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Quito, Cloud Forest and Galapagos

  • Quito, Cloud Forest and Galapagos

  • Quito, Cloud Forest and Galapagos

  • Quito, Cloud Forest and Galapagos

Quito, Cloud Forest and Galapagos

12 nights visiting Quito, Mashpi Lodge in the cloud forest, and Galapagos.

Day 01 – Quito (-/-/-)

  • Upon arrival private transfer from the airport to Hotel in Quito (private English speaking guide)
  • Overnight in Quito

Day 02 – Quito / Mashpi Lodge (B/L/D)

  • Pass the Equator Monument / short break at the viewpoint of the Pululahua Crater / Visit archaeological site-museum of Tulipe / afternoon activities

Day 03 – Mashpi Lodge (B/L/D)

  • Early morning activities / trails / Observation tower

Day 04 – Mashpi Lodge / Quito (B/L/D)

  • Sky bike
  • Overnight in Quito

Day 05 – Quito /  Baltra / North Seymour (B/-/-)

  • Friday: AM Arrival / PM visit North Seymour, welcome cocktail, lecture.
  • Overnight on board Yacht La Pinta

Day 06 – Isabela / Fernandina (B/L/D)

  • Saturday: AM Punta Vicente Roca: Snorkelling, panga ride / PM Punta Espinoza: Walk.
  • Overnight on board Yacht La Pinta

Day 07 – Isabela (B/L/D) 

  • Sunday: AM Urbina Bay: Walk / PM Tagus Cove: Walk, snorkelling, panga ride and glass bottom boat.
  • Overnight on board Yacht La Pinta

Day 08 – Rabida / Santa Cruz (B/L/D)  

  • Monday: AM Rabida: Walk, snorkelling, glass-bottom boat / PM Cerro Dragon: Walk
  • Overnight on board Yacht La Pinta

Day 09 – Santa Cruz (B/L/D) 

  • Tuesday: AM Charles Darwin Research Station: Walk / PM Highlands: Walk.
  • Overnight on board Yacht La Pinta

Day 10 – Floreana (B/L/D ) 

  • Wednesday: AM Post Office Bay: Walk, snorkelling / PM Punta Cormorant & Champion Islet: Walk, snorkelling, kayaking.
  • Overnight on board Yacht La Pinta

Day 11 – Santa Fe / South Plaza (B/L/D)   

  • Thursday: AM Santa Fe: Walk, swimming, snorkelling, panga ride / PM South Plaza: Walk.
  • Overnight on board Yacht La Pinta

Day 12 – San Cristobal / Quito (B/-/-)

  • Friday: AM Transfer out to the airport
  • Flight back to Quito
  • Upon arrival private transfer from the airport to Hotel in Quito (private English speaking guide)
  • Overnight in Quito

Day 13 Quito (B/-/-)  

  • Private transfer from Hotel to airport in Quito (private English speaking guide) for international flight.

Special Remarks:
B: Breakfast / L: Lunch / BL: Box Lunch / D: Dinner

Day 01 – Quito (-/-/-)

Welcome to Quito and Ecuador!. At the airport you will be greeted by a member of our organization, we will escort you all the way to your hotel, giving you a short briefing about Quito and the country in general with valuable information you need to know. Enjoy scenic colonial and artistic Quito, visit museums, monasteries and the golden altars of its many churches. Stand with a foot on each hemisphere on the Middle of the World memorial. The capital of Ecuador has a setting that few cities in the world can match.  During the 13th century it was the prosperous center of the Kingdom of Quitus. It later became the northern capital of the Inca Empire. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Colonial architects built formidable temples, monasteries and mansions, creating an urban jewel designated by UNESCO/UN as a World Cultural Heritage Site.  Quitos artistic creativity awaits the visitor in cosmopolitan galleries and boutiques filled with contemporary paintings, sculptures and exquisite traditional crafts.

Quito airport is located about one and half hours from Quito depending on traffic conditions, please make sure you do not leave anything behind.

Upon arrival into Quito International Airport, you will be met by our representative and will be transferred to your hotel. Private transportation and guide, handling of two pieces of luggage per person at the airport and the hotel)

Overnight in Quito. Casa Gangotena. Luxury room.

Day 02 – Quito / Mashpi Lodge (B/L/D)

Departure is 07:30 to 08:00am from the main hotels in Quito Casa Gangotena, Hilton Colon, Swissotel, JW Marriott, Le Parc/Dann Carlton, Sheraton.

We take the highway north of Quito, passing the Equator Monument and Latitude 0. Climbing up to the western pass, we detour for a short break at the viewpoint of the Pululahua Crater, a dormant volcano. From here on, it’s downhill towards the Pacific Ocean, turning off the main highway onto rural roads about 30 minutes after this stop.
About two hours after leaving Quito, we reach the archaeological site-museum of Tulipe, where we stop to explore the grounds and learn about the Yumbo people who created the waterpools and structures here.

About an hour and a half later, we arrive at the entrance to the Mashpi Reserve which extends over the surrounding 3,212 acres (1,300 hectares) – a haven for wildlife and biodiversity – and then continue to the Lodge itself, arriving at between 12 and 12.30pm.

Here guests are welcomed with a refreshing drink and checked in to their rooms.
According to arrival time, guests will meet their Naturalist Guides for a short briefing about the reserve and activities.  Lunch is served soon after, followed by a short time to relax.

After lunch, the afternoon’s activities begin (please see options detailed below). These will depend on factors such as group size, physical abilities and weather conditions.

Optional night walks head out from the hotel following dinner (these excursions can be taken any night of the package).

Day 03 – Mashpi Lodge (B/L/D)

For those who want to enjoy the beauty and magic of dawn in the forest – which is when most birds are active and calling, as well as when views are often most spectacular – early morning activities are organised before breakfast.

Following breakfast, we head out from the lodge to explore, returning for lunch and a rest, before enjoying an afternoon amid Nature, then dinner, night walks and sleep.

Day 04 – Mashpi Lodge / Quito( B / L / D )

On the last day, there’s an early breakfast, followed by a morning activity. Guests return to the lodge and check out. An early lunch is served before departure at 1.30pm. We then drive back eastwards, winding our way up the Andes towards the capital, arriving at Quito hotels between 4 and 5 pm (depending on traffic, location and number of passengers).

ACTIVITIES:

Canopy Gondola *Coming soon
The highlight of anyone’s trip to Mashpi is the ‘canopy gondola’, or aerial tram. The two gondolas on the system will glide guests through and above the forest canopy on an exciting exploration of the Reserve’s ecosystem. The gondola cable system extends over 1,25 miles (2 km) between two end/boarding stations, with one tower in the middle for possible embarking and disembarking.

On the way out, it will travel dramatically above the trees’ upper canopy and on the way back through the forest understory, at a very slow pace. Each way takes about 35 minutes to complete. The canopy gondola’s route enables guests to explore different areas of the Reserve as well as appreciating the trees’ ecosystem from root to tip, creating a complete vision of the various life-zones and types of forest.

The first time guests board the system, they will enjoy a round-trip journey of discovery, taking around two and a half hours in all to complete. The system can then also be used by guests to combine hikes of varying difficulty with travel by gondola. On return journeys following a hike, if the other gondola is empty, guides can stop if the group spots a creature in the forest, enabling exciting, prolonged observation of plant and animal life.
The gondola carries six guests, plus their Naturalist Guide. It is roofed, with rotating seats, safety rails and places to hang day-packs.

Trails
As you enter the realm of the rainforests, you will become aware of Life at every step: mushrooms and “fox fire” fungi below, tree trunks festooned with orchids, lichens and mosses, giant ferns reaching up to the light above, coiling vines, swirling mists and clouds of moisture. And then, from nowhere, comes the sound of rushing water, a waterfall amid this glistening, green world, where you can wade through rivers, walk along their banks, revive your senses…

The two main trails are the Howler Monkey and Cucharillo (named after an oak). Both link up with the Tower #5 of the canopy gondola system. Along the trails, guests will learn more from both their Naturalist Guide and Local Guide about the myriad plants, insects and animals that inhabit this biodiverse universe. The guides will enthusiastically share their knowledge of their characteristics, behaviour and uses.

Due to Mashpi’s mountainous topography, trails are rarely flat. The Howler Monkey (mainly primary forest) and Cucharillo (mainly secondary), although short – 1,25 miles and 2296 feet, respectively – are steep. The trails’ steepness is an advantage since the hillsides enable more light to penetrate the forest, thereby increasing the diversity of plants and animals that one can observe at each stratum. Both trails have been specially adapted to make walking easier, using embedded recycled plastic crates to create steps and firm paths.

The way back uphill on both these trails can be aboard the gondola, reached by wading through the shallow river in rubber boots, and walking the connecting trail to the Cotinga Tower.  

Life Center
Close to the lodge, the center is conceived as a place for learning and discovery, but also where guests can disconnect, where they can contemplate the views, sit in comfortable chairs, read a book, enjoy a fresh cane juice.

Guests will learn more about the butterflies that inhabit the region, being shown the process of these creatures from eggs to pupae to chrysalis to winged wonder. Some 200 species of butterfly have been identified to date in the Reserve, with nearly a dozen observable at the Center. Other points of learning dozens of species of orchids, bromeliads and passion flowers all around the structure.

