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Ultimate Ecuador: Galapagos & Amazon Student Trip


Quito. Otavalo. Galapagos Islands. Cuyabeno Reserve.

The ultimate Ecuador adventure combining two of the world’s most fascinating ecosystems: the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon jungle. Though small in size, Ecuador is one of the most biologically diverse countries on earth and has a tremendous amount to offer the visitor.


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Highlights Include:

  • Snorkelling with sea turtles, playful sea lions, marine iguanas, & amazing underwater wildlife
  • Learning about conservation initiatives from experts in the Galapagos Islands
  • Studying the ecology of the Amazon rainforest and learning about flora & fauna from indigenous guides
  • Spotting wildlife from a dug-out canoe as well as from high above the rain forest canopy
  • Hiking up and peering into one of the largest calderas in the world on Isabela Island
  • Interacting with locals and learning about traditions in the Amazon
  • Bartering in Otavalo Market – the most colourful & largest in South America

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Itinerary” tab_id=”1449208778879-fcec8e78-e9ba”][vc_column_text]

Day 1: Bienvenida a Quito!
Welcome to one of the highest capitals in the world sitting at just over 2750m above sea level. The city is nestled in long, narrow valley of the Andes and flanked by the Pichincha Volcano to the west. At the southern end is the old town, focused on three large squares: the Plaza de la Independencia (also known as the Plaza Grande), Plaza San Francisco and Plaza Santo Domingo. The street grid around these squares comprises a small, compact urban core dominated to the south by the hill of El Panecillo (the Little Bread Roll), crowned by a large statue of the Virgen de Quito. Quito’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a magnificent blend of colonial architecture.
Time permitting, this afternoon we will enjoy a brief tour of the colonial highlights of this Quito including: the Presidential Palace, Independence Square and and La Catedral.
Overnight: Quito (D)
Day 2: Travel to the Galapagos – Isabela Island

The trip begins with an early morning transfer to the airport and a flight to Baltra Island, Galapagos. Here you will be meet by our friendly Galapagos staff and transferred over to the town of Puerto Ayora. We’ll then take our first boat ride to the largest of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela. Much of Isabela’s huge landmass is impassable, riven by fissures, blocked by jagged lava flows or tangled thickets and the rocky shore. The island is comprised of 6 volcanoes fused together over time.

Hotel check-in and orientation walk around town.
Overnight: Isabela (B, L, D)

Day 3: Isabela Island – Sierra Negro Volcano
A full day hiking takes us up the magnificent Sierra Negra Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Galapagos, with the second largest crater in the world. Here you can experience a bird’s eye view of this other-worldly landscape. Peer into the massive caldera which is covered by lava flows from the 2005 eruption.
Overnight: Isabela (B, L, D)
Day 4: Isabela Island – Giant Tortoise Breeding Center & Other Wildlife
Today we visit the Breeding Center of the Giant Tortoise, the largest in Galapagos and later, make our way the wall of tears,
built by convicts many years ago. Along the way we’ll pop in and visit Pink flamingos, also stopping at the lookout and one of the many natural pools, short walking trails, beaches and mangrove swamps along the way. After lunch we have a tour of the bay in zodiac where you can observe up close the only penguins found close to the equator, marine iguanas and hopefully snorkel with marine turtles and an array of other marine life.
Overnight: Isabela (B, L)
Day 5: Santa Cruz Island – Tortuga Bay

Today is an early morning departure to the Island of Santa Cruz hopefully along the way observing dolphins and the waved albatross. The island supports all Galápagos vegetation zones, from cactus-strewn deserts around the coast, to tangled scalesia and miconia forests wreathed in cloud in the highlands, and sodden grassy pampas at the summit.

Later in the day we head to Tortuga Bay, a stunning beach with fine white sand to see marine iguanas to try our hand at surfing or body boarding.

Overnight: Santa Cruz (B, L, D)

