Luxury Ecuador Itinerary
This 20–night luxury itinerary will introduce you to a number of incredible experiences and destinations. From the second you land, you will be greeted with open arms and special delights. Feel the wonder and awe as you discover an entirely new world rich with culture, gastronomy, wildlife and newly found adventure.<!–– start itin loop ––>
Transfer from the airport to your selected hotel in Quito. Delight your senses with a Pacari Awarded Chocolate Box given to you as a welcome gift to Ecuador.
After breakfast, transfer from your hotel in Quito to Mashpi Lodge.
On the way to Mashpi Lodge, visit the archaeological ruins at Tulipe, said to have be-longed to the ancient Yumbo civilization of pre-Inca Quito. After settling into your ac-commodations, you will be introduced to your naturalist guide who will speak about the cloud forest and the activities offered during your stay. After lunch, activities may include a hike through the forest or an opportunity to see the forest from above on Mashpi’s Dragonfly aerial cable car, offering you a relaxing way to enjoy the reserve from overhead. An entire circuit (roundtrip) takes about 40 minutes to complete.
In the evening, you can go out and search for wildlife on a night walk. When the sun sets in the Choco cloud forest, all sorts of different life forms come to life such as frogs, snakes, insects and even tarantulas.
After breakfast, go for a walk to a waterfall where you can bathe in the pools with the water crashing behind you or visit the hummingbird garden or the life center’s butter-fly farm.
After lunch, pedal on the sky bike above ground through the canopy. Another activity is to climb up to the observation tower to view much of the Choco cloud forest from above with a bird’s eye view and watch the sunset as it descends slowly.
In the evening, the guides and staff prepare different and engaging lectures on the
diverse wildlife and plant life or on the scientific research projects conducted in the same Choco Forest you’ve been discovering.
On your last day at Mashpi Lodge you can let your guide know if you are interested in additional activities before heading for your transfer back to Quito.
For dinner, transfer to Theatrum Restaurant for their five – course spectacular tradi-tional Ecuadorian-Mediterranean tasting menu created by some of the most talented chefs in the country.
During the historical tour of Quito, you will explore the best – preserved colonial cen-ter of all of South America and one of the first World Heritage Sites. The first stop is the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Due to its size and style, it is considered the largest neo- Gothic temple in the Americas and the most important piece of neo-gothic ar-chitecture in Ecuador. You will continue to the Plaza Grande, or Independence Square. Located here is the Presidential Palace, the Catholic Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace.
Visit the most impressive of all churches, the San Francisco de Quito. The church houses masterpieces of talented indigenous artists from the famous methods of Escuela Quiteña, “Quito School”, which are the traditional artists associated with the 17th and 18th centuries. Walk through the lively colonial streets of the old town to visit other historical highlights such as the Panecillo, from where you will have an amazing 360 degree view over the city.
In addition, visit La Compania Church considered to be a Baroque masterpiece and see the beautiful domes.
In a picturesque corner of Quito’s Historic Colonial Center, you’ll find a small but fascinating 18th century house and museum known as the “El Descanso” manor house. Here, you will have a unique and exclusive experience enjoying a completely magical meal filled with Ecua-dorian traditions, while learning more about Ecuador’s culinary heritage.
The second part of this tour will take place at the north part of the city where the equator line meets the prime meridian and the coordinates indicate point 0° 0’ 0”. A must-see stop during your visit in Ecuador is the Middle of the World. The Intinan Museum is a smaller, but highly interactive museum located right next to the Mitad del Mundo Monument.
Visit the hacienda “La Compania de Jesus”. It originally belonged to the Jesuit order when established in Ecuador about 300 years ago.
Continue to the town of Otavalo, famous for its indigenous market that is held every day with the largest number of traders present on Saturdays. Visit the peaceful town of Co-tacachi, famous for its leather products Visit Cuicocha that is a beautiful volcanic crater la-goon near the small town of Otavalo. Cuicocha is part of the Cotacachi Cayapas E Reserve and is located at an altitude of 3246 meters.
Today you are free to explore the hacienda and take part in the activities which make this a unique place. You have a choice between many options such as the Condor Huasi Project, gardens and lagoon, chapel, cheese factory, orchards, perm sustainable methods, milking experiences and foundation projects like the community library and store with hand-e prod-ucts. You can also walk on one of the 60 km self-guided trails within the 1,700 hectares of protected land.
You can also choose to horseback ride, bike ride, a cooking class or an embroidery class.
After enjoying a delicious breakfast, you will have a private transfer from Zuleta to Quito.
