ECUADORIAN ANDES AND LUXURY GALAPAGOS SAFARI 2020


2 options: 6 Days and 9 days

For more information contact us at: [email protected]
Or on +1 (954) 636-2822 (U.S. and Canada)


You are cordially invited join fellow LGBT travelers for a once-in-a-lifetime safari experience in the Galapagos Islands! Our adventure begins in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, located high in the Andes where we will visit the equator and explore the best-preserved historic center in the Americas. Then it’s on to the Enchanted Islands where we will be based on the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela for our safari adventure. We will visit fascinating sites and have memorable encounters with wildlife on both inhabited and uninhabited islands. Our accommodations include luxurious safari tents and an eco-friendly beach hotel.


From the splendors of Colonial Quito, to witnessing the amazing wildlife of the unique Galapagos Islands, this trip provides an ideal getaway.


Highlights:

  • 2 nights in Ecuador’s mountain capital: Quito – a UNESCO world heritage site and the best-preserved colonial city in Latin America – staying at a 5-star luxurious Hotel in the heart of the historic center.
  • Quito city tour including a visit to the Middle of the World.
  • 4 days/3 nights exploring the unique and enchanting Galapagos while hosted in the magnificent Galapagos Safari Camp.
  • 3 days/2 nights add-on to explore the remote Isabela Island.


Departures:

  • August 12, 2020.
  • September 30, 2020.
  • November 22, 2020.
  • December 4, 2020.

M/Y WILDAID´S PASSION EASTERN ISLANDS: 5D/4N ITINERARY


Situated in the historic neighborhood of La Loma, Hotel Mama Cuchara is one of Quito’s newest 5-star, gay-friendly boutique hotels that offers an authentic yet luxurious colonial setting with excellent services and elegant, well-appointed suites. The hotel features the opportunity to interact with local artisans and provides a personalized and unique experience in the heart of Quito’s historic center.


A day designed to give us a taste of our new environment. No trip to Ecuador is complete without a visit to the equator and so first we visit Mitad del Mundo for a great photo opportunity with one foot simultaneously in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Then for lunch we go to El Crater, a restaurant perched spectacularly above the extinct Pululahua Volcano.



In the afternoon we head back to Quito’s superb historic center – the best-preserved colonial center in Latin America declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.


We will spend time exploring the cobbled streets, squares, and churches of this fascinating area. Afterwards, we return to our hotel for a welcome cocktail and briefing about the rest of the tour before heading out to dinner on our own. An early night is suggested as it’s an early rise tomorrow for the flight to the Galapagos.


The luxurious Galapagos safari adventure begins after you meet your bi-lingual naturalist guide at the Baltra airport. Guests and baggage in tow, the journey starts by crossing the Itabaca Canal to the island of Santa Cruz. From the pier, you’ll take private transport up from the arid zone through the transitional zone and into the island’s lush highlands.


The first stop is Los Gemelos or Twin Craters, two overgrown, lava tunnels that formed massive sink holes when they collapsed. The larger of the twins is 2,300 ft. (701 m) deep and almost 1,300 ft. (396 m) wide! On a short hike around the rim, your guide will point out the birds of the endemic Scalesia forest such as Galapagos doves and eight species of Darwin’s finches.


From Los Gemelos travel on to a private reserve. The reserves located in the highlands of Santa Cruz are home to the famous Galapagos giant tortoises. Their domed shells and short necks have allowed them to adapt to the environment of the island. The many trails of the highlands, including those around the camp where you will be staying, lead to sightings of the reluctant giants resting in ponds and slowly traversing the land. Keep a look-out for short-eared owls - if you are lucky they can be spotted in the trees dotting the landscape.



Elsewhere in the highlands are elaborate, underground lava tubes created centuries ago by the Santa Cruz volcano. The tubes formed when the lava at the surface cooled, insulating the molten lava underneath. As the lava flowed, it left the tubes in its wake. Some of the tunnels on Santa Cruz go for miles and inside are 60 ft. (18 m) high. Local folklore says that they were used by pirates as hideouts and to store supplies.


