Ecuador and Galapagos

Ecuador galapagos feature

Join our singles group tour of Ecuador and the Galapagos.    The Galapagos Islands are one of the top reasons for visiting Ecuador as this famed archipelago boasts beautiful, crystal clear waters, striking volcanic landscapes, and close experiences with a unique array of wildlife. However, Ecuador is far more than Galapagos.  You’ll be truly amazed by the unusual variety of ecosystems packed into this small stretch of land which accounts for an astounding biodiversity, the largest in the world proportional to country size.   Come and join us – you’ll be truly glad you did!

*Escorted from Guayaquil
Guaranteed SINGLE room throughout
Commencing  22 February, 2019
Our tour encompasses Ecuador’s world-famous contrasting ecosystems including the highlands of the Andes and the Galapagos Islands. 

 fully booked 5

 

Ecuador turtle swimmingThe Galapagos Islands are one of the top reasons for visiting Ecuador. This famed archipelago boasts beautiful, crystal clear waters, striking volcanic landscapes, and close experiences with a unique array of wildlife. However, Ecuador is more than Galapagos. The unusual variety of ecosystems packed into this small stretch of land accounts for an astounding biodiversity, the largest in the world proportional to country size. 

Tren Crucero devils noseWe being our tour experiencing some of the wonders of Ecuador on board Tren Crucero, recognised as the Leading Luxury Train in South America.  During this journey  we climb 3600 metres in barely 450 km, experiencing one of the most dramatic changes in vegetation and scenery in the world. From the fertile plains in the coast we climb to the highlands in the Andes through the mythical Devil’s Nose pass. Riding across the Avenue of Volcanoes we reach Quito, Cultural World Heritage by UNESCO, to continue to Otavalo, amidst the Northern Andes, where we will explore the quichua culture, skills and traditions and have lunch in a very special hacienda, amidst export-class roses.   Nights are spent in characterful countryside hotels and haciendas and during the days on our train journey you’ll discover the hidden secrets of Ecuador where  you have opportunities to hike the rain forest, roam ancestral markets, visit artisans’ workshops, meet the last ‘ice-harvester’ of Chimborazo and be welcomed in indigenous communities where you will earn about Andean cosmogony and ancestral traditions

Galapagos blue footed boobieTo complete this extraordinary experience, the Galapagos Islands await you for an unforgettable journey through white sand beaches, crystalline clear sea waters, lava tunnels and volcanic landscapes. Encounter giant tortoises, iguanas, sea lions, flamingos and a wide variety of birds and sea-life while you discover the wonders of these enchanted islands.

       

                     

Day 1   22 February, 2019  Australia – Guayaquil   Make your own way to Guayaquil.    We can book the best airfare for you and team you up with others who may be on the same flight or you can make your own flight reservations using frequent flyer points.    Meet your Australian escorts at the hotel in Guayaquil.
Accommodation:  Holiday Inn Guayaquil Airport (or similar) overnight
A 5-minute walk from terminals at Aeropuerto Internacional José Joaquín de Olmedo, this modern hotel is also 2 km from the Centro de Convenciones de Guayaquil.   Sophisticated rooms with tile floors include free Wi-Fi, iPod/iPhone docks and flat-screen TVs. All have desks, minibars, and tea and coffeemakers. There’s a contemporary bistro/bar, an outdoor pool and a hot tub, as well as a fitness room. An airport shuttle is available.

Tren Crucero day 1Day 2  23 February, 2019  Guayaquil – Duran – Yaguachi – Naranjito – Bucay
We transfer to Duran this morning to commence our Tren Crucero journey.    We depart from Durán on the coast early in the morning, our heritage convoy pulled by a vintage steam engine from Durán to Yaguachi. We switch engines in Yaguachi and continue across rice, sugar cane, banana and pineapple plantations to Naranjito.  Lunch is served in a traditional hacienda, where we will learn about the best cocoa bean in the world and taste home-made chocolate. After a show of Montubio culture (the word monte describes the agricultural fields and the Montubio culture preserves the customs and folklore of the early settlers of the region) we continue our trip towards Bucay.  If the day is clear, we will get tour first glimpse of the Andes in the distance.
Accommodation:   Bucay overnight

Tren Crucero day 2Day 3   24 February, 2019  Bucay – Huigra – The Devil’s Nose – Alausí – Colta – Riobamba    As we travel along the canyon of river Chanchán the vegetation and temperature change abruptly. The cloud forest clears out and the sparse vegetation of the highlands takes its place, while the stone walls of the Andes loom in the horizon.    The train makes a stop at Pistishi lookout, where we can get a good glimpse of the impressive feat of engineering ahead of us, before start the daunting climb of mythical Devil’s nose. After a 450 meter climb, in barely 12 kilometres of dizzying zig zag, the train finally reaches the quaint village of Alausi, in the Andes.    We continue our journey to Riobamba, crossing colourful quinoa fields. In Colta we visit the indigenous community of Palacio Real, where we learn about llama breeding.   We arrive in Riobamba pulled by a powerful steam engine, with time to visit the Train Station Artisans’ Square before heading to our hotel.
Accommodation:  Riobamba overnight

