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Ecuador with Jim Zorn

November 2-11 2020

Mountain Bike and Galapagos Adventure

From the highlands of Ecuador to the islands of Galápagos this will be a trip to remember. Join special guest Jim Zorn for 10 days of mountain biking, exploring and wildlife encounters. Home to one of the oldest civilizations in South America, Ecuador is known for many things, including both the Panama Hat, and 2 of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites established in 1978.

Jim is an avid mountain biker, so you’ll use two wheels to explore remote areas around Cotopaxi National Park before heading to world class wildlife viewing in the Galápagos. Accommodations will be the best available, ranging from beachfront views and internationally renowned boutique hotels, to modest accommodations on an isolated working ranch deep in the Ecuadorian wilderness.

It is important to know that 10% of your trip cost supports the work of Jill’s House, one of Jim’s favorite nonprofit organizations.

    from
    $17,900
    Per person, double occupancy, optional 5-day extension

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    AT a glance

    • Activity 60% 60%
    • Comfort 70% 70%
    • Culture exposure 50% 50%

    Requirements

    Comfortable biking on uneven terrain for multiple hours. Comfortable swimming.

    Day 1 – November 2

    Arrival

    Arrive at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador before 4pm. Private transfer to your overnight lodging. If you arrive early, we can provide recommendations for your time, unless you’d rather take it easy and acclimate to your surroundings. Dinner is to be determined with your Trū guide.

    Day 2 – November 3

    City and Culinary Tour

    After breakfast, your trip begins with an exploration of Quito’s Historic District, namely the Cathedral and la Compañia church. With history dating back to 1535, the Cathedral is certainly an old church, but it is also one of the most important buildings in the city. La Compañia, known formally as The Church of the Society of Jesus, is well-known for the lavish amount of gold used in its decoration, and is the best display of baroque architecture in all of South America. In the afternoon a culinary experience is on the menu where you will learn savory secrets, local techniques, and discover some of the most pronounced flavors and ingredients used in South America. Dinner is on your own in Quito. Breakfast/Lunch included.

    Day 3 – November 4

    Board Your Bike

    Eat hearty, for today you mountain bike. El Pedregal is a valley surrounded by volcanoes, and the starting point for today’s riding. The first 4 kilometers are dirt and gravel roads – once you reach the North entrance to Cotopaxi National Park it is all downhill to Santa Rita. The trails you ride will usher you to the heart of the Reserve where you will break for a packed lunch. In the afternoon you hike to the Condor Machay Waterfall, a 3-5 hour trek, depending on average pace. If your legs aren’t done yet, you can bike back to your overnight lodging at Hacienda El Porvenir. The support vehicle will transfer anyone who is done biking. Dinner is on your own at the Hacienda restaurant. Total biking time is approximately 4h30m. Breakfast/Lunch included.

    Day 4 – November 5

    High Altitude Pedaling

    Breakfast at the Hacienda, then you have a 42-kilometer bike ride to conquer. Average altitude today is 3,800 meters (12,467 feet); your body will definitely feel the effort. As you head East of Cotopaxi National Park, there will be several sites to see along the way, including Inca ruins, freshwater springs, and Andean lakes. At the El Tambo trail, exclusively for bikers, you will be captivated by some of the best views of the area. Your overnight lodging awaits you at the end, where you will be welcomed by a crackling fire, hot shower, and dinner. Breakfast/Lunch included.

    Day 5 – November 6

    Relaxing Ride

    Breakfast at the Hacienda, followed by an early departure as you return to society. The first 20-kilometer portion of the trail is slightly uphill, and then steadily declines at El Encañonado. Lunch will be packed along the trail. As you continue, the trail chases El Canal, a flat roadway following a water canal. The views are spectacular, so take some time to enjoy your surroundings as you experience easier riding. You pass by Limpiopungo Lake before completing the bike portion at Hacienda El Porvenir. Transfer back to Quito and your overnight lodging. Dinner is on your own in Quito. Breakfast/Lunch included.

    Day 6 – November 7

    Journey to Galápagos

    Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before a private transfer to Mariscal Sucre International Airport. A 3-hour flight to the local airport, Isla Airport San Cristobal, is all that separates you from the Galápagos Islands. Once on the ground, enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before you are dropped in the highlands for your cycling tour. As you descend from La Soledad viewpoint, you travel through the small village of El Progreso, and 5 different vegetation zones. This scenic ride is worth it to reach La Loberia beach where you can watch sea lions sunbathing and playing, and take a swim or try your hand at snorkeling. Grab your bike and return to town for a dinner of fresh fish and local cuisine. Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included.

