Bisected by the equator and one of seventeen megadiverse countries of the world, Ecuador’s spectacular scenery, extraordinary wildlife viewing, and an endless array of activities makes it a singular destination for travelers of all ages. Meander through the Baroque architecture, cobblestone streets, and sprawling plazas Quito one of UNESCO’s original twelve world heritage sites. Explore the fabled Galapagos Islands by land or sea on one of our hand-selected luxury yachts or unique tented camps. Discover rare and exotic species in the Mindo cloud forest and Andean foothills. African Safari Company & Expeditions can take you from the precipitous heights of Mount Chimborazo, and Cotopaxi to the depths of the Amazon Basin.
Just fifteen miles north of the equator and sitting at 9,350 feet above sea level Quito, Ecuador’s capital, was erected on the ruined foundations of an ancient Incan city. The unique fusion of Baroque, Moorish and Kichwa (Quechua) architecture and imagery resulted in “The Quito School” and the city’s designation as one of UNESCO’s twelve original World Heritage Sites in 1978. An overnight at the iconic Hotel Patio Andaluz is the perfect place to start your journey through this captivating country. Experience Quito’s colonial charm with one of our expert guides as you wander through Plaza Grande, Plaza De San Francisco, or climb the one thousand stairs to the winged effigy of the Virgin Mary atop the Panecillo. Stop by Cafe Galletti to re-energize and sample the best coffee in Ecuador before visits to the iconic, domed Iglesia De Santo Domingo and the gold gilded La Compania de Jesus. Catch a glimpse of the Cotopaxi, the world’s second largest active volcano, from Parque Carolina. Better yet take a Day Trip to Cotopaxi National park, Quilotoa Crater, or Mitad Del Mundo. The gothic Basilica Del Voto Nacional looms over Quito’s Old Town and offers the truly adventurous, and fit, an opportunity to ascend the towers and cross the spine of the cathedral for outstanding views of the surrounding city. The immense stained glass windows and intricate carvings depict the plants and animals of the Galapagos, offering a glimpse of what is to come.
The Galapagos Islands, the inspiration for Darwin’s Origin of Species, are a volcanic archipelago comprised of eighteen main islands approximately 600 miles from Ecuador’s western coast. Their relative isolation from the mainland of South America, proximity to the equator, and the confluence of four major ocean currents: Equatorial, Cromwell, Humboldt, and Panama, make the islands a literal incubator marine and terrestrial life. As such, the Galapagos are home to some of the highest concentrations of endemic species anywhere in the world. Approximately 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and more than 30% of the plants are found nowhere else on Earth. Some of the most famous include the giant Galapagos Tortoise, Blue Footed Boobies, Marine Iguanas, the Galapagos Penguin, and Darwin’s finch. The Galapagos, along with Ecuador’s capital, Quito were among the first twelve UNESCO Heritage Sites established in 1978. Expeditions to the Galapagos are typically cruise based, visiting one or more islands per day, with interspersed land excursions, although safari style, land-based itineraries are also growing in popularity. Galapagos cruises offer extraordinary access to this captivating wilderness area. Choose from one of our handpicked collection of luxury yachts and catamarans, like La Pinta, the 16 passenger Sea Star, or the lavish, state-of-the-art Alya. Whether you want to dive with whale sharks and hammerheads, snorkel with penguins and sea lions, or kayak along the coast, we have a boat that will cater to any traveler and top notch, multilingual guides and naturalists to show you the way. Prefer terrestrial adventures like mountain biking, hiking, and birding? Let African Safari Company design a safari style, land-based itinerary from our curated selection of world-class tented lodges, eco-camps and exclusive properties like Galapagos Safari Camp, Isamar, Galapagos Magic, Casa Blanca, Red Mangrove, and Finch Bay. Land-based excursions offer an incredible opportunity to get an up-close look at the Galapagos’ land animals, bird life, and rugged terrain. Our Adventure Architects can create a standalone itinerary or a program that is the perfect complement any cruise. Wildlife lovers, birders, and dendrophiles (forest enthusiasts) will find an extension to Ecuador’s Amazon, cloud forest, or cultural mainland the ideal juxtaposition to any Galapagos trip.
From ocelots to orchids, Ecuador’s Amazon and cloud forest provide unparalleled birding and wildlife viewing. A short, 35-minute flight and an exciting two-hour transfer by motorboat up the Napo rivers brings you to Yasuni National Park, the heart of Ecuador’s megadiversity. Eco-Lodges like the Napo Wildlife Center and the Sacha Lodge are your home base and gateway to the Amazon. Giant river otters, pink river dolphins, caiman, tapirs, jaguars,ocelots, margay,monkeys, over 500 species of birds, 4000 types of butterflies,4,250 species of orchid, 1300 of which are endemic and grow only in Ecuador, are just a few of a seemingly infinite list of flora and fauna to be found. Just a three-hour drive from Quito’s city center will bring you to the Andean foothills and the Mindo cloud forest. Relax and explore from the Mashpi Lodge, an exclusive, forty-four guest property surrounded by a 3000-acre private conservancy of “Model Forest”. More than just a five-star lodge, Mashpi is “a research station and a base for exploration and discovery at the vanguard of rainforest protection.” Accomplished, experienced, and professional, our multilingual naturalists help you to understand and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Soar above the forest on the Dragonfly, Mashpi’s innovative cable system, hike through the jungle to pristine waterfalls, or just sit back and take it all in from the eight-story observation platform. It’s your time, enjoy it.
No trip to Ecuador would be complete without a sojourn to Otavalo, Ecuador’s emblematic traditional Inkan craft market. Incorporate your visit to Otavalo with a night or two at Hacienda Zuleta, an impeccably preserved, elegant, colonial property and the home of former president, Galo Plaza Lasso. Hacienda Zuleta is a working farm, cheese factory, condor rehabilitation facility, and home to various Caranqui mound sites of archaeological importance. Less than 1 ½ hours from Quito’s international airport, Hacienda Zuleta is a brilliant end to an outstanding trip.
African Safari Co. & Expeditions can help you tailor an itinerary that is as unique as you are. Solo travelers, couples, or families, our Adventure Architects take the stress out of planning so you can focus on what’s important, your adventure. Combine Ecuador and the Galapagos with a visit to Peru and Machu Picchu for the ultimate island and Inkas experience.
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