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Ecuador & Galapagos Holidays

Esmeralda Tour

13 Night Itinerary from £2,162

Private Individual Tour


Cruise the Napo River exploring the mighty rainforest, admire Andean landscapes and discover Isla Plata on the Pacific Coast teeming with wildlife. Observe humpback whales from June to September

Select your preferred departure date

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Tour Route

Travel Highlights

  • A wonderful combination of wildlife experiences, from the Amazon to the Pacific Coast 
  • Explore well preserved Quito's colonial heritage
  • Barter for handicrafts at a local Andean indigenous market
  • Explore the Ecuadorean Amazon on a 4 night cruise on the Napo River
  • Observe the rainforest canopy, canoe and meet Amazonian communities
  • Discover the stunning and lesser-visited Machalilla National Park
  • Travel in June to September and observe humpback whales
  • Enjoy fabulous bird-watching and snorkelling at Isla de Plata

This itinerary can be modified and adapted to your preference with a specialst advisor, who can provide a guaranteed price, based on hotels, transport, excursions and flights.

Tour Itinerary

1675 Quito

Quito & Otavalo Market - 4 Nights

Day 1 - Fly to Quito

Day 2 - Guided tour of Quito

Day 3 - Visit Otavalo market

Day 4 - At leisure, choice of optional excursions

  • Full Description

Day 1

Fly to Quito 

Fly to Quito, arriving the same evening. Our guide will meet you take you to your hotel, for a 4 night stay, as well as providing guidance and advice on your itinerary so you are well prepared for the adventures ahead.

Day 2

Guided tour of Quito

Today enjoy a full day tour of Quito, with all its art and architectural treasures. The colonial quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stroll in the independence Plaza, visit the temple of La Compania de Jesus and its awesome gilded interior, the Monastery of San Fransisco and the Inca Gold Museum. 

Day 3

Visit Otavalo market

We take a trip to the Andean town of Otavalo to visit its magnificent market, where men and women with long plaited hair, dressed in their traditional clothes, sell all types of weavings, handicrafts and homegrown produce. There is a wonderful, authentic atmosphere here.

Day 4

Quito - choice of optional excursions

Today free to further explore Quito at your own pace or perhaps take an optional excursion visiting Cotopaxi volcano, Mindo or Termas de Papallacta.

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Amazon Cruise - 4 Nights

Day 5 - Fly to Coca, embark the Manatee Amazon Explorer

Day 6 - Yasuni National Park and pink river dolphins

Day 7 - Quechua family and canoeing

Day 8 - Rainforest trek and observation tower

  • Full Description

Day 5

Fly to Coca, embark the Manatee Amazon Explorer

Transfer to the domestic airport and fly to Coca, from where we travel by motorised canoe for 90 minutes to embark the Manatee Amazon Explorer for your 4-night cruise on a full board basis including all excursions led by knowledgeable local guides. After a welcome from the captain, safety briefing and dinner, you will take an evening Amazon forest walk to observe the unique and slightly surreal nocturnal activity - a memorable experience.


Day 6

Yasuni National Park and pink river dolphins

Morning visit to Yasuni National Park, a pristine and relatively undisturbed region of the Ecuadorian Amazon and home to the legendary pink river dolphin. In this area we can also find anacondas, river turtles and various primate species, as well as the colourful Hoatzin, a unique bird that is known locally as the “Stinky Turkey”. 

In the afternoon, enjoy canoeing in a blackwater lake, home to giant otters and the magnificent, albeit elusive manatee. We also take a pleasant hike in the Riparian Gallery Forest, where we might spot the intricate organisation of a colony of leaf-cutter ants by the “Giant Fig Tree”, a truly majestic tree that is home to an abundance of wildlife. 

Day 7

Quechua family and canoeing 

Morning visit to an authentic Quechua family located on the banks of the Napo River, where we learn directly from members of the local community about their way of life in this remote pat of the world. After lunch on board M/V Manatee Amazon Explorer we sail upstream on the Napo River.  Enjoy a cooking class with the ship's expert chef who will share recipes and techniques for preparing exquisite traditional Ecuadorian food that you can replicate at home. 

Day 8

Rainforest trek and observation tower

After a short period cruising the Napo River, we explore the nearby forest for a walk to discover a myriad of different animals and plant species that can only be found in the Amazon basin. In the afternoon, we visit a canopy tower, built against a giant Kapok tree. The perspective at the top of this observation tower is truly glorious, looming above the lush treetops and providing a view of the sheer vastness of the Amazon Basin.  After dinner, we venture on a canoe to search for black caimans with the help of flashlights - a truly memorable end to your Amazon adventure. 

