|ISLAND HOPPING IN THE GALAPAGOS 2013
|Small ship cruising in the Galapagos Archipelago
|10 & 11 nights from £4995
Named after the giant Galapagos tortoise, this remote group of islands, 1000km off the coast of Ecuador are considered some of the most wondrous islands in the world. It was Charles Darwin who put the Galapagos on the map. True, the islands were discovered some three hundred years earlier, but Darwin’s five week stay during his world expedition altered the course of human thought and history. One of the most amazing aspects of the Galapagos is that even today the archipelago is much the same as in Darwin’s time, a veritable ‘Garden of Eden’. Largely unspoiled by development, it is a place where fascinating and diverse wildlife is both abundant and fearless of man. Here you can swim with dolphins and Galapagos penguins, walk amongst giant tortoises, watch basking marine iguanas and be endlessly fascinated by the colourful and exotic birdlife. The isolation and late discovery by humans, along with a historical lack of predators has set the stage for a unique environmental experiment and developed into perhaps the greatest showcase for evolution to be witnessed anywhere.
Today there are a number of vessels cruising around these islands ranging in size from six to six hundred passengers, but we have chosen two very special vessels operated by our associates and experts in Galapagos cruises, Metropolitan Touring who have almost sixty years experience of providing guests with unique and quality travel experiences. Isabela II and La Pinta are perfect for those who prefer a small, superior vessel, a highly experienced expedition team, small groups ashore and an environmentally friendly programme.
|This cruise offers visits to out of the way destinations. You will be accompanied by an expedition team and many landings ashore will be made by Zodiac landing craft. Cruises such as these will appeal to the more adventurous and those who enjoy the natural world.|
|Day 1 - LONDON TO QUITO.|
Fly by scheduled flight via Madrid. Arrive in the late afternoon and transfer to the Hilton hotel for two nights.
|Day 2 - QUITO. |
This morning enjoy a guided excursion of Quito, including its colonial quarter, the largest and best preserved in South America and which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afternoon at leisure.
|Day 3 - QUITO TO THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS. |
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to the Galapagos. On arrival, transfer to the Isabela II for embarkation. This afternoon we enjoy our first excursion to the white sand beach of Garrapatero. On our walk, observe the diverse vegetation and birdlife such as cucuves, finch and flamingos. At the end of the beach, look out for marine iguanas.
|Day 4 - SANTA FE ISLAND & SOUTH PLAZA ISLAND.|
After breakfast we make a wet landing on a sandy beach, home to many sea lions. Galapagos hawks can often be seen here perched atop salt bushes. Also observe the giant prickly pear cactus with huge tree-sized trunks. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the walk. Our excursion ends with time for snorkelling and swimming from the beach. After lunch we disembark in the channel between North and South Plaza Islands. The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange ‘Sally Lightfoot’ crabs. Further up the shore a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline we will find sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide above us.
|Day 5 - NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND & SANTA CRUZ ISLAND. |
Today starts with a dry landing for a view of the coast and the interior of North Seymour Island. The trail leads us to explore colonies of blue footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds and swallowtail gulls. The sandy shore teems with Galapagos sea lions and marine iguanas. Vegetation is made up of cacti, palo santo trees and salt bushes. After lunch on board we visit Santa Cruz Island. After WWII, US military barges were beached and abandoned here. Locals referred to the beach as the barges beach, a name that morphed to “bachas”. Today it is an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, it is a glorious white beach, with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos.
|Day 6 - BARTOLOME & JAMES ISLAND. |
Disembark at Bartolome Island for a hike to the summit. This is a steep climb aided by a wooden staircase with handrails; the view from the top is worth the effort. There will be time for a panga ride around Pinnacle Rock before or after the walk where we hope to observe penguins. After lunch, board the panga for the short ferry to the landing site at Sullivan Bay on the East Coast of Santiago. After a wet landing on a white coral sand beach, begin the walk over lava that flowed less than 100 years ago. This is the perfect place to see and feel the volcanic origin of the Galapagos.
|Day 7 - SANTA CRUZ.|
After breakfast, disembark and travel by bus to the green hilly highlands of Santa Cruz to El Chato Reserve, one of the best places in the islands to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The tortoises are easy to spot, lumbering around, eating grass and leaves and wallowing in the small pools that are common in the reserve. You may also spot some highland birds such as cattle egrets, mockingbirds, finches or flycatchers. There are several lava tunnels here, a great place to spot the barn owl. Enjoy lunch at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel in Puerto Ayora followed by a visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the ‘rearing in captivity’ programme for the giant tortoises. Take a stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora and browse the many handicraft and souvenir shops.