    Day 7 – November 8

    Killer Snorkeling

    After breakfast, don your suit for a boat ride to Kicker Rock, or Leon Dormido. As you cruise along, watch for shore birds, including the famous blue-footed booby. Anchor at the rock and learn about this 143-meter tuff cone (the equivalent of a high-rise with 50 floors). When hot magma interacts with water, the ash formation eventually hardens into rock, or tuff cones. While snorkeling, try and spot sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, and perhaps even a Galápagos shark. In the afternoon, return to shore and visit the Interpretation Center where your knowledge of the history and mystery of the Galápagos archipelago will expand. Just past the Center you will hike the 3.5-kilometer Tijeretas trail, or Frigatebird Hill. Views from the top look out over Charles Darwin Bay. Find a good spot on the beach to watch the sunset before returning to town; dinner is on your own. Breakfast/Lunch included. Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included.

    Day 8 – November 9

    Marine Life Abounds

    After breakfast, you depart via small plane for Isabela Island. Your goal for this morning is to spot a Galápagos penguin, one of the smallest in the world, and the only breed found close to the Equator. As you kayak in a protected bay, be on the lookout for the popular eagle rays, sea turtles, and blue-footed boobies. Back on land, a short walk through the mangrove-lined wetlands will lead you to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center. Over 1,000 giant tortoises can be found here. The wetlands are also home to pink flamingos and pintail ducks. After a brief panga (boat) transfer, you can explore the waters of Tintoteras, known as shark alley, from above. A walk along the lava fields will display an abundance of marine iguanas, and the water below should hold resting white-tipped reef sharks. Snorkeling in a calm inlet nearby will expose twisting lava tubes, myriad colorful fish, and perhaps green sea turtles resting on the ocean floor. Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included.

    Day 9 – November 10

    Marine Life Abounds

    Eat hearty for you need strength for today’s trek. The Sierra Negra Volcano is a 15-kilometer hike, which should last around 5-6 hours. Enjoy the vastness of this caldera (one of the largest in the world) as you hike around the perimeter and into the lava fields of Volcan Chico. Wildlife you should be watching for include bird species only found in the Highlands, such as the red Vermillion flycatcher and the short-eared owl. At the turning point, take in the views North of Isabela Island. The afternoon is free for you to swim, rest, read a book, or explore on your own. Dinner this evening is on your own in Puerto Villamil. Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included.

    Day 10 – November 11

    Departure

    Private transfer to the local airport, Isla Airport San Cristobal, for your return flight to Quito. Here you will transfer to your international flight at Mariscal Sucre International Airport. Adiós! Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included.

    Quito, Cotopaxi, and the Galápagos

    Quito

    Casa Gangotena
    The only Relais & Chateaux property in Quito, Casa Gangotena is the perfect spot to arrive and adjust to your new surroundings while exploring the city. Relax at this boutique hotel, get into trip mode, and prepare for the adventures ahead.

     

    Cotopaxi

    Hacenda El Porvenir
    This working ranch is situated at an altitude of 3,600 meters, or 11,811 feet. Surrounding views consist of 4 volcanoes, 1 of which is the famed Cotopaxi. Cattle on this ranch produce the milk and cheese at your table, while the herb garden infuses your meals with delicious flavor.

     

    Cotopaxi

    Hacienda El Tambo
    This remote lodge may be more modest, but is consistent with traditional Indian huts in the region. Stones made from volcanic eruptions form the foundation, while straw is used in the building of these structures. We are confident this lodge, with its hot showers and warm dinner, will be a welcome sight at the end of a long day of cycling.

     

    Galapagos, Santa Cruz island

    Finch Bay Resort
    One of the top hotels in the Galagos, Finch Bay is also the only beachside hotel in Puerto Ayora. Get ready for some up close encounters with nature!

     

    Galápagos, Isabela island

    Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel
    Continuing on in luxury accommodations, relax poolside as you take in the oceanfront views from this boutique hotel. Named for the ‘iguana crossing’ path, the ICBH boasts the best cuisine on the island – we will let you decide.

     

    Galápagos, Santa Cristobal island

    Golden Bay Galápagos
    This luxury property is the only one on the island registered and approved by Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism. Situated on the beach, you may spot some of the wildlife you expect to see on the islands, including sea lions and blue-footed boobies.

    What’s included
    • All domestic transfers
    • Private airport transfers
    • All accommodations, double occupancy
    • Trū guide
    • Local guide
    • Naturalist guide authorized by GNP in Galápagos
    • Tips for ground crew, hotel, and restaurant staff in Galápagos
    • All meals
    • All activities & gear listed
    • Luggage transfer
    • Bike details: Bull King Cobra model 2012 (German manufacture)
    • Components: Shimano SLX, front suspension, hydraulic disc brakes 
    Not included
    • International airfare
    • Trip insurance
    • Gratuity
    • National park fee & Ingala fee (cash only, $120USD)
    • Activities not listed
    • Alcoholic beverages