Close to the Center, we have established an area for growing medicinal plants (ideal for a reviving herbal infusion) and beyond, many varieties of bushes and fruit trees, including banana and plantain, manioc, cacao, tobacco, coffee, bread fruit and heart of palm. These attract all sorts of wildlife, from birds to rodents to mammals – making for easier observation from the comfort of the Center’s expansive wooden deck. Most of the interpretation at the Center will be imparted by local guides or people involved with the project from local communities. Guests will find ingredients from these gardens in the dishes prepared back at the lodge.

Observation Tower
There are few easier or better ways to appreciate the beauty of the Mashpi Reserve’s forest and hills than climbing the Observation Tower. Here, guests are able to enjoy an exciting bird’s-eye view and the dramatic panoramas that surround the lodge from the observation tower. This is a metallic structure, with a staircase that climbs to about eight-stories high (26 m or 85 ft.), ideal for wildlife observation, particularly at dawn or dusk. Species that can be spotted here include toucans, woodpeckers, barbets, tanagers and parrots as well as raptors. The tower lies a 10-minute walk from the lodge.

Night walks
The Mashpi forest is transformed at night, with far more activity than during the day. Optional night walks will head out from the hotel after dinner to discover its nocturnal creatures and their behaviours, ranging from moths as big as your hand, to miniature glass and tree frogs, croaking toads, birds, owls, rodents and mammals, and even fox fire, an Avatar-like luminous fungus. It’s a magical world, often astounding at the micro level, and seldom explored, ready to be discovered in expert company.

Sky Bike
Located close to the hotel, the sky bike makes for an original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designed for two people to use at once, one person pedals the bike along a cable stretched between two points in the forest, around 655 feet (200 m) apart, crossing a gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Silent, easy-to-use and fun, it’s an activity for children over 8 years-old accompanied by an adult, providing guests with another chance to observe the natural world close to the lodge and even spot its denizens.

Hummingbird Viewpoint
The forests of Mashpi boast 22 hummingbird species identified to date, inhabiting different specific altitudes, with around 16 species alone observable by guests. In order to make it easier to see these amazing creatures, a shelter with seating provides the ideal setting, feeders for the birds strung from its roof. The site is located at a natural viewpoint, which, on clear days, provides breathtaking views of the Reserve’s forested hills.

Refreshing waterfalls
Water is key to life in Mashpi, and there’s nothing like a refreshing dip at the end of a walk. Several rivers cross the Mashpi Reserve close to the hotel, many forming beautiful small waterfalls, cascades and pools. The water temperature is between 64 and 68 °F  (18 – 20°C).

Leks
Leks are places where certain bird species gather to take part in fascinating and often elaborate displays to seduce females. One has to imagine them like the bird equivalent of a youth-club disco. Males, often brightly coloured, engage in vocal, mechanic and choreographic “performances”. They provide an incredible opportunity for us to view certain species, capitalising on their regular schedules which allow us not only to know where but when they will display.

We have found four leks to date: two of the Long-Wattled Umbrellabird, (Cephalopterus Penduliger), one of the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruviana) and one of the Club-Winged Manakin (Machaeropterus deliciosus). These leks can be visited but require very early starts in some cases and long strenuous walks in others.

Specialist Activities
Mashpi is an exciting place for photography and botany (particularly orchids) in general. Special interests can be accommodated upon request.
Overnight in Quito. Casa Gangotena. Luxury room.

Day 05 – Quito / Baltra / North Seymour (B/-/-)

Baltra Island
Our adventure begins with a morning flight to Baltra Island and immediate transfer to the dock to board Yacht La Pinta.  There’s a welcome introductory briefing, boat drill, cabin assignment and then lunch.

North Seymour Island
Following an afternoon disembarkation, we enjoy a walk along the coast and the interior of the beautiful flat island, observing numerous bird colonies as well as sea lions and land iguanas. There are opportunities for coastal exploration by dinghy. Evening briefing, welcome cocktail and dinner.

Day 06 – Isabela / Fernandina (B/L/D)

Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela Island)
Since there is no landing site at this location, the coastal exploration is by dinghy, while the naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area, with remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. There is abundant wildlife and, depending on the conditions of the ocean, we’ll be able to snorkel along the cliffs, hopefully in the company of green sea turtles.

Punta Espinoza (Fernandina Island)
In the afternoon, we visit the youngest and most pristine island of the archipelago, Fernandina, one of many people’s all-time favourites. Punta Espinoza has an amazing combination of barrenness and abundant wildlife. Highlights include hawks, penguins, the flightless cormorant and astounding views of the surrounding volcanic landscapes.