Tren Crucero day 3Day 4   25 February, 2019   Riobamba – Urbina – Boliche – Quito  We depart for Urbina, the highest point in our itinerary at 3600m. There, in the eastern flanks of Chimborazo volcano awaits the last ice merchant.  For over half a century Baltazar Uschca has hiked up the slopes of Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador’s tallest mountain, to harvest the glacial ice that covers this dormant volcano.  In the past 40 ice merchants made the journey up the mountain at a time, however now Baltazar works alone.   Using just his hands and a pickaxe he performs a task  that would have looked no different a hundred years ago, yet the necessity of ice from the mountain became outdated with the advent of refrigeration.  At $2.50 per 80lb. block of ice, Baltazar makes no more than $25 per week.  Like clockwork, twice a week, Baltazar who is now over 70, continues to harvest the ice and sells it at the bustling city market.   We’ll have opportunity to purchase icecream made from this very special ice as we listen to him tell the tale of his ancestral trade.

Then we ride north along the Avenue of Volcanoes, the fertile valley sheltered between the two arms of the Andes mountain range. On clear days you can spot up to twenty volcanoes from the comfort of your seat. In the skirts of Cotopaxi volcano we will explore a singular Andean forest trail before continuing our ride towards Quito, with its UNESCO World Heritage old quarter.
Accommodation:  Swissotel Quito (or similar) 2 nights

Day 5   26 February, 2019    Quito – Otavalo – Ibarra – Quito    Tren Crucero day 4Our journey continues to the Northern Andes. In Otavalo, home to a millenary market, we board the train, pulled by a lovingly restored steam engine. During the day we will discover the culture, traditions, music, gastronomy, paintings and the antique skill of woodcarving, learned from the renowned masters of the Quito carving school, back in the XVIIth century. After having lunch we head back to Quito and have the remainder of the day at leisure.

Spa EcuadorDay 6   27 February, 2019    Quito – Papallacta Our Tren Crucero experience ends after breakfast this morning and we check out of Swissotel and drive back up to the Andes across the eastern range of the Andes, stopping to visit the paradise of hummingbirds in Guango Reserve and finally continuing up to the Papallacta Spa resort, where we will soak in the volcanic hot springs, enjoying the view of the majestic Andean mountains.   Accommodation: Papallacta Hot Springs (or similar) overnight
Featuring a spa, a restaurant, and a hot spring bath, Termas de Papallacta offers rooms and bungalows with free Wi-Fi in Papallacta. Decorated with wooden walls and gabled roofs, rooms at Termas de Papallacta are fitted with wooden furnishing. International dishes can be ordered at the restaurant. Guests can relax in the thermal and swimming pools. Several beauty treatments are available at the spa, including aromatherapy, therapeutic massages, body treatments with mud and clay or chocolate, individual hydro massages, and Turkish baths at the Thermal Cave.

Spa Ecuador 2Day 7  28 February, 2019   Papallacta – Quito   In the morning, we can join a short hike to explore the magic of the thick cloud forest,  during which you will have plenty of opportunities to see an incredible diversity of birdlife, including toucans, hummingbirds, jays, hawks, parrots, quetzals, cook of the rock, etc. Flowers are abounding in this region, so have the cameras ready for photos of orchids, bromeliads, ferns, etc.   Alternatively, you can relax and enjoy the spa facilities and hot spring pools of the resort.   After lunch (own expense) we will be transferred back to Quito to explore the city with a guided city tour visiting the most historical monuments and churches before heading to our hotel    Quito is the biggest, best-preserved colonial city of America and was declared a 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.  Accommodation:   Mercure  Alameda (or similar) 2 nights  Mercure Hotel Alameda is situated just steps away from the Artisan Market on Quito’s showcase shopping street, Avenida Amazonas, within the district of Mariscal Sucre.  All guest rooms at Mercure Hotel Alameda feature a satellite TV and an en suite bathroom with a bathtub. In addition, the bedrooms all have WiFi connectivity, free bottled water and a safety-deposit box.  The property starts breakfast service at 06:00 and offers a coffee station throughout the morning. Restaurant Spicy is the hotel’s elegant dining establishment, serving a varied menu of local and international cuisine. A French bakery is also available. There are also many restaurants within a few minutes’ walk of the hotel.

