Nature Ecuador is the best choice to explore the most diverse country in Latin America. You will have the possibility to explore one of the most diverse, unique and richest rainforest environments in the world.
The trip will start in the historical city of Quito, listed as Cultural Heritage of Mankind by Unesco. Then you will travel to the Amazon rainforest, where you will explore this gigantic and mysterious jungle, home to a rich diversity of animals, plants and Indian communities. After the Amazon, you will fly to the most famous national park in the world, The Galapagos Islands, home of exotic and endemic animals, where Charles Darwin found a great setting to develop this theory on evolution.
When you arrive in Ecuador, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your charming hotel in Quito, where you will receive your full itinerary and information about Ecuador and your trip. Accommodation Hotel Mercure
After breakfast, your will visit “Quito” the most beautiful and colonial city in South America, declared by UNESCO part of the Cultural Heritage of mankind. You will explore the colonial part of the city and you will start in the Independence square, with the presidential palace, the city hall, the Sagrario church and the Cathedral. You will then, visit San Francisco church and museum-monastery (1535), the San Agustin monastery and the finest example of baroque art in America, La Compañía church (1605) and its breathtaking gilded altars. You will then visit the art & crafts gallery of Tianguez and finally, drive up to the Panecillo hill and enjoy an amazing view of Quito from above, and admire the only winged-Virgin statue in South America. This is a great spot to take pictures above Quito;
After visiting the Colonial center of Quito you will arrive to the Middle of the World Monument and Museum, which is located 25 km north of Ecuador’s capital. There you will find the monument on the equatorial line marking latitude 0° 0´0”, where you will have the opportunity to stand in both hemispheres and take wonderful pictures. Here you can also visit the ethnographic museum on site as well.
You will transfer to the airport to take a brief flight east of Quito to the jungle town of Coca, here you will take a canoe ride to arrive to the Lodge located in a Primary Rainforest where you will enjoy rare and exotic wildlife with intriguing insects, unique species of birds and butterflies and magical sceneries. Here in the next 4 days you will explore one of the most diverse, unique and richest rainforest environments in the world. Explore this gigantic and mysterious jungle visiting the rain forest tower (135 ft). You will visit Ecuador’s largest butterfly farm and the parrot clay lick, which attracts a host of colorful birds. Meet native communities that have inhabited in this land for over 10,000 years. You will find those specially designed trails for bird waiting with a specialist guide that will let you unveil the secrets of the rainforest making the best of your jungle journey. Accommodation La Selva Lodgeor Sacha Lodge (B - L - D). On the morning of the 6th day, you will be transfer to the airport to return to Quito. Accommodation Hotel Hotel Mercure (B)
After an early breakfast you will be transferred to the airport to take your flight to the magical Galapagos Islands. Here you will board your exclusive cruise for your Galapagos experience. Your jet flight to Galapagos will take approximately two hours. You will be greeted by the Legend’s staff and be taken by bus to board your vessel. (B - L- D)
Departure from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra Island (2 hour flight). Passengers are picked up at the airport by our naturalist guides and taken on a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
Ballena Bay / Eden Islet - Santa Cruz Island Wet Landing Ballena (Whale) Bay is a beautiful green sand cove at the base of Dragon Hill on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. The beach contains a large amount of olivine crystals of volcanic origin. The crystals were formed when the magma was still underground. The content is magnesium, iron and silica. A small population of tortoises from Pinzon Island lived at the site, but was probably taken by whalers or previous inhabitants. Here you will have an opportunity to see marine iguanas and sea birds followed by snorkeling.
Difficulty level: intermediate Type of terrain: rocky Duration: 1 hour walk / 1 hour snorkeling
Dry landing. The main attractions at Punta Moreno are coastal lagoons amidst black lava flows where bird life is particularly interesting. It has a panoramic view of three volcanoes, the most active of the Galapagos: Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul on Isabela Island and La Cumbre, on Fernandina Island. Mangrove forest, lava formations, coastal and migratory birds, usually flamingos, can be seen, lava cactus, sea turtles, lagoons and tidal pools, candelabra cactus are other highlights.
Difficulty level: difficult Type of terrain: rocky Duration: 2 hours walk
Elizabeth Bay – Isabela Island We take a dinghy ride along the coast surrounded by mangrove forest for an opportunity to admire flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, and a resting area for sea turtles
Duration: 1 hour
Wet landing on a volcanic “black” beach. Depending on the season, we may find giant tortoises, land iguanas and the unusual flightless cormorant. After a short walk inland, snorkeling time is allotted, giving you yet another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season. We can observe the beautiful colors of plants that attract different insects, birds and reptiles. We will explore the uplifted coral reef that resulted from 1954 volcanic activity, with a spectacular view of Alcedo Volcano.
Difficulty level: intermediate Type of terrain: flat Duration: 1h30 walk / 1 hour snorkeling
Tagus Cove – Isabela Island Dry landing on Galapagos’ largest island, where we will learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that form it. The trail leads to Darwin’s salt-water Crater Lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations.
We will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where we will admire a variety of seabirds, such as blue-footed booby, brown noddy, terns, flightless cormorant and depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos penguins which are only 35 cm. tall; the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the equator. They are monogamous and lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, on the lower parts of the island near the shoreline not reached by the ocean waves.
The population of penguins on the islands is about 2,000 individuals, most of which live on this western portion of Isabela; others are scattered further south on the island. We will have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water. Graffiti believed to have been left by19th-century pirates is a curious reminder of an intriguing past
Difficulty level: intermediate Type of terrain: steep Duration: 1 hour walk / 40 minutes dinghy ride / deep water snorkeling 1 hour
Dry landing. Espinosa Point is the only spot that we visit on Fernandina, and from it we can see the island of Isabela across the Bolívar Channel, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. The largest, most primitive-looking race of marine iguanas are found mingling with sea lions and Sally light foot crabs; a wonderful opportunity to encounter flightless cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos penguins and the “King” of predators on the Islands, the Galapagos hawk.
“Pa-hoe-hoe” and “AA” lava formations cover the majority of the terrain. Vegetation is thus scarce inland, but we encounter Brachycereus cacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores.
Difficulty level: intermediate Type of terrain: rocky Duration: 2 hours walk / 1hour snorkeling
Vicente Roca Point – Isabela Island Here you can do some great deep-water snorkeling at one of the richest marine havens on Earth (Bolívar Channel). We take a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds. The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life
Duration: 1 hour snorkeling / 1 hour dinghy ride
Dry landing. A 45-minute bus ride will take us to the Santa Cruz highlands, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where we will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the island’s name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and can live up to 150-200 years.
Difficulty level: easy Type of terrain: flat & muddy sometimes (depending on season) Duration: 45 minutes’ drive / 1h30 walk
After the visit passengers will be transferred to Baltra airport for return flight to Quito. Upon arrival to Quito, you will be met by your Latin Frontiers representative and be transferred back to your hotel. Accommodation in Hotel Mercure (B)
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home (B)