07 Feb 2018 - 18 Feb 2018
08 Aug 2018 - 19 Aug 2018
14 Nov 2018 - 25 Nov 2018
Discover Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands.
Ecuador is the smallest country in the Andes Mountains and one of the most fascinating tourist attractions in South America. Thanks to the diversity of the native cultures, the well-kept colonial architecture, the volcanic scenery and the lush forests, this country has more points of interest within its borders than those of a country twice its size. Ecuador ranks as one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to its variety of animals and flora. Ecuador is considered one of the safest and most comfortable countries for travelers. Ecuador’s tropical climate allows for tourism any time of the year, and the fact that it lies on the equator keeps the weather stable all year long. The weather in Ecuador is fickle and has a tendency for extremes. The only sure thing that can be said about the weather in Ecuador is that it is totally unexpected, and it’s not rare to experience all 4 seasons in one day. Never the less, and despite all this, the fact that Ecuador is located on the equator, gives one the opportunity to tour Ecuador on most days of the year, and anywhere in the country: the Andes, the rain forests, the beaches and the Galapagos.
Day 1, Wednesday: arrival Quito
Arrival Quito, Ecuador, where we will be met by staff from Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours at the hotel. Quito is without a doubt the prettiest city in South America. It’s located at 2850 meters above sea level, 22 Kilometers from the equator, and enjoys a great spring climate and a magnificent view all around. The scenery is ruled by mountains and a number of snowy volcanoes that can be seen from a distance. The city itself lies at the feet of Mt. Roca Pichincha, which rises to a lofty 4,700 meters. Architecturally, Quito holds vast colonial treasures, and construction in the modern city is under strict supervision ever since 1978, when UNESCO placed Quito on the list of World Heritage Sites. After Arrival, transfer to hotel.
Day 2, Thursday: Quito, Mindo Cloud Forest
The western slopes of the Pichincha volcano are dressed with a wonderful dense ecosystem: the cloud forest, where is located Mindo. The cloud forest is perhaps the ecosystem that holds the greatest variety of birds and plants in the world. It includes birds and plants from the rain forest, some from the highlands, and others that have evolved in this unique ecosystem. Some of the most impressive bird species of the cloud forest are: Cock of the Rock, an abundance of Hummingbirds, Tanagers, Mountain Toucans, Cotingas, Manakins, among others.
Day 3, Friday: Quito Colonial & Mitad Del Mundo
Colonial city tour: Explore the bustling streets and plazas in the largest colonial town of the Americas and first UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. Enjoy a super eclectic architecture ranging from the modern quarters to impressive colonial facades on churches and private residences decorated with beautiful balconies; a superb sample of the architecture of the last five centuries including parks like El Ejido and Alameda, the monument of Simon Bolivar, the gothic Basilica. Of the Heart of Jesús, Independence Square flanked by the Presidential ant the Archbishop’s palaces, the Metropolitan Cathedral and unique churches such as La Compañía de Jesús, El Sagrario or San Francisco, which display a rich sample of artistic and cultural heritage. Overnight at Hotel Swissotel Quito.
Day 4, Shabbat: Quito
After prayers and breakfast, we shall go for a walking tour of Quito. Today you will visit the Central Bank Museum, which has permanent collections of archaeological, ethnographic, colonial and republican art, as well as old photographs.The art covers pre-Columbian and Inca art all the way to contemporary works. You will be able to view gold artifacts, sculptures, paintings, utensils and three dimensional models of life in Ecuador. In the evening, you will enjoy the Chiva Quiteña night City tour. Overnight at Hotel Swissotel Quito.
Day 5, Sunday: Quito, Quilotoa Lake
The Quilotoa is one of the most beautiful places in the Ecuadorian Highland due to it is a lagoon inside a crater, just like Cuicocha. Quilotoa comes from two quichua words, “Quiru” that means tooth, and “Toa” which is queen. The lagoon has elliptical shape and its diameter is about 2 miles. From the superior border to the lagoon there are 1310 ft approximately. The lagoon is mostly green, but its color varies according to the luminosity, it can change to blue and even yellow. The water has a great mineral composition like sulphur hydrogen and carbonic gas which makes the water not for human consume, however people from the zone use this water for animals. In a sunny day you can see from here some of the Andes Range like the Illinizas to the north. Visit to Local Market in Pujili Village on the way.
Days 6-9, Monday– Thursday:
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS CRUISE 4D/3N IN THE GALAPAGOS LEGEND LUXURY BOAT
Morning Flight to the Islands.
Quito – Galapagos Islands – Quito.
Today we fly out to the Galapagos Islands for a fascinating cruise around the Islands. This is a volcanic group of Islands that rose from the ocean approx 4-10 million years ago. Man discovered the islands in the year 1535, and just like any other place, started destroying his surroundings. The animals, that weren’t yet familiar with humans, didn’t run away, and the sailors massacred them mercilessly, both for food and for pleasure. In addition, they also unleashed goats, cats and dogs that destroyed the area. The sailors took the giant tortoises back with them on the ships as a supply of fresh meat. Later they butchered the tortoises too for their fat. For these reasons and others, dozens of unique species became extinct.
DETAILED CRUISE ITINERARY
Monday – Baltra Airport – Bartolome Island
Departure from Quito to Baltra (2 ½ hours flight). Passengers are picked up at the airport by our naturalist guides and taken on a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
Afternoon – Dry or wet landing. We discover a fascinating landscape formed by different volcanic parasitic cones —lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones — that resembles the moon. Going up to the summit there will be an impressive views of the surrounding islands, including the eroded tuff cone Pinnacle Rock. We also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and blue-footed boobies.
Beach time is a great opportunity to do snorkeling and see the famous Galapagos Penguins, sea turtles and White-tipped Reef Sharks among a great variety of colorful fish. For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best snorkeling experience. Crystal clear water is the perfect spot to appreciate the incredible marine life it has to offer.
Due to its geographical location, the lack of vegetation is immediately noticeable however, there are pioneer plants including the endemic Tiquilia nesiotica and Chamaesyce (known as sand mat or spurge in English), lava cactus, and Scalesia bushes.
Tuesday – South Plaza (Plazas Island)
Dry landing. There are two Plaza Islets (north and south) located east of Santa Cruz Island. On the northern part of the Islet, visitors begin the journey along an impressive cactus forest were colorful yellow and red land iguanas live, the population number is around 300 animals; during the dry season they survive on fruits and flowers of the opuntia cacti. A peculiar thing to see in South Plaza is the hybrid iguana (sea and land). When reaching the highest point, tropicbirds can be seen. During the dry season (June – January) the usually greenish and yellowish vegetation change of color creating a bright red landscape (sesuviumedmonstonei plant).
PM – North Seymour Island
Dry landing. Off of Baltra Island and not far from Santa Cruz, North Seymour is located.
This landmass was formed by a series of underwater volcanic eruptions, which deposited layers of lava on the ocean floor. An approximately two-hour walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigate birds, and swallow-tailed gulls for an in depth encounter with sea bird breeding cycles and sea lions. You will also encounter land iguanas, and on a lucky day, you might even come across the endemic Galapagos Snake.
Wednesday – Pitt Point / Pitt Islet (San Cristóbal)
Wet landing followed by a high intensity hike on rocky terrain. The trail includes an olivine beach of 90 meters long and a path that climbs to the top of a volcanic tuff, through several magnificent viewpoints. This is probably the only site where the three booby species of the Galapagos can be seen together: Nazca, Blue-footed, and Red-footed; as well as two species of frigate birds and a sea lion colony; it is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling, where a good range of sea birds can be observed.
Afternoon – Cerro Brujo (San Cristóbal).
Wet landing. Cerro Brujo is an eroding tuff cone that at several locations is composed of AA lava formations, and a beautiful white sand beach, great for snorkeling and sunbathing. We visit a lagoon where migratory bird species can be seen: Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, other sandpiper species and White-cheeked Pintails. Cerro Brujo offers beautiful views of Kicker Rock, the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast.
Thursday – Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve (San Cristóbal)
Dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Passengers visit the San Cristóbal giant tortoise Breeding Center to learn about the National Park’s conservation programs. Passengers will also have the opportunity to visit the port village, have a drink or shop for arts and crafts and other souvenirs.
Transfer to San Cristóbal airport for your return flight.
Day 9, Thursday: Galapgos Islands – Quito – Otavalo
Today we will fly back to Quito. Arrival Quito and transfer to Otavalo , capital of Otavalo Canton, is a largely indigenous town in the Imbabura province of Ecuador. We will visit San Pablo Lake that lies 5km from Otavalo. This wonderfull lake is located on the feet of the Imbabura Mountain and refuges on its borders many small indigenous communities. Overnight at Hotel La Mirage.
Day 10, Friday: Otavalo, Cotacachi Village, Cuicocha Lake
Today we will visit Cotacachi Village A small town nearby Otavalo, its narrow streets is full of stores that sell a great variety of leather goods. We will continue to Cuicocha Lake, located on the south side of Cotacachi Mountain has in its middle two islands surrounded by water. an impressive landscape of deep blue waters surrounded by hills.After the tour we will go back to the hotel to prepare for Shabbat. Tfilot and Shabbat dinner. Overnight at Hotel La Mirage.
Day 11, Saturday: Otavalo
After prayers and breakfast, we shall go for a walking tour of Otavalo.The most famous indigenous market in Ecuador is held here. Overnight at Hotel La Mirage.
Day 12, Sunday: Otavalo –Parque Condor – Back home
Today we will visit Parque Condor, a rocky outcropping above Otavalo. But the stone pathways are not natural, they were laid to connect the numerous aviaries built to house condors, falcons, eagles, and hawks. The stone amphitheater is site of daily flight demonstrations that awe visitors. The condor is an Andean symbol, as identifiable to Ecuadorians as the bald eagle is to North Americans. And like the bald eagle before it, the condor has lived under threat of extinction. Estimates place the wild population in Ecuador between 40-60 birds. But despite their rarity, several condors can be found in captivity at Parque Condo, which is also home to 27 species of raptor. After dinner, transfer to the airport of Quito and flight Back home.
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