The Best of Ecuador & Galapagos Active Excursion 11 days
Unique lifetime adventure blending the fascinating geography of Ecuador's mainland, made of active volcanoes, big canyons, large tropical rainforests and huge waterfalls, with the mythical Galapagos Islands, where the magic diversity of fearless animals and the stunning landscapes of the volcanic islands create a unique atmosphere. This is a perfect combination that includes a wide variety of outdoor activities, while discovering the highlights of Ecuador. Enjoy trekking into the Quilotoa crater-lake and biking down the slopes of Tungurahua active volcano, explore the lush Amazon forest by rafting on the Jatunyacu River, discover your adventurous spirit by sharing activities with the most unusual animals on the Galapagos Islands. Hike with giant tortoises to the top of Sierra Negra Volcano, swim with sea lions, turtles, penguins and sharks at lava tunnels, find the tracks of Charles Darwin in his world-known Research Station, and finally relax in volcanic hot springs.
- Stop at a hummingbirds sanctuary in the heart of the cloud forest and look for a hummingbird with the beak two times larger then its body (sword-billed hummingbird)
- Snorkel through lava formations with sea turtles, penguins, sea horses, sea lions and sharks at Lava Tunnels
TREKKING IN COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARKE
BIKING IN THE CLOUDFOREST
THE SWING TO THE END OF THE WORLD
VOLCANIC HOT SPRINGS
RIVER RAFTING IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST
HUMMINGBIRDS SANCTUARY IN THE CLOUD FOREST
VIEW MONKEYS IN THE AMAZON
CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION
HIKING THE TOP OF SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO
SNORKELING WITH SEA TURTLES, RAYS, PENGUINS AND SEA LIONS
TINTORERAS AND LAVA TUNNELS IN ISABELA ISLAND
CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION IN SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
ENCOUNTER WITH WILD GIANT TORTOISES
RELAX ON THE WHITE SAND BEACHES
Day 1: Quito
Welcome to Quito! The biggest, best-preserved colonial city of America was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and the second most important city of the old Inca Empire.
Depending on arrival time, a representative of EPL will be waiting for you at the airport to give you a first look of the city, then you can spend your day exploring the old town of Quito and the surrounding area. ECUADOR PURE LIFE can help you to organize a day trip.
In the evening, one of our trip leaders will meet you at the hotel for a welcome briefing and there will be plenty of time to discuss details and answer any questions you may have regarding the adventure. Our first day is an informational and acclimation day. Later, the best place to end the day, a traditional meal in a lovely restaurant!
Accommodation: Hotel Mercure Alameda or similar visit website
Day 2: Cotopaxi National Park - Baños
Cotopaxi snow-capped volcano is our main goal today. After breakfast, we will drive through the Andes enjoying magnificent views of the Avenue of Volcanoes. Once we reach the Cotopaxi National Park, we will have our first acclimation hike around Limpiopungo Lake at 13000ft (3800 meters) above sea level and see wild horses, wild bulls and some bird species. From here you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Cotopaxi volcano, one of the world's highest volcanoes.
Trekking time: 2 hours on flat terrain around Limpiopungo lagoon, elevation: 12,631 ft.
In the afternoon we will get a transfer to one of the most beautiful historic haciendas in the Andes to enjoy the views of the active Tungurahua Volcano!
Accommodation: Hotel La Floresta or similar
Day 3: Baños - Llanganates National Park
This morning we will mountain bike from the Llanganates National Park down to the Pastaza River Canyon, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the cloud forest. The road brings us through some Andean farms and a beautiful canyon with many waterfalls.
While descending into the jungle, we will have a breathtaking view of Baños, very well known for its spectacular location right on the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, which is active since 1999. This is one of the main attractions of this region. In the afternoon we will have some time to explore the town and then we will enjoy the best night life.
