Galapagos and Ecuador - Onboard the Corals - Onboard the Coral I or II

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Day 1: Arrive in Quito

You will be met on arrival at Quito Airport and transfered to our Quito hotel. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Quito.

 

Day 2: Quito

Explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas. On our tour we 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 tour at the “Panecillo” hillside with its breathtaking views of the old and modern city. Overnight in Quito.

 

Day 3: Explore Calerdon, Cuicocha, Crater Lake, Cotacachi

We depart early on our tour including Calderón, a village known for its decorative bread dough figurines, the valleys of Guayllabamba and Cayambe, with 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 4: 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, 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. We then travel to Otavalo and its famous indigenous arts and crafts market, the largest in South America. Overnight in Quito.

 

Day 5: Fly to Galapagos ­Islands, Charles Darwin Research Station (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 visit the Station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place and you will have the opportunity to meet Lonesome George, the last surviving specimen of his species and symbol of our efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment. It is an excellent place for visitors to be photographed with them. Admire a prickly-pear cactus forest and a variety Darwin's finches and other land birds. The Darwin Station also works providing environmental education to communities and schools within the islands, and to tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands. You will also have some free time to visit the town and shop for souvenirs.

 

Day 6: Cormorant Point, Champion/Devil’s Crown And Post Office Bay (Floreana)

Today we will have a wet landing on an olivine green sand beach. We hike from the black mangrove beds to a brackish lagoon, which usually holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island features some endemic plants such as Scalesia villosa, white and black mangrove and holy stick. The trail continues to a beautiful white-sand beach, one of the most important nesting sites of Green Pacific Sea Turtles. It is important to avoid walking in the water due to the Sting Rays that may be hiding in the sand and which can be dangerous if accidentally stepped on. From the beach one can spot sea turtles, Blue-footed Boobies plunging into the water, and small reef sharks floating along the shoreline in search of food.

This coral-sand beach marks the end of our trail, and we head back to the olivine beach we landed on to swim or snorkel amongst sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions and, on a good day, white-tipped reef sharks. A small colony of penguins resides on Floreana and can sometimes be observed as well.

Post Office Bay, located on the north side of Floreana, is so-named because in 1793 Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel which served as an informal post office for sailors passing through, who would take letters with them to their destinations. Today, our visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel that should reach their destinations for free. It can take weeks, months, even years, not arrive at all, or even arrive before you!

We may also encounter Darwin's finches, Yellow Warbler and lava lizards. There are great snorkeling opportunities with Green Pacific Sea Turtles and on the main beach, among playful sea lions. This island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus pinnatifidus, and Galapagos milkwort.

 

Day 7: Gardner Bay, Gardner & Osborn Islets, Suarez Point (Espanola)

Today we land on a beautiful white coral sand beach guarded by a colony of sea lions. There are no trails, so we stay along the shore where we can spot Galapagos Hawk, American Oystercatcher, Galapagos Dove, Hood Mockingbird, Yellow Warbler, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and three species of Darwin's finches: a subspecies (Geospiza fuliginosa) of the Large Cactus Finch, which is similar to the large ground finch, the Small Ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) and the Warbler Finch (Certhidea Olivacea) which is another endemic subspecies. Swimming and snorkeling offers a great variety of Galapagos marine animals: King Angelfish, Creole Fish, Damsel Fish, parrot fish, manta rays, and White-tipped Reef Sharks.

An island of geological interest, we explore volcanic formations and a riveting wildlife: large sea lion colonies and seabirds including the Española mockingbird, Nazca boobies and the spectacular red billed tropic bird. You will also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and the colorful sally lightfoot crabs.

Afterwards, a somewhat lengthy hike will bring you among Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, right up to nesting grounds that sometimes overlap the trail. Other birding favorites include Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Hawk, Swallow-tailed Gulls and the world's largest colony of Waved Albatross, an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December). Admire the island's dramatic backdrop, featuring the famous Soplador, a seaward blowhole that shoots water at some 23 m. (75 ft.) in the air.