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Machalilla & Ayampe River Rainforest - 5 Nights

Days 9-10 - Machalilla National Park

Day 11 - Whale watching - or visit Isla de la Plata 

Day 12 - Los Frailes Beach

Day 13 - Ayampe River Rainforest

Day 14 - Guided tour of Guayaquil and departure

Day 15 - Arrive in the UK

  • Full Description

Day 9

Machalilla National Park

Disembark the Manatee Explorer after breakfast and transfer by motorised canoe to Coca airport from where we fly to Quito. On arrival, we will take you to a nearby hotel where you can rest before taking a flight to Manta from where we drive to Machalilla National Park. We travel on the stunning coastal road in the district of Manabí and arrive at Mantaraya Lodge where we stay for 4 nights on a full board basis. After dinner, enjoy a talk about Machalilla National Park and the activities for the next day. 


Day 10

Exploring Machalilla National Park

Today we explore the wonders of Machalilla National Park, including the village of Agua Blanca with its archeological remains of the once powerful Salango Chiefdom, which was part of the Manteño culture. Here you can choose from a range of optional activities:

- Visiting the Agua Blanca archeological museum including a walk in the company of a knowledgeable native tour guide admiring different species of flora and fauna that are part of the deciduous tropical dry forest. 

- For the more adventurous, explore the San Sebastian fog forest on a horse. This tour offers you the opportunity to observe tropical birds, plants, insects, reptiles and occasionally mammals at different altitudinal levels. This also an excellent tour for bird lovers.

A box lunch and water is provided today. We also stop at the fishing town of Puerto Lopez and stroll through the “Malecón” along the beach with magnificent views, a lovely way to end a fascinating day of exploration. 


Day 11

Whale watching or a visit to Isla de la Plata

Between the months of June and September the coastal region of Puerto Lopez and la Isla de la Plata become home to humpback whales. They have left the cold Antarctica and travelled thousands of miles in search of warmer waters. We take a boat trip from Puerto Lopez to see these gigantic mammals dive, play, court and compete for females attention. You can witness the close relationship between a mother and its calf that frolic and swim together - a quite unforgettable experience.

We continue to Isla de la Plata, where we hike with our specialist guide learning about the natural, geological and cultural history of La Plata. There is also plenty of time to go snorkelling and observe an interesting marine ecosystem around Drake’s Bay. You can also swim and relax on the beach. A box lunch and water is provided today. In the afternoon, we return to Puerto Lopez and back to Mantaraya Lodge. 

If you are interested and qualified in scuba diving, please let us know in advance. Isla de la Plata has excellent locations for divers where you may book an optional dive to see coral reefs, rays, and occasionally sharks. 

Day 12

Los Frailes Beach

Today we visit the unspoiled white sandy beach of Los Frailes, a protected part of Machalilla National Park. Here, observe the nesting of of sea turtles (carey and green turtles) between January and May. You can walk through a natural trail along 3 beaches offering an exceptional coastline views and observing different species of flora and fauna that inhabit the coastal scrub. Once in Los Frailes, you can relax, swim in the warm equatorial waters and snorkel. After lunch  we visit the small fishing village of Salango with its  interesting museum included ceramics over 5,000 years old. You can also try your hand at fishing.  

Day 13

Ayampe River Rainforest

We travel south to the Ayampe River Rainforest, a quite unique experience where the Ayampe River meets the sea. Village life has changed here little, with bamboo houses with thatched roofs, few tourists, abundant wildlife and stunning coastal views. In the afternoon, we continue Guayaquil for a 1 night stay. 


Day 14

Guided tour of Guayaquil and departure to UK

Morning guided tour of Guayaquil and its historical park, centennial park, gothic Metropolitan Cathedral and new Malecon waterfront featuring historical, cultural and entertainment areas. Transfer in the afternoon to the airport for your overnight flight home to the UK. 

Price Guidelines

Travel Dates
Room Arrangement Tourist
Multiple Travellers - Twin Room £2,162

Prices are a guideline and per person. Please request a quote for Special Events, Christmas, New Year's Eve & Easter.

What's Included

  • 15 Days / 13 Nights
  • International flights (1 overnight)
  • 13 breakfasts,7 lunches and 8 dinners
  • 4-night cruise on Manatee Explorer and 4-nights at Mantaraya Lodge 
  • Transfers to and from accommodation
  • Excursions with English-speaking guides as described
  • Transport and meals as shown

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