Ecuador

Tailor-Made

Introduction

Although the smallest of the Andean countries, Ecuador has probably the greatest natural and cultural diversity. Virgin rainforest reserves, stunning (and still active) volcanoes, riotously colourful Indian markets, a wonderfully preserved Spanish-colonial capital, and off its Pacific coast the incredible Galapagos Islands. Take a thrilling ride on the near-vertical ‘Devil’s Nose’ train, see Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano, and wander the cobbled streets of old Quito. Shop for the beautiful textiles and handicrafts of the Ecuadorian Indians – and buy a Panama hat at Cuenca.

Highlights Include;
Amazon Rainforest
Cuenca
Avenue of the Volcanoes
Galapagos Islands
Cloud Forest

HIGHLIGHTS

OVERVIEW:
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The Galapagos archipelago has been described as one of the most extraordinary and unique, scientifically important and biologically outstanding areas on earth (UNESCO 2001). Many travellers describe their time on the islands as a life-changing experience. Most of the land birds, almost all of the reptiles and land mammals, and nearly a third of the plants you will see are endemic. Even underwater, a fifth of the species in the Galapagos are found nowhere else on earth. Favourites for everyone include the Galapagos giant tortoise, marine iguana, flightless cormorant, and the Galapagos penguin, the only penguin species to be found in the Northern Hemisphere.

OVERVIEW:
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For most visitors Cuenca, with its red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, graceful wrought-iron balconies, flowered plazas and museums, is the prettiest colonial city in the country. Located in the valley of Guapondelig at 2,550m, it is Ecuador’s third largest city, yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. The historical centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site, and you will begin to discover the city’s beauty and colonial charm with a leisurely stroll to the main square, dominated by the imposing blue-domed Cathedral. With visits to artisan markets and craft centres that make ceramics, silver jewellery, embroidery and weave the famous Panama hats, Cuenca will simply captivate you.

OVERVIEW:
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Ecuador’s cloud forests are considered the single richest hotspot on the planet, containing 15-17% of the world’s plant species and nearly 20% of its bird diversity.  A cloud forest is a generally tropical or subtropical, evergreen, montane, moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level.  The moist forests of western Ecuador are some of the most threatened ecosystems in the world.

Ecuador (roughly the size of Victoria) has over 1,500 species of birds,  it ranks fourth in avian diversity amongst all countries in the world. By comparison Australia has 800 species of birds.  Located on the Eastern side of the Andes and three to four hours drive from the capital Quito it is easy to include Ecuador’s cloud forest into any trip. Ecuador’s cloud forests are home to iconic species such as the spectacled bear, sloth, howler monkey, puma and many other creatures.

 

The Mashpi Biodiversity Reserve in Ecuador is a part of the Chocó-Darién region which once stretched north to south, from Panama all the way to Ecuador, compressed between the Pacific coast and the Andes mountains. Today around 17,000 hectares of forest are declared a “natural protected area” and within its heart is the 1,300-hectare private concession that is Mashpi.

Perched 900m above sea level among cloud-forest, is the strikingly contemporary and intimate Mashpi Lodge, with just 22 understated yet luxurious rooms whose floor-to-ceiling windows provide close-up views into the forest. This hideaway in the clouds is surrounded by a profusion of plant species, from ferns and bromeliads to hundreds of orchid species, many newly-discovered. I

OVERVIEW:
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Ecuador’s rainforest is considered one of the 25 biodiversity ‘hot spots’ on the planet, with a greater variety of plants and animals than any other place in the world.  There are several excellent lodges and a couple of luxury river cruise boats that offer a different way of exploring the rainforest.

La Selva Amazon Ecolodge
La Selva Amazon Ecolodge sits high on the edge of Lake Garzacocha, 2½ hours by motorised canoe down the Napo River from the town of Coca. Accommodation is in comfortable cabañas (cabins) entirely made of secondary, rainforest materials, built in the typical Indian style of the region and designed to blend with Ecuador’s jungle. The lodge also has its own butterfly farm and a 41m-high observation tower.

Napo Wildlife Centre
This ecolodge, a 2 hour boat ride down the Napo River from the river-port town of Coca, was built as a non-profit conservation project and is located inside the Yasuni National Park. The Centre, 90% of whose staff are local, actively protects 212 sq. km of pristine rainforest and the many species of birds, monkeys, giant otters and other wildlife that inhabit it. There are several parrot clay licks close to the lodge, and 20 minutes from the lodge is a 36m Canopy Tower and platform that offers views over the tree tops – a great way to experience the life above the forest floor.