Visit Capilla del Hombre. Oswaldo Guayasamín was a talented painter and sculptor who ded-icated his life to works of art of the Kichwa and Mestizo heritage. He was given a prize for an entire life of work for peace by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organ-ization.
Transfer from your hotel to Quito’s airport.
Today you will take a 35 – 40 minute flight from Quito to Coca where your Amazon experi-ence begins.
You will be welcomed by a La Selva representative at the airport upon your arrival. This eco-lodge is located in the heart of the Amazon basin, nestled deep in the Amazon rainforest.
Transfer by private transportation to the main dock on the Napo River. The next two hours will be experienced heading down river on what will be the beginning of an unforgettable experience in the Amazon rainforest. At the end of the motorized canoe ride, you will be dropped off at La Selva’s main dock. After a short walk, you will meet the staff from La Selva waiting for your arrival in a native dug – out canoe ready to paddle you the rest of the way to the lodge. You will be introduced to your naturalist guide.
To enjoy your time in the Amazon to the fullest, breakfast is served early in the morn-ing to take advantage of the wildlife activity. A typical day would be setting out on the trail with your naturalist and local guide. There is an observation tower not far from the lodge where you can climb up 120 ft to observe the forest canopy. Return for lunch with some time to relax before heading out again in the afternoon.
The great thing about La Selva being located on the edge of a lagoon is you can enjoy canoe excursions as well. The guide will point out flora and fauna living on the edges of the water such as herons, the colorful hoatzin stink bird, hummingbirds, toucans flying over the lagoon, monkeys reaching for fruits and perhaps even anacondas. Af-ter dinner, enjoy a night-time canoe ride with a spot light or excursion to find the nocturnal creatures of the Amazon.
During your time at La Selva you will have the opportunity to revisit the Napo River to view the parrot clay licks. It is a wonderful display of the wild world where if you are lucky, you can see hundreds of parrots and parakeets gathering to eat the mineral rich soil.
Visit the Mandi Wasi Community where you can see inside the lives of the indigenous locals. The Kichwa women created this project as a way to invite guests in to learn more about their culture and their way of life. You’ll be able to see how they farm their foods, such as yucca, plantains and cacao, how they build their homes and the ways they make different meals. You will even have an opportunity to taste staples like steamed fish in “maito” or bijao leaves, plantains, palmito, fermented chicha, and the chontacuro.
After breakfast, depart from the lodge. You will board the motorized canoe and return to Coca.
Upon arrival you will transfer from Quito to Lasso.
Your adventure starts early in the morning when you drive south through the Avenue of the Volcanoes.
The elegant Cotopaxi Volcano with an altitude of 5897 meters above sea level is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world and one of Ecuador’s most popular highlights. This im-pressive, snow-capped volcano stands proudly in the middle of the national park that bears its name.
Upon arrival at the entrance of the Cotopaxi National Park, your guide will explain about the unique flora and fauna and the about the history of the volcano. You will continue to the Limpiopungo Lake (altitude: 3850 meters), to enjoy the stunning “paramo” or grassland landscape where you can see hummingbirds, wild horses and other wildlife.
Enjoy an exclusive and exhilarating chartered helicopter flight over the Cotopaxi National Park.
This incredible 90 minute adventure gives you the chance to soar over the Avenue of the Volcanoes, giving you a view of the snow-capped peaks, colorful lakes and dense forests be-low.
Visit the beautiful Quilotoa Crater Lake on top of the extinct Quilotoa volcano. It is one of the most spectacular places in the Ecuadorian Sierra region. You can hike or take a mule down to the lagoon and then back to the top of the crater.
On the way back stop in Tigua, a little village, that is famous for its local paintings and masks. In the afternoon, fly from Quito to Cuenca. Upon arrival in Cuenca, transfer from the airport to your hotel.
Today, explore Cuenca, a gorgeous colonial center and a Cultural Heritage of Mankind by UNESCO. See the architectural highlights of the city such as the impressive cathedral.
Afterwards your guide will take you up to the viewpoint, Turi, for a splendid view of the en-tire city. Visit an artisanal Panama hat factory. Unlike what the name suggests, Panama hats are originally from Ecuador and Cuenca is one of the most important producers of these hats.
The workshop of José Encalada is one of the few places in Cuenca where travelers have the opportunity to experience the city’s traditional art of pottery-making. José works with two of his children. Together they preserve this beautiful craftsmanship that has been taught from generation to generation.
Visit the incredible Museum of Indigenous Cultures with the best private archaeological col-lection open to the public.
Travel to Cajas National Park, a bewitchingly beautiful protected area of 70,500 acres with various types of ecosystems from cloud forests to rocky lunar-like landscapes. It has more than 200 lagoons making this national park truly unique. Most of Cajas National Park is at an altitude of 4000 meters above sea level.
