A unique gem in the Pacific Ocean. Experience what it is like to detach from daily life and truly be at one with nature, not found anywhere else on earth....
Combine your passion for golf with love of nature and culture
“An experience that you will savour and talk about for years to come”
A luxury journey in which you combine your passion for golf with love for nature and culture. You stay in the best hotels and haciendas Ecuador has to offer and play on beautiful golf courses. During this trip you will become acquainted with the wide range of possibilities in this fascinating country. You will explore the cloud forest, experience adventure in the Andes Mountains with its active volcanoes and you will visit South America’s best-preserved colonial city: Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You end your trip in style with an 8-day expedition cruise on one of the most beautiful yachts in the Galápagos Islands. An experience that you will savour and talk about for years to come!
In Ecuador you can play golf at a very high level, literally! Imagine getting ready to tee off at 2700 meters, an undulating fairway crossed by small rivers and streams in front of you and the majestically snow-capped peaks of the Andes Mountains in the background. In the vicinity of Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca you will find well-maintained, exclusive golf courses. Some of these were completely private and closed to the public until recently. Aves Travels is proud to offer you the chance to play in this extraordinarily beautiful country.
For a day to day overview, click here to see the itinerary.
Today you will arrive in Guayaquil. You will be picked up at the airport by our guide and taken to your hotel in Guayaquil.
Imagine waking up to the sounds of parrots and spider monkeys calling to each other from the treetops, a world where palm leaves and exotic flowers nod in the hazy breeze of the Daule River, a tropical oasis caught in time, perfectly placed to set you on your way to start your Ecuadorian adventure.
The beautiful, clapboard building is steeped in history and forms a vital piece of Guayaquil’s past. Formerly named Hospício Corazón de Jesús, the property was built in 1891 by Guayaquil’s oldest charity in a location in the centre of the metropolis. It would be the first hospice in the city, and its founders, Mr. Manuel Galecio, and his wife, Mrs. Jesús Pereira, stated that it must give shelter only to the homeless, the elderly and the disabled of both sexes.
In the 1980s, facing demolition, the property was bought by the Central Bank of Ecuador and moved board-by-board to its current site in Parque Histórico. There, it was meticulously restored, alongside three other heritage buildings. Four years ago, the Hotel del Parque team took over the renovation of the facade, lovingly transforming it from a shell of a building into the luxurious property of today. Designer Julio Vinueza was inspired by the property’s Republican-era architecture in his creation of the sophisticated interiors
Golf: La Costa Country Club
La Costa Country Club is a beautiful 18 holes/par 72 course with a length of 6230 meters. The very nice course offers one of the best golf experiences in Ecuador. The club was founded in 1993. You can enjoy lunch at the club’s good restaurant.
Late afternoon enjoy a cacao-based sundowner at Hotel del Parque.
A historic family owned and operated working hacienda. Ecuador is home to one of the best cacao varieties in the world. The hacienda has been in the Olsen family for over 50 years and is currently owned by the third generation and operated by Niels Olsen Peet.
Helge Olsen-Friis, from Copenhagen, Ecuador, was relocated to Ecuador after World War II and not only fell in love with Pilar Pons but also with the beautiful tropical Ecuadorean countryside. Turning his life by 180º, he decided to quit his job in the pharmaceutics industry, marry the woman of his dreams and buy a 500 hectares property to call home which today is called Hacienda La Danesa.
In 1977, the hacienda was inherited by Niels Olsen Pons and Sonia Peet; with it came the love and passion for the farm life away from the city lights and noise. They brought up three kids; Kristel, Niels and Erik and for over 25 years they have kept this small part of heaven to their own enjoyment until Niels Jr. opened the doors of their charming farmhouse to a limited number of guests who appreciate this magical setting.
Hacienda La Danesa is also a traditional dairy farm that produces about 2000 litres of milk per day and produces fresh cheese for their guests every morning. It also grows teak plantation and breeds beautiful pinto quarter horses.
