Galapagos cruise and essential Ecuador
Includes 7-night full board deluxe Galapagos cruise
Located 972 kilometers off the western coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands captivate and invite explorers and tourists alike. As you tour the Enchanted Islands, relax amidst a renowned tropical paradise.
Swim in the Pacific Ocean with giant sea turtles and tropical fish. See volcanoes, rare birds and lush landscape from the cabin of your cruise ship or on a walking adventure. Transfer to your cruise from mainland Ecuador. Visit Magdalena, an agricultural community located in rolling hills east of the Imbabura volcano where local women traditionally embroider their blouses with exquisite decoration.
Spend a day exploring Quito, one of the oldest cities in the Americas or tour Guayaquil, a port city overlooking the Guayas River. Relax and unwind on an enchanting Galapagos Cruise.
QUITO OR GUAYAQUIL – GALAPAGOS
Day 1: Arrival in Quito
Transfer to your hotel. Welcome to Ecuador! Arrive at International Airport. You will be met by one of our representatives who will take you to your hotel.
Day 2: Quito Colonial City Tour (B)
Quito: bustling streets and squares of one of the largest historical old towns in the Americas; a multi-ethnic, artistic, and cultural heritage destination.
Day 3: Quito – Otavalo – Train ride – Karanki Community (Saturday) (B, D)
Depart Quito for the northern highlands of Ecuador: stunning views of valleys such as Guayllabamba and Pisque. You have a unique opportunity to learn about the formation of the Andes mountains. En route you will enjoy photo stops of the snowcapped volcanoes Cayambe and with some luck, Cotopaxi. We will drive through rose farming and patchwork field country side with corn, potatoes, quinoa and broad beans fields. Continue to Imbabura, the lake province of Ecuador.
The Otavalo market is one of the best known markets in South America, attended by local vendors attired in indigenous dress. Goods on offer include wool and cotton clothing as well as hats, belts, bags, jewelry and more.
Continue to drive further north to the city of Ibarra to start with the train ride that travels on an early 20th century railroad system, built to connect the northern Andes and the Pacific coast. During the 2hr ride, the train descends from 8,000ft to just over 4,000ft, featuring great views of high altitude vegetation and pear cacti before ending in a sub-tropical zone with sugar cane plantations. The main attraction of this ride is the journey through tunnels and across bridges following the Ambi River canyon. At the end of your train ride you will finish in Salinas, an Afro- Ecuadorian village where you will enjoy lunch and a fascinating cultural experience.
Later you visit Magdalena, an agricultural community located in rolling hills east of the Imbabura volcano where local women traditionally embroider their blouses with exquisite decoration. In town you will have an opportunity to purchase local textiles with beautiful multicolored embroidery as well as learn about everyday activities such as cow milking, shepherding and in season, ox plowing.
This evening you will enjoy some most authentic Andean home cooking before spending the night in a comfortable room with private facilities and hot water. While here you may like to pursue optional activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking or hiking in the hills nearby.
Day 4: Otavalo surroundings (B)
Today there are a range of itinerary alternatives including San Antonio de Ibarra, well known for its artisanal carpentry and the quaint village of Cotacachi where leatherwork is the prime source of income. Another option is a visit to Cuicocha crater lake, a unique geographical attraction, flanked by peaks and native flora. Return to Quito for hotel accommodation.
Day 5: Quito –Cotopaxi – Baños – Riobamba (B)
Depart Quito towards the southern highlands along the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”. Weather permitting, the first giant to be seen is the volcano Cotopaxi, the world´s highest active snow covered volcano. Heading east, we start to descend to the valley of Patate and the sub-tropical region of Baños, gateway to the Amazon. We will tour the Pastaza river canyon, known as “Waterfall Avenue” where we can find Cascada de la Virgen, Inés María, Bride´s Mantle, Path of Machay and the Devil´s Cauldron. With some luck, we will be able to see some eruptions from the active volcano, Tungurahua. Back again on the Pan-American Highway, we shall drive through the foothills of Chimborazo, a volcano over 20,000ft high.
