Buffet breakfast daily (B), 7 lunches (L), 6 three-course dinners (D); Local Host service in each city; sightseeing with a Local Guide and transportation as outlined in the day-by-day itinerary (except intra-vacation flights, which are additional; inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE).
Day #1 Arrive Quito, Ecuador. Arrive in Quito, where you will be met by your Local Host.
Day #2 Quito–Mashpi Lodge. Travel to the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve with over 3,200 acres teeming with wildlife. Upon arrival at the all-inclusive MASHPI LODGE, stop at the HUMMINGBIRD VIEWPOINT to learn about these flying machines while enjoying a welcome drink. Your stay at this luxurious eco-lodge includes gourmet Ecuadorian meals, non-alcoholic drinks, and all activities and guided tours. Begin exploring the lodge’s amenities this afternoon. Take a ride on the AERIAL TRAM, which glides through the forest canopy allowing observation of the plant and wildlife. The more adventurous may opt to ride the AERIAL BICYCLE suspended in the rainforest canopy, crossing a river gorge, and offering unique views of the surrounding natural world. Tonight, take a guided NIGHT WALK to discover nocturnal creatures and their behaviors. (B,L,D)
Day #3 Mashpi Lodge. For those who want to enjoy the beauty and magic of dawn in the forest, head out before breakfast on a guided NATURE WALK when wildlife is at its most active. Later, guided NATURE WALKS through the reserve’s many trails introduce you to the plants, insects, and animals that abound in this region. You may also choose to spend time on the OBSERVATION TOWER to get a bird’s-eye view of the area. Visit the LIFE CENTER to learn about indigenous butterflies, reptiles, and medicinal plants. Activities abound here and all are included! (B,L,D)
Day #4 Mashpi Lodge–Quito. Return to Quito today. The remainder of your afternoon is at leisure. (B,L)
Day #5 Quito. Your included city TOUR showcases the rich legacy left by the Incas and, later, the Spaniards. See Independence Square, dominated by its formidable Cathedral, San Francisco Plaza Church, and the BASILICA with its marvelous stained-glass windows. (B)
Day #6 Quito–Baltra–Santa Cruz. Fly to Baltra in the Galápagos. Upon arrival, transfer to the highlands of SANTA CRUZ and visit the Giant Tortoises RESERVE and the Twin Pit Craters. These great depressions of volcanic material were formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses, and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. (B,L,D)SPECIAL FEATURE: Named after the famous Darwin’s finches abundant in the surroundings, the Finch Bay Eco Hotel offers a private seaside location surrounded by mangroves. Amenities include a bar, lounge, restaurant, outdoor pool, and Jacuzzi—and beachfront access. All guestrooms offer twin beds, private facilities, and air-conditioning. Guests will enjoy daily boat excursions to various Galápagos Islands, kayaking, snorkeling, bicycle rides in town, and viewing the local flora and fauna.
Day #7 Santa Fé. Cruise to SANTA FÉ, where you will see the endemic Santa Fé land iguana and the large opuntia cactus forest. The beach area is covered with California sea lions, and the coastline is an excellent location for snorkeling with sea turtles. (B,L,D)
Day #8 South Plaza. Board a yacht bound for SOUTH PLAZA Island. Wildlife includes sea lions, land iguanas, and hybrid iguanas, which are the result of a cross between male marine iguanas and female land iguanas. This is also a bird-watcher’s paradise, where you will see nesting swallow-tailed gulls, masked boobies, blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, frigatebirds, pelicans, and Audubon’s Shearwaters. (B,L,D)
Day #9 Bartolomé Island. Today’s adventure takes you on a walk to the summit of BARTOLOMÉ for spectacular views of the Galápagos. Interesting lava formations and tuff cones can be observed as well as sea lions and penguins swimming in the vicinity of Pinnacle Rock. From the beach, enjoy snorkeling or swimming. (B,L,D)
Day #10 Baltra–Quito. Leave the hotel early this morning and visit the CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION, home to many Galapagos giant tortoises. Then, fly back to Quito and transfer to the hotel for one more night in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. (B)
Day #11 Quito. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)