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Ecuador and Galapagos. Galapagos Family Adventure

Extend Your Stay

Contact our Galapagos Program Director to extend your trip to the Andean highlands, the Ecuadorian Amazon, mystical cloud forests or Machu Picchu, Peru.

Amazon Extension to the Napo Wildlife Center

Years of close cooperation with the Añangu community has produced Napo Wildlife Center, an innovative project that is as valuable for its comforts as for its conservation and social value. The protected area is home to such species as Jaguar, Giant Otter, Tapir, eleven species of monkeys (including acrobatic Spider and Wooly monkeys, Monk Saki and Golden-mantled Tamarin), and many brilliant bird species. Here the local Añangu community has teamed with international conservationists to create a private reserve of well over 50,000 acres within the Yasuni National Park.


2014 Pricing: From $1490, airfare from Quito to Coca (approx $230) not included. Children under 12: $1075


Note:   A 3 night option is also available. This trip can depart from Quito any day EXCEPT Sunday. There is a 20kg (approximately 44lbs) weight limit for checked baggage as well as carry-on. Additional or excess baggage will be charged directly by the airline

Day 1: Napo Wildlife Center

Transfer to the Quito airport for your brief flight to Coca, an outpost on Ecuador’s Rio Napo in the Oriente, Ecuador’s Amazon basin. A 2 hour motorized canoe ride takes you to Napo Wildlife Center’s private dock where you’ll continue by canoe (1.5 hrs) through a meandering tributary of the Napo to the lodge's private lake deep within the Yasuni National Park. Arriving at the lodge, have a welcome beverage and receive an orientation about the activities to come. Overnight Napo Wildlife Center. 


Days 2 - 4: Napo Wildlife Center

Your naturalist guide accompanies you on a variety of adventures in this remote reserve, exploring the rivers, lagoons and forests surrounding the lodge. Napo Wildlife Center occupies an 82 square mile portion of Yasuni National Park. With 2 nearby parrot licks and a canopy tower, you have myriad opportunities to view some of the 550 species of birds, 11 primate species, and the stars of the reserve, giant river otters. Overnight Napo Wildlife Center.

Day 5: Quito

Early rising today to paddle or hike back to the Rio Napo and return to Coca for your flight to Quito. 

Note: Round trip air Quito-Coca is $230 per person (subject to change). Due to international air schedules, we have not included the cost of transfers and Quito hotel day 5. If you wish to overnight, please inquire for private airport-hotel transfers and accommodation. Prices are based on set days of transfer to / from the Coca airport.

Napo Wildlife Center

The Napo Wildlife Center [NWC] is a renowned, award-winning Amazon rainforest lodge in Ecuador. It is located adjacent to 82 sq miles of Yasunì National Park and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the largest tract of protected tropical rain forest in Ecuador. Read more about the Napo Wildlife Center.

See all of our Ecuadorian Amazon Accommodations

Southern Highlands of Ecuador

From the mangrove-lined, wildlife-rich estuaries of Rio Guayas and the Jambeli Channel to the high altitude paramo of El Cajas to the colonial gem of Cuenca in the Andean highlands, southern Ecuador is a rich and diverse mixture of natural wildlands and cultural treasures, with hidden reminders of ancient inhabitants waiting to be explored.  It is an area beautifully suited to Wildland Adventurers who want to veer from the beaten track to discover untrammeled paths filled with wildlife, spectacular landscapes and Cuenca, a city that in spite of being the third largest in Ecuador, maintains the soul of a quaint, colonial village. 

2014 pricing:  From $1175 per person, based on double occupancy and group size 

Day 1: Manglares-Churute Reserve / Tushipungo / Cuenca

Departing Guayaquil (or Quito) this morning, travel south to the ecological wonderland of Manglares-Chirute Reserve.  Protected from development and nearby shrimp-farming, these 100,000 acres of mangrove and tropical dry forest contain a treasure-trove of wildlife, including aquatic birds such as herons, ducks, roseate spoonbills, osprey and horned screamers.  Mammals known to inhabit the area include tigrillos (a relative of ocelots), capuchin monkeys, mantled howler monkeys and badgers.  Board a boat for a leisurely voyage through the twisting swamplands, quietly observing the rich life all around.  Vegetation varies from mangrove to balsa and oak trees, with wild orchids and bromeliads making appearances, allowing a wide distribution of wildlife within the borders of the reserve. 

