Equador and Galapagos islands trip:
I had never thought about travelling to the Galapagos...
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Transport - Bus, on foot, in country flight, cruise boat.
Accommodation - Hotels (4nts), twin berth cabin with private facilities (7nts).
Meals - 11 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners
Please note that the itinerary follows two routes. This is due to restrictions put in place by the Galapagos National Park to help protect the islands. The route taken depends on the date and each is marked with an (A) or a (B).
Fly to Quito
After your flight, you transfer to your first night’s accommodation and check in. You will be met and assisted by a local representative
Please bear in mind that Quito is at 2800m above sea level therefore you may feel slightly breathless when you arrive. You may suffer from mild altitude sickness with symptoms such as a headache and mild nausea. This will pass as you acclimatise. During this period it is advisable to drink plenty of fluids and not to eat too much.
Hotel – 2 nights
At leisure today, for optional excursions and free time. You can visit the equator and explore the city.
There is a pre-departure meeting today at 6pm in your hotel where you will meet with others travelling on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands. (B)
Galápagos: Las Bachas
This morning you transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos. In the departure lounge of the domestic airport you will be met and assisted you with your group check-in and payment of the $10 transit card fee. On arrival you will be asked to pay the Galapagos National Park fee ($100 per person). You are then met in the arrival hall and then transer to the boat The M.Y. Pelicano anchored a short distance away in Baltra's small port. Once on board you are assigned your cabin before you set sail.
Your first visit is to North Seymour, probably one of the most visited Galapagos islands. Follow a trail along the sandy beach with good views of Daphne Major and Minor, heading later inland to palo santo forest and low bushy vegetation. This island is also the nesting ground for the frigate bird. Keep your eyes open for blue-footed booby, sea lion and marine iguana. Boat – Twin Cabins – 7 nights (BLD)
This morning you visit the tiny Isla Lobos with a chance to relax on the rocky shores here where blue-footed boobies nest and many sealions live. See Sally Lightfoot Crabs as they scuttle across the rocks, and the magnificent frigate bird as they sour in the skies high above you.
Sailing on you visit Cerro Brujo a fine powder beach on the north coast of San Cristobal. Visit the lagoon, once mined for salt used as a preservative, now just home to lake and coastal birds. Returning to the beach you can see Sally Lightfoot crabs, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies. Do some snorkelling and relax on the beach. Travelling on to Kicker Rock, a magnicent basalt crater rock now engulfed by the sea, which resembles a lion sleeping you will enjoy what is one of Galapagos' finest experiences. Rising 150m above the surface you will pass through the split which divides the rock into two by a narrow channel. Cruising through this channel you find tropical birds soaring overhead and see marine iguanas and sealions swimming in the water and lying on rocks. (BLD)
The southern most island of Espanola is one of the most spectacular in the Galapagos. Due to its remote location there is a large population of edemic fauna to be discovered. It is the breeding site for 12,000 pairs of wave albatrosses, nearly all the world's population, as well as home to colonies of masked and blue footed boobies. Following trails up from the beaches, where the sealions bathe, you will pass right through colonies of boobies, and pass marine iguanas as they make their way to the water. Galapagos doves and mocking birds are also to be seen. White sandy beaches at Bahia Gardner are a great place for swimming and relaxing. Albatross use the cliffs as their "runway" to help them become airborne using the south-east winds to give them lift. You may also be lucky enought to witness their courtship rituals which establish a life long mate partnership. Frigate birds can be seen soaring above and boobies line the rocky shores. In the afternoon make a wet landing to visit one of the longest stretches of white sand in the islands, Gardner Bay. Rocks just off the beach provide excellent snorkelling for those who wish to - with reef sharks, turtles, surgeon and angel fish often sighted. Keep your eye out for small white-tipped reef sharks at rest under the rocks. (BLD)