Descend into the caves for a mysterious look into the island’s formation, following a lit path with your guide through cavernous tunnels dating back at least one million years. The experience can be daunting in spots where the tubes get narrow, but it’s a worthwhile trek into the geological past of the island.


After stopping for lunch, the group will make its way to the camp. Enjoy a sunset cocktail on at the lookout and a delicious dinner in the main lodge before retiring to your tent for the evening.



After breakfast, early morning finds you on a speedboat navigating to one of the following neighboring islands: North Seymour, Bartolomé, South Plazas or Santa Fe. Each island is an endemic treasure to explore and enjoy. The destination for each day will be determined once you are at the camp. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is the second largest marine reserve in the world, and snorkeling off the boat during the excursions is highly recommended.

Island Descriptions

Bartolomé: Your visit starts with a hike up a 1,970 ft. (600 m) wooden boardwalk and stairway through ancient red, black, orange and green lava fields to the highest point on the island. The view from the lookout surveys the iconic Pinnacle Rock in the forefront, Sullivan Bay in the distance, and Daphne Major and Minor towards the horizon. After the hike, enjoy a dinghy ride along the coastline amidst Galapagos penguins and hawks resting on the cliffs. The afternoon finds you at the bay where sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs, and marine iguanas greet you on the beach. This is a great place to snorkel and discover the colorful underwater world of the islands amongst playful Galapagos penguins, reef sharks, and rays.



Santa Fe: is one of the oldest of the islands in the archipelago, with underwater lava formations dating back 3.9 million years. The island trails are bursting with animal activity. Santa Fe is home to a healthy population of iguanas including the Santa Fe yellow iguana and marine iguanas. Other residents include Galapagos hawks and blue-footed boobies. Friendly sea lions line the shores and swim beside you when snorkeling and marine iguanas bask in the sunshine on seaside rocks and dart quickly past under the water. Other possible sightings are sharks and rays appearing in the wake of colorful schools of fish moving in every direction after being startled by new faces and the movement of the ocean.



North Seymour: This island plays host to blue-footed booby and frigate bird mating colonies. Land iguanas also frequent the area and are seen along the two-mile trail that circumvents the island. On the way inland, nests of blue-footed boobies skirt the trail and Galapagos mockingbirds and yellow warblers are often spotted before flying off for higher ground. As you draw near to the frigate bird colony, the remarkable birds take over the landscape. Males inflate their red, basketball-sized pouch to attract mates. Mosquera Islet in the channel between Baltra and North Seymour is another fun sight to explore and is home to a large sea lion colony. This natural sanctuary is always full of activity and worth a visit. It´s a go-to spot when in search of pups, bulls, and females in different stages of growth.



South Plazas: While in route to Plazas the boat stops at Punta Carrión. The shallow waters of the sheltered cove are a fun place to snorkel with schools of fish, rays and if you are lucky, reef sharks. After making the rest of the journey to Plazas and setting foot on land, along the way you pass golden land iguanas resting in the shade of prickly pear cactus trees. The landscape is vibrant with splashes of red, green and brown-colored fauna accentuating the black lava outcrops, making exploring an adventure in the aesthetics of the island and its creatures. The viewpoint overlooks a busy sea lion colony on the western corner of the island. South Plaza’s other residents include land and marine iguanas, Nazca and blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropic-birds, and swallow-tailed gulls among other species of birds surfing the wind side by side.




Located in the eastern highlands of Santa Cruz, Cerro Mesa is a private reserve rich in endemic flora and bird life with six subspecies of finches, mockingbirds and short-ear owls. The area is also home to Galapagos tortoises, endemic to the island.


The trip is a short drive from the camp. In the morning, you can explore the various trails at the reserve and end the circuit at the lookout where you can contemplate the lush landscape of Santa Cruz and the nearby islands on a clear day. After lunch, you will make your way to Garrapatero Beach. Depending on your level of energy you can hop back in the vehicle or take a gentle eight-mile bike ride for the rest of the way.



The striking contrasts of the black lava, white sand, and turquoise water of Garrapatero Beach catch many by surprise. Nearby, dense mangroves play host to all of the Galapagos ground finches, including the cactus finch, which feeds off the Opuntia cacti that dot the trail on the 15-minute hike to the area.


