Essential Ecuador & Galapagos
A comprehensive and diverse itinerary taking in the best of Ecuador in three distinct regions. From the vibrant World Heritage Old Town of Quito, to the beautiful cloud forest area to observe 100s of species of birds and plants. Then down to the tropical rainforest of the Amazon basin to a Unesco Biosphere Reserve for a completely different wildlife and nature experience. Finally, fly to the Galapagos Islands to join an island nature cruise for close up encounters with unique and rare wildlife.
Namibia Birding and Photography GuideAn accomplished and experienced Namibia birding and photographic guide, Toni holds a Namibia Academy for Tourism and Hospitality Level 3 qualification (the highest level attainable in Namibia) and is widely renowned for her extensive knowledge of the cultures, ornithology, flora, astronomy and wildlife of the country. Read more >
Wildlife Guide & PhotographerAndy is a 6th generation Falkland Islander, with a passion for wildlife, plants and photography. Raised in the Falkland Islands, Andy developed a close affinity with the Islands natural environment at a young age. School holidays where spent in the ‘camp’ or countryside with friends and family. For more than 10 years, Andy had the privilege of spending a time on Sea Lion Island, visiting his mother who managed one of the Islands premier tourist destinations. Read more >
Photographer and founder of the Travel Photographer Of The Year awardsA fascination with natural light and a passion with nature, landscape and travel underpin Chris Coe's photography. His images often have a striking simplicity and graphic quality. More recent work has introduced a subtlety with experimentation with both movement and light.Read more >
Falklands Expert & GuideBorn in Chartres in the West Falklands, Jenny grew up on the family farm where her love for animals was nurtured by the25,000 sheep, horses and cows that lived alongside her. Forever a nature, conservation and wildlife enthusiast Jenny has travelled extensively throughout the Falkland Islands, visiting each and every wildlife island at least once, and even travelling around some by yacht. Read more >
Special Guest LecturerExclusive to this voyage, Doug Allan, a multi award winning polar photographer and cameraman, will be your special guest lecturer. Doug has been on over 20 expeditions to Svalbard to film its wildlife, and knows the wonders of this area more than most. Read more >
- Explore Quito’s Historic Old Town
- 3 Nights at the Luxury Cloud Forest Mashpi Lodge
- 3 Nights Amazon Experience at The Award Winning Napo Wildlife Lodge
- 5 Night Galapagos Wildlife Adventure with Local Naturalist Guides
- 5 Nights on board Galapagos cruise with transfers, all meals, daily guided activities.
- Return flights between mainland and Galapagos Islands
- 3 Nights Mashpi Lodge with transfers, all meals, guided activities, loan of equipment.
- 3 Nights Napo Wildlife Lodge, all meals, flights, transfers, guided activities.
- 2 Nights Hilton Colon Hotel, Quito. Deluxe Room B&B
- 1 Night Rincon de Puembo, Near Quito Airport. Standard Room B&B
- 1 Night Wyndham Hotel, Guayaquil, B&B Standard Room
ITINERARY14 Nights 15 Days
- Day 1 | Arrive Quito Airport Afternoon. Quito Hotel Stay 1 Night B&B
- Day 2 – 4 | Mashpi Lodge & The Cloud Forest
- Day 5 - 8 | Napo Wildlife Lodge, Amazon
- Day 9 - 14 | Galapagos Expedition Cruise
- Day 15 | Transfer to Guayaquil Airport for your international Flight Home.
Quito Airport Afternoon. Quito Hotel Stay 1 Night B&B
Private transfer from Quito Airport to The Hilton Colon Hotel (Deluxe Room B&B) close to the historic centre of Quito Old Town. You will have the rest of the afternoon and evening to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Quito and the cobbled streets of the old town.
Early morning drive high into the Ecuadorean Cloud Forest to stay at the luxury Mashpi Lodge for two nights. This region is amazingly rich in birdlife with 32 species of hummingbird alone seen from the Lodge. Afternoon guided walk to see forest waterfalls and birds such as tanager, toucan and the elusive cock-of-the-rock.
The Cloud Forest
Early morning time on the terrace watching birds feeding in the dawn light with naturalist guides. Climb to the observation tower and take a canopy walk . Lots of forest trails later spotting birds, howler monkeys, insects and amazing flora, all in the company of expert guides.
Copal Waterfall & The Hilton Colon
Activity starts at 6.30am with birdlife encounters after early morning refreshments. Later, walk to Copal Waterfall, a beautiful 2 hour hike featuring moss covered trees, orchids and various bird sightings. After lunch, return to Quito and overnight and breakfast at The Hilton Colon.
The Ecuadorian Amazon and Napo Lodge
Transfer to Quito Airport for flight to Coca, then by road and river to Napo Lodge. Look out for herons and kingfishers on the way. Transfer from riverboat to dugout canoe for further majestic peaceful ride, paddling along narrow creeks. Good sightings of monkeys, parrots, macaws and other large birds
Napo Wildlife Lodge, Amazon
Early morning start to reach probably the best parrot clay licks in Ecuador just over an hour away from the lodge. Weather dependent but usually successful sightings of over 11 species of parrots, parakeets and macaws. Lunch box served at the parrot clay lick observatory with arrival back at the lodge late afternoon.
