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Classic Galapagos

Trip type: 
Wildlife
Adventure level: 
1.Easy
Max group size: 
12
Avg user rating: 
5
Americas, Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands | 13 days
Trip code: 
GLKA
What's included: 

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.

Trip Highlights: 
Swim with dolphins & sealions
Comfortable first class yachts
Spot incredible birdlife
see full itinerary >>

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).

Unpublished
Itinery Map

Itinerary

(Departures in 2011)
  • Day 1 - Arrive in Quito
  • Day 2 - Quito
  • Day 3 - Fly to Galapagos and start cruise
  • Day 4 - Rabida Island; Santiago Island
  • Day 5 - Sullivan Bay; Bartolome Island
  • Day 6 - Santa Cruz Island; Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Centre & Highlands
  • Day 7 - San Cristobal Island
  • Day 8 - Espanola; Bahia Gardner; Punta Suarez
  • Day 9 - Floreana; Post Office Bay; Punta Cormorant
  • Day 10 - Caleta Tortuga Negra; Baltra; Return to Quito
  • Day 11 - Quito
  • Day 12 - Fly home
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »
Unpublished
Day
1
Arrive in Quito

Arrive in Quito

Your trip starts in Quito. You will receive full details of exactly where to meet your Group Leader on the Joining Instructions which will be sent to you 2-3 weeks before your trip starts. For information on when the trip ends please refer to the itinerary as described below. This trip operates with small numbers, and in Quito you may not necessarily be part of a tour group, so there is no Group Leader as such. Hotel – 2 nights

Patio Andaluz The hotel is situated just a short distance from the main square of Quito in a converted colonial building. Rooms are comfortable and the communal areas are full of local character. There is an excellent bar and restaurant. This is a comfortable and ideally located hotel.

Day
2
Quito

Quito

You'll have the morning free to relax before heading out with a local guide to explore the colonial heart of the city. 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 will then continue to the Mitad del Mundo (centre of the earth). This monument 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. You then drive back into Quito. (B)

Day
3
Fly to Galapagos and start cruise

Fly to Galapagos and 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 meet the representative of the M.Y. San Jose who will assist 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 'San Jose'.

Once settled on board, your cruise departs for Las Bachas. The sandy, white beaches on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island are a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle, and marine iguanas are also commonly seem. The rocks provide a great snorkelling experience and are the perfect habitat for the Sally Lightfoot crabs, which are plentiful on the island. Boat (twin cabins) - 7 nights (BD)

San Jose The M.Y. San Jose is a modern, comfortable vessel built in 2003. It has a large and comfortable lounge and dining area, as well as a sun deck where you can watch the wildlife or just kick back and relax. There are eight well appointed, individually air conditioned, twin cabins. There are 9 including English speaking Naturalist guide. The guide is certified by the National Park Level II.

Day
4
Rabida Island; Santiago Island

Rabida Island; Santiago Island

The volcanic rocks of Rabida are covered with palo santo trees, opuntia cacti and low, scrubby bushes. Sea lions abound on the red sand beach and there is a lagoon inhabited by flamingoes. There are also several species of Darwin finches.

The shoreline of Puerto Egas on Santiago is an ancient lava flow and the beach is a breeding ground for large numbers of marine iguanas. The beach provides a home to many shore birds including ruddy turnstone and American oystercatcher. Sugarloaf Mountain serves as a magical backdrop to the area and a natural bridge leads to the inlets where endemic fur seals are found on the rough lava shores.

Shore based excursions help you discover these incredible habitats. (BLD)

Day
5
Sullivan Bay; Bartolome Island

Sullivan Bay; Bartolome Island

Bartolome is a relatively new island in the chain and traces of its volcanic past can be seen everywhere, as evident by the amazing lunar-like landscape. The Pinnacle Rock is one of the most photographed sites in the Galapagos. Here you can hike to the top of a once-active volcano and enjoy superb views across to Sullivan Bay, on nearby Santiago Island. Later in the day you'll visit the bay, which will be of great interest to those keen on geology. You'll see much evidence of a violent volcanic past with pahoehoe lava, ropy lava and gigantic lava tubes seen everywhere. (BLD)

Day
6
Santa Cruz Island; Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Centre & Highlands

Santa Cruz Island; Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Centre & Highlands

Today you visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic centre of the archipelago, whilst the island is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. There will be time to explore the station and observe the tortoise research and breeding programs. You will also head up into the highlands for a total change of scenery. Here it is a lush humid zone containing miconia bushes, scalesia and inactive volcanic cones. You will visit a pair of large pit craters called 'Los Gemelos' (if lucky, you may spot a vermilion flycatcher) and the largest lava tunnels found in the Galapagos. Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any of the other islands and we may even see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat. (BLD)

Day
7
San Cristobal Island

San Cristobal Island

The town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal is the capital and administrative centre of the Galapagos Islands. There is a good interpretation centre here that is well worth a visit. The centre focuses primarily on the history and geography of the archipelago, from its volcanic origins to the present-day ecosystem. You pass through Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), which is a magnificent rock in the middle of the sea, set in a shape resembling a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel navigable by small vessels. We also visit Cerro Brujo, where there is a chance to go hiking, swimming and snorkelling. The sandy beach is home to Sally Lightfoot crabs, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies. (BLD)

Day
8
Espanola; Bahia Gardner; Punta Suarez

Espanola; Bahia Gardner; Punta Suarez

Today you cruise to the island of Espanola - the southernmost island of the Galapagos. Because of its remote location this place has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses and also home to colonies of blue-footed and masked boobies. You'll also visit the beautiful white sandy beaches at Bahia Gardner, which are great places for swimming and relaxing. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkelling opportunities, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish, often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks. You'll also pay a visit to Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to large and varied wildlife population. (BLD)

Day
9
Floreana; Post Office Bay; Punta Cormorant

Floreana; Post Office Bay; Punta Cormorant

Your destination today is the island of Floreana, where you go ashore at Punta Cormorant. Here, the sand is made up of fine olivine crystals, a glassy volcanic mineral, giving the beach its olive-green colour and it is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions. Today is also your best opportunity to see pink flamingos and other water birds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. Devil’s Crown is an old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices. The centre of the cone is an outstanding snorkelling spot, full of sea lions and colourful fish. Floreana is also home to Post Office Bay, where 18th Century whalers used a barrel as an unofficial mail drop. This custom continues to this day with visitors to the Galapagos! (BLD)

Day
10
Caleta Tortuga Negra; Baltra; Return to Quito

Caleta Tortuga Negra; Baltra; Return to Quito

Today you will take an early morning excursion to Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) - a mangrove swamp on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. In the smaller corners of the cove you paddle a dinghy for a wonderfully peaceful journey through this beautiful and unique area. This is often an excellent place to see green turtle, golden ray and Galapagos shark. There is also abundant birdlife, such as yellow warbler and lava heron. It is not uncommon to see turtles mating.

This is your final excursion before returning to the airport in Baltra for your flight back to Quito. Hotel - 2 nights (B)

Patio Andaluz – The hotel is situated just a short distance from the main square of Quito in a converted colonial building. Rooms are comfortable and the communal areas are full of local character. There is an excellent bar and restaurant. This is a comfortable and ideally located hotel.

Day
11
Quito

Quito

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)

Day
12

Fly home

The trip ends in Quito. (B)