Nowhere else in the world can you see and experience such an abundance and variety of wildlife as in the Galapagos Islands. A naturalist’s dream, the Galapagos Islands lie on the Equator, 600 miles west of Ecuador and the South American coastline. Formed as a result of intense volcanic activity, they consist of 61 islands and islets, with 13 main islands. Existing in virtual isolation for millions of years, they are home to many species found nowhere else on Earth. More than 1,900 of its more than 5,000 species are endemic.
Charles Darwin, observed the potential scientific bonanza of the islands’ flora and fauna in 1835 and was inspired to write his famous thesis, “On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection.” Aside from a few roving pirates and buccaneers, the islands remained untouched by man for centuries.
Our naturalist guide will fill us in on the extraordinary variety of plants and wildlife as we will visit and explore various islands. A birdwatchers paradise, there are 29 species of land bird found here and 22 of them are endemic to the islands. See the world’s smallest penguins, the bright red-chested frigate birds, the flightless cormorants, boobies, hawks, owls and lava gulls. In the sea, you’ll experience the wonder of watching giant sea turtles swimming to their homes, and sea lions playfully splashing as you snorkel along looking at multitudes of colorful fish. All this from the comfort of a modern and well appointed ship.
June 27 to July 3, 2018 – US $5,598.00
Optional Tour Choices:
$300 Owner’s Cabin Upgrade (Per Person in a shared cabin – just 1 cabin of this type available)
$1990 Single Supplement in a small Single Standard Cabin (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private cabin and bathroom – just 1 cabin of this type is available)
$2200 Single Supplement in a Classic Cabin meant for 2 (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private cabin and bathroom – very limited availability)
$2800 Single Supplement in the Owners Cabin (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a deluxe private cabin and bathroom – just 1 cabin of this type is available)
All accommodations in double occupancy for four nights on our ship, with private bath, and for two nights in a Quito hotel before the cruise; Cruise price shown is a Classic Cabin, with one Master Suite Cabin available for an additional charge (all categories subject to availability at time of booking); Breakfast each day and one dinner in Quito, plus all meals on board our ship; All transportation from Quito to ship and back to Quito; Transfers between flights and hotel in Quito; Services of local guides, three naturalists on the ship, and a professional tour director (subject to minimum participation); Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100) and Migration Control Card ($20); All hotel service charges, government taxes, porterage, and meal gratuities when dining together. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who do not have other coverage.
Transportation to and from Quito; 2 lunches and 1 dinner; Airport departure fees (though this will be included in air ticket fees); Gratuities to naturalists, ship crew, and guides; Personal items including: alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, and telephone calls.
After a good night’s sleep, we explore Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, high in the Andes, seeing the colonial architecture of the historic district, and the Equatorial Monument along the Equator. In the evening, we’ll have our Welcome Dinner and orientation for our Galapagos adventure.
Arrival on Baltra Island
After our late morning landing at Baltra Island we will go to the pier to board our ship. Once on-board we will have an orientation to our cruise, the boat drill and lunch.
Las Bachas (Santa Cruz Island)
After lunch we go to Las Bachas, on nearby Santa Cruz Island. This stretch of white sand beach that is broken up only by brackish lagoons that provide rich feeding areas flamingos, stilts and other wading birds. While ashore we will follow coastal and inland paths to see bird colonies, marine iguanas and sea lions. Once back on the ship we will meet up for our welcome cocktail, hear about our plan for the next day’s touring, and have our first dinner onboard our ship.
We continue around Santiago Island to Puerto Egas. There we can swim or snorkel along a rocky shoreline, which is usually home to a number of turtles. We will also walk along the shore to see a variety of birds that find nutrition from the volcanic soil, including some fairly recent lava flows. We may also get to observe marine iguanas and fur-sea lions.
Later in the day we sail further around Santiago Island to the tiny Bartholomew (Bartolomé) Island. We embark on our dinghies (inflatable boats for going ashore on islands with no pier) for an optional 375-foot climb on a wooden staircase to the summit, to enjoy a panoramic view of the landmark Pinnacle Rock. A tiny colony of Galapagos penguins resides at the foot of the rock. Ride the dinghy around this colossal-sized rock and relax on the sand beach here to swim and snorkel, perhaps with penguins. A glass-bottom boat will also be available to further enhance our experience. As we set sail, look for the dolphins that live in this area, and which sometimes enjoy swimming alongside the boats.
From there we drive to the airport on San Cristóbal for our return flight to Quito, with a stop in Guayaquil.
We will arrive in Quito in the late afternoon. We will reserve a hotel room in Quito tonight for anyone joining the Mashpi Extension or flying home the next day. However, if your flight home departs around midnight, you can stay at the airport or get a “day room” at a nearby hotel, and depart tonight.