Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description, including admission charges where applicable.
Day 1 Quito
Welcome to one of the smallest yet most biodiverse countries in South America. Ecuador offers a panorama of scenery and climates—from the Pacific Coast to the rainforest and the Amazon to the high slopes of the Andes. Upon arrival in Quito, you will be met by your Cosmos representative, who will help you get acquainted with this fascinating city near the equatorial line.
Day 2 Quito
Begin your day with a city sightseeing TOUR that showcases colonial Quito, one of the best preserved historic areas in South America. A walk through Old Town Quito with your guide introduces you to the first city named a UNESCO World Heritage City back in 1978. Stop in Independence Square to see the Government Palace and Archbishop’s Palace as well as the cathedral. In San Francisco Square, see La Compañia Church, one of the most beautiful in Quito with its ornate façade and San Francisco Church. Your afternoon is free to explore on your own; your Tour Director is sure to offer suggestions.
Day 3 Quito–Cochasqui–Otavalo
Depart Quito and head north past often snow-capped Cayambe Volcano, rising 19,000 feet in altitude. In fact, the Equatorial Line crosses the slope of this immense volcano, which is the highest and only point worldwide that the Equatorial Line is covered with snow. Visit COCHASQUÍ RUINS, the largest Pre-Columbian archaeological site in Ecuador, believed to be a ceremonial and astronomical site dating back to 900 AD. During your tour, learn about the theories on this site, where 15 pyramids and 21 tombs have been uncovered. Continue to Otavalo’s famous INDIAN MARKET, considered one of the best in South America, full of textiles, clothes, vegetables, and much more. Stay at a traditional hacienda, and enjoy a COOKING CLASS to learn about Ecuadorian specialties before dinner.
Day 4 Otavalo–Papallacta
Head to the Andean village famous for its healing hot springs, Papallacta, where hot water naturally flows from the Andes. First, stop at the working ROSE PLANTATION, where Ecuador’s main export is harvested year-round. The combination of volcanic soil, natural hot springs, equatorial sun, and cool nights makes this region a perfect place for growing the world’s most beautiful roses. Continue to your lodge and relax in one of their nine thermal pools and three cold-water pools. Heated from the Earth’s core due to its proximity to nearby volcanoes, these thermal waters are known for their curative properties.
Day 5 Papallacta–Ecuador's Amazon
Crossing over the Andes, follow in the footsteps of Francisco de Orellana, the first European to see the Amazon. Descend the eastern slope of the Andes into the jungle to the banks of the Napo River, where you will board a short CANOE RIDE downstream to your lodge, Casa del Suizo. Arrive at this tranquil Amazonia refuge, surrounded by tropical rainforest, and enjoy a welcome drink by the pool before dinner.
Day 6 Ecuador's Amazon
This morning, cruise down the Napo River on a dugout CANOE with your Naturalist to an area for a NATURE WALK to search for tropical birds, monkeys, capybaras, and other animals commonly found here. Also visit the AMAZOONICO, a rescue center developed to rehabilitate rainforest animals. Here, you can see coatis, tapirs, monkeys, snakes, and birds. Later, take a WALK on a river island to search for a variety of plants and insects. Also visit the BUTTERFLY HOUSE to learn about their metamorphosis.
Day 7 Ecuador's Amazon–Baños
Depart the Amazon region this morning for Baños, known for its famous hot springs that give the area its name. Baños is also called “Gate to the Orient” since its vegetation and climate are almost tropical due to its proximity to the rainforest. Small street cafés, restaurants, and gift shops invite you to enjoy a stroll around the town. Check into your hacienda and relax in the mild mountain climate.
Day 8 Baños
Today you will enjoy a free day at leisure. Baños is the perfect spot for outdoor activities. Your Tour Director will be happy to help you choose the right one.
Day 9 Baños–Cotopaxi
Pass through the “Avenue of the Volcanoes,” which winds its way through the Andean Mountain chain to COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK, a highland zone protected since 1975. On a WALK near Lake Limpiopungo you will have the chance to learn about the typical vegetation and fauna found in the area. Enjoy breathtaking views of Cotapaxi Volcano, standing more than 19,000 feet in elevation. Stay overnight in a typical hacienda found in the area, and enjoy a farewell dinner hosted by your Tour Director this evening.
Day 10 Cotopaxi–Quito–Baltra (Embarkation)–Galápagos Cruising: Mosquera Islet
Fly to Baltra and transfer with your expert Naturalist to the Galápagos Legend for your 3-night CRUISE. Sail to MOSQUERA ISLET and see a large colony of sea lions as well as shorebirds such as herons and lava gulls. Also take a dip in the waters and snorkel to see the abundant sea life.
Day 11 Galápagos Cruising: South Plaza & Santa Fé Islands
Wake up at SOUTH PLAZA and take a walk through a cactus forest populated with land and marine iguanas—the only place on Earth where you will find the Galápagos hybrid iguana. From the summit, be on the lookout for tropicbirds, Nazca and blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls. After lunch, visit SANTA FÉ to find the endemic Santa Fé land iguana, the largest in the islands; Galápagos hawks, Galápagos snakes, a variety of finches, and one of the four species of Galápagos mockingbirds. Take a swim and snorkel here for a chance to see rays, tropical fish, sea lions, and maybe even a Galápagos shark!
Day 12 Galápagos Cruising: San Cristobal Island
At PITT ISLET on SAN CRISTOBAL, walk to the top of a volcanic tuff for several magnificent viewpoints. This is one of the few sites where the three Galápagos booby species can be seen together (blue-footed, red-footed, and Nazca). You will also find the two species of frigate birds and a sea lion colony. At CERRO BRUJO, visit a lagoon where migratory bird species can be seen: black-necked stilts, ruddy turnstones, whimbrels, other sandpiper species, and white-cheeked pintails.
Day 13 Galápagos Cruising: San Cristobal (Disembarkation)–Guayaquil
After breakfast, disembark in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and visit the GIANT TORTOISE RESERVE on SAN CRISTOBAL. Learn about the national park’s conservation and breeding programs to protect the endangered tortoise species. Transfer to San Cristobal Airport and fly to Guayaquil, where the remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 14 Guayaquil
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning.