Coastal Ecuador & The Amazon

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Leisurely
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Trip code: 
WUE
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Wildlife Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–16

Ecuador's coastline and the heart of the Amazon

Isla de La Plata is widely known as mainland Ecuador's ‘little Galapagos’. This stretch of coastline harbours many of the same wildlife species that you’ll find in the Galapagos, but without the crowds. In season the warm coastal waters become a breeding ground for Humpback whales with their impressive behaviour. Further inland, the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve is a bio-diversity hotspot, with its vast bird count and some 20 different species of hummingbird. And that just leaves the famous Sacha Lodge in the heart of the Amazon, where days are spent paddling in dug-out canoes looking for wildlife and soaking up the rainforest ambience.

Highlights

  • Isla de la Plata - mainland Ecuador's mini Galapagos
  • Discover Machalilla National Park & Isla Corazon 
  • Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve 
  • Sacha Lodge in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest

Key information

  • Travel by minibus, internal flight, boat and canoe
  • 8 nights comfortable hotels and lodges, 3 nights standard hotels and lodges
  • Whale watching season: June to September

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 9 lunches and 6 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas & vaccinations

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Guayaquil
to
Quito
  • Day 1

    Start Guayaquil.

    The group flight usually arrives into Guayaquil this evening. Free transfers are available to anyone on the group flight. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening.

    Accommodation: Grand Hotel Guayaquil (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Transfer to Puerto Lopez via Ayampe.

    After breakfast we set off towards Ecuador's coastline and the small town of Puerto Lopez, stopping on the way to visit Ayampe. Ayampe is a small protected rainforest reserve in the Manabi province, best known for its bird life such as the endemic and critically endangered Esmeraldas woodstar which can only be spotted in a very small region around the west coast of Ecuador. We spend some time walking in Ayampe reserve near the river basin before continuing to Puerto Lopez and our accommodation for the next three nights. Our hosteria is located on the malecon just a moment from the beach and consists of wooden cabins set in lush tropical gardens full of bromeliads and orchids.

    Accommodation: Hosteria Mandala (or similar)
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    Boat excursion to Isla de la Plata.

    This morning we board a private boat for a day excursion to Isla de la Plata, widely known as mainland Ecuador's ‘little Galapagos’. Isla de la Plata is around 50km from the coastline and harbours many of the same wildlife species that you’ll find in the Galapagos, but without the crowds and high prices! You are likely to see Blue-footed boobies, Red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, Waved albatross and frigatebirds - and that's just the birds. In season (June to September) the warm coastal waters become a breeding ground for Humpback whales with their impressive breaching behaviour. The ocean around Puerto Lopez is the mating and calving grounds of around 450 - 500 whales, who migrate here from Patagonian waters. Sea lions, dolphins, turtles and Manta rays are also common. Our excursion will last the whole day, with several hours on the boat (depending on the number of stops to see whales) and a hike at Isla de la Plata lasting around 3 hours. There will also be time to snorkel, should you wish, with equipment provided.

    Accommodation: Hosteria Mandala (or similar)
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Full day to discover Machalilla N.P.

    We spend today in Machalilla National Park, a 55,000ha reserve in Manabi with a range of habitats and vegetation ranging from dry scrub to deciduous forest and wetlands. Some of the highest altitudes have regions similar to Andean Cloud Forest. The park protects a large area of beach, islets and coastal scrub as well as the ocean itself. Within Machililla there is a small community of about 52 families, known as Agua Blanca. We visit the village and walk through the dry forest, and if time allows the cloud forest. There are many species in Machalilla and we may spot Howler monkeys, snakes or amphibians on our walk. Afterwards we visit the beautiful white sand beach of Los Frailes, marked by rocky headlands, for a refreshing swim. In the late afternoon we'll have a talk from a researcher studying the behaviour of giant Manta rays found off the coast of Puerto Lopez. This ongoing research project is the largest of its kind and so far 1600 individuals have been recorded around Isla de la Plata.

    Accommodation: Hosteria Mandala (or similar)
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Visit Pacoche to observe Howler monkeys.

    After breakfast we drive around one and a half hours to Pacoche, a small reserve located along the coast to the north of Puerto Lopez. This is one of the last remaining semi-dry tropical forests in the area and has a fascinating micro-climate. We join a walking trail through Pacoche Reserve where we hope to come across one of the 10 groups of Howler monkeys in the area. There are numerous birds, such as the West Peruvian Screech owl, Short-tailed Woodstar and Rufous-headed Chachalacas. Following this visit and lunch we depart to our hotel.

    Accommodation: Casa Ceibo (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Boat trip to Isla Corazon; to Bellavista Cloud Forest.

    We depart early this morning for a private boat trip to Isla Corazon, a mangrove island located within the Chone River estuary. The island is an important habitat and nesting site for one of the largest frigatebird colonies in the Pacific. It is a wonderful place to see these birds and get close to mangrove forest. After this we have a long drive (around 6 hours) to Bellavista Cloud Forest. Situated on the North-Western slopes of the Andes at the top of the Tandayapa Valley, Bellavista is a private reserve bursting with orchids, bromeliads, toucans, tanagers and hummingbirds. The area is a paradise for naturalists with a vast network of hiking trails, some of which lead to waterfalls. Tonight we may see the nocturnal Olinguito from the lodge.

    Accommodation: Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve & Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Birdwatching at Bellavista Cloud Forest; to Puembo.

    An early start this morning to appreciate the diversity of Bellavista and spot some of its many bird species. The reserve has previously won awards for its high bird count - there are 20 different species of Hummingbird to look for! After this morning's excursion and lunch at the lodge, we drive towards Puembo, where our beautiful hacienda for the next two nights is located. On the way we will make a short stop at the Equatorial monument.

    Accommodation: Hacienda Su Merced (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Walk in Antisana N.P. to look for the Andean Condor.

    After breakfast we drive to Antisana Ecological Reserve, a protected area with a beautiful mountainous backdrop. Antisana Volcano rises to a height of 5704m - Ecuador’s fourth highest - and is surrounded by striking lagoons which reflect the peak in their still waters. In this region Andean Condors are found - the largest flying birds on Earth! Seen locally as a symbol of health and strength, these huge birds have wing spans of up to 3 metres, allowing them to stay aloft for hours. On our walk in Antisana we have good chances of spotting them in the skies above.

    Accommodation: Hacienda Su Merced (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Fly to Coca; to Sacha Lodge in the Amazon Rainforest.

    A short drive brings us to Quito airport where we board our flight to Coca in the Amazon Basin. From Coca it will take around two and half hours on foot and by canoe to navigate to Sacha Lodge, located in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. Sacha Lodge can be found within a 5000 acre private ecological reserve on the banks of Lake Pilchicocha, a stunning setting and incredible place for wildlife and birds. On our first evening at Sacha we may join a night walk to gain a totally new perspective on the rainforest, or paddle across the lake by canoe to see how many Spectacled black caimans we can spot with their glowing orange eyes.

    Accommodation: Sacha Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Two full days exploring the Amazon Rainforest.

    Our morning begins early to take advantage of the first light on a bird watching and canopy walkway excursion. Just one mile from the lodge is a sturdy canopy walkway 36 metres high and 275 metres long - one of only a few of its kind in the world. From here there are spectacular views of the rainforest canopy and numerous vibrantly coloured birds to see. There are a number of trails on which to walk to discover the rainforest and its inhabitants, and expert native guides will lead these excursions, explaining about the various medicinal plants that have been used for hundreds of years. It is also possible to visit the parrott clay lick and have a go at fishing for Piranha off the dock today.

    Accommodation: Sacha Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Sacha Lodge in the Amazon Rainforest.

