A trip to the Galápagos Islands is an experience of a lifetime, the history and mystery of the islands will inspire you to understand more about this amazing ecological system. This isolated group of volcanic islands, spans 620 miles off Ecuador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean, it has on almost mythological status as a showcase of biodiversity which inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Most of the islands are void of vegetation and it is with this lunar landscape, that makes this one of the most amazing places on Earth. The Galápagos Islands comprise a mysterious landscape of land and sea with some of the most unusual wildlife found anywhere on Earth.
With the lack of natural predators, the Galápagos animals are completely fearless of humans, and this is possible the only place in the world, where you can see such diverse wildlife. You can snorkel with sea lions and penguins, walk with the giant tortoises, view a wide variety of birds such as the blue footed boobies. Walk the beaches lined with sea lions and the babies calling for their mothers. On Board: Swimming pool, gym, game room, library, 24-hour medical service, laundry service, international phone, fax service, piano lounge, well-stocked bars, massage room, observation decks, sun decks, chill out zone.
The Main focus of this tour is the abundant biodiversity and the geological wonders of the Galápagos Islands, also highlighted by exploring the Capitol city of Quito, Ecuador and it's history, color, and a stop to the "Middle of the World" You also have the option of extended your journey to Peru and visiting Machu Picchu to top off your journey of discovery of the unique places and magical experiences of this earth.
Embedded within a dramatic landscape at the meeting point between the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is among the greatest artistic, architectural and land use achievements anywhere and the most significant tangible legacy of the Inca civilization. Recognized for outstanding cultural and natural values, the mixed World Heritage property covers mountain slopes, peaks and valleys surrounding its heart, the spectacular archaeological monument of “La Ciudadela” (the Citadel) at more than 2,400 meters above sea level. Built in the fifteenth century Machu Picchu was abandoned when the Inca Empire was conquered by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. It was not until 1911 that the archaeological complex was made known to the outside world.
The approximately 200 structures making up this outstanding religious, ceremonial, astronomical and agricultural center are set on a steep ridge, crisscrossed by stone terraces. Following a rigorous plan the city is divided into a lower and upper part, separating the farming from residential areas, with a large square between the two. To this day, many of Machu Picchu’s mysteries remain unresolved, including the exact role it may have played in the Incas’ sophisticated understanding of astronomy and domestication of wild plant species.
THIS TOUR CAN BE ADDED TO THE MACHU PICCHU TOUR. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
If you opted to add on the Pre "Machu Picchu Tour" You will fly from Lima, Peru to Quito, Ecuador to then start this tour
November 5th TUESDAY - Arrive into Quito, Ecuador. Most flights arrive in the evening hours so there are no planned activities this day. Arrive at the airport and then have a private transfer to your hotel. For those who may arrive early in the day you can enjoy Quito at your leisure or book an optional tour.
November 6th WEDNESDAY - Enjoy a guided tour of Quito. Today we tour the capital city of Quito. Offering native South American traditions interwoven with European culture and Catholic religion, Quito offers a fascinating mix of monumental Spanish gothic and baroque cathedrals and churches set against the modern, gleaming skyscrapers. We will visit such sites as the Independence Square flanked by the Presidential and the Archbishop’s palaces from the 13th and 14th century, the Moorish-styled Metropolitan Cathedral, the baroque Jesuit Church and Convent, and Plaza of San Francisco. We will stop at the "Middle of the World" site and the Equator Monument situated at 0º0’0” latitude, where an 18th century multinational expedition located the Equator and established for the first time the Earth's accurate measurements. You will also have a stop at the Mercado for shopping of local handmade goods. Welcome dinner tonight at an authentic local restaurant. (B,D)
November 7th THURSDAY - San Cristobal Island: After breakfast depart the hotel and Fly from Quito to Arrive in San Cristobal Airport and Transfer to the boat.
On San Cristobal Island enjoy the Interpretation Center tour to learn more about the Galapagos Islands.
In the afternoon enjoy San Cristobal Island with the Tijeretas Hill. This hill provides visitors with an impressive view of the bay from one side and the town from the other. The area is also great for observing both the magnificent and great frigatebirds and a diverse array of flora. The site also offers safe snorkeling and swimming. Dinner on board this evening.
November 8th FRIDAY - AM Arrive at Española Island - Gardner Bay/Islet Gardner Bay, on the eastern side of the island, is the breeding site of nearly all of the world´s 12,000 pairs of Waved Albatrosses. It has an ample white sandy beach with a myriad of sea lions, perfect for relaxing. Its rocky shores make this site a great place for diving and snorkeling.
White sandy beach, sea lions, mockingbirds; snorkeling: colorful fish, sea lion nursery.
Possible Activities:* Snorkeling, dinghy ride, kayaking, short hike
Española Island: Suarez Point Osborn Islet is near Española and is a great place to observe sea lions, parrot fish, butterfly fish, coral and possilbe red-lipped bat fish.
