Galapagos Voyage

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Date: 
Thursday, October 22, 2015 - Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands!

We once again return to the Galapagos Islands on the lovely MS Islander. We will have a chance to explore the highlands of Ecuador, vist the Otavalo market and the UNESCO world heritage site of old town Quito before we head to the archipelago for a week of wildlife overload.  

The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s best examples of sustainable tourism. The over-abundant wildlife is in different to our presence, knowing it has nothing to fear from the friendly human visitors. At many stops, we’ll be the only visitors, feeling like we have the whole island to ourselves. Top-notch naturalist guides are trained at the University of the Galapagos and share their knowledge on land and in the water.  We’ll enjoy a combination of guided nature walks, Zodiac cruises and town visits, along with plenty of opportunities to swim and snorkel in the warm waters.

Highlights

• Enjoy one of the world's greatest wildlife experiences

• Visit Quito, the Otavalo market and walk on the Equator

• Experience wildlife up-close on land, in the air, and in the water

• Swim and snorkel daily in calm waters

• Travel in style with one of the best vessels in the Galapagos

Day 1: Arrival in Quito

Day 2: Old Town Quito and the Middle of the Earth

Day 3: The Otavalo Market

Day 4: Quito to the Galápagos Islands

Day 5: Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez, Isla Española

Day 6: Champion and Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana

Day 7: Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela

Day 8: South Plazas and Santa Fe

Day 9: Santiago Island

Day 10: Genovesa Island

Day 11: Baltra to Guayaquil

 

 

Day 1: Arrival in Quito

Arriving this evening we check into our elegant hotel and meet for snacks and cocktails at our welcome reception.

Day 2: Old Town Quito and the Middle of the Earth

After breakfast, our local guides take us on a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Town Quito. We visit spectacular plazas, centuries-old churches and El Panecillo, which overlooks all of Quito. After lunch, we head north of the city to the Mitad del Mundo where we see equator coriolis-effect experiments, shrunken heads and blowguns.

Day 3: The Otavalo Market

Rising bright and early, we venture to one of the most famous markets in South America: the Otavalo Market. We wind up through the countryside, punctuated by volcanoes, mountain vistas and idyllic lakes. We’re greeted in Otavalo by a riot of brightly coloured handicrafts bursting from the stalls, jewellery sparkling in the sun, everywhere deals are being made. This is the place in South America to find handmade weavings, garments, carvings and leather goods.

Day 4: Quito to the Galápagos

We rise early and head to the airport for our flight to San Cristobal Island, Galápagos, where the MS Islander awaits. You will have time for lunch and to settle into your cabins before arriving at your first stop, Cerro Brujo. You may choose to swim or snorkel from the lovely white sand beach, enjoy the first kayaking opportunity of the expedition or just stroll along the shore looking for marine iguanas and sea lions.

Day 5: Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez, Isla Española

Española Island is the oldest and most southerly island in the chain. Its remote location makes for some unique endemic inhabitants, including the only marine iguana to change colour during the mating season. We may also find some Waved Albatross here, as Española is their only nesting place in the Galápagos, attracting 12,000 pairs each year. Mating for life, the males reacquaint with their mates by a ritual dance, taking up to five days, which includes strutting, honking, and beak fencing. Sea kayaking, snorkelling and hiking are all offered here today.

Day 6: Champion and Punta Cormorant, Isla Floreana

On our visit to Floreana we learn it is best known for its colourful history of buccaneers, whalers, convicts, and colonists. We have a chance here to send some mail back home from famous Post Office Bay. We make our landing on a unique green sand beach and follow a trail with good viewing opportunities for Large Billed Flycatchers, Small and Medium Ground Finches and Cactus Finches. Flamingos sometimes feed in the island’s large lagoon. We end at a beautiful white sand beach that’s as fine as flour. At Champion Islet, we get into the water at one of the best snorkelling sites in the islands, with its playful colony of sea lions.

Day 7: Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela

Villamil is often considered the most beautiful site in the Galápagos with its palm-lined,white sand beaches. Behind Villamil are several brackish water lagoons where Pink Flamingoes, Common Stilts, Whimbrels, White-cheeked Pintails and Gallinules are usually seen. The beaches and lagoons near Villamil provide the best migratory bird viewing in the Galápagos. Villamil is home to the Darwin Station’s tortoise breeding centre on Isabela. We’ll also explore Isabela’s caves and shoreline and search the waters for dolphins, whales, sea turtles and the elusive ocean sunfish — the mola-mola. In the afternoon we will visit the Sierra Negra Volcano in the highlands (tbc).