 

From Manglares-Churute, we travel 2 hours up the Andes cordillera, passing beautiful mountain valleys and lakes.  Our destination is the Tushipungo Valley, where we hike into spectacular El Cajas National Park, home to over 200 glacial lakes set amidst rolling paramo grasslands, wild quinoa, fragrant rosemary, and home to an abundance of wildlife such as Andean fox, white-tailed deer, wild llamas, and the elusive spectacled bear, to name just a few species.  Andean condors, tanagers, hummingbirds and gray-breasted mountain toucans are just a few species on a very long list of birdlife here.  An easy hike circumnavigating a sparkling tarn allows plenty of time to stop with binoculars and cameras to capture the life and spectacular landscape.

 

From El Cajas, another half hour finds us near the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, in time for hotel check-in and dinner.  Overnight Hacienda Uzhupud [BLD]

 

Day 2: Cojitambo Inca Ruins / Rose Farm / Hacienda Burgay

Driving northeast this morning, we arrive at the village of Cojitambo, an important spot in Ecuador since pre-Incan times.  Enjoy spectacular views of the rolling countryside and stroll through the tiered Inca rock walls and terraces of Cojitambo ruins.  Continuing on, we drive to Alta Flor Rose Farm, the only rose farm in Ecuador to receive the German Green Seal, signifying Alta Flor recognizes a goal of improving quality of life for the workers as well as the environment.  Climatic and geographical conditions come together to make this area perfect for producing gorgeous, colorful and fragrant roses, sure to inspire the gardner (or romantic!) in all of us!  Lunch today is taken at the Hacienda Burgay, dating from 1733 and one of the region’s most honored estates and families.  The Hacienda is normally off-limits to visitors, but opening its magnificent doors exclusively for us.  A brief tour takes in murals and sculptures treasured by the family through generations.  Return to Cuenca after lunch, check into our beautiful hotel, Hotel Santa Lucia. [BLD]

 

Day 3: Horseback Riding / Colonial City Tour

Following breakfast at your hotel, set out for the Bellavista Equestrian Center, a short drive from Cuenca.  Whether you are a seasoned rider or a greenhorn, you will be well-matched by the experts at Bellavista.  A local guide accompanies riders on a gentle (or adventurous – depending on your level of expertise!) 2-3 hour ride to a spectacular overlook of the Tarqui Valley and surrounding Andean peaks, passing local villages and lush farmlands enroute.  Following lunch, we return to Cuenca for a 3 hour tour of this colonial gem.  With a year-round Spring-like climate and timeless Spanish and French architectural influences, Cuenca is a beguiling UNESCO World Heritage Site that feels forgotten in time, inviting a slower pace.  Vestiges of ancient Incan trails and ruins still may be found amongst the other architectural charms.  Overnight Hotel Santa Lucia. [BLD]

 

Day 4: Departure to Guayaquil / Quito

Following breakfast, transfer to the Cuenca airport for your return flight to Guayaquil or Quito. [B]

Hacienda Uzhupud

Located  in the beautiful southern Andes, Hacienda Uzhupud is a home away from home, an elegant and comfortable base for exploring this beautiful region of Ecuador. 

 

Hotel Santa Lucia

Originally constructed in 1859 as home to the provincial governor, this graceful mansion has been lovingly restored to preserve the stately architecture , melding the charm of old with the comforts of modern day

Family Adventure in Ecuadors Southern Highlands

This is an action-packed trip into the southern highlands of Ecuador, off the beaten tourist track and into beautiful villages and rolling farrnlands.  Take mountain bikes through the countryside, share a traditional lunch with villagers.  Learn the basics of guitar making from legendary craftsmen, then explore colorful local markets and ride horses into spectacular landscapes, surrounded by Andean peaks and small farms.  Discover the colonial gem of Cuenca, and explore ancient Incan ruins.  This family adventure has something for everyone! 

 

2014 pricing:  From $1125 per person, based on double occupancy and group size 

Day 1: Cojitambo Inca Ruins / Rose Farm

After a morning transfer to the Guayaquil airport and brief flight, we find ourselves in the lovely city of Cuenca, in Ecuador’s southern highlands.  Driving northeast from the airport, we arrive at the village of Cojitambo, an important spot in Ecuador since pre-Incan times.  Enjoy spectacular views of the rolling countryside and stroll through the tiered Inca rock walls and terraces of Cojitambo ruins.  Lunch will be taken with a local family at the “papa mesa” or “potato table.”  This is a traditional sharing of food and your introduction to local customs and cuisine.  Continuing on, we drive to Burgay and our awaiting mountain bikes.  An easy ride downhill takes us to Alta Flor Rose Farm, beautifully located amid mountains, lakes and pristine rivers.  Alta Flor is the only rose farm in Ecuador to receive the German Green Seal, signifying the owners recognizes a goal of improving quality of life for the workers as well as the environment.  Climatic and geographical conditions come together to make this area perfect for producing gorgeous, colorful and fragrant roses, sure to inspire the gardner (or romantic!) in all of us!  We continue on our bikes to the town of Zhud, meeting our support vehicle for the final leg of today’s travels, our hacienda-style hotel.  You may have time for a quick dip in the swimming pool or even a soak in the Jacuzzi, before dinner.  Overnight Hacienda Uzhupud. [BLD]

