Using Darwin for a Day

Explore Galapagos

We begin with a walking tour of Quito, Ecuador’s mountain capital and the second highest capital city in Latin America. One of South America’s most beautiful cities, Quito lies in a narrow valley at the foot of Pichincha volcano, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and extinct volcanoes. The fascinating UNESCO Heritage site of the Old City, with its rich blend of colonial architecture, imposing churches and bustling local markets, makes for a stunning introduction to this most enchanting of regions. We will visit some of the main sites, including the Plaza de la Independencia, the cultural heart of the colonial city, and La Compañía church with its magnificent gilded altars, walls and ceilings. At the church of San Francisco we are introduced to Quito’s largest and oldest colonial church, built in 1553. A climb to the top of nearby Cerro Panecillo affords us one of the best views across the city and the surrounding mountains, presenting us with an unparalleled vista of the encircling Andes from the viewing platform offered by the statue of the Virgen de Quito.

Overnight: Standard Hotel
Single Room Available

Included Meals: Breakfast

Drive to Patate via Cotopaxi National Park

Leaving Quito this morning we head south, towards the Central Highlands and the small town of Patate near Baños. Our journey takes us through some of the most impressive mountain scenery in the entire country, into the landscapes so aptly described by the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt as the 'Avenue of the Volcanoes'. En route we drive into the spectacular Cotopaxi National Park, where we see one of the world's highest active volcanoes. Ecuador's second highest mountain, Cotopaxi is a classic volcanic cone, snow covered and rising an imposing 5897m from the valley floor below. We will take some time whilst we are here to walk around the Limpiopungo Plateau (1.5 hours), where a shallow glacial lake presents us with a perfect spot to explore something of the rich flora and fauna of the páramo (high altitude Andean grasslands). Set between the imposing masses of Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui, the plateau is a haven for birdlife, as well as wild horses and even the elusive mountain lion. From here we continue to our nightstop near Patate. We stay in a hacienda set amidst a valley with spectacular views of the Tungurahu volcano.

Please note current itineraries are not able to visit Cotopaxi on day 3 due to its recent erruption, instead we will head south towards the Central Highlands to the town of Patate near Baños. Your journey will take you through some of the most impressive mountain scenery aptly described by the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt as the 'Avenue of the Volcanoes'. Continuing to your night stop near Patate where you'll stay in a hacienda set amidst a valley which offers fantastic views of the Tungurahua Volcano. From here you'll have a couple of hours to walk through the valleys and explore your surroundings. Should the level of alert change back to green we will revert to the original itinerary

Overnight: Standard Hacienda
Single Room Available

Explore Pailon Falls, then head to Lasso

First thing this morning we plan to visit (subject to local restrictions due to recent eruptions of the Tungurahua volcano) the nearby Pailón del Diablo waterfall (the Devil’s Cauldron), considered by many to be the most beautiful in the area. If the weather is clear Tungurahua presents a stunning backdrop to the scene and a walk up to the viewing platform allows us to view these impressive falls from above (1.5 hours), looking down onto the whirlpool of foaming water below. From here we continue to the town of Marchachi, in the middle of cattle country. Set before the majestic grandeur of the imposing peaks of Pasochoa, Rumiñahui and Corazón, Machachi is in the heartland of the traditional Ecuadorian cowboy, the Chagra, who pride themselves on their skills on horseback, so much so that each year the town hosts its own version of a rodeo. We will spend the evening here, amongst a stunning landscape of fertile valleys surrounded by the dominating peaks of the Andes.
Explore the Galapagos Islands with Quark
Explore the Galapagos Islands with Quark
Humboldt Explorer - Diving the Galapagos Islands!
Humboldt Explorer - Diving the Galapagos Islands! / Galapagos Explorer 2 / Galapagos Explorer 2
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