Galapagos and Ecuador - Onboard the Legend - Onboard the Legend

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Download Galapagos and Ecuador - Onboard the Legend Detailed Itinerary

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: Otavalo Market

Journey by vehicle for a day at Otavalo and its famous indigenous arts and crafts market, the largest in South America. Enjoy the marvelous indigenous market and various sites around Otavalo. Lunch is included today. In the afternoon visit the village of Peguche, famous for its tapestries, and its small local museum of Andean musical instruments. Visit the Condor Park Refuge to observe birds of prey, vultures and owls. Overnight at Hacienda.

 

Day 3: Explore Cotacachi, ­Cuicocha Crater Lake — Return to Quito

Today drive through the Ecuador landscape dotted with towering volcanoes and amazing opportunities for taking pictures. Stroll around the leather-making village of Cotacachi, and then explore the crater lake of Cuicocha. Overnight in Quito.

 

Day 4: Fly to Galapagos ­Islands, Baltra Island, highlands and Pit Craters (Santa Cruz)

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

After landing on Santa Cruz, a 45-minute bus ride will take us to the highlands, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where we will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the island's name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and can live up to 150-200 years. Additionally, travelers can walk inside surprising lava tubes; we also visit Pit Craters created from the collapse of surface materials into chamber fissures underground. It's a great place to spot the Vermilion Flycatcher as we walk inside an endemic Scalesia Forest.

 

Day 5: Egas Port & Salt Mines (Santiago), Pinnacle Rock (Bartolome)

At Egas Port we land on a beach of black volcanic sand, first visited by Darwin in 1835. The first section of the trail is comprised of volcanic ash (eroded tuff) and the other half of partially uneven terrain, comprised of volcanic basaltic rock lounging 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 an astounding array of marine wildlife including lobster, starfish and marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside Sally Light-foot Crabs. Colonies of endemic fur seals swimming in cool water pools formed by volcanic rocks are also a highlight.

Snorkeling here offers rarities such as octopus and squid. We organize optional visits to the Salt Mines where you can observe the two species of sea lions: fur and Galapagos sea lions.

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.

Beach time is a great opportunity to snorkel and see (perhaps swim with) Galapagos Penguins, sea turtles and White-tipped Reef Sharks, along with 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.

 

Day 6: Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz) and North Seymour

We walk by a brackish lagoon on Santa Cruz where feeding flamingos can be occasionally found. The trail leads across typical dry zone vegetation up to Dragon Hill, an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas and which offers lovely views of the anchorage and neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin's finches, Yellow Warblers and Galapagos Doves.

North Seymour is perhaps one of the busiest tourist destinations on the archipelago. It is located off of Baltra Island (where the airport is located) and not far from Santa Cruz. It is the most accessible for day trips out of Santa Cruz's main port, Puerto Ayora.

Later we will have an approximately two hour walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigatebirds, and swallow-tailed gulls for an in-depth encounter with sea bird breeding cycles and as well as sea lions. You will also encounter sea lions, land iguanas, and on a lucky day, you might even come across a Galapagos Snake.

 

Day 7: Ballena Bay and Eden Islet (Santa Cruz)

Ballena (Whale) Bay is a beautiful green sand cove at the base of Dragon Hill on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. The beach contains a large amount of olivine crystals of volcanic origin. The crystals were formed when the magma was still underground. The content is magnesium, iron and silica. A small population of tortoises from Pinzón Island previously lived at the site, but were probably taken by whalers or earlier inhabitants. There is an opportunity to see marine iguanas and sea birds followed by free time for snorkeling.

 

Day 8: Moreno Point and Elizabeth Bay (Isabela)

The main attractions at Punta Moreno are coastal lagoons amidst black lava flows where bird life is particularly interesting. It offers a panoramic view of three volcanoes, the most active of the Galapagos: Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul on Isabela Island and La Cumbre, on Fernandina Island. Mangrove forest, lava formations, coastal and migratory birds and usually flamingos, can be seen here. Lava cactus, sea turtles, lagoons and tidal pools and candelabra cactus are other highlights to be encountered.

We take a dinghy ride at Elizabeth Bay along the coast surrounded by mangrove forest for an opportunity to admire Flightless Cormorants, Galapagos Penguins, and a resting area for sea turtles.

 

Day 9: Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove (Isabela)

Depending on the season, we may find giant tortoises, land iguanas and the unusual Flightless Cormorant. After a short walk inland, snorkeling time is allotted, giving you yet another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season.We can observe the beautiful colors of plants that attract different insects, birds and reptiles. We will explore the uplifted coral reef that resulted from 1954 volcanic activity, with a spectacular view of Alcedo Volcano.

There is a dry landing on Galapagos' largest island, where we will learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that form it. The trail leads to Darwin's saltwater crater lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations.

We will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where we will admire a variety of seabirds, such as Bluefooted Booby, Brown Noddy, terns, Flightless Cormorant and depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos Penguins which are only 35 cm. tall; the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the equator. They are monogamous and lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, on the lower parts of the island near the shoreline not reached by the ocean waves.

The population of penguins on the islands is about 2,000 individuals, most of which live on this western portion of Isabela; others are scattered further south on the island. We will have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water. Graffiti believed to have been left by 19th-century pirates is a curious reminder of an intriguing past.

 

Day 10: Espinosa Point (Fernandina) and Vicente Roca Point (Isabela)

Espinosa Point is the only spot that we visit on Fernandina, and from it we can see the island of Isabela across the Bolívar Channel, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. The largest, most primitive-looking race of marine iguanas are found mingling with sea lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs; a wonderful opportunity to encounter Flightless Cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos Penguins and the “King” of predators on the Islands, the Galapagos Hawk.

“Pa-hoe-hoe” and “AA” lava formations cover the majority of the terrain. Vegetation is thus scarce inland, but we encounter Brachycereus cacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores.

We are afforded great deep-water snorkeling at one of the richest marine havens on Earth (Bolívar Channel). We take a dinghy ride along the coast of Vincente Roca Point to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds. The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life.

 

Day 11: Highlands (Santa Cruz)

A 45-minute bus ride will take us to the Santa Cruz highlands, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where we will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the island's name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and can live up to 150-200 years.

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

 

Day 12: Depart Quito

Transfer to the airport.

 
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