2023 Ecuador & Galapagos Islands, Return to Paradise

Dates April 2-16, 2023
Destination Quito, Ecuador; Otavalo, Ecuador; Papallacta, Ecuador; Yacuma Ecolodge, Ecuador; Galapagos Islands; United States
Duration 15 days 14 nights
Price From 4,799

Religious Focus:

Sightseeing:

Activity Level:

**Fast paced, extensive walking required**


Join us on this amazing 15 days /14 nights tour which includes a visit to the Otavalo Indigenous market, the intriguing Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador, and a soft adventure on the Galapagos Islands. This tour is designed for families and adventurers looking for a close contact with the Ecuadorian nature while enjoying the fantastic landscapes and marvelous flora and fauna of Ecuador Continental and of the Galapagos enchanted Islands. In the world-famous Galapagos Archipelago, we will enjoy magnificent spots on Santa Cruz Island where we will visit a giant Galapagos Tortoises farm in the highlands, the beautiful Tortuga Bay beach, the well-known Charles Darwin Research Station. Then, we will head to the historical Floreana Island to visit Asilo de La Paz (Peace Asylum), which was home of the legendary Cruz and Wittmer families and where we can also snorkel a m o n g playful sea lions and marine turtles. Our next stop will be on Isabela Island, where we will hike on the fantastic “Las Tintoreras” area where we can observe marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, sea lions, etc. We hike to the rim of the crater of the spectacular Sierra Negra Volcano, the 2 nd largest volcano crater in the world. We will also visit “Los Humedales” (Wetlands) area and enjoy the beautiful beach of Isabela Island. Our last visit, and before you take the international flight back home, we will take you to the historical area of Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

Join our experienced tour host, Carol Alegre. She is originally from Cochabamba, Bolivia, and moved to the United States her senior year of High School. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor’s degree in Travel & Tourism, and a Masters in Recreation Management & Youth Leadership.

During the last 25 years, she has had the opportunity to design unique and unforgettable experiences for her clients. She has been fortunate enough to have visited approximately 100 countries around the world, gaining knowledge, respect and appreciation for all cultures. However, she has a deep love for South America because of its diverse cultures, unique landscapes, delicious food and for her first-hand experience growing up in that area.

As she takes care of every detail of your trip, all you have to do is pack your bags, and be ready to have a wonderful experience!

To Book This Tour, Contact:

Carol Alegre, Tour Manager
Tel: (801) 483-6165
Email Carol

TOUR ID#9223d03

CASH DISCOUNT of $100.00 for final payment by check

Day 1: Sunday, April 2, 2023

Home Cities - Quito, Ecuador

Departure from your home city to Quito, Ecuador. Once we arrive in the international airport of Quito, we will be greeted by our local English-speaking guide, and will transfer us to the First-Class Swiss Quito Hotel. The transfer drive will take approximately 1 hour and upon arrival at the hotel you will be welcomed by the attentive staff and give you the room keys. Then, our guide will give a short briefing about the next day's activities.

Meals : In-flight
Day 2: Monday, April 3, 2023

Quito - Otavalo 

Early breakfast and at 7:00 a.m. our transport and guide will take us for a drive towards the Imbabura Province, well known as the “Lagoons Province” due to the many beautiful lakes that exist in this area of the northern Andes of Ecuador. Continuing to Otavalo, we will amaze observing the San Pablo Lagoon and emerging from a side of it, the impressive steep Imbabura volcano. Then we will arrive to the city of Otavalo which is home for the laborious Otavalo Indians. Here we will visit the Otavalo market, considered as one of the biggest Indigenous Markets in South America. Here we find beautiful textile tapestries, wood handcrafts, ponchos, and so many different and colorful products. Bargaining is part of the experience! Overnight in Quito. Included: Breakfast, Lunch.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3: Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Quito - Mitad del Mundo - Papallacta

Today, we will visit “La Mitad del Mundo” (The Middle of the World) which is a small typical Andean town lying on the Equator line. Here we find the monument marking the latitude 0’ 00” and in its interior we find a museum which shows the different ethnic races living in Ecuador. Nearby is located the Intiñan Museum which according with some experts this is the real place where the Equator line crosses Ecuador.

