Ecuador

Ecuador

Jungle, Galapagos and Atliplano guided tour

It's not Samoa - but it is another Outdoor guided trip
In March 2016 we return to Ecuador to explore the jungle, the high sierra and, of course, the Galapagos. Swim with dolphins in the jungle, see the iconic blue-footed boobies and giant land tortoises in the Galapagos, experience pre-Columbian cultures and bike down an active volcano.

Description Cycling Beaches Comfort Adventure Culture
A chance to visit another part of the world and experience a diversity of culture and wildlife with opportunities to add as much adventure as you want. Mostly 2 star accommodation.
Description
A chance to visit another part of the world and experience a diversity of culture and wildlife with opportunities to add as much adventure as you want.
Cycling
Beaches
Comfort
Mostly 2 star accommodation.
Adventure
Culture

Update:

This trip was a lot of fun and we are planning on rerunning it in 2017.

 

This 3 week trip begins in Quito on Thursday March 24 2016 and returns home on Saturday April 16.  New dates and new itinerary coming.

Update - This trip is full with 18 participants.

Trip highlights

Jungle - we travel deep into the Ecuadorian jungle by river canoe. Climb a bird watching tower, swim with dolphins and visit a local village.
High Sierra - visit the famous markets in Otavalo, balance an egg on a nail at the 'Middle of the World' museum and visit the old Town in Quito. We continue down the Avenue of the Volcanoes to bike down Chimborazo and relax at the hot springs near Cuenca after a day walking in Cajas national park.
Galapagos - we begin by exploring the outer islands on a 5 day cruise where we experience firsthand the amazing wildlife before returning to Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Center, the giant land tortoises and the marine iguanas.

Guides

Hazel Bidmead (Ross and Frances' daughter) will be leading this trip. Hazel is fluent in Spanish having spent nearly 2 years in South America, including 5 months in this amazing country of contrasts. She is passionate about all things Hispanic and is currently spending a year in Spain.

Required Fitness

This trip is suitable for active people of all ages. Expect to walk 2-4 hours most days, at a relaxed pace. Some days will have longer walking options available when we are in national parks. We have one day of gentle mountain biking with 5-6 hours of mostly downhill riding (with a support vehicle available). Last trip we had an age range from 20 to 70 who all worked well together.

Challenge Levels

While there are opportunities to swim with the  dolphins in the Amazon basin and the sharks in the Galapagos and mountain bike down volcanoes there are also more relaxed opportunities to snorkel and ride and these activities will probably only be attempted by a minority.

On our last trip the dolphin swim opportunity occurred after fishing for piranha and spotting cayman (crocs).  Possibly as challenging was trying the native cures for backache and colds with the local villagers.  

We encountered a wide variety of snakes and found tarantulas etc, but these were always under the watchful eye of our local guides and were not threatening situations.

 

The Plan

The following is the plan based on the last trips.  There may be a couple of tweaks as details are confirmed.

See The Map for more details.

Flying to Ecuador Thursday 24 March

While the flights are not part of the basic trip - we will coordinate around the Lan Chile flight departing Auckland on Thursday 24 March at 4:30pm.

Ross will be on this flight.

As we cross the dateline we land in Santiago, Chile  before we left and after changing planes make it to Quito by 10:30pm.

Easter Friday - Quito to Otavalo

Our plan was to travel to the equator stopping at La Mitad del Mundo (The centre of the world), Vulcan Pululahua, Incan ruins and Inti Nan.  This was a most enjoyable day last time, although it needs to be taken gently as we adjust to the altitude (2,800m).  The plan may change as Easter Friday will have big parades with lots of costume dance.  Having attended these before in Cusco - we will be looking to adjust the itinerary for the best parades.

Easter Saturday -  Otavalo Markets and Parque Condor

Otavalo is the most famous market town in Ecuador and the locals still dress in traditional costume.  

In the afternoon we will visit Parque Condor to see Condors and the large range of raptors that are flown free off the volcano rim.  This was one of the highlights for me, but others will struggle to leave the markets.

Sunday-Wednesday - Jungle Camp

We fly into the Amazon Basin and then travel via river to Dracaena Lodge.   It's a full day of travel, but the guided walk around the camp that night is a great introduction to the wildlife including tarantulas, snakes and caiman.  Your bed is under a mosquito net where you can listen to  bats in the roof space munching on insects caught on the wing.

Our next two days are spent on a variety of jungle tours by foot and by boat as well as visits to the local Quecha community.  Highlights for me included understanding some of the complex symbiotic relationships between plants and animals, swimming with the Amazon dolphins (not compulsory), fishing for piranah and trying some of the traditional herbal remedies (definitely optional only).

After an early morning boat tour on Wednesday we head back down the Cuyabeno river on the start of our return to Quito.

Thursday 31 March Quito

We explore Quito beginning with a ride up the Teleferiqo to 4,050m. The Basilica and old town are also well worth exploring and there is more to do than we have time for as we head to Cotopaxi in the evening.

