Price Chocó extension: €1910
When the Castilian explorer Tomas de Berlanga arrived by chance to these islands in 1535 he would never imagined that this remote archipielago, about 1.000 miles away from any emerged land, would once become a worldwide icon in the history of universal science. The fauna of the Galapagos Islands, isolated for thousands of years of any continental influence, inspired Charles Darwin to finish his theory on wildlife evolution, a theory that changed our of understanding life on Earth for always.
In this journey we will follow the prints of this incredible scientist to discover the unique and uninhibited wildlife living in these volcanic islands. Here, an incredible array of habitats have made possible the evolution of a long list of species with unique characters, from the awesome plasticity of the wordlide famous Darwin Finches, to the nocturnal life of the Swallow-tailed Gull and the flightless population of Cormorants that evolved in Galapagos. Here we will also enjoy of extremely rare endemics such as Floreana Mokingbird and Hispaniola Mokingbird.
Amidst the impressive volcanic landscapes of these islands there are several sea bird colonies, from Frigatebirds to Petrels, and from Penguins to Albatrosses, with special mention to the well known Blue-footed Booby. Inside the ocean, you can marvel with the unobtrusive wildlife living on their coasts, and the tour will provide our guests with a set of inmersions and snorkeling among sea lions, sharks, penguins, and the endless variety of colourful fish living here. Back on ground, we will also marvel with one of the most unique evolutionary phenomena going on in the islands: giantism. Here up to 10 different species of Giant Tortoises (from the 15 that once existed) still live in Galapagos.
This is a tour to one of the most remote lands on Earth. An once-in-live journey to one of the most iconic places for both study and enjoying wildlife. And we have set up a tour that combines the discover of the endemic birdlife along with a naturalist point of view which is open to any wildlife lover on Earth.
Once back to the continent, those loving the Neotropical wildlife will enjoy by joining our extension exploring the Choco region. Here, in the mighty slopes of the Andes, we will spend some time to contact the many endemics living here while enjoying the gorgeous array of birds living there.
Eugeni Capella has been travelling and birding in South America over 15 years. After being birdwatching in several South American countries, his passion for the Neothropics, and Ecuador in particular, brought him to go on with the challenge of watching over 1000 species of birds in Ecuador in less of 100 days. No internal flights allowed in this adventure. After 100 days, he and his team have watched 1087 species of birds, taking photos of overe 800 of them! We are happy to count him to guide our tours in Ecuador, one of his favourite birding areas in the whole continent.
A book to help you understand Galapagos Islands: “The voyage of the Beagle” (1834) by Charles Darwin (1809-1882).
Day 1. Quito – Isla Santa Cruz (Galápagos): The tour starts with a regular flight from Quito International Airport to Santa Cruz Island, the main island within Galapagos archipielago. Once in the island we will explore its highlands, rich in bird endemics. In these wet slopes, covered by lichens and fens, it is possible to watch up to 6 species of the very famous “Darwin finches” including Green-Warbler Finch, Large Tree-Finch, Small Tree-Finch and Small Ground-Finch along with other goodies such as Galapagos Mokingbird and Mangrove Warbler. Here we will also vitsit an area where wild Giant Tortoises can be see to end the day with a visit to the Charles Darwin Scientific Station, and with some birding in the lowlands to catch up with the firsts Lava Gulls, Lava Herons and Galapagos Flycatchers before the transfer to our accommodation.
Day 2. Isla Seymour: Early morning transfer from our hotel to Itabaca Channel, from where we will sale to Seymour Island. Along the journey it is possible to see a variety of seabirds including Frigatebirds, Shearwaters and Boobies. Seymour Island hosts different colonies of seabirds providing unforgettable sights on Magnificent & Great Frigatebirds, Nazca Booby, Red-footed Booby, Galapagos Shearwater but also the only nocturnal gull on Earth, the enigmathical Swallow-tailed Gull. Other species of interest in the island include Red-billed Thropicbird and Brown noddy. In the afternoon, transfer back to our accommodation in Santa Cruz Island.
