You will have several days to explore Quito and the surrounding highlands.
A full day will be spent in the highlands stopping at small villages en route to the town of Otavalo, home to the renowned Otavalo Indian Market.
For nature enthusiasts this itinerary gives you a full week exploring the Galapagos islands on a luxury-class cruise vessel. Cruise programs include two daily guided excursions while sailing throughout the archipelago, from island to island. Alternately, you may opt for a land-based program from one of the upscale hotels located on Santa Cruz Island. Hotel programs include daily yacht excursions to various islands and/or overnight excursions to other islands.
You will be met at the Quito airport by our local bilingual guide and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel.
Overnight Vieja Cuba, daily breakfast included - 3 nights.
You will be met at your hotel and set off with your private guide for a drive around one of the most charming cities in Latin America, declared a "Patrimony of Humanity" by the UNESCO (1978). Enjoy the colonial center of Quito: Independence Square, the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral, the Richest Church of America - La Compañia (dating from 1605) with its breathtaking golden altars, The San Francisco Square and Church and the arts and crafts gallery of Tianguez.
Time allowing, a visit to the stone-carved facade of Ecuador's House of Congress depicting scenes from Ecuadorian history.
The tour ends with a trip to the Panecillo Hill, which commands a striking view of Quito, the surrounding valley and the surrounding snow-capped mountains.
Set off for a full-day tour with a scenic ride through the Ecuadorian Highlands to Otavalo. Along the way, your first stop is at the village of Calderón where you may buy small figurines and ornaments made from colorfully painted bread dough. Your second stop is at a small monument of the equator, then visit the renowned Otavalo Indian Market, one of the most colorful natives markets in South America, industrious makers of the handicrafts for which Ecuador is famous. Here you will find a bustling market full of weavings, hand-woven textiles, wood carvings and many others handicrafts. You'll have plenty of opportunities to bargain for your purchases, you will also be fascinated to see the food and produce that is traded among the Otavaleños themselves.
You will also visit Cotacachi Town (the Leather Town) where very fine leather goods are made and you may buy jackets, handbags, suitcases, wallets and clothing. Lunch is included and will be served at a typical restaurant near San Pablo Lake or in a comfortable old hacienda. Afternoon return to your hotel in Quito.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands.
Upon arrival at the Baltra Airport your guide will meet you and carry your luggage to the bus that transports visitors to the ferries that cross the Itabaca Channel. After this you will be taken by another bus to the first visit at Ranch Mazanillo. The visit to Ranch Manzanillo includes a picnic lunch and a short walk before boarding the yacht. The M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey is an expeditionary first-class catamaran that began sailing the Galapagos Islands in January 2008. She is an expeditionary catamaran offering superior comfort, size, style, and stability. All meals and guided excursions are included.
PM: Santa Cruz Highlands - Journeying across Santa Cruz into the highlands visitors are delighted by the island's variety of life and geology. Beginning at the coast and traveling across Santa Cruz the road departs from Puerto Ayora climbing through the agricultural lands and into the mist covered forests. Santa Cruz possesses all of the various life zones present in the archipelago. As you travel through these zones birders are enchanted. Whether it's the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher or one of Darwin's Finch almost every bird present in the islands can be found here. Santa Cruz offers excellent opportunities for viewing wild Galapagos Tortoises. Tracking tortoises is not the only exciting activity to be found in the highlands. There are also plenty of lava tubes, sinkholes and craters to explore. Theses eerie formations offer a fascinating hike into the belly of the island to view its volcanic make-up.
AM: Mangle Point - Off the eastern coast of Fernandina is Mangle Point, a superior snorkeling site and a beautiful location for riding in a panga or zodiac through a grove of mangrove trees. A hike of about 1/2 mile is possible. Whether you hike, snorkel, or stay in your panga for a ride through the red mangrove trees, this second site of Fernandina Island is equally memorable. While you are on your ride, you are likely to see sea lions, tortoises, pelicans, rays and birds too numerous to name them all.
PM: Punta Moreno - Punta Moreno is located on the north coast of Isabela Island between the volcano Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul volcano. The trail runs along a lava flow Pahohoe (solidified lava in the form of corrugated or an accordion) into a complex of coastal lagoons, its main attraction are several species of birds which can be found around this lakes and mangroves.
AM: Urbina Bay - Urbina Bay is located at the base of Alcedo Volcano on the west coast, between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay. This area experienced a major uplift in 1954, causing the land to rise over 16 feet. The coast expanded half a mile out, leaving marine life stranded on the new shore. This area is also a great place for snorkeling. Urbina Bay is a path that starts at the beach where a landing is made wet, the course is approximately 3200m, and substrates through the sand, pumice, lava, coral and vegetation in a coastal area suffered an uprising and the listener can appreciate iguana burrows. It is an ideal place to see red and blue lobster. In Bahia Urbina you can see a lot of Darwin's finches. Its main attraction is the land iguanas, larger than in places like South Plaza Island, Galapagos tortoises also in the wild, sometimes even out of season they are on the bottom of the islands. Also in this area stands a large amount of vegetation, chamomile and Rosewood, but among all these plants stand out the beautiful flowers of cotton Darwin, endemic to the Galapagos Islands.
