4-night All-inclusive lodge-based package exploring three islands
5 days /
From $1,541 per person, double occupancy for 2013
Day 1: Quito/Guayaquil - Baltra - Santa Cruz
Upon arrival at the Baltra Airport, you will be met and transferred to the ferry for the crossing to Santa Cruz Island (10 min-ride). Upon arrival at Santa Cruz you will transfer to the Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge.
This afternoon begin your Academy Bay Tour at "La Loberia", where you can snorkel with sea lions (optional). 40 min. navigation to "Tortuga Bay". As you enter the white sandy beach, you have a chance to observe different marine species like Sting Rays and baby Reef Sharks in the shallow waters of the Mangrove ecosystems. After swimming on the beach you take a very short hike to the Marine Iguana nesting site. The walk back is through a Prickly Pear forest carpeted in crimson Sesuvium with black lava outcroppings home to more marine iguana colonies. Box Lunch on the beach. Evening briefing and dinner at the lodge. (L,D)
Day 2: Santa Cruz - Floreana
Wake-up call at 6:30 AM. Staff members will call for your luggage at 7:00 AM for transport to dock. After breakfast, depart for the Tortoise Quest Tour. This tour begins with a trip to "Los Gemelos" (The Twins), two enormous collapsed lava chambers - an awe-inspiring visual reminder of the power of nature. The short, easy hike to each of the twins is teeming with endemic flora and fauna, including the remaining Scalesia Forest draped in Liverwort, large and small tree finches, the adorable Vermillion flycatcher and more. It's a wonderful introduction to the majestic power of the forces of natures and the great biodiversity of the Santa Cruz Highlands. Afterwards, you will visit a 600-acre private reserve where the giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam, graze and sleep. Sometimes it's a bit muddy here, so before setting out, there is a selection of field boots to choose from. You will be transported through this tropical environment by truck and from there, you walk through fields to mingle with these gentle giants. As prehistoric as these creatures look, wait until you hear what they sound like! After visiting the tortoises, you'll take a 5-minute ride to the entrance of a 450 meter (1350 feet) illuminated lava tunnel. With a ceiling nearly 20 feet high in most places, this is an incredible opportunity to ramble through the remnants of one of the most powerful forces in nature...lava flows. Stalagmites, stalactites, sulfur and mineral colored walls and the rippled form of a floor of lava can all be experienced in this uniquely Galapagos stroll.
This afternoon return to Aventura Lodge for Lunch. Afterward, depart for Floreana. Sailing time is 1.5 - 2 hours. You will arrive at Floreana at approximately 4PM. First, you will cruise a cove called "Luz del Dia" (Light of Day). There is an abundance of life in this cove. You will most likely see penguins and sea lions on the steep, rocky shore and rays and tropical fish beneath the clear waters. You will continue on to the main dock in Floreana. It's not unusual to have to 'shoo' sea lions sleeping on the steps you need to ascend. On the other side of the dock are black lava rocks typically full of the amazing rich red and turquoise colored Floreana marine iguanas. You will continue on to the Red Mangrove Floreana Lodge for check-in. Briefing and a BBQ dinner at the lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 3: Floreana - Isabela
Wake-up call at 6:30 AM. Staff will call for your luggage at 7:00 AM for transport to dock. After breakfast, you will depart in an open-air bus that will transport you up to the highlands of Floreana while your naturalist guide begins filling you in on the history of this, the first settled island in the Galapagos. You will walk up to see the Asilo de la Paz (Peace Asylum) where the spring is located, an artisan spring that attracted pirates, whalers and later settlers to Floreana as it was one of the very few year round sources of fresh water in the Galapagos. The Cueva de los Piratas (Pirate's Cave) is quite literally where pirates carved temporary shelter out of soft stone and is also where one of the original settlers, Margret Wittmer, gave birth to a son, Rolf, who is still living. Some have almost jokingly referred to it as the 'Stonehenge' of Floreana due to its interesting shapes. Cerro Pajas (Bird Hill) truly lives up to its name with a multitude of Floreana Finches. It also offers spectacular views of the island and the sea below. You will visit a tortoise reserve where you can watch many of the giant tortoises up close and personal. All the while, your naturalist guide will be pointing out the wildlife and filling you in on the colorful history of Floreana's first inhabitants like the Baroness and re-telling the legend of the "Floreana Mystery" which entailed the mysterious deaths of several inhabitants. It has never been solved. Departure around 11:00 am for Isabela. Sailing time is 1.5 - 2 hours.
