Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, & Peru

19 Days / 17 Nights

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. Nevertheless, the fact that Ecuador is located on the equator, gives one the opportunity to tour Ecuador on most days of the year, anywhere in the country: the Andes, the rain forests, the beaches and the Galapagos.

Day 1, Monday Tel Aviv – Quito
Early morning departure to Ecuador via Europe.
Arrival Quito, Ecuador, where we will be met by staff from Shai Bar Ilan Geographical Tours.
We’ll be transferred to our hotel for a group dinner and orientation. 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. Dinner and overnight at the Dann Carlton hotel.

Day 2, Tuesday and Day 3 Wednesday – Amazonia
Accommodation at Casa del Suizo
The day starts with a visit to the beautiful Papallacta Hot Springs where we can begin our adventure with a relxing time in this placid mountain spa. Later, we will take a canoe ride inside the Amazonian rainforest, along the Napo River. Arrive in Misahualli. We will take a second canoe ride on the Arajuno and visit “AmaZoonico”, an animal rescue center in which numerous species are tended to, including toucans, a variety of colorful parrots, monkeys, jaguars, capybaras and much more. We will enjoy a picnic on the riverbank and visit a Kichwa family to learn their ancient customs. Dinner and lodging.

Day 4 Thursday – Amazonia- Baños
This morning we will depart for Baños, a small and friendly town/thermal bath resort nestled amidst mountains and found midway between the Andes and the Amazon. We head down into the Pastaza river canyon to the so called “Avenue of the Waterfalls” where we find Cascada de la Virgen, Maria Inés, the Bride’s Shroud, Path of Machay, Pailón del Diablo, all of which lie along the riverbed of the Pastaza and surrounded by green lush vegetation. The tallest waterfall, Pailón del Diablo (the Devil’s Cauldron) can be observed from a breathtaking suspension bridge.
Overnight at Samari Spa

Day 5 Friday Baños-Quito
Today we will drive to Quito through the Avenue of the Volcanoes. We will also be able to observe the Cotopaxi volcano -a spectacular sight- Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the world. Despite the altitude, the park is home to numerous birds and varied plant life.
When we arrive in Quito we will transfer to the Dann Carlton hotel. Shabbat Dinner at hotel.

Day 6 Saturday Quito
After prayers and breakfast, we shall go for a walking tour of Quito.
Today you will visit the magnificent Botanical Garden, located close to our hotel. We will see the plants and trees characteristic of the different regions of Ecuador including some carnivorous plants. We will eat a festive seuda shlishit and later say farewell to a wonderful shabbat together.
In the evening, we will enjoy the Chiva Quiteña night City tour.

Day 7 Sunday Quito Colonial & Mitad del Mundo
Colonial city tour: We will 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. We also will visit the equator and learn what living in the equatorial region is like. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Dann Carlton

Day 8-11 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 without thinking, 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
Departure from Quito or Guayaquil 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 – Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz)
Wet landing on the north side of Santa Cruz; behind the beach lie two small flamingo ponds with iguanas, coastal birds, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and gulls, as well as interesting native and endemic vegetation, red and black mangroves, salt bushes, and much more. This beach is one of the main nesting sites of sea turtles in the Galapagos. A female can lay eggs 3 or 4 times with an average of 70 eggs each, but then spend 3 or 5 years without breeding.
At this paradisiacal site we will also find the remains of barges that sank long ago, once property of the United States Navy when they operated an airbase on Baltra Island during World War II. That is why the beach is called “Bachas” because the word “barges” in English was hard to pronounce for the local people.

Tuesday – South Plaza (Plazas Island)
Dry landing on the northern part of the Islet. The walk begins with an impressive cactus forest surrounded by land and marine iguanas; as we reach its highest point, be on the lookout for tropicbirds and a bachelor sea lion colony.
In South Plaza there is a large colony of the smaller sized land iguanas. The population is approximately 300 individuals. They feed on all kinds of vegetation, but during the dry season survive on the fruits and flowers of Opuntia cacti. Due to their proximity with marine iguanas, this is the only place on Earth where we will find the Galapagos hybrid iguana.
Afternoon – Santa Fe
Wet landing on a white sand beach surrounded by a sea lion colony; we continue walking through an endemic cactus forest as we search for the endemic Santa Fe land iguana, the largest in the islands and distinctively paler. This island is home to a number of endemic species including Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Snake, rice rats, a variety of finches and one of the four species of Galapagos mockingbirds.

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 11 –Thursday  Quito – Lima
Transfer to the airport of Baltra (SB) and flight to Quito. Fly on to
Lima (Peru) – Evening arrival and transfer to the Melia hotel – Overnight

Day 12 Friday Lima
Morning city tour including visit to the historic center of Lima, the Catacombs in San Francisco Church and the Gold Museum. Return to your hotel in time to prepare for shabbat.
Dinner at the synagogue.

Day 13 Saturday Lima
We will enjoy Shacharit and kiddush/breakfast at the hotel. We then will leave for kriyat hatorah and musaf at the synagogue. In the afternoon we will have a chance to rest or take a short walk. We will have a late lunch at the synagogue.
After havdalah, we will drive to Parque de la Reserva for a visit to the Magical Circuit of the Water.

Day 14 Sunday Lima-Cusco-Urubamba
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Cusco.
Upon arrival, meeting and transfer to the Sacred Valley. En route, visit Cinchero market
Dinner and overnight at Hotel in the Sacred Valley.

Day 15 Monday Urubamba-Machu Picchu-Urubamba

Transfer to Ollanta railway station
Board your train and depart for Machu Picchu. Guided tour of the Citadel.
Return to Ollanta station. Transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight


Day 16 Tuesday Urubamba-Cusco
Morning visit of the village of Pisac. Upon our return to Cusco we shall make a stop and
Visit the Sacsayhuaman ruins.
Rest of the afternoon will be at leisure
Dinner at  restaurant
Overnight at Hotel Costa Del Sol-Picoaga

Day 17 Wednesday Cusco –Lima – Tel Aviv
We shall start our day with a morning walking tour of the city including a visit to the Cathedral
and Koricancha Temple. Then, transfer to the airport for your flight to Lima connecting with
Your homebound flight….

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