MV Anaconda – River Cruise
The MV Anakonda is the only luxury ship in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest. Its eighteen suites feature ample sitting areas, large and comfortable beds.
The Anakonda offer 3, 4 and 7 night cruises along the Napo River and visits the Yasuní National Park.  Excursions by smaller boats and on foot are take; including climbing observation towers to enjoy unique perspectives of the forest.

OVERVIEW:
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Discover the various handicrafts unique to many of the small towns and villages spread across Andean foothills. The ‘Awakening Valley’ is home to the Otavalo Indians (Otavaleños) and you may spend the day at the famous Otavalo market, discovering wonderful textiles, native paintings, ceramics, leather goods, jewellery and tapestries.

Perhaps also take a train ride along the century-old ‘Chaski Route’, travelling through tunnels and across bridges and traversing 26km of canyons and gullies.

OVERVIEW:
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The idea of life on an estancia conjures romantic images of colonial homesteads, redolent with old-world charm and elegance, set in tree-shaded parks and gardens, and of the legendary gauchos at work, these superb horsemen herding cattle across wild grasslands.  A stay on an estancia offers you a chance to ‘step back in time’ and experience a traditional Ecuadorian lifestyle that, despite the advances of the 21st century, still continues little-changed today

One of Ecuador’s finest is the lovely Hacienda Zuleta, you will experience four centuries of Ecuadorian history, steeped in Pre-Columbian, Spanish and Ecuadorian traditions. Yet Hacienda Zuleta is only 2 hours drive north from the capital, Quito, sheltered by the Andean mountains and blessed with a year-round temperate climate. A colonial working farm of some 2,000 hectares, it dates from the late 16th century and for the past 100 years has belonged to the family of Mr. Galo Plaza Lasso, a former President of Ecuador.

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Overview:

Quito was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city and stands at an altitude of 2,850 m.  The city is a perfect example of the ‘changing face of South America’ the old city has been transformed; with several beautifully restored houses which have been transformed into luxury hotel.  Add excellent cuisine and first class customer service and a new airport and you’ll start to understand why it’s one of our favourite South America capital cities.

The city also has the best-preserved, least altered historic centre in Latin America. The monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and the Church and Jesuit College of La Compañía, with their rich interiors, are pure examples of the ‘Baroque school of Quito’, which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art.

EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES

Luna Runtun - Banos
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In the heart of Ecuador, on the fringes of the Amazon rainforest, the small and beautiful ‘adventure spa’ of Luna Runtun (“fortress of the moon” in Quechua language) is set high on a mountainside above the artists’ town of Baños. Set within 2 hectares of lush gardens with more than 300 varieties of trees, flowers and orchids, the resort is framed by the towering Tungurahua volcano above and the roaring Pastaza River below, and its location between two important national parks – Llanganates and World Heritage-listed Sangay National Park – makes it the perfect place to stay and explore the natural beauty and culture of the area.

Luna Runtun offers a range of optional activities and excursions including hikes (for all levels of fitness), bicycle tours, horse-riding and easy rafting. Local walks include ‘The Smugglers’ Hike’, a 7km route once used by smugglers in the 1920s, among them the grandfather of Carmen Luna, your hostess at Luna Runtun.

Bird life - cock-of-the-rock
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Ecuador is a nature lovers paradise – it has over 1500 species of birds.

Ecuador has over 135 species of Hummingbirds (Sylphs, pufflegs, woodstars etc).  Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge and Mashpi Lodge both have feeders that attract many species (Mashpi has recorded 40). In addition to hummingbirds you can also see long-wattled umbrella birds and for those willing to get up before dawn you can also get to the stunningly beautiful cock-of-the-rock.

You don’t have to be an ‘ornithologist’ or a ‘twitcher’ to enjoy birds.  A decent pair of binoculars and an excellent guide will allow anyone with an interest to marvel at the beauty of these amazing creatures.  We have first-hand knowledge of many of the reserves and lodges.

A SELECTION OF ACCOMMODATION

Luxury

Casa Gangotena Ecuador

Casa Gangotena

Quito, Ecuador

Top class design and the finest facilities. Usually located in a spectacular setting it may be an exclusive hotel in a meticulously restored historic building, or recognised as the leading property of an international chain.

Boutique

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Mansion Alaczar Boutique Hotel

Cuenca, Ecuador

A perfect alternative to the big brand hotels:
exclusive and independently-owned properties with a smaller number of rooms and highly personalised services.

First Class

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Luna Runtun Adventure Spa

Banos, Ecuador

High quality with an excellent room standard, a full range of facilities and first-rate service; may be a new property or regularly refurbished with attention to ongoing maintenance.

