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15-Day Equatorial Paradise

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

ARRIVAL TO QUITO / TRANSFER IN

Upon arrival to Quito, one of our representatives will meet you at the airport, help you with your luggage, and accompany you on your private guided transfer from the airport to the hotel in order to assist you with your hotel check-in.

Meals: Nil.

Day 2

QUITO CITY TOUR AND MIDDLE OF THE WORLD
After a delicious breakfast, set out with our knowledgeable guides to discover Ecuador’s capital, Quito, widely recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America. An incredibly impressive and well-preserved colonial district filled with stone streets, tiled roofs and magnificent churches led to the city’s being declared the world’s first World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978. Its chessboard design allowed the Spanish conquistadors to control and defend the city. The crucial central element, La Plaza Grande or the main plaza, where city construction began, is modeled to a great extent on Spanish towns from the Old World. The main powers of Spanish conquistador society all had their place around the plaza: The Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace represented the vast power of the Catholic Church while the presidential palace of Carondelet served as the administrative center for the Royal Audience of Quito, which cemented Spanish political control during the colonial period. Your guide will share the history of this important space, which has been the home to protest and reverie, administration and celebration, and continues to serve as a gathering place for quiteños to participate in daily politics and street entertainment.
Just down the block from La Plaza Grande awaits the awe-inspiring La Compañía de Jesus church, a Jesuit temple that represents what many consider the most impressive example of Baroque architecture in South America. The exterior façade alone offers intricate design-work, imposing columns, and detailed carvings, but what amazes locals and visitors alike is the spectacular interior. Every inch of the incredible “Mudéjar-style” roof and carved figures shine with the brilliance of gold leaf, and history abounds in numerous chapels, paintings and the stunning altarpiece, making this church the most precious treasure of colonial Quito.
Our city tour continues at San Francisco Square. Here, we will explore one of the most iconic churches of Quito and one of the oldest ones in Latin America, the Church of San Francisco. The church construction began in 1537, but it was not until 1705 that this enormous religious complex, spanning almost 3 hectares, was officially inaugurated. The largest complex in Latin America, it achieved fame not only for its architectural beauty but also for its rich history. Marvel at the craftiness of Cantuña, a popular legendary figure who cheated the devil in the San Francisco Church atrium, and then enjoy a satisfying lunch.

Afterwards, head north to the Middle of the World Monument, built to honor the 18th century Geodesic French Mission that established the point at which the equatorial line divided the world in two hemispheres. Make sure to take a fun picture with one foot in each hemisphere for your photo album or social networks. Next stop: the highly entertaining Intiñan Museum, for an intimate look at the traditions of the numerous cultures that make up Ecuador. From here, it’s back to your hotel for a restful night’s sleep after a day of exploration

Meals: Breakfast, and Lunch.

Day 3

QUITO / OTAVALO FULL DAY & ROSES
A perennial favorite with locals and visitors alike, the Otavalo market is a must-see, charming indigenous market set in a truly picturesque environment. Our tour sets out from the city of Quito in a private, comfortable tour van that takes you north for approximately 2 ½ hours on a relaxing drive offering panoramic views of the highland landscapes. Marvel at the stunning Cayambe Volcano that reaches a height of 5,790 m (19,000 ft) and, interestingly enough, is the only snow-capped mountain in the world located right on the equator. Bring your camera for some amazing photo ops if weather permits. On the way, we will stop at a local cafeteria to taste “bizcochos,” a much-loved savory local pastry that is eaten with fresh string cheese and a welcome cup of rich hot chocolate.
The fun continues with a visit to a flower plantation to observe firsthand the production of one of Ecuador’s top export products: long-stem roses. The country’s powerful sun, mild weather and nutrient-rich soils have led its roses to be acknowledged as some of the finest in the world, offering a delicate scent and truly astonishing color varieties. Farm experts will share their knowledge of this spectacular luxury product before we continue our trip north to Otavalo proper, where we will have lunch before entering the market itself.
Every day is a good day to visit the Otavalo market. On Saturdays, the traditional market day, the whole city of Otavalo gets filled with locals that bring their agricultural and artisanal production for sale and trade. Other days, the Plaza de los Ponchos is the spot to practice your bargaining skills and take home great gifts for yourself or your loved ones. Choose from authentic ponchos, vibrant tapestries, embroidered Zuleta blouses, traditional musical instruments and jewelry, amongst other products. There’s something for everyone on your gift list.