Spa Ecuador 2Day 8  01 March, 2019   Quito  A full day at leisure.  You can explore the city in your own or join the the different optional activities  from Quito as a day tour  such as Otavalo market the largest in South Amarica, Cotopaxi Volcano excursion, Quilotoa crater lake excursion or Mindo tropical rainforest .  These excursions and more are available for booking at your expense from the hotel.

Galapagos LaLoberiaDay 9 02 March, 2019   Quito – Galapagos San Cristobal  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 board a morning flight from Quito to the island of San Cristóbal. Once arrived, we have a transfer to the hotel in the town of Puerto Moreno and a short briefing about the next days, before the adventure begins.
In the afternoon we head to “La Loberia”, which is both home beach and nursery for large Galapagos sea lions. We can spot them launching over rocks or just lazily dozing in the sand. We also get to see yellow warbler birds, frigate birds, and several species of Darwin finches along the beach. In-between the rocks we can find marine iguanas, which are only found in the Galapagos. We also have the time to go for a refreshing swim, explore the waters with our snorkel equipment and enjoy the beach.  Breakfast included
Accommodation: Hotel Blue Marlin (or similar) – 2 nights
Located just 300 m from the seafront promenade in San Cristóbal, Galapagos, Hotel Blue Marlin offers an outdoor pool and hot tub, free WiFi and spacious air-conditioned rooms with garden views.    Each functional room at the Blue Marlin will provide you with a minibar and a TV with cable channels. The private bathrooms come with free toiletries.  This small hotel has 24-hour reception and offers personalised attention to its guests. Cafés, restaurants and a market can be found within a 2-minute walk of Hotel Blue Marlin, while the beach is a 15-minute walk away.

 Galapagos blue footed boobieDay 10   03 March, 2019  Kicker Rock – San Cristobal   After breakfast, we will take a speed boat to Kicker Rock,  known as the Sleeping Lion (Leon Dormido) because of its resemblance. This site is located off the coast of San Cristobal. The remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea, two vertical rocks rising 500 feet above the ocean, form a small channel that is navigable by small boats. This Galapagos Islands natural monument has become a favorite sight due to the many tropicbirds, frigate birds and boobies that fill the sky in this area. Beneath the sea, the crystal waters offer a brilliant show of colorful tropical fish, such as rainbow fish, and sharks, like hammerhead-, reef- and white tip sharks. After lunch, we visit Sea Lions Island (Isla de Los Lobos). This appropriately named island is ripe with noisy, frolicking, jolly sea lions who will welcome us to their home with open fins. This island also offers great snorkeling opportunities as well as the chance to see blue-footed and Nazca boobies.  Breakfast and box lunch included

Galapagos flamingoDay 11   04 March, 2019  San Cristobal  –  Isabela Island   After breakfast,  we take a short flight to Isabela Island, 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.

In the afternoon, we explore the incredible ecosystem and wildlife of the island, enjoying great views of flamingos and marine iguanas in the salt water lagoons, white sand beaches and mangrove forests. This area is filled with birdlife, including American oyster catchers, herons, flamingos, finches and many shore birds, as well as the ubiquitous sea lions and marine iguanas.

Galapagos tortoise breedingOne of the highlights of today is the Tortoise Breeding Centre, where we will see the giant tortoises in the various stages of development, from eggs to small hatchlings, to juveniles to sub adults. We will also visit the Wall of Tears, a massive wall built with lava rocks. This site dates back to the ’50s, when Isabela was used as a penal colony and prisoners were forced to build the wall to keep them from going mad, because of the isolation they experienced.    After dinner we can enjoy a breath-taking sunset on the beach of Puerto Villamil.   Breakfast included

Ecuador Cormorant Beach HouseAccommodation: Cormorant Beach House (or similar) – 3 nights    Right in front of Puerto Villamil beach, Cormorant Beach House offers rooms with sea views. The town centre is 100 m away.   Rooms at Cormorant Beach House boast panoramic views of the sea.  Guests can enjoy splendid sunrises over the ocean and take a stroll along the beach as the sun sets.

Galapagos penguin

Day 12  05 March, 2019   Tintoreras – Isabela Island    Today we will visit Tintoreras Islet, located at a short distance from Puerto Villamil and home to a great variety of wildlife. We will have a fantastic snorkeling experience in its turquoise, crystalline waters, inhabited by white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos Penguins (the only penguin in the northern hemisphere), marine turtles and sea lions.

Later, we will take a walk to explore the islet beaches, surrounded by mangroves. This is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully.    Breakfast and box lunch included

Galapagos lava tunnels

Day 13   06 March, 2019    Lava Tunnels – Isabela Island   Today, we 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.

