Travel aboard the
The Anakonda Amazon Vessel &
The Galapagos Legend
This unique Ecuador itinerary is not only a must-do tour for wildlife lovers, but anyone keen to combine two of the best experiences in South America: a luxury Amazon river cruise and voyage around the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador is home to thousands of native and endemic species in each of its varied ecosystems, as seen during this trip. Begin aboard the boutique Anakonda Amazon river cruise, a popular and luxurious 40-guest boat offering the chance to swim in lakes teeming with Piranhas, take early morning birdwatching walks, spot monkeys and Pink River Dolphins during kayaking trips, and listen to the sounds of the jungle at night. Then, after a few days exploring the highlights of Quito, swap the Amazon River for open seas, as you join the comfortable, well-equipped Legend (accommodating up to 100 passengers) for an unforgettable Galapagos Islands cruise. Along the way, visit remote regions in the south-west of the archipelago on San Cristobal and Espanola Islands, as well as some more well-known highlights such as the Charles Darwin Research Center, Post Office Bay and the Santa Cruz Highlands. Throughout this Galapagos Island cruise, cameras at the ready for Sea Lions; Frigate Birds; Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies; Reef Sharks, Giant Galapagos Tortoises; Sea Turtles; Rays; Iguanas and much more besides.
ARRIVE / QUITO / COCA / NAPO RIVER
An exciting start to your Galapagos and Ecuador Amazon river cruise awaits, as you fly from Quito to the port city of Coca, where you board a boat and get an early taste for life in the rainforest. Set off in the direction of the luxurious Anakonda Amazon, a boutique ship which is tailormade for the mightiest river setting of them all. Along the way, you pass native wildlife including monkeys, lizards or onlooking River Turtles, before arriving at the Anakonda itself.
The welcome party once on-deck includes the Anakonda’s expert guides, some early orientation and refreshments. Then, simply enjoying the sounds, sights and smells of the jungle on the ship’s sundeck, an unforgettable sunset, mouthwatering meal and nighttime wildlife walk.
PANACOCHA BIOLOGICAL CORRIDOR
Nestled between the Yasuni National Park and Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, today’s destination–the Panayacu River Delta and Panacocha Lake–is like a mini Amazon biosphere in its own right; and provides plenty of fun along the way. Begin with a gentle cruise downstream in search of Squirrel Monkeys, River Turtles and, with any luck, a glimpse of the famous Pink River Dolphins which are known to visit these waters.
Eventually, arrive at Panacocha or ‘Piranha’ Lake, picturesque and perfectly suitable for swimming, though be warned it is called Piranha Lake for a reason and this is one of their favorite hangouts! Whether taking a dip in the lake or not, keep an eye open for White Caiman, giant Catfish and rare Butterflies too.
WESTERN AMAZON RAINFOREST
Day three of your luxury cruise takes in one of the most iconic Amazon experiences of them all, the so-called Parrot Clay Licks of Western Amazonia, your first outing after breakfast. A kaleidoscope of color, this natural spectacle is a joy as hundreds of Parrots, Parakeets and Macaws line the riverbank, attracted by a build-up of minerals and salts which are then exposed every day.
Next up is the Sani Warmi Kichwa Interpretation Center, where you can learn a little of the Amazon Rainforest’s cultural heritage, the traditions, daily life and long-held customs of native jungle inhabitants courtesy of a women’s cooperative who help run the institution. Then, another great Amazon highlight, the Anangu Observation Tower; a 36-meter-tall canopy lookout point for views that are nothing short of breathtaking.
Coca / Quito
This morning, disembark the Anakonda and transfer to the airport in time for your flight to Quito, ready for an afternoon at leisure to explore the highlights of Ecuador’s capital at your own pace.
Having checked into your hotel, why not visit the real-life line of the equator for a fun-filled afternoon? Or perhaps the beautifully ornate Compania de Jesus Church, Plaza Grande or Basilica del Voto Nacional, for something more cultural. There are artisan food markets to enjoy, bohemian neighborhoods, galleries and museums aplenty, though if you are simply after a few more fantastic photographs then take the Teleferico sky tram to the top of Cruz Loma, hike a little, and prepare for sublime panoramic views of Quito.
