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 though 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 for Quito in the heart of the Ecuadorean Andes. The UNESCO World Heritage area around the Old City is the perfect location to stay. Wander around the maze of steep cobbled streets adorned with indigenous street vendors and flanked with colonial architecture. La Ronda street is one of the oldest streets in the city. Admire the wrought iron balconies and the proud displays of Ecuadorian flags.
Day 2 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 take a taxi to Panecillo, instantly recognisable by the Virgen de Quito statue at its summit. In the evening, venture to the new town and the popular Plaza Foch with its selection of local and international restaurants.
Day 3 Depart the highlands of Ecuador and fly, via Guayaquil to the magical Galapagos Islands. The Seaman Journey will be your base for the cruise of a lifetime and after settling into you cabin, meet the friendly crew who will introduce you to the plans for the following week. Your first landing is North Seymour Island, close to Baltra and formed by a volcano. The island is home to sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, magnificent frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies. The trail extends through sprawling mangroves to a key nesting site for blue-footed boobies and frigates. Observe their fascinating courtship dance. Look out for sea lions frolicking in the surf.
Day 4 Sailing overnight takes you to the remote outpost of Genovesa Island in the very north of the archipelago. El Barranco at the southern part of Darwin Bay has a walking trail on volcanic rock and this is the geologically youngest part of the island. The cliffs formed from fragile lava have been eroded over time and now make an ideal nesting area for Storm Petrels. Look out for the rare red-footed boobies, masked booby, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels, yellow-crowned and black-crowned lava herons and yellow warblers. Genovesa Island is perfect for snorkelling.
Day 5 On the eastern shore of Santa Fe are two islands known as Islas Plazas. Despite their small size there are some outstanding species in this area such as the small land iguanas. Hybrid iguanas, with their black / grey colour, are a result of crossing a male marine iguana with a female land iguana. Santa Fe, possibly the oldest island in the archipelago, and home to endemic species such as Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, Galapagos mockingbird and rice rats. On land, look out for Pickly pear cactus and in the ocean snorkel with the sea lions and colourful fish.
Day 6 Home to the provincial capital of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island is characterised by its volcanic peaks in the north and densely vegetated slopes in the south. Visit the Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Centre, home for young tortoises and the Interpretation Centre close to main town. Here you can learn about the geological and human history of the islands, conservation facts and natural history.
Day 7 Galapaguera is the perfect location to view tortoises in their natural habitat with the large beach a popular nesting zone. Between January and May you can often see the footprints of the female tortoises as they climb the sand dunes to lay their eggs. In the afternoon visit Cerro Brujo, a beautiful white sand beach where you can swim and watch the birds and 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 8 One of the most beautiful islands in the Galapagos, Espanola features the stunningly beautiful Gardner Bay ideal for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. 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 which spurts water 50-75m into the air.
Day 9 Cormorant Point is home to the best flamingo lagoon in the Galapagos. Situated between two tuff lava cones the lagoon has a special aura. The other two distinct beaches are ‘Green Beach’ due to the high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand the ‘Flour Sand Beach’ which is made of coral. Post Office Bay, a site where in the 18th century the crew of a whaling ship placed a wooden barrel to keep in touch with their loved ones. At the north of the island, visit Baroness lookout for spectacular views over the archipelago.
Day 10 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 Ecuador’s largest city of Guayaquil.
Day 11 Take in the highlights of this bustling city. Visit Barrio Las Peñas, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Guayaquil dating back around 400 years. Admire the colourful and romantic appearance of the narrow cobbled streets with a bohemian ambiance. 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.
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