Multi-Day Tour | Private

Ecuador & Galapagos (16 days)

Abercrombie & Kent Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador To Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Valid for Departures Now Through: 14 Dec 2018

Itinerary

DAY LOCATION(S) HOTEL MEALS DESCRIPTION
Day 1
Quito, Ecuador
Hotel Boutique Plaza Grande None

Welcome to Quito!


Upon completion of immigration and customs procedures including Meet & Greet you will be met by an A&K representative and transferred to your hotel.


Quito, nestled at the foot of 15,696-foot Pichincha Volcano, is known for its eternally spring-like climate and for the beauty of its well-preserved colonial centre. Originally settled by the Quitu tribe in the first millennium, Quito was eventually integrated into the Inca Empire before being destroyed and re-founded in 1534 by Spaniard Conquistador Sebastián de Benalcázar. For nearly three centuries, the arts and intellectual societies flourished under Spanish colonial rule, a fact evident in the historic centre’s splendidly restored colonial buildings and churches lining narrow and cobbled streets. In 1809, Quito established the first self-governing junta in the colonies and the liberator Simón Bolívar led the country as part of the Republic of Greater Colombia until 1830, when the Republic of Ecuador announced its independence. Due to the city’s preservation of its blended past, UNESCO declared Quito the first of its World Heritage Sites in 1978.  The city is beautifully situated in an Andean valley at 9,186 feet above the sea level, making it the 2nd highest capital city in the world.

Day 2
Quito, Ecuador
Hotel Boutique Plaza Grande Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, begin your tour of colonial Quito. This morning's sightseeing demonstrates some of the reasons why Ecuador's capital earned its honour as the first UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Marvel at San Francisco Church and its museum of religious art, La Compañía and the seven tons of gold gilding its glittering walls, and the bustling Independence Plaza, flanked by the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral of Quito. Rich in art treasures, fine woodcarvings, and flowering balconies, the historic centre is the lifeblood of Quito.

  


Drive north to the Mitad del Mundo (the Middle of the World), where you will be able to straddle both hemispheres at once.  Visit the Ethnographic Museum (with a display of the costumes and lifestyle of the various indigenous groups of Ecuador) OR the Inti Ñan Museum (located at the true equator, this museum displays examples of pre-Columbian life in Ecuador and offers demonstrations on the unique geography, astrology, and natural sciences of the region around the equator).

Day 3
Quito, Ecuador
Ibarra, Ecuador
Otavalo, Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador
Hotel Boutique Plaza Grande Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We depart Quito early in the morning for a one-and-a-half drive north. In Otavalo, home of a millenary market, a carefully restored steam engine awaits us. At a slow pace we will discover the many wonders hidden in this part of the country: musicians, painters, weavers of San Roque and the skillful woodcarvers (at San Antonio) who keep the renowned Quito School style alive.


Stretch Otavalo to Ibarra operated with steam engine across the northern valleys. After a tasting of traditional Andean cuisine in Andrade Marin we return to Quito.

Day 4
Riobamba, Ecuador
Urbina, Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador
Cruise Train Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we board our convoy at Quito Chimbacalle station and begin our journey south along the Avenue of Volcanoes. If the weather permits, you can spot up to twenty volcanoes from the train –most extinct or dormant for centuries.


 Here, the Andes range splits into two arms that run parallel down south. The fertile valley trapped between these stone walls hosts a treasure trove of biodiversity. From the comfort of our panoramic cars we watch the change of vegetation and landscape as we slowly climb the Andean highlands to Urbina, the highest point in our itinerary at 11,800 feet above sea level. After lunch, the train travels on towards Urbina station, located at 3,609 meters above sea level. In the skirts of mount Chimborazo we meet the last ice-merchant and learn the story of his ancestral trade, Baltasar Ushca. If conditions are favorable, Chimborazo may provide a spectacular sight from the station. After this visit, the train takes us to Riobamba station from where a bus transfers us to our hotel and dinner.

