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Bienviendos a Ecuador! Upon arrival you will be met at the international airport and transferred to your hotel in Quito where the rest of the day is free.
(Shared Group Tour) This morning visit downtown Quito and its architectural treasures on a shared group city tour. Your stroll takes you through Independence Plaza, past the Cathedral and the Presidential Palace, and on to the temple of La Compañia de Jesús with its dazzling gilded interior and the impressive façade of the Monastery of San Francisco. Touring continues with the Equatorial Monument that marks the exact point of the Middle of the World. With a latitude of 0°. Next visit the Ethnographic Museum to learn about the different Native American groups living in Ecuador.
(Shared Group Tour) Rich in ancestral cultural heritage and set amongst stunning Andean scenery of mountains, waterfalls and lakes, the market town of Otavalo is one of Ecuador’s most popular destinations. Arriving in time to fully appreciate the activity of Otavalo market, peruse the stalls of ponchos, scarves, blankets, handbags and much more. Practise your bartering skills and pick up a bargain. Unlike other Ecuadorian markets and their raucous noise, Otavaleños barter in silence. Proceed to the Indian village of Peguche where artisans weave in their own homes.
(Private tour) Travelling south on the Pan-American Highway arrive at the Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary centred around the soaring Cotopaxi Volcano. An introductory briefing at the Interpretation Centre will introduce you to the flora and fauna of the Andean paramo or moorlands.
(Private tour) Enjoy a scenic journey to the rim of the Quilotoa crater lake. Formed by the collapse of the Quilotoa Volcano after several catastrophic eruptions some 800 years ago, the crater lake is a vivid turquoise-green colour due to the dissolved minerals in the water. Spend time walking around the rim with a lunch box provided for a picturesque picnic.
(Private tour) This morning enjoy a spectacular journey to the handsome town of Riobamba. The Devil’s Cauldron is the first stop, an impressive cascade surrounded by subtropical vegetation and colourful orchids. The adventurous can descend down to the cascade bottom for a closer look whilst others can appreciate the overwhelming force and sound of the rushing waters from a lookout point. Lunch is taken in a local hacienda or hotel. Continue to the town of Baños, famed for its hot springs and thermal waters. The drive finishes alongside Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador, where photo opportunities abound.
(Private tour) This morning we depart early this morning for a dramatically scenic journey along ravines and river gorges, and Indian villages and cultivated fields, arriving to the small town of Alausí. Here you will board a train following the Devil’s Nose route, an 800-metre descent along zig-zagging railway line culminating at the Condor Puñuna museum run by the local Nizag community. The round trip brings you back to Alausí where you continue by coach to the Inca Fortress of Ingapirca. Enjoy lunch in the area before proceeding to Cuenca, the colonial jewel of the south.
Today is a free day for you to explore Cuenca independently.
(Private tour) Today we journey through the El Cajas National Park, an expanse of glacial lakes, Andean cloud forests and volcanic peaks. Enjoy a full day excursion exploring the park then continue on your drive to Guayaquil.
This morning early you fly to the Galapagos Islands. Arriving here, you will driven to embark your the Yacht La Pinta (48 people capacity max) This Yacht offers the most in-depth short itinerary (Friday Embark - Tuesday Disembark) with small groups owing to the fewer numbers on board.
Spend the next days enjoying your in depth Southern Islands Cruise exploring all that the Galapagos is famous for: from ancient giant tortoises to penguins, from sleek flamingos to bold sharks, from bizarre flightless cormorants to rugged marine iguanas and from whales and dolphins to dramatic island volcanoes and breathtaking scenery, plus the exploration of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (the second largest in the world) on kayaks, the glass bottom boat, swimming or snorkeling.
Bid farewell to your crew and friends made on board. You will be driven to the airport for your flight back to Guayaquil, here you will catch your connecting international flight home.