Hacienda

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Hacienda Zuleta

Zuleta (near Otavalo) , Ecuador

Haciendas ‘estates’ are found across much of South America and may have been plantations, cattle or sheep ranches. Most date from the 18th & 19th centuries and offer guests an opportunity to glimpse the world of the land barons and their famed horsemen. These beautiful colonial residences, set in extensive gardens or on wide farmland, retain their original style and ambiance, with high beamed ceilings, open fireplaces, and spacious rooms filled with antique furnishings.

Lodges

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Mashpi Lodge

Cloud Forest, Ecuador

In the rainforests and cloud-forests of Ecuador choose from a wide range of eco-lodges – from a comparatively luxurious retreat among the forest, to a complex of thatched cabañas in a lakeside location on a private reserve, to remote and rustic cottages offering a truly authentic experience. All lodges are eco-conscious and dedicated to conservation management and preservation of their environment.

River Boats

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MV Anaconda

Napo River, Ecuador

Often the best way to observe dramatic scenery or experience the wonders in a world of amazing flora and fauna is by boat. And if you are looking for a voyage that will also offer the comfort of excellent facilities, there are several exclusive and sophisticated vessels that will fulfil your wish.

Tourist-superior and tourist class accommodation is also available. For more information on the accommodation we offer, call 1300 784 794 or email contact@satc.com.au.

Planning Your Trip

The Booking Process

South America Travel Centre can look after all aspects of your holiday, including flights and travel insurance.

We start by asking you what your interests are and where you are interested in, when, for how long, what standard and style of accommodation. Once we have a good understanding of just what you’re looking for, we can begin to create a holiday to meet your time and budget requirements and, most importantly, that will deliver interest and enjoyment in an experience to exceed your expectations.

Please book early. Many of the hotels, lodges and cruise vessels we recommend are relatively small. For example, the M/V Anaconda  (Ecuadorian Amazon cruise) accommodates just 40 guests, while the deluxe Mashpi Lodge (Cloud Forest) offers only 22 suites. This exclusivity combined with high demand means they can be booked out up to 6-8 months in advance.

If you’re thinking of travelling during any major holidays like Christmas, New Year and Easter, or during any festivals, our advice is simply to book as early as you can, even 12 months or more, and we can add flights as soon as they become available.

Visa and Health Information

Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter Ecuador. You will need to hold a valid passport and have a return ticket when you arrival.

It is strongly recommended that all travellers to Ecuador be vaccinated for yellow fever before commencing their trip (though not compulsory).

Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza. There are no compulsory vaccinations.

We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess any health risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.

Flight Information

We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Latin America are LATAM Airlines, QANTAS Airlines and Air New Zealand. We can also arrange internal flights for you within Latin America.

Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll request the details of all of your fights to ensure if there are any changes your transfers and other arrangements are adjusted accordingly.

The Best Time to Go

Year-round – best time April to October (can rain at any time and nights can be cool).
Wet season in summer – December to March, hot and humid.

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Inspiration

  • For a unique way to experience South America consider taking a first class or luxury train ride in Ecuador or Peru. From short trips to 4 day itineraries, travelling by train is comfortable and a great way to see the diversity of these countries....

  • Twenty years ago the Añangu Kichwa Community in Ecuador collectively gave up subsistence hunting and fishing (their legal right) to allow local wildlife populations to recover, and it appears to be working. ...

  • The Mashpi Biodiversity Reserve in Ecuador is a part of one of the greatest biodiversity ‘hot spots’ on earth, an uninterrupted rainforest that ecologists call the Chocó-Darién region which once stretched north to south, from Panama all the way to Ecuador, compressed between the Pacific coast and the Andes mountains....

Client Reviews

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.

START CREATING MY ITINERARY

It only takes four quick steps to start your journey

STEP 1: WHICH COUNTRIES >
Please tick the country or countries you wish to discover

South America

Argentina

Bolivia

Brazil

Chile

Colombia

Ecuador

Galapagos

Guyana

Peru

Uruguay

Venezuela

Antarctica

Central America

Guatemala

Panama

Costa-Rica

Mexico

Cuba

STEP 2: ACCOMMODATION >

ACCOMMODATION

Luxury

Pueblo first class

Casa Turquesa Tourist Superior

colca-lodge-Tourist-class

awasi-room-2

Mashpi-Lodge

Ship-Galapagos

Hacienda-Zuleta

STEP 3: YOUR INTERESTS >
History Art

Religions and Festivals

Bird-watching

wildlife 1

Trekking

Horse Rriding Explora

Bike Riding

Photography-1

Winery

cooking classes

Cruising

Scuba

OTHER

STEP 4: YOUR DETAILS

About You

Name:
Em
Phone:
Country:
 

 

Departure Date

Return Date