Day 5
General Antonio Elizalde, Ecuador
Alausí, Ecuador
Guamote, Ecuador
Colta, Ecuador
Riobamba, Ecuador
Cruise Train Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In the morning, we depart by bus to Riobamba station. The city is surrounded by five volcanoes, therefore it is known as the "Sultan of the Andes". We depart by train, this time driven by a steam engine through the Andean landscapes to Colta Station. Time to visit Balbanera Church, the oldest in Ecuador, established by the first Europeans in 1534. Back on the train, we travel on to Guamote where the Indian market is waiting to be explored and one of the few places where bartering is still practiced in Ecuador. Lunch is served on board the train.


In the afternoon, the train continues its journey to Alausi train station, following curious geological formations before beginning the descent down the emblematic “Devil's Nose”. Zigzagging its way through the mountainside, the train drops 200 meters in just 3 kilometers. A short stop at a viewpoint enables us to appreciate the magnitude of this engineering feat, Ecuadorian railway system was once known as the “world's most difficult railway". We continue our journey alongside the Chanchán River that brings us to Bucay station, all the time witnessing the transition from the Highlands to the Pacific coast plains. Arrive at the station and disembark. Overnight in Bucay

Day 6
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Durán, Ecuador
Yaguachi, Ecuador
General Antonio Elizalde, Ecuador
Wyndham Hotel Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, we depart by train from Bucay station en route for Naranjito station. Our journey brings us alongside the tropical rainforest which on time, it will turn into banana, cacao and sugar-cane plantations. Once in Naranjito, we depart by bus to a coastal hacienda. We have reserved for the last day, a visit a cocoa plantation to learn about the history of this grain and its effect on Ecuadorian culture. After this visit, back to the hacienda for a chocolate tasting and a typical lunch. Later, we drive by bus back Naranjito station to our final destination, Duran station. Before arrival, the train will make a short stop at Yaguachi to switch from a diesel locomotive to a steam-locomotive1. The train weaves its way through plantations of rice, marking its trail with clouds of steam. Arrival to Duran train station and complementary transfers from the station to Guayaquil’s main hotels.


Upon completion of immigration and customs procedures, you will be met by an A&K representative and transferred to your hotel.


Located on the banks of the Guayas River, Guayaquil is Ecuador’s principal harbour and largest city, with about 3 million inhabitants is a bustling city. Guayaquil’s strong culture and traditions stand in amazing contrast to the modernity of its new constructions. Guayaquil’s harbour, “Puerto Maritimo”, is the main sea port of the country and is where 80% of the country’s imports and more than 50% of its exports are handled. The commercial and industrial centre of Ecuador, Guayaquil lies about 60 kilometres from the Gulf of Guayaquil and the Pacific Ocean.

Day 7
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Wyndham Hotel Breakfast, Lunch

Visit the city starting with the largest Iguana tile sculpture you have ever seen.  Continue through the industrial avenue of Carlos J. Arosemana to admire the tiled art work in the columns of the bridges and Supports for overhead highways in the city, continue to the the Centennial Park in Avenue 9 de Octubre.  Through this avenue to see the city regeneration, passing by the first firemen station, the Masonic temple and the few buildings from beginning of the 20th century.  Continue through Chile Street, known in travel guides for the Indian market in the street.  Visit the Seminario Park, well known as Ïguana’s Park, in front of the Cathedral Church. Continue our visit through Chile street up to the intersection with Olmedo Avenue, passing by the First State University of Guayaquil, an old building with white columns and wide windows, typical of the architecture in Guayaquil.


Our second stop will be at the South Market in Malecon 2000, to visit the Integration Plaza and artisans market, the Union Club and the first fort of Guayaquil where a statue of Jose Joaquin de Olmedo (first major of Guayaquil) stands in front of the Guayas River.  Continue the visit through the Malecon Simon Bolivar to our next stop:  the Civic Plaza.  Visit the Moorish Tower, the City hall, and the Rotonda Monument.