Accommodation: La Floresta Hotel or similar visit website
Day 4: Amazon - Pastaza River
This morning we will hit the road of the waterfalls. The first stop will be at the Bride´s Veil waterfall, where we will take the Tarabita (cable car) to get across the Pastaza River. Then we will hike down to the Pailon del Diablo waterfall, the second highest in Ecuador. Later, we will go deeper into the jungle inside the Llanganates National Park. The name “llanganates” comes from the local native language and means “beautiful mountain”. 600 years ago, the Incas hid here their golden treasure. Explorers spent many years looking for this treasure, but some of it has disappeared in this thick pristine jungle.
During a 3-hour hike through the tropical jungle, we will climb along several white-water waterfalls. This is a humid and warm area which will make our experience even more demanding, so get ready to wear your rubber boots and enjoy the magnificence of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Our local native guide will tell us about the incredible nature and wildlife we will see. We will spend the night at the Local Basic Jungle Lodge.
Accommodation: Amazon Basic Lodge with a Local Family
Day 5: Amazon - Jatunyacu River - Papallacta hot springs
JATUNYACU RIVER RAFTING AND VOLCANIC HOT SPRINGS
We greet the day by preparing our gear to paddle the wild waves of the Jatunyacu River, located one hour away from the entrance of the Llanganates National Park. The beauty of this river will inspire you and reveal the magic of the Amazon rainforest. After a very important safety briefing from our rafting guides, we will start our class III rafting expedition down the Jatunyacu River, well known for its clean water and awesome rapids. We will have a lot of fun playing some games and also exploring one of the canyons. The end of the journey offers us a stop for a picnic, prepared by our guides.
We conclude our day with a drive back up to the Andes, stopping to visit the paradise of hummingbirds in Guango Reserve and finally continuing up to the volcanic hot springs resort, where we will spend the night.
Accommodation: Papallacta Spa resort or similar visit website
Day 6: Galapagos Isabela
Today we get ready to explore the most amazing archipelago in the Pacific coast and the place where Charles Darwin based its theory of the evolution of species. We will board a morning flight from Quito to the island of Baltra. Once arrived, we will head to the town of Puerto Ayora, the biggest town in Galapagos. From here we will take a fast boat to Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago and the place where the most volcanic activity in the Galapagos is reported. The island is formed by six shield volcanoes, Alcedo, Cerra Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf, five of them still active, and therefore the island is one of the most volcanically active places on earth. During our island crossing, we will be on the lookout for dolphins and whales (July to October).
Accommodation: Cormorant Beach House or similar
Day 7: Isabela Island
After driving up from Puerto Villamil to the trailhead, we will prepare our backpacks and hike into a young forest ecosystem, a world of recent geological history. Our destination is the rim of Sierra Negra Crater, an active volcano which last erupted in October 2005.
Upon arrival, we will take in breathtaking views and explore the circumference of the massive, lava-filled crater, over six miles across at its widest point. If we feel energetic enough, we can continue our hike to Volcan Chico, a secondary crater that has a wild landscape of puffing fumaroles and colorful lava formations, great examples of the dramatic geological events that have forged the Galapagos Islands over millennia. In the afternoon we will visit Tintoreras Islet, located at a short distance from Puerto Villamil and home to a great variety of wildlife. Its turquoise, crystalline waters are inhabited by white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos Penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. One of its beaches surrounded by mangroves is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully.
Accommodation: Isabela Beach House OR SIMILAR
Day 8: Isabela Island
Today, we will explore the amazing formations of lava created by the last eruptions of the Volcanic Island along the seashore. This magical place is been used by the staff of BBC /National Geographic for their documentaries. It is a labyrinth of lava arches inside the breakers with crystal clear water full of huge sea turtles, eagle rays, sea lions, fish, white tipped reef sharks and more. Turtles navigate their own highway from the mangroves to the open sea through "Los Tuneles".
