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Ecuador is famous for it's incredible wildlife, especially for other-worldly inhabitants which dwell only on the Galápagos Islands. Yet, what many people often miss is a rare potential for experiencing the Amazon Rainforest at maximum bio-diversity in this epic country. Our wildlife tour covers only the top experiences and stays in off-the-beaten-track locations where our guests can have an intimate experience with nature working its wonders.
Your excursion begins in Quito, for a couple of nights to explore the gorgeous cobblestoned town centre - a UNESCO Heritage Site in itself. Following recalibration and adjustments to your new environment you'll set off on a plane journey of just 30 minutes to Coca.
On the borders of the Amazon Rainforest, journey downstream through winding waterways to reach the Anakonda ready to take you on a journey into deeper parts of the rainforest. Each day will bring with it sightings of pink river dolphin, black caiman and ginormous anacondas, fertile forests provide a generous helping for primates to gorge on. Get to know the jungle with a night in the forest, before your transfer to the Galápagos via Quito.
Upon arrival in the Galápagos Islands, drop your bag with our trusted guide before heading straight for the turquoise waters of the Itabaca Channel. Instantly, you'll be greeted by sightings of blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, dancing sea-lions, and the patrol of the white-tipped reef sharks. Meander through mangroves before heading to our exclusive giant tortoise reserve on Santa Cruz Island. After spending a week on your vessel in the Amazon, experience a Galápagos safari from the comfort of luxury lodges overflowing with bucolic charm.
Today you'll arrive on your international flight into Ecuador's highland capital city - Quito. Our Wayfairer representative, local to the area, will be ready to transfer you straight into this beautiful city's historic centre.
Hotel Mama Cuchara is located in the decadent heart of the city. Its façade resembles a patrimonial Spanish colonial house, yet inside guests are welcomed with trendy modern artwork, representing the hybrid mix of Quito's history and culture. This is a boutique and homely stay with five-star excellence. Use this as a stepping stone to explore the plazas and monumental churches just minutes from your door.
Ecuador is home to some of the most exciting wildlife on earth. It is a country of history, fascinating indigenous cultures, slow winding rivers and a capital city overlooked by a snow capped volcanic mountain range. Today you'll get to know your surroundings, and what it means to be an Ecuadorian.
The place to begin is right in the centre at the Mitad del Mundo, just 45 minutes north of Quito, you'll be taken by our knowledgeable guides to learn about a place where pre-Inca and Inca civilisations celebrated the yearly equinox. Rumour has it this is the point of the equator line. Following your tour, enjoy lunch in verdant gardens and visit the city's impressive UNESCO Heritage Site centre. Enjoy world-class views punctuated by ornate architecture and signs of civilisations both past and present.
Discover the city through your senses, and follow a path less followed through the city through traditional food markets. Our specialist guide will talk you through medicinal herbs, traditional cleansing, fresh juices and the popping colours of local produce. A local curandero will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation for Ecuadorian cuisine and the enriching benefits of market life. Finish up in the first ever agave experience museum in South America, amble through the botanical gardens, chat with the distillers and taste away before heading back for a dozy evening in on the rooftop terrace.
This morning following breakfast and coffee on the rooftop, our driver will take you to the airport. A short 30-minute flight will take you from Quito to the frontier town of Coca, on the borders of the untamed Amazon Rainforest.
From stepping off the plane and down onto the dock you'll feel the close heat of the tropics and see the reaching banks of the Napo River guide you further into the jungle. Navigate down the river by motorised canoe, to meet the Anakonda Amazon houseboat awaiting your departure. Admire the rainforest from the river itself, with all its colourful creatures. After settling on the boat, and exploring the observation deck's spectacular views you'll journey further into unchartered territories. This evening, after sunset discover the forest's nocturnal activity and listen to incessant sounds of nature surrounding.
This morning wake to the sounds of flowing water and calls of the rainforest. Today you'll enter Yasuní National Park, one of the world's most biodiverse locations and home to the legendary pink dolphin in abundance. After exploring the lower part of the Napo, spot different bird species such as eagles, oropendolas and the celebrated woodpeckers on your route up the river.
