Ecuador is one of the best wildlife destinations in the world and not just because of the stunning Galapagos Islands. This tour aims to show you that there is more to this small country than these islands. With the only South American bear, the highest biodiversity in the world, the Amazon Rainforest in addition to the famous Galapagos you will be left spellbound by this amazing little country which straddles the equator. Birding, snorkelling, canoeing through the Amazon, hiking to volcanic peaks, seeking it bears in the cloud forest and following in Darwins footsteps has to lure wildlife enthusiasts onto this tour.
5 day cruise of the Galapagos
The best chance of seeing Andean bears
Expert birding guides
Access to a condor conservation project
Canoe into the Amazon Rainforest
Snorkel the reefs of the Galapagos
Tour Dates: 1/9/2020 – 15/9/2020
Duration: 15 nights
Type / Focus: Bears & Galapagos
On arrival at Quito International Airport you will be met by your local guide who will transfer you to your accommodation in Quito, level – 3* (Reina Isabel Hotel). You will have the rest of the day at your leisure. Quito is a beautiful city built in the heart of a valley high in the Andes. At a height of around 3500m in altitude it is a good place to spend the first night and get used to the Andean altitude. There are many sights to see in this colonial city and a good nights rest is recommended ready for your wildlife adventure tomorrow.
Today after breakfast you will be transferred from Quito to the private Reserve Maquipucuna (2 hours). This will be your accommodation, level – private reserve (Reserve Maquipucuna) and where your lunch and dinner will be served. This reserve is 6000hectares of protected cloud forest which plays host to an amazing variety of life. Located in Choco-Andean corridor the area is one of the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. The reserve itself has over 4% of the worlds bird species; including spectacular birds like toucan barbets, Andean cock-of-the-rocks, plate-billed mountain toucans, lanceolaed monklet, Esmeraldas antbird, red-headed barbets and golden-headed quetzals. In addition to these birds the over 2000 species of plants and over 45 species of mammals. The reserve is also the best place in the world to see feeding spectacled bears. As soon as the aguacatillo fruit comes into season these bear flock here and can usually be seen at close quarters. Today you will spend the time exploring the area and taking in as much wildlife a possible.
Today will be a full day in the cloud forest region of the Choco-Andean corridor. You will be treated to many hours bird watching, hiking in search of bears and other mammals; such as armadillos, agoutis and perhaps ocelots; as well as visits to local craft workshops, pre-Incan sites and local food producers in the area. The whole place is so full of life, local culture and ancient history there are stories a plenty at every turn. Your evening meal will be at the accommodation, level – private reserve (Reserve Maquipucuna).
This morning we will enjoy some bird watching as well as tracking down any bears which have come to the reserve looking for food overnight. You will have lunch here before leaving for Quito (2 hours) where after checking into the accommodation, level – 3* (Reina Isabel Hotel); you will spend the afternoon and evening at your leisure. There are many great churches, statues and monuments to visit in Quito and walking the old Spanish streets is a joy.
Andean Condor / Andean Bear Project
After an early breakfast you will be transferred north (2 hours) to private ranch which will also be your accommodation tonight, level – private reserve (Local Hacienda). This is a working farm with lots of land. In addition to the cows and the horses they keep there are also active conservations projects going on in the reserve. You will be offered a great selection of activities from horse back riding to guided walks. The main treat is the Condor Restoration Project which offers you one of the best chances in the world to see Andean condors at close quarters in the wild as well as being on the best places in the world to see wild spectacled bears as this is an area where the world famous Andean Bear Project released trapped bears for rehabilitation.
Today you will enjoy breakfast in the paramo (highland tussock grass) of Zuleta before heading back to Quito for the short flight east into the heart of the mightiest rainforest in the world; the Amazon. The flight is around 30mins and will take us to Lago Agrio where you will be picked up and transferred to El Puento (the bridge) which is the entrance to Cuyabeno Reserve. Along the way you will taste the rainforest close at hand and how the local people have adapted to living on its edge. From El Puento you will travel the remaining 2.5 hours towards your accommodation, level – rainforest lodge (Tapir Lodge). Along the way it is important to always keep an eye open for monkeys and birds in the trees as well as caiman, anacondas, turtles and giant otters in the water. The rest of the day will be open for you relax and see what wildlife is around inside the resort. Your meals will be served at the accommodation.
After breakfast you will embark on a canoe ride northwards to Laguna Grande where you will be surrounded by the inundated forest, this area of flooded forest is home to a wealth of wildlife such as boto (river dolphins), giant otters, anacondas, five species of caiman, Amazonian manatees and over 450 species of fish. You will have to keep a keen eye out to try and catch a glimpse of these animals as they come to the surface briefly. You will then begin a trek along the Palma Roja (Red Palm) pathway which will be right through primary rainforest and a place where tapir, jaguars, capybaras, agoutis and other terrestrial mammals have been seen in the past and could be spotted again. You will have the opportunity to explore another area of the lake before your evening meal at the accommodation, level – rainforest lodge (Tapir Lodge).
This morning you will have a birding excursion on the river in search of some of the 500 plus species of birds which inhabit the area. Some of the more commonly seen birds are blue-and-yellow macaws, scarlet macaws, blue-tailed emeralds, hoatzins, Amazon kingfishers and many toucans. If you keep a keen eye looking in the branches for movement there are 15 species of monkeys around here. You will pass a village belonging to the indigenous Siona people. You will have the chance to meet the local shaman here and learn how they make traditional foods, as well as trekking in the forest looking for the tiny Ecuadorian poison-dart frog. You will have your evening meal back at the accommodation, level – rainforest lodge (Tapir Lodge).