Day 07 – Isabela (B/L/D)

Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)
After breakfast, we disembark at Urbina Bay, on the western side of Isabela Island, the result of an uplifting of the ocean floor. Here you can find corals, shells, and large and very colorful Galapagos land iguanas, giant tortoises (occasionally). Navigating the Bolivar Channel, there are good chances of spotting species of whales.

Tagus Cove (Isabela Island)
On the northwest of Isabela, secluded Tagus Cove provided a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries, and today makes a great visitor site. An uphill hike takes us to the back of Darwin Crater, filled with salt water.  We can snorkel or ride kayaks amid the dramatic landscape before our hike.

Day 08 – Rabida / Santa Cruz (B/L/D)

Rabida Island  
In the morning, we disembark at Rabida Island’s red-colored beach. A stroll along the beach allows us to observe marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach. For those non-snorkelers, we can ride our glass-bottom boat for a submarine exploration.

Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) (Santa Cruz Island)
The north shore of Santa Cruz hosts the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill). Our walk includes circling a brackish water lagoon frequented by lagoon birds, while further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as the chance of observing land iguanas.

Day 09 – Santa Cruz (B/L/D)

The morning visit heads to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. A delicious lunch is served at the poolside of the Finch Bay Eco Hotel.

Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
After lunch, we wind up to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island by vehicle.  This is a great place to look for the brilliant Vermilion Flycatcher and the endemic Scalesia trees.  From December to mid-April and July to December a visit to observe giant tortoises in the wild may be included, if weather conditions are good.

Day 10 – Floreana (B/L/D)

Post Office Bay/Punta Cormorant (Floreana Island)
After breakfast, we land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries. Panga rides along the maze of channels on Floreana’s north shore can also be enjoyed. There’s great snorkelling from the beach as well.

Champion Islet & Punta Cormorant (Floreana Island)
Before disembarking at Punta Cormorant we can snorkel or ride our glass-bottom boat along the coast of an extinct cone called “Champion Islet”.
Our visit to Punta Cormorant takes in an olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk by a brackish water lagoon where bird species like greater flamingos may be observed. On the other side of the island, we come to a white-sand beach where sea turtles come out at night to nest.

Day 11 - Santa Fe / South Plaza (B/L/D)

Santa Fe Island
We take the dinghy over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by colonies of sea lions. Galapagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the walk. Following the walk, we can snorkel and swim along a natural wave barrier.

South Plaza Island
The turquoise waters of the channel here contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline, while a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus beyond, populated by yellow-gray land iguanas. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while sea birds play with the thermals that form along the cliffs of this small but amazing island.

Day 12 - San Cristobal / Quito (B/-/-)

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal Island)
After breakfast, we depart for the port and airport for our flight back to the mainland.

Notes

  • Please remember that the exact route and programme may vary according to weather and ocean conditions and the wildlife we encounter. It’s also subject to change without previous notice due mainly to readjustment of the National Park policies and regulations.
  • Dry landing: guests step from the dinghy onto rocks or a dock.
  • Wet landing: as the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into around 8 inches (20 cm) of water and wade ashore.

Recommendations

  • All your luggage will be sent on board the ship straight to your cabin.

PACKING CHECK LIST:

  • 1 Small backpack
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sneakers with rubber soles
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • T-shirts
  • Long and Short sleeved shirts
  • Wind breaker
  • Bathing suit -wetsuit for snorkelling in cold months
  • Hat or cap
  • Toilette kit (biodegradable shampoo please)
  • Sun block
  • Sunglasses and strap
  • Binoculars
  • Camera, underwater camera & camcorder
  • Any medicine you may be taking
  • Book/ Notebook

Upon arrival into Quito International Airport, you will be met by our representative and will be transferred to your hotel. Private transportation and guide, handling of two pieces of luggage per person at the airport and the hotel)

Overnight in Quito. Casa Gangotena. Luxury room.

Day 13 - Quito (B/-/-)
Private transfer back to the airport fir international flight.
PRICES PER PERSON IN DOUBLE ACCOMMODATION
Area Hotel / Ship Room / Cabin (*)
Quito Casa Gangotena Luxury room
Cloud Forest Mashpi Lodge Wayra room
Galapagos Yacht La Pinta Deluxe cabin
For pricing, please contact us.
(*): Other types available with a supplement

NOTES

  • For Christmas and New Year peak season surcharge applies.

EXCLUSIONS

  • International air fares
  • Meals or any other item not described in the itinerary
  • Early check-in, late check-out, services and non-mentioned meals in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses
  • Drinks during meals, hotel extras and personal spending
  • Tips for hotel staff

Recommended Tour

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