Weather and tides permitted, as you approach Isabela by sea, you will cruise by Isla Tortuga which is chocked full of frigates, blue-footed boobies and other birds that rely on the sea for their food. If you brought binoculars, this is a good time to pull them out. You will arrive into Isabela between 12:30 and 1:00 pm. Arriving in the port is a visual feast with stunning green and turquoise waters so clear, you can see sea turtles, sea lions and penguins as though looking through glass. You will check-in to the Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge and have a hot, wholesome lunch.
After lunch, depart for Las Tintoreras and Bay Tour. You will board a smaller craft to head out across the port, slowing down to view blue footed boobies and Galapagos penguins sharing the same rocky, sunning space before turning a bend and docking. From there, we take an intriguing walk through a jagged 'AA' lava field, passing abundant colonies of marine iguanas, to see a small canal full of resting white-tipped reef sharks…if the tide is low, they are sometimes a mere 2 feet below the surface. The views from here are something you may carry with you for the rest of your life! The black, treacherous lava field, the emerald green sea, the forest green mangrove and the cloud capped volcanoes of Isla Isabela is the sort of afternoon backdrop you are not likely to ever forget. Once you return to the dock, you can snorkel this warm, shallow bay surrounded by mangrove, for an opportunity to see white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, penguins and, of course, the mystery of the mangrove below the surface. Don't worry, white-tipped reef sharks are not aggressive, merely fascinating.
We'll have a bit of time to relax and shower before briefing and dinner at the lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Isabela - Santa Cruz
Wake-up call 6:30 AM. Staff will call for your luggage at 7:00 AM for transport to dock.
Depart after breakfast. You begin with a drive out of town along the most beautiful, white sand, palm lined beach in the whole of the Galapagos, Long Beach. This travel magazine cover stretches on for 3 kilometers before you arrive at the National Park and begin with a stop to walk up the stairs for astounding vistas from the top of Cerro Orchilla. As you drive down the road, you will very likely see the largest of the Galapagos marine iguanas sunning by the side of the road and don't be surprised if you have to wait for a Galapagos tortoise to cross the road in front of you. You will visit the "Muro de Las Lagrimas" (Wall of Tears), backbreaking effort carrying jagged volcanic rock distances when constructed by prisoners of a penal colony built there. The path to the Wall of Tears is abundant with lava lizards, the males are larger and striped and the females red-throated. If you visit during breeding season, be careful not to step on or disturb the many nests along this trail. They appear as holes that a gopher might have dug, but in fact are nests. Birds are also incredibly abundant and your Naturalist Guide will assist you with identification. Isabela has more tortoises in the wild than any other island with several sub-species as lava fields created a barrier that limited their mobility to freely roam. On your way back to town, you will visit the Interpretation Center, a breeding center for the giant Galapagos Tortoises and the only place to view the rare, remaining flat backed (so-called 'tabletop' shells) Galapagos tortoises, many of which still bear the scars of volcanic activity from Sierra Negra. At roughly 11:00 AM, we will depart Isabela for Santa Cruz. Sailing time is 1.5 - 2 hours.
This afternoon, you arrive into Puerto Ayora. You will check into the Aventura Lodge and have lunch. You depart around 3:00 pm for a guided tour of the fascinating Charles Darwin Research Station. After the Darwin Station, there will be some free time to shop for souvenirs or browse the shops along Charles Darwin Avenue. Dinner at the Aventura Lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Santa Cruz - Quito/Guayaquil
Wake-up call and breakfast will depend on your flight departure time.
At the appropriate time (3 hours prior to scheduled flight departure), you will be transferred from the hotel to the airport. You will be accompanied to the ferry and on to the airport. You will be assisted with your baggage through Migratory Control and during check-in. (B)
Optional 2-night trip extension to San Cristobal (at additional cost):
Transfer to San Cristobal, 2 nights Casa Iguana Sol y Mar, meals and guided excursions/navigations to the following: La Galapaguera, El Junco Lake, Kicker Rock, Isla Lobos, La Loberia, Cerro Tijeretas or Frigatebird Hill.
Price based on standard accommodations. Upgrades available for Ocean-view Superior and Suite rooms