Continue by car among the Malecon and visit to Las Peñas, the old neighborhood where the city was born, located at the foot of Santa Ana Hill.  Continue the visit to the north of the city, passing by the General Hospital, Cementery and principal Avenues and the local flower market where you can admire one of the main export products in Ecuador:  roses.

Day 8
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Wyndham Breakfast, Lunch

Parque Histórico Guayaquil is a project of the Banco Central an attempt to recapture our culture for our children.  This visit is an invitation to discover our profound sense of identity, and a mirror in which we can see the traditions that make up our origins as a city and the roots of our culture.  Once inside you will find yourself transported to a world where past becomes present.  In one beautiful journey you will see before your very eyes the species that used to populate the ancient province of Guayaquil.  


From deers to tapirs, monkeys, wild cats, you will discover an amazing world, and at the same time discover that nature is an essential part of our lives, and not just something to admire from afar.  You will also take a trip through the countryside to a hacienda of the day, with its buildings its traditions and its wealth, and discover the way in which the craftsmen used to work.  You can watch or, if you are feeling lively, take part  in the duties of the hacienda, and discover this unknown side of coastal life, a side which has remained virtually unchanged since the colonial era.

Day 9
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Pikaia Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Morning check-in at Guayaquil airport. The flight-time from Guayaquil to the Islands is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

While in transit, you will have access to the VIP Lounge at Baltra Airport, and later will be met by our guides in order to be taken to to the Itabaca Canal for a seven-minute ferry trip to Santa Cruz Island, followed by a 40-minute scenic trip, in private transport to Pikaia Lodge, for check-in.

Once in the lodge, it will be time for a light lunch at Evolution Restaurant or on the Pool Terrace and for a briefing with a complementary welcome cocktail is offered at DNA Bar.

You will, afterwards, have a chance to relax and become familiar with the lodge areas and facilities; for which we recommend walking, jogging or cycling the 3.5km of trails within the boundaries, as well as a swim in our pool, for a later dinner at Evolution Restaurant.

Day 10
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Pikaia Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Half day and exploration in Santa Cruz Island

Each morning activity is planned considering satellite weather imagery and tide charts. Guests will join groups of maximum 16 people for a land tour.


The land activities include: Gemelos and Scalesia Forest, Giant Tortoise Farm, Volcanic Craters and Giant Tortoises at Cerro Mesa, Lava Tunnels, Tortuga Bay, Charles Darwin Scientific Research Center, Garrapatero Beach and Sknorkeling at Pikaia II.


Los Gemelos and Scalesia Spanish for “The Twins”, Los Gemelos are two impressive volcanic depressions in the highlands of Santa Cruz. The Gemelos sinkholes were created from the collapse of surface materials into hollow chambers below the surface. Unlike much of the rest of the archipelago, this area is quite green and lush.  In addition to the giant sinkholes, you’ll also be able to observe a variety of flora and fauna.


Giant Tortoise Farm located Northwest of Puerto Ayora, the path to the highlands starts from Bellavista and passes through the agricultural zone, near the National Park boundary, the Miconia zone and then goes through the Fern and Sedge zone. If we have good weather we would enjoy the view as this area gives us a range of hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round. The highlands are one of the best places in the islands to observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The tortoises are easy to spot as they lumber around eating grass and leaves and wallowing in the small pools that are common in the reserve. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and live up to 150-200 years. You may also spot highland birds such as cattle egrets, Galápagos rails, mockingbirds, finches, and vermilion flycatchers. There are also several lava tunnels in the highlands – great places to spot the barn owl.


Cerro Mesa with a height of 650 meters, the hill of Cerro Mesa is one of the highest on the island, offering excellent views. It takes about 25 minutes to hike up to the top, from where you can spot surrounding islands such as Santa Fe, Baltra, North Seymour, and Bartolome, among others. At the end of the hike, you will find a volcanic crater, which will also be the starting point for a short 6 km bicycle ride along a paved road.