The higher elevations of the park are quite impressive. The moorlands and mountain peaks are spotted with wild llamas and lagoons, all contrasting beautifully against the occasional white frost from the night before. While hiking, keep your eyes peeled for hummingbirds native to the area, rabbits, wild alpacas, deer and fox. After this out of world experience at Cajas National Park, you will begin driving to your final destination of the day, Guayaquil.
Guayaquil is the main port and the largest city of Ecuador. Your guide will pick you up at your hotel for an interesting tour of this port city. The visit will include the boulevard locat-ed on the waterfront, also known as the “malecon”, which has just recently been renovated. Additionally, visit the neighborhood of Las Peñas, dating back to the 16th century and de-clared as a Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. See the Seminarian Park or Iguana Park, named so after the many iguanas that inhabit the area.
Additionally, enjoy a peaceful riverboat ride on the Guayas River to admire Guayaquil’s icon-ic monuments from a different perspective.
Transfer from your hotel in Guayaquil to the airport to fly from Guayaquil to Baltra Airport in the Galapagos Islands. Meet your guide at the airport to be transported to Pikaia by cross-ing the Itabaca Channel to cross over to Santa Cruz Island. Once you arrive, you can relax and familiarize yourself with the lodge’s environment and facilities.
After dinner, watch a 3D high-definition Galapagos documentary filmed by Sir David Atten-borough. It is a great introduction to all the amazing things you will see in the following days to come.
All cruises and day tours are strictly regulated and scheduled by the Galapagos National Park to ensure the protection of these unique islands.
The following destinations are subject to change.
At Bartolome, you see spectacular volcanic landscapes and experience excellent snorkeling. Along the ride to Bartolome, you may see dolphins, manta rays jumping in the distance and even sea turtles. Bartolome Island is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a tuft cone eroded over time creating an amazing site with the blue waters of Sullivan Bay in the background. It is one of the most photographed visited sites in the Galapagos Islands.
Sombrero Chino is a small island located near the south-eastern coast of Santiago Island. Through observation and study of the island, it has been concluded that the lava flows near its shoreline were formed under the sea and have been raised upward. This is why coral heads are found on the lava onshore. The landscape is covered with sea lion colonies, ma-rine iguanas, sally-light foot crabs, land iguanas and possibly Galapagos penguins.
Each morning’s activity is planned accordingly to weather conditions and tide charts. You will join groups up to 16 people for the land tours and activities will be chosen from the list be-low:
Los Gemelos are sunken craters formed by a series of eruptions when the islands were still volcanically active.
Giant tortoise farm in Rancho Chato is one of the best ways to see Giant Tortoises. It is a private estate located in the highlands where these ancient reptiles search for water and lush vegetation.
Lava tunnels are formed as the outer skin of molten lava solidified but the liquid magma in-side continued flowing, leaving behind a series of empty tubes. You can walk more than a kilometer through these underground channels.
The Java Lava organic coffee farm produces over 5,000 pounds of coffee each year. You will also learn about different cane alcohol distillation techniques as well as some traditional techniques for roasting coffee.
Tortuga Bay Beach is famous as a surfing and body boarding hotspot situated at the end of a 30-minute walk along a path from Puerto Ayora.
Garrapatero Beach is a gorgeous sandy beach surrounded by mangroves, located on the northern side of Santa Cruz. A fresh water lake behind the beach is home to flamingos, her-ons, stilts and other shore birds. The beautiful turquoise water is a great environment for swimming and snorkeling.
Charles Darwin scientific research center is the best place to observe the different stages of development of the giant tortoises, which can live for over a century.
Puerto Ayora is the economic center of the Galapagos, with many restaurants, souvenir shops, discotheques, bars, internet cafes and other businesses.
All cruises and day tours are strictly regulated and scheduled by the Galapagos National Park to ensure the protection of these unique islands. The destinations of the lodge’s yacht ex-peditions will depend on the day of your excursion based on a private weekly itinerary and availability.
The following destinations are subject to change.
Santa Fe Island is located southeast of Santa Cruz. The island was formed from an ocean floor uplift and not a volcanic eruption, therefore giving it its mostly flat shape.
South Plazas Island is located to the east of Santa Cruz. South Plazas is the result of two small islets which were uplifted a short distance from the East Coast of Santa Cruz. The unu-sual vegetation and location of the island create an interesting landscape in which the fauna and flora of Galápagos are enhanced.
Today you will fly from Baltra Island to Guayaquil.
Hotel check out time will be according to scheduled flights. Transfer to Baltra Island Airport and check-in for your return flight to Guayaquil or Quito.