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Galapagos & Amazon

Explore the mega-biodiversity of Ecuador's wildlife havens on a Galapagos and Amazon jungle tour.

Itinerary & Prices

15 Day / 14 Night - Galapagos & Amazon
itinerary map

Cuicocha Lake and Cotacachi

We take a drive to the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve and embark on a short stroll through the reserve until the welcome center where we learn all about the flora and fauna of the area. We venture on to the beautiful Cuicocha lagoon, which was formed when an ancient volcano collapsed and formed a caldera. The result is a deep-blue crater lake on the lower southern flanks of Mount Cotacachi which makes for spectacular viewing, the diameter of its crater is about 3km, and the lake some 180 meters deep.

One of the unique aspects of this lake is the two islets in the middle of the lagoon which collapsed in from the sides of the caldera, leaving two spectacular islands right in the center of the lake. Its name comes from the Kichwa indigenous language and means “Lago del Cuy” or Guinea Pig Laguna in English. It was given this name due to the guinea pig shape of the largest Island in the middle of the laguna which you can see quite clearly from the viewing point. After the hike, we will stop at the picturesque colonial town of Cotacachi, famous for its leatherwork. Here you will find a great variety of stores with top-quality leather articles.

At lunch, we visit the town of Agato to learn more about the local community and their lifestyle and culture where we are privileged enough to be hosted by a local family with whom we enjoy a traditional lunch made with traditional ingredients. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to see how the family produce handicrafts in the same exact manner that their ancestors have for centuries, using a back loom to weave intricate designs. This hand-woven technique produces products of outstanding delicacy and the end result is unique artisan products, the likes of which no machine or factory is able to replicate.

Meals (B, L, D)

Quito Colonial Building
Location
Quito to Otavalo
Day
1 / 15

Visiting Otavalo Market

Today we visit the town of Otavalo, known throughout South America for its enormous and colorful market, and one of the most interesting towns in Ecuador. Still heavily populated by the local  Kichwa indigenous culture, the roots and modern development of the local community can be clearly seen. Here our guide gives you some history of the town, the people, and the market before allowing you to explore in-depth the market. Be sure to keep an eye out not only for the fine fabrics and clothing but also the traditional wooden carvings particular to this area of Ecuador. To help you finds your way around we provide you with a map of the market so you can be sure not to miss anything.

The market sellers adopt a bargaining stance, so do remember to practice your negotiation skills when buying handicrafts. The market itself, known colloquially as “Poncho Plaza”, is situated at the foot of the majestic Mt. Imbabura and once on the outskirts do take a moment to appreciate the striking surrounding landscape.

Meals (B, L, D)

Andean Weaver with Loom multi colored fabrics
Location
Otavalo
Day
2 / 15

Raptor Rescue Center - Parque Cóndor

After a delicious breakfast, we embark on a picturesque trip and a destination with a difference. Condor Park is a rescue center for local avian species, acting as an education and rehabilitation center for wounded birds. Whilst the impressive Andean Condor, with its eight-foot wingspan, is the bird that gives this park its name, the park is host to a whole array of other avian species, particularly raptors, and acts as something of a mini zoo. For the brave of heart, you can don the glove and have one of the birds fly off and circle the surrounding sky before returning to you (not recommended for a bird the size of a condor though!) The bird handlers and staff will be happy to explain the little curiosities of each species and the fun facts that come with that, so expect to broaden your bird knowledge!

The birds of prey that you will see in this center are intrinsically linked to the local people and their centuries of tradition. To this end, you will learn the role each one plays in local folklore and tradition, and how some are venerated to almost god-like status. The center itself is situated atop a small mountain, some 20 minutes’ drive from Otavalo, and as such the journey up is an excursion in its own right as you marvel at the beautiful Andean mountainous surroundings.

As mentioned above, the bravest can take part in a fly-around where you man the glove and for the more cautious among the group you can observe as the bird handlers exercise these beautiful animals against the fantastic backdrop of the Andes.

Meals (B)

Andean Condor in Flight
Location
Otavalo to Quito
Day
3 / 15

City Tour & The Equatorial Line

A trip to Ecuador encapsulates a mix of history, fascinating indigenous cultures, slow winding rivers, and lush tropical forests, spectacular snowcapped volcanoes, and some of the most exciting wildlife on earth.

Our starting place today is the ‘Mitad del Mundo’, a site located just 45 minutes north of Quito, where a monument marks the equator at its closest point to the city. Archaeological evidence shows that both pre-Inca and Inca civilizations recognized and celebrated the equinox, the day the sun is directly over the equator. We make the 45-minute journey northwest to the equatorial line, where we will walk the rim of the extinct Pululahua volcanic crater. From there we visit the “Ciudad Mitad del Mundo” a group of buildings designed to explain the significance of the site, as well as the Ethnographic Initñam Museum, located right on the Equator. Here you will have the chance to plant your feet in two hemispheres at the same time!