Tortuga Bay this beautiful spot is a favorite of sea turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas, pelicans, and lava gulls. A paved pathway takes you from the outskirts of Puerto Ayora through an arid and aromatic Palo Santo forest dotted with prickly pear and candelabra cactus. The beach itself is actually divided into two sections. The first, a long crescent of white sand, fronts a large wave break usually filled with surfers. Further along is another, more sheltered bay of crystal clear water lined with mangroves. Keep an eye out for flamingos here or just take a relaxing swim or snorkel in the warm water. Between the two beaches is a short trail to a rocky stretch of coastline where you can find marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and pelicans.


Darwin Scientific Research Center we will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and its famous residents within an impressive giant prickly-pear cacti forest. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation, and the National Park administration in the islands. You will gain insight into the huge efforts being made by scientists, guides, rangers and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Charles Darwin Research Station is also part of the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center for tortoises. Thet are raised here in the care of researchers and then, when ready, re-introduced into their natural habitat.

Guests can relax and enjoy their days at The Lodge independently as well. Mountain bikes, helmets, snorkelling equipment and wetsuits are available without charge at the front desk or onboard our yacht. It is recommended to pre-book early to take advantage of any optional third-party activities not included in the package.

All extra activities, such as: taxis, special equipment and guides will have an extra cost, depending on the activity and time. Please note that these optional programs are not carried out by the hotel. As we work with well-known and specialized local tour operators, we cannot accept any responsibility for their activities or services.

Garrapatero Beach situated in the Northern of Santa Cruz, El Garrapatero is a gorgeous sandy beach surrounded by mangroves. A fresh water lake behind the beach is home to flamingos, herons, stilts and other shore birds. The beautiful turquoise waters and the natural pools provide a good opportunity for swimming and snorkeling.

Not included activities: scuba diving ($200 an hour), sea kayaking ($200 an hour) and mountain biking ($40 - $200 an hour) and catch and release fishing ($1200 an hour)

Day 11
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Pikaia Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Yacht exploration to Bartolomé Island and Chinese Hat


The yacht cruise is a full-day program onboard Pikaia I Yacht. Private cabins are assigned and guests have the option to have breakfast onboard Pikaia I. On arrival on the island, the morning offers hiking or snorkeling activities until midday. Lunch buffet is served while the yacht sails to another island for an afternoon exploration.

Two hours before sunset the yacht sets sail for Pikaia Lodge. While sailing, our guests can rest, shower, or freshen up in their air-conditioned private cabins, soak in the Jacuzzi, watch a Galapagos documentary, join a discussion with guides, sunbathe or watch for dolphins.


Bartolome Island famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best known landmark in the islands. Galápagos penguins, the only species of penguin found north of the equator, walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. Just below the surface, shoals of tropical fish dodge in and out of the rocks past urchins, sea stars and anemones. A crescent-shaped, pink and white sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle.


Chinese Hat it’s one of the most recognizable Galapagos Islands, and It’s easy to see why its name: this islet off of Santiago is shaped like an old-fashioned Chinaman’s hat, a gently sloping cone rising out of the clear Galapagos water. Because of its distinctive shape, Sombrero Chino has fascinated visitors as long as they have been coming to Galapagos. Like most of Galapagos, Sombrero Chino is volcanic in origin. Ages ago, the volcano on nearby Santiago Island erupted, spewing rocks and forming what is known as a “spatter cone.” It’s essentially a mountain made of lava and rocks from an erupting volcano. Over time, the mountain was eroded away and the ocean carved a channel between the Santiago Volcano and its spatter cone child. Lava flows on Sombrero Chino are more recent and have nothing to do with its formation.

Day 12
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Pikaia Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Half day land exploration at Santa Cruz Island

Day 13
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Pikaia Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Yacht exploration to Santa Fe Island and South Plaza Island


Santa Fe Island formed by uplifting, rather than by a volcano, Santa Fe is known for having one of the most beautiful coves in all the Galapagos. Some of the island’s endemic species include the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, rice rats, different types of finches, and the Galapagos mockingbird. The visit includes a hike on a trail past salt bushes where Galapagos hawks as well as the Santa Fe land iguanas tend to roam. Playful sea lions will usually accompany swimmers and snorkelers during beach time.


