Depart Auckland early evening on Latam Airlines. Arrive Santiago mid-afternoon and transfer to our overnight accommodation. Rest of the day is free to relax or explore on your own.
Very early transfer to Santiago Airport and depart on Latam Airlines to Quito via Lima. Upon arrival we will be met by our operator, Kleintours, and transferred to our hotel. Arrival and transfer to our Hotel. Rest of the day is free to relax and explore on your own. Accommodation at Hotel Quito (B)
Today we commence a city tour of the Historical Center and Cultural Heritage. We will see wonderful colonial facades on the churches and private residences decorated with balconies built during the last five centuries. We will take in the Gothic Basilica of the Heart of Jesus, Independence Square flanked by the Presidential and the Archbishop’s palaces and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Roll on to the Street of the Seven Crosses and visit La Compañía de Jesús church, the jewel of the crown of the colonial architecture. Continue to the Plaza of San Francisco and Panecillo viewpoint for a panoramic view of the city. North of downtown Quito we visit “Mitad del Mundo” (Middle of the World) and the Equator Monument situated at 0º0’0” where the planet is divided into the north and south hemispheres. We also visit the Ethnographic Museum which explains why Ecuador is considered a multi-national inter-culture and multi-lingual country. Accommodation at Hotel Quito (B)
Two hours from Quito the Otavalo Craft Market is the most famous and picturesque in South America. Markets are meeting places for shopping, bargaining and chatter while people of the region exchange local produce, utensils, pots, and pans or textiles. We visit Cuicocha Lagoon, its name comes from the Kichwa Indigenous language and means "Lake Cuy" named because of the guinea pig shape of the largest island in the middle of the lagoon. Through a marvelous Andean setting we head into the indigenous community of Magdalena. The scene displays a wide array of crops which resemble a colorful patchwork on the eastern foothills of Imbabura volcano. The skillful people are known to produce outstanding embroidery. Community members demonstrate local planting techniques, including the materials and animals used to farm a variety of products including potatoes, quinoa, lupin, corn, beans, wheat and other vegetables depending on their harvesting seasons. Overnight at Karanki Magdalena Community. (B,D)
Today we embark on an amazing train ride to Salinas! This 26-km rail stretch takes 2 hours to complete, as we plunge from 2200 m. to 1500 m above sea level. In Salinas the Afro-Ecuadorian community is sponsored by Kleintours in an effort to boost tourism in support of this fascinating area, and with a vision of helping it become an important tourist destination. We will visit Peguche Village workshop with its traditional looms and Andean wind instruments. Accommodation at Hotel Quito (B,L)
After breakfast we head off along the “Avenue of the Volcanoes”, and view from afar the impressive and beautiful Cotopaxi Volcano as well as other towering summits. Passing Baños we head to the ‘Gateway to the Amazon’ first by a stop at the amazing Agoyán Waterfall. We then head down into the Pastaza river canyon to the so-called "Route of Waterfalls" where we find Cascada de la Virgen, the Bride’s Mantle, Machay, Pailón del Diablo (the Devil’s Cauldron). There is an optional walk down to observe this waterfall from a breathtaking suspension bridge. Drive to the city of Riobamba passing the foothills of Chimborazo Volcano, the highest summit in Ecuador. We arrive at Riobamba late afternoon and our accommodation at Hacienda Abraspungo (B)
From Riobamba we travel south to Alausí. Along the way see Via la Balbanera, the first Spanish church built in the country. In Alausí, we will take a spectacular train ride through the Devil’s Nose, a true feat of railway engineering of the early twentieth century. We continue south with a two-hour drive to visit the Incan Archaeological site of Ingapirca, which means "Wall of the Inca" and the most important Incan relics in Ecuador. This citadel was built in the fifteenth century on an ancient route that connected Quito to Cuzco. We arrive in Cuenca by nightfall. Included today is a box lunch. Accommodation at Hotel Carvallo. (B,L)
City tour of Cuenca, World Heritage Site. It is a city of facades dated from the last five centuries which have been kept intact due to the unique privilege of being the only city on the Ecuadorian Andes which has not been hit by major earthquakes. We continue to El Cajas National Park, Known for its beautiful landscapes and with at least 200 lagoons, like the famous La Toreadora. After lunch, drive to Guayaquil for overnight accommodation at hotel Palace Guayaquil. (B)
This morning we take the shuttle service from the hotel to the airport for our domestic flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival we meet with our naturalist guide to be transferred to the M/Y Coral II.
(See separate itinerary attached)
Only a special few have the chance to travel through this paradise, sailing on a charming expedition ship, offering a variety of spacious outside decks with observatories, Jacuzzis, chill out areas, BBQ and sun terraces. Comfortable lounges and dining rooms, libraries, coffee/tea 24-hour stations, and well stocked bars. Versatile accommodations, sea-view cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities, safety box and LCD TV with music and video system for on board entertainment. Double or twin bed cabins, some facilitate triple accommodation and interconnecting doors. We are the only ones with sea level embarkation platforms, offering security and comfort to all guests.
Shore excursions twice a day to a place unlike any other full of wildlife that has no fear of man. See prehistoric iguanas, giant tortoises, exotic birds, plants, beautiful landscapes of volcanoes, lava cones and magma flows. Swim, snorkel and dive at any time of the year in the warm clear waters among tropical fish, manta rays, sea lions, swordfish, sea turtles and other marine wildlife. Lectures on board explaining the geology, history, evolution, flora and fauna of the islands.
(The cruise package includes all meals, welcome & farewell cocktails, BBQ, free coffee / tea 24-hour station, ice cream festivals, snacks and water).
Today we say goodbye to the wonderful Galapagos Islands and return by flight to Guayaquil where we are met and transferred by shuttle to our hotel. Rest of the day is free. Overnight at Hotel Palace (B)
Transfer to the airport at midday for our direct Latam Airlines flight to Santiago and onward connection to Auckland. Please note we lose 2 calendar days travelling home (B)