Please note that weather conditions and other circumstances can affect the availability of the offshore outing to Seymour Island.
Days 3. Isla Floreana: Early morning we will take a fast boat to Floreana Island, where we will look for two exclusive endemics of this Southern island. Here, we will explore the wooded hills in search of some of the rarest finches in the Galapagos: Medium tree-Finch, Grey Warbler-Finch, Medium Ground-Finch and Vegetarian Finch. We will also enjoy other birds of interest here include Paint-billed Crake and Dark-billed Cuckoo while marvelling with some of the species of Giant Tortoises living here. In our way back to coast, we will go into a fast visit to Islote Champion, one of the small islands where it is possible to see Floreana Mokingbird. In these transfers by fast boat it is possible to a good array of seabirds and Waved Albatross, Cape Petrel, Galapagos Petrel and White-vented Storm-Petrel are all very likely to provide excellent sights along with some sea mammals. Final transfer to Santa Cruz Island and our accommodation at the end of the day.
Day 4. Navigation from Santa Cruz to Isla Isabela: Free morning to enjoy the lowlands of Santa Cruz Island. After lunch, transfer until our taxi-boat to lead us to Isla Isabela. This is the largest island in the Galapagos, and it is also the most genuine of all of them. Five volcanos cover over the half of its surface, building up a magnificient landscape. Along the boat trip we can enjoy some more sea birds including Galalapagos Petrel and Galapagos Storm-Petrel. Once arrived to the island we will go to Puerto Villamil, where we will enjoy some waterfowl and seabirds including Galapagos Penguin, Galapagos Flamingo (endemic race), White-cheeked Pintail and specialities such as Common Cactus-Finch.
Day 5. Isabela-Playa de los Perros-Los Túneles: This day we will explore some of the most beautiful corners of Galapagos with one of its famous boats combining tourism and fishing. Our first goal will be Punta Moreno, where we will enjoy a colony of the fascinating Flightless Cormorant, the only one species of Cormorant uncapable of flying in the world. From we will face to a specific corner of mangroves in search of the very scarce Mangrove Finch, a species heavily threatened by an invasive fly that parasites their nests. Here we can also enjoy Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Martin and Mangrove Warbler. Our last stop will be in the area called Los Tuneles, where you will have the chance of enjoying some snorkeling with Sea Lions, Sea Turtles, Whitetip Reef Sharks and Galapagos Penguins! Final transfer back to Puerto Villamil at sunset.
Day 6. Isla Isabela (Sierra Negra): Light walk to the top of Sierra Negra volcano. This is one of largest active volcano basins in the world, and provides stunning views over the island and most of the Galapagos Islands. The way crosses a number of ambients, including areas of cloud forest. Along the morning we expect to see some of the most interesting species inhabitating these slopes including Galapagos Rail, Large Ground-Finch, Common Cactus-Finch and Galapagos Flycatcher along with the wonderful Darwin’s Flycatcher! We will go back to our accommodation by early afternoon. Free time the rest of day so you can enjoy the lowlands or have some extra time for snorkeling or walking around.
Day 7. Isla Isabela – San Cristóbal: Morning birding in Isabela to enjoy a bit more some of its endemics. In the early afternoon we will take a short flight (about 45 minutes) in a 6-9 seats plane that will lead us to San Cristobal. Once in our accommodation close to Puerto Baquerizo, we will explore a nearby beach where we can see Sea Lions and the worldwide famous Marine Iguanas. A gentle walk through the area will lead to some cliffs where a colony of the also pretty famous Blue-footed Booby is nesting. Along out way we will also enjoy a variety of birds living around such as San Cristobal Mockingbird, Grey Warbler Finch, Woodpecker Finch, Small Ground Finch, Lava Gull o Semipalmated Plover. We will finish our day in the stunning Playa Mann, where it is possible to take a bath surrounded by Sea Lions!