South Plaza Island it’s the southern partner of two small crescent-shaped islands that lie just a few hundred meters off the east coast of Santa Cruz. The northern island is used for scientific purposes only. South Plaza is one of the smallest yet richest islands in the archipelago. Only 130 meters wide (426 feet), it was formed from uplifted seabed, giving it a titled table-top quality.

Day 14
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Pikaia Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Yacht exploration to North Seymour Island and Mosquera Island


North Seymour Island may well be considered a concentrate of the Galapagos Islands. It is located north of Baltra island (also called Seymour Sur) It has an area of 1.9 km ² and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. Was formed by undersea volcanic lava rising and not a rash as other islands from the Galapagos. Uplifts occurred sporadically and lasted more than a million years to reach its current level. All marine fossils found in the archipelago are in these islands and the best example is the side of the North Channel Baltra. Fossils dating from the Pleistocene, and specifically in the case of Baltra, one can say that these volcanic tables near the surface were about a million years ago.


In our walk along the 2km path we’ll see that the whole island is covered with dense low vegetation. North Seymour is also full of birds: frigates, a large population of blue-footed boobies and gulls forked tail. There is also a large number of land iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus), which were brought from Baltra or South Seymour (nowadays we find up to 1500 individuals!). The stock for the captive breeding program of the Galapagos Land Iguana is descended from iguanas which Captain G. Allan Hancock brought from North Seymour Island in the 1930s


Mosquera Islet this tiny islet (wet landing) is home to a huge population of sea lions as well as many shorebirds. The islet has a fantastic white sand beach and great snorkelling and swimming. While at Mosquera, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and orcas, which are occasionally spotted in the area.

Day 15
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Pikaia Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Half day land exploration at Santa Cruz Island

Day 16
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
None Breakfast

This morning you will check out after breakfast.  We will show a documentary in the main lounge before it is time to depart with our Guardian Angel to Baltra airport for your return flight to Quito or Guayaquil.

Tour Features

Experience(s)

Experiences have not been selected at this time

Description

Enjoy one of the most amazing Ecuador tours, where you will be able to actually cross the mighty Andes Mountain Range on board the so-called most difficult railroad of the world, and end up in the clasiest lodge in the Galapagos Islands!

About Us

A&K Ecuador was established in Quito in September 2004, and has now grown to have 20 full-time employees, as well as numerous seasonal staff across the country to handle larger groups and monthly fluctuations. Meaning that we are big enough to handle the largest of operation, such as congresses, incentives and cruise operations, but we are also small enough to offer a specialized, tailor-made and personal service without losing sight of the finer details.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Travel Advisor for insider knowledge to help enhance your experience.

Terms & Conditions

Terms and conditions are different on each product. Please contact us for more information

The trademarks VIRTUOSO, the Globe Swirl Logo and SPECIALISTS IN THE ART OF TRAVEL are registered trademarks of Virtuoso, Ltd. Virtuoso, Ltd. has a U.S. copyright registration for the Globe Swirl Logo, ©2000. All rights reserved. Virtuoso CST#2069091-50. California CST# 2069091; TA# 808 - Registered Iowa Travel Agency; Washington UBI # 601 554 183. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.

Reviews and Recommendations for Abercrombie & Kent Ecuador

100%

of 1
guests
recommend


Virtuoso Verified Traveler

All reviews are from confirmed guests sharing exclusive insights

Sort reviews by

Galápagos Adventure

By: PG


Reviewed on: 13 Aug 2017

Along with our local travel advisor, A&K provided us with a perfect adventure to the Galapagos Islamds and Quito. Our guide, Carlos, spoke perfect English and was an expert in anything we asked from history to flora/fauna of the region. Perfectly planned trip!!!
Travel Advisor:  Catherine Whitworth