Lunch: Breakfast, and Lunch.

Day 4

OTAVALO / PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS
Few places in the world offer such a unique and accessible experience as the Papallacta hot springs, located in the heart of the Andean paramo. Their privileged location between the Cayambe and Antisana volcanoes is the source for natural, mineral-rich hot springs whose temperature ranges from 30° to 70° C (86° to 158° F). Come to relax with any of numerous special treatments in the spa or just let the medicinal properties of the water take away your cares and woes. The onsite restaurant offers fabulous trout and other local and international delicacies, a welcome treat after an extended bath or a short hike through the Andean paramo. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of one of the snow-covered colossals. Take advantage of your visit to learn more about the Andean paramo and its contributions to Ecuador and the world’s ecological balance, including incredible wildlife and water flow.

*Note: Special spa treatments have an additional cost.

Meals: Breakfast, and Lunch.

Day 5 PAPALLACTA HOT SPRINGS / AMAZON RAINFOREST AT LA SELVA JUNGLE LODGE

Get ready for adventure! Your private transfer will pick you up at your hotel and whisk you to Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport for your 30-minute flight to Puerto Francisco de Orellana "El Coca", the provincial capital of Orellana. La Selva representatives will meet you in the domestic departure area to assist you with the check-in process and give you a short briefing about the journey. Upon arrival in El Coca, private transportation will take you to the city's main dock at the Napo River, where you will start a mesmerizing 2-hour journey downriver towards the Amazon rainforest.
The motorized canoe ride ends at La Selva's main dock, where you will have your first intimate and up-close view of the rainforest from the paddle canoe which will take you on the final leg of your journey to the lodge. Hotel staff will take care of everything except your carry-on and camera equipment, which you’ll want to keep close in case you want to document a special animal sighting. Your checked luggage will be transported directly to the lodge. Upon arrival, the manager will greet you with a refreshing juice and snacks and offer you a short briefing with general information about your stay at La Selva.
Settle in a little before your fascinating introduction to the tropical rainforest, the Amazon and the La Selva Lodge itself. The naturalist guides will make sure you begin your activities with a good sense of the amazing environment that surrounds you before you set off on your first short jungle walk. Matapalo Trail gets its name from the famous Strangler fig (Ficus sp), that populates the area, one of many remarkable species your guides will point out to you. See mahogany trees, some over 400 years old, and numerous varieties of flora and fauna that your guides will miraculously observe in the midst of dense foliage. The time of day makes it possible to enjoy great natural light and the daily transitional activities of both diurnal and nocturnal animals.

Return to the lodge for a delicious, multi-course dinner served to your table and marvel at the sounds of the Amazon.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 6

LA SELVA JUNGLE LODGE
Today’s forest exploration starts out with a 20-minute walk to the observation tower, an amazing place that allows you to climb 120 ft above the forest and take an up-close look at the wonders of the canopy. Your Naturalist and Native guides will help you observe the incredible wildlife of the Amazon, including colorful birds and if you’re lucky, certain primates.
You have choices for your return trip. Take the Tucaneta Trail to learn about the ecology and natural history of the Amazon. Your native guide will show you some of the miraculous medicinal plants still in use today and teach you about them. Or set off on a 1-hour hike to visit the beautiful Mandi Cocha lagoon and Igapo Forest, temporarily flooded by black water, making it the perfect place to observe different species of birds and even giant otters.
After a delicious lunch, enjoy an hour-long walk on the Charapa trail. Your walk along this loop begins at the edge of the lodge and ends next to the lagoon. Along the way, numerous mammals, monkeys and birds will become visible as they come closer to the lagoon searching for food. A late afternoon canoe ride gives you a great spot to view the Amazonian sunset in all its glory.
Enjoy dinner at the lodge and then get ready for a special treat: a nocturnal canoe ride on the lagoon illuminated by a powerful spotlight will allow you to spot abundant nighttime wildlife. And when your guides shut off the light, the stars pop out of the night sky from this equatorial vantage point.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 7

