Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Stunning sky nature_Ecuador_1630058_1920_p

Amazon to the Galápagos: The Complete Ecuador Experience

Road Scholar Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
89%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
17 days
From: $ 6,449 $ 379 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Surrounded by breathtaking volcanoes in the highland town of Otavalo, experience its famed textile market
  • Deep in the Amazon, view brightly colored parrots as they make their morning pilgrimage to the clay lick at Yasuni National Park
  • Encounter the exotic animals that made the Galápagos famous including Blue-footed Boobies, Darwin finches and marine iguanas

Short Description

With a variety of indigenous groups, smoldering volcanoes, rainforest and a collection of islands knowns as nature’s laboratory, no place in the world can match the wonders of Ecuador.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Guayaquil
End City Guayaquil

Trip Includes

  • 16 nights of accommodations
  • 5 expert-led lectures
  • 21 expert-led field trips
  • 4 flights during the program
  • 2 hands-on experiences
  • 1 performance
  • An experienced Group Leader
  • Customary gratuities throughout the program
  • Road Scholar Assurance Plan
  • Taxes

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Itinerary

Day 1

In Transit to Program, Arrive Guayaquil, Hotel Check-in

Guayaquil  Hotel Oro Verde

Activity note: Depart North America on flights to Guayaquil, Ecuador. Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information. Hotel check in as of 3 p.m.

Evening: Upon arriving at the hotel, check in and get your room assignment. Settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check out and transfer to Cuenca tomorrow.

Day 2

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Santa Lucia Hotel Cuenca

Malecon & Las Peñas, Coastal Hacienda, Transfer to Cuenca

Activity note: The drive from Guayaquil to Cuenca is about 122 miles, approximately 4 hours. Cuenca is at an elevation of approximately 8,300 feet.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: 8:30 a.m. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. To minimize your chances of experiencing altitude sickness, try to get plenty of rest before you travel, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and fatty foods, eat high carbohydrate foods, and avoid strenuous exercise at high elevations. At Sacha, the group will be divided into small groups, each of which will be led by a native expert with knowledge of the rainforest's medicinal and other useful plants, and a bilingual naturalist educated in the biology and ecology of the area. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. With our Group Leader, we’ll then head out to encounter some of Guayaquil's highlights, including the colorful neighborhood of Las Peñas and the bustling Malecon (river walk).During our walk, we'll learn about Guayaquil's history and its miraculous transformation from a seedy port to a vibrant city centered around an attractive 2-mile riverfront walkway. Las Peñas runs the length of Numa Pompillo Llona (its only street) and its architecture exemplifies Ecuador's coastal colonial style. Next, we'll board our bus and begin our transfer to Cuenca. En route, we'll visit a typical coastal hacienda that grows bananas and cocoa. We will learn about the sowing and harvesting process and what is needed to prepare the goods for export. Banana and cacao are some of the most exported products in the nation and important revenue sources for Ecuador.

Lunch: At the hacienda, enjoy typical dishes plus coffee and water.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our journey to Cuenca and check into our hotel at arrival. A presentation by a local expert will introduce us to the ancient Inca civilization and its influence on Cuenca. The remainder of the afternoon is free to freshen up and relax or set out on your own to begin exploring the city.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 3

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Santa Lucia Hotel Cuenca

Cuenca UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ingapirca Ruins

Activity note: Elevation at Ingapirca is approximately 10,500 feet. Bus travel and walking on city sidewalks, cobbled stones and dirt paths. To minimize your chances of experiencing altitude sickness, try to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and fatty foods, eat high carbohydrate foods, and avoid strenuous exercise at high elevations. The drive from Cuenca to Ingapirca is about 47 miles, approximately 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll set out with our Group Leader, on a walking field trip to explore the Old City of Cuenca ending at the Tomebamba River. Despite being the third largest city in Ecuador, Cuenca has managed to retain its colonial flavor and small town feel with 16th century buildings, churches, red tiled roofs, and narrow cobbled stone streets. Cuenca is also the heart of Ecuador’s artistic culture. Our next field trip is to the Ortega Hat Factory where an expert will explain and demonstrate the multi-step process of turning toquilla straw into Panama Hats. The lightweight Panama Hats were a hit in the tropics because of their breathable weave and quickly overtook sales of the more traditional, and heavier, felt hats. In the early 1900’s Panama Hats became synonymous with linen suits and tropical seaside locations. Despite their name, the famous brimmed hats made of woven toquilla straw, originated in Ecuador. The misnomer comes from the fact that the straw hats were originally exported to the rest of the world via Panama. We'll drive to Turi's Hill to enjoy breathtaking views of Cuenca before we begin our journey to Ingapirca.

