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13-Day Ecuador Scenic Tour I & Galapagos Cruise

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

ARRIVAL TO QUITO / CITY TOUR

Your journey begins with a private transfer from Quito’s International Airport to the hotel, where our representative will meet you to assist you with your bags and hotel check-in. From here you set out immediately to explore the fascinating old town of Quito, one of the best-preserved colonial quarters in Latin America, full of impressive buildings, stunning churches and uncountable precious works of art. The cobblestone streets lead to untold treasures, such as La Plaza Grande, the city’s most important square, home to the massive Cathedral, the gorgeous Archbishop's palace, and Carondelet, the presidential palace, all of which are still in use today. Your guide will share numerous interesting stories that have their origins right in this square before continuing to San Francisco Square, where you will visit one of Quito’s oldest and most-loved churches, the setting for one of the city’s best-known legends: the story of Cantuña, a clever Ecuadorian master builder who made a deal with the Devil and came out on top! En route to the square you will pass by the awe-inspiring Compañía de Jesús church, considered perhaps Latin America’s finest example of baroque architecture and art, also from the colonial period.

A well-deserved rest awaits after this exciting day!

Meals: Nil.

Day 2

QUITO / OTAVALO / QUITO
Your second day of discovery focuses on the beautiful landscapes and craft towns of the Avenue of the Volcanoes on the north side of Quito. You will set out early from your hotel with your guide and drive north, approximately 2 ½ hours to the city of Otavalo, known around the world for the quality of its crafts. It is one of Latin America’s largest indigenous markets, an explosion of colors, sounds, and vibrant energy. It’s the perfect place to pick up a great souvenir for your friends and colleagues or a special gift for yourself. Choose from colorful tapestries, paintings or hand-embroidered blouses. Maybe someone you know would love to receive a scarf or a beautiful piece of jewelry, many made following ancestral beadwork patterns. If you like music, check out the native instruments. Or look for delicate alpaca sweaters, mittens, or hats. There’s so much to choose. After all of that shopping– especially if you try out your hand at bargaining – you will be hungry for lunch and for getting to know the region through its cuisine. We will stop for a delicious meal and afterwards, we will continue to gorgeous Cuicocha Lake, a unique body of water that rests in the crater of an active volcano. Two small islets lie in the middle of the turquoise waters, beckoning visitors’ gazes and inviting contemplation.

We leave mystic Cuicocha for our return to Quito, with a final stop in the town of Cotacachi, a well-known leather goods center. If you’re still missing a gift for someone back home, or if you just want to give yourself a treat, this is a great place to find carefully designed jackets, comfortable shoes and boots, or artisanally-made handbags. From here, we will return to Quito.

Meals: Breakfast, and Lunch.

Day 3

QUITO / COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK
Today, fresh off of yesterday’s visit to the northern Avenue of the Volcanoes, we set out from Quito towards the south. Destination: Cotopaxi National Park. The park, named for its 5,897 m (19,347 ft) high namesake, is the first national park in Ecuador. As home to one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, it serves as protection to an essential Andean ecosystem, the paramo, which acts as a natural reservoir, responsible for storing much of the water that is consumed in the lowlands. A short hike in the park will give us the opportunity to learn more about this amazing place, including highly unusual evolved adaptive mechanisms such as that of the Cotopaxi hummingbird, which goes into a hibernation state each night in order to survive the extreme weather conditions of these lands. Other species that call the paramo their home include the spectacled bear, paramo foxes, white-tailed deer and the emblematic Andean Condor. Unfortunately, as we will learn on this hike, many of this unique species are currently threatened by hunting and natural habitat destruction of this fragile ecosystem. We will head to our hotel after the hike in time to eat dinner and rest up for the next day’s adventures.

Meals: Breakfast, and Dinner.

Day 4

COTOPAXI / CHIMBORAZO
Today, after breakfast at our hotel, we continue heading south to the province of Riobamba, where we will visit the Chimborazo National Park and the 6,268 m (20,564 ft) high Chimborazo mountain, a long-extinct volcano and the highest mountain of Ecuador, sporting many different microclimates and great biodiversity. Our hike through the area will give us ample opportunity to learn about this beautiful natural setting and government efforts to protect its llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas. There is one other endangered species we will also learn about: the “ice miners”. Many years ago, the “ice miners” or “hieleros” earned their living by climbing the mountain to chop giant ice cubes from the glacier, wrap them in straw, and transport them to Quito’s aristocratic families that could afford the luxury of having ice. Nowadays, only one man, Baltazar Ushca, keeps this tradition alive, mining the ice and selling it in the nearby town of Riobamba. Our fascinating day in this protected area ends at a local hacienda, where we will spend the night.