Continuing our drive, we will head to the east towards the cloud forest of the Papallacta area where we will overnight in the first class Therma’s de Papallacta Spa Hotel and where we can enjoy the hot water springs of this beautiful area.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 4: Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Papallacta - Yacuma Ecolodge (Rainforest)

In the morning and after enjoying the wonderful stay in Papallacta, we start our drive towards Yacuma Ecolodge located in the upper basin of the great Amazonas River. The road crosses different climate zones starting with the highlands and down to the cloud forest and the rainforest. We will arrive to the city of Tena where we will have lunch and from there, we continue driving for about 1.5 hours to the indigenous community of Santa Rosa where we board the dug-out canoe to navigate for about 30 minutes on the Napo River and then on the Chontayacu river until we arrive to Yacuma Natural Reserve. Depending on the time of the year and the amount of water running through the rivers, the boat ride can turn into a fun activity, as collectively, we all must push the canoe through sand banks and upriver to get to the lodge. The Yacuma Forest Reserve totals 300 hectares of Primary rainforest, and this natural heaven will be your home for the next few days, as you explore and connect with nature. At the lodge, you will be welcomed with a glass of the traditional beverage called “Guayusa”, a tasty beverage which is an ideal drink for the morning to have a very productive day in the jungle. After a short welcome talk, you will be taken into your comfortable traditional style bungalows. Solar panels provide hot water in the showers, as well as ambient lighting for the night. After a rest, we will have a short navigation to the “hidden Lagoon”, where we will do a silent navigation for bird watching: King Fishers (Martin Pescador), Great Egrets (garzas de río), Great Blue Herons (garzas reales), and perhaps one of the most strange and interesting birds of the amazon, the Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoatzin), that have a blue face and a punk- hairdo. The smell is quite pungent, giving it the nickname of the stinky bird. We will go back to the lodge, for dinner and then enjoy a good night rest. 

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5: Thursday, April 6, 2023

Yacuma Amazon Rainforest Reserve

After a hearty breakfast we begin a hike deep in the primary jungle of the Yacuma forest reserve. The hike will take 2 hours walk in which the native guide will show us various species of birds and if we are lucky, we will observe monkeys, capybaras, etc. We will also get to see many species of plants used for medicinal purposes and their usage in shamanic healing rituals, as well as food and shelter within the deep primary rainforest. Exploring the primary rainforest is a very gratifying and fulfilling experience for all travelers. We will return to the lodge for a delicious, locally produced lunch, and after resting for a short period, we will visit the home of one of the members of the Kichwa Chontayacu community, where we can appreciate their simple and calm lifestyle. During the walk travelers can learn interact and observe the various crops that grow within the jungle of secondary forests of The Napo Basin. Crops such as Coffee, Bananas, cacao, cassava, papaya, pineapple, and oranges are some other agricultural products that provide sustenance for the inhabitants of the jungle. Visitors can also observe and buy the locally produced handicraft such as small pots, necklaces, bracelets, and many more beautiful crafts. The traditional Chicha drink will also be explained and passed around for everyone to try. If time permits, we will do some fun water-based activities such as gold panning or fishing piranhas. Conversely, we can head back to camp and have a nice bonfire with music and enjoyment after dinner.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Friday, April 7, 2023

Yacuma Amazon Rainforest Reserve to Quito

In the morning and for those interested in bird watching, an early start is offered to catch the different species of birdlife rising for the day. At about 6:00 a.m. we will walk for about 30 minutes to a viewpoint to observe the jungle come alive.