Lunch: At a local restaurant plus coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We'll board the bus and journey on winding Andean roads to the Inca ruins at Ingapirca. As we accompany our Group Leader on a walking exploration of the ceremonial site, we'll learn about the Inca people and their way of life. Ingapirca is the most important Inca complex in Ecuador, located in the southern Andean region of Cañar. The circular Temple of the Sun, which stands in the center of the complex, was once an important ceremonial center for the Cañari-Inca. The superior stone masonry skills of the Inca can be seen in the perfect cut and fit of the stones. In addition to the temple, excavations have uncovered observatories, storage rooms, priests’ quarters, a plaza, and cemeteries. We'll return to our hotel in Cuenca.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

Day 4

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Hacienda Abraspungo

Devil's Nose Rail Ride

Activity note: Elevation at Riobamba is approximately 9,200 feet. The drive from Cuenca to the rail station is about 98 miles, approximately 3 hours; autoferro ride is approximately 3 hours; from the rail station to Riobamba is about 60 miles, approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: Early at the hotel, juice, coffee, tea, water included.

Morning: After an early check out, we'll board the bus and head to the Alausi Station in preparation for our autoferro journey through the Devil's Nose. The autoferro is a bus that runs on train tracks. Construction of the Guayaquil to Quito railway line began in 1899 with the help of American engineers. The ambitious project was delayed once the tracks reached the Devil’s Nose; a large and very steep rock formation that stood in their way. However, a unique solution was devised to get past the sheer rock face that to this day is recognized as a masterpiece of engineering. A combination of switchbacks was carved out of the rock, which allows the train to reach the necessary height to continue on to Alausí.

Lunch: At a local restaurant plus coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we'll journey by bus to Riobamba. The capital of the Chimborazo province, Riobamba, is a small town located in an important agricultural region of Ecuador. It was once home to the Puruhuá Indians before becoming part of the Inca Empire during the 15th century. The city’s layout and Spanish architecture reflect its colonial past. Colorful buildings, tiled roofs, parks and plazas, are framed by scenic views of snow-capped volcanoes. Evening arrival at the hotel and check in.

Dinner: At the hotel plus coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer in the morning.

Day 5

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: El Monasterio de Cusin

Avenue of the Volcanoes, Otavalo, Haciendas of Ecuador

Activity note: The drive from Riobamba to La Compañia is about 114 miles, approximately 3.5 to 4 hours; from La Compañia to Otavalo is about 73 miles, approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: Early at the hotel.

Morning: After an early check out of the hotel, we'll board the bus and ride along the "Avenue of the Volcanoes" on our way to Otavalo. This 200-mile corridor of scenic volcanoes and Andean peaks forms the country’s backbone. The fertile inter-montane valleys along this corridor have served as Ecuador’s breadbasket since colonial times. As we drive along this route, we will have the opportunity to learn more about agriculture in the low Andes through an informative commentary provided by our Group Leader. En route, we'll stop at a local hacienda in time for lunch.

Lunch: At a hacienda en route.

Afternoon: The Hacienda La Compañia is a traditional Ecuadorian hacienda which has been in the Jarrín family for more than a century. In addition to its famed hospitality and cuisine, the property boasts an extraordinary rose plantation which you will have a chance to see and enjoy. We will be able to stop by the showroom to view and marvel at all the different varieties of roses produced in the area. We'll also learn about agriculture in the Ecuadorian Andes. We will return to our bus and continue with the transfer to Otavalo, where we'll check in to our hotel with some time to freshen up and relax. We'll regroup before dinner for a presentation by a local expert on the history of the indigenous people of Otavalo, their independence and entrepreneurial expertise.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 6

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: El Monasterio de Cusin

Textile Market, Interacting with Indigenous Community

Activity note: City walking on flat, paved surfaces, among market stands and in potentially crowded areas. Ask permission before taking photos of locals.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning we’ll take a field trip to the Otavalo textile market. We'll be dropped off near the Plaza de los Ponchos and from there we'll accompany our Group Leader on a walking exploration of the market. The Otavalo Indians have become famous for the weaving of textiles, a tradition that dates back more than 400 years. The town's famous market has traditionally been held on Saturdays, but its popularity has been so great that many local vendors set up their wares throughout the week in the Plaza de los Ponchos. The area was traditionally made up of farming communities but the focus has changed with the growth of tourism and the demand for handicrafts. Our experience will continue as we visit with members of a local indigenous community, the Quichua. When the Incas began to expand their territory into an empire, the Quichua were among the first peoples they conquered, but their language lives on. We will meet a Quichua family who will share some of their native customs and traditions. As we interact, we’ll learn their traditional style of bread baking. We’ll then take a walk through the community to see their gardens, orchards, medicinal plants, cuy (guinea pig) farm, and honey project.

Lunch: With a local family, we’ll share a meal featuring traditional Ecuadorian dishes.

Afternoon: Next, delight in a dance performance by local children. Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free. You might like to spend some time in the gardens.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out, transfer to Quito, and our flight to Coca tomorrow.

Day 7

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Sacha Lodge

Boat Transfer on Napo River, Introduction to Amazonia

Activity note: The drive from Otavalo to Quito is about 57 miles, approximately 1.5 - 2 hours. The flight from Quito to Coca is about 45 minutes and has a limit of 50 lb per person for checked luggage. Some excess luggage can be stored at Sacha Lodge's private hangar in Quito for the duration of your stay at the lodge. The boat transfer is about 50 miles, approximately 2 hours. Getting in and out of canoes and walking on a raised boardwalk for about 1 mile through the forest.

Breakfast: Early at the hotel.

Morning: We’ll say farewell to Otavalo and board a bus for the drive to the Quito airport, where we’ll take a flight to Coca. The town of Coca is also known as Puerto Francisco de Orellana. The port city is the capital of the Orellana province and one of the country's gateways to exploring the Amazon. It is located at the confluence of two important rivers, the Napo and the Coca. We expect to arrive in Coca late morning and transfer to the local dock to board our boat.

Lunch: Boxed lunch en route.

Afternoon: We’ll board the boat for our transfer on the Napo River. In addition to being the country's longest river, it is also an important Amazonian tributary. Farming, logging, and oil interests pose a constant threat to the jungle and rivers in this region. In an effort to retain some of country's rich natural heritage, Ecuador has established a number of parks and research stations in the Amazon. We'll disembark at the Toto Trailhead dock and walk on a raised boardwalk to Pilchicocha Lake to board canoes for the final stretch of our journey to the lodge. At the lodge we'll check-in and have an orientation. Our group will be divided into small groups, each of which will be led by a native expert with knowledge of the rainforest's medicinal and other useful plants, and a bilingual naturalist educated in the biology and ecology of the area. A typical day at Sacha begins at sunrise or earlier, in order to take advantage of the cool morning hours when the rainforest animals are most active. In the afternoon, visits begin between 3:00-4:00 p.m. and often continue into the evening, when the nocturnal insect and frog chorus begins. Take some time to freshen up, relax, or swim in Lake Pilchicocha, a black water lake home to many species of fish and animals. Next we'll walk to the butterfly house to view the beautiful colors of many different species of butterflies. Designed as a live exhibition conservatory, the Butterfly House is now successfully breeding nearly 40 local butterfly species. Learn how these beautiful insects are bred and raised. Wander through "the flying room," where hundreds of colorful butterflies including spectacular Blue Morphos flutter from flower to flower. We’ll then gather for a presentation on Ecuador's Amazon. This region of South America contains the world's largest tropical rainforest and is possibly the planet's most biologically diverse region, with many species still waiting to be discovered.

Dinner: At the lodge, we'll enjoy a buffet meal with coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Depending on local conditions we’ll go for a night walk through the rainforest to look for some of the hundreds of different species of nocturnal animals or embark on a canoe ride on the lake to view spectacled and black caimans.

Day 8

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Sacha Lodge

Yasuni Parrot Lick, Interpretation Center, Rainforest Walk

Breakfast: At the lodge, we'll enjoy a buffet meal with coffee, water, juice.

Morning: We’ll depart on a field trip to Yasuni National Park Parrot Lick and learn about the life and habits of the local parrot population. One of Ecuador's most accessible parrot licks just happens to be located a short distance from Sacha Lodge, in Yasuni National Park. The parrot lick is an exposed clay bank where brightly colored parrots of several different species gather in the morning hours. When weather conditions are ideal (sunny and dry) the parrots can often be seen perching on and eating the exposed clay. Witness hundreds of parrots gathering around this bank for a spectacular show of sound and color. This activity is strictly weather-dependent since the parrots do not appear when it rains. In case of rain, we will try to visit the lick the next day. Activities will be substituted accordingly. After spending time at the clay lick, well stop at the Interpretation Center for a presentation about the people of Amazonia to learn about their lifestyle, language, and customs. We'll then return to the lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge, we'll enjoy a buffet meal with coffee and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We'll set out on a walking field trip on the Pantano Trail. While walking on the Pantano Trail we'll experience a range of rainforest habitats including primary and secondary forests as well as flooded forest and swampy areas. Returning to the lodge, the remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 9

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Sacha Lodge

Lagartococha Lake & Trail, Piranha Fishing, Canopy Tower

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We’ll start the day with a nature hike on the Lagartococha Trail. Our naturalist will help us to identify the various plants and wildlife we encounter during our hike. As we go deeper into the forest, we'll learn about the native people's spiritual connection to the forest. Arriving at Lake Lagartococha, we’ll go for a canoe ride through the tranquil natural swamp, home of anacondas, caimans, and capybaras. A walk on a short trail on the opposite side of Largatococha will give us the opportunity to spot capuchin or squirrel monkeys playfully jumping through the trees. Once back in the canoe we'll return to the lodge the same way we came.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Today is something you can tell everyone at home about. We’ll have a fishing lesson and learn how to catch the infamous, much maligned, razor-toothed piranha. Despite its scary reputation, piranhas are not known for attacking people and swimming at the same time is perfectly safe and fun! Enjoy a quiet canoe ride through the flooded Amazonian forest in search of troops of squirrel, capuchin, and howler monkeys. Keep your eyes peeled for the shy and elusive river otter as well as the incredibly well camouflaged three-toed sloth. Arrive at Sacha´s 135-foot wooden tower built around an ancient Kapok tree. Get close-up views of vibrantly colored birds through powerful spotting scopes and watch the sun set with an amazing view of the Mount Sumaco Volcano. We’ll then canoe back through the flooded forest, listening to the symphony of frogs and insects while navigating through the narrow flooded forest trail. Watch for several species of bats flying overhead and hear the many species of nocturnal birds making their eerie nighttime calls.

Dinner: In the lodge's outdoor dining area, we'll have a barbecue dinner with coffee and water and say farewell to the Amazon. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out, transfer, and our flight to Quito in the morning.

Day 10

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Sheraton Quito Hotel

Boat Transfer to Coca, Flight to Quito

Activity note: To minimize your chances of experiencing altitude sickness while in Quito (9,300 ft), please remember to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and fatty foods, eat high carbohydrate foods, and avoid strenuous exercise while at high elevations.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We’ll check out and board the boat for transfer to Coca. Disembarking at the dock, we’ll transfer to the airport and take a short flight to Quito. In Quito, we’ll transfer to the hotel and check in.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time to relax at the hotel or do what interests you most. Before dinner, we'll regroup at the hotel in order to enjoy an expert presentation on the past, present and future of Ecuador.

Dinner: On your own to explore local fare. Your group leader will be happy to offer you suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 11

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Sheraton Quito Hotel

Exploring Quito UNESCO World Heritage Site

Activity note: City walking on mostly flat terrain, some cobbled stone sections.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Bus ride to the center of the city for an orientation to Ecuador’s capital. We'll accompany the Group Leader in a walking exploration of the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site, learning about Quito's history from pre-Hispanic times, through the Colonial Period, to the Republican Era. The architecture found in Quito’s historical center is a great example of the Baroque style which is a fusion of Spanish, Moorish, Flemish and Indigenous art. Next, we'll visit the Museo Casa del Alabado to learn about Ecuador's pre-Columbian cultures through close examination of their art, pottery and ceremonial pieces. Unlike most museums which arrange displays in chronological order, the Casa del Alabado has organized its exhibits based on Andean cosmology. The approximately 5,000 artifacts showcased in this impressive space include 500 pieces that belong to the museum’s permanent exhibit.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, with an introduction to Ecuadorian food products and typical Ecuadorian cuisine.

