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9 Days: Quito, Galapagos Islands, Quito

Day 1 - Mon, Arrive Quito
Arrive in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. You are welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Day 2 - Tue, Quito - Colonial city Tour & Middle of the World
This morning's tour offers the best of Quito, with its rich cultural legacy, ornate façades and dazzling gilt altars. Visit Independence Square, the Archbishop's Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral as well as other sites of colonial art and architecture. This afternoon, visit the famous Equatorial Monument, marked by geographers as latitude 000'00". You will have the opportunity to straddle the two hemispheres at the same time. (B)

Day 3 - Wed, Quito - Otavalo - Quito
Visit the well-known indigenous market in Otavalo for an arts and crafts shopping adventure. Visit Peguche known for its weavers, visit a wind instruments workshop, Cotacachi known for the manufacture of leather goods, Cuicocha crater lake before returning to Quito. (B)

Day 4 - Thu, Quito / San Cristobal - Galapagos Islands Cruise
Today you will depart Quito and board a plane for Baltra. A guide will pick you up from the airport for a short ride to the pier to board the cruise from Whale Bay.
(Note: Itinerary is subject to change depending on your arrival date)

Afternoon - Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill (San Cristobal Island)
Dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos Islands. Passengers visit the Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about islands' history in The Museum of Natural History which displays information about the volcanic origins of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, ocean currents, climate, the arrival of the different species and their colonization, among other points of interest. The human history is also showcased, chronologically narrating the most significant events related to the discovery and the island's colonization.

Difficulty level: easy /intermediate
Type of terrain: flat/stairs
Duration: 1-hour visit / 1-hour walk

Tijeretas Hill
Involves a high-intensity walk amidst beautiful landscapes and a magnificent view at the foot of a frigate bird nesting colony. (BLD)

Difficulty level: difficult
Type of terrain: Rocky
Duration: 1-hour visit

Day 5 - Fri, Galapagos Islands Cruise
Morning Gardner Bay, Gardner & Osborn islets (Española Island)
Wet landing on a beautiful white coral sandy beach guarded by a colony of sea lions. There are no trails, so we stay along the shore where we can spot Galapagos hawks, American Oystercatchers, Galapagos Ground Doves, Hood mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and three species of Darwin's finches: a subspecies of the Large Cactus Finch, which is similar to the large ground finch, the Small Ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) and the Warbler Finch (Certhidea Olivacea), another endemic subspecies. Swimming and snorkeling offer a great variety of the Galapagos' marine wildlife: king angelfish, Creole fish, damsel fish, parrotfish, manta rays, and white-tipped reef sharks.

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: sandy
Duration: 1-hour walk / 1-hour snorkeling

Afternoon Suarez Point (Española Island)
Dry landing. An island of geological interest, we explore volcanic formations and a riveting wildlife: large sea lion colonies and seabirds including the Española mockingbird, Nazca Boobies, and the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird. You will also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and the colorful Sally Lightfoot Crabs. A somewhat lengthy hike will bring you among Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, right up to nesting grounds that sometimes overlap the trail. Other birding favorites include Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Hawk, Swallow-tailed Gulls and the world's largest colony of Waved Albatross, an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December). Admire the island's dramatic backdrop, featuring the famous "Soplador”, a seaward blowhole that shoots up water up to 23 m (75 ft) in the air. (BLD)
Difficulty level: difficult
Type of terrain: rocky
Duration: 2½-hour walk

Day 6 - Sat, Galapagos Islands Cruise
Morning Post Office (Floreana Island)
Wet landing. Located on the north side of Floreana, the bay was named because in 1793 Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel which served as an informal post office for sailors passing through, who would take letters with them back to their destinations. Today, visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel, hoping that some other traveler, going to the letter destination, will take it back for free. The chances are that the letter posted can take a long time to arrive at its destination. However, there have been cases where it has arrived before the sender. We may also encounter Darwin's finches, Yellow Warbler and Lava Lizards. Great snorkeling opportunities with Green Pacific Sea Turtles. As well, the island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus Pinnatifidus, and the Galapagos Milkwort. Snorkelers can practice on the main beach among playful sea lions.

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: sandy
Duration: 30-minutes walk / 1-hour snorkeling
Afternoon Cormorant Point / Devil's Crown / Champion (Floreana Island)
Wet landing, on an olivine green, sanded beach. We hike from the black mangrove beds to a brackish lagoon, which usually holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island features some endemic plants such as Scalesia villosa, white and black mangrove, and holy stick. The trail continues to a beautiful white sandy beach, one of the most important nesting sites of Green Pacific Sea Turtles. It is important to avoid walking in the water due to the Sting Rays that may be hiding in the sand, which can be dangerous if accidentally stepped on. From the beach, one can spot sea turtles, blue-footed boobies plunging into the water, and small reef sharks floating along the shoreline in the search for food. This coral-sand beach marks the end of our trail, and we head back to the olivine beach we landed on, to swim or snorkel amongst sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions and, on a good day, white-tipped reef sharks. A small colony of penguins resides on Floreana and can sometimes be observed as well. (BLD)

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: sandy & flat
Duration: 1-hour walk / 1-hour snorkeling

Day 7 - Sun, Galapagos Islands Cruise
Morning Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center (Santa Cruz Island)
Dry landing. We visit the Station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place as part of our efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment and where the famous Lonesome George (the last surviving specimen of his species) lived for decades. Admire a prickly-pear cactus forest and variety Darwin's finches and other land birds. The Darwin Station also works providing environmental education to the communities, schools, and tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands. You will also have some free time to visit the town and shop for souvenirs.

