Discover the colorful culture of Ecuador and experience close encounters with animals found nowhere else on earth. Six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, Charles Darwin used the Galapagos Islands as his living laboratory to gather evidence for his theory of Natural Selection. You can use it to swim and snorkel with sea lions, come within mere inches of Blue-footed Boobies and iguanas as mysterious as the volcanic islands they inhabit. The intimate atmosphere of your luxury catamaran with spacious cabins and common areas makes this an unforgettable adventure.
Very Active. May involve strenuous hikes, severe stair climbing, arduous activities, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
This is truly a destination that is great to travel to year-round. In the Galapagos, the climate is generally pleasant. Due to mist, cloud cover and cool Pacific breezes, conditions are rarely hot. In Quito, over 9,000 feet above sea level, the temperature ranges from 55ºF at night to 78ºF at noon. The Coast’s climate (Guayaquil) is generally warm and can be quite humid.
Fly to Quito, where you are escorted to your historic boutique hotel in the heart of ‘Quito Antiguo.’ Next day, tour this vibrant colonial city with its churches and Spanish goldglittering altars, including the colonial quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. On the last day, depart for South America’s most famous Indian fair – the Otavalo Market. As you stroll the streets, immerse yourself in the colorful and vibrant culture listening to Andean pipe music and Quechua, the native tongue from Incan times, drifting across the marketplace. Enjoy a traditional Andean lunch at a local hacienda and continue your shopping adventure in Cotacachi, the center of Ecuador’s leather industry, and Calderon for bread-dough handicraft. PATIO ANDALUZ. (B,D; B,L)
Fly to Baltra and get set for your Galapagos adventure. In 1835, Charles Darwin spent five weeks aboard the HMS Beagle exploring the Galapagos Islands. How he would envy your nights aboard the M/C GALAPAGOS SEAMAN JOURNEY, a 16-passenger luxury catamaran. Enjoy exceptional food and daily lectures by your naturalist, as well as a beautiful and spacious sun deck offering a great view of the passing landscapes. Set sail for North Seymour Island where colonies of Blue-footed Boobies, Magnificent Frigatebirds and Swallow-tail Gulls, Galapagos sea lions and marine iguanas will welcome you. (All Meals)
Calling all bird watchers! Upon arrival at Darwin Bay, stroll up to Swallow-tailed and Lava Gulls hanging out at nearby tide pools before entering a forest of salt bush, where colonies of Great Frigatebirds often nest. Swim, snorkel and then board your panga to view more wildlife near Prince Phillip’s Steps including Red-footed Boobies roosting in mangrove trees. Savor the majestic view of the bay and the seabirds such as Red-billed Tropicbirds, Nazca Boobies and Storm Petrels soaring on the breeze. (All Meals)
Arrive at Plazas Island and look for land iguanas resting in the shade of a cactus or the Swallow-tailed Gulls nesting along the southern cliffs. The rocky seashore offers prime habitat for a large colony of sea lions. Head over to Santa Fe, geologically known as the oldest island in the Galapagos with rocks over 4 million years old, where you may be greeted by a large colony of sea lions. Search for large and pale iguanas, an island endemic, nestled along the tall forests of opuntia cacti. (All Meals)
Visit the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises which opened in 2004 and was named after a famous settler. Located in Cerro Colorado, this state of the art center is dedicated to the reproduction of the giant tortoises. After lunch, learn about the history of the islands at the Interpretation Center with its exuberant gardens and ocean views. The oldest museum on the natural history of the Galapagos, you’ll learn about the geological and human history of these fragile islands, as well as conservation facts. (All Meals)
Enjoy La Galapaguera Natural hike and swim, a unique opportunity to see acolony of San Cristobal Giant Tortoises in the wild and Chatham lava lizards, and at the shallow lagoon where your hike ends, view many wetland birds. Set sails towards Cerro Brujo, a beautiful beach of white coral sand where you can swim and snorkel in the company of sea lions and birds. This is the first coast where Charles Darwin walked in 1835; in this marvelous lava landscape, he too must have seen seabirds such as the Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, herons, frigatebirds and other shore birds. Look for the endemic Chatham Mockingbird and San Cristobal lava lizards, the Pajaro Brujo tiny bird, and young tortoises in the wild. (All Meals)
Spend the day on the most southern island on the archipelago. At Punta Suarez search for various nesting seabird species, Galapagos Doves, Galapagos Hawks and several types of reptiles. Marvel at the blowhole where water is sprayed over 30 yards into the air. See the only nesting site of the Waved Albatross in the Galapagos as you head towards Gardner Bay. Frequented by sea lions, it is also a major nesting site for marine turtles. (All Meals)
Punta Cormorant offers two highly contrasting beaches, one composed of olivine crystals, giving it a greenish tinge and the other a carbonate beach of very fine white sand formed from coral skeletons. Located between the beaches is a salt lagoon, frequented by flamingos, pintails, stilts and other wading birds. Established since the 18th century as a post office by mariners, Post Office Bay has been the home of the historic Post Office Barrel. Drop in a letter or postcard and it may be delivered, even without postage! (All Meals)
Drop anchor at Puerto Ayora and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, where scientists from all over the world work and conduct biological research. See for yourself the Galapagos tortoise, as well as the captive breeding program that contributes to the conservation of this endangered creature. Stroll along Charles Darwin Avenue for a chance to shop and experience the local color. En route to Baltra for your flight back to Guayaquil, time permitting visit Los Gemelos for a chance to see wild tortoises in the highlands. In Guayaquil, enjoy a dayroom at the OROVERDE HOTEL, or if time is short, dinner before returning to the airport for your flight home, bringing with you memories of the unique wildlife you experienced on the Galapagos Islands! (B)
From Guayaquil, head to Lima, where you’re introduced to the heart of urban Peru. Fly to Cusco and drive to Yucay in the sacred valley of the Incas, a place of adventure, natural beauty, and rich history. Explore remarkable ruins, lively markets, and the beautiful rivers and forests before heading on by rail to Machu Picchu, through some of the most breathtaking landscapes imaginable. Get a taste of the legendary Inka Trail with a short morning trek, and explore Cusco itself, the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the Western hemisphere, before returning to Lima and your flight home.
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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