 

Day 2: Gualaceo / San Bartolome / Horseback Riding

Following breakfast at the hacienda, we set out for the small town of Gualaceo and their colorful food market, the largest in the region.  Local farmers come from throughout the area to bring their products to sell or trade, creating a lively, festive atmosphere.  Maybe you will recognize some of the same local fruits and vegetables that you biked through on yesterday’s adventure! 

 

Onto the charming village of San Bartolome, perched on a mountainside and home to guitar-making artisans.  This craftwork dates to the Spanish colonial times or perhaps further, at least 200 years ago, and many of the guitar craftsmen can trace their family’s roots in the business back at least 100 years!  But even though guitars from this village are famous the world over, the villagers of San Bartolome also create fine weavings and ceramics, as well as high-quality silverwork from nearby mines.  The pleasant temperatures and high altitude (8,800-10,000’) are perfect for growing tasty apples and cherries, too. 

 

We depart San Bartolome for our lunch, taken at a delightful local hacienda.  Afterwards, we continue to the Bellavista Equestrian Center and our next adventure.  Whether you are a seasoned horseback rider or a greenhorn, you will be well-matched by the experts at Bellavista.  A local guide accompanies riders on a gentle (or adventurous – depending on your level of expertise!) 2-3 hour ride to a spectacular overlook of the Tarqui Valley and surrounding Andean peaks, passing local villages and lush farmlands enroute.  Saying goodbye to our horses, we return 30 minutes to Cuenca, where we check into our hotel and freshen up before dinner.  Overnight Hotel Santa Lucia. [BLD]

 

 

Day 3: Colonial City Tour / Pumapungo Inca Ruins

Cuenca is a beautiful colonial gem, lovingly preserved by its inhabitants who take great pride in their home.  With a year-round Spring-like climate and timeless Spanish and French architectural influences, Cuenca is a beguiling UNESCO World Heritage Site that feels forgotten in time, inviting a slower pace.  Vestiges of ancient Incan trails and ruins still may be found amongst the other architectural charms.  These trails connect Cuenca with the Amazon jungles to the east all the way to the rolling Pacific surf in the west.  Pumapungo Archeological Park is located within Cuenca itself and dates from the 15th Century.  Your guide will point out the remnants of Temple of the Sun as well as the Convent of the Virgins of the Sun.  Overnight Hotel Santa Lucia. [BLD]

 

Day 4: Departure to Guayaquil

Following breakfast, transfer to the Cuenca airport for your return flight to Guayaquil. [B]

Hacienda Uzhupud

Dating from the 19th century, Hacienda Uzhupud is a welcome home-away-from-home, an elegant base for adventurous explorations . 

 

Hotel Santa Lucia

Originally constructed as home to the provincial governor in 1859, this hotel has been lovingly updated to retain its classic decor while offering all the modern amenities travelers expect.

 

Mansion Alcazar

Conveniently located in the colonial center of Cuenca, Mansion Alcazar maintains it colonial splendor with careful furnishings and artwork.  Each room is individually designed with luxury amenities and fabrics.

Bellavista Cloud Forest

Explore the lush surroundings of Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge, a haven for exotic birds and verdant forests, located within a lovely 2 hour drive from Quito. Whether you prefer to bushwhack through the Valley of the Mist, hike upstream to the Hidden Falls, or simply relax with a cup of coffee on the deck admiring the view from the top of the Tandayapa Valley, Bellavista will take your breath away with its stunning beauty. Known throughout the world for its vast range of avian life, this region boasts 400+ species, including toucans, colorful cock-of-the-rock, giant antipitta and more. Bellavista itself has recorded over 20 species of hummingbirds alone! For botanical enthusiasts, hundreds of orchid and bromeliad specimens will keep you occupied. Spend a full day or extend your time with an overnight in the comfortable lodge. Your gracious local guides will insure hours of discovery and delight in the emerald forest.


