Trip reference number: ITN-GAL011
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
A remote archipelago in the Pacific Ocean; the famous Galapagos Islands make a perfect wildlife holiday. Experience the magical volcanic landscapes and immerse yourself in the wonderfully diverse and unique flora and fauna.
Spend two nights in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, set in a valley overlooked by Pichincha volcano. Meander around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the old city with its maze of cobbled streets and grand plazas flanked by historic colonial buildings. For spectacular vistas, head to El Panecillo hill dominated by the Virgen de Quito.
A trip to the Galapagos Islands is a unique and unforgettable experience. World-renowned for its fearless wildlife and up-close encounters with nature, here you can snorkel with sea lions, view a plethora of birdlife and watch giant tortoises lumbering through the vegetation. The Galapagos Seaman Journey is a comfortable first class superior catamaran, ideal for exploration with knowledgeable naturalist guides onboard to enhance the viewing opportunities with detailed background information.
Watch out for the flapping blue-footed boobies, magnificent albatross and the soaring frigatebirds as you discover pristine untouched beaches.
Day 1 Depart the UK today on your overnight flight to the Ecuadorian capital of Quito.
Day 2 Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Located in La Ronda street, this is one of the oldest streets in the city. Admire the wrought iron balconies and the proud displays of Ecuadorian flags. Located in Quito's picturesque old town, the UNESCO World Heritage area is the perfect location to stay with its maze of steep cobbled streets, picturesque plazas flanked with colonial architecture and ornate churches.
Day 3 Today on a private city tour, explore the highlights of the Ecuadorian capital. Plaza de Indepenencia is the centre of the colonial city with Plaza de San Francisco located close by, dominated by its impressive church and monastery. For fantastic views of the city and the encircling volcanoes and mountains, you will visit the El Panecillo lookout point, instantly recognisable by the Virgen of Quito statue at its summit. Drive out of the city to the "Middle of the World" monument, to visit the Equator line and stand with one foot in each hemisphere. The rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps venture to the new town (La Marsical) to haggle in its excellent craft market and visit the popular Plaza Foch with its selection of local and international restaurants.
Day 4 Depart the highlands of Ecuador and fly, via Guayaquil to the magical Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival to island of San Cristobal, visit the Interpretation Centre. Learn about geological, human and natural history as well as the conservation efforts carried out on the islands. Wander through its extensive gardens, taking in the stunning ocean views. Reached by panga (motorised raft), the Seaman Journey will be your base for the cruise of a lifetime. After settling into you cabin, meet the friendly crew who will introduce you to the plans for the next few days. Please note all Galapagos itineraries are subject to change due to weather conditions.
Day 5 This morning, visit the Galapaguera on San Cristobal, a centre built for the observation of the giant Galapagos tortoise in a semi-natural habitat. At the Galapaguera, follow interpretive trails through the reserve and see young tortoise in breeding pens. Learn about the natural history and the different species from around the archipelago. This afternoon, visit Cerro Brujo. The first coast where Charles Darwin stepped foot in 1835, this incredible lava landscape is home to many seabirds and shore birds. With its beautiful white, sandy beach; swim and snorkel. This protected bay is very popular to observe young tortoises and frequented by sea lions. Wildlife dotted around, and endemic to the island, includes the Chatham mockingbird and the San Cristobal Lava Lizard. You can also spot blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, herons, frigate birds and shore birds.
Day 6 One of the most beautiful islands in the Galapagos, Española features the stunning Gardner Bay, ideal for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking in its crystal clear waters. Three species of Darwin Finches, endemic subspecies, are found on the island and it is possible to observe many other resident and migratory bird species. Here you can view a large colony of sea lions basking in the sun and playing in the gentle waves. The island is also famous for being home to the only waved albatross colony from April – December and if you are lucky witness their unique courtship dance. At Suarez Point, visit the magnificent blowhole, spurting water up to 75m high. The cliffs of Suarez Point are used as a launching pad for the large waved albatross and blue-footed boobies and Nazca boobies are often seen in the area.
Day 7 At Cormorant Point, visit one of the largest lagoons in the islands. Situated between two tuff lava cones, this is one of the best lagoons in the archipelago to spot flamingos. A variety of shorebirds such as stilts, white-checked pintail ducks and other migratory birds also frequent the lagoon. The site offers two contrasting beaches, one being a green sandy beach (due to the high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand) and the other a "flour sand beach" made up on coral. This afternoon, enjoy panoramic vistas from Post Office Bay and Baroness Lookout, the landing area for the first colonists.
Day 8 This morning, disembark the Seaman Journey for the final time on Santa Cruz island. Just outside the main town of Puerto Ayora is the Charles Darwin Station where you can learn about the protection and conservation of the islands. One of the main attractions is the breeding and rearing centre for young tortoises, the place where the late Lonesome George lived. After this visit, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the mainland and overnight in the Pacific port city of Guayaquil.
Day 9 This morning is at leisure or alternatively Rainbow Tours would be more than happy to organise a city tour or a visit to a nearby banana and cocao plantation. For those wanting to get out and explore Guayaquil, we recommend visiting Barrio Las Peñas, one of the oldest neighbourhoods, dating back around 400 years. Take in the bohemian atmosphere of the area, with its colourful and romantic narrow cobble stoned streets. Take a stroll along the Malecon 2000 waterfront, running parallel to the River Guayas with a host of historical, cultural and entertainment areas. Relax overlooking the river with a seafood lunch and reflect on your special trip in the Galapagos before your flight back to the UK in the evening.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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