Ecological Ecuador Tour
This ecological tour through Ecuador gives you a good impression of the two biggest natural highlights in Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Rainforest! Plus that joining this tour will give you a small taste of the Andean nature and culture.
During this tour you can find out for yourself how evolution developed on the Galapagos Islands and how Charles Darwin used this information as a base for his famous ‘Evolution Theory’. During this tour you will have plenty of time to meet with the friendly, tame and curious inhabitants of these islands, including many sea lions, blue footed boobies, bird species, tortoises, iguanas, penguins, sharks and many more, a great experience!
The Galapagos Islands now have a high visitors rate and have been explored by many scientist and tourists, which will make it difficult to discover something new. The Amazon Rainforest on the other side is much bigger, less accessible and therefore still frequently in the news about the discovering new species of plants and even animals. Maybe you can discover something new during this special Ecological tour…
Short travel itinerary:
Day 1 (Sunday’s): Arrive in Quito
Day 2: Quito – Galapagos Islands
Day 3: Galapagos tour
Day 4: Galapagos tour
Day 5: Galapagos tour
Day 6: Galapagos tour -> Quito – Otavalo.
Day 7 (Saturday): Market in Otavalo
Day 8: Otavalo (Optional: Laguna Coicocha hike) – Quito.
Day 9: Quito – Lago Agrio – Cuyabeno Amazon Tour
Day 10: Cuyabeno Amazon Tour.
Day 11: Cuyabeno Amazon Tour.
Day 12: Cuyabeno Tour:
Day 13: Cuyabeno – Lago Agrio – Quito.
Day 14: Private transfer to the airport and end of this great ecological experience!
Ecological Ecuador Tour
Day 1: Quito (2850 m)
(Sunday’s): After arriving in Quito our driver will wait for you at the new airport to bring you to your hotel. In 2011 Quito was elected by UNESCO as the American Capital of Culture 2011. This new status encouraged the city to invest more money in restauration of its many beautiful churches and other colonial buildings. The most impressive building is the almost Gothic looking Basilica. Its towers are open to the public and offer an amazing view over Quito and the Antisana, Cotopaxi y Cayambe Volcanoes. One of the towers even has a small restaurant where you can have a sandwich and coffee with view!
Day 2: Quito - Galapagos - Puerto Ayora - Isabela - Flamingo Lagoon
In the morning you will take a flight from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra Airport. At the airport you will be met by our guide, who will arrange the transfer by ferry and bus to Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz island). After lunch you will take the public speedboat to Isabela, the Galapagos’ largest island. Arrive at Puerto Villamil after about 3,5 hours of navegation. In the late afternoon you will visit the Flamingo Lagoon, which is the largest coastal lagoon found in the Galapagos. This is one of the main reproductive sites for flamingos.
Day 3: Sierra Negra - Volcan Chico - Concha Perla
After an early breakfast departure to Sierra Negra, one of Isabela’s five active volcanoes. After a short ride by car we will continue hiking towards the rim of the giantt crater. Optional: it is also possible to go horseback riding along this part of the trail, but this will have to be booked in advance. With a diameter of 10 km the low crater is the world’s second largest volcanic caldera! From the crater you can enjoy spectacular views. We also will visit Volcan Chico, a smaller crater, where you can see petrified lava and fumaroles. Return to Puerto Villamil for lunch. In the afternoon we will go snorkeling at Concha Perla, a calm bay where you can swim with sea lions.
Day 4: Giant Tortoise Breeding Center - Muro de las Lagrimas- Tintoreras Islet
In the morning we will go on an excursion to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center. We will visit Muro de las Lagrimas (Wall of Tears), a wall built with huge blocks of lava by the convicts who were forced to work here from 1946 to 1959, when Isabela was a penal colony. We will visit a small lava tunnel and another lagoon with flamingos. Return to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon we will navegate to Tintoreras Islet, where a colony of white tip sharks can be seen. Tintoreras is also an important breeding site of marine iguanas, and you can see sea lions and penguins. It is an excellent place for snorkelling.
