If it is exotic wildlife you seek, this holiday to Ecuador will constantly keep you on your toes! Though small in size, this South American country offers a plethora of natural wonders to behold.
Your adventure starts off in the capital, Quito, where you will discover a charming city. Then, you will venture through the Ecuadorian Amazon where you will encounter monkeys, birds and reptiles. From there, the next stop is the Galapagos, which fascinates by its unique landscape and endemic species. Prepare to swim with seals, observe blue-footed boobies and admire giant tortoises.
Day 1: Arrive Quito
One of the highest cities in the world, Ecuador’s capital Quito stands at 2,850 metres and is surrounded by volcanoes. Its old town is full of quaint cobbled streets and 16th century colonial architecture, and there are plenty of activities to do both within the city and on its outskirts.
Stay: Plaza Andaluz
Day 2: Quito
Spend the morning walking along the cobbled streets of Quito’s colonial centre with your private guide.
Stay: Plaza Andaluz
Day 3: From Quito to the Amazon
Travel south of Quito along the Avenue of Volcanoes to the lowlands of the Amazon basin, where you take a small aircraft to Huaorani Territory where you spend the next four nights. Travel to the lodge by dugout canoe and upon arrival you will take a short discovery walk through the jungle. Huaorani Lodge is a simple and cosy home for the coming days with the emphasis very much on the unique experience of spending time with one of the most respective tribes in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Stay: Huaorani Lodge
Day 4 - 5: The Amazon
Spend these two days exploring the jungle with your guide and the local Huaorani tribe to understand their way of life in this unique environment. Learn survival and hunting techniques, kayak, hike through the jungle and look out for wildlife including birds, monkeys, reptiles and the insects to fully enhance your experience of the Amazon from a cultural and wildlife perspective.
Stay: Huaorani Lodge
Day 6: From Huaroani Lodge to Nenquepare
Today you will make your way down the Shiripuno River in traditional Huaorani style canoe, taking the opportunity to look out for the wildlife along the river bank. The perfect opportunity to reflect on the past few days of your journey or perhaps pick up some Huaorani vocabulary. Stop at the Apaika community, a Huaorani community found inside the Yame Reserve, a huge 55,000 hectare, protected area managed by the Huaorani Association, an organization that leads ecotourism efforts in Huaorani territory. After leaving Apaika, the next stop is the small Huaorani village of Nenquepare where you will spend the night camping out at a well-constructed and comfortable campsite that is part of a community initiative.
Stay: Camping in Nenquepare
Day 7: From Nenkepare to Quito
Hike a community trail to see an impressive tropical waterfall after breakfast, before making the journey back to Quito. Drive along the infamous Auca Road while your guides tell you about how oil exploration has affected their lands. The road was built by oil companies in the early 1970s to search for oil on Huaorani lands, and ‘Auca’ is the name given to them meaning ‘fierce’ or ‘savage’. As you drive along the road, you will notice the stark difference between intact rainforest and deforestation that occurs when roads are carved out of the surrounding jungle. Parallel to the road are pipelines that go from the Huaorani community of Tihuino up to Lago Agrio (the oil hub of eastern Ecuador) before oil is pumped across the Andes to the Pacific. This part of your tour illustrates the reality of the threats facing the rainforest and the Huaorani people as much of the road passes through land that was formerly forested and inhabited by Huaorani peoples. It will also help you realize why your visit to Huaorani Lodge was so important! Fly from Coca to Quito where you spend the night.
Stay: Plaza Andaluz
Day 8: Quito to Galapagos
Fly to Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos before transferring by speedboat to Isabela Island where you will spend the next two nights. In the afternoon, walk from the hotel to the local giant tortoise breeding centre, hopefully catching a glimpse of pink flamingos feeding on the lake along the way. Once at the centre, learn about the process of breeding and then releasing these gentle giants into the wild. The centre is an important conservation tool and because of it the islands’ giant tortoise population is presently recovering.
Stay: Albermarle Hotel
Day 9: Galapagos – Tintoreras & Wetlands Trail
Today you will be taken to Tintoneras, a group of small islands named after the white-tipped reef sharks that swim in the calm waters. The Tintoreras is a miniature Galapagos where you will see almost all of the archipelago’s iconic wildlife: white-tipped sharks, sea lions, turtles, rays, penguins, and of course pelicans and blue footed boobies. You can snorkel in the bay, and don’t be surprised if some of the penguins or sea lions jump in to play alongside you in the water!
In the afternoon take the wetlands trail through the mangroves where you will see marine iguana colonies as well as the network of trails, beaches and historic sites. At the end of the trail is the Wall of Tears, built in the late 1940’s by Second World War prisoners held at the US base on the islands. Your guide will explain the importance of the Wall, giving a glimpse into the lives of the island’s previous inhabitants. On this network of trails you will catch views of the village below and see a number of birds and, with luck, some wild giant tortoises.
Stay: Albermale Hotel
Day 10: Galapagos – Isabela Island to Santa Cruz Island
Early this morning, take a shared boat back to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island where you will have a hearty breakfast to prepare you for your day of multi-sport activities in the Highlands! Drive to an off-the-beaten-track area of the island – a high point being where you jump on mountain bikes for a long downhill ride along newly paved roads to Garrapatero Beach. Once there, pick up your sea kayaks for a paddle in the bay looking out for sharks, rays, sea turtles and sea birds.
Stay: Villa Laguna
Day 11: Galapagos – Quito
Fly back to Quito to connect on to your evening flight home.
|Day 1:||Arrive Quito||Plaza Andaluz|
|Day 2:||Quito||Plaza Andaluz|
|Day 3:||From Quito to the Amazon||Huaorani Lodge|
|Day 4 - 5:||The Amazon||Huaorani Lodge|
|Day 6:||From Huaroani Lodge to Nenquepare||Camping in Nenquepare|
|Day 7:||From Nenkepare to Quito||Plaza Andaluz|
|Day 8:||Quito to Galapagos||Albermarle Hotel|
|Day 9:||Galapagos – Tintoreras & Wetlands Trail||Albermale Hotel|
|Day 10:||Galapagos – Isabela Island to Santa Cruz Island||Villa Laguna|
|Day 11:||Galapagos – Quito|
- Accommodations with daily breakfast
- All meals in Amazon and Galapagos
- Excursions in Amazon and Galapagos on a shared basis
- Private tour of Quito
- All transfers and domestic flights
- International airfare
- Visas (if applicable)
- Galapagos National Park and immigration fees not included
- Tips & gratuities
- Personal expenses
- Travel insurance (please note that this is compulsory for all Lightfoot Travel holidays)
From USD 5,195 per person based on two guests travelling
Notes on our prices
- This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
- Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
- Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
- This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant