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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Unpublished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 (B)

(Departures in 2012)
  • Day 1 - Arrive in Quito
  • Day 2 - Quito
  • Day 3 - Galapagos; start cruise
  • Day 4 - Genovesa
  • Day 5 - Plaza Sur & Santa Fe
  • Day 6 - San Cristobal; Kicker Rock
  • Day 7 - Española
  • Day 8 - Floreana
  • Day 9 - Bartolome
  • Day 10 - North Seymour; Quito
  • Day 11 - Quito
  • Day 12 - Quito; trip ends
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Unpublished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

Arrive in Quito and check into your hotel. 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

Please meet your tour leader in the hotel reception at 09.00. 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
Galapagos; start cruise

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 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 the small sandy island of Mosquera, it’s a relaxing, picturesque stop. Along the rocks and in the tide pool, sally lightfoot crabs (red lava crabs) scamper back and forth, skipping across small pools of water in search of food. These crabs with their bright red shell tops and blue under shells are stunning against the black lava. Ever aware of movement around them, the sally lightfoot is quick to escape from any approaching movement, a natural

defence that helps protecting them from their natural predators, herons, moray eels and hawkfish. This quick escape technique seems in stark contrast to the unabashed way the crabs climb over the sedentary marine iguanas. Boat – Twin Cabins – 7 nights (BLD)

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
Genovesa

Genovesa

The archipelago’s northeast outpost, it takes an overnight sail to reach Genovesa, but it’s undeniably worth the voyage. Dolphins are often spotted in the waters around Genovesa, while the island itself is one of abundant beauty, with varying landscapes and wonderful wildlife. It’s also a twitcher’s paradise, with all three kinds of boobies – including the rare red footed booby – and numerous other species, such as tropic birds and frigatebirds.

Walking the steep path known as Prince Philip’s Steps gets you into the heart of the seabird rookeries, with birds overhead and nesting among the cliffs. On the island’s rocky plains, you look out for storm petrels – Genovesa is the only place in the world where they can be seen on the wing during daytime. Elsewhere, Darwin Bay is another superb site – with large breeding colonies of seabirds and frigates, while the island’s magnificent marine life makes for spectacular snorkelling – the chance of encountering manta rays and sharks, turtles and moray eels, along with many fish make Genovesa one of the archipelago’s most exciting spots to take the plunge. (BLD)

 

Day
5
Plaza Sur & Santa Fe

Plaza Sur & Santa Fe

A small island, Plaza Sur is nonetheless a place of great beauty, where you get close to sea lions and onto trails past one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations, resting amid cacti and volcanic landscapes coloured bright red and green by sesuvium. The island’s rugged southern cliffs are an excellent place to spot tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as ‘the gentlemen’s club’, a gathering of male sea lions either too young or too old to be ‘beachmasters’!

Santa Fe is home to more sea lions, and these ones are very eager for swimming partners! It’s a lovely place to take a dip, and the landscape on the inland trails is also beautiful, with cacti forests home to a unique sub-species of land iguanas. Hiking towards the cliffs on Santa Fe leads you to a forest of prickly pear cactus. A member of the cactus family, their name comes from the pear shaped fruit the plant produces. Santa Fe is home to endemic land iguanas. Once back at the beach you have free time to snorkel back in the lagoon. Playful sea lions pups and florescent fish make for fascinating company. (BLD)

Day
6
San Cristobal; Kicker Rock

San Cristobal; Kicker Rock

This morning you pass through Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), which is a magnificent rock in the middle of the sea, the shape resembles a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. you 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. After lunch you travel into the interior of the island to visit the highlands site of ‘Galapaguera of Cerro Colorado’ (Red Hill) where the national park has established a breeding program and information centre for tortoises . Here, you will be able to see Giant Tortoises in their natural habitat and learn all about their origin, evolution and their threatened future. (BLD)

Day
7
Española

Española

Today you cruise to the island of Española - the southernmost island of the Galapagos and one of the most spectacular. Because of its remote location this island 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. Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, lead you right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen. You 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. We also pay a visit to Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to large and varied wildlife population - a walk along its trails takes you to a cliff top viewpoint, where you gain a magical panorama. Boobies line the rocky shoreline beneath us, while frigatebirds may be seen overhead; nearby enormous male sea lions can be seen lounging and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, helping become airborne by the southeast winds that blow across this part of the island. If we’re lucky we’ll see the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate! (BLD) 

Day
8
Floreana

Floreana

The island of Floreana is a highlight of any Galapagos cruise, rich in natural wonders and wildlife. You go ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystals, a glassy volcanic mineral, giving the beach an olive-green colour. It is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions. Today is also one of your finest opportunities to see pink flamingos and other water birds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. Just offshore, the 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, perhaps the most remarkable in the entire archipelago, 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 – post one of your own, or see if there are any you could deliver back home! (BLD)

Day
9
Bartolome

Bartolome

Bartolome is a relatively new island in the archipelago and traces of its volcanic past can be seen everywhere, as evidenced by the amazing lunar-like landscape. The Pinnacle Rock is one of the most photographed sites in the Galapagos – an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth, while nearby two golden bays back onto each other. Here you can hike to the top of a once-active volcano and enjoy superb views across to Sullivan Bay, on nearby Santiago Island. (BLD)

Day
10
North Seymour; Quito

North Seymour; Quito

Today you take an early morning excursion to North Seymour. The trail on North Seymour crosses the inland through the island and then explores the rocky coast. Along the way the trail passes colonies of blue footed boobies and frigatebirds. The magnificent frigatebird, a large black bird with a long wingspan, and a hooked beak, is extremely fast and has excellent vision. Frigatebirds are known for the large red pouch on their necks.

During mating season the males thrown back their heads, inflate the pouch (sometimes to the size of a soccer ball), and shake trying to capture the attention of female frigates. Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. Sharing the same nesting area on North Seymour, blue-footed boobies nest on the ground making their nests from the twigs of the palo santos trees, while the frigate birds nests just above them in the saltbushes. This is your final excursion before you return to the airport in Baltra for your flight back to Quito.

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. Today you transfer by road and boat back to Baltra Airport for your flight back to Quito. On arrival in Quito you are met and transferred to your hotel for you last night. 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

Quito; trip ends

The trip ends in Quito. (B)