Day 8. San Cristóbal, Punta Pitt: Early morning start to sale towards Punta Pitt, the Northern tip of San Cristobal Island. While approaching the area we will enjoy the good variety of sea birds living here, and in a good day you may expect great sights on Waved Albatros, Elliot’s Storm-Petrel, Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel or Galapagos Shearwater. Once arrived to Punta Pitt, its marvellous small green beach will allow us to enjoy of three species of Boobies alll together along with some Wandering Tattler and other goodies including Medium Ground-Finch and Galapagos Flycatcher. Here, those guests enjoyinf snorkeling will have another chance to swim amongst the colourful crisol of tropical fish living here. Transfer back to Puerto Baquerizo in the afternoon.
Day 9. Isla Española: Day outing to the most Southern island in Galapagos, and one of the first that emerged from the sea. Due to its geographical isolation, Espanola Island hosts some exclusive endemics of great interest for us. Along the day we will search for the rare Espanola Ground-Finch but also Grey Warbler-Finch, Purple Martin and Lava Heron. Still, the very star of the island is without doubt the Waved Albatross. From April to December these giants come to the island and their calls and ritualized welcome ceremonies have become popular all over the world, appearing in several wildlife documentals and films. After visiting the colony of this flighting giants, we will spend the afternoon in an excellent snorkeling spot so those enoying the underwater wildlife can also enjoy the amazing variety of its sealife. We will go back to Puerto Baquerizo at sunset.
Day 10. Isla San Cristóbal-Quito: Last hours to enjoy the lush and uninhibited wildlife of Galapagos Islands. In the mid morning we will take a transfer flight to San Cristobal, where we will take a regular flight linking the islands with the continent. Arrival to Quito at the end of the afternoon and transfer to our accommodation in the North district of town. Free time or transfer to the International Airport (depending on plane timetable of those tour participants not joining the Chocó extension).
-Extensión to Choco (5 days, 4 nights)-
Day 11 (or day 1 in the case you are joining only this extension). Yanacocha Natural Reserve: Yanacocha Reserve is placed at the West slope of the Pichincha volcano, protecting a variety of ecosystems of the Andean highlands which are extremely diverse and the great importance to protect a long list of rare and endangered species. Probably the most interesting of all of them is Black-breasted Puffleg, one of the Hummingbirds is a smaller range of the continent. Early morning start from Quito to explore the famous Hummingbird Eco-route that will lead us to different altitudinal gradients, from 2800 up to 3500 metres above sea level, crossing amazing variety of woodland and gorges but also farmlands and grasslands. The reserve itself allows good chances to observe shy species living in the undergrowth such as Tinamous, Antpittas adn Tapaculos. Along the day we do expect to observe some top specialities including Tyrian Metaltail, Sapphire-vented Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird but also Imperial Snipe, Blackish Tapaculo, Rufous Wren and stunners like White-banded Tyrannulet, Blue-backed Conebill, Glossy Flowerpiercer and White-throated Screech-Owl among several more. In the afternoon we will explore the slopes covered by cloud forest before arriving to our accommodation in the Tandayapa Valley.
Day 12 (or day 2). Bellavista Cloud Forest: We will spend the day exploring the variety of ambients inside this reserve. Here we will have excellent chances to watch and enjoy a good variety of Trogons, Tyrannulets, Antpittas and Hummingbirds (about 15 species can be seen only in this stage of the forest). And a special effort will be done so we can add to our lists species like White-tailed Tyrannulet, Toucan Barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-toucan, Rufous-gaped Hillstar, Montane Woodpecker or Western Hemispingus to name just a few… Overnight at the same lodge in Bellavista..
Day 13 (or day 3). Tandayapa Valley: Along the morning we will keep exploring the Tandayapa Valley and the cloud forest inside Bellavista Nature Sanctuary. This Andean reserva, placed in the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes is also famous for its reptiles and nocturnal mammals. During the day we expect to enjoy specialities such as Beautiful Jay, Dusky Bush-tanager, Spillmann’s Tapaculo, Capped Conebill or White-face Nunbird while enjoying the endless variety of birdlife in these mighty woodlands. At sunset we will go to a special location expecting to see the recently described Olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina) a nocturnal carnivore place in the same family of rackoons and coatis, and one of the less known mammals of South America.