2014 pricing: From $630 per person double occupancy, based on group size. 


Note: One day excursions are also available, as well as larger group departures. Please call for information.

Day 1: Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge

Rise early this morning for the next great adventure! Just a few hours distance on the northwestern slopes of the Pichincha Volcano, the cloud forests of Mindo are one of the most diverse and accessible endemic bird areas in the world. Traveling from the high sierra towards the coast you pass through a range of landscapes enroute to your destination, the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve. This area boasts over 400 recorded species of birds, and the list continues to grow! The Plate-Billed Toucan, Tanager-finch, Giant Antpitta, and White-faced Nunbird are all found here, and many other species found no where else on earth. Enjoy guided bird outings and general nature walks through the verdant forest along sparkling streams and waterfalls. Bellavista’s 55 hectare reserve holds a profusion of bromeliads and orchids, and since Bellavista is located on the equator flowers are in bloom year round. Resident mammals include the endangered Spectacled Bear and the puma (rarely seen but protected by the reserve), Andean coati and tayra, to name but a few. Overnight Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge.

Note: The one day adventure includes transportation to and from Quito (departing at 6:30 am and returning at 6:00pm), guided hike, lunch, and time to explore the trails on your own.

Note: For serious birders, ask our program director about the new eco-route which departs from Quito, climbs the Occidental bypass and follows the Alambi River to the Tandayapa Valley, traversing through the Yanacocha reserve and many different ecological zones.

Day 2: Bellavista - Quito

Rise early for the best birding opportunities! Join your guide for a walk to discover hidden waterfalls and stunning wild orchids. There are over 10km of trails in networks ranging from easy stroll to true bushwhacking adventure! Keep your eyes peeled for exotic birds in the canopy overhead. Or simply relax on the Bellavista deck with a cup of coffee, watching the hundreds of brilliant “feathered jewels” hummingbirds which visit the feeders. Bellavista has recorded over 20 species at their feeders, but the valley contains more than 40 species – a world record. Following lunch at the lodge, return to Quito for overnight at Casa Aliso. 


Note: Additional nights available at Bellavista.  Please inquire
Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge
A bird lovers dream, less than 1 hour 45 minutes from the heart of Quito city, Bellavista is a private reserve of 700 hectares, at the top of the famed Tandayapa Valley, near Mindo, in an area that has won the highest 24 hour bird count in the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the Americas.

Otavalo Market and Andean Highlands

Nestled between the snowcapped Imbabura and Cotachachi volcanoes, the town of Otavalo rests in a culturally distinctive area of the Andean Highlands. Staying at one of the beautifully reconstructed 16th century haciendas outside of town, take a guided trip through some of the many local artisan shops as well as the famous market. 


The highlands of Ecuador are dominated by majestic volcanoes and rolling green fields, dotted with small villages which through the generations have developed specialized handicrafts signifying their particular talents. The colorful meetings of locals at the major indigenous markets to sell and barter these goods have become a highlight of most travelers’ visits to this beautiful and diverse country. Join the fun with your local guide as you browse, photograph and find that perfect gift or memento of your highland adventure. Lodging is at a beautiful colonial-era hacienda, refurbished to modern standards while maintaining its historical air. Our active travelers will also enjoy the opportunity to hike to one of the area’s most scenic outlooks, the sparkling crater lake of Cuicocha, tucked into the slopes of Volcan Cotocachi. This 2 day extension has something for everyone, and is sure to remain in your memories long after you return home!


2014 Pricing: $545-$775 per person, double occupancy, depending on group size.


Note: One day excursions are also available. While Saturday is the biggest day of the Otavalo market, it operates every day of the week, so this extension may be added to any Galapagos voyage itinerary. Please call for single/triple occupancy rates 

Day 1: Otavalo

Departing from your Quito hotel, travel north into the Andean highlands, stopping at small villages to experience local culture and handicrafts along the way. Enjoy lunch at a hosteria with magnificent views of surrounding volcanoes. You will stay at one of the beautifully restored colonial haciendas. Horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking are just a few of the options available to guests. Overnight at Hacienda Pinsaqui or Hacienda Cusin. 


Day 2 : Otavalo - Quito

After breakfast, visit the world-famous market at Otavalo. These traditional meeting points have been a vital link of the highland Indian cultures since pre-Incan times. This is a magnificent opportunity to photograph native peoples, distinctive clothing, animals, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and pottery that are displayed in colorful arrays. Be prepared to get involved in the excitement of bargaining and buying. This afternoon you will have the opportunity to head out hiking with your guide to Laguna Cuicocha a caldera lake on the flanks of Volcan Cotacachi featuring spectacular views of the surrounding peaks. Return to Quito for an overnight at Casa Aliso. 

