- Nemo II
- Sailing Vessel
- 12 Capacity
- 11 Days
- Price from
Summary : Experience an exclusive active adventure in the world's most unique wildlife destination—plus, explore the Andean cloud forest! The far-flung archipelago of the Galapagos is unique on earth—giant tortoises roam misty meadows, sea lions loll, nonchalant on pristine beaches, iguanas bask on sun-baked lava while sea turtles, rays, and penguins swim with snorkelers in turquoise waters. Paddling this primeval paradise is a privilege few visitors get to enjoy. A special Galapagos kayaking permit allows you access to remote places that guests aboard larger ships never see. The deluxe catamaran whisks you between anchorages and provides comfortable accommodations. Each day, explore a different island, either on foot or by kayak, or sometimes both. The islands are surprisingly diverse, with new discoveries at each spot you visit.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking
Arrive in Quito, where your local representative meets you at the airport. Your Ecuador adventure begins with a two-hour drive to the market town of Otavalo, home to mostly indigenous residents of the Andean highlands. Spend the next two nights at Las Palmeras, a 150-year-old hacienda tucked into a lush mountain valley at the base of two volcanoes. Your accommodations are in cozy adobe cottages, each with a log fireplace to take the chill off the cool mountain nights. Within the compound's tile-topped earthen walls, towering palm trees rise above a perennial garden abloom with hibiscus, bougainvillea, orchids and more, which attract hummingbirds, vermilion flycatchers and other colorful birds. Dinner is on your own this evening, in order to enjoy the inn and its surroundings at your leisure.
The countryside surrounding the town of Otavalo offers an ideal introduction for hiking in Ecuador. Mountain lakes glisten beneath wide blue skies, while two dramatic volcanoes dominate the skyline—15,190-foot Imbabura and 16,388-foot Cotacachi. With a picnic lunch packed, head off on local trails to explore the landscape up close, keeping an eye out for the many different bird species you're likely to see along the way. This evening, gather for an orientation and welcome dinner as you prepare to depart for the Galapagos in the morning.
Rise early to make the return transfer to the Quito airport, where you board the flight to the Galapagos this morning. Your Expedition Leader meets you as you land on the island of Baltra, then transfer to the marina to board your vessel. This first-class sailing catamaran will be your home base for the next week as you kayak among the islands. Your first destination is Las Bachas on Santa Cruz, a white-sand beach that is a prominent nesting site for green sea turtles. Flamingos are also frequently spotted here in the saline lagoons. Your Expedition Leader is an expert naturalist on the islands' flora and fauna, with in-depth knowledge that enhances your discoveries at every turn.
This afternoon, you'll have an orientation to the kayaks, with an introduction to technique and safety, as well as a chance to get fitted into the boats. Leave your vessel behind for the evening and ascend to the misty heights of Santa Cruz for a night at the exclusive Wild Tortoise Camp. This private campsite, which offers accommodations in safari-style tents and treehouses with distant views of the ocean, is tucked among lush vegetation that attracts giant tortoises. Enjoy the chance to view these ancient, amiable creatures in their natural setting—they often amble right into camp.
Please note: At times, the Wild Tortoise Camp may be closed due to poor weather conditions, in which case you will remain aboard your ship for the night, though all sightseeing inclusions will remain the same.
As you wander the environs of your camp this morning, expect to see more wild tortoises. Nearby, explore a network of subterranean lava tubes and caverns. Your excursion also includes a visit to Los Gemelos—"The Twins"—two deep pit craters in the scalesia forest that hold a variety of birdlife. This afternoon, continue to Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz, where a choice of activities awaits. A wooded walk to secluded Tortuga Bay offers a chance for mellow paddling, a swim in the clear aqua waters, or just relaxing on the pristine white sand beach. Or, you may choose to visit to the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station where international scientists conduct research dedicated to conserving the unique habitats and species of the Galapagos. At the tortoise-rearing facility, see the tiny babies that are bred to help increase the depleted tortoise population, a central part of the station’s conservation mission. Another alternative is free time on your own in town, where you'll find a nice selection of shops, cafes and seaside bars.
Cerro Brujo on San Cristobal is an expanse of powdery white sand that’s home to a large colony of sea lions, as well as blue-footed boobies, pelicans, egrets and marine iguanas. Explore by kayak, paddling near a tuffstone cone where wave erosion has sculpted tunnels and caves. Sail to Kicker Rock, a dramatic volcanic tuff cone that rises 500 feet above the ocean’s surface. Snorkel in deep water to observe and swim with sea turtles, rays of various kinds, as well as gentle reef sharks. By early afternoon, you're bound for Isla Lobos, where you enjoy a delightful swim with the resident sea lion colony and look for feeding marine iguanas.