As the beach comes into sight, watch out for the Manzanillo trees along the path. The small apples on their branches are inviting but poisonous and even the sap touching your skin can cause burns and rashes. Other creatures above and below the waterline that call Garrapatero Beach home are marine iguanas, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, rays and sea turtles.


Through the mangroves skirting the sand is a freshwater lagoon where you can often spot flamingos, white-cheeked ducks and black-nested stilts in the morning or in late afternoon. Just past the tide pools on the beach, clear waters offer a secluded spot for swimming. We can also arrange kayaking off the beach’s shores to search for sea turtles - a great way to actively explore the bay.


On your way back to the camp you will visit El Trapiche Ecológico, a working farm in the highlands that produces sugar cane liqueur and Galapagos coffee. Learn about the different methods used to refine sugar cane, including the use of a mule-driven press. There is also a demonstration of how artisan coffee is produced, from picking the berries to roasting the beans.



As the day winds down, head back to the camp for a relaxing drink and dip in the pool before an inviting dinner and some stargazing if it is a clear night.




Often one of the first stops for our guests after arriving on Isabela, settling into a hotel and having lunch is a journey into Los Humedales, the wetlands of the island. The area is home to each of the four species of mangroves found in the Galapagos, sandy beaches, a tortoise breeding center and a lookout over the bay and the island. A handful of trails intertwine into a network that reveals the wildlife and flora of the coast.


The mangroves of the wetlands play an important part in the eco-system as their underwater root system are breeding and nursery grounds for fish, rays, green turtles, and sharks. Above ground, flamingos and penguins use the forests to raise their young. Common sightings in the wetlands include a variety of land birds such as black-necked cormorants, blue-footed boobies, and ospreys. Other neighborhood residents are the Galapagos giant tortoise, marine iguanas, and sea lions.


During the visit to the wetlands, you have a chance to visit the Isabela Breeding Center, a project undertaken by the Galapagos National Park to protect the different species of tortoises on the island during their formative years. The center releases tortoises into the Los Humedales Reserve where they are often seen meandering along the trails.


In the afternoon we will head to the Wall of Tears, which was built over a period of 14 years during the 1940s and 50s when the island was a prison colony. The wall is located five km west of Puerto Villamil, the island’s main hub. Hundreds of prisoners were forced to build the structure carrying volcanic rock to the site from other parts of the island in blistering conditions. Although the wall was never finished, one theory suggests that it was supposed to be part of a formal prison on the island.


Getting to the wall is an adventure. From the trailhead outside of Puerto Villamil the uphill path is sandy at the start, and eventually turns to rough gravel as it hugs the coastline and winds through mangroves. The journey passes beaches, scenic outlooks and a cemetery where the original settlers of the island are buried.


The wall is a reminder of the stark difference between the Galapagos of the past and of the present. The collection of stones piled 26 ft. (8 m) high and a 328 ft. (100 m) long is insightful for its lack of merit. It’s an example of how the islands have changed, going from a rugged exile for prisoners to a bucket list destination for travelers from around the world.


The prison colony eventually ended when prisoners revolted. Today, many of the descendants of those who worked on the Wall of Tears still live on Isabela. The local folklore says that the wall is haunted and when venturing too close one can hear the cries of the men who toiled to build the structure.


Later we will enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner at Cesar´s, a gay-owned restaurant within walking distance of the hotel.



M/Y WILDAID´S PASSION EASTERN ISLANDS: 5D/4N ITINERARY


Situated in the historic neighborhood of La Loma, Hotel Mama Cuchara is one of Quito’s newest 5-star, gay-friendly boutique hotels that offers an authentic yet luxurious colonial setting with excellent services and elegant, well-appointed suites. The hotel features the opportunity to interact with local artisans and provides a personalized and unique experience in the heart of Quito’s historic center.


A day designed to give us a taste of our new environment. No trip to Ecuador is complete without a visit to the equator and so first we visit Mitad del Mundo for a great photo opportunity with one foot simultaneously in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Then for lunch we go to El Crater, a restaurant perched spectacularly above the extinct Pululahua Volcano.



