This exciting itinerary discovers the beautiful highlands of Ecuador and explores the incredible biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands. We begin our journey in a community deeply rooted in the traditions of its Yumbo ancestors, in the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest of the Andes Mountains. During our time in this community we volunteer to assist with project work that may include community infrastructure development, farm work, reforestation and creating crafts in the artisan shop. The community is set in a tranquil environment and offers the opportunity to improve your Spanish. The second half of our journey takes us to the islands of San Cristobal and Santa Cruz to explore the enchanted Galapagos Islands, to get up close and personal with sea lions and marine iguanas and discover the unique geology and extraordinary bio-diversity of the archipelago.
LEVEL 2: Adventure touring
These adventure tours sometimes involve travel at high altitude (rarely exceeding 4000m, except on certain trips in Peru) and may visit remote areas of the world where facilities are often basic. These adventure tours will often involve long journeys and rough roads. Sightseeing and optional day walks are often included. To enjoy these adventures we suggest you are reasonably fit, healthy, have a moderately active lifestyle and have a positive attitude.
* Suggested preparation: Two or three times a week, we recommend you walk on undulating terrain for an hour or more, for at least 3 months prior to departure.
Depart Boston Int. Airport in the morning/afternoon. Arrival into Quito Int. Airport, Ecuador. Transfer to hostel. Accommodation: Hostel in Quito.
After lunch the group leaves Quito and travels by private vehicle into the cloud forest to start the service learning experience with a local community, en-route stopping at the middle of the world monument for lunch and a short visit. The group arrives at the community where they are welcomed by the president and meet with community members to learn about their ecotourism project. Accommodation: Eco-resort
Over the next two days the group works on grassroots environmental conservation and community-based tourism development. Daily activities can include: Organic farm work, reforestation, sign design and construction, trail development and maintenance, tourism infrastructure maintenance and development. Accommodation: Eco-Resort
Following breakfast at the eco-lodge we head back to the cloud forest community for our final morning of volunteer work. We bid farewell to our new friends, and transfer by private vehicle to Quito. Accommodation: Hostel in Quito.
After breakfast the group transfers by private bus to the Quito airport to catch their scheduled flight to the enchanted Galapagos Islands! Upon arrival the group transfers to the local town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to check into the hostel. The group takes lunch in one of the many options in town (your guide will be able to provide guidance). In the afternoon the group visits a private reserve in the highlands of San Cristobal to visit a reforestation, habitat reconstruction, and agroforestry station. The aim of this station is to reconstruct native habitat in the highlands on San Cristobal, and to serve as a center for similar projects in the highlands on other populated islands in the archipelago. The reserve is dedicated to the eradication of invasive species of plants, specifically a type of invasive raspberry, and to re-populate the are with native vegetation. Return to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Accommodation: Hostel in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
Today the group enjoys a full day of snorkeling at Kicker Rock (a.k.a. León Dormido) and Manglesito Beach on Islas Lobos. Kicker Rock is the remains of a volcanic cone that has been eroded by the sea. Above the water, the monolithic rock formation towers over 500 feet above the Pacific Ocean and is home to a number of tropical birds, the blue-footed booby and the frigate bird. 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. We make a lunch stop and swim at Manglesito Beach on Islas Lobos, where the group will snorkel with friendly sea lions and take a stroll on the beach. Return to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Accommodation: Hostel in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
Located to the south-east of the island of San Cristóbal, La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado is a tortoise reserve that was built to improve the status of the population of the island’s tortoises, Geochelone chatamensis. It is located within the area of Cerro Colorado, which is also one of the few places where it possible to see the Calandrinia galapagosa, a plant that is endemic to San Cristobal and is in danger of extinction. The reserve now runs a program to breed the tortoises in captivity before releasing them back into the wild on their ancestral home lands. The tortoises at La Galapaguera live in semi-natural conditions and visitors may follow interpretive trails through the reserve and see the young tortoises in the breeding pens. The visitors centre also offers talks on the natural history of giant tortoises and the relationship and differences between the tortoises of San Cristóbal and the other tortoises in the archipelago. The group visits the beautiful Puerto Chino swimming beach in the afternoon. Return to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Accommodation: Hostel in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
After an early breakfast, the group boards a speed boat to travel to Santa Cruz, boarding time is at 7am. The trip takes 2.5 hours (motion sickness medication is recommended). Arrival to Santa Cruz and transfer to your hostel in Puerto Ayora. The group picks a lunch spot from the many options in town (the guide will offer suggestions). In the afternoon the group discovers the unique Tortuga Bay beach. The 1.8km walk goes through a forest of giant endemic cactuses before arriving at the beautiful white sandy beach called Tortuga Bay, also a site of reproduction for turtles. The main beach is not very safe for swimming because of the currents but as you walk along the shoreline you can observe lots of coastal birds such as the turnstone, the American oyster catcher, plover and sandpiper. Further along the beach you’ll arrive at a hidden bay where the water is very calm and safe for a swim. There is also a trail that takes you to a huge marine iguana colony! You can rent kayaks (for US$20) to discover this beautiful bay with a different perspective. Return to Puerto Ayora. Accommodation: Hostel in Puerto Ayora.
After breakfast the group visits the Galapagos National Park office to receive a lecture about eco-tourism management and habitat conservation on the Islands. The group transfers to the airport for the flight back to Quito, arriving in Quito in the afternoon and transferring to the hostel. The group can visit a handicraft market in the afternoon to do some last minute souvenir shopping. In the evening the group enjoys a farewell dinner at a local restaurant with great views of the city. Accommodation: Hostel in Quito.
Following breakfast at the hostel, the group transfers to the airport for the flight home. Arrive into Boston TBC.
Per Person, Twin Share