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Exploring Galapagos
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Exploring Galapagos

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 - 10 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 48 people
Destination(s): Ecuador  
Specialty Categories: Boating and Sailing   Wildlife Viewing  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2270 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2270 US Dollar (USD)

Cruise and Ship Details:
- Ship Type: Motor Vessel
- Category: Luxury
- Ship Length: 88.16 Meters
- Ship Width: 15.3 Meters
- Speed in Knots: 18 Knots
- Equipment: Radar Racal Decca 10, RDF, GPS Navtrac, Satellite Navigator, Echo Sounder, Gyrocompass, Fire alarm, Radio station
- Crew: 68 crew members plus 7 bilingual naturalist guides (English, Spanish)
- Ship Description: An elegant motor-vessel with classic modern lines, blending comfort, adventure and environmental preservation in the Galapagos Islands
- Facilities on Board: Air Conditioning, 110V, Fax, Int. Telephone, Snorkeling Equipment, Environmental Music, Life Boats, Raincoats, Life Jackets, Dinghy, Television, Video, Stereo Equipment, Handicapped, Children Facilities, Public Restrooms, 220V, House Phone, Elevator, Conference Equipment
- Cabin Facilities: 110V, 220V, 220V Adapter, Air Conditioning, Amenities, Cold Water, Environmental Music, Freezer, Hairdryer, Hot Water, House Phone, Mini Bar, Private Bathroom, Refrigerator, Safety Box, Shower, Television, Video.

Departure dates: Every Saturday.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1, Saturday: Arrival in Quito. Transfer from the airport to the hotel. Quito is set in a hollow at the foot of the volcano Pichincha and in addition to its gorgeous landscape, surrounded by hills and several snowcapped mountains, Quito is known for its treasures of Colonial churches, monasteries, paintings, sculptures and carvings and the magnificent blend of Spanish, Flemish, Moorish and pre-Columbian architecture.

Therefore in 1978 it has been declared by UNESCO “Patrimony of Mankind”. Altogether the city has to offer 86 churches and monasteries of the 16th and 17th century. This attractive city is surrounded by ice-capped volcanoes and is located only 22 km away from the “Middle of the World”, the Equatorial Line. Due to its beautiful churches and monasteries, Quito is called and known as the “Convent of America”. Overnight at Grand Hotel Mercure Alameda Quito.

Day 2, Sunday: Quito – Galapagos. Buffet breakfast. After breakfast transfer to the airport for flight to Galapagos. Short transfer from Baltra airport to port of Baltra and embarkation of the Ambassador I. For the next 4 days and 3 nights the Ambasador will be your floating hotel. Full board included. Afternoon excursion to North Seymour, a flat island that was uplifted from the sea by underground seismic activity. Located North of Baltra, it is one of the best places to see Blue Footed Boobies and Magnificent Frigate birds.

Blue Footed Boobies are found on the flat area near the coast of this island (they nest from May to November). Continuing the trail to the interior, one stumbles upon the biggest congregation of Magnificent Frigate birds in the island. While on North Seymour, there is a high chance if seeing a great show of acrobatic flight, namely a Frigate bird robbing a booby, a gull or even another Frigate bird the food.

Day 3, Monday: Galapagos. San Cristobal is the easternmost island in Galapagos and was colonized during the 1860’s. On its southwestern side is the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the province of Galapagos, which is also the second largest harbor where you still may feel the old fishermen style.

Kicker Rock is a magnificent rock in the middle of the sea. Rising 500 feet straight from the ocean, this giant uplifted rock has the shape of a sleeping lion. It has a split with towering vertical walls on either side, forming a narrow channel through which small vessels can navigate. This beautiful rocky islet located off the west coast of San Cristóbal, is a nesting place of different species of sea birds.

Espanola is the southernmost island of the archipelago. Because it is one of the most isolated islands in the archipelago, the 14 km long and 7 km wide island has a high proportion of endemic fauna. You can see Espanola Mockingbird, the giant Lava Lizard, the Espanola Marine Iguana and the Waved Albatross. Punta Suarez is one of the most popular and attractive visits of the Galapagos.

The quantity and variety of wildlife on this site are remarkable. A few steps inland from the landing site, groups of the Espanola variety of marine iguanas bask in the sun. Further inland Masked and Blue Footed Boobies nest almost right on the trails, Galapagos Doves peck around unaware of visitors and finches go about their business in the bushes. The trail continues toward the cliffs and the blowhole, a fissure in the lava where water spurts high in the air like a geyser.

The cracks in the rock are home to the attractive Swallow-tailed Gulls and Red-billed Tropicbirds. Further up the cliff, in an area of low-lying trees, is the only place where the Waved Albatross nests, and in fact, the 10 to 12,000 pairs of albatrosses on Espanola are all the individuals of this species that exist in the planet.

They perform one of the most spectacular rituals of the animal world. Watching these large birds (up to 1 meter high) take off is another unforgettable moment. The albatrosses clumsily wobble to the edge of the cliff and launch themselves against the wind to be transformed into gracious flying creatures.

