Galapagos and Ecuador

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Day 1: Arrive in Quito

Met on arrival at Quito Airport and transfer to our Quito hotel. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Quito.

 

Day 2: Explore Calderon, Cuicocha Crater Lake, Cotachachi. Overnight at Hacienda

The tour includes Calderón, a village known for its decorative bread dough figurines, the valleys of Guayllabamba and Cayambe, landscapes dotted with towering volcanoes and amazing opportunities for taking pictures. You will have a delicious lunch of local Ecuadorian specialties while musicians play on traditional instruments. Then you will go to the crater lake of Cuicocha, and finally the leather-making village of Cotacachi. Overnight at a traditional hacienda or inn near Otavalo.

 

Day 3: Train to Ibarra, Salinas, and Otavalo market, back to Quito

From Otavalo, we drive to Ibarra and go to the train station. The Chaski Antawa Train (messenger train) runs on the railway built at the beginning of the 20th century connecting the northern highlands to the tropical coast. From Ibarra, the train climbs down to the warm, dry valley of Ambuqui, through sugarcane plantations, magical landscapes, and tunnels and crossing bridges that span deep canyons and gullies. The 26-km ride to Salinas plunges from 7,216 to 4,920 feet (2,200 mt down to 1,500 mt) above sea level in only about two hours. Enjoy a unique lunch at Kleintours' social project, the “Chaski Antawa Restaurant”, which is our way of helping the Valley of Salinas and its surrounding area become a tourist destination and raising the standard of living of its inhabitants. Its menu was carefully selected and drawn up by the community using high quality standards. You will have a delicious lunch in the Salinas Restaurant. Other sites include Otavalo and its famous indigenous arts and crafts market, the largest in South America. Overnight in Quito.

 

Day 4: Fly to Galapagos Islands, Baltra Island, highlands of Santa Cruz

This morning you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island where we are greeted by our Galapagos guides.

We will travel by shuttlebus the short distance to the Itabaca Channel for a quick ferry ride to our waiting coach for the drive across Santa Cruz Island. We will pass through the dry coastal area and climb into the lush highlands with stunning views down the other side towards the town of Puerto Ayora where our yacht awaits.

 

Day 5: Espanola

Today we explore the southernmost island in the Galapagos, Espanola. This is also the oldest island, and because of its remote location, has a large number of endemic species.

The Hood Mockingbird, Espanola Lava Lizards, and multi colored Marine Iguanas are only a few of the endemic species. Normally Marine Iguanas are black in color — a defensive mechanism allowing them to blend in with the black lava rocks. However, on Espanola, these Iguanas are brightly colored with a reddish tint — changing to green during the breeding season.

 

Day 6: Floreana - Cormorant Point and Post Office Bay

Today we visit several areas of Floreana Island. At Cormorant Point we hike to a lagoon to see one of the largest populations of flamingos in the Galapagos. Along the way we search for specimens of endemic plant life such as the Galapagos millwork, passion flower and the unique button mangrove. There is also the option of a deep water snorkel around Devils Crown or the opportunity to snorkel with the sea lions by the beach.

Floreana is one of the few islands visited for its human history. We visit the famous Post Office, which has been in operation since 1793 when Captain James Colnett installed an empty rum barrel to serve as a post box. Sailors and pirates would leave letters in the barrel, where they would be picked up by the next sailing crew who could take them to their destination.Try your luck with your postcards home!

We may also stop at the site of the mysterious legend of the “Mirador de la Baronesa” - an unsolved 1930s murder mystery involving a beautiful baroness, her two lovers and a dentist!

 

Day 7: North Seymour, Santa Cruz

Passengers on the Wednesday itinerary will be transferred between the Baltra airport and the yacht in Baltra's harbor.

North Seymour is an islet located north of Baltra, and is home to swallow-tailed gulls, and sea lions, and also serves as a major nesting area for blue footed boobies.

In the afternoon we may see flamingos as we hike to Dragon Hill on the west side of Santa Cruz Island. From here we have a magnificent view of the surrounding hills and the ocean. This area is a nesting site for land iguanas that were reintroduced by the Charles Darwin Research Station, and hopefully we will observe those reptiles.

There is also a bizarre scalesia tree forest; these trees are often referred to as daisy trees. We take a dinghy ride to look for spotted eagle and golden rays, white tipped reef sharks and Pacific green sea turtles which rest in the calm waters of the coves and channels.

 

Day 8: Rabida, Santiago

Santiago is the Galapagos' fourth largest island. Using the dark sand beach at Egas Port as our base, we will explore the surrounding landscape of tuff-stone layers and lava flows which are prime areas for spotting herons: hunting, great blue, lava, and yellow crowned night herons can all be found here.

In addition to bird life, marine iguanas can be found grazing upon the algae beds at low tide, and brilliantly colored sally lightfoot crabs abound. Another highlight of Santiago is the Fur Seal grotto — which may be the only chance visitors have to see fur seals.

 

Day 9: Fernandina and Isabela

This morning we visit the westernmost island in the Galapagos, Fernandina. We may be able to see steam and gas rising from the island, as Fernandina is the youngest and most active volcanic island in the archipelago. From there we move onto Isabela; an island which was formed from the lava flow of six volcanic islands merging to create one land mass. Five of the six volcanoes are still active.

There are several visitor sites on Isabela including two volcanoes - Alcedo and Sierra Negra. These western volcanoes remain virtually untouched, and we may see giant tortoises and possibly even whales along the coastline.

 

Day 10: Bartolome, Santa Cruz

We continue to the region of the Central Islands, stopping to explore the islet of Bartolome - the most photographed island in the archipelago. This small volcanic islet has numerous volcanic features including spatter and cinder cones, and we may have the opportunity to hike to the summit of the once active volcano with its stunning panoramic view over the eroded tuff cone of Pinnacle Rock.

On Santa Cruz, we visit the shallow, mangrove lagoon of Black Turtle Cove with its abundant bird life. Here we may see lava and great blue herons, lava gulls, frigate birds and boobies.

 

Day 11: Charles Darwin Station, Baltra, fly to Quito

This morning we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station which is the operations center for the Galapagos wildlife conservation and preservation programs carried out by the Galapagos National Park Service.

In the afternoon, we will return to Baltra for our flight to Quito for the evening free in Quito. Overnight in Quito.

 

Day 12: Quito

Explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas. Visit some of its most important churches such as the majestic La Compañía (Society of Jesus Church) and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. Drive through the traditional neighborhood of San Juan. Finish the day at the "Panecillo" hillside with its breathtaking views of the old and modern city. Overnight in Quito.

 

Day 13: Depart Quito

Transfer to the airport

 
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