08h45: Pick up at your desired location in Guayaquil.
10:00 AM Welcome to Hacienda La Danesa: The host will greet you and give you a warm welcome to the farm and tell you about La Danesa’s rich history. You will have time at leisure to explore the gardens and property, enjoy refreshing cold-infused drinks and a traditional snack courtesy of the hacienda before starting with the experiences planned for the day.
Ecuador is recognised for offering the finest quality cacao in the world. Guests may visit the cacao plantation where they will have the chance to taste raw cacao at different ripening stages and hands-on experience of making from bean to bar chocolate.
You will walk through a picturesque teak avenue for about 10 minutes before arriving at the cacao plantation where you will learn the history and process of the cacao in Ecuador and walk through the cacao trail. Guests will produce artisan chocolate at the cacao plantation and taste 100% pure raw chocolate.
The farm produces jams, 100% raw honey, chocolate, dulce de leche and other delicious hand-made products made by the local community. You may taste them all and you may shop your favourites at La Tienda with other hand-picked products from all over Ecuador.
La Danesa offers a truly unique gastronomic experience inspired in a Farm-to-Table ethos. It grows and produces most of the ingredients at the farm while buying the rest from the neighbouring communities. The chef will offer a three-course meal with a few options for the main course for you to choose from. Vegan/vegetarian option will be available and upon request, we are happy to suit other diets.
Hacienda La Danesa celebrates 30 years of recognition to be the best dairy farm in coastal Ecuador, producing 1,200 litres of high-quality milk per day. Guests may enjoy a firsthand experience by milking and tasting fresh milk straight from the utter to the cup.
From 15h00: an afternoon at leisure to doing tubing, biking or horseback riding if requested: At this time you may explore the property by bike, float down the lazy rivers surrounded by trees and birds or just sit back and relax. For those who would prefer to relax they may enjoy a glass of wine or two at the Teak terrace or gardens with jazz music.
Today we bring you from La Danesa to your second golf experience in Ecuador. On the outskirts of Guayaquil lies the particularly beautiful par 73 golf course Guayaquil Country Club. The course has a length of 6500 meters and is thé place to play golf in Guayaquil. The course was founded in 1933 by a group of friends, mostly North Americans and Europeans, who settled in Ecuador and were looking for a place to play golf.
Today you fly from Guayaquil to Quito. At the airport in Quito, you will be welcomed by our guide and we will take you to your hotel, Casa Gangotena. This boutique hotel was originally a mansion from the early 1900s. Various Art Nouveau and Art Deco elements shine in the warm interior. The hotel has won various awards over the years, including several times a place in the Top 25 best hotels in the world.
In the afternoon you and your guide take a walk through the historic centre of Quito.
Quito was named as the first “World Cultural Heritage Site” in the world by UNESCO in 1978. This historical city has the largest and best-preserved Historic Centre and colonial quarters in Latin America. Quito’s Colonial Centre features narrow streets lined with charming balconies filled with geraniums which enhance the beautiful and unique architecture that are emblematic elements of our historical legacy.
This walking excursion of the city will take you through small, winding streets, romantic plazas and the impressive temples that are centrepieces of the numerous major architectonic icons of this World Heritage Site.
You will visit the Plaza Grande, the beautiful church of La Compañia and the lively neighbourhood of La Ronda.
Today we bring you to Los Cerros Golf Club. This golf course, founded in 1992, is approximately 25 km south of Quito and is considered one of the best 18-hole courses in Ecuador. It is a par 72 course, designed by Rafael and Jaime Villegas. The course extends over a length of 6,500 meters. While playing you have a picturesque view of the Los Chillos Valley and the city of Quito.
You enjoy lunch in the delightful clubhouse, after which we will take you to your next experience. About one and a half hours of a fantastically scenic drive south of Quito, standing tall within the “Avenue of the Volcanoes” is the mighty Cotopaxi Volcano, covered with a perpetual blanket of dazzling white snows and glaciers. At 5,897 m above sea level, it is considered the highest active volcano in the world, and home to Cotopaxi National Park.