 

Day 8: Interpretation Center & Tijeretas, Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve (San Cristobal)

Today we have a dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos Islands. Passengers will visit the Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about Natural History in the Galapagos Islands. The Museum of Natural History displays information on the volcanic origins of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, ocean currents, climate, the arrival of the different species and their colonization, among other points of interest. The Human history is also showcased, chronologically narrating the most significant events related to the discovery and colonization of the islands.

Later there will be a dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Passengers will visit the San Cristóbal giant tortoise Breeding Center to learn about the National Park's conservation programs. Passengers will also have the opportunity to visit the port village, have a drink or shop for arts and crafts and other souvenirs.

 

Day 9: Cerro Brujo, Pitt Point and Islet (San Cristobal)

Cerro Brujo is an eroding tuff cone that at several locations is composed of aa lava formations, and a beautiful white sand beach - great for snorkeling and sunbathing. We visit a lagoon where migratory bird species can be seen: Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, other sandpiper species and White-cheeked Pintails. Cerro Brujo offers beautiful views of Kicker Rock, the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast.

In the afternoon there is a wet landing followed by a high intensity hike on rocky terrain. The trail includes an olivine beach of 90 meters long and a path that climbs to the top of a volcanic tuff, through several magnificent viewpoints. This is probably the only site where the three booby species of the Galapagos can be seen together: Nazca, Blue-footed, and Red-footed; as well as two species of frigatebirds and a sea lion colony; it is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling, where a good range of sea birds can be observed.

 

Day 10: Espumilla Beach & Buccaneer Cove, Egas Port (Santiago)

We start the day with a wet landing. This visitor site is surrounded by a mangrove forest, which makes for a pleasant walk, taking us to a magnificent viewpoint of the entire bay. We will see Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and White-checked Pintail. There's also a lagoon where Flamingos can occasionally be seen.

Buccaneer Cove was a safe haven for pirates, sailors and whalers during the 18th and 19th century. It is very scenic with steep cliffs made of tuff formations and the dark reddish-purple sand beach. You can see two of the more recognizable rock formations known as the “monk” and “elephant rock”.

Our visit to Egas Port will also be a wet landing on a beach of black volcanic sand, first-visited by Darwin in 1835. The first part of the trail is comprised of volcanic ash (eroded tuff) and the other half of the trail is partially uneven terrain, comprised of volcanic basaltic rock that lounges the shoreline.

The unique, truly striking layered terrain of Santiago's shores is home to a variety of resident and migrant birds, including the bizarre Yellow-crowned Night Heron and astounding array of marine wildlife including lobster, starfish and marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Colonies of endemic fur seals can be found swimming in cool water pools formed by volcanic rocks. Snorkeling here offers rare opportunities to see octopus or squid.

 

Day 11: Bartolome, Sullivan Bay (Santiago)

On Bartolome we discover a fascinating moonscape formed by different volcanic parasitic cones —lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones —as we hike to the summit for impressive views of the surrounding islands, including the eroded tuff cone known as Pinnacle Rock. We also encounter marine iguanas and lava lizards.

Our beach time here provides a great opportunity to snorkel and see (perhaps swim with) Galapagos Penguin, sea turtles, White-tipped Reef Shark and a great variety of colorful fish. For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best of our snorkeling experiences; the water here is generally clear, without too much surf and full of marine life.

Due to its geographical location, the lack of vegetation is immediately noticeable. Pioneer plants are observed, so called because they are the first to establish roots on new ground. They include Tiquilia nesiotica (which is endemic to the island) and Chamaesyce (known as sand mat or spurge in English), lava cactus, and Scalesia bushes. Behind the beach we have dunes covered by mangroves.

There is a wet landing at Sullivan Bay. This visitor site located at the southeastern portion of Santiago Island, and of important geologic interest, features extensive lava flows believed to have been formed during the last quarter of the 19th century.

 

Day 12: El Chato (Santa Cruz)

This morning we have a dry landing. We will reach the Santa Cruz highlands and visit a private farm, Primicias (El Chato), where giant tortoises are found in their natural habitat. The road to the reserve is one of the best places to observe land birds. Tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers and Cattle Egrets inhabit the area.

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

 

Day 13: Depart Quito

Transfer to the airport.

 
1-800-741-7956 North America  •  0808-234-1714 United Kingdom  •  416-588-5000 Worldwide
 
 

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