Day 6: Santa Cruz Island – Charles Darwin Research Station & Lava Tunnels
Today we have a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here we can observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity, brought back from the brink of extinction and learn more about conservation efforts of the station. We will also visit the highlands of Santa Cruz, observing the Galapagos giant tortoise in natural surroundings, and the amazing lava tunnels, some over 1km long while taking in panoramic views of the islands.
Overnight: Santa Cruz (B, L)
Day 7: San Cristobal – GAIAS
We depart by boat from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal Island. After lunch will we make our way to the top of San Cristobal through the settlement of El Progresso, to La Soledad from where we will have panoramic views out over the Pacific towards Santa Cruz, Floreana and Santa Fe.
Later we have the opportunity to visit the Galapagos Science Center and University of San Francisco of Quito’s Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS) on Playa Mann (TBD). GAIAS is a world-class academic and research institution offering hands-on academic programs for international and Ecuadorian students alike. GAIAS has become one of most important educational and research entities in the Galapagos, developing relationships with universities from around the world as well as with national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations working for the conservation and sustainable development of the Galapagos
Overnight: Santa Cruz (B, L, D)
Day 8: San Cristobal – Kicker Rock
The day begins with a short boat to Kicker Rock, observing along the way, the abundant marine life that Galapagos is renowned for. Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), is the remains of an underwater volcano rising vertically 150m out of the sea. A truly impressive sight! The monolithic rock formation is home to a number of tropical birds, blue-footed boobies and frigates. But, the true appeal of this location occurs below the surface of the sea. The natural erosion of this ancient cone has created a channel between the rocks that provides the ideal habitat to view a variety of sharks and rays including spotted eagle rays, white-tip reef sharks, the elusive Galapagos shark and hammerheads.
Here we snorkel amidst an array of amazing wildlife. After we head to Manglacito, one of the most beautiful beaches in the islands and return to port later in the afternoon.
Overnight: San Cristobal (B, L, D)
Day 9: San Cristobal Island to Quito
We bid farewell to the enchanted islands with some free time in the morning or last minute souvenir shopping! We depart San Cristobal Island to return to Quito and get transferred to the hotel.
Overnight: near Quito Airport (B, D)
Day 10: Quito to Lago Agrio to Cuyabeno Lodge
This morning we catch our flights from Quito to Lago Agrio. We fly over the Andes to the frontier oil town of Lago Agrio where we’ll be transferred to a small community for lunch. After lunch, the adventure begins with a motorized canoe ride along the Cuyabeno River to Laguna Grande. We keep our eyes peeled for wildlife along the way!
When Cuyabeno Lodge started operating in 1988, the owners believed that the rainforest traveller should be accommodated in conditions which would be both in harmony with the surrounding environment and attuned to the needs of the modern visitor. All of the lodges installations and activities comply with strict procedures designed to conserve and protect the rain forest and to reduce the potential impact from tourism. We are located in the “Laguna Grande”, in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, in northeastern Ecuador.
The Cuyabeno Reserve, primary rainforest, boasts an incredible variety of neotropical wildlife: River dolphins, tapirs, caimans, anacondas, monkeys, and the notorious piranha. The bird life is spectacular: the prehistoric-looking hoatzin, the umbrella bird, blue headed parrot, the scarlet macaw, as well as the legendary harpy-eagle. There are still nearby communities of ancient indigenous tribes such as the Siona, the Secoya and the Cofan who have lived in the Amazon basin for thousands of years.
After settling into our rooms at the Lodge, we explore the lagoon by dug-out canoe to observe animals, take a swim in the lake, and enjoy the sunset from the canoe.
Overnight: Cuyabeno Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 11: Jungle Activities

After breakfast, we walk through the “terra firma forest” with our naturalist guide who will explain the wildlife, medicinal forest plants, the forest ecosystem, and indigenous life. After lunch we have a trip in the dug-out canoe to the flooded parts of the forest with macrolobium trees covered with abundant epiphytes to spot monkeys and birds.
This evening we have the amazing opportunity to listen to the cacophony of sounds as we walk with our local guides and flashlights looking for insects, amphibians, and other nocturnal wildlife in the forest.
Overnight: Cuyabeno Lodge (B, L, D)

Day 12: Siona Indigenous Village
Today we have the unique opportunity to visit the Siona Indigenous Village located downstream from the Cuyabeno Lodge where we will we gain fascinating insight into the lives of the indigenous people in the area. Interacting with the locals, we learn about their daily lives and projects going on in the community. We also have chance to share in a typical dish.
After lunch you have the chance for a refreshing swim. Tonight we have an excursion by canoe to spot caiman, snakes, and nocturnal birds and bats.
Overnight: Cuyabeno Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 13: Amazon to Quito to Otavalo Market
After an early bird watching excursion, we bid farewell to the incredible Cuyabeno Reserve start making our way
back to Quito. Upon arrival at the airport, we continue our journey north to Otavalo, home to South America’s largest market.
The indigenous Otavaleño people, who make up approximately 50% of the town’s population, have been weavers since pre-Incan times. In colonial days, their skills resulted in many of them being forced into obrajes (textile workshops), creating a textile trade that continues freely today.
Overnight: Otavalo (B, D)
Day 14: Otavalo Market & Equator Tour
The scene at the market is one of contrasts, with traditionally dressed Otavaleño stallholders surrounded by a modern town centre. The 4,630m-high Imbabura volcano, which gives its name to the province, rises nearby, and the capital city of Quito is just 90km to the south.
Saturday is the main market day at Otavalo Market where you can find all the handicrafts that are made in Ecuador. You’ll have time to wander both the handicraft stalls as well as the more traditional part of the market while trying out your bartering skills!
In the afternoon, we continue to the Equator Line to visit the world monument and the Inti Museum where we can see different experiments to prove that you are at the Center of the Earth
Overnight: Quito Hotel (B, D)
Day 15: Departure Day

Early this morning we bid adios to beautiful Ecuador.