In the afternoon we head back to Quito’s superb historic center – the best-preserved colonial center in Latin America declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.


We will spend time exploring the cobbled streets, squares, and churches of this fascinating area. Afterwards, we return to our hotel for a welcome cocktail and briefing about the rest of the tour before heading out to dinner on our own. An early night is suggested as it’s an early rise tomorrow for the flight to the Galapagos.


The luxurious Galapagos safari adventure begins after you meet your bi-lingual naturalist guide at the Baltra airport. Guests and baggage in tow, the journey starts by crossing the Itabaca Canal to the island of Santa Cruz. From the pier, you’ll take private transport up from the arid zone through the transitional zone and into the island’s lush highlands.


The first stop is Los Gemelos or Twin Craters, two overgrown, lava tunnels that formed massive sink holes when they collapsed. The larger of the twins is 2,300 ft. (701 m) deep and almost 1,300 ft. (396 m) wide! On a short hike around the rim, your guide will point out the birds of the endemic Scalesia forest such as Galapagos doves and eight species of Darwin’s finches.


From Los Gemelos travel on to a private reserve. The reserves located in the highlands of Santa Cruz are home to the famous Galapagos giant tortoises. Their domed shells and short necks have allowed them to adapt to the environment of the island. The many trails of the highlands, including those around the camp where you will be staying, lead to sightings of the reluctant giants resting in ponds and slowly traversing the land. Keep a look-out for short-eared owls - if you are lucky they can be spotted in the trees dotting the landscape.



Elsewhere in the highlands are elaborate, underground lava tubes created centuries ago by the Santa Cruz volcano. The tubes formed when the lava at the surface cooled, insulating the molten lava underneath. As the lava flowed, it left the tubes in its wake. Some of the tunnels on Santa Cruz go for miles and inside are 60 ft. (18 m) high. Local folklore says that they were used by pirates as hideouts and to store supplies.


Descend into the caves for a mysterious look into the island’s formation, following a lit path with your guide through cavernous tunnels dating back at least one million years. The experience can be daunting in spots where the tubes get narrow, but it’s a worthwhile trek into the geological past of the island.


After stopping for lunch, the group will make its way to the camp. Enjoy a sunset cocktail on at the lookout and a delicious dinner in the main lodge before retiring to your tent for the evening.



After breakfast, early morning finds you on a speedboat navigating to one of the following neighboring islands: North Seymour, Bartolomé, South Plazas or Santa Fe. Each island is an endemic treasure to explore and enjoy. The destination for each day will be determined once you are at the camp. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is the second largest marine reserve in the world, and snorkeling off the boat during the excursions is highly recommended.

Island Descriptions

Bartolomé: Your visit starts with a hike up a 1,970 ft. (600 m) wooden boardwalk and stairway through ancient red, black, orange and green lava fields to the highest point on the island. The view from the lookout surveys the iconic Pinnacle Rock in the forefront, Sullivan Bay in the distance, and Daphne Major and Minor towards the horizon. After the hike, enjoy a dinghy ride along the coastline amidst Galapagos penguins and hawks resting on the cliffs. The afternoon finds you at the bay where sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs, and marine iguanas greet you on the beach. This is a great place to snorkel and discover the colorful underwater world of the islands amongst playful Galapagos penguins, reef sharks, and rays.



Santa Fe: is one of the oldest of the islands in the archipelago, with underwater lava formations dating back 3.9 million years. The island trails are bursting with animal activity. Santa Fe is home to a healthy population of iguanas including the Santa Fe yellow iguana and marine iguanas. Other residents include Galapagos hawks and blue-footed boobies. Friendly sea lions line the shores and swim beside you when snorkeling and marine iguanas bask in the sunshine on seaside rocks and dart quickly past under the water. Other possible sightings are sharks and rays appearing in the wake of colorful schools of fish moving in every direction after being startled by new faces and the movement of the ocean.