After breakfast you will be transferred back down the river towards El Puento and from there be driven to the airport to catch the return flight to Quito. Once you get to Quito you will have the rest of the day to relax and explore this city once again perhaps heading to the massive statue of the Virgin Mary (El Panceillo) high above the city. Your accommodation, level – 3* (Reina Isabel Hotel) is the same as you have already stayed.
Galapagos Islands (Santa Cruz)
Today you will start your journey to one of the most unusual and special groups of islands in the world. You will have a short flight to Isla Baltra (2 hours) before boarding your boat for the next five days (Coral I / Coral II / Tip Top) and immediately you will be taken to Santa Cruz. This is a wet landing (your feet may get wet when disembarking the dingy) and you will be guided to a saltwater lagoon inland where Caribbean flamingos aggregate as well as many land iguanas which use the area as a nesting site. During the boat trips in between the islands you will be amazed at the life you will see, from dolphins, turtles, manta rays, seals, sea lions and whales to the plentiful bird life you will not stop looking at wildlife the whole time you are on board. Your meals will be served on board and during the evening you will be taken to the next island ready for tomorrows excursion.
Galapagos Islands (Rabida & Santiago)
This morning you will have another wet landing but this time you will be surrounded by the many Galapagos sea lions which inhabit the dark red beach of Isla Rabida. At these time of the year you may find brown pelicans nesting in the salty bushes as well as flamingoes in the nearby saltwater lagoon. You will also have the chance of finding blue-footed boobies and no less than 9 species of Darwins finches. You can either take a short dingy ride by the reefs or enjoy your first snorkel and see the marine life up close. The Galapagos is often referred to as a huge aquarium and it hard to disagree when you see the amount of reef fish, turtles, reef sharks, manta rays and other life under the waves. In the afternoon after lunch you will arrive at your second island of the day, Isla Santiago. Here you will find many species of herons hunting on the lava flows as well as marine iguanas and the adorable Galapagos fur seals. The latter are very playful as they frolic in the deep cool water pools the lava carved out many years ago. You evening meal will be on board in the evening.
Galapagos Islands (Fernandina & Isabela)
This morning a dry landing will take you to Isla Fernandina where you will find the largest marine iguanas in the archipelago nestling in the rocks along side the brightly coloured sally-lightfoot crabs. There are also nesting sites for the unique and endangered flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguins and the largest predator on the islands the Galapagos hawk. Sea lions once again dominate the beach. In the afternoon and after lunch you will be taken to the largest island in the chain, Isabela, where you will learn about the eruptions of the five volcanoes which formed the island as well as having an excellent view of the lava fields and volcanic formations. There will also be the opportunity for snorkelling and hopefully you will be sharing the water with the speedy Galapagos penguin. If you do not want to get wet then take a dingy ride around to see the graffiti which is believed to have been left by pirates in the 19th Century. You evening meal will be served on board.
Galapagos Islands (Bartolome & Santa Cruz)
This morning another dry landing will take you to one of the smaller islands, Isla Bartolome. The small trek to the famous viewpoint will treat you to great views of the hour-glass shaped island, cinder cones, Pinnacle Rock, lava bombs and lava splatters. Along the way up you will pass colonies of marine iguanas, lava lizards hidden among the tiquilla cacti. You can also snorkel here among the white-tip reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, turtles and many fishes. In the afternoon after lunch you will be taken to Santa Cruz and in particular Black Turtle Cove where your captain will turn off the engines and let you relax and observe the black-tip sharks, white-tip reef sharks, green and hawksbill turtles, spotted and golden eagle rays as they swim around the lagoon. If you are lucky you may seen pilot whales, orca or even a breaching manta ray in the distance. Your evening meal will be served on board.
This is your last day on the Galapagos Islands and as such there is no better place to visit than the Charles Darwin Research Station on Isla Santa Cruz. You will be able to see the famous Galapagos giant tortoise breeding project as well as the memorial of one of the most famous animals the world had ever known as an individual. The one time bachelor of his species; Lonesome George, who was the last remaining Pinta giant tortoise. You will have some time to wander around the shops and buy souvenirs before being transferred to the Isla Baltra to catch the flight back to Quito. Once you arrive in Quito you will be taken to your accommodation.
This morning after breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The weather in Ecuador is always fairly constant in its unpredictability! And in September and October you should expect rain and temperatures in the 20s. However the tour goes from the tropical rainforests to the cool Andes with the hot Galapagos and wet Cloud Forest in between, so it is best to come prepared for anything.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle to be driven by a local guide as well as the the cost of the boat for the Galapagos tour.
All our excursions including treks, guided walks, canoe trips, Galapagos fees, snorkelling equipment and park entrance fees are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be everything from swimming gear to warm winter cloths and waterproofs. The nights can be chilly so a fleece, long trousers and woolly hat are a good idea. Comfortable walking shoes are a must. Insect repellent is needed. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be very strong here during the day. A snorkel, mask and fins are available free of charge on the Galapagos boat but you are free to bring your own for comfort.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. A spotlight is usually provided for nocturnal wildlife watching (when local conditions allow) and snorkelling gear on board the Galapagos boat are included. Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any departure taxes applicable when leaving are not included (but may be included in the cost of your flights), Please check this before hand.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Continental Airline or Delta Air Lines Inc as good airlines for flights to Quito. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for all these flights is www.holidaygenie.com; who are ATOL bonded and IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders are not required to have a visa for Ecuador. However things change so the easiest way to find information is by visiting http://ecuador.embassyhomepage.com/ (be aware that these links leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Ecuador, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis It is however very important to be taking a form of malaria prophylactics during your time in Ecuador. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Ecuador as soon as you have decided on this trip.
James Mellor, Bristol
Mr. Richardson, Manchester
Robert and Flo, Oslo
Mr & Mrs Boyer - Michigan, USA