LA SELVA JUNGLE LODGE
Hop back into the motorized canoes for a fascinating visit to the Napo River’s clay licks, a true Amazonian spectacle. The licks provide essential minerals and other nutrients to hundreds of colorful parrots and parakeets which you can easily view through binoculars. Make sure to bring yours along!
After visiting the clay licks, our journey continues to the community center of the Amazonian Kichua tribe. One of the women of the community will greet you and share details of their community’s everyday lives, providing insight into how the people of the Amazon coexist with their environment. A great learning experience!
Our afternoon activity takes us to Garzacocha Lagoon, one of the most beautiful lagoons in the Ecuadorian Amazon, filled with squirrel and capuchin monkeys and birds. Your naturalist and native guides will point out whichever animals decide to join us on the journey. It’s also a good time of day to hear the howler monkeys and to seek out the smallest monkey in the world, the Pigmy Marmoset, which sometimes makes an appearance. Unusual bird species such as the Hoatzin, toucans and macaws can often be spotted overhead.

Tonight’s night walk requires a flashlight. As we carefully observe our surroundings we may have some great surprises. Keep your eyes open during this exciting activity. Back at the lodge, our manager will provide you with all the information you need for your departure the next morning.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 8

RETURN TO QUITO

As the hotel manager will have explained in your briefing the night before, you can expect an early wakeup call and breakfast before departure from the lodge. As on the way into the Lodge, the staff will assist you with your checked luggage and you will take your camera equipment and hand luggage with you on the motorized canoe ride upstream back to Coca, where our representatives will take you to the airport and help you with your checked luggage and boarding passes.
In Quito, you will board a private transfer to travel from the airport to your hotel, where one of our representatives will assist you with your luggage and hotel check-in.

Meals: Breakfast.

Day 9

QUITO / GALAPAGOS ISLANDS AT THE M/C ENDEMIC CRUISE ITINERARY F

The next step on your fabulous journey takes you to the astounding Galapagos Islands. Board a private transfer at your hotel en route to the airport to connect with your Galapagos flight, accompanied by one of our representatives who will assist you with the check-in process and give you a short briefing about the journey.

SANTIAGO ISLAND: Sullivan Bay
Our representatives will greet you and assist upon arrival at the Baltra Airport and accompany you on your transfer from Baltra Airport to the M/C Endemic.

Your first afternoon in the archipelago takes you to Sullivan Bay, located on the east coast of Santiago Island, and the ideal place to learn about Galapagos’ volcanic origins as we walk along lava flows created less than 100 years ago after landing on a white coral sand beach. Keep your eyes open for the unusual flora that grows in new lava fields, effectively pioneering the establishment of plant life on a new island.


Meals:Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 10

GALAPAGOS
ISABELA ISLAND: Wetlands/ Sierra Negra volcano – Breeding Center/ Wall of Tears

On the second day of our adventure, we head out to Isabela Island, Galapagos largest island, whose 4,588 km2 (1771 mi2) surface area constitutes over half of the archipelago’s total land area. Our first stop in the morning will be the Wetlands (Humedales), a 6 km (3.7 mi) long group of trails on the southern side of Isabela Island filled with interesting flora, both native and endemic, and an impressive variety of birds such as gallinules, finches, stilts and ducks among others. Or you may visit the Sierra Negra Volcano, whose 5 km (3.1 mi) diameter makes it one of largest craters in the archipelago, as well as one of the most beautiful places to visit in the islands, with a fascinating color palette formed by lava fields, vegetation and fumaroles. Climb up to Orchilla hill and on the way, you can usually spot giant tortoises and marine iguanas. The viewpoint itself offers a great show of Galapagos life: the spectacular view of the bay, the town of Puerto Villamil, volcanoes, islets and rocks all come together for a perfect photo to capture your greatest memories.