Back in Quito, after lunch we will visit the city’s impressive colonial center, the reason Quito was the first city to be named a world heritage site. First on the agenda is a walk through the main plaza, the ‘plaza de la Independencia’, where you will see the Government Palace, the Cathedral, and some of the most important churches built around the XVI and XVII centuries, including the San Francisco Monastery, the first building built in the whole city. We wind down from a busy day’s sightseeing with an excursion all about chocolate! Ecuador’s unique equatorial climate provides the perfect environment for growing the world’s finest cocoa – Cacao Arriba. Cocoa has been revered in Latin America for over 5,000 years and Spanish explorers loved it so much they called it the ‘Food of the Gods’. Our chocolate experience starts with a guide explaining the history of cocoa in Ecuador, followed by a chocolate tasting.

Meals (B, L)

Quito with Cotopaxi erupting in background
Location
Quito
Day
4 / 15

Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi is the most prominent and famous volcano in Ecuador and its almost symmetrical cone visible on the skyline from Quito. Rising to a height of over 12 thousand feet the volcano is part of a complex of volcanoes on the Ring of Fire and is home to one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world.

At the foot of the volcano is the entrance to the Cotopaxi National Park where we make a stop at the visitor center to learn about the exciting history of the Cotopaxi, past eruptions, and the impact those eruptions have had on the surrounding area, culture, and agriculture. The mountain’s colorful past also has had an impact geographically and this has, in turn, affected the wildlife. Our guide will explain how the volcano is central to life in the area and talk you through the unique characteristics of the local flora and fauna.

From there we visit Lake Limpiopungo which offers a chance for some spectacular sights. We take a walk around a part of the lake till we reach the perfect point to see the whole of Cotopaxi reflected in the lake as a mirror image. Quite often the low lying clouds can offer an additional dimension to this view and many a fantastic photograph has been taken from this viewpoint. If you feel like a longer walk, a 2-hour hike will take us to Mt. Cotopaxi’s J. Ribas refuge (4,800 m) where you will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the volcano and the surrounding Andean peaks.

Meals (B, L)

Cotopaxi Mountain with Fog
Location
Cotopaxi
Day
5 / 15

Fly Amazon & Cruise Embarkation

AM: After breakfast, at the scheduled time, you will be picked up from your hotel and privately transferred to Papallacta airport, ready to board your departure flight to Quito!

PM: After a flight from Quito to the Amazonian city of Coca, we will transfer to the dock and board our motorized canoe for a 90-minute journey down the river, taking in the Amazon, until we reach the Manatee Amazon Explorer and receive our welcome aboard.

On the Manatee, we will be joined by expert local naturalist guides, who will provide us with a brief, informative introduction to the Ecuadorian Amazon; afterwards, guests will have the opportunity to explore our cruise ship and admire the rainforest landscape as we glide down the Napo River. After dinner, we will take a nighttime forest walk to observe the rainforest’s nocturnal activity and vividly experience its biodiversity first-hand.

Manatee Amazon Navigating
Location
Quito the Amazon
Day
6 / 15

Yasuni National Park

AM: Early in the morning, we will visit Yasuni National Park, a pristine region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, home to the legendary pink river dolphin. In this area, we can also find anacondas, river turtles, and various primate species, as well as the colorful hoatzin, a unique bird known locally as the “stinky turkey”.

PM: In the afternoon, we will take a motorized canoe to a black-water lake, home to giant otters and the elusive manatee, and enjoy a pleasant hike in the riparian/gallery forest, with the chance to spot flocks of birds and marvel at the intricate organization of a colony of leaf-cutter ants.

Canoe Ride through the amazon
Location
Manatee Amazon Cruise
Day
7 / 15

Kichwa Family and Life Onboard

AM: We will start the day off by visiting an authentic Kichwa family on the banks of the Napo River, where we will receive the opportunity to learn directly from members of the local community.

PM: We will then board the Manatee for lunch as we continue upstream. Guests will participate in a cooking class with our expert chef and prepare exquisite traditional Ecuadorian. Guests are invited to try traditional handicrafts or enjoy our onboard facilities, including the Rainforest Spa, the spectacular view from our Amazon Hot Tub, cocktails at our Bar and Lounge, and stargazing from our Observation Deck.

• This day we are pleased to offer a camping program for our adventurous guests, which is an alternative manner to explore this enchanting destination (optional activity for the 5 & 8-day itineraries).

Kids in cooking class
Location
Manatee Amazon Cruise
Day
8 / 15

Forest Adventure and Observation Canopy Tower

AM: Our guests can relax and enjoy the Manatee Amazon Explorer during the morning and disembark to explore the nearby forest and discover a myriad of animals and plant species endemic to the Amazon basin.

PM: In the afternoon, we will visit a canopy tower built against a giant kapok tree and take in the view from the top as we loom above the lush treetops and look down on the sheer vastness of the Amazon. In the evening, we will take a canoe onto the river to search for black caimans by flashlight.