Afternoon: After lunch we will journey by bus to the Capilla del Hombre for an introduction to Ecuador's beloved artist-- Oswaldo Guayasamin. The Group Leader will offer insights into the artist's life and work during our explorations of the museum and cultural space. Back at the hotel, we'll enjoy an expert presentation on the geology of Ecuador.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 12

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Scalesia Galapagos Lodge

Flight to Galapagos, Santa Cruz Highlands, Boat to Isabela

Activity note: Please note there is a 50 lb weight limit for checked luggage on the flights to the islands. City walking on mostly flat terrain at Puerto Ayora. The Galápagos National Park reserves the right to change the itinerary (visitor sites and times) on park permits without prior notice. Boat transfer to Isabela Island can be bumpy depending on water conditions. If you are prone to motion sickness, consider bringing preventative medication.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Hotel check out. After boarding the bus we will transfer to the airport in preparation for our flight to the Galapagos Islands. Our Quito Group Leader will assist us with check-in procedures and bid us farewell as we proceed through security and get ready to embark on our flight. After collecting our luggage, we’ll meet our Galápagos Study Leader-Naturalist and board a bus that will drive us as far as the Itabaca Channel. We’ll then take a short ferry ride to Santa Cruz Island, get on another bus, and transfer through the highlands of Santa Cruz. We’ll stop en route to view Los Gemelos (The Twins) pit craters and walk in the surrounding scalesia forest. This unique type of forest is only present in higher elevation, humid zones of the Galapagos. Despite Los Gemelos' resemblance to volcanic craters, they are in fact giant sinkholes.

Lunch: At a local restaurant plus coffee and water.

Afternoon: Once we arrive at the Puerto Ayora dock, we'll board a speedboat and transfer to Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. On Isabela, we’ll transfer by bus to our lodge and check-in with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the lodge, plus coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 13

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Scalesia Galapagos Lodge

Isabela Island, Volcan Chico & Sierra Negra

Activity note: Bus ride from lodge to the trail head is approximately 20 minutes. Sierra Negra hike is about 11 miles round-trip, approximately 6 hours. Uneven and possibly muddy trail with a steep incline during the first mile (downhill on return). Collapsible walking stick, disposable rain poncho, water bottle, sunscreen, hat and sturdy walking shoes with good rubber tread are suggested.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: We’ll board a bus and set out for a hiking field trip to Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico accompanied by our naturalist leader. As one of the most impressive examples of a volcano in the archipelago, Sierra Negra Volcano measures more than 6 miles across from north to south and more than 5 miles from east to west. We will hike up to the edge of the largest caldera in the Galápagos Islands. As we hike along relatively recent lava flows, we will have the opportunity to enjoy incredible vistas and learn more about island geology. After our hike, we'll take the bus back to our lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: Free time. This would be a good opportunity to explore Puerto Villamil and its attractive beach.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 14

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Scalesia Galapagos Lodge

Tintoreras, Los Humedales, Tortoise Breeding Center

Activity note: Bus ride from the lodge to Puerto Villamil is approximately 20 minutes. Islote Tintoreras is about a 1/2 mile south of Puerto Villamil, approximately 10 minutes by boat. Snorkeling equipment will be provided (doesn't include wetsuits) at Tintoreras.

Breakfast: At the lodge.

Morning: A short bus ride will take us from our lodge to Puerto Villamil, then we'll accompany our naturalist leader on a short boat ride from Puerto Villamil to the Tintoreras Inlets where we'll enjoy a walking field trip in search of local wildlife, followed by snorkeling. Tintoreras Islets, named for the reef shark, are located across the bay from Puerto Villamil and feature a great variety of wildlife. We'll snorkel among small outcroppings of volcanic rock in crystalline, warm, turquoise waters, also home to sea lions, marine turtles, Galapagos Penguins, and white-tipped reef sharks. The incredible root formations of the mangrove below the surface make for a surreal, fascinating experience. At the end of our field trip we’ll take the boat back to Puerto Villamil and board the bus back to our lodge.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: A bus will collect us at the lodge for the transfer to Los Humedales. A naturalist-led walking field trip on a network of trails will reveal the four species of mangroves found in the archipelago as well as lagoons, lava formations, and abundant bird life. Next, we’ll ride to the Tortoise Breeding Center just outside the town of Villamil. Our naturalist will lead us through the Center that is home to approximately 330 juvenile and adult tortoises. We’ll return to the lodge with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 15

