploration introduces you to two biodiversity hotspots for an in-depth appreciation of the many wonders of this equatorial nation. Begin in the Ecuadorian Amazon to observe rainforest flora and fauna, then head to the volcanic landscapes of the Galápagos Islands and explore the wonders that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution, an idea that not only influenced his own life, but also changed the history of the world. Enjoy time in the bustling cities of Quito and Guayaquil to round out the experience.
PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change without prior notice due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. weather) or at the discretion of the captain, guide, or the Galápagos National Park.

Highlights

  • Look for primates, tropical birds, and other wildlife as you travel by boat down the Napo River into the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
  • Learn about the Amazon’s indigenous peoples and their relationship with the forest during guided hikes.
  • Follow in Charles Darwin’s footsteps while cruising the Galápagos Islands and come face-to-face with Blue-footed Boobies, giant tortoises, and sea lions.
  • Discover fascinating geological history while trekking volcanoes and lava fields.
  • Explore historical Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best-preserved colonial city center in Latin America.
11 Travelers

$5,745

Land Cost

Group size

Book 10 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

16 Travelers

$5,145

Land Cost

Group size

Book 15 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

Quito

Day 1

Upon arrival at the airport in Quito proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. A Holbrook representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Holbrook sign to assist with your transfer to the hotel. Most flights arrive to Quito in the evening. No meals included on this day. Quito's elevation range from 9,223 ft - 9,883 ft. To minimize your chances of experiencing altitude sickness, try to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and fatty foods, consume high carbohydrate foods, and avoid strenuous exercise at high elevations.

Overnight at Sheraton Quito Hotel

Quito

Day 2

This morning after breakfast, we will officially meet our Ecuadorian guide who will be together with us throughout the program during the Welcome Orientation. Afterwards we will start our exploration of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Surrounded by volcanoes, Quito is a unique city that boasts one of the largest and best preserved colonial centers in America. Visit La Compañía Church, Alabado Museum (pre Columbian art), and San Francisco Church. After lunch at a local restaurant, we will enjoy a visit to the Museo Casa del Alabado. We will return to our hotel in the late afternoon and have the rest of the day at leisure. (Alternative day trip options available at an additional cost, such as a visit to Otavalo, Cotopaxi National Park, Antisana Reserve, or Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve).

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Sheraton Quito Hotel

Amazonia - Napo River

Day 3

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for a 45-minute flight to Coca also known as Puerto Francisco de Orellana. The port city is the capital of the Orellana province and one of the country's gateways to exploring the Amazon. Upon arrival, head to Francisco de Orellana port for the two hour boat ride down the Napo River - an important Amazonian tributary and country's longest river. We'll have box lunch on the boat. After disembarkation, we'll walk on a raised boardwalk to Pilchicocha Lake to board canoes for the final leg of our journey. Once we check-in, we will meet our local guides and have an orientation to our Amazon Lodge and activities. A typical day will begin at sunrise or earlier, to take advantage of the cool morning hours when the rainforest animals are most active. Afternoon excursions begin between 3:00-4:00 p.m. and often continue into the evening, when the nocturnal insect and frog chorus begins. In between activities, there is time to freshen up, relax, or swim in the black water lake home to many species of fish. During excursions, our group will be divided into small groups, each of which will be led by a native expert with knowledge of the rainforest's medicinal and other useful plants, and a bilingual naturalist educated in the biology and ecology of the area. Of the incredible 1,600 bird species registered in Ecuador, 600 (37 percent) have been seen at Sacha Lodge. That's almost 7 percent of the species found in the entire world! Enjoy observing birds at the mini tower and the butterfly house before dinner at the lodge. After dinner, accompany your naturalist guide on a night walk through the rainforest to view some of the hundreds of different species of mammals that can only be found at night. PLEASE NOTE: The flight to Coca has a limit of 50 lbs per person for checked luggage. The excess luggage can be left at Quito and our field staff will make the necessary arrangements for the transfer between Quito hotels.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Sacha Lodge

Amazonia - Napo River

Day 4

Begin the day at the Yasuni National Park Parrot Lick and learn about the life and habits of the local parrot population. The parrot lick is an exposed clay bank where brightly colored parrots of several different species gather in the morning hours. When weather conditions are ideal (sunny and dry) the parrots can often be seen perching on and eating the exposed clay. This activity is strictly weather-dependent since the parrots do not appear when it rains. In case of rain, we will try to visit the lick the next day. Activities will be substituted accordingly. After spending time at the clay lick, well stop at the Shipati Warmi project, an initiative run by and benefiting the women of the Providencia community of Yasuní. We'll learn about the people of Amazonia, about their daily lives - how they dry clothes in the jungle and the challenges of getting to school - their language, and customs. In the afternoon hike along the Liana Chica Trail arriving at the canopy walk, for spectacular views of the rainforest and the many different species of birds. Designed to be a self-standing rigid suspension, the canopy walk is one of only a few in the world! Located within Sacha´s private reserve, two miles from the shores of the Rio Napo and one mile from the lodge, the bird walk gives you the opportunity to get an up close and personal view of the rainforest canopy.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Sacha Lodge