    We continue exploring Sacha, hiking through the forest, taking canoe rides across the lake and seaching for its many inhabitants. There are 8 species of monkey found in this area alone, from the tiny Pygmy marmoset to the noisy Red Howler monkey. We hope to encounter some of these species during today's activities - there is a good chance of being surrounded by troops of Squirrel, Capuchin and Howler monkeys whilst on a silent canoe ride through the flooded Amazonian forest. The shy and elusive River otter may also be seen as well as the three-toed sloth. Today we also have the opportunity to visit Sacha's observation tower built around an ancient Kapok tree some 135 feet high.

    Please note that the order of activities at Sacha lodge may change and you will likely join other guests staying at the lodge to participate in some activities.

    Accommodation: Sacha Lodge (or similar)
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Depart Sacha Lodge and fly to Quito; end Quito.

    This morning we say goodbye to the rainforest and return to Coca airport the same way we came on our last canoe ride. Our flight should arrive into Quito in the early afternoon (slightly later on Saturdays) and at this point the holiday comes to an end. Land only clients are free to make onward travel arrangements after 6pm this evening. Alternatively, please ask your sales consultant about post-tour accommodation in Quito.

    Meals included: Breakfast

Essential Info

Visas

Ecuador

British passport holders do not need a visa for Ecuador. Very few other nationalities need a visa for Ecuador, but if you are in any doubt you should contact the nearest Ecuadorian Embassy.
Please note that if flying via the US (even as a transit passenger) you must clear US immigration. Most UK citizens are eligible for visa-free travel, but you must register on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which costs USD14 and is valid for two years. Please go to http://www.exodus.co.uk/USvisa for more information.

Vaccinations

Ecuador

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Typhoid and Hepatitis A. If you will spend any time in the Amazon Rainforest we recommend a Yellow Fever vaccination. Please note that your certificate of vaccination may be inspected on arrival to this region. Malaria is also a risk in some areas of the country (including the Amazon Rainforest) so we suggest you consult a Doctor for more advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up‐to‐ date information.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 9 lunches and 6 dinners included.

Hotel breakfasts are normally buffet style with toast, cereal, eggs, fruits and tea/coffee all available. Some lunches are included and maybe in the form of a box lunch. The tour leader will recommend various dinner options in convenient locations, usually booking restaurants and eating with the group.

Vegetarians can be catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests.

Weather

In Quito and the highlands it should be warm by day and generally dry. Maximum daytime temperatures are almost constant throughout the year at 20ºC, nights 8ºC. Some rain can be expected in February to May and October to November but storms, though heavy, are generally short. Quito and in general the highlands, are considered to have quite a pleasant climate, although the evenings can be chilly.

In the jungle regions it will be hot with high humidity. There is always a possibility of rain at any time, but not to the extent of spoiling your enjoyment. The driest time in the jungle (in terms of rainfall levels, not number of rainy days) is October to January. On the coast the climate is tropical. Between December and April, it is sunny, hot and humid, with daytime temperatures often reaching the mid 30s. As the Humboldt Current moves north, the city tends to be cloudier and cooler between May and November, but temperatures rarely dip below 29ºC.

Is this trip for you?

This trip has been graded 2: Leisurely/Moderate, with a Safari Rating of 3.

It will appeal to those interested in the astonishing variety of mainland Ecuador - mangrove systems, rainforest, cloud forest, coastline, islands and volcanoes. It is a busy trip, taking in a huge amount of scenery, flora and fauna in two weeks. Some of the areas visited on the trip are at high altitude and some walks are planned. There will be early starts and long drives to fit in as much as possible - the longest driving day is on day 6. Please note that a reasonable level of fitness is required for this trip.

Accommodation

Hotels & Lodges

On this holiday we stay in a mixture of standard and comfortable lodges, all of which have en suite facilities. The highlight of this holiday will no doubt be our stay at Sacha Lodge, in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. Set within a 5000 ha ecological reserve, all of the cabins have thatched roofs and private shaded terraces, concealed within the lush surroundings. Look out on the jungle from the comfort of your hammock, or see toucans, agoutis or monkeys from your cabin!

Optional single supplement available from GBP440 (excluding Sacha Lodge) or GBP920 throughout

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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