Friday 1 April Cotopaxi

We drive up Cotopaxi to 4,550m before continuing on foot to Jose Rivas Refuge at 4,800m.  There is a glacier only another 40 minutes walk away, but the altitude is pretty testing and most people are happy to settle for a hot chocolate in the Refugeo.

Saturday 2 April - Quilotoa

The walk down to the crater lake is spectacular and the walk back up breathtaking (literally).  Then it's an art afternoon with the Tigua paintings.  

Sunday 3 April - Chimborazo

We are driven up the mountain to a refuge at 4,800.  From here there is an opportunity to mountain bike down the volcano after climbing to the second refuge at 5,000.  Last time it was in the snow and being within one degree of the equator a bit special.   The biking is not technical, but care is required.

Monday 4 April -  to Cuenca

After stopping at Ingapirca, the most significant Inca ruins in Ecuador we arrive in the World Heritage City of Cuenca.

Tuesday 5 April Cuenca

 This can be a rest day to visit the cafes and markets etc, or a day in Cajas National Park.  I suspect the city life will win.

 Wednesday 6 April - Guayaquil 

We have a four hour drive to this seaside city.  Guayaquil (Pronounced y-a keel) is famous for the Iguana Park and Parque Historico. 

7-11 April  Galapagos Cruise

We fly to Baltra and transfer to our boat the MY Darwin for a 5 day cruise around Islas Plazas, Espanola and Floreana Islands before returning to Santa Cruz. 

12 April Galapagos - Explore Santa Cruz

13 April - Fly to Guayaquil

A last chance to explore this city and the brightly painted homes of Las Penas and Cerro Santa Ana.

14 April - begin the flight home

With a dateline to cross we skip the 15th and land at 4:30am on Saturday 16th April.

 

Dates

The trip officially starts in Quito on the evening of Friday March 25 2016 and finishes in Guayaquil on the morning of Thursday April 14 2016
Lan has a flight leaving Auckland on the afternoon of Thursday March 24, and returning from Guayaquil on the morning of Thursday April 14 (arriving back in NZ on Saturday 16 April in the early morning).  I have a provisional group booking for this (which includes the Galapagos legs) for $3,018.  

Costs

The cost of the trip is NZ$7,100.  This includes all accommodation, tours, most meals, most entrance fees, the bus and flights to the jungle. Excluded are flights to Ecuador (and to the Galapagos), a few meals and the Galapagos Islands entrance fee (US$100).  Once we have received your deposit the exchange rate is locked in.

Note:  This price has changed due to a large drop in the exchange rate and increases in the Galapagos boat section.  Substantial savings on airfares that use the Lan Pass to include the Galapagos legs recover much of this increase.  I hope to have a group option on the flights ex Auckland by 8 July.

Booking Process

Most people will email us at office@outdoor.co.nz or call on 64 4 974 5214 first.

Complete the Booking Form and forward a deposit of $800 NZ as per the instructions on the booking form.  Full payment will be required 10 weeks before trip departs.  

We will provide an opportunity for those booking early to share the same flight booking (effectively a group booking).

 

 

 

Required Fitness

This trip is suitable for active people of all ages. Expect to walk 2-4 hours most days, at a relaxed pace. Some days will have longer walking options available when we are in national parks. We have one day of gentle mountain biking with 5-6 hours of mostly downhill riding (with a support vehicle available). Last trip we had an age range from 20 to 70 who all worked well together.

Challenge Levels

While there are opportunities to swim with the  dolphins in the Amazon basin and the sharks in the Galapagos and mountain bike down volcanoes there are also more relaxed opportunities to snorkel and ride and these activities will probably only be attempted by a minority.

On our last trip the dolphin swim opportunity occurred after fishing for piranha and spotting cayman (crocs).  Possibly as challenging was trying the native cures for backache and colds with the local villagers.  

We encountered a wide variety of snakes and found tarantulas etc, but these were always under the watchful eye of our local guides and were not threatening situations.

 

The Plan

The following is the plan based on the last trips.  There may be a couple of tweaks as details are confirmed.

See The Map for more details.

Flying to Ecuador Thursday 24 March

While the flights are not part of the basic trip - we will coordinate around the Lan Chile flight departing Auckland on Thursday 24 March at 4:30pm.

Ross will be on this flight.

As we cross the dateline we land in Santiago, Chile  before we left and after changing planes make it to Quito by 10:30pm.

Easter Friday - Quito to Otavalo

Our plan was to travel to the equator stopping at La Mitad del Mundo (The centre of the world), Vulcan Pululahua, Incan ruins and Inti Nan.  This was a most enjoyable day last time, although it needs to be taken gently as we adjust to the altitude (2,800m).  The plan may change as Easter Friday will have big parades with lots of costume dance.  Having attended these before in Cusco - we will be looking to adjust the itinerary for the best parades.

