Ecuador by rail, and Galapagos Islands, A FORWARD JOURNEY
Rail through The Andes then explore The Galapagos Islands
Ecuador and Galapagos Islands, A FORWARD JOURNEY
QUITO - THE EQUATOR - THE ANDES - GUAYAQUIL - GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
16 Days 21 October - 4 November 2017

Ecuador really is the Middle of the World, and over 15 days we’ll discover how wonderfully diverse it is as well. We’ll travel by rail for 4 days, passing the the soaring peaks of The Andes, greeted by ancient cities and warm smiles of the locals, to discover the heart of this compact and incredibly diverse country. Then we’ll have 8 days to explore the Galapagos trifecta, 3 unique and wildife rich islands, giving us a fantastic overview of this distinct and dramatic archipeligo.

Tour Highlights
  • Fully Escorted by Rose Toohey
  • 4 Day luxury Rail journey
  • 7 Day private Journey in the Galapagos staying on 3 different Islands
  • Ride The Devil’s Nose train, one of the world’s great railways
  • Be guided through a mist filled Cloud Forest
  • Meet and mingle with the local communities
  • Stay in delightful Haciendas
  • Stand on the actual Equator
  • Meet descendants of the original Galapagos families
  • Snorkel at Tuneles on Isabela
  • Visit places not accessible to cruise boats
  • 28 meals
  • Limited to just 10 travellers

Tour Information
  • Where
    :

    South America, Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands

  • When
    :

    October

  • What
    :

    Cruise, Nature, Wildlife, Train, History and Culture

MEET YOUR JOURNEY LEADER

Rose Toohey, Forward Travel Director.
My travel passion is finding authentic experiences and immersing myself in each destination. I hand pick all aspects of our journeys to guarantee great holidays for our travellers. On this journey we’ll go beyond the tourist trail and into the heart of Quito and The Galapagos. Being with our travellers as they experience our journeys is the best part my job. I hope you’ll join me.

Rose

Itinerary

Welcome to Quito, jam-packed in a 5 x 55km Andean Valley. You’ll be met at the airport and taken to our hotel in the vibrant New Town.

This morning we’ll be guided through all the delights of the World’s first UNESCO World Heritage City, starting in its oldest street,

La Ronda. Here we’ll be introduced to the gastronomic and artisanal traditions of Ecuador, before we explore the historic centre and some of its impressive churches. The 17C La Compañia de Jesus (XVII Century) is one of the most beautiful baroque churches in South America, and the Church of San Francisco still has some original features from the 16C.

We’ll then drive 30km north to where the world is divided into two. We’ll stand on the actual Equator and have some unique equatorial fun trying the various activities. Try to balance the egg on a nail, and keep your balance as you ‘walk the line’. You’ll also see water going roundthe drain in different directions, just metres apart. This evening we’ll walk the few blocks to Achiote for an authentic Ecuadorian welcome dinner.

We’ll head north west to Mindo, an ecologicalparadise where the humidity rising up from the coast forms a mist that is known as the Ecuador Cloudforest. It’s an ecological paradise where hiking through the forest lets us enjoy the diverse flora and fauna, with an exceptional variety of birds. We’ll also visit an Orchid garden and chocolate factory before we drive back to Quito.

We depart Quito early for a 90 minute drive north. In Otavalo, home of a millinery market, a carefully restored steam engine awaits us.

At a slow pace we will discover the many wonders hidden in this part of the country: musicians, painters, weavers and the skillful woodcarvers who keep the renowned Quito School style alive. After a tasting of traditional Andean cuisine and a visit to very special export- class rose plantation we return to Quito.

We board our train at Quito Chimbacalle stationand begin our journey south along the Avenue Travel by steam train along the Avenue of the Volcanoesof the Volcanoes. If the weather permits, we can spot up to twenty volcanoes from the train, most extinct or dormant for centuries.

Here, the Andes range splits into two arms that run parallel down south. The fertile valley trapped between these stone walls hosts a treasure trove of biodiversity. From the comfort of our panoramic cars we watch the change ofvegetation and landscape as we slowly climb the Andean highlands to Urbina, the highest point on our journey at 3,575m. In the skirts of mount Chimborazo we meet the last ice-merchant and learn the story of his ancestral trade.

We depart Riobamba towards Colta, where the Spanish conquerors built their first settlement in Ecuador. We cross colourful quinoa fields painted in purples, yellows and reds, alternating with endemic species of flora and wildlife, indigenous settlements and the remains of ancient cultures.

We visit Guamote market, one of the last indigenous markets in the Andes, before continuing south to the mythical Devil’s Nose pass. A vertiginous descent of 450m zig zag takes us from the Andean highlands down towards the coastal plains.

We continue our descent along the narrow Chanchán river gorge and crossing an impressive cloud forest to Bucay.

The landscape changes as the train leaves the tropical forest. Rice, sugar cane, pineapple and banana plantations pass before our eyes.

We have lunch at a traditional hacienda, where we can learn about the growing and harvesting of the best cocoa bean in the world. Later, the steam engine wends its way across the fields towards the shores of the Pacific Ocean and the end of our trip in a hotel in Guayaquil for overnight.

Transfer to the airport and fly to The Galapagos. Arriving in Baltra we will take a shuttle across Santa Cruz to the highlands. The road climbs through the agricultural zone and into the mist-covered forests. We’ll call in to one of the ranches, where we are able to wander thegrounds in search of tortoises. After lunch we’ll continue to Puerto Ayora for the rest of the afternoon at leisure.

