Ecuador & The Galapagos Islands - Natural Selection In The Enchanted Isles

For a cultural and wildlife adventure a little closer to home and your own time zone, journey to the enchanted isles of the Galapagos. Begin with 3 nights on the mainland discovering UNESCO World Heritage marvels in Quito, snow-capped mountains and fantastic shopping in Otavalo, and friendly people every step of the way. Then board your vessel for a 4-night cruise aboard the Coral I or II, to experience close encounters with animals found nowhere else on earth. Feel the wind in your hair as you motor in an open panga between the boat and the next island, where your hikes will be accompanied by knowledgeable guides eager to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for this world treasure.

Degree of Difficulty - Four Paws

Very Active. May involve strenuous hikes, severe stair climbing, arduous activities, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.

Weather Reports - When To Go

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.

Days 1/2/3 MIAMI/QUITO/OTAVALO

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 gold glittering altars, including the colonial quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. 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 handicrafts. PATIO ANDALUZ. (No meals; B,D; B,L)

Day 4 GALAPAGOS ISLANDS ~ SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND/CERRO COLORADO TORTOISE RESERVE

Fly to San Cristobal Island and get set for your Galapagos adventure. In 1825 Charles Darwin spent five weeks aboard the HMS Beagle exploring the Galapagos Islands. How he would envy your nights aboard the CORAL I or CORAL II, a 36 or 20-passenger vessel with private facilities, exceptional food and expert naturalists. First visit on the islands is to 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. 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.  (B,L,D)

Day 5 SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND/CERRO BRUJO/PUNTA PITT

A wet landing this morning at 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 Boobies, 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. After lunch land at Punta Pitt for a high intensity hike on rocky terrain to an olivine beach 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 the two species of frigatebirds. (B,L,D)

Day 6 HOOD ISLAND (ESPANOLA)

 

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.  (B,L,D)

Day 7 FLOREANA ISLAND

 

First stop is Champion, a small islet located just offshore Floreana Island.  Enjoy dinghy rides and snorkeling here along a nice marine wall filled with a variety of wildlife like schools of the endemic black-striped salemas, blue lobster, long-nose hawkfish, sea horses, coral hawkfish, sea lions and the red-lipped batfish.  Head to Punta Cormorant which 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. In the afternoon discover Post Office Bay, established since the 18th century as a post office by mariners, this is the home of the historic Post Office Barrel. Drop in a letter or postcard and it may be delivered, even without postage!  (B,L,D)

Days 8/9 EL CHATO RESERVE/SANTA CRUZ ISLAND/BALTRA/GUAYAQUIL/MIAMI

Drop anchor at Puerto Ayora at Santa Cruz Island and head to the highlands to visit a private farm and natural tortoise reserve – ‘El Chato’, where giant tortoises are found in their natural habitat as well as land birds such as Tree and Ground Finches, Vermillion Flycatchers, Paint-billed Crakes, Yellow Warblers and Cattle Egrets. Afterwards, transfer to Baltra Island and fly to Guayaquil, where you enjoy 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,D)

OPTIONAL POST EXTENSION TO PERU

Fly to Guayaquil and connect to Lima, where you’ll be 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.

YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES:

  • Superior accommodations at hotels in itinerary, or similar.
  • American breakfast in Quito. All meals while on the Galapagos cruise. All other meals as specified.
  • 5-Days/4-Nights Cruise to the Galapagos Islands aboard the CORAL I OR II with all meals included, based on Standard Cabin.  Upgrades to Standard Plus and Junior Cabins at additional cost are available. Naturalist guide provided aboard the ship.
  • Expert local guides throughout.
  • Gratuities for baggage handling, hotel tips and taxes.
  • Fuel surcharges on the cruise.
  • All entrance fees to places of interest visited and on sightseeing tours indicated in the itinerary, excluding the Galapagos Islands entry fees ($100 currently) and Ingala Card ($20 currently.)
  • Complimentary passport wallet and baggage tags.
  • Complimentary emergency evacuation insurance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prices starting at $4,995. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.