This place is known as a “Collpa”, is a vertical cliff where dozens of parrots of different species gather there to lick the clay of the wall. After enjoying this spectacle, we will return to the lodge to enjoy a hearty breakfast, prepare our luggage and after saying goodbye to our friends we will board the canoe to navigate back to Santa Rosa village where we meet our bus which will transport us back to Quito where we will overnight.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 7: Saturday, April 8, 2023

Quito to Galapagos

AM: Morning transfer to the airport in Quito and flight to Baltra Island. The flight will take approximately 3 hours (with one stop in the city of Guayaquil). Upon arrival to the airport of Baltra, our local Galapagos National Park trained guide welcomes and arranges our transfer to the city of Puerto Ayora, the biggest on the Galapagos Archipelago and located on Santa Cruz Island. On the way, using a local ferry, we should cross the beautiful Itabaca Canal, which separates Baltra and Santa Cruz Islands.

P.M. Once on the other side of the canal our private transportation will take you up to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island where our first visit starts on a private farm enjoying a nice hike in beautiful natural environment. Here we can observe Giant Falapagos Tortoises in their natural state. These animals are overly sensitive and will typically withdraw into their carapaces as soon as they see you coming close. It is especially important not to bother, touch or feed these beautiful animals. In this area, we can also observe different species of Galapagos birds including the tiny Galapagos rail and with little luck perhaps the not so common Vegetarian Finch and the endemic subspecies of Vermilion Flycatcher finches. Transport to the hotel in the town of Puerto Ayora and free time.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Sunday, April 9, 2023

Tortuga Bay & Interpretation Center

A.M. After an early breakfast in the hotel, we start our day hiking towards the shores of the Pacific Ocean, to Tortuga Bay Beach, known as one of the most beautiful beaches on the Archipelago. After some 40 – 60-minute walk, we arrive to the heavenly spot. The soft coral sand and nice scenery make this a special location for anyone visiting. The first part of the beach has strong waves and therefore is not recommended for swimming, but an additional 10 minutes walk to the west will get us to a beautiful bay of calm water. Here, we can observe a colony of marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, and marine birds, as well as mangroves, cacti forest and interesting flora of the coast. Time to enjoy the beach before returning to town using a local boat. Free time for lunch (on your own) and rest.  

PM: In the afternoon, we will walk to the Fausto Llerena Interpretation Center where we will learn about the Galapagos National Park´s work and observe tortoises of different species and size, as well as some land iguanas. At the interpretation center, we will enter in a special air-conditioned chamber where we will be able to observe the embalmed body of the world-famous tortoise: Lonesome George, who now is in exhibition. Later we visit the small museum of the well-known Charles Darwin Research Station. After enjoying this wonderful walk enjoy some free time.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 9: Monday, April 10, 2023

Seymour Island & Bachas Beach

A.M. North Seymour Island is located north of Baltra, and it is one the most interesting bird areas in Galapagos, where the main vegetation, bushy and low, is hosting the largest nesting colony of Great Frigate birds, both magnificent and common, that rest on the trees. Here we can also observe the mating dance of the Blue Footed Boobies. The Palo Santo Forest, that spreads on the south shore of Seymour where birds nest, gives to the island an interesting landscape. The island formation is related to the uplifting of the underwater layer that resulted in a very eroded flat rock surrounded by cliffs and where the marine basement is still evident and where giant rocks and shells are found everywhere. In addition to the many species of birds, here we can also observe large colonies of sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, snakes, herons, hawks, sharks, rays and, we will also find a population of the largest land iguanas in the archipelago.

P.M. At Bachas Beach the sand is made of decomposed coral, making it very white and soft, and a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. To a side of one of the beaches, we find a small lagoon where occasionally flamingos can be observed as well as many other animal species such as the black- necked stilts and whimbrels. The other beach is longer and has two old barges that were abandoned during the Second World War when the U.S. used Baltra Island as a military base. Here we will also encounter sea lions which rest on the beach, as well as marine iguanas and several marine birds. We will have some time to enjoy the calmness of the beach, as well as some time with playful sea lions that swim with visitors.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Day 10: Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Puerto Ayora - Floreana Island