When you arrive in Yasuní, you'll get involved with pink dolphin conservation programs which are operated by the Martinica community in the Cocaya area. It is within this safe haven that dolphins can live and feed without the risk of being hunted. Here you will interact with these beautiful creatures and learn about indigenous Amazonian communities who are doing their utmost to protect their environment.
This afternoon, the Secoyas people who live near Yasuní will show you how to prepare traditional cassava bread and share a delicious feast before the evening's sunset showstopper. If you wish, tonight is yours to spend in the wilderness surrounding so camp out in luxury tents and feel at one with the all-encompassing sounds of nature.
Begin your day by paying a visit to a Kichwa family on the banks on the Napo River. Today you'll learn directly from local community members about their lifestyle and their connection to the rainforest surrounding. On the Anakonda, participate in a cooking class with an expert chef, who will prepare with you an Ecuadorian feast.
This afternoon, relax and take in the magnificent Amazon surrounding from the open-air hot tub, and enjoy cocktails on the house from the Bar and Lounge of the houseboat. For those who want a more active affair, delve deeper into undiscovered corners by kayak before gazing at sublime stars from the observation deck.
This morning, visit an observation tower built against a giant kapok tree. This soaring look-out point is 100 feet tall, and from up here you'll be blessed with a unique perspective of the forest from above. There's something immensely powerful about watching over the treetops and listening to the occupants below making themselves known.
This afternoon, you'll visit the Limoncocha Biological Reserve in the primary forest. This protected area is home to almost 500 different bird species, and dozens of different species of monkey. Look out for the iconic hoatzin, known locally as the 'stink-bird', river turtles, black caiman and anaconda. The best way to explore the flooded forests is by canoe, so sit tight and let nature unfold around you.
The days explorations will extend until evening, and our professional naturalists will give you a flashlight to locate black caiman lurking in the shallows.
This morning set out early on motorised canoes to witness a riot of colours on Ecuador's western Amazon. The famous parrot clay licks provide rich minerals for numerous vibrant birds and species. This is the meeting place of hundreds of parrots and parakeets as well as endemic species who lap up the goodness from this natural marvel. This will be your final wildlife endeavour in the Amazon before returning to the dock, and Quito for the night tonight.
Rest well in our hotel neighbouring the airport, and reflect on your eye opening trip in the Amazon.
This morning your driver will pick you up from Quito's country club and escort you to the airport nearby for your flight to Baltra in the Galápagos. The journey will take 2 hours, but it's incredibly scenic the whole way so be sure to watch out those windows.
Baltra was the first ecological airport in the world, and has been built using techniques that reduce emissions and energy use. As soon as you arrive you'll dive straight into adventure. Entering the airport through the VIP lounge, you'll bypass crowds and head straight to our exclusive area to have a cool drink, change clothes and apply suncream before transferring to the Itabaca Channel.
Swim in turquoise waters equipped with a snorkel, kayak or SUP towards the beautiful red mangrove forests along lava rock cliffs on the waters edge. These seas are frequented by so many of the species that make the Galápagos Islands so famous: blue-footed boobies, sea lions, brown pelicans, a variety of herons and white-tipped reef sharks. There's no better introduction to these epic islands.
This afternoon, visit the giant tortoise reserve before heading to your luxury tented lodge on these very grounds. Relax and watch the sky's show of glowing stars, enjoy dinner and a well deserved night's rest.
Rise with the calls of the birds on this gorgeous island paradise. Today, after breakfast, embark on a motor yacht and enjoy a daily excursion with the resident naturalist guide native to these wonderful lands.
The great benefit of touring on a smaller boat is that we can tailor your trip just for your wildlife preferences. Visit North Seymour, South Plaza, Santa Fe or Bartolome Islands and along the way watch rays leap from the water and see the vast Pacific expand endlessly towards the horizon. See islands and their wildlife in the most pristine state and uncover species unseen by so many people, yet unafraid to make themselves known.
This morning, say goodbye to your lodge on Santa Cruz and depart for Floreana Island - an untouched paradise with the smallest population. Only 150 people call Floreana home and this is the least developed and most unabashedly natural of the four inhabited islands. The descendants of the original population still live here, this land that was once a pirates' lair's history is full of myths and legends of its original settlers.