Day 14 (or day 4). Paz de las Aves: Amidst mighty mountains, our itinerary will lead us to Paz de las Aves. Here is one of this magical places where you can enjoy a lek of the famous Adean Cock-on-the-rock and males show their beauty with an impressive demostration of songs and rythmical movements. Here we will also look for Rufous-bellied Nighthawk, Brown Inca, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Empress Brilliant, Dark-backed Wood-quail, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Cloudforest Pygmy-owl, Golden-headed Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Scaled Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Narino Tapaculo, Rufous-breasted Antthrush,… Depending on timing and weather, we will stop to enjoy the interesting xeofithic vegetation in the valley or in the highlands of Pululahua, one of the largest inhabitated volcano basins in the world. Evening meal and overnight in Antisana.
Day 15 (or day 5). Antisana Volcano: The 120,000 hectares of the Antisana Nature Reserve are one of the largest protected areas in Ecuador. Its highland grasslands, gorges and rocky formations are the perfect setting to look for Andean specialities including Andean Condor and Ecuatorian Hillstart, one of the Hummingbirds with a higher range in America. The stunning Polylepsis woodlands and grasslands hosts the last population of Andean Ibis in the country. Here we expect to see Andean Lapwing, Shining Sunbeam, Chestnut-winged Cinclodes, Carunculated Caracala, Western Tawny Antpitta, Many-striped Canastero, Paramo Pipit, Ochraceous Conebill and Black Flowerpiercer in a long list including many other goodies. If lucky, we could even see one of the rare and shy Spectacled Bear living in these mountains.
Final transfer to Quito, expecting to arrive by mid afternoon.
10 nights of accommodation in en-suite double/twin room; internal flighs along the itinerary; all breakfasts along the tour; birding guide plus Galapagos National Park guide (in some outings only); fees to natural reserves and National Parks along the tour; group outings to minor islands; lunches during group outings; snorkeling equipation during group outings; travel insurance. All prices are VAT included.
INCLUDED (Chocó extension):
4 nights of accommodation in en-suite souble/twin rooms; all breakfasts & evening meals along the tour; birding guide; local guide; fees and entrances to natural sites along the itinerary; transportation along the itinerary; travel insurance. All prices are VAT included.
NOT INCLUDED (Galapagos):
International flights; evening meals along the tour; lunches out of those days joining a day outing; Visas (when necessary); any other item not listed as “INCLUDED” for the Galapagos tour.
NOT INCLUDED (Chocó extension):
International flights; Visas (when necessary); lunches along the itinerary; any other item not listed as “INCLUDED” for the Choco extension.
ASSEMBLING (Galapagos & Choco):
Our guests will get specific information about the meeting point weeks before our tour. Assembling is likely to happen at the Quito International Airport or at the lobby of a nearby hotel. If any client is only attending our extension to Choco, the assembling point will be our accommodation in Quito. In that case, we recommend the new guests to join our welcoming evening meal the night before the tour starts.
Only two accommodations within Galapagos. Hotel La Zapaya & Hotel La Laguna, both small hotels providing with both excellent services and an interesting list of activities to explore the islands in the free afternoons and morning.
ACCOMMODATION (Chocó extension):
Our main accommodation (3 nights) in the extension will be the Bellavista CloudForest Lodge, an ecolodge offering excellent local meal, comfortable rooms, an excellent staff fullfilled with enthusiastic about the impressive local wildlife. The fourth night is in Tambo Condor Lodge, in the majestic Andean highlands.
PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH:
Nationals of USA, Canada and most European countries are not requested for any Visa to get into Ecuador. All Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return date. To enter Ecuador it is mandatory to be vaccinated agaisnt Yellow Fever. However, we recommend you to contact your local health authorities to get updated information related to health and hygiene standards before travel.