Itinerary

DAY LOCATION(S) HOTEL MEALS DESCRIPTION
Day 1
Quito, Ecuador
Casa Gangotena None

Arrive Quito

Arrive in Quito, where a driver awaits your arrival at the airport. Transfer to your hotel, a refurbished historic mansion overlooking the Plaza San Francisco in the heart of the colonial center. Then travel just outside the city to the equatorial monument, which straddles the divide between the hemispheres at the “middle of the world,” and visit the monument’s ethnological exhibition. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in Quito.

Day 2
Quito, Ecuador
Casa Gangotena Breakfast, Lunch

Quito

Spend the day on a private tour of Quito’s colonial old town, which earned the city distinction as the first UNESCO-designated world capital. Discover grand colonial buildings and plazas as you explore the labyrinth of enchanting cobbled streets. Step through the doors of Quito’s most beautiful churches: the Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesús, known for its dazzling gilded nave, and the Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco, Quito's oldest church.

Day 3
Galápagos, Ecuador
Finch Bay Eco Hotel Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Galápagos

Fly to Isla Baltra in the Galápagos, and meet a naturalist at the airport for your first wildlife excursion. Take the ferry to Isla Santa Cruz and travel into the highlands to the Giant Tortoise Reserve, home to the world’s largest living tortoise species. Observe these prehistoric-looking creatures close up as they forage through grassy fields and forests, and enjoy lunch at a nearby ranch. Then transfer to Finch Bay Eco Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World tucked into one of Santa Cruz’s secluded bays.

Day 4
Galápagos, Ecuador
Finch Bay Eco Hotel Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Galápagos

Enjoy two full days to sail between the isles of the Galápagos aboard the lodge’s yacht, disembarking to explore volcanic landscapes and offshore waters alongside expert naturalists. Our itinerary is determined by the Galapagos National Park service to minimize the impact on each island, which allows for intimate wildlife viewing with few other travelers nearby. You might hike across North Seymour Island, spotting blue-footed boobies and frigate birds, or stroll the sandy beaches of South Plaza to encounter Sally Lightfoot crabs and land iguanas. Swim and snorkel with sea lions in secluded coves off Santa Fe, and spot Galápagos hawks and Nazca boobies flying overhead. On Bartolomé Island, visit the towering obelisk of Pinnacle Rock and walk with Galápagos penguins along volcanic coastal cliffs.

Day 5
Galápagos, Ecuador
Finch Bay Eco Hotel Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Galápagos

Enjoy two full days to sail between the isles of the Galápagos aboard the lodge’s yacht, disembarking to explore volcanic landscapes and offshore waters alongside expert naturalists. Our itinerary is determined by the Galapagos National Park service to minimize the impact on each island, which allows for intimate wildlife viewing with few other travelers nearby. You might hike across North Seymour Island, spotting blue-footed boobies and frigate birds, or stroll the sandy beaches of South Plaza to encounter Sally Lightfoot crabs and land iguanas. Swim and snorkel with sea lions in secluded coves off Santa Fe, and spot Galápagos hawks and Nazca boobies flying overhead. On Bartolomé Island, visit the towering obelisk of Pinnacle Rock and walk with Galápagos penguins along volcanic coastal cliffs.

Day 6
Galápagos, Ecuador
Finch Bay Eco Hotel Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Galápagos

Spend a day exploring the otherworldly landscapes and wildlife-rich waters of Santa Cruz Island. Hike through cactus groves to swim in the dramatic, water-filled crevices known as Las Grietas; and snorkel with colorful fish and sea turtles in turquoise lagoons. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to watch its tortoise-rearing program in action, or kayak offshore to spot sea lions frolicking in the surf. As a National Geographic traveler, you will be invited to a private cooking class, where you’ll learn to make ceviche alongside Finch Bay’s executive chef or sous chef.

Day 7
Quito, Ecuador
Casa Gangotena Breakfast

Galápagos/Quito

Return the airport on Isla Baltra and fly to Quito. Enjoy an evening at leisure in the colonial center.

Day 8
Quito, Ecuador
Mashpi Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Quito/Mashpi Reserve

Travel to the archaeological site of Tulipe, once home to the Yumbos, a pre-Inca civilization. Your next destination is Mashpi Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge set in a cloud forest reserve—and your home for the remainder of your trip. Settle into your glass-walled room, and enjoy a lunch of gourmet Ecuadorian fare. This evening, take a guided night walk through the surrounding jungle, treading amid bioluminescent fungi and keeping your eyes and ears open for the forest’s nocturnal residents, including frogs, owls, and kinkajous.

Day 9
Quito, Ecuador
Mashpi Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Mashpi Reserve

Rise early to witness the early morning activity in the cloud forest. Enjoy a steaming cup of coffee on the hotel terrace as you watch birds and other species flit among nearby trees. Take a guided walk to the Life Centre, the lodge’s research station and home to myriad butterfly species. Look for howler monkeys and a variety of brightly colored birds along the way and enjoy a picnic breakfast on the center’s deck overlooking a garden of medicinal plants. As a National Geographic guest, you’ll have the opportunity to join a resident biologist for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Life Centre and a nature walk that highlights ongoing research projects. Survey the canopy from the observation tower and ride an aerial bicycle through the treetops.

Day 10
Quito, Ecuador
None Breakfast, Lunch

Mashpi Reserve/Quito/Depart

Bring your binoculars for a bird-watching walk, where your guide will help you spot some of the more than 400 species that make their home in the forest. Or hike past moss-covered trees, orchids, and coiling vines to the 150-feet-high Copal Waterfall. Enjoy a last lunch at the hotel before transferring to the airport in Quito and catching an overnight flight home.