Española is one of the most prolific wildlife sites in the Galapagos. Hike to the headlands of Punta Suarez where birdlife abounds, with Hood mockingbirds, blue-footed and masked boobies, magnificent frigatebirds and Galapagos hawks. Española is also the world’s main nesting site for the enormous waved albatross. In the afternoon, relocate to Gardner Bay. Relax at an idyllic white sand beach where sea lions laze by the dozens and Pacific green sea turtles frequent the rocky part of the shoreline. Then set out for a sunset paddle along the north shore of the island, along a cliff formed by eroded cinder cones and layers of old basalt, observing giant cacti and many species of birds. Afterward, your catamaran awaits you in the quiet bay.
On Floreana, hike through a Palo Santo forest to a brackish lagoon that’s home to flamingos. Then, travel aboard your ship a short distance offshore to Champion islet, one of the best drift-snorkel spots in the Galapagos. As the current floats you past the steep walls of these underwater volcanic formations, spy large schools of colorful fish as you're followed by playful young sea lions. Following in the footsteps of pirates, whalers, convicts and colonists, explore Floreana’s rich history of adventure. One relic of this colorful past is the “Post Office Barrel,” established by British whalers in 1793, where travelers still leave mail for personal delivery by visitors passing through. Late this afternoon, pending conditions, make a paddle around the mangrove shores of Post Office Bay, where large bull sea lions patrol the rocky territory and reddish marine iguanas bask near the tree cacti.
On Santa Fe, enjoy a short hike through a forest of prickly pear cacti, looking for the endemic land iguanas that wait patiently underneath for fruit to drop. Returning to your catamaran, go snorkeling around a small islet, a natural aquarium with great reef diversity. Next, a two-hour paddle along Santa Fe’s north coast reveals large cliffs and sea caves used by many species of marine birds for nesting and roosting, as well as basking green sea turtles and sea lions. By noon you'll be sailing for South Plaza, one of the smallest islands yet vibrant with diverse flora, land creatures and marine life. Ascend a trail among colorful plants to look for a completely different species of land iguana than you've seen previously, skirting scenic cliffs with dramatic views of the ocean. Overhead, red billed tropicbirds and Galapagos shearwaters fly in large numbers from nearby nests.
Sombrero Chino Island, your destination this morning, receives it's name due to the resemblance to a Chinese hat. Your day begins with a two-hour paddle through the Bainbridge Rocks, shaped like a string of floating mushroom tops. Snorkel in the channel, hoping the resident penguin family will join you. Sailing on to Bartolome, some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos awaits around its submerged base, an underwater playground that’s home to enormous schools of fish, permanently prey to Galapagos penguins. Sleeping white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles and stingrays are also common sightings.
Returning to Santa Cruz, explore the mangrove ecosystem of Black Turtle Cove. An early morning tender by panga, or dinghy, takes you inside a mangrove lagoon where spotted eagle and golden rays swim in schools, white-tipped reef sharks rest at the bottom, and sea turtles bask. Birds abound, too, and you'll likely see pelicans, herons and egrets feeding in the cove. Too soon, your time in the Enchanted Isles comes to a close—say farewell to your catamaran, her crew and your Expedition Leader this afternoon as you return to the Baltra airport for your return flight to Quito. On arrival, you are met and transferred to historic hacienda accommodations located just 15 minutes from the airport.
An early morning airport transfer is provided to meet departing flights home or on to other adventures.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Accommodations as outlined in the itinerary; meals from breakfast on Day 2 to breakfast on Day 11 (except lunch on Day 10); overnight at the Wild Tortoise Camp; drinking water; shore activities and excursions; services of a professional Expedition Leader and boat crew; some gratuities; airport transfers; use of wetsuits and snorkel gear (limited size available); permit fees.
International airfare; airfare to/from Galapagos Islands (added to invoice and subject to change through day of departure); Galapagos National Park entrance fee, $100 adults, $50 children under 12, subject to change without notice; Galapagos Transit Card ($10 per person); items of a personal nature including alcoholic beverages, phone calls, laundry, etc.; passport expenses; travel insurance; most gratuities; optional activities; fuel surcharge may apply.
Medical Evacuation Insurance is mandatory for this trip. If you decline the medical evacuation insurance coverage provided by the tour operator, note that the cost of a medical evacuation policy will be added to your tour invoice until you provide proof of coverage, including your insurance company’s name and contact number, and your insurance policy number.
We are happy to add hotels, air and land arrangements as requested, and you will be quoted for services.
PHOTO: © Patick Endres