Floreana is an incredibly peaceful island, and during your stay you'll hike and learn about the fascinating local history. Of course, the Galápagos' special wildlife lives here in abundance, so look out for giant tortoises, frigate birds, sea lions, Darwin's finches, petrels and marine iguanas among dozens of other species.
The open air chiva bus will take you to your lodge which overlooks one of the Galápagos' most stunning and secluded bays. Claudio Cruz runs this lodge - a descendant of one of the island's original inhabitants. Listen to his fantastical stories whilst he shares his deep knowledge of the island. Staying here will be an intimate affair.
This afternoon, set out to paddle pristine waters across the bay to explore La Loberia, a sea-lion breeding ground. Once there, enjoy more snorkelling and swimming in bright water alive with sea turtles, rays and an abundance of tropical fish. Tonight after a warm shower, watch the spectacular sunset and head to the village for dinner to celebrate an unbelievable day in the Galápagos.
This morning you'll set off to explore the island and learn about the wild inhabitants as well as the interesting history - like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe story. Experience the highlands by jeep and uncover the colourful history of the Wittmers, the 'Baroness', and the pirates. Hear about the 'Enigma of Floreana' involving the mysterious deaths of several of the islands inhabitants - a riddle from the 1930s that has never been solved.
Drive through the highlands on your way to Asilo de la Paz (Peace Haven) to begin a hike across historic sites, pirate caves towards a refreshing dip in a freshwater spring that provides water for the entire island. As you traverse the hillside, expect to see giant tortoises lumbering around in the vegetation, or even obstructing your path. On the way back to the coast, top at Claudio's farm, La Primavera to watch the extraordinary behaviour of the frigate birds who dance as they wash their salty wings in fresh waters surrounding the farm. See males perform their mating ritual and inflate scarlet red pouches across their chests in a vibrant parade to attract females.
This morning you'll set off early to Isla Isabela, the largest island in the Galápagos. The adventure will begin with a tour of the local giant tortoise-breeding centre and on the way you'll stop off to catch a glimpse of flamingos dressed in pink feeding from the lakes. At the centre, you'll get in on one of the important conservation projects that are taking place and help with the re-wilding projects that ensure that these animals are released. The island's giant tortoise population is currently recovering thanks to initiatives like this.
This afternoon, continue the journey out towards the Tintoreras. Here you'll see the vastest concentration of wildlife in the Galápagos. This is a small group of islands near the village of Puerto Vilamil. They're named after the abundance of white-tipped reef sharks that swim in the clear and calm waters surrounding. Jump in and snorkel in the bay, interact with the playful penguins and sea lions shooting through the cold water currents.
This afternoon at sunset, bike the wetlands trail. Thousands of marine iguana colonies and a number of different types of mangrove trees are dotted along this network of trails, beaches and historic sites. Isabela's volcanic backbone is lined with so much potential for wildlife viewing and enriching activities.
Isabela is one of the archipelago's youngest and most volcanically active islands. Today you'll wake to blissful sounds of your natural surroundings, before having the whole day to explore the highlands properly.
Begin by hiking up to the crater of the Sierra Negra volcano, then onward to the rim of Volan Chico. This epic walk usually begins with a touch of morning fog and drizzle which adds to the drama of the landscape in the shadow of the volcano. You'll be joined on your walk by Galapagos Hawks, finches, flycatchers and the elusive short-eared owl.
The Sierra Negra crater is the second largest in the world after the Ngorongoro in Tanzania. As you approach this, you'll be greeted with the rewards of your efforts. Pictures cannot do this place and its utterly sublime views justice, and as you head towards Volcán Chico you'll feel as though you're walking on another planet. Yet, look twice as with each glance the landscape reveals scurrying lizards ducking under the rocks. Enjoy views from the rim with lava tubes and fumaroles.
Following this extremely epic landscape, relax in the shade of the jaboncillo tree. Enjoy a picnic whilst taking in the spectacular views over the island. Watch over those which you have already visited before descending back to the beaches of Puerto Villamil.
Sadly, after a romantic evening barbecue last night and an evening watching the stars, today marks the date of your departure.
Your trip has covered some of the most prolific wildlife viewing in the world, and hasn't missed out on any cultural activities along the way. Ecuador is a place of extremely incredible daily opportunities, and it's a place that you'll probably want to return to. So for you, it's just hasta luego - until next time!