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Featured private group holidays
Fancy one of our fantastic adventures but only want to travel with people you know? Do it your way as a private group. We make private group trips for everyone, from big families to scouts and cadets.
- Activity Holidays – all action adventure
- Cultural Tours – lost cities & local life
- Wildlife Holidays – global wildlife encounters
- Trekking Holidays – peaks & summits
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Feature adventure holidays
We’ve developed a range of dedicated solo holidays & solo travel packages; exclusively for people booking on their own. Around 40% of all our passengers are solo travellers.
Transport - Minibus, in country flight, first class cruise boat, on foot
Accommodation - Hotel (4nts), twin berth cabin with private facilities (7nts)
Meals - 11 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners.
Please note that for 2012 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).
Arrive in Quito
After your flight you arrive in Quito and take a short transfer to your first night’s accommodation. You will be met and assisted by a representative from our local agent. Hotel – 2 nights
Please note that Quito is located at 2850m above sea level. You may experience some mild altitude sickness symptoms such as dizziness, insomnia or shortness of breath. We recommend you take things easy on arrival while your body adjusts.
Today is free to explore Quito or take an optional excusion. The city of Quito has spread along a valley sandwiched in by volcanoes. The old colonial section has some fantastic buildings and churches. From the foot of the angel on top of the Panecillo hill, you get a fantastic view across the city. You might also visit Mitad del Mundo (centre of the earth) monument which marks the spot that in 1736 Charles-Marie de la Condamine declared to be the equator, according to his measurements. It is possible to see how water drains clockwise on one side of the equator and anti-clockwise on the other. 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. Please ask at the hotel reception for more details. (B)
Galapagos; start cruise
This morning you make an early start to fly down to Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city and economic dynamo. After a short stop, your flight continues almost 1000km directly west to Baltra, one of only two commercial airports on the islands. More importantly for you, it's the starting point for your voyage through the so-called "Enchanted Islands" and you immediately board the boat that's to be your floating home and set sail.
In the departure lounge at Quito airport you will be met and assisted you with your group check-in and payment of the $10 transit card fee. Lunch is normally served on the flight. On arrival at Baltra Airport in the Galapagos you must pay the US$100 arrival tax for entry to Galapagos National Park. This is best done using cash, as using credit cards can be a time consuming process. You are met in the arrival hall of the airport by your naturalist guide and transferred to the 'MY Queen Beatriz'.
Once settled on board, your cruise departs for Punta Carrion on the north-eastern coast of Santa Cruise island. Here in a shallow, protected cove you can take your first swim or snorkel in the Galapagos. keep your eyes open for rays and white-tipped reef sharks. There is plenty of wildlife to see here including blue-footed boobies, Galapagos and great blue herons. Boat (twin cabins) - 7 nights (BD)
M.Y. Queen Beatriz – is a modern 30m catamaran. Beatriz has a comfortable lounge and dining area plus a sun deck on which to relax and watch wildlife. She has eight airconditioned cabins. Her size is small enough that you will enjoy a good level of personal service throughout your cruise.
Wake up today on the South Coast of Isabela Island, the largest of the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela was formed by five giant volcanic craters, all of which are still considered active. The island is located in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, having been formed less than 1 million years ago. This southern coast of turquoise blue waters has the largest area of beaches in the Galapagos. You visit Las Tintoreras, where from the viewing walkway you can look down into this narrow channel to see a colony of white-tipped reef sharks swimming and sleeping, and the occasional playful sea lion among them!
Blue-footed boobies and penguins, marine iguanas and crabs also make their home here, and the waters provide further opportunities to swim with turtles. Here you also visit the Giant Tortoise breeding centre and the Wall of Tears, constructed from lava by prisoners of the penal colony here between 1946 and 1959 as punishment. (BLD)
Rich in natural wonders and wildlife, Floreana Island is a highlight of any Galapagos Cruise. At Punta Cormorant the beach has an olive-green colour from the fine olivine crystals of a glassy volcanic mineral. This is a great place to see sealions and it is here that you go ashore today. The lagoons here give a fine opportunity to see pink flamingoes, pintails, stilts and other wading water birds. 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 an outstanding snorkelling spot in the centre of this cone, perhaps the best in the islands, which is filled with playful sealions and brightly coloured fish. 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. (BLD)
Santa Cruz Island
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)
Santa Fe and Plaza Sur
Today you will meet some eager swimming partners as you visit Santa Fe and its sea lion population. Also visit the beautiful inland trails with cactus forests and a unique sub species of land iguanas. You continue towards the cliffs to see a forest of prickly pear cactus so named because of the pear shaped fruit that they produce. You also see the endemic land iguanas. Returning to the beach there is time to go snorelling with the playful sealion pups and check out the colourful fish too. (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. 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. You also visit Punta Suarez which is one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos with a large and varied wildlife population. Follow the trail up to a panoramic view point - make sure your camera is at the ready. 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. (BLD)
San Cristobal Island
This morning you visit Punta Pitt on the eastern end of San Cristobal Island. Walking to the top of the volcanic hill gives you expansive views of this sparsley vegetated area. Blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies and frigate birds have nesting sites here. Later you pass by Leon Dormido, or Kicker Rock, a magnificent rock which seemingly takes the shape of a sleeping lion. Rising 150m above the surface the rock is divided by a narrow channel. Isla Lobos is a tiny island almost touching San Cristobal Island which offers a great chance to see friendly sea lions as they play in calm shallow waters. (BLD)
San Cristobal to Quito
Complete your Galapagos experience today with a visit to the Interpretation Centre which brings to life the history and geography of the archipelago from its volcanic origins to the present day. The human history exhibit gives insight into the discovery and colonisation of the Galapagos and highlights the problems which they face today.
As you will be leaving the boat this morning, 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$15 per day for the crew and US$10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on this last day of your journey.
Travel to San Cristobal Airport for your flight back to Quito. On arrival in Quito you are met and transferred to your hotel. Hotel – 2 nights (B)
The day is left free to relax and shop, or do one of a number of optional excursions (which must be booked in advance during your first stay in Quito). Outside Quito, you can visit the national park surrounding the lovely snow-capped volcanic cone of Cotopaxi (5897m), the largest active volcano in the world and Ecuador's second highest peak. Alternatively, you could head a couple of hours north to visit one of South America's most famous market towns - Otavalo. Although it's not market day, the shops are full of the handicrafts produced in the villages nearby.
The industrious Otavalenos are always instantly recognisable due to their striking appearance: the pony-tailed men in their distinctive uniform of felt hat, navy and grey poncho, calf-length white cotton trousers and rope-soled alpargatas; the women in white blouses, dark skirts and necklaces of gold and coral. For the more active there are options to go mountain biking or white water rafting, or trek up Pichincha on the edge of the city. (B)
Your trip ends today. Transer to the airport for your overnight flight home. (B)