Outstanding worlds apart!
Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands are the Earth’s most outstanding archipelago, featuring moon-like landscapes, emerald-green coves, long white-sand beaches and an array of unique animals, many found nowhere else in the world! Quito, Ecuador’s capital, boasts the best-preserved colonial district in South America, and just a few kilometers north of the city you straddle both hemispheres – the equator! Otavalo, one of the most prosperous indigenous communities in South America, offers the greatest cultural experiences, including high-quality handicrafts, live music and encounters with indigenous shamans to help you fine-tune your energy!
A country five times larger than Ecuador, Peru complements this adventure with its Machu Picchu Archaeological complex—the Lost City of the Incas—accessible partway by bus as far as Ollantaytambo and from there only by train or foot. Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire, combines many attractions within and outside city limits, and the perfect gateway to the Sacred Valley.
Without a doubt, this program brings together “must-see” wonders in a handcrafted itinerary like no other.
14 day program
Day 1: Arrival to Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! Your guide will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel.
Day 2: Quito & Equator
In the morning, see historical Plaza Grande, a forgotten cloister, the dazzling gold-covered La Compañía Church (you won´t believe your eyes!), bustling San Francisco Square (as seen on National Geographic Explorer magazine), a bird's-eye view atop Panecillo Hill, plus some more great surprises. Then, drive north to have lunch at the brim of the second-largest inhabited volcano in the world. In the afternoon, visit an interactive, open-air museum with “do-it-yourself” experiments that will prove you have arrived to latitude zero! (BL)
Day 3: Full day to Otavalo
Head northeast and your first stop at Calderón, a small town famous for its bread-dough figurines. Then, continue to San Pablo del Lago, a remote town nestled in the shadow of Imbabura volcano, where colorful washday is always a photographer´s haven. We visit the Otavalo handicraft market, which comprises a whole square of fabulous art from around the country. Even if you´re not a shopper, your camera is sure to love this place! After lunch, visit an artisan workshop, a family of musicians and, possibly, a native holistic healer. Return to Quito in the late afternoon. (BL)
Day 4: Quito / Galapagos Islands aboard Anahí Catamaran
Transfer to the airport in Quito for your flight to the Galapagos Islands; arrival to Baltra Airport. Guides will meet you, collect your luggage, and escort you on the short bus ride to the harbor. Motorized rafts (pangas) will transport you to the M/C ANAHI and our crew will welcome you onboard. Time-out to rest before lunch.
In the afternoon, visit Bachas, just west of Turtle Cove, with two magnificent beach sites. Their sand is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white and soft, and a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches is a small brackish water lagoon, where on occasion flamingos flock, as well as other coastal birds, like black-necked stilts and whimbrels. The other longer beach highlights part of Galapagos´ human history, where two old barges were abandoned during the Second World War when the USA used Baltra Island as a strategic point to protect the Panama Canal. (BLD)
Day 5: Genovesa Island
Visit Darwin Bay, created when the crater of this island collapsed below sea level. The wet landing is on a beautiful white coral sandy beach. This is the island for birdwatchers: red footed-boobies, masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels, yellow-crowned, and black-crowned lava herons, and yellow warblers. Continuing on the trail, climb gradually to the edge of a cliff to observe red-footed boobies nesting in the mangrove trees below. Bird-watching includes sightings of sharp-beaked finches, large cactus and ground finches, Galapagos doves, and swallow-tailed gulls. Reaching the end the trail at the cliff's edge offers an incredible view of the island and the many birds living there.
In the afternoon we reach El Barranco located in the southern part of Darwin Bay on Genovesa Island. This 1.5 km volcanic rock trail takes about 2 hours waking at an easy pace. This is the geologically youngest area of the island, with cliffs located in the south and composed of very fragile lava. The natural erosion on these lava flows has become the ideal nesting site for two species storm petrels that nest in cavities and holes in the lava. One of its main predators is the short-eared owl you might see hovering over the island. The red-footed boobies nest only in the outer islands of the archipelago, that is, Punta Pitt, Gardner (Floreana), Wolf, Darwin, and Genovesa. We also encounter masked boobies. During the panga ride along the cliffs, fur sea lions can be spotted and several species of seabirds. (BLD)
Day 6: Santa Cruz Island
Today it´s the twin Plazas Islands, located at the east of Santa Cruz. Despite their small size, some of the most interesting species of the Galapagos are found here. The Plazas land iguanas are smaller than their relatives on other islands. Throughout the islands are several hybrid iguanas as a result of crossing a male marine iguana with a female land iguana, creating a new sub-species! This big population of iguanas is due to the presence of opuntia cacti and their succulent prickly pears, their favorite food. Swallow-tailed gulls are seen nesting in the rugged cliffs, along with other seabirds like Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and brown pelicans!