After the trip, you can enjoy some optional activities such as snorkeling at “Concha de Perla”, taking surfing lessons or just relax on the exotic white-sand beaches of Isabela Island.  Breakfast and box lunch included

Galapagos Puerto Ayora

Day 14  07 March, 2019   Isabela –  Santa Cruz     After  breakfast this morning we embark on a fast boat from Isabela to Santa Cruz Island and 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.   Remainder of day is at leisure.

Puerto Ayora, located on the southern end of Isla Santa Cruz, is the largest town and most visited place in the Galapagos Islands. The hub of most activity in the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora is a charming, bustling port town where sea, sun, seabirds and sailboats coexist in happy equilibrium.
Accommodation:  Silberstein Hotel Santa Cruz  (or similar)  2 nights     A landscaped swimming pool lined with red tiles and a charming wooden bridge surrounded by colonial style balconies can be enjoyed. Wi-Fi is free and all rooms have garden views.   At Hotel Silberstein guests are a 20-minute walk from German Beach. Massage sessions can be booked and guests can enjoy tropical cocktails in the bar overlooking the pool.   Rooms are equipped with air conditioning and styled with white walls, wooden beams and flowery bedspreads. Silberstein is set in Puerto Ayora, home of Galapagos National Park. The tour desk can advise on local attractions and arrange bicycle rental.  Charles Darwin Station is 1 km away.

Galapagos Tortuga Bay 2Day 15  08 March, 2019    Santa Cruz Island
Today, you can experience the Galapagos at your pace! As an option, you can go on a self-guided exploration walk through a dry forest to Tortuga Bay (about 3 ½ miles long), a beautiful white sand beach and nesting side to thousands of marine turtles. This beautiful place is perfect for swimming or snorkelling. Alternatively, you can join any of the optional activities (at an extra cost), such as a trip to Floreana Island, Bartolome Island or a scuba-diving day trip, just to mention a few.


Galapagos sealionDay 16  09 March, 2019    Santa Cruz – Baltra – Quito

After our final breakfast on the Galapagos Island and the last photos taken of sea lions, we have a transfer to Baltra’s airport in time to catch the flight back to the mainland.
Accommodation: Wyndham Airport Hotel (or similar) overnight

Day 17   10 March, 2019  Departure     Sadly, our tour ends after breakfast this morning.   We would be happy to assist with your onward travel arrangements.

Tour cost  $AU12290 includes:

  • *Services of an Australian tour escort from arrival into Guayaquil until departure from Quito (subject to minimum group size of 12)
  • Services of local English speaking guides
  • Accommodation in SINGLE room with private facilities throughout
  • Transportation on board Tren Crucero
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • All meals during the Tren Crucero itinerary including snacks and soft drinks on the train
  • English speaking guide on the train
  • Luggage porterage at hotels during Tren Crucero itinerary
  • Breakfast daily and other meals as per itinerary
  • Economy class airfare Quito – Galapagos – Quito
  • One way flight San Cristobal – Isabela,
  • Sea transportation Santa Cruz – Isabela island
  • Papallacta hot springs
  • Guango Hummingbird Sanctuary
  • Snorkeling at Kicker Rock and Isla de los Lobos
  • Tortoise breeding centre and flamingo lagoon in Isabela Island
  • Snorkeling in Tintoreras and Lava Tunnels
  • Wall of Tears
  • Charles Darwin Research Station
  • Hiking in Santa Cruz highlands
  • Snorkeling mask and fins, life vest provided for snorkelling tours
  • Fees to the Galapagos
    . National Park fee
    . Ingala transit control card
    . Isabela Fee
Tour cost does not include:
  • International airline tickets and air ticket taxes
  • Meals other than specified in itinerary
  • Alcoholic drinks (wine, beer and whisky are available on the train at the bar)
  • Meals or visits not detailed on the itinerary
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Transfers at any time that differs from main group arrangements
  • Anything not stated in ‘inclusions’

 

Please note:   This tour involves services which are settled in a number of currencies and the exchange rate has been calculated on rates current at the time of uploading this tour onto our website.  

Should there be a fluctuation of exchange rates of more than 3% from this time to the time we receive payment, we reserve the right to pass on an exchange rate surcharge.

   To contact us for reservations or enquiries:

Destination World Travel

PO Box 2040

South Plympton    South Australia   5038      Australia

Phone:  08-8293-6988   Outside of Australia 61-8-8293-6988

Email:  destinationworld@internode.on.net

                     

To contact us for reservations or enquiries:

Destination World Travel

PO Box 2040

South Plympton    South Australia   5038      Australia

Phone:  08-8293-6988   Outside of Australia 61-8-8293-6988

Fax:  08-8293-5988        Outside of Australia 61-8-8293-5988

Email:  destinationworld@internode.on.net