Day 4, Tuesday: Galápagos. With a surface of 986 sqkm2, Santa Cruz is the second largest of the Archipelago. Colonized since the 1920’s, Puerto Ayora, the populated part of the island, is the most important harbor of the Archipelago. With altitudes reaching 864 m this island comprises all plant zones, ranging from coast to pampas. The headquarters of the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Station are also located in Santa Cruz.

Visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station, you will have the opportunity to see how the conservation of the islands is conducted, and understand the huge efforts that scientists, park rangers, and park managers among others have to make to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Above all the reduction of brought in animals is very important for the natural balance of the archipelago.

The Research station supports scientists all over the world with their work at Galapagos. Since 1965 the station is breading and rearing place for the famous Galapagos or Giant Tortoises that give the name to the archipelago. These fascinating primeval animals are threatened by extinction. Here they live save until the age of five before they are set free on their origin islands. The center gives also a good opportunity to photograph tortoises of all sizes. The star is the 120 years old Lonesome George, the last male tortoise of a species that was used to live on Pinta Island.

Cerro Dragon is an uncommon but very beautiful site. Behind the beach there are flamingo lagoons where these colorful birds feed. The trail then takes the visitor up the hill called Dragon Hill. On the way there and on top of the hill, there are land iguanas. They almost became extinct because of the predation by feral dogs. In the year 1990 all the dogs were eliminated and a group of iguanas could be reintroduced.

Day 5, Wednesday: Galápagos – Quito. After breakfast: Transfers to the airport of Baltra for your flight back to Quito. Transfer from the airport to the hotel. Overnight at Grand Hotel Mercure Alameda Quito****.

Day 6, Thursday: Quito. Buffet breakfast. Today, we will have a sightseeing-tour of the city of Quito to give you a first impression of the variety there is regarding religious and cultural sights. During our stay in the old part of the city, you can still breath the colonial history of Ecuador. As the excursion leads you through the interesting streets of Quito, the local culture welcomes you with beauty and intrigue. Your guide will take you for a walk through the culturally diverse history of Quito. Visit the Church of San Francisco (inside) - which is said to be the first religious building constructed in South America by the Spanish. On the way we will pass the church of La Compania, which has the most ornate and richly sculptured façade and interior.

Have a closer look at the heart of the city of Quito: the Independence Square with the Government Palace and the Cathedral (outside). On the modern part of the city we will see the stone-carved front of Ecuador’s House of Congress, this façade shows the history of Ecuador, since our first natives passing through the conquer of the Incas and then the Spaniards, the Independence and the new Republic. We lead you to Guapulo, a natural terrace where we will learn about the location of the city, on the foothills of the Pichincha Volcano, admire the spectacular views to the Valleys of Cumbayá and Tumbaco and of the Eastern Chain of Mountains. On a day with clear sky, we can see the Cayambe, the Antizana and Puntas Volcanoes.

Our tour goes on to the Equatorial Line Monument called “Middle of the World”. Here you get a truly rare experience to stand in both, the Northern and Southern Hemispheres simultaneously. The Equatorial Monument, located as focal point of the park, marks the spot where an 18th century French scientific expedition established the exact position of the Equator. The area has been built as a typical colonial town, with restaurants, gift shops and Post Office with philatelic sales. Visit the monument and the Ethnographical Museum, which shows the history of the Indian cultures of Ecuador. Overnight at Grand Hotel Mercure Alameda Quito****.

Day 7, Friday: Quito – Otavalo – Quito. Buffet breakfast. On the bus ride to the well known spot Otavalo we will visit the small town of Calderón, where the typical miniature bread figurines are made. After Calderón the road descends into the spectacular same-time arid and fertile Guayllabamba gorge and village.

With some luck, a few minutes later you can enjoy the opportunity of looking out the snow-capped Cayambe. The Ecuadorian Line goes directly through the glacier of the immense volcano, which shows the highest worldwide point on the Ecuadorian line. On the way through this wonderful landscape you can see the Lago San Pablo with its great background – the rock massive Taita Imbabura. This is also worth to take a photo.

After arriving in the famous town Otavalo, which consists of rather functional buildings and is notable for its textiles, you will discover the worldwide known Indian handicrafts market. These indigenous residents of the area have achieved economic prosperity as a result of their skill in weaving a tremendous variety of designs in belts, tapestries, ponchos and other clothing items.

Community residents have a long tradition as artisans and traders. They commonly travel to Europe and other countries in the Americas to sell their wares. This typical indigenous city where tourists can see families wearing their colorful cloths and speaking Quichua as their first tongue and Spanish as their second, you will enjoy the unique variety of handicrafts that offers this giant colorful market and certainly, carrying some new souvenirs with you.

Before continuing to Cotacachi, the group can visit Laguna Cuicocha, which is a crater lake on an altitude of 3000 meters above sea-level with a diameter of about 3 km. Two islands emerge from the center, both of volcanic origin, covered with vegetation and rimmed with totora, a type of reed. The small town Cotacachi itself is Ecuador’s center of leatherworks. Here you can stroll through the small streets choosing one of the various shops as your favorite. Return to Quito. Overnight at Grand Hotel Mercure Alameda Quito****.

Day 8, Saturday: Quito. Buffet breakfast. Transfer to the airport.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Prices on request.

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