Hacienda Cusin

Founded in 1602, Hacienda Cusin was converted in 1990 into a country inn of beautifully decorated guest rooms, suites and garden cottages, its history preserved and its ambience respected. Read more about the Hacienda Cusin.

Discover the best of Peru as you travel to the high Andes and the magnificent ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, the most important and impressive archaeological monument in South America. Accompanied by guides specialized in archaeology, history and Andean culture, visit monumental Inca stone temples, and the fascinating towns and Quechua Indian markets of Cusco and the Urubamba Valley. Guides meet you at every transfer point and assist with check-in to assure the most informed and in-depth experience in Peru.


2014 pricing: From $2595, based on group size. Flight to Peru and from Lima to Cusco not included.

Day 1: Arrival in Lima

Arrive in Lima. Airport assistance and overnight at the Costa del Sol Ramada Airport Hotel just a short 2-minute walk outside customs.

Day 2: Cusco Walking Tour

Assistance with early morning check-in for one hour flight to Cusco. Airport reception and transfer to your hotel. Afternoon half-day guided orientation of ancient Inca temples, Spanish churches and the surrounding ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara and Tambo Machay. Our guide will also direct you to shops, museums, markets and restaurants where you can shop, dine and explore on your own. Overnight at the Casa Andina Private Collection. [B]


Note: Optional upgrade at an additional cost to luxury Orient Express Monasterio Hotel, a restored 400 year old former monastery available for additional cost.


Day 3: Urubamba Valley

On our full day guided adventure through the Sacred Valley of the Incas you visit the village of Pisac and the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. Depending on the season and your interests we stop to chat with farmers, artisans and visit Quechua villages where highland Indians tend their fields and sell handcrafts in outdoor markets. Overnight in the serene Urubamba Valley at the Hotel Sol y Luna. [BL]


Day 4: Machu Picchu

Transfer to catch the morning train to Machu Picchu. After assisting with your hotel check in, our guide accompanies us on a private tour throughout the principal temples and important sectors of Machu Picchu leaving you free to photograph and explore on your own time. Includes first-class reserved train tickets, bus tickets up and down the mountain, lunch and one-time entrance fee. Overnight at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. [BLD] 


Note: We highly recommend the KM104 hike into Machu Picchu on this day. This 4-6 hour trek hikes the last day of the famed Inca Trail, allowing you to see the spectacular ruins of Winay Wayna and enter Machu Picchu through the Intipunku or “Gate of the Sun.” The cost for this trek is $300 per person and includes your trekking permit.


Day 5: Cusco

You have time this morning to return to Machu Picchu on the early shuttle bus (transport and entrance fee included). Enjoy contemplating, exploring and photographing the most impressive archaeological monument in South America on your own time wandering through the mysterious maze of streets and stone buildings in this magnificent citadel. Hike up the towering Wayna Picchu peak, or back up the Inca Trail to the Intipunku, Gate of the Sun entrance. Or, simply explore the trails and lush orchid gardens of the Machu Picchu Pueblo. Late-afternoon return on the Pullman train to a station in the Urubamba Valley where we transfer to a private vehicle back to Cusco arriving by evening to our hotel. Overnight at the Casa Andina Private Collection. [BL] 


Day 6: Lima and departure

Transfer to Cusco airport for flight to Lima. Airport reception and transfer in to Casa Andina Miraflores Park Hotel to use as a day room until your evening flight. Optional half-day tours of colonial Lima or a special farewell dinner are available upon request for additional cost. [B]

Costa del Sol Ramada

Just outside the Lima Airport, the Costa del Sol is a wonderful stop over when flying from the Galapagos to Peru. Read more about the Costa del Sol Ramada


Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco

A beautifully renovated 18th-century manor house, Casa Andina is just 3 blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Read more about the Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco


Hotel Sol y Luna

Nestled in the sacred Urumbamba Valley, the Hotel Sol y Luna combines comfort with a rustic Andean ambience. Read more about the Hotel Sol y Luna.


Machu Picchu Pueblo

The Machu Picchu Pueblo is the ideal base of exploration for the ruins of Machu Picchu. Surrounded by 12 acres of cloud forest on the banks of the Urubamba River, the hotel's spectacular scenery is matched by an incredible rich flora and fauna. Read more about the Machu Picchu Pueblo

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