Day 5: Galapagos (Puerto Ayora) -highlands of Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Station
Early breakfast and departure by public speedboat back to the harbor of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island. After check-in at your hotel in Puerto Ayora you will drive into the highlands of Santa Cruz, where you can see the giant tortoises in their natural habitat. After lunch in the highlands you will return to Puerto Ayora and visit the interesting Charles Darwin Station, where you learn more about the re-discovery of the Galapagos Islands and how Darwin used the evolution of its fauna to support his general Evolution Theory.
Day 6: Galapagos (los Gemelos) Baltra - Quito - Otavalo
After breakfast short excursion to Gemelos or Twin Craters, which are similar to craters, but formed by a collapse of the earth because of the lava flows that passed below it. After this excursion we continue to the Baltra Airport where you will take a flight back to Quito.
A private transfer will bring you directly to your hotel in Otavalo (2560m) (2h).
Otavalo is one of the very few places in Latin America where its citizens are proud to be indigenous and with reason. Already forthousands of years the people of Otavalo are known for their special high quality weaving techniques and commercial skills. The Inca’s supposedly used their weaving skills and now the Otavalenios have shops in several places over the world, even in New York City.
Day 7: Otavalo Saturday Market and surrounding
Today you can explore the small town of Otavalo and visit th famous local and tourist Saturday Market, a great place to take colorful pictures! Other options for today include: visiting a rescue centre for birds of prey, go on a short hike to the waterfall of Peguche, or to join a very interesting excursion to visit several small communities in the surroundings of Otavalo. During this last tour you get great views of the country side of Ecuador and you will more learn about the different ancient handicrafts that are still practiced in these communities. These handicrafts include leather work, weaving and making flutes.
Day 8: Otavalo (Optional LagunaCuicocha) - Quito
In the morning it is optional to hike around Laguna Cuicocha (4h). TheCuicocha (kucha = lake) is a 3 km (2 mi) wide caldera and crater lake at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano in the Cordillera Occidental of the Ecuadorian Andes.
Its name comes from the Kichwa indigenous language and means “Lago del Cuy” or Guinea Pig Laguna in English. It was given this name due to the guinea pig shape of the largest Island in the middle of the laguna.
Half day use of hotel room in Otavalo. Halfway the afternoon you will travel back to Quito.
Day 9: Quito - Lago Agrio - Cuyabeno Reserve
Private transport from your hotel to the airport, followed by a short flight takes you from Quito to Lago Agrio in the Amazon.
From here starts your tour through the Cuyabeno Amazon Wildlife Reserve. This reserve is situated in the north-eastern Amazon region of Ecuador, between the San Miguel and Aguarico rivers, and close to the Colombian and Peruvian borders. The reserve is made up of 605,000 hectares of primary forest, rivers and lakes, and is home to an incredible variety of animal and plant life. Five different ethnic groups live within the reserve: the Siona, Secoya, Cofán, Kichwas and Shuar, each of which has its own culture and language.
The base of your trip in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, is the Nicky Amazon Lodge, located in the southern part of the reserve. This tourist class lodge has 7 cabins, each with 2 separate rooms and private bath (only cold water). Nearby is the Quichua birdwatching tower, where you can enjoy magnificent views of the canopy.
The tour into the Amazon starts from Lago Agrio at 10:00 a.m. We travel with a small international group by truck for 2,5 hour to Tierras Orientales, where we start a journey by motorized canoe. We navegate first downstream the Aguarico river and then continue upstream along the Cuyabeno blackwater river. After about 3 hours we arrive at the lodge. After dinner our bilingual naturalist guide will tell you about the program for the next days.
Day 10: Cuyabeno Reserve
Early morning we leave for a canoe excursion, because the brisk morning hours are the best time to see the rainforest’s activity. After breakfast we will make a hike in primary rainforest with our naturalist guide and native guide. After lunch we will go paddling by traditional dugout canoe, enabling us to enjoy the sounds of the jungle, from the smallest insect to the fierce sounding Howler monkeys. On the way back to the lodge we will stop and try our luck at piranha fishing. After dinner we will make a short excursion to look for nocturnal insects, and with a bit of luck we may see some species of tree frogs or nocturnal mammals, including kinkajous.