The park offers a tundra-like environment and is surrounded by other volcanoes, both active and extinct. The area offers great hikes with the opportunity to explore and enjoy its unique geology and flora and chances to see local fauna, including wild horses and the Andean Condor, the world’s largest flying bird.
Tonight you will stay at Hacienda El Porvenir. The estate is a beautiful traditional example of a hacienda in the Andes: built with adobe blocks and thatched roofs. You spend the night in a beautiful suite.
This morning you wake up at Hacienda el Porvenir. The estate is a beautiful traditional example of a hacienda in the Andes: built with adobe blocks and thatched roofs. This working Hacienda covers 1000 hectares of land; 20% of this land is used for crop farming, 20% exclusively for the reforestation of native plant species to restore the natural habitat and 60% for cattle farming. The hacienda offers a great atmosphere to spend the day.
Food is an important part of the experience at El Porvenir. In the kitchen, they cook up traditional Andean recipes with a touch of international cuisine. They use fresh, locally grown ingredients, such as different varieties of potatoes, Andean cereals like quinoa, and organic vegetables grown in nearby valleys. Their bread, jams and dairy products, all homemade, make the breakfasts unique, with a true flavour of their own. They always have a variety of vegetarian dishes on offer and meet any other special dietary requirements.
You may choose from various activities:
Crossing the Andes on horseback is one of the best ways to become part of the local culture, also known as Chagras, the Andean Cowboys. The hacienda has the longest traditions of the area in the Chagra culture; that is the reason why El Porvenir specialises in horseback rides and are your best option for offering this activity in the region, doing it chagra style wearing poncho and zamarro (chaps). Guests can choose between riding through farmland for a couple of hours or going on longer, more specialised expeditions that can last a whole day.
The hacienda provides 29er Bull Bikes, built in Germany, with front suspension and hydraulic disc brake; the perfect companion to explore the unique scenery. The Hacienda owns more than 30 km of trails in the area specially design for mountain biking.
The rope course is an experiential adventure program which offers groups or individuals the opportunity to participate in a series of activities involving mental, physical and emotional challenges in a safe environment. As a family challenge, participants discover that through healthy, exciting and meaningful experiences strong relationships are built.
Making hot chocolate has been a family tradition at the Hacienda and we would like to share that experience with you. Also if you would like to learn how to prepare our unique Andean flavours, you can enjoy our cooking classes suitable for amateurs, families and guests in general who want to experience the regional culture, the Highland Family Traditions and the use of antique cooking instruments in an informal and friendly environment.
At the end of an adventurous day, we drive back to your home in Quito: Casa Gangotena.
Today you will drive about 3 hours through beautiful mountain landscapes to a completely different world: Mashpi Lodge.
Mashpi Lodge was awarded Best Spa Resort in Latin-America during the 2018 World Spa Awards. The lodge is part of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.
Perched on a small plateau surrounded by a hilly topography of stunning cloud and tropical forests, this luxury cocoon with a modern and sophisticated architecture and a blending minimalist interior design is a perfect hideaway to enjoy nature and an ideal base for exhilarating exploration of the unique fauna and flora of the Equatorial Chocó Bio-Region, considered one of the world’s “hotspots of biodiversity”. For those seeking pure relaxation, the Lodge with its superb installations and fantastic views of the densely vegetated mountains from the rooms and public areas is also a great choice.
Mashpi Lodge is intimate and elegantly casual, accommodating a maximum of 44 guests in 22 luxurious rooms with private facilities and amazing views of the surrounding nature while providing guests with world-class services and superb gastronomy.
During your stay at Mashpi, an ample menu of touring options and activities is offered to the guests as part of the package, to select from daily. You can choose between the excursions and activities that are offered and adjust them to your needs, interests and capacities. Mashpi is a remarkable place for bird-watching, so most of the expeditions have a “birding” component, while others are specially designed for dedicated bird-watchers.