* Please note that the itinerary is subject to change. Due to the temperament of Mother Nature and the Ecuadorian Government, itineraries may change and activities may be shifted, omitted or replaced without notice. Our goal is to give you the best possible tour with a safety first mentality. We also must comply with all rules set forth by the national and local governments no matter how convenient or inconvenient they may be.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Sample Hotels” tab_id=”1449208780126-5c656139-d532″][vc_column_text]Quito: TBD
Isabela: TBD
Santa Cruz: TBD
San Cristobal: TBD
Amazon: Cuyabeno Lodge (Cuyabeno Reserve)[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Ecuador Info” tab_id=”1449208781393-5b5a961e-7010″][vc_column_text]Visa Requirements
Anyone from any country in the world is entitled to an automatic 90 day tourist visa issued upon arrival in

Situated on the equator, Ecuador is the smallest country in the Andean Highlands. Despite its size, it is probably
the world’s most bio-diverse country, crammed with an astounding variety of wildlife, birds and vegetation
existing in contrasting climatic zones. We will be visiting Quito (the capital), the Amazon, and the Galapagos
Islands. The Amazon region normally has a warm, humid and rainy climate with the average temperature varying
between from 23 to 28C. The Galapagos Islands enjoy warm and dry weather year-round, with an average
temperature of 28C. Quito enjoys warm days but can be quite cool in the evening (10C) time due to its elevation

Money Matters
The US Dollar (USD) is the official currency in Ecuador. Small denominations in good condition are the easiest to
exchange outside of the main cities. ATMs are available in the cities, and major credit cards are accepted in
tourist areas. Participants will need money for extra snacks, meals, and beverages not included.

We strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six
weeks before departure.

The international access code for Ecuador is +593. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country
code (e.g. 001 for the Canada). Calls made from hotel rooms can be very expensive, but the most cost effective
way to telephone internationally is from call centres, which are located in most towns and cities.
Internet cafes are available in the main towns and some hotels. The tour leader will have a local mobile
available for emergencies.

Language(s) Spoken
Spanish is the official language, but Quechua is the main language spoken among the indigenous people.

Electrical current is 120 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin plugs are standard.

Useful Websites
Finisterra Travel
Tourism Ecuador Ecuador.Travel/
Lonely Planet Ecuador

Ms. Keri Montgomery
Finisterra Travel
E: or
T: 1 800 806 0761[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Inclusion & Exclusion” tab_id=”1449208780765-5fd2d40a-5e8d”][vc_column_text]

Tour Inclusions:

    • Domestic flights (to/from Galapagos, to/from Lago Agrio)
    • Meals as per itinerary (14 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 12 Dinners)
    • 14 nights accommodation in a variety of hotels, guesthouses, lodges, and haciendas based on double/triple occupation
    • Services of local Ecuadorian guides, naturalists & experts
    • Tips for local guides, boat captains, drivers, restaurant staff, etc
    • All transportation as per itinerary (transfers, boats, private vehicles, etc)
    • Service of an experienced Tour Leader
    • All applicable taxes

Tour Exclusions:

    • Services and entrances not specified in itinerary
    • International Flights (can be booked through
    • National Park Fee $100 USD Galapagos Park Fee (cash only) & $20 USD Ingala Fee (cash only)
    • Optional cancellation insurance (can be arranged through
    • Meals and beverages not mentioned in itinerary
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Departure taxes (if applicable)
    • Passport fees
    • Vaccinations (Please check the Center for Disease Control & Travel Medical Professional)

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Pricing” tab_id=”1449222184989-fafeb900-f98a”][vc_column_text]Date: Upon Request
$4995 USD per participant (Prices are subject to change). A 20% non-refundable deposit is required at time of booking to reserve your place. Please contact for more booking information.
Cheque: Please make cheque payable to Finisterra Travel LTD with “Finisterra – Ecuador” in the notes and mail it tour our office.
Finisterra Travel LTD
106-550 E 6th Ave
Vancouver, BC, V5T 4H2
Credit Card: Please fill out our credit card authorization form (request by email) and email it to us (
Final Payment
Full payment is due 60 prior to departure[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_tabs]


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