Sea lions, parrot fish, butterfly fish
Possible Activities:* Short hiking
Lunch on board while cruising to Suarez Point - Española Island - This area is great for spotting blue-footed boobies, albatrosses and Nazca boobies. A beautiful site on the ocean front, the large waved albatrosses use the cliff as a launching pad. The famous attraction is the magnificent blowhole, spurting water high into the air. This site presents wonderful photograph opportunities.
Hood mockingbird, Nazca boobies, waved albatross, red-billed tropicbirds, lava lizards, Galapagos hawk, blue-footed boobies, blow hole, amazing landscape
Possible Activities:* Hike
November 9th SATURDAY - AM Floreana Island: Post Office Bay - In the 18th century, whalers passing through the islands placed a wooden barrel on Floreana Island for use as an unofficial mail box. The tradition continues today as visitors leave addressed postcards in the barrel and sort through left mail to deliver at home.
Barrel Post Office, nice sandy beach.
Floreana Island: Cormorant Point - This site hosts a large flamingo lagoon where other birds such as common stilts and white-cheeked pintails can also be seen. The beaches on this island are distinct: The Green Beach is named so due to its green color, which comes from a high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand, and the Four Sand Beach is composed of white coral.
Flamingoes, green-colored beach
Possible Activities:* Dinghy ride & hike
Lunch on board while cruising to Devil's Crown - One of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos, this volcanic crater has been eroded by the waves leaving the northern and southern sides poking out of the water. The coral reef in the middle is perfect for attracting marine life. Snorkelers enjoy the variety of marine life and exciting currents that rush through the crown, creating an exhilarating experience.
The best snorkeling site in Galapagos Islands with sharks, rays, rock formations, lots of tropical fish.
Possible Activities:* Snorkeling
PM Floreana Island: Champion Islet - This drift dive leads you along a nice wall filled with all sorts of treasures, both big and small. A variety of amazing finds like the endemic black striped salema, the blue lobster, and the famous red-lipped batfish!
Long nose hawk fish, sea horses, coral hawkfish. Sea lions will be your guides on this dive!
November 10th SUNDAY - AM Santa Cruz Island: Charles Darwin St./ Tortoise Breeding Center.
The Charles Darwin Research Station is home to tortoises ranging from 3-inches (new hatchlings) to 4-feet long. Sub-species of tortoises interact with one another and many of the older tortoises are accustomed to humans, stretching out their heads for a photo opportunity. The babies are kept until they are about four years old and strong enough to survive on their own. The Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center, a long-term program run jointly by the Galapagos National Park Directorate and the Charles Darwin Foundation, began in 1965 to save the giant tortoise population on Pinzón. At the Tortoise Center, visitors can observe a variety of tortoises, including hatchlings, juveniles, and full-grown individuals. Please remember you cannot touch the tortoises (or any other animals) in the Galapagos.
Giant tortoises in captivity
Possible Activities:* Walking
Santa Cruz Island: Highlands - Reached by bus from Puerto Ayora, the highlands of Santa Cruz are a deep green, contrasting beautifully with much of the dry, lower islands. The dominant vegetation in the highlands is the Scalesia trees, creating the lush green color. The lava tubes, over half a mile long, are underground and walking through them is a unique, surreal experience.
Lava tunnels, wild tortoises, tortoise breeding center.
Possible Activities:* Hike
Lunch on board while cruising to Santa Cruz Island: Eden Islet - Eden Island has no landing, the main attraction is its incredible marine life with some open water snorkeling, you can expect to spot marine iguanas, reef sharks, & sea lions. Ashore a variety of birds can be seen across mangrove & rocks, blue footed boobies, pelicans, lava gulls, striated herons & frigates. View more about Santa Cruz Island
Land Iguanas, rocky beach, shorebirds, flamingos, Dry zone
Possible Activities:* Snorkeling, Panga Ride
Santa Cruz Island: Whale Bay - Whale Bay, located on the west coast of Santa Cruz, is a green-sanded beach at the base of Dragon Hill. The place contains a large amount of olivine crystals of volcanic origin that were formed when the magma was still underground. Whale Bay was one of the first human settlements in the Galapagos Islands as shown by the ceramic relics dating form the mid 19th Century. View more about Santa Cruz Island
Green-sanded beach, shore birds, archaeological artifacts
Possible Activities:* Hiking
November 11th MONDAY - AM Santa Cruz Island: Carrion Point - This site is often dived prior to the big steam north to Darwin and Wolf and so may represent your first real dive after your check out dive. This may be your introduction to some features of Galapagos diving such as rocky slopes where the boulder strewn reef is only occasionally interspersed with sandy patches. You will also see some almost ever-present creatures such as sea lions, creole fish and blue striped sea slugs.
White tip reef Shark, Hammerhead Shark, Manta ray, Marine Life. (B)
Baltra: Transfer to the Baltra Airport for your flight to Quito. Or Continue onto Peru for the "Machu Picchu" extension tour.