Easter Saturday -  Otavalo Markets and Parque Condor

Otavalo is the most famous market town in Ecuador and the locals still dress in traditional costume.  

In the afternoon we will visit Parque Condor to see Condors and the large range of raptors that are flown free off the volcano rim.  This was one of the highlights for me, but others will struggle to leave the markets.

Sunday-Wednesday - Jungle Camp

We fly into the Amazon Basin and then travel via river to Dracaena Lodge.   It's a full day of travel, but the guided walk around the camp that night is a great introduction to the wildlife including tarantulas, snakes and caiman.  Your bed is under a mosquito net where you can listen to  bats in the roof space munching on insects caught on the wing.

Our next two days are spent on a variety of jungle tours by foot and by boat as well as visits to the local Quecha community.  Highlights for me included understanding some of the complex symbiotic relationships between plants and animals, swimming with the Amazon dolphins (not compulsory), fishing for piranah and trying some of the traditional herbal remedies (definitely optional only).

After an early morning boat tour on Wednesday we head back down the Cuyabeno river on the start of our return to Quito.

Thursday 31 March Quito

We explore Quito beginning with a ride up the Teleferiqo to 4,050m. The Basilica and old town are also well worth exploring and there is more to do than we have time for as we head to Cotopaxi in the evening.

Friday 1 April Cotopaxi

We drive up Cotopaxi to 4,550m before continuing on foot to Jose Rivas Refuge at 4,800m.  There is a glacier only another 40 minutes walk away, but the altitude is pretty testing and most people are happy to settle for a hot chocolate in the Refugeo.

Saturday 2 April - Quilotoa

The walk down to the crater lake is spectacular and the walk back up breathtaking (literally).  Then it's an art afternoon with the Tigua paintings.  

Sunday 3 April - Chimborazo

We are driven up the mountain to a refuge at 4,800.  From here there is an opportunity to mountain bike down the volcano after climbing to the second refuge at 5,000.  Last time it was in the snow and being within one degree of the equator a bit special.   The biking is not technical, but care is required.

Monday 4 April -  to Cuenca

After stopping at Ingapirca, the most significant Inca ruins in Ecuador we arrive in the World Heritage City of Cuenca.

Tuesday 5 April Cuenca

 This can be a rest day to visit the cafes and markets etc, or a day in Cajas National Park.  I suspect the city life will win.

 Wednesday 6 April - Guayaquil 

We have a four hour drive to this seaside city.  Guayaquil (Pronounced y-a keel) is famous for the Iguana Park and Parque Historico. 

7-11 April  Galapagos Cruise

We fly to Baltra and transfer to our boat the MY Darwin for a 5 day cruise around Islas Plazas, Espanola and Floreana Islands before returning to Santa Cruz. 

12 April Galapagos - Explore Santa Cruz

13 April - Fly to Guayaquil

A last chance to explore this city and the brightly painted homes of Las Penas and Cerro Santa Ana.

14 April - begin the flight home

With a dateline to cross we skip the 15th and land at 4:30am on Saturday 16th April.

 

Dates

The trip officially starts in Quito on the evening of Friday March 25 2016 and finishes in Guayaquil on the morning of Thursday April 14 2016
Lan has a flight leaving Auckland on the afternoon of Thursday March 24, and returning from Guayaquil on the morning of Thursday April 14 (arriving back in NZ on Saturday 16 April in the early morning).  I have a provisional group booking for this (which includes the Galapagos legs) for $3,018.  

Costs

The cost of the trip is NZ$7,100.  This includes all accommodation, tours, most meals, most entrance fees, the bus and flights to the jungle. Excluded are flights to Ecuador (and to the Galapagos), a few meals and the Galapagos Islands entrance fee (US$100).  Once we have received your deposit the exchange rate is locked in.

Note:  This price has changed due to a large drop in the exchange rate and increases in the Galapagos boat section.  Substantial savings on airfares that use the Lan Pass to include the Galapagos legs recover much of this increase.  I hope to have a group option on the flights ex Auckland by 8 July.

Booking Process

Most people will email us at office@outdoor.co.nz or call on 64 4 974 5214 first.

Complete the Booking Form and forward a deposit of $800 NZ as per the instructions on the booking form.  Full payment will be required 10 weeks before trip departs.  

We will provide an opportunity for those booking early to share the same flight booking (effectively a group booking).

 

 

 

Parque Condor Raptors

Parque Condor

Piranha

Jungle flowers

Jungle walking

Giants of the Amazon

Altiplano

Blue footed boobies

Sally lightfoot crab

Amazon travel

BBQ meals - a South American specialty

Iguana faceoff

Iguana

Frigate bird

Seal in Galapagos

Altiplano crater lakes

Roast guinea pig

Bananas in Ecuador

Accommodation in the jungle

Jungle travel

Ross and Hazel Swimming with the dolphins

Jungle moments

Jungle sunset

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