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Scalesia Galapagos Lodge

Wall of Tears, Concha de Perla

Activity note: Hike to Wall of Tears is about 6 miles on mostly flat unpaved trails. Hat, sunscreen, walking shoes and water bottle are suggested. Walk for about 700 feet on a boardwalk to a viewing platform at Concha de Perla. A couple of steps, with handrails, lead from the platform into the water. Snorkeling equipment is provided (doesn't include wetsuits) for the activity.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: A bus will take us from the lodge to a trail head near Puerto Villamil so that we can begin our hike to the historic Wall of Tears. The 16-20 ft high stone wall was built by prisoners when Isabela Island hosted a penal colony (1944-1959). We'll walk past mangroves, lagoons and a white-sand beach on our way to the Wall.

Lunch: At the lodge.

Afternoon: After being dropped off at Puerto Villamil, we'll walk along the boardwalk to Concha Perla (Pearl Shell). Once at the water's edge we'll begin snorkeling in the search of colorful tropical fish, turtles and other marine life. We'll return to the lodge in time to get cleaned up before dinner.

Dinner: At the lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 16

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Oro Verde

Flight from Galápagos to Guayaquil

Activity note: The boat ride from Isabela to Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz takes approximately 2.5 hours. The bus and ferry transfer from Puerto Ayora to the Baltra airport takes approximately 1 hour. Participants with international flights departing very late this evening/before dawn next morning will check out of the hotel and transfer to the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo (GYE) in preparation for airline check in.

Breakfast: Early at the hotel.

Morning: We’ll check out of the lodge and begin our transfer via boat and bus to the Baltra Airport. Say a fond farewell to the Islas Encantadas and our Galápagos naturalist leader.

Lunch: A sandwich and drink will be provided at the airport* for lunch en route to Guayaquil. *Time and location might change depending on flight times.

Afternoon: Arrive in Guayaquil and transfer to the hotel for check-in. Time at leisure to relax at the hotel, do some packing, or for independent exploration.

Dinner: At the hotel. During a farewell dinner, share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and international flights to North America. Participants with international flights departing very late this evening/before dawn next morning will check out of the hotel and transfer to the international airport in preparation for airline check in.

Day 17

Meals: Breakfast

Program Concludes, In Transit from Program

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At hotel restaurant (dependent on flight times).

Morning: Early transfer to the airport in preparation for flights to North America. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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Price Per Day: $ 379 per day
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Sep-27-2019Oct-13-2019$ 6,449$ 8,029Limited Reserve
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Dec-12-2019Dec-28-2019$ 6,449$ 8,029Limited Reserve
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4.6
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.5
Transportation
4.5
Meals
4.4

Amazon to the Galápagos: The Complete Ecuador Experience

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Old Cuba is fantastic and should be seen before it's spoiled by capitalism.

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals3.0
This was my wife's and my first trip with Road Scholar. At the time (April, 2012), it was not possible for Americans to directly visit Cuba. You had to do it with a cultural/educational group, often associated with a university. Or, you could fly to Canada, Mexico, or Europe first and then get a flight to Cuba from there (while risking a ~$10,000 fine from the US Government). We opted for the legal route with Road Scholar.

It was a fantastic trip! We had a small-ish group of about 20 people and a wonderful guide, José Luis (who, like most Cubans, had never been off the island).
The trip began in Miami where we had an orientation and spent the night. Then we flew to Havana and stayed in the Hotel Nacional for four nights. It doesn't get more historic -- or fun -- than the Nacional:
https://vimeo.com/41612444

While in Havana, we enjoyed great history/culture lectures from experts, toured various parts of Havana (including Hemmingway's home in the hills nearby), and, on our own, had the opportunity to have dinner at a paladar -- a restaurant inside someone's home.

The Cuban people are friendly but the infrastructure of their country is in shambles. It's been a long time since Russia's deep pockets left the island (1991), and you see poverty everywhere. But not the begging-in-the-street kind. Cuba provides universal health care, education (including room and board all the way through grad/med school!), food staples, and a very modest income (~$30/month) to everyone. Most people add to that income by working on the side.