This morning we’ll take a walk 1hr to Tortuga Bay. This walk goes through a dry zone with many land birds to be seen along the way. The first beach is beautiful and expansive but another 20 minutes will take us to “Playa Mansa” ideal for swimming and home to many marine iguanas. Take time to explore the town this afternoon.

This morning we’ll take our speed boat to Floreana Island, a 2.5hr journey. This Island was the first island inhabited and descendants of the original inhabitants still live here. We’ll be faceto face with history and legends to give us an understanding of the human development in the Galapagos Islands. This afternoon we’ll walk for 30 minutes to la Loberia, a sea lion breeding space. Here in the bright turquoise waters, we can swim with sea lions, marine turtles, manta rays and a variety of colourful coral fish. Later we’ll relax in the lodge, share stories with thelocals and hopefully meet some members of the original families.

This morning we’ll take a “Chiva”- traditional old fashioned bus to the highlands, learning some of the islands colourful history. We’ll hear about the Wittmers, the Baroness, the Pirates that visited, and the “Enigma of Floreana”, involving the mysterious deaths of several of the Island´s inhabitants, a riddle that has never been solved. Dave will tell you about them too as he has long been fascinated with the story.

We’ll explore pirate caves, visit fresh water springs that supply the islanders, and see giant tortoises. We’ll then take our speed boat the 2.5hrs to Isabela. Time for a leisurely lunchand relax for the rest of the day in the pristine beaches of the biggest and one of the newest Islands.

In the afternoon we’ll pick up a bike and ride to the “Wall of tears”, a 6km ride, each way. Half way to the Wall, the trail passes a white sand beach where the surrounding lagoons are home to all four species of mangroves found in the Galapagos. The trail continues through the dry zone until reaching the Wall. A penal colony existed on Isabela from 1944 to 1959. The Wall of Tears was built by the prisoners to keep
them busy. It stand 5-6 m high, 3 m wide and is approximately 100 m long. It is a reminder of a period of cruelty and torture. We return to our hotel in Puerto Villamil.

We travel to the base of the Sierra Negra Volcano, and walk about 2 hours to reach the crater of the volcano. There we will have a wonderful view into the crater and with a little bit of luck will be able to see the Galapagos Sparrow Hawk. We will get to know the geology of the Sierra Negra Volcano. Most of this part of this island was formed by lava. We will have a box lunch and visit el Chico Volcano.

After a box lunch and a visit to el Chico Volcano we visit the Tintoreras Islets, located a short distance from Puerto Villamil. They are home to agreat variety of wildlife. The turquoise, crystalline waters are inhabited by white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. One of the beaches, surrounded by mangroves is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully. Reaching the Isle of Tintoreras, we will get to know a lot of these species. Return to the hotel.

Our guide will take us to visit the Flamingos’ Lagoon where we will hope to see the flamingos feeding. This is a 2km trail where we will also explore the vegetation and geology of this young Island. Arriving at the Flamingo lagoon we hope to see Flamingos feeding in this lake.

In the afternoon we will visit a unique place in the islands, “Los Tuneles”. We take a 45 minute boat trip to this treasure hidden from most Galapagos visitors. The Tunnels were formed millions of years ago when liquid lava rivers ran across the island reaching the coast. The cold water froze their superficial layer isolating the interior while liquid lava kept flowing into the sea. When the eruption finished, a hollow structure was formed and its wall later broke allowing water to come inside and creating a tunnel. Our guide will join us along hundreds of tunnels while we snorkel and discover the marine life such as sharks, lobsters, penguins, sea lions, boobies, marine turtles among other endemic species from Galapagos. A snack will be served on boardour boat. If we’re lucky , we will see giant manta rays feeding in open waters. Afternoon return to Isabela for our final night.

This morning as a final treat we’ll fly back to Santa Cruz to connect with our flight toGuayaquil where we’ll be met and taken back tothe Wyndham Hotel for our final night in Ecuador.

Transfer to the airport for your onward journey.

Pricing and Inclusions
PRICING

    $7,990 per person twin share Single Supplement $1,523

TRIP INCLUSIONS
    • Forward Travel Tour Leader
    • English speaking guides throughout
    • Private transfers and touring in Quito
    • Good quality accommodation with daily breakfast
    • Luxury 4 dayTrenCruceros Rail journey with all meals
    • Private 7 day tour in The Galapagos Islands.
    • English speaking naturalist guide iin The Galapagos
    • Entrance fees for monuments
    • 4 days to explore Quito and surrounds
    • Meals as listed (shown as 14-B,10-L,4-D)
    • Daily bottled water
    • LIMITED TO JUST 15 PLACES
NOT INCLUDED
    • Flights to and from Ecuador
    • Ecuador Transit card (Ingala) $20
    • Beverages
    • Extra meals and activities
    • Tips (suggested tipping kitty of USD180pp)
    • Personal expenses
FLIGHTS ARE NOT INCLUDED

    Our experience tells us everyone wants something different with flights so we don’t include them so we can talk with you about the best options.
    Airfares from Syd/Mel start at $2,650pp Economy and $6,840 Business. Ask for other cities

BONUS OFFER

    PHOTO ALBUM!
    Rose is an accomplished, published photographer and will also be your personal photographer, documenting the journey and providing everyone a copy of her photos as a special, unique souvenir of the trip. Rose will also offer advice to help improve your own photography as well.

TRAVELLER’S TALES
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