A visit to the Galapagos Islands and the hauntingly beautiful volcanic scenery will stay with you long after you’ve returned home. The Galapagos wildlife is truly phenomenal, unique, and captivating. During your visit to the Galapagos and the Ecuadorian highlands of the Andes, you’ll discover magnificent wildlife, immense geographical diversity, and unforgettable experiences. From sea turtles to iguanas, blue footed boobys and condors, prepare to be amazed.
DAY 1 WELCOME TO ECUADOR!
Arrive in Guayaquil. Upon clearing Immigration and Customs, transfer to your hotel. Options available
DAY 2 SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: AIRPORT – BLACK TURTLE COVE
Transfer to Guayaquil airport in time for your flight. Flight time to Baltra Island is about 3 hours. Arrive in the Galapagos where you will meet your Naturalist Guide who will then take you to the luxury class catamaran M/C ALYA.
Begin your 4-night cruise in one of the spacious cabins featuring a private balcony, bath/shower and air-conditioning. All meals, lectures and shore excursions.
After lunch our first visit is to Black Turtle Cove situated in the northern region of Santa Cruz. This bay is surrounded by mangroves and is accessible only by dinghy. Black-tip reef sharks, marine turtles, and a variety of rays are often spotted here. Return to Alya. (B, L, D)
DAY 3 GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
AM – DARWIN BAY (GENOVESA ISLAND)
Wet landing, coral beach, activities for this day: short walks, photography, swimming, snorkeling. Genovesa is a small island in the north of the Galapagos. Here you will find a colony of frigates, marine iguanas, red-footed boobies, and mask boobies, the great terrestrial finch, seagulls, herons, and cactus finch. This is also a good spot for a swim.
PM – BARRANCO (GENOVESA ISLAND)
Dry landing, activities: hiking. Walk along the Barranco path, also known as Prince Phillip’s stairs. Observe tropical birds, petrels, common frigate, red-foot boobies, mask boobies, doves, and finches. Dinner.
(B, L, D)
DAY 4, SAT
AM – SANTIAGO ISLAND – SULLIVAN BAY
Wet landing and hiking. Description: Virtually non-eroded lava flows cover an extensive area of this island. Lava pahoehoe (basaltic lava that has a smooth, billowy, undulating or ropy surface), hornitos, and mollugo (a lava colonizer) can be seen. Snacks and refreshing beverages await you on board the ship.
PM – BARTOLOME ISLAND
Dry landing, wet landing for the beach. Activities on this island include walking, swimming, snorkeling, and photography. We will follow a path to the top (114m) where we can see pioneering plants such as tiquilia, chamaesyce, and scalesia. The island has been formed by cones, lava pipes where lava once flowed. Following the wet landing at the beach, we will follow a path through mangrove swamps and sand dune vegetation, to the south beach. At the north beach, guests can enjoy swimming and snorkeling. (B, L, D)
AM – CHINESE HAT
A small islet located near the south-east coast of Santiago. It’s shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from afar. It is an island consisting of a cone type “Splatter” (lava ejected as drops which fall close to where they came from, which form an inclined cone) that forms the summit and many lava tubes that go down to the coast. On the west side you can see pillow-type lava formations, which are an indicator that the flows were formed under the sea and have been raised upward, which is why coral heads are found on the lava. This visit provides an excellent opportunity for the interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows. A 700 m trail takes you o a 30-minute walk before returning to the boat for lunch.
PM – MOSQUERA
This islet is located between Baltra Island and North Seymour. Here, we find the biggest sea lion colony; it is also possible to observe several species of birds. Enjoy the white sand beach. Return to Alya (B, L, D)
DAY 6 CHARLES DARWIN STATION
AM – CHARLES DARWIN
After breakfast, we will visit Charles Darwin Station which is in the main port on Santa Cruz Island; we will take a private bus to the entrance of the breeding center where we will see tortoises and land iguanas in captivity.
This center is the main breeding site on the islands. Animals that were in danger of extinction on the various islands are maintained in captivity. Thanks to the dedicated work of several institutions, some species are being saved. Here lived Lonesome George, the famous last survivor of the giant tortoise species found on Pinta Island.
Transfer to the airport in time for your flight back to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito, meet and greet your bilingual guide; then transfer to the Imbabura province to Hacienda Zuleta (about one hour drive). Upon arrival, your host will welcome you personally at Zuleta and help you with your check-in. At night, you will enjoy a nice welcome dinner. Three nights at Hacienda Zuleta, (B, D)
DAY 7 THE ANDES ZULETA
If you are an early morning person, you might want to enjoy one of our short hikes before breakfast and try to catch sight of the countless birds we have at Zuleta. You will be able to visit the cheese factory and learn more about Zuleta´s semi-aged, handmade Ecuadorian cheeses and how the process has changed throughout history. In the mornings, you are most likely to spot an Ecuadorian wild condor flying by.
Visit giant ceremonial truncated ramp pyramids from the 13th century. At lunch time you can enjoy freshly caught trout and our exquisite Ecuador cuisine. Then have coffee on the patio whilst admiring the giant hummingbird that comes frequently to feed here. In the afternoon, you can shop for stunning handmade, colorful embroidery articles from the Zuleta women’s cooperative. Coming out of the shop, a horse drawn carriage will take you down the eucalyptus alley to visit the foundation run library. This is where local children spend their afternoons, getting help with homework, reading and playing.
There is a more challenging hike available leading you up to Condor view, which offers wonderful views of the local area, and you may even be lucky enough to spot a family of Spectacle Bears along the way. (B, L, D)
DAY 8 THE ANDES-ZULETA
Some more trails are offered for you to enjoy the hacienda. As well as some activities. As sun sets it gets chilly at Zuleta, so enjoy some farm made Ecuadorian cheese beside the fireplace while reading our information folders and books, learning more about our foundation, Galo Plaza, our horse breeding business or about the local culture of Ecuadorian the highlands. (B, L, D)
DAY 9 OTAVALO
Pick up after breakfast and head to Otavalo. This land is rich in friendly and colorfully attired indigenous people, historic working haciendas, and towering volcanoes with verdant slopes. Our destination is the Otavalo Indian craft market. Then it’s on to the Otavalo market, which dates back thousands of years and is famous throughout the Andes for its handicrafts, textiles, and tapestries. Lunch will be served in a local hacienda of typical Andean ambience. After lunch we’ll visit the village of Peguche where native weavers demonstrate their craft, as they have for centuries. Return to your hotel late in the afternoon. (B, L)
DAY 10 QUITO
Enjoy a tour of Quito that is sure to impress! It starts in old colonial Quito in the main square, where the presidential palace, the main cathedral and some other important buildings can be appreciated. Then it continues to Plaza San Francisco, with a quick stop in the way so that you can try the typical sweets of Quito. San Francisco is the oldest church in Quito, and it is full of history and legends.
Our next stop will be a Chocolate Experience, where you will have a chance to discover and taste the finest chocolate in the world! Ecuadorians are very proud of being one of the most important world producers of the finest aroma cocoa seeds and here you will learn the process of turning cacao into creamy chocolate for consumption. Then, you will visit Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, one of the most beautiful churches in South America, or perhaps the world, truly a treasure.
Our last stop after lunch will be Museo de Guayasamin. Oswaldo Guayasamin is the most well know painter in Ecuador. His paintings are known for their intensity, but they are his representation of difficult times not only here in Ecuador, but around the world. (B, L)
DAY 11 TRANSFER TO THE AIRPORT
Transfer to the airport in time for your flight back home. (B)
Price includes: Upon request and will include:
*Note: Routes in the Galapagos are subject to variations due to ocean currents
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