Over here, we will have the best snorkeling opportunity with all these beautiful animals, including the curious Galapagos penguin playing around. Before or after the trip, you can enjoy some optional activities such as snorkeling at "Concha de Perla", kayaking in Tintoreras, taking surfing lessons, biking or just relax on the exotic white-sand beaches of Isabela Island. We recommend you to take some time to visit the giant tortoise breeding centre.
Accommodation: Isabela Beach House or similar
Day 9: Santa Cruz Island
In the morning we will embark on a fast boat from Isabela to Santa Cruz Island. During our island crossing, we will be on the lookout for dolphins and whales (July to October). Once we arrive, we will check in at the hotel.
We will have time to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about many of the endemic species we met during our adventure, as well as the ongoing conservation and management efforts on the Galapagos Islands. In the afternoon, we will head to the 'El Chato' Reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz, home to the famous Galapagos tortoise. Hiking through El Chato's beautiful scenery with those lumbering giants is an unforgettable experience! We also see other highland wildlife such as pintail ducks, egrets, flycatchers and finches on our hike. We can also observe frigatebirds which gather to wash the salt off their feathers at a fresh water lake.
We will return to Puerto Ayora to spend the evening in Galapagos' most populous town.
Accommodation: Silberstein Hotel or similar visit website
Day 10: Flight back to Quito
After our final breakfast on the Galapagos Island and the last photos taken of sea lions, we will have a transfer to Baltra's airport in time to catch the flight back to the mainland.
Accommodation: Hotel Mercure Alameda or similar visit website
Day 11: Departure
Today our trip will end and you will have your International departures. Take with you your memories and photos and leave a piece of your heart, as you will want to return to Ecuador soon to experience more of this enchanted land. We wish you a "buen viaje"!
- Activities: Trekking in Cotopaxi National Park, biking the slopes of Llanganates National Park and Road of Waterfalls in Baños, hiking to Pailon del Diablo waterfall, Jatunyacu river rafting in the Amazon tropics, hiking in the cloud forest with toucans, hummingbirds, parrots, etc, volcanic hot springs, trekking to the top of Sierra Negra active volcano in Isabela Island, snorkeling in Tintoreras and Lava Tunnels, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, hiking in Santa Cruz highlands
- Accommodations based in double occupancy: First Class hotel in Quito, 4-stars hotel in Baños, Amazon Family Home Stay in the Jungle, 5-stars Spa Resort Papallacta, 4-stars hotel in Tababela, 4-star hotels in Galapagos
- Transportation: Airfare Quito - Galapagos - Quito round trip, airport transfers (national flights), sea transportation Santa Cruz - Isabela islands round trip, comfortable land and sea transportation.
- Meals Included: 9 breakfasts and 4 box lunches
- Gear: Hiking sticks, cross-country bikes (disc brakes and front suspension), helmets, gloves, rafts, paddles, life vest, ropes, snorkeling mask and fins.
- Trip Leader: Certified EPL expert English-speaking adventure Trip Leader (minimum 4 people for this service) and naturalist local guides in Galapagos National Park
- My Own Room supplement cost $ 899 USD
- International flights
- Airport transfer (international flights)
- Travel insurance (mandatory)
- Meals not described in the itinerary - estimated budget USD $240 USD
- INGALA transit card: USD $20 per person, cash only (subject to change)
- Galapagos National Park fee: USD $100 per person, cash only (subject to change)
- USD $10 pier-use fee at Puerto Villamil
- Snorkeling gear (mask and fins) for optional activities: USD $8 per day per person
- Wetsuit for rent: USD $10
- Travel insurance,
- Airline tickets,
- Credit or debit card (see personal spending money),
- Quick dry clothing,
- Fleece top,
- 4 shirts/t-shirts,
- 2 pairs of shorts,
- 2 pairs of long trousers,
- 2 pair hiking pants/track pants,
- Rain jacket,
- Rain pants,
- Sun hat or cap,
- 2 swimming suits,
- Sport sandals,
- Hiking shoes,
- Tennis shoes,
- Day backpack 20L. (with rain cover)
- Water bottle 1L. or camelback 1L.