Tour Features

Experience(s)

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Description

Private Expedition: Ecuador

Blanketed by lush tropical forests and home to one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife sanctuaries, Ecuador is a small country that packs a big punch when it comes to biodiversity. Discover colonial Quito with a private guide, and then fly to the Galápagos to encounter the archipelago’s iconic wildlife while kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and more. Cap off your expedition back on the mainland, discovering the Chocó rain forest’s breathtaking array of flora and fauna on guided nature walks through some of the country’s most pristine jungle.

Trip Highlights

- Sail between the isles of the Galápagos Archipelago by yacht, disembarking for close encounters with sea lions, blue-footed boobies, Galápagos penguins, and much more.

- Stay at two spectacular National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World: Finch Bay Eco Hotel and Mashpi Lodge.

- Ride an aerial bike through the treetops of the Chocó rain forest, and let bioluminescent flora guide you on a jungle night walk.

- Take a private tour of Quito’s well-preserved colonial old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

About Us

National Geographic Expeditions offers a broad array of travel experiences to more than 80 destinations across all seven continents, each led by a National Geographic expert, a dynamic trip guide, or an expedition team. National Geographic taps into their vast network of resources around the world when designing trips to create authentic and transformative travel experiences. The official travel program of the National Geographic Society, National Geographic Expeditions aims to fulfill the organization’s mission to inspire people to care about the planet by providing meaningful opportunities to explore it.


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Reviews and Recommendations for National Geographic Expeditions

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By: Howie


Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2015

Wonderful and busy tour.
Travel Advisor:  Dennis Wallace

Very Well done and professional

By: Judd


Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2016

Our 14 day Antarctica adventure was wonderful: the National Geographic team were extremely knowledgeable and very much enjoyed their jobs! All were really in to teaching and conveying their devotion to Antarctica and their particular area of expertise. We are already planning our next adventure with NG!
Travel Advisor:  Cheryl Everhart
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Outstanding

By: The ayotollah


Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2016

She has helped me with a number of trips and always shines. I know I can rely on Linda to be certain that all of the details are taken care of, and her recommendations are well though out. She is a superstar.
Travel Advisor:  Linda Rainwater

Maya

By: Ron


Reviewed on: 10 Feb 2017

This was my third trip with National Geographic and, like the others, it was interesting, professional, and well managed.
Travel Advisor:  Eleanor Hardy

Galapagos/ Nat Geo 2017

By: Sree


Reviewed on: 23 Jul 2017

National Geographic was on my bucket list for an expedition to the Galapagos. The Islands are amazing and Nat Geo had great programs in place to highlight this ecological paradise. The partnership with Lindblad was a plus. My kids had a blast with the ships young explorers program which was the kind of quality education I expect from Nat Geo. The naturalists were real professionals. The entire team succeeded in making it a memorable trip.

Wild and Windswept, for sure!

By: RobinBG


Reviewed on: 25 Sep 2017

Always the best trip out there if you want history, culture and adventure. We learned so much about the places we visited, were able to hear local musicians play, and went to places that are hard to reach any other way than by a small ship. And - the food and service is beyond compare.
Travel Advisor:  Amy Rectenwald

Morocco Private Expeditions

By: Morocco Traveler


Reviewed on: 23 Oct 2017

Good trip. Fair amount of driving but most of it is on the autoroutes which are good roads. Going to the south the road is under construction so it is longer. Good representation of the various areas of Morocco. Our private guide, Ali was excellent.
Travel Advisor:  Martha Gaughen

Morocco

By: Jud


Reviewed on: 28 Oct 2017

Outstanding in every respect except Casablanca Sofitel and some of the guest on the tour
Travel Advisor:  Jamo Ladd

NatGeo Photo Workshop

By: Lance R


Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2017

The NatGeo photo workshop was a great experience. Myrna was wondering to work with. Can't wait for my next trip through her!
Travel Advisor:  Myrna Arroyo

The White continent - Antarctica

By: Anissia


Reviewed on: 28 Dec 2017

Absolutely amazing! They ran a tight ship literally. Everyone was so pleasant to deal with, all naturalists were so knowledgeable. Expedition Leader Lucho had all zodiac outings running smoothly. I would repeat this trip if it was not so expensive though it is worth the money!
Travel Advisor:  Deborah Barth

excellent

By: oh my


Reviewed on: 03 Jan 2018

Natalie was excellent. Very good to work with and very helpful.
Travel Advisor:  Natalie Rael

Yellowstone

By: Dana


Reviewed on: 30 Mar 2018

Nat Geo hosted a wonderful tour of Yellowstone in winter. We would use Nat Geo again in a minute!
Travel Advisor:  Loni Truitt

Antartica, South Georgia and Falklands

By: Lin


Reviewed on: 28 Feb 2018

The Antartica, South Georgia and Falklands trip exceed my expectations. Travelling on the National Geographic Orion provided an exceptional experience which included spacious well appointed accommodation, delicious food, attentive good natured staff and interesting daily presentations and outings with knowledgeable experts. I can not think of a better way to explore and enjoy the incredible beauty of this pristine and its abundant wildlife. I now understand why there were a number of returning visitors on this fabulous trip.
Travel Advisor:  Samuel Spencer

Exploring Patagonia

By: Greg


Reviewed on: 23 Mar 2018

Nat Geo Expeditions is awesome! This particular expedition provides an excellent overview of this unique area of the world. Our tour manager Sylvina and expert Constanza Ceruti were excellent guides for our expedition providing high-level insights into the culture, history and ongoing research of Argentina, Chile and Patagonia. We would highly recommend this expedition!
Travel Advisor:  Courtney Regan