Summary : Encounter the island chain that has enchanted explorers since Darwin first weighed anchor off its shores. Enjoy your days exploring the incredible wildlife of the Galapagos archipelago in the company of an expert naturalist guide. In the evenings, return to the comfortable Queen of the Galapagos to reflect on the day’s adventure under a canopy of stars. Retire to air-conditioned cabins with exclusive lower berths and private bathrooms.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Snorkeling
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Arrive in Quito and check into your hotel. A representative will greet you and brief you on various aspects of the tour. The day is free for you to enjoy the city. The Ecuadorian capital of Quito enjoys a wonderful spring-like climate, despite the fact that it is only 14 miles south of the Equator. Nestled in a valley flanked by mountains, on a clear day several snow-capped volcanoes, including nearby Pichincha, are visible from the city center. Add to its beautiful location a rich history and well-preserved colonial district, and you begin to understand Quito’s appeal to thousands of visitors every year. The city is home to several excellent museums, historical buildings, landmarks, and a vibrant nightlife.
Transfer early to the airport for your flights to the Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival in San Cristobal, meet your naturalist guide who will assist you in transferring to your vessel. Visit the Galapaguera Cerro Colorado in the afternoon, a reserve for the repopulation of giant turtles.
Set sail and reach Santa Fé, a small and dry island. Also called Barrington, Santa Fé Island is well-known as a great place for watching (and swimming with) sea lions. Along the island's northern shore, you can view the forest of giant Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia). Santa Fé is also home to a number of endemic species which have bounced back from various threats to their survival. You may get a chance to see the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, a variety of finches and the Galapagos mockingbird.
In the afternoon, take an excursion by "panga" to Black Turtle Cove, to witness the extensive mangrove system and interesting waterway canals. Sea Turtles and different species of rays can often be seen in this cove, offering a peaceful and fascinating glimpse into the diversity of the area.
Enjoy a morning excursion to Playa Espumilla, one of the most idyllic beaches in the Galapagos islands, with thick mangroves along with flamingo and sea turtle nesting sites. Continue to Puerto Egas to see the salt crater as well as a dark sand beach and tidal pools.
Santiago Island has seen its share of human activity from whalers and pirates over the years, and despite the introduction of goats to the island many years ago, the wildlife of Santiago has flourished otherwise and provides outstanding viewing opportunities. The island boasts marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, land and sea turtles among others, which provide great wildlife viewing both on land and in the water.
Land at Genovesa Island, an old imploded volcano, to observe the massive colonies of Frigate Birds, Boobies and other seabirds, as well as striking volcanic cliffs rising from the ocean.
North of the main Galapagos Island group, Genovesa Island itself is the shape of a horseshoe due to its volcanic history. The first landing is at Darwin Bay for fantastic snorkeling opportunities within the partially eroded crater on the south side of the island.
In the afternoon, explore "El Barranco," otherwise known as Prince Phillip's Steps, on the southern tip of the island. This site is a major breeding ground for red footed boobies. Masked boobies can also be observed here, as well as various species of finches and the Galapagos Mockingbird.
Bartolomé Island (Bartholomew) has 2 main areas of interest. A hike to the summit of the island provides a clearer perspective of the islands' volcanic origins, and the panoramic view is breathtaking. From here, the beach of Bartolomé is visible directly below, the volcanic tower rising out of the water next to it, with Santiago in the distance. After your hike, stop at the beach to relax in semi-tropical tranquility. This area makes for great snorkeling among the submerged volcanic rock and around the base of the tower. A short hike to the beach on the opposite side provides an opportunity to see sharks in these shallow waters, and marine turtles that nest here from January through March.
Witness the striking and fascinating giant lava formations of Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island. Few plants survive on this island due to the harsh environment and relatively new lava flow. Walk along the lava formations before coming to a white coral sand beach that abounds with Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions.
This morning, land on the red sand beach of Rabida Island. A short trail leads to a salt water lagoon, often home to wading flamingos. Past the lagoon to the interior of the island, the revered palo santo trees grow. When burned, the branches of this tree give off a pleasing aroma and ward off mosquitoes. On the beach, among low-lying bushes nest the prehistoric-looking pelicans. This is the best area for close viewing of these nesting birds, and it's a rare treat to watch parent pelicans return with gullets full of fish for the squawking youngsters.
In the afternoon, visit Cerro Dragón on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. Observe land iguanas, as well as a salt water lagoon frequented by flamingoes and various species of birds.
Arrive in Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz is the second largest in the island group, and with Puerto Ayora as its main town, has the largest population. Santa Cruz boasts the most varied of the islands’ vegetation zones: coastal, transition, scalesia, miconia and pampa. The Charles Darwin Research Station is a 10 minute walk from the center of the town. The station is the site of an exhibition center that displays photos of recent volcanic eruptions, charts outlining geological formations, and drawings of the evolutionary development of endemic species. A corral houses adult Galapagos Tortoises, which may live up to 200 years, and a nursery cares for young tortoises until they are about three years old, when their shells have hardened enough to provide protection. This is the training center for the naturalist guides that accompany visitors to the islands’ landing sites. In the afternoon, you may have the opportunity to visit the highlands and see giant land tortoises in the wild.
Visit the San Cristóbal Interpretation Center, where you'll learn about the history of the Galapagos Islands from the very beginning of their volcanic origins through to today's conservation efforts. Tour the Human History exhibit to learn about the islands' discovery and colonization, and discover the natural history and variety of flora and fauna that make the Galapagos so fascinating. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
Depart at any time.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Arrival transfer and Continental breakfast while in Quito, onboard accommodations, 7 nights in the Galapagos Islands, shore excursions, daily opportunities for swimming and snorkeling, snorkeling equipment onboard Galapagos yacht, 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners, 2 nights at deluxe hotel in Quito; local transportation by flight (Quito to Galapagos, and reverse), motorized catamaran, van, zodiacs, public bus; local naturalist guide (certified by the Galapagos National Park) while in the Islands; local representative in Quito; small group experience.
Airfare; travel insurance (required); passport and visa fees; departure taxes; Tourist Transit card fee ($20 cash, subject to change); Galapagos park entry fee payable immediately upon arrival to the Islands ($100 cash, subject to increase); meals not expressly outlined in itinerary; beverages on board; gratuities are at your discretion; items of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; optional activities.