|Day 8 - BARONESS COVE & FLOREANA ISLAND. |
Today we take a short bus ride to the highlands of Floreana Island for a gentle hike. We will visit the freshwater spring which served as a source of water for early settlers and birdwatchers can spot the medium tree finch (endemic to the highlands of Floreana). Return to the vessel and later we will take a wet landing at the historic barrel that served as a post office in the archipelago, to learn about the human side of the islands, its early inhabitants and the adventures of pirates and whalers. This afternoon disembark at Punta Cormorant at an olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish water lagoon where bird species such as greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers may be observed. There may also be the chance to snorkel from the beach, take a ride in the glass-bottom boat or for advanced snorkellers, a panga ride to “The Devil’s crown”, if conditions permit.
|Day 9 - HOOD ISLAND & ESPANOLA ISLAND. |
This morning we are at Punta Suárez for a walk on lava terrain to visit the unique sea bird colonies here, including waved albatrosses, Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies and swallowtail gulls. We will also view the Galapagos famous “blow-hole”. Among its land birds, the Hood island mockingbird, and three species of Darwin’s finches are common highlights. Also, look for red-green-black marine iguanas. Return to the vessel for lunch and in the afternoon, we will make a wet landing at a white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches or simply relax on the beach. There is great snorkelling in this area, or take a ride aboard the glassbottom boat.
|Day 10 - SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND.|
This morning’s wet landing is on the northeastern side of the island for a guided walk that ascends from the beach, providing spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, as well as the two frigate species and a colony of bachelor sea lions along the beach. After the walk enjoy a swim from the beach. After lunch onboard, a zodiac ride will take us to Cerro Brujo’s white coral beach. The beach is a large expanse with good views of seabirds such as blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, herons, frigate birds and other more shore birds. Also, look out for Galapagos sea lions. Highlights ashore include the Chatham (San Cristóbal) mockingbird and the Chatham lava lizard; both species are endemic to this island and seen nowhere else in the Galapagos. These are the same shores that Charles Darwin first set foot in the Galapagos 1835.
|Day 11 - GALAPAGOS TO GUAYAQUIL.|
Disembark after breakfast and fly to Guayaquil. On arrival, transfer to the Oro Verde Hotel for an overnight stay. Remainder of the day at leisure.
|Day 12 - GUAYAQUIL TO LONDON.|
Transfer to the airport for the return scheduled flight to London via Madrid.
|Day 13 - LONDON.|
|Prices per person based on double occupancy||Tour Code:- SCLPGALAP/SCI2GALAP|
16th to 28th November 2013
| Standard Cabin||£4995 |
| Classic Cabin||£5295 |
| Master Suite||£5695 |
| Standard cabin for sole use||£5995 |
| Master Suite for sole use||£6595 |
|Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel, two nights hotel accommodation in Quito and overnight in Guayaquil on bed and breakfast basis, city tour of Quito, eight nights aboard the Isabela II on full board, shore excursions, Galapagos naturalist guides, snorkelling equipment, port taxes, UK airport taxes, Galapagos Park entrance fee, Galapagos Transit Card.|
|Not Included: Travel insurance, gratuities.|
|NB: All itineraries are subject to weather conditions.|
|Pre Tour - AMAZON |
Enjoy a true jungle adventure in safety and comfort, staying at Sacha
Lodge, a 5000-acre private ecological reserve located in Ecuador’s
Amazon region. This is an accessible, yet pristine area of the Amazon
where you can discover the wonders of nature.
Day 1 - London to Quito.
Fly by scheduled flight. On arrival transfer to
the Swissotel or similar for an overnight stay.
Day 2 - Quito to the Amazon.
From Quito we will take a breathtaking
35-minute flight over the Andes to the Amazon basin and the small
town of Coca. We will be greeted by Sacha Lodge staff and transferred
to the Napo River where we embark covered motorised canoes for a two
hour journey to Sacha. On arrival at the reserve, we walk along a forest
boardwalk to Pilchicocha Lake where dugout canoes are waiting to take
us across the lake to the Sacha Lodge.
Days 3 & 4 - Sacha Lodge.
