Ecuador's Eden of Nature

A spectacular journey that starts from the Choco Rainforest, one of Planet Earth's biodiversity hotspots of continuous evolution of new animal species to the remote last true eden that is the Galapagos Islands; this sojourn is for the ardent nature lover in search of the natural paradise. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Stay in the acclaimed Mashpi Lodge, a National Geographic unique lodge

Stay in the exclusive Pikaia Lodge in the Galapagos 

Savour fine and exquisite gastronomy 

Experience a spectable of wildlife extravaganza

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE QUITO / CHOCO RAINFOREST

Arrive Quito Mariscal Sucre Intl Airport and transfer to the Choco Rainforest (2.5hrs drive) to discover the spectacular natural biodiversity of the Andean landscape as we travel through the dry valley of Pomasqui towards the cordillera's western flank, into lush, misty cloud forest. Stop at Pululahua Crater and its lookout point, where you can marvel at the unique scenic beauty of a collapsed volcano where people live and farm. Also visit the archaeological ruins at Tulipe, said to have belonged to the ancient Yumbo civilization of pre-Inca Quito, set in a magical forested location. Taste delicious Ecuadorian appetizers and freshly-brewed coffee prepared by members of the local community before our descent into the Mashpi Reserve. We then arrive at the Hummingbird Station, which boasts a total of 32 hummingbird species. The site is located at a natural viewpoint which on clear days, provides breathtaking views of the reserve's forested hills. We arrive shortly at the incredible Mashpi Lodge, an exceptional National Geographic Unique Lodge and is built without felling a single tree in the natural reserve. Be welcome and introduced by your host of the lodge's creation and the abundance of wildlife in the reserve. This evening, you may like to take a guided night walk on the trails before tucking into an exquisite welcome dinner. 

Overnight: Mashpi Lodge, Choco Rainforest

Meals: Lunch & Dinner

DAY 2: CHOCO RAINFOREST

An exciting day beckons after breakfast as we take a 15mins walk to the "Sky Bike" and Observation Tower located 100 feet up in the forests canopy. There are several options for hikes with waterfalls on your way back to the lodge to continue enjoying the natural surroundings of Mashpi. After lunch, hike along the Howler Monkey's Trail to reach the Life Center, which offers a great view of the forest from the comfort of an expansive wooden deck. Spot wildlife and explore the tropical orchard nearby. Take hikes, relax, go to a cloud forest lecture or enjoy other activities offered at Mashpi for the rest of the afternoon. 

Overnight: Mashpi Lodge, Choco Rainforest

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

DAY 3: CHOCO RAINFOREST

Spend the final day luxuriating in nature. Consider a hike to the Copal Waterfall this morning where the 2hr hike takes you through beautiful landscapes, moss-covered trees, bromelias and orchids everywhere. The trail ends with the spectacular Copal Waterfall over 50m high. Return back to the lodge for lunch and later, another opportunity for you to hike to the Cucharillos Waterfall (2hrs). This trail is slightly more difficult because of its steep climbing. Most of the trail have been specially adapted to make walking easier, using embedded recycled plastic crates to create steps and firm paths. At the end of the trail is a big waterfall and rocky riverbed with beautiful ponds and little waterfalls. 

Overnight: Mashpi Lodge, Choco Rainforest

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

DAY 4: CHOCO RAINFOREST / QUITO

After breakfast, we say our farewells to the enchanting Choco Rainforest and Mashpi Lodge where we then drive on to Quito, capital city of Ecuador and the world's first historical old city centre to be listed into UNESCO. Begin with a visit to the Panecillo Hill for a breathtaking panoramic view of the old city and then descend into the old town centre and the Basilica Church for a brief visit. We then head to San Juan Mirador for another great viewpoint of the colonial center and after that, enjoy a stroll through the old streets seeing sites such as Independence Plaza admiring the Cathedral, Government's Palace and Ronda Street. Make a fascinating visit to the Middle of the World monument where you can stand right in the middle of the imaginery equatorial line straddling the northern and southern hemispheres. Continue our visit to the Inaquito Market where vendors parade exotic fruits, fresh vegetables and produce and some of the most authentic insight into Ecuador's signature dishes and food. 

Overnight: Casa Gangotena, Quito

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 5: QUITO / GALAPAGOS (SANTA CRUZ ISLAND)

This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to the UNESCO-listed Galapagos Islands, a collection of 19 islands located at the confluence of 3 ocean currents and a melting pot of marine biodiversity. Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflects the processes that formed the islands and with its isolated location, led to the development and thriving of many unusual animal life such as the land iguana, the Galapagos giant tortoise and many types of finch that inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution following his visit in 1835. Arrive at Baltra Island Airport and be met and hop onto a 7min ferry ride across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island followed by a 50min drive to the wonderful environments of Pikaia Lodge. Enjoy lunch and then in the evening, join in a briefing for your Galapagos expedition with cocktail followed by dinner. 

Overnight: Pikaia Lodge, Santa Cruz Island

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6: GALAPAGOS  (SANTA CRUZ ISLAND)

Today, we begin a half day excursion of Santa Cruz Island where a host of land activities are enjoyed including a visit to the fascinating Los Gemelos sinkholes and Scalesia forest, the Galapagos giant tortoise farm in Rancho Las Primicias, the volcanic craters and giant tortoises at Cerro Mesa, Charles Darwin Scientific Research Center and more. 

