Traveling to both the Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands
Ecuador is home to some of the world's most amazing natural landscapes, the most famous being the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon rainforest. So while you're in Ecuador, why not explore two wonders on the natural world and do both? Haugan Cruises offers you just that opportunity on a ten-day itinerary for the discerning traveler.
Amazon and Galapagos - Contrasting Two Wonders of the World
The Amazon and Galapagos are both part of Ecuadorian territory, and are world famous for wildlife viewing and their unique ecosystems. That's about where the similarities end.
Distinct Biodiversity, Geography, and Climate
The Amazon Rainforest is the most biodiverse place on the planet with thousands upon thousands of species of flora and fauna that have evolved in a tropical, humid climate. One is literally surrounded by an overwhelming bounty of biological activity from the tops of the canopy to the depths of the soil. Experiencing megafauna like monkeys and rare birds require patience and silence to hear and track the creatures among the dense flora.
Galapagos, on the other hand is populated by a very small number of species, because each species had to arrive from the mainland to these remote volcanic islands that rose from the Pacific over the period of a few million years.
Instead of humidity and biomass, the Galapagos are sparse, arid and formed of volcanic rock inhospitable to most plant and animal life. What the Galapagos lack in sheer numbers of species, it more than makes up with a show of some of the most amazing, unique, and fearless wildlife on the planet. In the Galapagos, you can simply walk right up most animals who barely note your presence.
Recommended Amazon-Galapagos Itinerary
It's recommended to do the Amazon first followed by the Galapagos, so your itinerary would look like Quito - Amazon - Quito - Galapagos - Quito.
The Haugan Cruises Amazon + Galapagos package includes:
- 3 nights in a hotel in Quito
- 3 nights at La Selva Eco-Lodge in the Amazon
- 3 nights on a luxury catamaran in the Galapagos Islands
You will be accompanied from the moment you land in Quito until you return to the airport after ten amazing days in Ecuador.
Your guides at La Selva Lodge and on your Haugan cruise will be trained and knowledgeable naturalists. All guides speak English and are dedicated to showing you the delicate ecosystems of the Amazon and Galapagos. They will be your window into these unique natural treasures.
Traveling to the Amazon
The trip to the Amazon begins with a short half-hour flight from Quito, over the Andes, down into the Amazon Basin. You'll land in the town of Coca, and take a two hour canoe ride down the Napo River to La Selva Eco-lodge.
La Selva Eco-Lodge
Situated on the shores of Lake Garzacocha, this luxury resort helps visitors explore the rich natural ambiance of the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve.
With just 18 suites, this is a gorgeous and intimate hotel. Every room has electricity, comfortable beds, fans, private bathrooms with hot running water, and all of the amenities you require.
If you are planning a romantic vacation package, then there are private suites built for two. However, if this is a family vacation, the lodge can also comfortably accommodate travelers with children.
Activities in the Rainforest
While at La Selva, you will have a chance to do most of the following activities, as your schedule accommodates and interests dictate.
- Hiking through the rainforest with an indigenous guide learning about the forest, animals and medicinal plants used by local indigenous people
- Bird watching on foot, in canoe and from the canopy observation tower Observing monkeys
- Visiting a local indigenous community and Shaman
- Visit to a clay lick with hundreds of parrots
- Yoga and Spa treatments
- Kayaking and Canoeing on the black water lagoon
A commitment to sustainability
The rainforest is known as "the lungs of the world," and La Selva Eco-lodge is committed to helping sustain that reputation. The lodge focuses on sustainable eco-tourism, which means the whole building and all of the rooms are designed to have the least impact on the environment.
There aren't air conditioners, but you'll find that the spacious layout of each room and the silent ceiling fans are plenty to keep you naturally cool in the heart of the jungle.
Dining at La Selva
Between the fine dining of the restaurant and the delicious cocktails offered by our full bar, the food and drink leave nothing to be desired. In line with our commitment to sustainability, much of the menu comes from local communities.
The Galapagos Islands
Our trip to the Galapagos also begins in Quito with a morning flight to the Islands. We'll board our luxury catamaran and meet the crew and guides.
The ocean currents and volcanic activity that created the islands support an ecosystem that can only be found only in Galapagos, all on a backdrop of mangrove forests, crystal clear waters, and panoramic vistas. The unique land and sea animals endemic to the Galapagos helped inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in the 1800s and will inspire you to understand the unique species you're viewing and how they came to be here.
Aboard your boat
Once you get to the Galapagos Islands, you will settle into your cabin aboard your luxury catamaran, but don't get too settled, because your island adventure has just begun.
On your three-night cruise through the Islands, you will have the opportunity to get a taste of what makes the Galapagos so famous. Activities might include:
- Hiking on the islands
- Dinghy rides
- Guided tours through the natural environs
- Snorkeling and swimming
- Relaxing on the deck of your luxury boat or the beach
The three yachts that Haugan offers are the Cormorant, the Ocean Spray, and brand new to the fleet, the Petrel. Each one offers beautiful cabins, a friendly and knowledgeable crew, comfortable common areas, and exquisite cuisine prepared fresh on board.
Ecuador's capital city is the highest altitude capital in the world, nestled in Ecuador's sierra mountains. This colonial city is home to the presidential palace, beautiful cathedrals, and relaxing parks, and is considered Ecuador's cultural center.
What to do in Quito
In the main plazas, you can see the Jesuit Church, the Cathedral of Quito, and Plaza San Francisco. If you're feeling adventurous, head further down the road to scale the winding stairs to the top of the gothic Basilica del Voto Nacional.
While in the city, take advantage of the highlights: high atop the city is the Panecillo, known also as the "Virgin of Quito." This aluminum model of Mary keeps watch over the Quito and offers tourists a panoramic view of the whole city.
If you want to get even higher, then take the Teleferico cable car to the top of Cruz Loma next to the Pichincha Volcano.
Visiting the Equator
Once you've had your share of thin air, be sure to catch a bus to the Mitad del Mundo – a huge monument to the equatorial line, which crosses through Quito. There is a surrounding town where you can have lunch, enjoy a show in the town square, or even buy some artisan crafts.
If you want to visit the actual equator and stand in both hemispheres at the same time, go to the Itinan Museum, next to Monumental Park.
If you feel like some time outside the city, consider taking a day tour to Otavalo (Ecuador's major artisan market), Cotopaxi Volcano (one of the world's highest active volcanoes), Papallacta (a natural Andes hot spring and resort), or the small environmentally friendly town of Mindo. All of these destinations can be reached by a simple bus or private car ride of less than two hours.
Extend your trip
Of course, your stay isn't limited to the ten days included in the tour. You'll definitely love every minute of it, and if you want to extend your stay on mainland Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands, there are hundreds of great hotels that can accommodate you as you continue to check off everything you didn't have the time to experience on your tour.