After Havana, we traveled to Cienfuegos. From there we saw the infamous Bay Of Pigs, but also the wonderful Benny Moré Art School where we learned of the fantastic support for the arts by the Cuban government. Children are identified in grade school as having artistic talent and then funneled into magnet schools like Benny Moré to study art for their entire scholastic career!

Don't go to Cuba for the food. It's edible (and won't make you sick) but rather boring. You mainly get the "three amigos": fish, pork, or chicken, along with rice and/or black beans. But the aged rum is superb and so are the cigars!

Probably my favorite thing on the island, though, was the music -- whether on the street or in a more formal setting:
https://vimeo.com/43273083

Cuba is fantastic. Go enjoy it!
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Best trip I ever took!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Loved the variety of different hotels, the expertise of the individual tour guides, the meals and especially the beautiful countryside. All 17 of us on the t rip got to know each other well, thanks to the kindness, the personality and the organizational skill of Mark, our tour director. Keep up the good work!
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Sunrise, Sunset, Learning Photography

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals4.0
Road Scholar offers many tours starting in Utah. The one I took focused of photography of the National Parks in Utah, with a professional photographer traveling with us. The schedule was set up such that we would get "the golden light" at each of the parks. Those not familiar with the term must know that the best light occurs at either sunrise or sunset, when the impact of the sun on objects is diffused by having to travel through the earth's atmosphere on a diagonal rather than vertically.

As such, you can now expect that sleep will be an issue as you will get to bed late and rise early. But the territory is beautiful at all times, and more so illuminated by the golden light.

In order to maximize your sleeping ability, the tour is only offered in the spring and the fall. Doing this in the winter would be pretty cold and require special equipment to traverse the snow. Doing it in the summer would basically mean no sleep as the daylight is so long.

A great learning experience in beautiful territory.
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Thank you Road Scholar

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Thank you Road Scholar Staff for planning a wonderful introduction to Cuba today. My previous knowledge was from people who felt they had to leave Cuba more than fifty years ago. I learned from qualified professors, tour guides and from talking to Cuban people from different parts of Cuba who work in different kinds of jobs. I could see how the Cuban people have come together to meet the challenges of the past and to prepare for a brighter future.
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Thank you Road Scholar!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Road Scholar tours are the best bang for your buck

Fabulous!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
This is a fabulous program for young and old. The instructors are great with kids and adults. The activities are very well organized and varied. My grandson is already making plans for next year.

Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Intimate Group - 12 max

Accomodations

Hotel Oro Verde

2 nights  Guayaquil

Oro Verde Hotel Guayaquil is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World in Ecuador. Strategically located in the downtown commercial and banking heart of the city and only eight minutes from the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport.

Santa Lucia Hotel Cuenca

2 nights  Cuenca

One of Cuenca Ecuador's most historic antique buildings, is located in the Old Town district of Cuenca, which is a living museum itself. The house where the Santa Lucia hotel is located was built by the first governor of Azuay province, Don Manuel Vega Davila, in 1859. The house remained in the Vega family for over a hundred years, being a peaceful witness of important episodes of the history of southern Ecuador.

Hotel Hacienda Abraspungo

1 night  Riobamba

The Hotel Hacienda Abraspungo is a charming highland hacienda located in Riobamba.

El Monasterio de Cusin

2 nights  San Pablo del Lago, Otavalo

This charming hotel is housed in a restored 17th century Andean estate. The equatorial line and snowcapped Cayambe Mountains are only 30 minutes away. Winding cobblestone pathways, fountain courtyards, and perennial gardens offer inviting spaces where guests can relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air.

Sacha Lodge

3 nights  Coca

Sacha Lodge is located in the heart of the Amazon and is strategically situated beside a tranquil oxbow lake, Pilchicocha. The lodge was carefully designed to be comfortable for travelers while preserving the flavor of the jungle.

Sheraton Quito Hotel

2 nights  Quito

The Sheraton Quito Hotel is located in the capital's financial and commercial zone and also nearby the Colonial Old Town, a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. Enjoy the on site restaurants featuring fusion foods and live piano music in the lounge. Relax your soul, mind, and body or workout in the fitness center located on the 11th floor with breathtaking views of the modern Quito.

Trip ID#:

roadscholar-929

Meals Included:

16 Breakfasts, 15 Lunches and 11 Dinners

The following choices may be available when requested in advance: Vegetarian, Low Salt, Low Fat, Gluten Free

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