- Watch or alarm clock
- Waterproof binoculars (if possible),
- Insect Repelent
- Sun Screen 60 SPF,
- Waterproof camera (if possible),
- Money belt,
- First-aid kit(should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, altitude medication, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking.
It is our intention to adhere to the itinerary described; however, due to our travel style, on occasions it may be necessary or desirable to make small changes. Weather conditions and unpredictable local circumstances may lead us to make alterations to the route and/or travel times. Hotels and flight schedules might change according to availability. Any mention to specific wildlife in the itinerary or trip details is not a guarantee that it will be seen during the trip.
2h 45 min each way from Quito to Galapagos. Regular size aircraft. About 140 passengers
2 - 3 hours a day while in mainland
45 minutes Airport transfers in Quito
45 minutes Airport transfers in Galapagos
45 minutes each way in Sierra Negra
2 hours each way from Isabela to Santa Cruz
45 minutes each way - Lava Tunnels
15 minutes each way - Tintoreras
Cloudforest: 2 hours easy uphill; 1 hour downhill same way back.
Sierra Negra: 30 minutes easy uphill; 1 and a half hours on flat terrain; 30 minutes downhill; 2 hours same way back.
1 hour moderate uphill; 2 hours downhill (terrain: cobblestone, dirt, muddy and asphalt)
From 3 to 4 hours depending on water level.
Tintoreras: 1 hour.
Lava Tunnels: 2 times of 1 hour each.
Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, Pastaza, Napo, Galapagos.
Andes highlands, Amazon rainforest and Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.
Quito: 2800 m (9,186 ft.)
Quilotoa: 3962 m (13,000 ft.)
Baños: 1820 m (5,971 ft.)
Amazon: 510 m (1,640 ft.)
Papallacta: 3300 m (10,827 ft.)
Galápagos: From sea level (most activities) to 1200 m (3,937 ft.) - Sierra Negra Volcano.
Day 15-34ºC / 59-93ºF - Night 12-17ºC / 53-62ºF.
Moderate to Challenging: In the cloud forest the uphill biking part can be challenging but there is always a truck behind supporting the team; the whitewater rafting on the Jatunyacu is Class III; the trekking in the cloud forest is moderate; the hiking in Sierra Negra is moderate but long and muddy during the wet season (from July to November); snorkeling is easy.
Travelling with Ecuador Pure Life you will have the possibility to experience and taste local food and snacks. Your guide will help you identify typical food and suggest the best places to enjoy it. Some meals are not included in order to give you some flexibility about where, what and with whom to eat. You have the option to share these meals with the group, however there is no obligation to do this. If you have any allergies or food restrictions, please inform EPL prior to your departure.
The waters of the Galapagos Islands are a unique mixture of warm and cold water, ranging between 65ºF and 85ºF
All prices are based on double-occupancy. If you are travelling solo, you will be matched with another participant of your same gender. If you prefer to have a single room, please contact EPL prior to your departure to arrange your accommodation at an extra cost.
YOUR TRIP LEADERS AND GUIDES
All EPL guides and trip leaders are highly experienced, licensed to operate in Ecuador and certified as Wilderness Adventure First Aid responders. We always carry a complete first aid kit in our trips. In some location and for some activities, local guides join the trip leaders to provide an added service. In the Galapagos Islands, minimum 4 participants for the EPL trip leader service are required.
SUSTAINABLE ECO AND CULTURAL TOURISM
Clients receive a conservationist interpretation of the ecology of the Andes, Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands with the factors that threaten it. We aim to promote long-term conservation of both Local People cultural identity and their environment. Your visit will encourage them to support responsible ecotourism. We transport out and recycle all non-organic garbage.support responsible eco-tourism as a sustainable alternative for their living.