Natural Highlights of the Galapagos Islands: Island-hopping Adventure
This 11-day trip takes you on a journey through mainland Ecuador, from the dizzying capital of Quito to the damp river channels of the Amazon Basin. Along the way you’ll visit cloud forests to look for birdlife and bromeliads, walk through rainforest canopies and search for caiman and giant otter, take walks through the immaculate and unspoilt wildlife of San Isidro and enjoy private tours and wildlife spotting opportunities throughout. Staying in authentic rainforest lodges during your stay, you’ll wake up in the heart of the action, ready to hit the trails in search of Ecuador’s resident wildlife.
- Explore the elegant colonial streets of Quito with an expert guide
- Discover the wildlife of Mindo Cloud Forest and appreciate its incredible biodiversity
- Stay in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon and search for caiman and giant otters
- Go on night hikes through the San Isidro Rainforest and keep an eye out for monkeys
- Stay in authentic accommodation throughout your trip
Day 1 – Arrive in Ecuador
Fly to Ecuador and land in the capital city, Quito. On arrival you will be driven to your hotel in the city where you will spend the next two nights.
Day 2 – Explore Quito
Begin your exploration of Quito with a private half-day city tour. Your guide will take you on a journey through history, exploring the UNESCO-listed city centre, including the cultural heart of Calle de la Ronda, the fascinating Museo de la Ciudad (found in Quito’s oldest building), and the Plaza Grande with it’s ornate churches.
Day 3 – Travel to Mindo Cloud Forest
After your stay in Quito you’ll be driven into the cloud forest for your two-night stay. Cloud forests are one of Ecuador’s most characteristic ecosystems, home to many species of biological importance. Mindo is one of the most accessible cloud forests in the country, situated around two hours’ drive west of Quito. During your stay you’ll get to appreciate the incredible biodiversity, including the primary forest, amazing concentrations of birdlife and animals and plants endemic to the region – there are some 375 types of orchid alone, plus a huge range of bromeliads and butterflies.
Day 4 – Discover the cloud forest
During your stay you will be able to participate in activities at your lodge, as well as excursions nearby. There is the chance to visit the small town of Mindo, set in a secluded valley on the cusp of the forest, and the Caligo Butterfly Farm, the orchid gardens and a number of impressive waterfalls.
Day 5 – Drive to Quito
You’ll be driven back to Quito where you will stay overnight at a hotel near the airport, allowing easy access to your flight the following day.
Day 6 – Fly to Coca and the Amazon
A short flight will deliver you to Coca in the Amazon Rainforest, where you will stay at Sacha Lodge for the next three nights. The lodge is located in a stunning location offering an immersive experience in the heart of the jungle, and is home to the only canopy walkway in Ecuador. From here you will have unparalleled views of the rainforest.
Days 7-8 – Stay in the heart of the Amazon
Your stay at Sacha Lodge gives you ample time to experience the joys of the jungle. You may be able to spot incredible wildlife such as the electric blue morph butterflies, tamarind monkeys, giant otters, toucans, boa constrictors and caiman. Travelling by traditional boat along the dark water creeks you’ll navigate through narrow channels to spot elusive wildlife, or cruise down rivers so wide you can barely see the opposite shore. The lodge itself is smart and comfortable, with soft beds, hot water showers and insect-proof windows.
Day 9 – Fly to Quito, drive to San Isidro
After your stay in the rainforest you will fly back to Quito for your transfer to San Isidro. Here you will check into Cabanas San Isidro for two nights, which are set high in the picturesque Quijos Valley, one of the headwaters of the Amazon basin. San Isidro is just two hours from Quito, and is set around 2,000m above sea level within a sultry rainforest. There are a variety of ecosystems to explore, and plenty of birdlife to view – both rare and common varieties. It is also possible to view mammals such as the spectacled bear, mountain tapir, pudu and capuchin monkey.
Day 10 – Explore San Isidro
The jungle lodge offers a number of activities to help you fully experience the wildlife highlights of the region, including butterfly spotting, visiting the on-site guinea pig farm and night tours to spot monkeys and the beautiful resident species of owl. During night walks you might get to see the five-inch Hercules Beetle, while fireflies light the trails. The area is home to lots of mammals, and you will have plentiful opportunities to view the local agouti, who come to graze on the corn feeders around the gardens.