North Seymour: This island plays host to blue-footed booby and frigate bird mating colonies. Land iguanas also frequent the area and are seen along the two-mile trail that circumvents the island. On the way inland, nests of blue-footed boobies skirt the trail and Galapagos mockingbirds and yellow warblers are often spotted before flying off for higher ground. As you draw near to the frigate bird colony, the remarkable birds take over the landscape. Males inflate their red, basketball-sized pouch to attract mates. Mosquera Islet in the channel between Baltra and North Seymour is another fun sight to explore and is home to a large sea lion colony. This natural sanctuary is always full of activity and worth a visit. It´s a go-to spot when in search of pups, bulls, and females in different stages of growth.



South Plazas: While in route to Plazas the boat stops at Punta Carrión. The shallow waters of the sheltered cove are a fun place to snorkel with schools of fish, rays and if you are lucky, reef sharks. After making the rest of the journey to Plazas and setting foot on land, along the way you pass golden land iguanas resting in the shade of prickly pear cactus trees. The landscape is vibrant with splashes of red, green and brown-colored fauna accentuating the black lava outcrops, making exploring an adventure in the aesthetics of the island and its creatures. The viewpoint overlooks a busy sea lion colony on the western corner of the island. South Plaza’s other residents include land and marine iguanas, Nazca and blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropic-birds, and swallow-tailed gulls among other species of birds surfing the wind side by side.




Located in the eastern highlands of Santa Cruz, Cerro Mesa is a private reserve rich in endemic flora and bird life with six subspecies of finches, mockingbirds and short-ear owls. The area is also home to Galapagos tortoises, endemic to the island.


The trip is a short drive from the camp. In the morning, you can explore the various trails at the reserve and end the circuit at the lookout where you can contemplate the lush landscape of Santa Cruz and the nearby islands on a clear day. After lunch, you will make your way to Garrapatero Beach. Depending on your level of energy you can hop back in the vehicle or take a gentle eight-mile bike ride for the rest of the way.



The striking contrasts of the black lava, white sand, and turquoise water of Garrapatero Beach catch many by surprise. Nearby, dense mangroves play host to all of the Galapagos ground finches, including the cactus finch, which feeds off the Opuntia cacti that dot the trail on the 15-minute hike to the area.


As the beach comes into sight, watch out for the Manzanillo trees along the path. The small apples on their branches are inviting but poisonous and even the sap touching your skin can cause burns and rashes. Other creatures above and below the waterline that call Garrapatero Beach home are marine iguanas, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, rays and sea turtles.


Through the mangroves skirting the sand is a freshwater lagoon where you can often spot flamingos, white-cheeked ducks and black-nested stilts in the morning or in late afternoon. Just past the tide pools on the beach, clear waters offer a secluded spot for swimming. We can also arrange kayaking off the beach’s shores to search for sea turtles - a great way to actively explore the bay.


On your way back to the camp you will visit El Trapiche Ecológico, a working farm in the highlands that produces sugar cane liqueur and Galapagos coffee. Learn about the different methods used to refine sugar cane, including the use of a mule-driven press. There is also a demonstration of how artisan coffee is produced, from picking the berries to roasting the beans.



As the day winds down, head back to the camp for a relaxing drink and dip in the pool before an inviting dinner and some stargazing if it is a clear night.




Often one of the first stops for our guests after arriving on Isabela, settling into a hotel and having lunch is a journey into Los Humedales, the wetlands of the island. The area is home to each of the four species of mangroves found in the Galapagos, sandy beaches, a tortoise breeding center and a lookout over the bay and the island. A handful of trails intertwine into a network that reveals the wildlife and flora of the coast.


The mangroves of the wetlands play an important part in the eco-system as their underwater root system are breeding and nursery grounds for fish, rays, green turtles, and sharks. Above ground, flamingos and penguins use the forests to raise their young. Common sightings in the wetlands include a variety of land birds such as black-necked cormorants, blue-footed boobies, and ospreys. Other neighborhood residents are the Galapagos giant tortoise, marine iguanas, and sea lions.


During the visit to the wetlands, you have a chance to visit the Isabela Breeding Center, a project undertaken by the Galapagos National Park to protect the different species of tortoises on the island during their formative years. The center releases tortoises into the Los Humedales Reserve where they are often seen meandering along the trails.