Day 6: Riobamba – Devil’s Nose train ride – Ingapirca Ruins – Cuenca (B)
From Riobamba we’ll go to Alausí, via La Balbanera, the first Spanish church built in the country. In Alausí, we will take a spectacular train ride* through the Devil’s Nose, a true feat in railway engineering of the early twentieth century. Continue south experiencing a dramatic landscape change with deep canyons and small green valleys en route to the village of El Tambo. Here we will detour to visit the most important Inca ruin in Ecuador, Ingapirca, which means “Wall of the Inca”. This citadel was built in the fifteenth century on the Inca road which linked Quito to Cuzco. The Solar Temple and the surrounding buildings follow the system of construction found in the ancient Inca capital, Cuzco.
*Please check with your consultant as the train ride is not always available.
Day 7: Cuenca – El Cajas National Park –Guayaquil (B)
Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador, which along with Quito, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old city is known for the numerous churches such as Del Carmen de la Asunción built in a modified baroque style, Santo Domingo, built in a renaissance style, as well as colonial style houses and particularly the beautifully carved doors. Visit the Main Square, Calderon Plaza, the heart of Cuenca. Adjacent to the plaza we find the New Cathedral which was built in an eclectic style featuring marble found in the area.
Visit either the Central Bank museum with permanent archaeological, ethnographic, colonial and republican art collections or the Conceptas Religious Museum. This museum gives to the visitor the experience of immerging in the monastic life of nuns, a very special visit.
This quaint colonial city is known for its abundance of handicrafts such as pottery, embroidery, filigree jewels and the famous Panama hat. Visit a well displayed factory of Panama hats, a unique experience. Visit the Main Square, New Cathedral and the flower market. Visit either the Central Bank museum with permanent archaeological, ethnographic, colonial and republican art collections or the Conceptas Religious Museum.
Depart from Cuenca to Guayaquil for a breathtaking drive. We start with high altitude impressive scenery by crossing El Cajas National Park we shall see lagoons such as La Toreadora, alpacas and a special tree: Polylepis or paper tree. From over 13,000ft we shall descend to sea level. Ecuador´s biodiversity will be evident as we traverse Andean moorlands, cloud forest, subtropical and tropical rainforest. Once in the low lands we shall see plantations of Ecuador´s main exports: bananas, cacao, coffee, rice, mangos and sugar cane.
Day 8-11: Deluxe cruise Legend or Coral I or Coral II (B, L, D)
All-inclusive 3-night deluxe cruise. Only a special few have the chance to travel to this Paradise, sailing on charming vessels with nautical wood and brass interior décor, featuring ample outer decks and sea-view cabins. The cruise features a Jacuzzi, swimming pool, bars and more.
See prehistoric iguanas, giant tortoises, exotic birds, plants and beautiful landscapes of volcanoes, lava cones and magma flows. Swim and snorkel any time of the year in warm clear waters among tropical fish, manta rays, sea lions, swordfish, sea turtles and other marine wildlife.
Multilingual naturalist guides lead shore excursions twice a day to places unlike any other, full of wildlife that has no fear of man. Lectures explaining the geology, history, evolution, flora and fauna of the islands are provided in several languages. A fine selection of meals will delight you, from buffet breakfasts to gourmet dinners and evening barbecues.
Day 12: Quito or Guayaquil (B)
Today you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight back home.
Contact us if you would like to extend your stay or combine with other tour or destination in Latin America.
Price per person in US dollars based on double occupancy.
=> US$ 3095 Per person
· 8 nights’ accommodation with breakfast
· 4 day / 3 night cruise
· Meals as per itinerary
· All transfers and group excursions
· English-speaking guide
· Domestic flights to/from Galapagos
·Galapagos National Park & INGALA tax US$110
· International flights and taxes
· Tips and personal expenses
· Fuel Surcharge (US$90 per person)