Overnight: Pikaia Lodge, Santa Cruz Island

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7: GALAPAGOS  (EXCURSION TO BARTOLOME ISLAND & CHINESE HAT)

An early morning rise today as we transfer to the port (50mins drive) for our first voyage excursion on the M/Y Pikaia I, our exclusive 105 feet exploration yacht designed for optimal landing and snorkelling. Equipped with private air-conditioned cabins and fresh water showers, the yacht also boasts large open sundeck, shadow deck, hot tub and spacious living and dining room while navigating the ocean. We start sailing the Ithabaca Channel while enjoying breakfast onboard. A 1.5hrs voyage to Bartolome Island where then we will land for some of the most outstanding panoramas of the Galapagos Islands. Witness amazing volcanic rock formations in shades of black, red and green. Take a hike to witness our first sightings of astonishing wildlife such as the Galapagos penguins, sea lions, sea turtles who call this island home.

 

Re-embark where we have lunch before a short sail to the Chinese Hat or "Sombrero Chino", so named after its shape formed by volcanic rock giving it its name. Enjoy close encounters of the wildlife and well-preserved remnants of volcanic rocks. The islet is home to a colony of sea lions on the white coral sand beach and here you can also see the Galapagos penguins, the iconic Sally Lightfoot urchin crabs and marine iguanas. We then sail back to Santa Cruz where a transfer is waiting to return you to Pikaia Lodge. 

Overnight: Pikaia Lodge, Santa Cruz Island

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8: GALAPAGOS  (SANTA CRUZ ISLAND)

We have a day to explore Santa Cruz Island Island further today. Consider a visit to the highlands of Santa Cruz adorned with a deep-green, contrasting beautifully with much of the dry low lands. The dominant vegetation in the highlands are the scalesia trees, creating the lush green color. The lava tubes, over half a mile long, are underground and walking through them is a unique and surreal experience. 

Overnight: Pikaia Lodge, Santa Cruz Island

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 9: GALAPAGOS  (EXCURSION TO SANTA FE & SOUTH PLAZA ISLAND)

This early morning, we transfer to the port again (50mins drive) where we again board the M/V Pikaia I. Once onboard, enjoy a savory breakfast as we sail to Santa Fe Island (3hrs). As we sail, you may have an opportunity to spot some tunas. We land on Santa Fe to enjoy close encounters with a wide variety of endeamic wildlife such as the Marine iguanas, the Barrington land iguanas, hordes of sea lions with beautiful white sand beach around. Thereafter, enjoy lunch onboard before a short sail takes us to South Plaza Island, a small island with steep cliffs formed by rising lava and now covered by Opuntia cacti. South Plaza Island is home to one of the largest colonies of sea lions as well as colorful yellow and red land iguanas, blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropicbirds on a surreal landscape! We then return back to Santa Cruz Island for our return to Pikaia Lodge in the evening. 

Overnight: Pikaia Lodge, Santa Cruz Island

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10: GALAPAGOS  (EXCURSION TO NORTH SEYMOUR & MOSQUERA ISLAND)

We continue our expedition today on the M/V Pikaia I today to the North Seymour Island and Mosquera Island. A short sailing takes us to our first landing at North Seymour Island, home and natural haven to a large colony of blue-footed boobies and the iconic frigate birds. Depending on the time of year, this is an excellent place to witness the thrilling mating rituals these birds are famous for.

 

 

 

Thereafter, we sail to nearby Mosquera Island, amongst the smaller islets in the Galapagos where we will do a wet landing. Take a walk on the beach and catch a glimpse of brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, playful sea lions and lots of Sally Lightfoot urchin crabs. Thereafter, we return back to Santa Cruz and to Pikaia Lodge.  

Overnight: Pikaia Lodge, Santa Cruz Island

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11: DEPARTURE GALAPAGOS  

Today, we bid farewell to the Galapagos and transfer to Baltra Island Airport for your onward journey to either Quito or Guayaquil. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

Nature meets luxury at Mashpi Lodge, a breathtaking creation of steel and glass deep in the cloud forests of Ecuadorian Choco, one of Earth's biodiversity hotspots. Its 22 guest rooms are simple, stylish and spacious. Mashpi offers a close up experience of some of the most pristine forests in the world with the help of a team of naturalists and scientists. Not only do they lead hikes and give talks, they are involved in continuing studies of the local wildlife at the lodge' reseach center. 

Mashpi Lodge, Choco Rainforest

Since its opening in 2011, Casa Gangotena has won many accolades and awards and included in Conde Nast Traveler's Hot List, Travel + Leisure amongst many. The boutique hotel is situated overlooking Plaza San Francisco harboring 31 rooms with eye-catching mix of classic architecture, contemporary interior design and modern comforts. 

Casa Gangotena, Quito

The Pikaia Lodge is opened in 2014 and designed for the environmentally conscious, eco-adventure traveller who seeks intimate contact with the unique natural heritage of the Galapagos along with all the comforts of a highly-evolved lifestyle. Rooms and villas are nestled on the slopes between the savannah and tropical misty forest of the volcanic highlands and provide great comfort for the modern traveler. 

Pikaia Lodge, Santa Cruz, Galapagos 

The M/V Pikaia I is the exclusive 105 feet exploration yacht of Pikaia Lodge designed for optimal landing and snorkelling day tour operation. It is the only vessel in the Galapagos offering a comfortable, safe and relaxing day tour experience due to its size, weight and stabilizers. With private air-conditioned cabins onboard and fresh water shower, guests can relax while sailing and also enjoy savory breakfasts and lunch onboard. 

M/V Pikaia I  (EXPLORATION TRANSPORT)

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