WALKING TOUR OF QUITO
Spend the morning at leisure before an afternoon private walking tour of Quito’s Old Town, providing an interesting exploration of Ecuador’s capital, ahead of tomorrow’s onward journey to the Galapagos Islands. The city’s historical center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978; and it’s not hard to see why, with its exquisite colonial architecture comprising sublime churches, the Cathedral, Presidential Palace and Municipal Building, standing proud along cobblestone streets and the grand Independence Square. The pastel-hued facades with iron-wrought balconies only add to its charm, while a scattering of museums and galleries invite you to learn more about the city’s art, history and culture, such as the prestigious El Alabado Museum of Pre-Columbian Art.
QUITO / SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND
The next exciting stage of your journey begins on day six with a two-hour flight from Quito to San Cristobal Island, following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin who strode ashore here on his famous voyage to the archipelago in 1835. At the airport, your guide assists with any belongings, whisking you off to the pier and the awaiting Legend vessel for boarding: the beginning of your Galapagos islands cruise.
First, a worthy introduction comes with a visit to the Interpretation Center, where the natural and human history of the Galapagos is vibrantly on show, and later, with a hike up Cerro Tijeretas, or ‘Frigate Bird Hill’. As the name suggests, these verdant cliffs are a popular nesting site for both the Great and Magnificent species of Frigate.
Overnight Galapagos Legend
Having sailed south overnight from San Cristobal, wake up in your luxurious cabin and prepare for the many wildlife highlights that await you on Espanola Island, beginning at Gardner Bay, a pristine stretch of ivory-white beach. Armed with a snorkel or kayak, swim or paddle through the bay’s blue waters to see tropical fish like Yellow-tailed Surgeon and King Angelfish; larger marine life such as White-tipped Reef Sharks, Turtles and Sea Lions are also known to inhabit the bay.
This afternoon, the Espanola experience continues at Punta Suarez, looking out for Sea Lions frolicking in the water, Marine Iguanas gripping the rocks, and intriguing bird species such as Masked and Nazca Boobies, Lava Herons, Waved Albatrosses and Swallow-tailed Gulls.
Overnight Galapagos Legend
FLOREANA ISLAND / CHAMPION ISLET
Despite its small size, Floreana has a fascinating cultural history. It has served as a penal colony, pirates hangout, and was the first Galapagos island to be colonized in 1832. It’s also home to an 18th century whalers post office, which you’ll discover this morning at Post Office Bay. Here, you can still pop a postcard in the rum barrel box, and it will find its way home!
From Post Office Bay to Cormorant Point, your guide takes you to two contrasting beaches on Floreana Island: the green volcanic olivine crystals of Papakolea, and Flour Beach, so-called for its powdery white sands. Keep an eye out for Flamingos, Pintails, Stilts and other wading birds that frequent a lagoon sandwiched between these two bays, before visiting Champion Islet for a spot of snorkeling.
Overnight Galapagos Legend
SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
Begin the day with a visit to the all-important Charles Darwin Research Center at Puerto Ayora, where exciting exhibits and interactive displays go together with real-life conservation projects, including Giant Tortoise breeding and rehabilitation programs. Witness first-hand the legacy left on the Galapagos Islands by Charles Darwin, then, learn more about these gentle creatures in the Wild Tortoise Reserve up in the highlands of Santa Cruz.
After lunch, take to the water once more while exploring the rich seas off Ballena Bay in western Santa Cruz, either aboard a panga boat, kayaking or snorkeling the shores. Among the many fantastic Galapagos snorkeling sites, Bellena Bay is particularly impressive thanks to its abundance of species, including King Angel, Sturgeon and Parrotfish, Rays, Sharks and Turtles.
Overnight Galapagos Legend
SANTA CRUZ ISLAND / BALTRA ISLAND / FLIGHT HOME
As your Galapagos Island cruise draws to a close, there is still one last chance to witness a little more wildlife with a panga boat ride down the Itabaca Channel, a popular waterway separating Baltra and Santa Cruz.
Then, it’s farewell to the Galapagos as your guides escort you to the airport and assist with any luggage, in plenty of time for your onward flight.
IMPORTANT:The above itinerary reflects an intended program, however, it should be read purely as a guide. This is because weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control on the day may affect the eventual itinerary, and route.