Mashpi offers several nature trails of diverse lengths and levels of difficulty, to cater for different interests and capacities. All of the nature outings, accompanied by enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable nature guides provide the chance to admire spectacular flora, including orchids, lichens, mosses and giant ferns, while also allowing the travellers to view numerous species of birds, reptiles and colourful insects, including beautifully coloured butterflies. Some of the trails also take you to beautiful waterfalls.
Below please find a description of the various activities:
A forty-minute downhill trail from the Lodge brings guests to the Life Centre. The Centre was conceived as a place for learning and ongoing research about the fabulous biodiversity of the area. Guests can disconnect from the hustle-bustle of daily life and contemplate the views, sit in comfortable chairs or read a book while enjoying a fresh sugar-cane juice. Guests will learn here about the butterflies that inhabit the region and be shown the amazing evolution process of these creatures as they transform from eggs to pupae, then to chrysalis and finally to winged-wonders. Some 200 species of butterflies have been identified to date in the Reserve, with more than a dozen observable at the Centre.
The Centre also allows for more learning about the dozens of species of orchids, bromeliads and other amazing flowers all around the structure. Close to the Centre, there is an area for growing medicinal plants (ideal for herbal infusions) and beyond, many varieties of bushes and fruit trees, including banana and plantain, manioc, cacao, tobacco, coffee, breadfruit and palm trees abound. These attract diverse types of wildlife, from birds to rodents and other mammals, making for easier observation from the comfort of the Centre’s expansive wooden deck.
One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of the Mashpi Reserve’s forest and hills is to climb the fantastic and sturdy Observation Tower. Here, guests are able to securely enjoy an exciting bird’s-eye view of the forest and the dramatic panoramas that surround the Lodge. This is a metallic structure, with a staircase that climbs to about eight-stories high (26 m), ideal for wildlife observation, particularly at dawn or dusk. Species that can be spotted here include toucans, woodpeckers, barbets, tanagers and parrots as well as raptors. The tower is just a 15-minute walk from the Lodge.
Also located close to the hotel, the sky bike makes for an original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designed for two people to use securely at once, one person pedals the bike along a double, upper and lower cable, stretched between two points in the forest, about 200 m apart, crossing a gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Silent, easy-to-use and fun, this is a unique activity available for adults and children from 8 years of age on, accompanied by an adult, providing guests with another chance to observe the forest canopy as the birds do.
The forests of Mashpi boast 35 hummingbird species identified to date, inhabiting different specific altitudes, with around 16 species easily observable by guests. In order to make it easier to see these amazing creatures, a shelter with seating provides the ideal venue, including feeders for the birds strung from its roof. The site is located at a natural viewpoint or observatory, which, on clear days, provides breathtaking views of the Reserve’s thickly forested hills and of the coastal lowlands stretching to the west.
Water is vital for the abundance of animal and plant life in Mashpi and there’s nothing like a refreshing dip at the end of a walk. Several rivers cross the Mashpi Reserve some reasonably close to the hotel, forming beautiful small waterfalls, cascades and pools to enjoy. The water temperature is between 18 and 20°C.
The dream of Alfred Russel Wallace – the 19th-century naturalist and explorer, best known for proposing a theory of natural selection in parallel with Charles Darwin – of “sailing gently in a balloon over the undulating flowery surface” to enjoy “the whole glory of these forests” is realised with our innovative glide through the Mashpi Reserve.
This new highlight of any trip to Mashpi, the Dragonfly travels gently, slowly and almost silently along a cable, sometimes below the canopy, sometimes through it, and also far above it, emulating the birds, butterflies and dragonflies that flit and flutter through our protected reserve’s magical ecosystem
Riding in the company of expert guides, it’s a unique way to experience the world from a new perspective, spotting birds and animals in the trees, wafting over rivers and waterfalls, slipping in and out of misty clouds, taking in the stunning views of a green universe.