Meals: Breakfast, and Dinner.

Day 5 CHIMBORAZO / THE DEVIL'S NOSE TRAIN / CUENCA

Whether you’re a train buff or just think of the railroad as a way to get around when there are no decent flights, a trip to the Devil’s Nose will be nothing less than astounding. This magnificent feat of engineering, conceived in the early 20th century as a way to summit a steep rock mountain in order to reach the Andes, descends in a zig zag on a 45-degree angled system of complicated switchbacks known as “La Nariz del Diablo” or “The Devil's Nose.” We leave the hotel early and travel to the train departure station in the small town of Alausi. On the way, we will have the chance to observe Colta Lake and the Church of Balbanera, Ecuador’s first church before climbing on board and seeing this astonishing marvel for yourself. You will learn about the costly history of this technical wonder which claimed the lives of many workers and even one of the engineers who designed it. You will enjoy a boxed lunch before continuing on with your journey towards Ingapirca, Ecuador’s most significant Inca ruin, thought by some experts to be a ceremonial temple and by others to be a garrison. The incredible architectonic skills of the Incas are definitely in evidence here, exemplified by the great precision and complexity with which they built this archaeological complex. From here we will continue our drive south to the city of Cuenca, where we will spend the night at a charming local hotel.

Meals: Breakfast, Box-lunch, and Dinner.
Day 6

CUENCA CITY TOUR
Cuenca, the city of four different rivers, with its pleasant weather and spectacular architecture, is considered one of Ecuador’s most beautiful urban areas and has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. You will set out early to visit the colonial quarter of the city. Its Cathedral, the city’s first building, showcases characteristic colonial Cuenca style and is considered one of the city’s most iconic sites. From there, our tour heads to Calderon Park, where we will explore the New Cathedral of Cuenca, commissioned in 1885 when the population growth of this prosperous city made the old cathedral too small for the citizenry. The architecture of this impressive edification combines numerous architectural styles, primarily the Romanesque style that so well defines its exterior facade and the Renaissance style observed in the blue tiled domes. In the afternoon, we set out to uncover a secret: it turns out that the “Panama” hat is not actually from Panama. In fact, the hat’s true origin is Ecuador, and Cuenca is one of the cities that produces this sought-after product to this day. At the Toquilla Straw Hat Museum, we will learn that the misnomer came about because of a historic accident: workers building the Panama Canal loved the protection the hat provided from the sun and started wearing it daily. It became famous when Theodore Roosevelt adopted the headgear. The UNESCO recognized the weaving technique for this hat as part of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in 2012.
Relax at the hotel in the quiet city of Cuenca.

Meals: Breakfast, and Dinner.
Day 7

CUENCA / CAJAS NATIONAL PARK / GUAYAQUIL 
Ecuador is a surprisingly diverse country considering its size. The seventh day of your journey sees you descending from the Andean highlands to the coastal city of Guayaquil, the country’s main port and shipyard as well as the center of an important agricultural region. Our first understanding of the country’s amazing biodiversity comes with our early visit to Cajas National Park, a beautiful paramo region that encompasses over 200 freshwater lakes and serves as a natural reservoir to a large portion of the country. Here we will visit an hacienda that serves as a private reserve before continuing on to the coastal region. Watch amazed as the vegetation and climate change every few minutes as we begin our descent, with leaves becomingly progressively larger and more heat and humidity in the air. The coastal region through which we will pass includes expansive banana, plantain, and cacao plantations, some of them producing the best agricultural products of their type in the world. Once we arrive to Guayaquil, you will have a chance to briefly visit some of the most iconic places in the city, including the Malecón Boardwalk and Seminario Park. After an exciting day, it’s time for a well-deserved rest in the comfort of our Guayaquil hotel.
Meals: Breakfast.

Day 8

GUAYAQUIL / GALAPAGOS ISLANDS AT THE M/C ENDEMIC CRUISE ITINERARY C

The next part of your journey takes you a truly unique Ecuadorian region: the Galapagos Islands. Your private transfer will pick you up at your hotel in Guayaquil and transport you to the airport where you will connect with your Galapagos flight. One of our representatives will meet you in hotel lobby and assist you with the check-in process as well as providing you with a short briefing about the journey.