PM: Tagus Cove - Tagus Cove is located west of Darwin Volcano on Isabela Island. This was a favorite spot for pirates and whalers, a tradition is still observed that has continued since that time: the inscription of the names of boats. At the start of the walk, going up and passing the staircase, is a small cave where you will find inscriptions dating to the 1800s. Its name originated from a British warship that went through the islands in 1814 looking for Galapagos Tortoise for food. Due to explosive eruptions must have occurred at the site, the substrate has a large amount of volcanic rocks of different sizes, among the most common are little balls of nearly spherical shape known as the "lapilli" or petrified rain.
AM: Espinoza Point - Espinoza Point is a place famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas and as the habitat of unique species like the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin, Galapagos hawk, and Galapagos snake.
PM: Punta Vicente Roca - One of the most impressive and spectacular places of the enchanted Galapagos Islands; with high cliffs and tuffstone, ash and lava formations give this area a majestic touch. Located in the north-western coast of the island; comprises two distinct inlets. This large bay has a spectacular marine life. Here, you can see seahorses, sea turtles and the strange yet fascinating Mola-mola or sunfish. This bay is a great place to practice Panga Ride and Snorkeling.
You may also see penguins, Blue-footed boobies, terns, boobies, sea lions. Also, you can snorkel and observe sea turtles, stingrays and puffer fishes.
AM: Playa Espumilla / Bucanero Espumilla - The beach is located in northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay. During the last presence of the El Niño phenomenon, one of the two lagoons in this site underwent a process of sedimentation, thus causing the disappearance of a representative colony of flamingos. The main attractions are the palosanto forest and the marvelous. The beach is an important site for nesting marine turtles.
PM: Puerto Egas, Santiago Island - Its black beach is located at the west side of the island and is the main attraction of the island. Their volcanic tuff deposits have favored the formation of this special black sand beach. This site is called Puerto Egas because there was an attempt by Hector Egas to start the exploitation of salt, which failed because the price of salt on the continent was very cheap and did not justify its exploitation in Galapagos. The project was abandoned and infrastructure was left.
AM: Rabida - Rábida Island is unique because the red color of the rocks and sand. The volcanic material in this island is very porous and external factors as rain, salt water, and sea breeze have acted as an oxidizing agent.
A short walk along a trail lead you to a coastal lagoon behind the beach which permits you to observe the land birds such as finches, doves, yellow warblers, and mocking birds. At the lagoon there is a colony of flamingos.
PM: Chinese hat - This is a small islet (1 sq km) located just off the southeastern tip of Santiago Island. It is a recent volcanic cone, shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from north side. On the west you can see lava formations, formed under the sea and raised upward, this is why coral heads are found on the lava. This is an excellent visit for interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows. The landscape is covered by sea lions colonies, marine iguanas, and Galapagos penguins.
AM: Sullivan Bay Santiago, also called James, or San Salvador Island - Located in the west central part of the Galapagos archipelago. It is the fourth largest island in the archipelago (following Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Cruz). Along with some of the large western volcanoes of Isabela and Fernandina, Santiago is also volcanically active, with many young flows and cones to be seen, particularly along the south, west, and east coasts. These may even be seen from the summit of Darwin Volcano and from space. A number of historic eruptions have been reported over the last two centuries. Santiago actually consists of two coalesced volcanoes: a typical shield volcano on the northwest end and a low, linear fissure volcano on the southeast end.
PM: Bartolome - Bartolome Island is situated across Sullivan Bay. It has an elevation of 114 meters from where you can observe one of the most beautiful sceneries of the Galapagos Islands such as: volcanic cones, lunar-like craters, lava fields, and the famous Toba formed pinnacle eroded by the sea. There is very little vegetation on this island. It has two breathtaking beaches where marine turtles live at the base of the pinnacle as well as a very small colony of Galapagos penguins.
AM: Bachas Beach - These two small beaches are found to the west of Turtle Cove. Their sand is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white and soft, making it a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there is a small brackish water lagoon, where occasionally is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. The other beach is longer, but it has two old barges that were abandoned during the Second World War, when the U.S.A used Baltra Island as a strategically point to protect the Panama Channel.
After the morning excursion you will be taken to the airport for your flight to the mainland.
Please note: Galapagos itinerary is subject to change due to Galapagos National Park restrictions.
|Price from||$6,139.00 per person, based on double occupancy|
Galapagos Entrance Tax and Transit Control Card.