Amazonia - Napo River

Day 5

Depart from the lodge after breakfast, and begin the hike on Lagartococha Trail. This trail offers the chance to learn more about the indigenous people and their relationship with the forest. Learn about the trees where residents believe the spirits of their ancestors live, and the mysterious "dwende" or devil man of the forest. After arriving at Lake Lagartococha, take a tranquil canoe ride through a natural swamp, which is home to anacondas, caimans, and capybaras. After the canoe ride, a walk on the other side of Largatococha may give you the opportunity to spot capuchin or squirrel monkeys playfully jumping through the trees. Return from the walk and head back to the lodge for a refreshing dip in the lake, or a nice relaxing nap in your personal hammock on your private balcony. After lunch, your local guide will teach you how to fish for the infamous razor toothed piranha. In the afternoon begin a silent canoe ride through the flooded Amazonian forest; to spot the shy and elusive river otter as well as the incredibly well camouflaged three toed sloth. After your ride through the flooded forest, arrive at Sacha´s 135 foot wooden tower built around an ancient Kapok tree. View vibrantly colored birds through powerful scopes, and watch the sunset with an amazing view of Mount Sumaco, a volcano. Possibly, you'll get a view of the snow covered caps of the Andes! A canoe ride back through the flooded forest at night provides for a different sensory experience; listen to the symphony of frogs and insects, nocturnal birds making their eerie nighttime calls, see the glowing eyes of the caimans, and watch for the several species of bats flying over your heads. Arrive back at Lake Pilchicocha to the welcoming lights of Sacha lodge. Our last night at the Amazon, we'll have a barbecue dinner in the lodge's outdoor dining area and say farewell to the Amazon and to our local guides.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Sacha Lodge

Puembo

Day 6

After breakfast transfer to Coca by boat for the late morning flight back to Quito. Upon arrival, we will transfer to a local restaurant at Cumbaya for lunch and then transfer to our hotel to rest and relax and get ready for our journey to Galapagos Islands. Before dinner we'll meet a local expert for a presentation on the Geology of Amazon Basin & Galapagos Islands. PLEASE NOTE: There is a 44 pounds weight limit for the flight the next day to Galapagos Islands. You can leave your extra luggage at this hotel, as we will be coming back for our last night to the same location.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Hotel Rincon de Puembo

Galapagos

Day 7

Very early this morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Baltra Airport in Galapagos. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to Puerto Ayora to board your fast boat to Puerto Villamil Isabela Island. En route to Puerto Ayora, you will visit a local farm to see the giant tortoises in the wild. Lunch at a local restaurant. Arrival to Isabela . Meet & greet, transfer to Scalesia Lodge. Rest of the afternoon on your own to enjoy the lodge.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Scalesia Lodge

Isabela Island

Day 8

Morning visit to the Tintoreras, an islet formed by lava flows located 10 minutes by dinghy from Puerto Villamil. Its name comes from the white tip reef sharks called in Spanish "Tintoreras" which are frequently seen in this area. Different species of animals can be seen in the area as sea lions, marine iguanas and penguins. This is a perfect place to practice snorkeling. Return to the hotel by lunch time. In the afternoon visit los Humedales, a complex with various trails where you can find the four species of mangroves existing in Galapagos. This area is characterized by solitary beaches, lava tunnels, natural pools and estuaries where you can see flamingos and other birds. You will also visit the Turtle breeding center where the National park is breeding turtles in danger of extinction. Some of this giant turtles have been released by the park and can be found on the trails.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Scalesia Lodge

Isabela Island

Day 9

Today you will visit some of Isabela´s best attractions, the Sierra Negra and Chico Volcano. Sierra Negra is one of the most active volcanoes of the archipelago, its recent eruption took place in 2005. The volcano's crater is considered the second largest in the world with a diameter of 10kms. Volcan Chico is also an active volcano, sulfur vents can be seen in this area. This is an approximately 6 hour's walk tour to appreciate all the splendor of the volcanoes. You will enjoy a snack in the area. Return to Scalesia Lodge for lunch. In the afternoon free time to enjoy the magical beach of Puerto Villamil or enjoy one of the following activities for extra cost: biking, surfing or kayaking.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Scalasia Lodge

Isabela Island

Day 10

Morning visit to the wall of tears. It is a historical site 5 km west of Puerto Villamil. It was constructed between the years of 1945 and 1959 by prisoners in the penal colony on the island. The wall reaches up to 65 feet and runs over 300 feet long and its construction was dangerous work in the ill equipped conditions resulting in the deaths of a number of prisoners from both sickness and calamity. In the afternoon enjoy snorkeling. Located in the Port of Villamil, the Concha Perla can be reached via a wooden pathway. The bay's calm, shallow, clear waters are ideal for observing the incredible array of marine life. Visitors can swim and snorkel alongside tropical fish, sea lions, penguins and turtles and it is also possible to observe up to 20 bird species.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Scalasia Lodge

Puembo

Day 11

After an early breakfast we will take the fast boat back to Puerto Ayora and transfer to Baltra for our flight back to Quito. Lunch will be on your own. At Baltra airport, there are opportunities to get a sandwich and drink. This afternoon at leisure. A farewell dinner will be served at the hotel.

Breakfast-Dinner included
Overnight at Rincon de Puembo

Flight

Day 12

This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

Breakfast- included