A.M. At 8:30 a.m. starts the 2.5 hours navigation on board of the first-class Galapagos Element Wind Yacht towards the small village known as Puerto Velasco Ibarra on the historical Floreana Island. Once at the town, a local water taxi takes us to the pier of the town where we have great chances to meet right away sea lions and marine iguanas enjoying the morning sun. A short walk takes us to a beautiful, secluded spot where the lodge is located right in front of the ocean and where we will spend the night. Lodging accommodations and enjoy a delicious lunch in one of the small local restaurants. In the afternoon a local transport known as “Chiva” wil take us for a 15-minute ride up to the highlands of Floreana Island to a place from where we start a nice walk observing the typical flora of the area and encountering some giant Galapagos Tortoises. Continuing our walk, we reach a rocky area where we find the place known as “Asilo de la Paz” (Peace Asylum), a historical place where the German Wittmer family settled down when arrived to Floreana in 1932. Transport back to town to enjoy a delicious lunch.

P.M. After a good rest we walk to a place where we find a beautiful bay where we will perhaps enjoy snorkeling with sea lions and marine turtles. The whole area is of an amazing beauty. Dinner and time to relax while observing the sunset.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11:Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Floreana Island - Isabela - Tintoreras

A.M.: In the morning and after a relaxing breakfast, at 8:30 a.m. we start sailing towards Puerto Villamil, the biggest town on Isabela Island. During our 2.5-hour navigation, there are great chances to observe marine turtles, manta rays, several species of marine birds, dolphins. Upon arrival to the bay of Puerto Villamil a local transport takes us to the Hotel. Time to relax at the long, beautiful beach of Puerto Villamil. Free time for lunch (on your own).

P.M.: In the afternoon at about 2 p.m. we take you to the pier to participate in an amazing, guided tour to the area known as “Las Tintoreras”. This is a scenic area and where during the hike, you will find colonies of marine iguanas, sea lions, and as one of the main attractions we will be able to observe White-tipped sharks known as “Tintoreras” which are resting in the channels formed by lava flows. The area is also well known for snorkeling activities perhaps in the company of sea lions, penguins, and marine turtles. Transport back to the hotel. Free time.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 12: Thursday, April 13, 2023

Sierra Negra Volcano - Wetlands

A.M.: At 7:30 a.m. we start driving (30 min) up to the highlands of Isabela Island until we reach the visitors' control area of the National Park. From here we start an easy 1.5 hour walk to reach the rim of the impressive crater of the Sierra Negra Volcano, considered after the Ngorongoro crater in Africa, as the second biggest in the world. It has the largest caldera of all the Galapagos volcanoes with dimensions of 5 miles x 7 miles, with the long axis being southwest to northeast. The caldera is also the shallowest of the Isabela volcanoes at only 100 m (328 ft.) deep and give us one of the most spectacular views in Galapagos, showing us how powerful nature is. Return to the hotel for lunch (on your own).

P.M.: In the afternoon, our transport will take you the Isabela’s Tortoise Breeding Center where we will observe Giant Galapagos Tortoises of different species and sizes. Then we continue our walk along a well-maintained trail which leads to the place known as “Humedales” (Wetlands) where you will be amazed by the impressive scenery composed by lagoons surrounded by 4 species of exuberant mangroves and typical flora of the area. In the lagoons, we observe flamingos and migratory birds such as the charran or Gaviota de Galapagos (Creagrus furcatus ), la Cerceta aliazul, etc. The walk will end at the main road and close to the beach where you will have time to enjoy the place perhaps with the company of marine iguanas. Back to the hotel and free time for dinner (on your own).