Early departure to the superb canopy tower, 36 metres above the forest floor for sightings of tanagers, blue and yellow macaws and spider monkeys in search of fruit. Afternoon walk to observe lizards, colourful manikins and endemic golden mantle tamarind monkeys. Later, explore the creeks by dugout canoe looking for giant otter families.
Early departure, to the Napo river with possible sightings of giant otters, Monk Saki monkeys plus many rare birds. Transfer to the motorised boats and on to the airport for your flight back to Quito and transfer to Hotel Rincon de Puembo, close to the airport, including breakfast.
Board the Santa Cruz
Transfer to airport for your Galapagos flight to Baltra, met and board the Santa Cruz. After briefings, lunch, sail to North Seymour Island for first wildlife sightings of blue- footed boobies, two species of frigate birds, swallow tailed gulls and well as sea lions and iguanas.
Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island
Morning panga cruise and snorkelling off Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island. See flightless cormorants, green sea turtles and ocean sun fish. Later, sail to Fernandina with high density of marine iguanas sharing space with sea lions, Sally Light-foot crabs, hawks, penguins and flightless cormorants.
Morning walk from Tagus Cove on Isabela to the rim of a crater and Darwin Lake and on to a dramatic view point. Panga cruise and snorkelling. Later, to Urbina Bay to see colourful land iguanas and maybe giant tortoises. Snorkel or swim with flightless cormorants.
Charles Darwin Research Station
A day spent on Santa Cruz. In Puerto Ayora, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and walk through cactus forest to Tortuga Bay for finches and marine iguanas. Kayaking and swimming. Excursion to the verdant highlands for visit to a giant tortoise reserve. Mountain biking option.
Floreana. Visit Post Office Bay with its historic barrel post box – continue the tradition and leave or pick up mail yourself for posting! Afternoon to Champion Islet for underwater exploration on pangas and glass bottom boat. Then to Cormorant Point to see greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers and many more.
Wyndham Hotel, Guayaquil
Breakfast & morning goodbye with a group transfer to Baltra for your flight to Guayaquil. Private transfer to Wyndham Hotel, Guayaquil. Afternoon free for local exploration.
Transfer to Guayaquil Airport for your international Flight Home.
After breakfast, little time to relax before your private transfer to Guayaquil Airport for onward or return travel.
Your Itinerary Accommodation
Mashpi Lodge is one of the most unique wildlife environments in the world. This luxury cloud and rain forest hideaway is located on a high plateau only three hours drive from Quito. Mashpi boasts over 400 species of bird recorded to date but perhaps over 500 in total with with over 32 hummingbird plus other bird species like indigo flowerpiercer, black solitaire chocó vireo, banded ground-cuckoo, yellow-green bush tanager, moss-backed tanager, black-tipped cotinga and many other rare chocó-endemic residents. Mashpi is also known for its fine dining in its panoramic and dramatic two storey setting.
Here, Mashpi's chefs draw from the diversity of Ecuadorian cuisine and ingredients, making the most of its location between the coast and the Andes to offer the best of both worlds. Daily activities include exploring the canopy with the Mashpi aerial bicycle, hiking to hidden waterfalls with specialist guides; observe howler monkeys unusual frogs, early morning and night time nature walks.
Located in Ecuador's Cloud Forest & Rain Forest and just a short hop 110 km transfer from Quito. This luxury retreat is surrounded by 3200 acres of reserve, offering guided hikes to hiddern waterfalls, bird watching, and wildlife observation, home to 100's of bird species, possibly thousands of orchid species as well as monkeys and even puma.
Mashpi is designed to completely immerse you in the forest life, while keeping its creatures safely at bay – a luxury retreat amidst the dense forest and stunning mountain views. The rooms are arranged over three floors, all designed with floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall panoramic glass windows, some on two sides, with the forest just a few feet away
Napo Wildlife Lodge
The Napo Amazon Wildlife Lodge is the ultimate eco lodge and located on the south bank of the Napo River in the Yasuni National Park. The lodge has 16 luxury cabins decorated in rustic style. Wildlife opportunities are endless with various species of mammal, 100's species of birds and reptiles. A 36m high canopy tower opened to guests in 2004 and superb way to experience life above the forest floor. Expert local naturalist guides are on hand to ensure you maximise your visit.
Possibly the most exciting approach to Napo Lodge is by canoe along the Napo River, a two hour journey with lunch box provided en route. A majestic and peaceful ride surrounded by trees overhead, along narrow creeks connecting to the lake where the lodge is located. Good sightings of monkeys, large colourful birds like toucans, parrots and macaws not to mention cayman observed around the lake.
The local community run Napo Lodge which provides protection for the land and secure jobs. The wildlife and lodge guides are very experienced and accompany you on nature hikes and canoe trips along the Napo. The trails are ideal for hiking where you can enjoy visits to the local Kichwa community.