We then head to Santa Fe, located in the southeastern part of the archipelago, formed from a geological uplift rather than a volcanic eruption, which is why it’s mostly flat. There are some theories which claim this could be the oldest island in Galapagos. Santa Fe is the home of a number of endemic species, such as the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, Galapagos mockingbird, and one species of land iguana. After disembarking in the clear waters, come in contact with one of the many sea lion colonies. The trail is highlighted by many salt bushes, as well as giant prickly pear cacti. (BLD)
Day 7: San Cristobal Island
Pitt Point lies to the north of San Cristobal Island, inhabited by endemic species like lava lizards and red-footed boobies. The view is quite impressive as you walk up to the highlands. This is also the home of the Chatham mockingbird, endemic to San Cristobal.
In the afternoon, we set sail to Kicker Rock or Sleeping Lion, just off San Cristobal. The remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea, the island’s two vertical rocks rise 500 feet from the ocean to form a small channel that is navigable with small boats. This natural monument has become a favorite site for cruises due to the many tropical birds, frigates and boobies it harbors. Continue to Lobos Island for a short hike through dry forest to see blue-footed boobies and common frigate birds. During the “panga” dinghy ride, see brown pelicans and several species of shorebirds. Snorkel and play with juvenile sea lions, while sea turtles and rays swim by! (BLD)
Day 8: San Cristobal Island / Quito / Lima
Visit the Interpretation Center with lush gardens and sweeping ocean views which contrasts with the more conservative Charles Darwin Research Station. Learn about both the geological and human history of the islands, conservations issues, and natural history. Also, walk up Tijeretas Hill for a wondrous view of the cliffs and azure waters.
Then, you will be taken to the airport for your flight back to the mainland and connecting flight to Lima. Welcome to Peru! Transfer to your hotel in Miraflores. (B)
Day 9: Lima city tour
Take it easy in the morning and walk around the neighborhood. In the afternoon, get ready for your tour in downtown Lima. We will escort you around the city to visit a couple of must-see displays, including the Archaeological museum (which houses one of the best collections of artifacts from numerous archaeological sites), Larco Herrera Hoyle Museum, and finally to the Old City of the Kings. (B)
Day 10: Lima / Cusco – city tour
Transfer to airport for your flight to Cusco over the Andean Cordillera. Our representative will be waiting for you at the Cusco airport with a private vehicle and take you to your hotel. This is a slow-paced day in order to adapt to the 3,390 m/11,000 ft elevation. In the afternoon, enjoy an easy walking city tour with your guide, including Qorikancha Temple, Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, and other places of interest where the Incan and Spanish cultures met to generate astounding architecture and art (B)
Day 11: Cusco / Sacred Valley / Aguas Calientes
After a Peruvian buffet breakfast, we'll transport you out into the Sacred Valley for further exploration into the history of the Incan culture. A visit to Chinchero, the weavers’ community, tells us more about the widespread accomplishments of Incan artisans. Then, visit the Moray “greenhouse” and the terraced salt terraces of Maras for a closer look at Incan life and traditions that are present to this day. In the afternoon, visit Ollantaytambo, a gigantic complex that was mysteriously never finished, and then take a late afternoon train to the delightful town of Aguas Calientes. (B)
Day 12: Machu Picchu / Cusco
After an early breakfast, board a shuttle bus to the main entry of the Machu Picchu National Park for a privately guided tour and the option of additional activities, including hikes to Wayna Picchu (limited to 400 persons per day), Inti Punku (Sungate) or the Inca Bridge. The rest of the day will be free for you to explore the ruins on your own! Pack a lunch or enjoy the wholesome sandwiches at the outdoor café. Return to Cusco by evening for dinner and overnight at your hotel. (B)
Day 13: Cusco and surroundings
Your hotel will serve a magnificent Peruvian buffet, after which your guide will escort you to the outskirts of Cusco for a private guided tour of the ancient archaeological sites of Sacsaywaman, Quenco and Tambomachay. These visits will complement your understanding of the history and drama of the European Spanish and indigenous Inca cultures and how they fused into the modern Peruvian society we know today. (B)
Day 14: Cusco / Lima / Home
Transfer for your flight to Lima with connection back home. (B)
− Private airport transfers.
− Transportation throughout trip.
− Accommodations in double occupancy.
− Activities as per itinerary.
− Snorkeling equipment in Galapagos.
− English-speaking guides.
− Meals as specified (B breakfast, L lunch, D dinner).
− Galapagos flights.
− Galapagos Transit Card.
− Entrance fees to museums and nature reserves (except Galapagos).
Does not include:
− International flights.
− Domestic flights in Peru.
− Drinks with meals & meals not specified.
− Entrance fee to Galapagos National Park, US$ 100 per person, payable in cash only.
The itinerary allows for flexibility in regards to activities and visits, depending on weather conditions, clients’ interests, and other factors. You will be notified beforehand of any changes to take place prior to or after your arrival.
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Quito and the Middle of the World
Otavalo and other indigenous markets
Cuenca via the Central Andes
Quilotoa circuit hike and drive
Amazon cruises and lodges
Volcano watch and mountain climbing
Shamanism and natural healing
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