The quaint colonial streets, temples, monasteries and mansions of the old Inca capital of Quito, and the bustling life of Otavalo’s local market reveal the soul of the country, whilst the teeming birdlife of the Amazon Basin presents you with its natural history.
But the story of evolution itself awaits you in the Galapagos Islands – inspired by the region’s uniquely-developed giant land tortoises, comical penguins, flamingos, masked boobies, waved albatrosses, frigate birds and great sea lion colonies. See them for yourself from the teak deck of an elegant schooner named after The Beagle – Charles Darwin’s own ship of discovery.
Take a one hour flight to Coca where you’ll embark on a fascinating motorised canoe cruise along the Rio Napo, including creek exploration in a small dugout. And that’s just the beginning.
From your jungle lodge you can take day and night hikes along jungle trails to see some of the area’s 500 species of birds – including zigzag herons, toucans, jacamars, tanagers, hummingbirds and around 20 different types of parrot.
Kayak trips on the lagoon and tours of the lodge’s butterfly breeding farm complete your Amazon Basin experience.
Stay: Three nights in a superior/scenic or family suite in La Selva Jungle Lodge.
Today you return to the airport for a quick hop back to Quito where you’ll be met and taken to a luxurious, restored 17th century hacienda, with extensive gardens – home to over 50 species of birds.
You’ll be able to wander along walking trails, discover picturesque hills and mountains, go horse riding or mountain biking, play squash and take excursions to traditional villages specialising in weaving, leather work, hat making and wood carving – or take a trip into Otavalo’s colourful local market.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Hacienda Cusin.
Now you have a little more time to roam around the ancient city of Quito – once the northern capital of the Inca Empire. An afternoon tour will reveal the city’s wealth of colonial architecture, grand temples, monasteries and impressive mansions.
Not to mention Quito’s cosmopolitan galleries and boutiques. Small wonder the city has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
Stay: One night in a standard room in Hotel Patio Andaluz.
Cruising around the Galapagos Islands aboard a 105 foot, teak-decked schooner. Named after Darwin’s Beagle, this simply has to be the highlight of any tour of Ecuador.
You can choose to sail to the Northwest Islands of Baltra/Las Bachs, Tower, James, Fernandina and Isabela. Or the South & Eastern Islands of Baltra, Floreana, Hood, San Cristobal, Santa Fe/South Plazas, North Seymour/Bartoleme and Chine Hat/Blue Turtle Cove. Whichever route you choose you’ll see the phenomenal wildlife that inspired the ground-breaking Theory of Evolution.
Stay: Seven nights in a twin or double cabin aboard The Beagle – a graceful motorised schooner.
Baltra – Guayaquil – Madrid – Home
Your Galapagos cruise ends at Baltra, where you’ll be taken to Guayaquil Airport for your flight home.