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: Dragon Hill
You will arrive at Baltra Airport in the Galapagos and transfer immediately to the M/C Endemic with the assistance of one of our representatives.
Your first visit in the archipelago will begin at the Dragon Hill visitor site, located in the north-western part of Santa Cruz island. This is a very special place for viewing the Galapagos’ ubiquitous land iguanas, a magnificent reptile species.
This visitor site also offers the chance to see numerous endemic birds, such as flycatchers and warblers, in addition to pintail ducks, and for added excitement, flamingos living in the wild in their favorite lagoon. More amazing views are in store for you after just a short trek up the hill. And if you’re into water sports, this will be the first of many opportunities to snorkel in the islands. Return to the yacht for dinner and free time.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Day 9

GALAPAGOS
SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND: Kicker Rock - Witch Hill – Lobos Island
You have a full morning ahead of you with lots of great Galapagos moments! First the yacht stops at Kicker Rock, an impressive geological formation that formed through erosion, that serves as a nesting place for sea birds as well as a home to sea lions. This is a great place to snorkel and discover marvelous Galapagos marine life, such as fish, turtles, sharks, and rays as well as a fun spot to increase the content of your Galapagos picture album.
Next the yacht makes its way through stunning Galapagos waters to Cerro Brujo (Witch Hill), a tuff cone hill located south west of San Cristobal Island. This is a water-based visitor’s site exclusively, so you will have the option of hopping in kayaks or on the zodiacs for a fascinating exploration of the rock formations along the island shore or disembarking at the white sand beach, where the crystal-clear waters always offer something special for snorkelers and paddle boarders.
In the afternoon, Lobos Island’s exciting populations of blue-footed boobies, frigates, marine iguanas, and nesting great frigate birds are part of the treat, complemented by always delightful snorkeling with curious sea lions in this calm bay.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 10

GALAPAGOS
ESPAÑOLA ISLAND: Gardner Bay/ Osborn & Gardner islets – Suarez Point

On today’s visit to Española Island, there’s a good chance you will get to observe endemic wildlife such as the Hood-Mockingbird, as well as masked and blue-footed boobies. This is the southernmost island in the Galapagos archipelago and it offers great views from the top of a cliff.
Your morning activity starts after breakfast at Gardner Bay, whose gorgeous beach is excellent beach for swimming. The small islets located nearby, known as Osborn and Gardner Islets, provide many incredible views for snorkelers, including numerous fish species and sometimes turtles and sharks. And who can resist swimming with the sea lions!
After lunch, the yacht takes you to one of the archipelago’s top visitor sites: Suarez Point. A walk along its sand or pebble beach will give you great vantage points for viewing a long list of species. 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 11

GALAPAGOS
SANTA FE ISLAND – SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: Fausto Llerena Breeding Center/Charles Darwin Research Station

For your last full day in the islands, you have a number of exciting activity options. In the morning, after breakfast, a stop at tiny Santa Fe island offers two trail choices for visitors: on the first, go see the tallest Opuntia cactus in the Galapagos; on the second, walk into the highlands to observe Santa Fe land iguanas in their natural habitat. End the morning with a swim in the calm waters. Take your snorkel to take advantage of the playful sea lions just waiting to romp through the water with you. 
Of course, how can you come to Galapagos without visiting the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, also known around the world as the Charles Darwin Research Station? This is the place to get in depth information about everyone’s favorite animal, the Galapagos tortoise, at the museum or the library, but for most people, the central attraction is the tortoise breeding station, which harbors tortoises of different subspecies, which the staff of the center are preparing for reintroduction to their natural habitats. Don’t miss the exhibit on the center’s most popular inhabitant: Lonesome George, the last-of-his-species tortoise that died in 2012 without ever finding a mate.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 12

RETURN TO QUITO
SOUTH PLAZA ISLAND– BALTRA AIRPORT

On your last morning, South Plazas island, with its highly unusual Sesuvium plants and Opuntia cactuses, will be your final visitor site. Some of the most interesting wildlife observations in Galapagos happen here. By now, you will be an expert at spotting the land iguanas that frequently rest under the shade of cactuses waiting for a prickly pear to fall.

Say goodbye to the archipelago and transfer to Baltra airport, where our representative will assist you in boarding your return flight to mainland Ecuador.

**** The operator reserves the right to change the itinerary without previous notice due to weather, National Park regulations or notifications and unforeseeable circumstances.

Our representative will meet you at the Quito International Airport to help with your luggage and accompany you on your private transfer to your hotel in order to facilitate your check-in.
Meals: Breakfast.

Day 13

DEPARTURE / TRANSFER OUT

Enjoy an early breakfast and then transfer with our guide from your hotel to the airport for your International flight home.
Meals: Breakfast.

From: $2,943 Per person based on double accommodation.Inquire About This Tour