Rich in natural wonders and wildlife, Floreana Island is a highlight of any Galapagos Cruise. In the 18th century at Post Office Bay whalers used a barrel as an unofficial mail drop, make sure you have a postcard written ready so that you can continue the custom. Exploring the islands magnificent geography including some impressive lava tubes a little inland from Post Office Bay. The bay is also one of the best places in the island in which to swim with turtles. At Punta Cormorant the beach has an olive-green colour from the fine olivine crystals of a glassy volcanic mineral. Make a wet landing here, and take a hike on a trail which passes trhough black mangrove to reach a lagoon. The lagoons here give a fine opportunity to see pink flamingoes, pintails, stilts and other wading water birds. Also notice the plant life here including Galapagos millwork, passion flower and the unique button mangrove. The Devil's Crown, just offshore is an old eroded volcanic cone which makes a popular roosting site for seabirds including boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropic birds make their nests in the rocky crevices. You discover outstanding snorkelling here, perhaps the best in the islands, which is filled with playful sealions and brightly coloured fish. Mirador de La Baronesa is on the north of Floreana in Bay La Olla, it is a tough basalt formation. Take a trail to climb up it, the last section is steep but has steps to assist you, from the viewpoint take in sweeping views from Enderby Island to Post Office Bay including Cerro Straw and the pool of flamingos at Punta Cromorant. The panga ride to Mirador is exellent for view golden eagles rays, sea turtles, sea lion and Galapagos penguins. (BLD)
Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. Today you will explore the small town of Puerto Ayora which is the economic centre of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. Sadly this island's famous inhabitant ‘Lonesome George’ who was the last tortoise of his sub-species (one of 11 sub-species native to the islands) died in 2012. You also observe baby tortoises and land iguanas.
Afterward you head up into the highlands for a total change of scenery. Beginning at the coast you travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests. Here it is a lush humid zone containing miconia bushes, scalesia and inactive volcanic cones. Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any of the other islands and you are likely to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat and perhaps even the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher! (BLD)
The small island of Plaza Sur nonetheless posseses abundant life and beauty. You make a dry landing and walk among resting sealions along trails to reach one of the largest iguana populations. You will discover them resting in the cacti and volcanic landscapes which are colour red and green by sesuvium. The rugged southern cliffs are an excellent place to spot tropic birds and swallow-tailed gulls as well as gatherings of all male sealions who are either too old or too young to be "beachmasters".
Later stop at the small island of Santa Fe, 2.5 hours southeast of Santa Cruz. This island is small and offers a dense concentration of wildlife. See Galapagos Hawk, land Iguanas, finches, Galapagos mocking bird, sea lions, marine turtles, frigate birds, Galapagos doves and lava lizards. One of the most attaractive coves in the islands is found here and makes a great place for a swim or snorkel in waters of jade. A hike on the coastal trail takes you into Opuntia Forest, where you see giant cacti and palo santo trees, Santa Fe's trees are the largest in any of the islands.
Today you visit Bartolome one of the youngest islands in the archipelago and some to spectacular lava formations, wonderful beach and rich wildlife; above and below the water. The island's volcanic past is immediately striking with lava bombs, spatter and cylinder cones evident. Take a trail which leads to a summit and the iconic view of Galapagos with Pinnacle Rock, twin golden beaches backing each other and turquiose waters lapping the shores, you won't want to forget your camera today! Along the trail sight a colony of marine iguanas and some lava lizards, plus red mangroves and various cacti. A snorkel trip is a great way to cool off, swimming with Galapagos penguins, turtles and white tipped reef sharks.
In the afternoon visit another volcanic island, Sombrero Chino a minature volcano which is shaped like a chinese hat. Explore the trails and learn of its volcanic origin and see fascinating lava tubes. The beautiful cresent shaped sandy beach is home to sealions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Opposite Sombrero Chino on the rocky shoreline you go searching for Galapagos penguins which are often seen here. Follow a trail the circles the cove and passes through a seal lion colony and innumerable marine iguanas. The cove also offers great snorkelling.
Mosquera to Quito
This morning you sail to Isla Mosquera, and Islet situated between Baltra and North Seymour. This stretch of water is rich in sea life and is a popular spot for marine birds and sea lions.
You then cruise back to Baltra, where you say goodbye to the amazing Galapagos Islands and take your return flight to Quito. As you will be leaving the boat today, Please remember that if you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them. As a guideline you recommend each passenger consider US$10 per day for the crew and US$6 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on this last day of your journey. On arrival in Quito you are met and transferred to your hotel for you last night. Hotel – 1 night (B)
Tour ends today. Transfer to airport and make your overnight flight home. (B)