Day 11: Cuyabeno Reserve
Nature never sleeps, and especially in the rainforest the early mornings are a good time to spot wildlife. Today we will also wake up very early. As the sun starts to bring color into the forest, we leave to go on a birdwatching tour. We will have the opportunity to observe macaws, toucans, parrots, caciques, hoatzins and other tropical bird species. After breakfast, we trek into primary rainforest and the guide will explain us about the practical and medicinal uses of several plants. After lunch we navigate along the Cuyabeno river to enjoy the beautiful nature. Optional night walk to enjoy the nightlife and the music (insects and frogs) of the jungle..
Day 12: Cuyabeno Reserve
When the nightlife of the jungle goes to sleep, we wake up with the songs from the birds around us. Today we spend the whole day exploring the Amazon Rainforest. We observe the enchanting salt lick (an exposed clay bank) where colourful parrots and parakeets feed on the clay to draw the toxins from their bodies. During a hike in the forest the native guide shares with us his ancient knowledge learnt from his ancestors. He shows us the many different medicinal and practical uses of the rainforest and we learn how all life in the tropical rainforest co-exists in a fragile balance. In the afternoon we explore the Cuyabeno river, observing different habitats and looking for other species. We have a good chance of seeing the freshwater pink and grey river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis and Sotalia fluviatilis). We also visit the Quichua Birdwatching Tower; from above the canopy we have a breathtaking view of the surrounding rainforest. After dinner, we venture out on a night excursion to search for caimans and nocturnal birds.
Day 13: Cuyabeno Reserve - Lago Agrio - Quito
After breakfast we navigate along the Cuyabeno river to an indigenous community of Quichuas. Upon arrival our guide will explain about the culture and traditions of the native people who still live in and from the Amazon Rainforest. Then we travel by canoe down the Cuyabeno river and back along the Aguarico river to the town of Tierras Orientales. After leaving our boat in the small harbor, we return by car to the city of Lago Agrio. Arrival at Lago Agrio late in the afternoon.
Flight back to Quito and transfer to your hotel.
Day 14: The end.
About 3h30 min. before your international flight departures, you will be transfered from your hotel to the airport of Quito. End of this tour.
Optional: to visit the real Equator (within The Inti Nan museum)
Optional: to continue this tour along the Andean Highway.
NOTES: The itinerary above might be subject to changes due to weather conditions and the water level in the Cuyabeno Reserve. The Cuyabeno Tour starts each Monday (group size 4 – 10 persons). The Galapagos tours can start each day with a min. of 2 persons.
Inclusive and recommended to bring on this tour:
Included in this Galapagos/ Amazon tour:
– 13 nights with breakfast based in a double room.
– Private transfers with English speaking driver/guide
– Flights to and from Lago Agrio
The Galapagos tour comes with:
– English speaking naturalist guides
– Transfers on the Galapagos by public bus and public speedboat
– Accommodation in budget class hotels (double room with private bath and hot water)
– Meals full board
– Excursions as detailed in the itinerary
– Snorkeling equipment on Isabela
The Cuyabeno tour comes with:
– Naturalist guide
– Transportation from / to Lago Agrio
– Accommodation in Nicky Jungle Lodge (double and quadruple cabins with private bath)
– Meals and purified drinking water
– Jungle equipment (rubber boots, rain poncho and life jackets for on the boats)
– Flight to and from the Galapagos Islands -> price in-between 448 US$ and 520 US$ p.p.)
– Entrance fee for the Galapagos Islands (20 US$ has to be paid on the airport of Quito and 100 US$ upon arrival on the Galapagos + 5 US$ dock fee
– International flights and airport taxes
– Optional excursions
– Drinks and meals and personal expenses not mentioned in the itinerary above
– Travel insurance
– Additional price for a single room supplement (ask for the options)
We recommend you to bring at least with:
– Valid identification and travel documents and when needed a valid visa
– The information of your travel insurance
– Valid vaccinations, ask you countries health centre for more information
– A good big backpack or sport bag, NO hard case suitcase.
– A small day (back)pack
– Good shoes
– A warm jacket/ fleece
– A rain jacket/ poncho
– A warm sweater
– Three light trousers
– Two pair of shorts
– 4 T-shirts
– Swimming wear
– A flashlight
– A water proof to protect your electronics against the humidity of the rainforest
– Something to be able to back-up your pictures from your camera
– Protection against the sun and mosquito’s (you can also buy in Ecuador).