After a delicious lunch on board, you will have the opportunity to visit the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center, where you will observe infant and juvenile giant tortoises that are being held and lovingly cared for until they are capable of surviving in the wild, at which time they will be released. Alternatively, you may visit the Wall of Tears, a man-made monument built in the 1940’s by the prisoners of the Ecuadorian penal colony located on the island. Building the wall was considered part of the punishment. Even your journey back to the yacht will bring some excitement as you watch for flamingos and other water birds.


Meals:Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 11

GALAPAGOS
ISABELA ISLAND: Elizabeth Bay – Urbina Bay

In the morning, the zodiacs carry you to Elizabeth Bay, a marine visitor site with no landing point. First stop: the Marielas islets, home to the most significant penguin colony in the Galapagos Islands. Continue on to the red mangrove-surrounded cove filled with sea turtles, flightless cormorants, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, brown pelicans and sea lions.
Our afternoon visit centers on Urbina Bay, with its beautiful coral formations and an excellent chance of seeing large, colorful land iguanas, as well as giant turtles, flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, penguins and marine iguanas.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Day 12

GALAPAGOS
ISABELA ISLAND: Tagus Cove – FERNANDINA ISLAND: Espinoza Point

Today will also start out with a zodiac ride, this time to Tagus Cove, where we will carefully observe the animal life that resides in the cliffs the line the island edge. There is a good chance of seeing the Galapagos penguin, flightless cormorants, and other sea birds. Once we land at the dock, we will walk approximately 30-minutes along the trail to the top of the cliff for a great view of several volcanos as well as Darwin Lake, a saline lake that is even saltier than the sea.
In the afternoon, enjoy a mesmerizing visit to Espinoza Point, a top visiting spot on Fernandina, that offers unusual lava scenery filled with cactuses and even mangroves. Animal lovers will delight in sea lions, penguins, the flightless cormorant (particularly in spring and summer), and one of the biggest iguana colonies of Galapagos.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Day 13

GALAPAGOS
SANTIAGO ISLAND: Buccaneer Cove / Espumilla Beach – RABIDA ISLAND

Galapagos’ pirate history becomes evident this morning as you head to Buccaneer Cove, located just north of James Bay. This important historical site was used as a safe haven for pirates in the 17th and 18th century. This is where they stashed their loot, took on fresh water and captured tortoises for food, as they could live for long periods on board. Today, the safe haven has turned into a great place for water activities: zodiac rides, snorkeling and kayaking. Enjoy the blue-footed, Nazca boobys, fur seals, and Galapagos hawks that accompany you in the air and in the water.
Or, visit pristine, sandy Espumilla Beach, a popular hangout for marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot Crabs, the latter of which draw hunting herons. If you’re lucky, you will see the fascinating predator and prey dance of these beautiful birds. It’s definitely a good idea to snorkel here to take advantage of the abundance of marine life such as octopi, moray eels, and sharks.
Rabida Island’s world-famous red sand beach, known for its cactus groves and other arid flora, both native and endemic, as well as its rock formation scenery, gives us a chance to spot brown pelicans’ nests, and to observe a lagoon that sometimes plays host to flamingos.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
Day 14

RETURN TO QUITO
BALTRA ISLAND: Mosquera Islet

For your final morning in the Galapagos, visit 600 m2 (6458 m2 foot) Mosquera islet, to see lava gulls, sea lions, and Sally light foot crabs that inhabit this sand bank.  Make sure to keep your eyes on the water for the largest populations of playful sea lions and majestic orca whales that can be observed in certain seasons. From here, transfer to Baltra airport for your return flight to mainland Ecuador and destinations beyond.
Our private transfer will meet you in Quito and take you from the airport to the hotel. One of our representatives will assist you with your luggage and hotel check-in.
Meals: Breakfast.

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

Day 15

DEPARTURE / TRANSFER OUT

If your international flights allow it, enjoy breakfast at the hotel before our guide transfers you from your hotel to the airport for your International flight home.

Meals: Breakfast.

From: $3,408 Per person based on double accommodation.Inquire About This Tour