Trip reference number: ITN-GAL013
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
Trip a trip of a lifetime as you explore the remarkable nature, landscapes, flora and fauna - both land and marine, on the unique Galapagos Islands. Isolated over millennia and amid stark volcanic landscapes, this archipelago is home to endemic species found nowhere else on Earth. For this reason, Sir Charles Darwin was inspired to pen his book "The Origin of Species". Returning each day to the comfort of two unique lodges on two different islands, spend days exploring the islands through a variety of land and sea based activities. Activities each day, such as kayaking, snorkelling, biking and hiking as well as wildlife spotting are all part of the package accompanied by expert guides.
Day 1 Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Quito via Bogota.
Day 2 This morning you will land into Quito where you will be met and transferred to the Hilton Colon hotel for two nights. Ecuador's capital city, Quito, sits in a narrow valley shadowed by the famous Pichincha Volcano and is framed by picturesque mountain peaks. The city's old historic centre has been awarded a UNESCO world heritage site and is a joy to explore. With an abundance of architectural treasures, cobblestoned streets and whitewashed walls, it is best explored on foot.
Day 3 Today explore the city with a private guide. Discover the charming historic centre; full of ornate churches, delightful Spanish colonial buildings and picturesque narrow winding streets and plazas. Drive out to the "Middle of the World" to step one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern. Don't forget to pick up your certificate to say you have stepped foot on the equator line! The rest of the day is at leisure. We recommends taking the cable car up the Pichincha volcano for a bird's eye view of the city and its surroundings. Alternatively, why not visit Quito's chocolate factory to learn about the process from bean to bar? Of course, sampling the end product is a requirement!
Day 4 Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands, via Guayaquil. Upon arrival to Baltra, hop aboard a scenic inter-island flight to the island of Isabela. At Scalesia Lodge, lunch will be served before the first afternoon of discovery will commence. Visit the National Park, wetland lagoons and the giant tortoise-breeding centre. Wrap up your day at the stunning white beach of Puerto Villamil before returning to the lodge for dinner. Please note there is a 9KG (20lbs) per passenger luggage allowance for the scenic inter-island flight. If needed some luggage can be sent straight onto Finch Bay Eco Hotel, please enquire for further details.
Day 5 Enjoy an early breakfast this morning before setting out to discover Isabela Island's most famous feature: the Sierra Negra Volcano. Walk along the rim of the world's second largest caldera and witness recent volcanic activity and the fascinating formations as a result. In the afternoon, time is at leisure to enjoy the beautiful Puerto Villamil beach or rest at the lodge. Lunch and dinner are both served at Scalesia Lodge.
Day 6 Today get to know both the National Park and the Marine Reserve. Start at the Tintoreras visitor site, a small group of islets reachable by boat to observe reef sharks in their natural habitat, marine iguanas, sea lions, turtles, boobies, pelicans and a colony of penguins! Here have the opportunity to snorkel to admire the beauty of the underwater world.
Day 7 On a short inter-island flight, head back to Baltra on Santa Cruz where you will board the Yacht Sea Lion for a short cruise to North Seymour Island. Spot Galapagos sea lions, fur seals, blue-footed boobies and frigate birds.The unforgettable landscape is made up on torchwood trees, prickly pears, pillow lava boulders and white sands. In the afternoon drive across Santa Cruz island to reach Finch Bay Eco Hotel.
Day 8 Head off this morning to El Manzanillo. Located in the loftier region of the Island, Manzanillo is within the natural path of one of Santa Cruz's species of giant tortoise. Spot these giant gentle creatures wallowing in mud pools or grazing on the surrounding vegetation. Lunch is served in the cooler highlands with stunning views of the island. In the afternoon, visit a small farm where coffee, sugar cane and cocoa beans are grown, harvested and prepared - all organic and sustainable. Upon arrival back to the hotel, either enjoy the beach or its inviting pool or alternatively pursue other activities in the local area.
Day 9 Board the Yacht Sea Lion minutes from the hotel to explore the nearby island of Santa Fe. 16 nautical miles from Santa Cruz, this impressive volcanic island offers white sandy beaches and is dotted with basking sea lions, pelicans, boobies and the Galapagos Hawk. After a wet landing, walk along rocky terrain to observe wildlife at close quarters and after returning to the yacht enjoy one of the Galapagos' best snorkelling sites. Cruising back, scan the waters for pelagic birds and whales.
Day 10 This morning leave to Tortuga Bay, voted as Ecuador's best beach. Walking from the nearby town of Puerto Ayora, explore more about the arid zone's deciduous forest and its inhabitants along the way. First, arrive to Playa Brava, a beautiful 1km long snow-white beach and also a seasonal nesting site for the green sea turtles. A little further one is Playa Mansa, a secluded natural mangrove cove with clear, tranquil waters. Ideal for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and simply enjoying the landscape. Board a small yacht to return to Finch Bay for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station that highlights the conservation program for the iconic giant tortoises.
Day 11 Depart the Galapagos today on a flight to the Pacific port city of Guayaquil. Spend the final night here before returning to the UK.
Day 12 Today is at leisure before being transferred to the airport in the afternoon to fly home.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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