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Tailor Made The Best of Ecuador (2016)
Days: 9 | From: $8,860
Luxury Tailor Made Journeys depart on the dates that work for you and feature expert local guides throughout your journey. The itinerary below can be customized to your interests.
Day 1: Arrive Quito, Ecuador
Arrive in Quito, nestled at the foot of 15,696-foot Volcán Pichincha. Meet your guide and transfer to your hotel.
Day 2: Quito/Zuleta | History Comes Alive
Explore Quito’s historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally settled by the Quitu tribe in the first millennium, Quito was eventually integrated into the Inca Empire before being destroyed and re-founded in 1534 by Spanish Conquistador Sebastian de Benalcázar. Visit El Panecillo, the landmark hill rising at the southern edge of the city. Gaze at the statue of Quito’s “Winged Virgin.” Absorb panoramic views of colonial Quito; marvel at San Francisco Church and its gold-gilded museum of religious art, La Compañía; and see bustling Independence Plaza, flanked by the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral of Quito. Then, make your way to the fertile Machachi Valley for a homemade lunch at Hacienda Hualilagua de Jijón. Continue on to the stunning Avenue of the Volcanoes. Then, drive through the beautiful countryside to your accommodations, an adobe hacienda, where you check in.
Hacienda Zuleta | Meals: B L D
Day 3: Quito | Crafts at Poncho Square
Tour your property’s organic garden to learn about permaculture and see where the ingredients for Zuleta’s meals come from. Explore the farm’s operation, feed the calves, count sheep and talk to the vaqueros (herders). Then, go for a hike, horseback ride or bicycle ride. If weather conditions allow, you can be dropped off with your bike midway up the mountain for a downhill ride back to the hacienda’s antique mill house, where you can enjoy lunch with stunning waterfall views. Proceed to the Otavalo to visit the textile and craft market at Poncho Square, a gathering that has occurred here since pre-Incan times. After perusing the weavings, carpets, vibrant ponchos, jewelry and needlework — not to mention stalls filled with unique Ecuadorian produce — return to Quito and check in to your hotel.
Casa Gangotena | Meals: B L
Days 4-6: The Galápagos | Pristine Wildlife
Fly to Baltra Island, where you are met and transferred to your lodge. Attend an evening briefing, followed by an overview on the natural history of the Galápagos Islands. After dinner, attend an enlightening discussion on the evolution of the region’s species with members of the Galápagos scientific community. The next day, explore Santa Cruz Island, seeing native flora and fauna as well as Los Gemelos and Scalesia, twin volcanic depressions. Visit a giant tortoise farm, where you observe them lumbering around the reserve. Watch, too, for highland birds such as cattle egrets, Galápagos rails, mockingbirds, finches and vermilion flycatchers. You may even encounter barn owls in the surrounding lava tunnels. Then, hike up to Cerro Mesa for commanding views of the islands, followed by a bike ride on a paved path. Proceed to the Darwin Scientific Research Center, where you see its giant prickly pear cacti forest and gain insight into the efforts being made by scientists, guides, rangers and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The following day, embark on a full day yacht cruise. While sailing between visits to South Plaza and Santa Fe Island, guests can rest, shower or relax in their air-conditioned private cabins as well as unwind in the hot tub, watch a Galápagos documentary, sunbathe or observe dolphins. Disembark and return to your lodge.
Pikaia Lodge Hotel | Meals: B L D
Days 7-8: Quito | A Cloud Forest
Depart by land and ferry from Puerto Ayora to the airport in Baltra. Fly to Quito, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. The next day, discover the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest, one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. While exploring, look for exotic orchids, bromeliads, moss-draped trees and colorful birds. Return to Quito in the afternoon for time at leisure.
Casa Gangotena | Meals: B (Day 7); B L (Day 8)
Day 9: Depart Quito
Transfer to the airport and board your homebound flight.