The Dragonfly consists of an innovative, custom-designed, 2-kilometre cable system stretched between two stations, suspended across six towers. An intermediate station is located half-way, which is used as an additional embarkation and disembarkation point. The four, specially designed metallic ‘gondolas’ travel continuously along the cables, each carrying four guests plus their guide. It takes about 40 minutes to ride from the Orchid Station to the Cock-of-the-Rock Station. The fascinating round-trip experience lasts for approximately two hours.
A full day of activities at Mashpi
Today you will leave Mashpi and we bring you to your wonderful hotel for the next two nights; Quito Polo Club. Located 30 minutes away from Quito’s airport, this charming country house style hotel offers luxury and comfort while enjoying beautiful and extensive green gardens, horseback riding, swimming pools and a great restaurant. Quito Polo Club offers an ideal location near the airport.
Arrayanes Country Club is approximately 30 km northeast of Quito. This Club has an exclusive 18-hole golf course (Par 71), set on 34 hectares of soft terrain. A beautiful 6000-meter long course, designed by Jamie Vellegas with narrow but well-defined fairways, medium-sized greens protected by bunkers, where water comes into play to the right extent. The course is challenging for both the beginner and experienced players. You play with the Andes in the background and you have a beautiful view over the valleys of Quito.
This morning you will be picked up by our guide and taken to Quito airport for your flight to the Galápagos Islands. Here is where your 8-day cruise expedition through this unique natural wonder of the world starts.
In style of the journey, we are happy to propose the two most beautiful boutique yachts in the archipelago. Choose from the Grace or Evolution yacht. These are both ships with a particularly beautiful and warm character, an exceptionally good service and very good guides. As an example of an 8-day expedition cruise please review on our website: “Galápagos Touches the Soul”. Other routes and ships are also possible; we are happy to review with you which cruise and which itinerary best suits your needs.
This morning you will have breakfast on the ship and you will have a final expedition before you, unfortunately, have to say goodbye to the crew and your fellow passengers.
We bring you to the airport after which you take the flight back to Quito. Here you will stay at Quito Polo Club.
You have another day to relax in the area surrounding the hotel and review all the special impressions of the past few weeks.
In the late afternoon, we will take you to the airport for your international flight home.
This journey takes you to the soul of colourful Ecuador. You will visit colonial Quito, stay in a luxurious lodge in the most beautiful cloud forest of the country and you will go on an adventure at two grandiose haciendas in the Andes Mountains.
A journey in which you combine your passion for golf with your love for nature and culture. You play beautiful golf courses, explore tropical forests, enjoy historic haciendas in the Andes, active volcanoes and the most beautiful colonial cities in South America: Quito and Cuenca, both declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You end your trip with a 4-day expedition cruise in the Galápagos Islands.
This beautiful, adventurous journey will introduce you to all facets of Ecuador. Nature and an active holiday predominate. You will explore the Amazon, mountain bike among the volcanoes and descend along refreshing waterfalls. The chosen hotels are basic but very good and attractive.
Aves Travels is your specialist for birding holidays to Ecuador. We offer both group tours as well as bespoke, individual programs, in which you can explore all the stunning natural areas of this country. This example tour is very suitable for novice birders on a first visit to Ecuador, but also interesting for the more experienced. In addition to trips aimed at spotting unique bird species, we also offer holidays where you combine bird watching with photography. Read about this in our blog “Exclusive birding and photography tours”. Learn more.
Aves Travels continuously seeks to amaze our guests with unique travel experiences. Aboard your intimate, 16-passenger, luxury yacht you will experience a unique variety of nature ranging from mangroves, cloud forests, pristine beaches to uninhabited islands equal to Galápagos atmosphere, vibrant fishing villages, local culture and exquisite gastronomy. This exclusive journey will take you to places that are extremely difficult to reach overland, making it truly an experience of a lifetime.
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