Difficulty level: intermediate
Type of terrain: flat
Duration: 1½-hour visit

Afternoon Highlands Tortoise Reserve (Santa Cruz Island)
Dry landing. In the mountains of Galapagos is possible to admire different kind of birds, such as: tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on the tortoises' shell). The journey to the reserve offers great opportunities to see the contrasts that the island offers in reference to the variety of ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Often, Galapagos Giant Tortoises are also seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is a birdwatchers' haven, since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here. (BLD)

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: flat & muddy (depending on season)
Duration: 45-minute drive / 1 ½-hour walk

Day 8 - Mon, Galapagos Island Cruise - Baltra airport/ Quito
Morning Carrion Point (Santa Cruz Island)
This is a rocky cliff offers the great opportunity to explore more the various marine biodiversity of the islands. Do snorkeling among a variety of colorful fish, stingrays, and if lucky, there could be the chance to see the magnificent White tipped shark.

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: water
Duration: 2-hour snorkeling
After the visit, passengers will be transferred to the airport for their return flight to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito, transfer to your hotel. The rest of your day is at leisure. Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening at a local restaurant. (BD)

Day 9 - Tue, Depart Quito
Depart Quito for North America this morning. (B)

               
    2017          
    CAD420 per person discount on the below departure dates:  
    June 26, August 07,28, September 04,11, October 02, December 04, 11  
    Note: Valid for new reservation made by or before July 31, 2017  
               
      First Class Deluxe  
    Monday departure Double Single Double Single  
    Jan 1 - Dec 14 CAD 7,392 CAD 10,965 CAD 8,414 CAD 13,118  
    Dec 15 - 31 CAD 8,106 CAD 13,999 CAD 9,219 CAD 16,276  
               
    Not included: Galapagos entrance fee - CAD140    
               
    First Class          
    Destination Property   Room type   Meals
    Quito Hotel Quito   Standard   B
    Galapagos Islands Cruise   Standard plus cabin FB
               
    Deluxe          
    Destination Property   Room type   Meals
    Quito Swissotel Hotel Superior   B
    Galapagos Islands Cruise   Junior Suite FB
               
    2018          
    CAD420 per person discount on the below departure dates:  
    January 01,08, September 03, December 03  
    Note: Valid for new reservation made by or before July 31, 2017  
               
      First Class Deluxe  
    Monday departure Double Single Double Single  
    Jan 6 - Dec 17 CAD 7,476 CAD 11,091 CAD 8,534 CAD 13,737  
    Dec 18 - 31 CAD 8,204 CAD 13,895 CAD 9,234 CAD 16,528  
               
    Not included: Galapagos entrance fee - CAD140    
               
    First Class          
    Destination Property   Room type   Meals
    Quito Hotel Quito   Standard   B
    Galapagos Islands MV Galapagos Legend Standard plus cabin FB
      Cruise        
    Deluxe          
    Destination Property   Room type   Meals
    Quito Swissotel Hotel Superior   B
    Galapagos Islands MV Galapagos Legend Junior Suite FB
      Cruise        
Highlights & Inclusions:
  • First-class or deluxe accommodation with private facilities
  • Superior outside cabin or Junior Suite on the Cruise
  • 8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Shared arrival & departure transfers
  • Shared sightseeing with English-speaking guide in Ecuador
  • Galapagos Island cruise including all activities
  • Shore expeditions (shared) as per cruise itinerary
  • A high intensity hike at Tijeretas Hill (San Cristóbal) to admire beautiful landscapes and Frigate bird colonies; free time in town for shopping.
  • Opportunity to see Chatham Giant Tortoises in captivity in Cerro Colorado.
  • Great snorkeling opportunity off the beautiful white sand beach of Gardner Bay (Española).
  • Suárez Point in Española is considered one of the richest places in terms of species diversity: Nazca Booby, Blue-footed Booby, Waved Albatross, sea lions, as well as the most colorful marine iguanas of the Galapagos.
  • Floreana Island is fascinating in terms of its human history. This was the first site to be inhabited by people. At Post Office Bay one can continue the tradition of sending letters by
  • placing them in a barrel that exists since 1793.
  • Cormorant Point is sometimes possible to see flamingoes, migratory birds, a green sand beach, and behind the flamingo lagoon, a white sand beach where a sea turtle nesting site and sting rays can be found.
  • Santa Cruz is the only place where giant tortoises can be seen in the wild.
  • Charles Darwin Research Station is home to world-famous Lonesome George, where we will also learn about the efforts that have been done to restore tortoise populations.
  • Daphne is an eroded tuff cone created by successive volcanic activity; a great opportunity to see Blue-footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Red-billed Tropicbird, Swallow-tailed Gull, Brown
  • Noddy, etc.
  • Internal flights Quito/Baltra/Quito
  • Baggage handling at airports – one piece - 44 lbs maximum per person and a soft bag.
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