There are two canopy towers both built with your safety in mind and as you ascend the 12 floor tower you pass through the different levels of the forest and emerge on top of a huge Ceiba tree. Here you cross on to a wooden platform built in to the tree and experience the view formerly reserved only for the birds. Flocks of blue and yellow Macaws fly past and spider monkeys search for fruit and sometimes two species of Toucans call in early morning and late afternoon.
Possibilities of finding lizards, frogs, snakes or the unique and endemic Golden mantle tamarin monkey.monkey. Explore the lakes in a dugout canoe with possibilities of running in to Giant otters on the way.
The Lodge has 16 Luxury cabins, decorated in rustic style and include mosquito net, private bathroom, safe box, hot water. There's internet access and a library available for reference.
The Napo Wildlife Centre provides rubber boots (up to US men’s size 11) and nylon rain ponchos free of charge to those guests who request them. You may choose to use your own boots or trainers for forest hikes depending upon the conditions. Likewise, you may bring your own rain gear. Of course soap, shampoo, towels, and other such items are provided just as they are at any luxury hotel.
There is a 44-pound (20kg) per person baggage limit on the flights from Quito to Coca, and overweight will be charged directly by the airline. This limit should not pose a problem to most Napo Wildlife Centre travellers; also most hotels in Quito will store your dress clothes and heavy jackets for you during your stay.
Hilton Colon Hotel, Quito
Well located base for your stay in Quito and situated between the historical and modern neighbourhood in the city centre close to restaurants and bars. A combination of beautiful views of the Andes from each room, and modern facilities such as outdoor pool, sauna, steam bath, massage service, gym, Jacuzzi & beauty salon make this one of the finest choices available.
The Hilton is located in the Mariscal which is one of the most central areas in Quito. It boasts a modern elegance decorated in American and European styles. There are 255 rooms in all with a full range from Deluxe and Club Floor to King Club suites and Executive Suite Premium. The hotel offers five restaurants, bar not to mention room service & laundry. Wifi, air con, Hair dryer, coffee machine, safe, large flat cable TV available in every room.
Wyndham Hotel, Guayaquil
Spacious, modern quality hotel located in a central position and just walking distance to many of the neighbourhoods popular sights like the riverside main square and Las Penas area of the city. Vibrant restaurants and lively bars close by.
As well as the excellent riverside location, the Wyndham Hotel also combines a modern American and European corporate feel with some of the best leisure facilities you can expect like the state of the art fitness centre, the heated outdoor pool or the views of the city from the 9th floor terrace. The hotel offers spacious guest rooms with floor to ceiling windows and flat screen 43 inch flat screen satalite TV. Relax in the Numa Bar the ideal spot to relax with a cocktail. Free WiFi access throughout the hotel.
Rincon de Puembo Hotel, Quito
Rincon de Puembo is good tourist class hotel and only 10 minutes away by taxi or transfer from Quito Airport. As there are no Quito Airport hotels as such this is a close second as it avoids you the longer transfer in to Quito city centre, ideal if you are passing through Quito.
Hosteria Rincón de Puembo is conveniently located in Puembo, only ten minutes away from the International Airport and near the valleys of Tumbaco and Cumbayá. Its a comfortable hotel where you can briefly relax for a night before your onward travel. Single, twin, double & triple rooms, suites available. All rooms come with safe, 32 inch cable TV, Minibar, Alarm Clock media player. Facilities at the hotel include gym, restaurant, bar, WiFi & laundry service.
What Our Customers
• Although we thoroughly enjoyed the Galapagos it was mainland Ecuador which really took us by surprise with such a diversity of landscape and wildlife and incredible hospitality everywhere we went. Our local guides were so knowledgeable and helpful and our driver Manuel had a terrific sense of humour. We had some fantastic birding at both Mashpi, Le Selva and of course our day trip to Paz de Las Aves Reserve where we were lucky enough to see both the ‘Cock of the Rock’ and the giant antipitta. The devil nose train journey was as thrilling as we hoped and we even got lucky with Cotopaxi and got some lovely clear photos so all in all couldn't ask for more.
• This was an excellent trip from start to finish. Bellavista Lodge was a particular favourite of ours, so tranquil and a superb base to watch birds and wildlife while experiencing real Ecuadorian hospitality. Our guide, really knew his stuff and was so passionate about his job ,in fact all the local guides were excellent. I have to say a special word about Juan, our driver, who was so charming and funny, he really added to the overall enjoyment of the trip. The number and variety of birds we saw was amazing and I would have no hesitation in recommending Ecuador to other keen bird watchers.
Fantastic holiday with more wildlife than I was expecting. The Napo Wildlife Centre was wonderful, we were looked after with such care and attention and our guides’ knowledge of the areas’ and flora and fauna was outstanding, what they didn’t know probably wasn’t worth knowing. The food was so varied and they coped amazingly with my food intolerances, better than most European restaurants!!! Waking up to the sound of the howler monkeys will always live with me as will seeing my first Kinkajou, something I’ve wanted to see for a long time. Thank you for an amazing two weeks.
We had an amazing time in the Galapagos, thank you.We really enjoyed ourselves and will certainly come back to you next year.
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