Day 8: South Plazas and Santa Fe

South Plazas is a beautiful uplifted islet that is home to dense colonies of sea lions on one side, and spectacular cliffs frequented by gulls, tropic birds, terns, shearwaters and boobies on the other side. Prickly pear cactus trees rise up from the rocky land that is covered by dense red mats of vegetation. Under the cacti, you’ll find countless Galápagos land iguanas, as the islet has one of the last healthy populations in the archipelago, and here their territories overlap with those of the marine iguanas. You’ll also visit Sante Fe, which is home to its own endemic species of land iguana as well as the largest giant prickly pears in Galápagos, and beaches with huge sea lion colonies. You’ll have the option of joining either a heart-pumping hike or a more leisurely stroll along a trail, as well as opportunities to snorkel, kayak or enjoy a Zodiac ride along the shoreline.

Day 9: Santiago Island

This island is one of the most picturesque and geologically interesting in the archipelago, renowned for its stark volcanic landscape and the famous Tuff Cone formation known as Pinnacle Rock. You will visit Sombrero Chino, a charming volcano named due toits resemblance to a “Chinese Hat.” You may take Zodiac rides, kayak or go ashore to admire the volcanic landscape, and snorkel in an area often frequented by penguins, sea lions and small reef sharks. In the afternoon you’ll view the famous Pinnacle Rock. You’ll hike over pahoehoe lava, likely dating back to the end of the 19th century. You’ll be able to distinguish the older reddish-brown lava from the younger black lava and identify many interesting features. You may have additional opportunities to swim and snorkel. 

Day 10: Genovesa Island

The National Geographic Islander sails into the caldera of Genovesa, known as “bird island”, where you’ll enjoy hikes among nesting colonies of swallow-tailed gulls, frigatebirds, red-footed and Nazca boobies all while keeping a look out for hunting short-eared owls. You’ll ride Zodiacs and kayak along the base of the caldera wall, and snorkel among large schools of parrot fish and other tropical species.

Day 11: Baltra to Guayaquil

On Sunday we arrive at Baltra Island, where we say goodbye to the M/S Islander and crew. Our flight will arrive back in Guayaquil, Ecuador. 

 

Dates: October 22-November 1, 2015

Duration: 11 days

Vessel: M/S Islander

Tour Starts: Quito, Ecuador

Tour Ends: Guayaquil, Ecuador

You're in the area already - why not join us for our Birding The Andes Galapagos pre-tour?

Price: Per Person USD

Category Amentities
Price (USD)
1 Triple, Bridge deck, two twin beds, one pull out couch, one window.   $6475
2 Main deck double, twin beds, one window.   $8075
3 Bridge deck double, twin beds, one window.   $8475
4 Upper deck double, two singles convert to double bed, glassed terrace, large windows.   $9175
5 Upper deck double, two singles convert to queen, glassed terrace, large windows.   $9675
6 Upper deck, two singles convert to queen, larger windows, glassed terrace.   $10775
7 Suite, Upper deck two singles convert to queen, larger glassed terrace.   $11775
Single Twin bed, one window.   t.b.a.


Your Voyage Includes:

• 8 days / 7 nights voyage aboard the M/S Islander

• 3 nights accommodation in Quito

• All meals

• Team of resource specialists and onboard program

• Local guides

• Pre-departure materials

• Zodiac excursions, guided hikes and snorkelling

• Transfers between piers and applicable airports for those on group flights

• Service charges, embarkation taxes and port fees

Your Voyage Does Not Include:

• International flights and airport fees

• Internal flights Quito-Galapagos-Guayaquil ($t.b.a. USD)

• Mandatory medical/evacuation insurance

• Personal expenses (laundry, alcoholic beverages, telephone calls)

• Additional expenses in the event of delays or itinerary changes

• Discretionary gratuities to ship’s crew (approximately $10 - 14 USD per passenger per day)

• Visas, or inoculations if required

• Physician's fees confirming you are fit to travel

• Possible fuel surcharges

• Scuba fees

Previous checklists from our Galapagos Voyage:

2009 Galapagos Voyage species list (pdf)

 

Vessel


Capacity: 48 guests in 24 outside cabins.

Registry: Ecuador

Overall length: 164 feet

Public Areas: Ship is fully air-conditioned, lounge with bar and facilities for films, slide shows and lectures, library, covered deck with chairs and tables, outside deck, gift shop, doctor’s office.

Meals: Served in one seating, the menu is international with an Ecuadorian flair.

Cabins: All cabins have a window with outside view. Each has private facilities and climate controls.

Special Features: Ship is equipped with Zodiac landing craft, snorkelling gear, wetsuits, spa, guest e-mail station, video microscope, hydrophone and Splash-Cam. A ship’s doctor and an undersea specialist will be on board.