In the afternoon we will head to the Wall of Tears, which was built over a period of 14 years during the 1940s and 50s when the island was a prison colony. The wall is located five km west of Puerto Villamil, the island’s main hub. Hundreds of prisoners were forced to build the structure carrying volcanic rock to the site from other parts of the island in blistering conditions. Although the wall was never finished, one theory suggests that it was supposed to be part of a formal prison on the island.


Getting to the wall is an adventure. From the trailhead outside of Puerto Villamil the uphill path is sandy at the start, and eventually turns to rough gravel as it hugs the coastline and winds through mangroves. The journey passes beaches, scenic outlooks and a cemetery where the original settlers of the island are buried.


The wall is a reminder of the stark difference between the Galapagos of the past and of the present. The collection of stones piled 26 ft. (8 m) high and a 328 ft. (100 m) long is insightful for its lack of merit. It’s an example of how the islands have changed, going from a rugged exile for prisoners to a bucket list destination for travelers from around the world.


The prison colony eventually ended when prisoners revolted. Today, many of the descendants of those who worked on the Wall of Tears still live on Isabela. The local folklore says that the wall is haunted and when venturing too close one can hear the cries of the men who toiled to build the structure.


Later we will enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner at Cesar´s, a gay-owned restaurant within walking distance of the hotel.





Northwest of the main town of Puerto Villamil, the Sierra Negra Volcano, at almost 4,900 ft. (1,500 m), is the second largest active volcanic crater in the world. This towering shield volcano last erupted in 2018, sending 1,000 ft. (300 m) fountains of lava into the night sky. During an active day immersed in the lavish landscape of the island, our trip traverses a 5 mi. (8 km) trail around the east side of the volcano that presents you with breathtaking views of Isabela and the nearby islands.


In the course of the accent, the journey takes you through several microclimates. The trail starts in the cloud forest, where delicious guava fruit and a variety of birdlife await. Along the way, your guide will point out Galapagos hawks, short-eared owls, flycatchers and finches that often frequent this route.


The hike continues through petrified, out-of-this-world lava fields, which can be challenging at points. Once at the 6 mi. (9.7 km) diameter crater, the temperature of the air rises slightly due to the lava flowing underneath the crust. Hiking around the rim gives way to panoramic views of the surrounding cloud forest, the highlands of Isabela and the most recent lava formations of the expansive crater itself.


Depending on the weather conditions, the trail may be muddy and hard to navigate and the view might cloud over. Due to the crater’s altitude, the view from the top is often clear when the conditions below are overcast. Please note that you do not have to complete the full trail and you can shorten the visit if needed.


A box lunch will be served at midday.


Once back in Puerto Villamil optional activities include snorkeling at Concha de Perla or kayaking at Tintoreras. The guide will assist you in coordinating your chosen activity. The evening will be free to explore the town and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the recommended restaurants.


This is our last day in the islands. After breakfast take a speedboat to Santa Cruz to transfer to Baltra or fly back to the Baltra airport for the flight to mainland Ecuador. As the plane will make a stop in Guayaquil on the way back to Quito, international flight connections can be made today in either city.

What´s Included

Included in the rates:

  • Two nights’ accommodation in Quito at a luxurious 5-star boutique hotel in double room.
  • Accommodation at the safari camp in double tents.
  • Meals as specified.
  • All airport transfers.
  • Transit control card.
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee.
  • All specified activities and excursions.
  • English-speaking certified guides throughout the tour.
  • Round trip airfare Quito–Baltra–Quito/Guayaquil.
  • Use of snorkeling gear and wet suits.

Not included in the rates:

  • International airfare.
  • Additional optional activities, services and meals.
  • Alcoholic and bottled beverages.
  • Travel / medical insurance.
  • Gratuities.
  • Personal expenses.

Rates & Dates

Price From

$4506

Price Per Day:

$ 643,7 per day


SAFARI RATES:


Double accommodation: $4,506

Single supplement: $1,250



OPTIONAL ISABELA ADD-ON:


Double accommodation: $838

Single supplement: $474




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