Amazon observation tower
Location
Manatee Amazon Cruise
Day
9 / 15

Disembarkation & Departing Coca

AM: This is where our adventure ends! Enjoy the final part of our return journey, then disembark the Manatee Amazon Cruise to take the motorized canoe for 90 minutes back to Coca. From here you will take a flight back to Quito.

In Quito, you will stay at the airport for convenience, as your depart the following day to begin your adventure in the Galapagos Islands!

Meals (B)

Campfire people having fun in the amazon
Location
Amazon to Quito
Day
10 / 15

Departing Quito & Cruise Embarkation

AM: After breakfast, at the scheduled time, you will be picked up from your hotel and privately transferred to Quito airport, ready to board your departure flight to the Galapagos Islands!

You will arrive at Baltra Island in the morning. After passing through immigration and baggage claim, you will be met by a Cormorant I staff member and transferred to the yacht. You will be shown to your cabin where you will have some time to settle in before lunch and a welcome briefing.

PM: Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz, Las Bachas is a swimming beach. One of the few remnants of the U.S. World War II presence in the Galapagos, a floating pier, can be seen here. You may see flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black-necked stilts, and whimbrels. Sea turtles also nest off the beach. Highlights include World War II remnants, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black-necked stilts, whimbrels, and sea turtles.

Cormorant Boat in Navigation
Location
Cormorant Galapagos Cruise
Day
11 / 15

El Barranco & Darwin Bay

AM: El Barranco, also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, is a steep, rocky path that leads up a high cliff rock face. A marvelous view can be appreciated from here. This site is also home to Palo Santo vegetation as well as red-footed boobies, short-eared owls, Galapagos storm petrels, and Galapagos doves.

PM: Visit the white-sand coral beach of Darwin Bay which includes a half-mile trail (0,75km) that winds through mangroves filled with land birds. Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls, which can easily be spotted here. Further down the path, we’ll find tidal pools where sea lions swim playfully. At the end is a spectacular view of a cliff.

Blue Footed Boobies rockery
Location
Cormorant Galapagos Cruise
Day
12 / 15

South Plaza Island & Santa Fe Island

AM: In the morning, you will head to South Plaza Island. This small island with steep cliffs was formed by rising lava and is now covered by Opuntia cacti. It is also home to one of the largest sea lion colonies as well as colorful yellow and red land iguanas. The most characteristic plant is Sesuvium. During the rainy season, its color is greenish to a yellowish tone, and in the dry season (June – January) a bright red. Highlights include land iguanas, sea lion colony, Audubon´s shearwaters, swallow-tailed gulls, Nazca boobies, and amazing cliff landscapes.

PM: Santa Fe (Barrington) is home to the small picturesque bay and anchorage on the island’s northeast coast. The bay has two visitor trails, one leading to a scenic viewpoint atop a cliff, and the other spanning from a small beach to a tall prickly pear cactus forest. Highlights include Land Iguanas and giant tunas.

Sea lion on a rock
Location
Cormorant Galapagos Cruise
Day
13 / 15

Pitt Point & Witch Hill

AM: Pitt Point, situated on the north-eastern tip of the San Cristobal island, hosts frigate birds, storm petrels, and all three types of booby birds: the Nazca, blue-footed, and red-footed boobies. A steep trail goes up a cliff and through a ravine, leading visitors to an area with an abundance of birds.

PM: Located on the northern coast, this eroded hill and its surroundings present one of the most picturesque beaches in the Galapagos with its white powdery sand and the abundance of animals. Wildlife includes sea turtles, rays, and various types of booby birds. The clear water provides an excellent opportunity for enjoying swimming and snorkeling.

clear water snorkeling in the Galapagos
Location
Cormorant Galapagos Cruise
Day
14 / 15

Disembarkation

AM: The David Rodriguez Breeding Center “La Galapaguera”, in Cerro Colorado, is a new visitor site in the southeast part of San Cristobal Island and can now be reached in roughly one hour by road from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. On the trees and shrubs surrounding the site, you may see land birds like warblers, finches, and mockingbirds. Giant tortoises can be observed along the trail. They live there wildly but in a protected area to ensure their survival, sealing them off from introduced predators like pigs and goats.

After this final visit, you will be transferred to the San Cristobal airport in time for your flight back to the mainland.

Crew of cormorant
Location
Return Home
Day
15 / 15
1 / 15

Accommodations

Cruises & Lodges

Amazon Rainforest Manatee cruise

Manatee Amazon Explorer

Superior cruising in the Ecuadorian Amazon, pairing comfort and quality with the wild of the jungle.
30 Guests
14 Cabins
View
Cormorant ship Galapagos

Cormorant I

Perfect for honeymoons, couples, or groups of friends, the luxury catamaran Cormorant is a real gem.
16 Guests
8 Cabins
View

Hotel Options

5 Star

Mama Cuchara

Quito
Boutique

Hacienda Cusin

Quito
5 Star

Wyndham Quito

Quito