The Galapagos and the Amazon are two of the most inspiring wilderness and wildlife locations for active exploration. This journey selects the best modes of transport for intimate and exhilarating encounters with habitats and wildlife: from the barren sides of active volcanoes, to the intense vegetation of lowland rainforest tributaries and lagoons within some of the most westerly flooded forest in the Amazon.
The sea kayak and dugout canoe are vehicles of choice in each location. The islands of the Galapagos are filled with opportunities for close yet unobtrusive encounters with coastal wildlife. In the Amazon, where wildlife is tuned for its survival on hearing the merest break of a twig, a dugout canoe, the colour of a fallen log, is often the ultimate way to get closer to wildlife.
When it comes to exploring the volcanic landscapes of the Galapagos, hiking is most often the only option. We trek well beyond where most yacht based landings would allow you - from lava trails to Frigate Hill on San Cristobal, to the puffing fumaroles of Chico Volcano on Isabela.
On the Galapagos's largest island, Isabela, we are able to call on the assistance of horses to take us to the perimeter of the world's second largest volcanic caldera. Volcan Sierra Negra is a spectacular feature of the islands, often active and a regular sighting place for wild tortoises.
The highlands of Santa Cruz are some of the most densely vegetated parts of the islands, with mossy forests and volcanic vents. There are also a number of dirt roads here for which a downhill ride provides a refreshing windswept way to move without the need of an engine.
Snorkelling is an often unsung highlight of a visit to the Galapagos and on this trip you will have many opportunities. Los Lobos, a satellite to San Cristobal, is an excellent snorkelling location and one of the best in this volcanic archipelago for swimming with sea
Canoe & Lodge Safari in the Amazon Flooded Forest
This section of the experience combines lodge based accommodation with a dugout canoe journey which itself incorporates a night of fully catered 'fly camping' in the Amazon wilderness. Your natural history guide will who can lead you through the heart of the 1.2 million acre Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve. The scenery here is an inspiring mix of lowland rainforest, lakes and rivers and is home to at least 515 species of bird, 12,000 species of plant, 15 species of monkey, Giant River Otters, Tapir and Pink River Dolphins. This is what we would classify as an Adventure Class experience in terms of accommodation.
Tributaries and Lagoons of the Napo River
If you prefer a modern inflatable canoe and an extra day in the Amazon, then we can switch the Canoe & Lodge Safari to a series of slow moving tributaries which connect through oxbow lakes to the Napo River. The fauna and flora here is excellent and in the upper reaches of the Pañayacu River it is not unusual to find combined troops of capuchin and squirrel monkeys more than 50 strong. The lower reaches in the lagoons provide some of the best opportunities in Ecuador to see Giant River Otters and Pink River Dolphins. These pink and grey dolphins rely on sonar even more than their marine counterparts since visibility in the lagoons is often little more than a few centimetres.
Of the mammal life in this area, there are puma, white-lipped and collared peccary, ubiquitous red howler monkeys and vast numbers of bats seen skimming the calm waters each evening. Surrounding them in the air are bee eaters and swifts and by nightfall the air is filled with the croaks of more species of frog and toad than are found anywhere in the Amazon.
Of more than 500 species of bird found here, prehistoric looking hoatzins are a regular sight in the lagoon edge forest, along with the very noisy and striking black anis. Parrots and macaws are often seen flying overhead.
All tour descriptions and conditions are given in accordance with the information of Aqua-Firma