Trip Region: South America
Country(ies): Ecuador, Galapagos
Partners Trek? No
Airfare Estimate: $900
Structure: • Lodging: • Nightlife: 6 • Activity: 5
Day 1 — Friday, Aug 17
Today is the day we leave the concrete jungle known as Ann Arbor and head "The Land of Plenty!" We'd recommend flying with us although if you have a conflict you can sail, swim or (if you're exceptionally athletic) do a George of the Jungle and just run to Ecuador! Either way, we'll be excited to see you and start off bonding with your new family! You are free to depart Ann Arbor after orientation activities are over around 5pm.
Day 2 — Saturday, Aug 18
Bienvenido a Ecuador! We’ll check into our hotel, get to know one another and make friends for life. Enjoy a relaxing day in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, all the while trying to figure out which of your fellow trekkers is most likely to pass out when the time comes to chill with an iguana. We’ll also see if anyone’s game to actually try a bit of cuy. Don’t know what that is? Google it and prepare to be amazed! We’ll have an easy night in for those who want to recover from travel, but for those who want to check out the nightlife, don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.
Day 3 — Sunday, Aug 19
In the morning, we’ll get to know each other's hopes and dreams as we navigate our way through Quito’s streets on our own tour. In the afternoon, we’ll explore the city’s historic center and hear the tales behind Quito’s oldest streets before getting a lesson in old-school woodcarving techniques, taught by local artisans (we’ll also see if Brad ends up chopping his finger off while trying this). We’ll have a chance to explore the old town of Quito, pretending for a second that we’re back in one of those black and white movies. From there, we’ll put the calories back on with a visit to a local chocolate factory and a traditional ice cream shop serving up crazy flavors you’ll only find in Latin America. After dinner, we’ll go out for a night on the town while Anca plies you with tequila and aguardiente. Increíble!
Day 4 — Monday, Aug 20
We’re officially Ecuadorians by now which means we’re going to go to the Amazon! We will travel down one of the most scenic drives as we climb up to the appropriately named Bellavista! If you like hummingbirds, this is your place as we watch waves of hummingbirds surround you and sometimes even touch you. After breakfast, we’ll go on a 2.5 hour hike to learn about the “Cloud Forest” where each hike reveals something new! After your hike, lunch is served in a circular restaurant, with breathtaking views and a flurry of hummingbirds all around you. After lunch, we’ll chill, look at the hummingbirds and take pictures as some of them get caught in Apoorva’s hair before we head back to Quito!
Day 5 — Tuesday, Aug 21
Are you ready for Pompeii: the Ross Edition (minus the destruction)? It starts here with a trip to Cotopaxi (an active volcano) and Quilotoa (an active lagoon). We’ll leave early to one of the most amazing sites in Ecuador (don’t Google it, we want your reactions to be real!) and take pictures that will make you #instafamous and the envy of all your classmates. We’ll rest among the amazing vistas and volcanoes as we prepare for what awaits us the next day…
Day 6 — Wednesday, Aug 22
..A HIKE UP AN ACTIVE VOLCANO (WUT!). Early in the morning, we’ll start a climb through the park to one of the highest volcanoes in the world and the second highest summit in Ecuador. Because we’re lazy, we’ll take a car up to Limpiopungo lagoon and soak in the incredible scenery of the area under formidable snow-capped peak. While you soak, keep an eye out for park wildlife, including condors, foxes, deer, speckled bears, and more in case you have a cozy visitor next to you. After this visit we’ll be transported to Papallacta, a site well known for having several hot springs and spas and we’ll relax among the thermal waters while Brad tries to teach us some Spanish (let’s be real, we’re only going to end up learning the dirty things).
Day 7 — Thursday, Aug 23
In the morning, we’ll take our flight to the GALAPAGOS! We’ll see the giant tortoises roaming in their natural habitat before visiting a locally owned Sugar cane farm. Here the farmers will show us the process in which sugar cane is harvested and turned into alcohol (hence why Anca got you hooked on aguardiente so now you can make your own!) After checking into the hotel, we’ll head to the Charles Darwin Research Station, to learn about the foundation’s efforts to protect the fragile ecosystem of the islands. We might see the breeding program and get up-close to newborn and young giant turtles while we try to prevent Apoorva and Nandita from kidnapping one.
Day 8 — Friday, Aug 24
Today you’ll have a full free day to explore Santa Cruz Island at your own and feel free to enjoy this amazing ecosystem. There are a ton of activities to do such as lava tunnels, cliff jumping and more! If you want to scuba dive, this is your opportunity-- your leaders will be leading mini trips if you’re interested in joining (Spoilers: scuba diving, cliff jumping, lava tunnels). And in the evening, we’ll gather together to regale each other of our day’s adventures as well as get schwasted and maybe help Nandita and Apoorva kidnap a giant tortoise.
Day 9 — Saturday, Aug 25
We’ll be seeing the main islands of the Galapagos! We’ll be visiting the islands of Bartolome, Seymour, Santa Fe and Plazas where we’ll be seeing a variety of flora and fauna such as lava cacti, Darwin’s finches and taking a zodiac ride across the island to see the cheeky Galapagos penguins (remember Madagascar? They’re real!) and then head off to the beach to do some snorkeling and admire Brad’s beach bod. In the water, you can see white tip reef sharks, sea turtles, swim alongside sea lions and find an actual Anca in the wild.
Day 10 — Sunday, Aug 26
In Seymour, we’ll have a chance to see Nandita freak when we come across marine iguanas and see the blue footed boobies dance. If you’ve ever wanted to see flamingos, there’s a chance we could creep on a lagoon to spy on some and go snorkelling through the beautiful waters surrounding a sea turtle nesting area (Nandita and Apoorva will definitely be stealing one of these).
Day 11 — Monday, Aug 27
Finally, in Santa Fe and Plazas, we’ll be taking a cruise down the beautiful mar and swimming alongside eagle rays, sea turtles and chilling with some sea turtles on the two beaches. You can join Anca on working on your tan while you also are potentially joined by one of the Santa Fe land iguanas.
Day 12 — Tuesday, Aug 28
It’s the end of our trip and we’ll have to lug a sobbing Brad to the Baltra airport when we take our flight to Quito. We’ll then pack our arsenal of unforgettable memories and pictures (THAT WILL NEVER, EVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY) and head back to A2 where we’ll be friends for life.