A typical day at Sacha begins at sunrise or
earlier, in order to take advantage of the cool morning hours when the
rainforest creatures are at their most active. Activities are spread out
over a wide area and allow visitors to explore several distinct but equally
fascinating habitats. Several trails lead through pristine rainforest, others
are along strategically raised boardwalks. A popular activity is paddling
the dugout canoes along water creeks and lakes. Afternoon and night
walks also take place when the nocturnal insects and frogs start their
chorus and to search for other creatures not seen during the day. There
is an incredible diversity of wildlife; monkeys are seen frequently and
there are up to 60 other species of mammals. Areas to explore and
wildlife sightings are endless.
Day 5 - Sacha Lodge to Quito.
Travel back to Coca by canoe and take
the flight to Quito for an overnight stay at the Swissotel.
Day 6 - Quito.
Continue with cruise itinerary from day 2.
|Prices per person based on double occupancy |
| Twin ||£845|
| Single ||£1195|
|Price Includes - Return flight between Quito and Coca, transfer by boat from Coca to Sacha Lodge, three nights accommodation at Sacha Lodge on full board, excursions and activities at Sacha Lodge with guides, overnight accommodation in Quito for La Pinta passengers.|
Not Included - Travel insurance, gratuities.
|Sacha Lodge||Sacha Lodge, arrival||Sacha Lodge, twin room|
|Pre Tour - PERU |
Discover the heart and soul of one of the most fascinating civilisations in
the Americas, the Incas. Explore Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire; the
Sacred Valley, a setting of picturesque communities, impressive terraces
and some important archaeological sites; and the ultimate Inca site,
Day 1 - Galapagos to Lima.
Disembark and transfer to the airport for a
flight from Galapagos to Guayaquil and connecting flight to Lima. Upon
arrival, transfer to a four star hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 2 - Lima to Cusco.
Fly to Cusco this morning and transfer to a first
class hotel for an overnight stay. Enjoy an afternoon tour of Cusco,
visiting the main sights and then drive out of the city to visit the Inca
sites of Kenko, Tambomachay, Puca Pucara and the impressive fortress
Day 3 - Sacred Valley.
Full day excursion to the Sacred Valley of the
Incas. We will visit a Pisac market to observe locals bartering for goods
and enjoy lunch in a countryside restaurant. In the afternoon we
continue explorling the area and visit the Inca fortress and citadel of
Ollantaytambo, built to guard the entrance of the valley. Return to
Cusco for an overnight stay.
Day 4 - Machu Picchu & Aguas Calientes.
Transfer early this morning to
the train station for an amazing 3 ½ hour train journey to Aguas
Calientes where we continue by bus, up the winding road to Machu
Picchu. Enjoy an informative guided tour to learn about this incredible
archaeological site. There will also be some free time to explore. Return to
Aguas Calientes and transfer to a first class hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 5 - Aguas Calientes & Cusco.
Enjoy the early morning sunrise as we
take a stroll around Aguas Calientes and visit its hot springs. Return to
Cusco by train and transfer to a four star hotel an overnight stay.
Day 6 - Lima to London.
Morning flight to Lima. Upon arrival, enjoy a
guided tour visiting the main sights of the city centre and taking a drive
through the residential districts. This evening, transfer to the airport for
the return scheduled flight to London.
Day 7 - London.
|Prices per person based on double occupancy |
|Price Includes - Five nights hotel accommodation in a four star hotel, as
described on bed and breakfast basis, excursions as detailed, tour guide,
entrance fees, lunch on days 3 and 4.|
Not Included - Travel insurance, gratuities.
|Post Tour - SANTA CRUZ ISLAND |
Enjoy a two night hotel stay after your cruise at the Finch Bay Hotel in Punta Estrada on Santa Cruz Island. This charming hotel, named after Darwin’s finches, is just steps from the beach and in a secluded position surrounded by mangroves. There are 21 rooms, all air conditioned. This hotel stay is on a bed and breakfast basis and lunch and dinner can be purchased in the excellent hotel restaurant which serves international and Galapagos inspired menus. The town of Puerto Ayora is just across the bay. Activities available include snorkelling, bird watching, hiking, introduction to diving and bay tours.
|Prices per person based on double occupancy |
|Finch Bay Hotel, Santa Cruz||Pool at Finch Bay Hotel, Santa Cruz||Room at Finch Bay Hotel, Santa Cruz|