Existing in virtual isolation for millions of years, the Galapagos Islands are home to many species found nowhere else on Earth. Join this gay Galapagos tour and experience this abundance and variety of equatorial wildlife closely, as we walk, hike, snorkel, swim and imagine Darwin’s dream.
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 28, 2017 to July 4, 2017 – US $5,498.00
Duration: : 7 Days
Optional Tour Choices: $1600 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom – very limited availability – single supplement with upgrade may be required for single occupancy)
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 for 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 does 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.
Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)
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.
Mashpi Lodge Extension includes one night in Quito, two nights at Mashpi Lodge, and one night in Quito; round-trip transportation between Quito and the Lodge (about 2.5 hours each way); all meals at the Lodge and non-alcoholic beverages; guided touring each day; use of rain ponchos, rubber boots and binoculars; and visit to Tulipe archaeological site.
$1790 per person in shared room.
$2380 for single room.
After your immersion in the carefully preserved natural environment of the Galapagos, please consider joining our extension to the incredible new Mashpi Lodge in the cloud forest in the Andes highlands outside Quito. This lodge opened in 2012 and quickly won awards for its unique architecture and commitment to blend as seamlessly as possible into the natural environment of the Mashpi Biodiversity Reserve.
HE Travel President Phil Sheldon spent time with Metropolitan Touring owner Roque Sevilla and his wife when they were first envisioning this masterpiece. He was impressed by their commitment to not only respect nature, but to also to work alongside residents of the local community to ensure that this project would benefit them as well. For example, as much of the food as possible is purchased from the nearby village of Mashpi. This brings an amazing assortment of unique vegetables and fruits to the table for Mashpi Lodge guests.
The Naturalist Guides offer a variety of activities throughout the day including hikes through the dense jungle or a chance to cool off under a cascading waterfall. Rubber boots, rain ponchos and binoculars are provided during your stay. There is even an aerial bicycle to let you glide through the jungle, leaving literally no footprint.
On the outbound journey there will be a mile-long gondola ride that allows hikes deeper in the rainforest, far from any roads. The 6-passenger gondolas ride high above the trees, allowing an overview of the vast forest canopy, and on the return journey the cables are much lower, so that visitors can get a more intimate view of the rich profusion of plants and animals that thrive below the tree canopy.
When you return to the Lodge, you can relax on the terrace, or in your room, each of which features north-facing floor-to-ceiling windows. One window can be opened, so if you wish you can wake up to the profusion of birds calling to each other at dawn.
Along with way make a stop at the recently-opened Tulipe archaeological site. This was the ceremonial grounds for the Yumbo people who lived in the region between about 800 AD and 1660 AD. They were known for their keen observation of the heavens from their high-mountain location right on the equator. Being near a major pass of the Andes, they also prospered as merchants on the trade routes between the Pacific coast indigenous communities, and those of the Amazon basin.
We’ll be back in Quito in late afternoon. Our extension includes a night in a Quito hotel with a transfer to the airport the next day, but we can provide a direct transfer to Quito Airport for anyone with a late night flight home.