Meals : Breakfast
Day 13: Friday, April 14, 2023

Isabela Island - Santa Cruz Island

A.M.: At 8:00 a.m. transfer to the pier of Puerto Villamil to board the Yacht for a 3-hour navigation to the town of Puerto Ayora where we expect to arrive at about 11:00 a.m. We will navigate close to the steep cliffs of the “Tortuga Island” and where we will be able to observe hundreds of different species of birds including blue footed boobies, masked Nazca boobies, tropical birds, frigate birds, Galapagos gulls, etc. etc. Then we continue our navigation and be ready perhaps to observe marine turtles, stingrays, dolphins, etc. Upon arrival to Puerto Ayora, our guide will lead you to the hotel where you will have a short free time to enjoy the swimming pool together with a refreshing drink or just relax and preparing for the afternoon activities which includes a visit to a local handicraft shop and a visit to an artisanal sugar cane mill and coffee plantation. Enjoy a farewell dinner.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14: Saturday, April 15, 2023

Galapagos - Quito Old Town - USA

In the morning and after breakfast, our transport will take (30 minutes) us up to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island where we will be stopping at the natural formation known as “The twins” (Los Gemelos) Craters, that lies on the route to the Itabaca Canal. Los Gemelos in fact are not actual craters caused by impact or volcanic craters, but they are sink holes that were created when the volcanic roof of empty magma chamber collapses from tectonic shifts and erosion over time. The area surrounding “Los Gemelos” has quite a different climate from other parts of the island and are surrounded by scalesia (scalesia pedunculata) forests and it is the habitat for bromeliads, orchids, mosses, lichens, etc. It is the habitat for many birds and with little luck you find among others the vermillion flycatcher, several species of Darwin finches, a n d short-eared owls. After this visit we continue our trip to the Itabaca Canal  and after crossing it, an airport bus will take you to the airport where our guide will assist with the airline  check-in process. Enjoy our flight back to Quito where our office representative will be ready to assist you for the check in process for your flight back home.

Since your flight will be late in the evening, we will organize for you a tour to visit the heart of Colonial Quito with a visit to the Independence Square where the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral and El Sagrario Church are located. We will also visit the Church of La Compañia (1605) which with its amazing gilt altars is considered as one of the finest examples of baroque art in America. Afterwards we will walk to the plaza where the Church and Monastery of San Francisco (1535) is located. This is the oldest Ecuadorian church, where the main altar inside is a spectacular example of baroque carving.

At the proper time, our transport and guide will take us back the airport in time for boarding our international flight back home.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 15: Sunday, April 16, 2023

U.S.A.

Arrival in your home city.


To Book This Tour, Contact:

Carol Alegre, Tour Manager
Tel: (801) 483-6165
Email Carol

TOUR ID#9223d03

CASH DISCOUNT of $100.00 for final payment by check

Meals : In-flight

Price includes:

  • 1 tour-bus experience for the entire tour
  • Small group experience (20 maximum capacity)
  • Roundtrip transfers to ship and airport
  • Experienced tour manager
  • Navigation on board of the First-Class Yacht Catamaran Galapagos Element Wind
  • English Speaking guides & Galapagos naturalist guide
  • Sightseeing as outlined on the itinerary
  • Meals as noted in the itinerary-Daily breakfast, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
  • 14-night accommodations in moderate to first class hotels
  • Travel documents & Digital travel App
  • Tips for guides and drivers

Price does not include:

  • International round trip flights to Quito (Group Air with United from Salt Lake City $ 1,259 pp)
  • Airport transfers for those not arriving/departing with main group
  • Round-trip Air Ticket to Galapagos (LATAM $ 550.00 pp)
  • Galapagos Islands National Park Fee: $100.00 pp
  • Transit Card fee: $ 20.00 pp
  • Single Occupancy: $ 6,398.00
  • Meals not included on tour
  • Additional nights or sightseeing tours not included
  • Beverages on cruise
  • Items of a personal nature (room service, phone calls, internet, etc.)
  • Medical Coverage and Travel Insurance

Payment information:

  • Deposit due at time of booking $500.00 p/p
  • Final payment due January 27, 2023

To Book This Tour, Contact:

Carol Alegre, Tour Manager
Tel: (801) 483-6165
Email Carol

TOUR ID#9223d03

CASH DISCOUNT of $100.00 for final payment by check