Ecuador & Galápagos Islands – Ocean Spray Yacht

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Day 1

Welcome to Ecuador. On arrival into Quito, you will need to clear Immigration and Customs. Upon exiting the Customs Hall, you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel.

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Day 2

You will be picked up at your hotel for a full day, private guided tour of Colonial Quito and the Equator. Lunch is included today.

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Day 3

You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island, Galapagos.

Arrive Baltra Island. Upon arrival to the Galapagos Islands from mainland Ecuador, you are met by members of your vessel's expedition team at the airport. You will be transferred to your awaiting vessel for embarkation and commencement of your 7-night Galapagos Islands cruise.

Note: The cruise itinerary is subject to change without notice for various factors including but not limited to: safety, weather, mechanical breakdown, unforeseen emergencies, and the discretion of the Captain, Guide, and the Galapagos National Park. The Galápagos is a natural ecosystem, making animal encounters there ultimately unpredictable and therefore exceptional in the way they typically occur. Though Galápagos species seem to have little fear of humans, they are wild animals subject to environmental factors, including their own instincts that can affect sightings, which means these encounters cannot be guaranteed. Accepting all these factors, including adhering to the rules of the Galápagos National Park, is a condition of participation on this trip.

Types of Landings: Wet and Dry

Wet Landing: Pangas (Zodiac-type boats) cannot always make it all the way to an island’s shore because of conditions that could damage a propeller, so wet landings are sometimes necessary. A wet landing is made from as close to the beach as possible, where you will have to step out into a foot or so of water. You’ll do this by swinging your feet out over the side of the panga and then stepping into the water. You’ll reverse the procedure when you get back in the boat; sit down facing outwards and swing your feet in. You can go barefoot or wear water-sports sandals for wet landings.

Dry Landing: For a dry landing, the panga will make its way up against a natural dock of lava rocks or a man-made dock. You may wear your shoes or hiking boots. These landings may be a bit tricky because the panga is moving with the waves, and the rocks you step on are often slippery. They usually, however, have intermittent, flat portions. Your guide will offer you a hand as you disembark. When accepting a hand, grasp the guide’s wrist. The guide, in turn, will grasp yours in a “sailor’s grip” or wristlock. Once on the shore, place your feet carefully on the first few feet of rocks, which could be wet, depending on the tide level.

There will be a briefing on board about the boat and the island.

Your excursion today is at Daphne Major.

The Daphnes

The Daphnes include two islands, Daphne Major and Daphne Minor, just north of Santa Cruz Island and west of the Baltra airport. Both are eroded tuff cones, and two dive sites encircle the smaller islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

Daphne Major: Access is restricted by the Galapagos National Park, and a special permit is needed to visit. Is primarily the hub of scientific research, such as an extensive study done on Darwin’s finches. It is also the stomping grounds for other characteristic Galapagos birds, such as the blue-footed and Nazca boobies, Galapagos martins, short-eared owls, red-billed tropicbird and frigate birds. Divers can observe sea lions, sea turtles, Eagle Rays, various species of sharks, and other pelagic species here. Landing: None.

Daphne Minor: No visitor site. Divers can observe a large quantity of benthic organisms home to the island’s underwater walls. Sea horses can be spotted around the black corals, and Galapagos Sharks and sometimes rays and sea turtles are present. Landing: None.

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Day 4

Continue with your 7-night Galapagos Islands Cruise. Your excursions today are at Vicente Roca Point (Isabela Island) and Espinosa Point (Fernandina Island).

Isabela Island

Isabela is the largest of the Galápagos Islands, with more than half of the land surface area in the archipelago. It is made up of six volcanoes (Alcedo; Cerro Azul; Darwin; Sierra Negra; Wolf, which has the highest summit in the Galápagos at an elevation of 5,600 feet; and Ecuador, an extinct volcano that has been destroyed by erosion and wave action) that are joined by extensive lava flows. Along with Fernandina Island, it is one of the most volcanically active spots on earth. The Equator passes through both Ecuador and Wolf Volcanoes.

More wild giant tortoises live on Isabela than on any other island in the Galápagos. Isabela’s large size and volcanic topography created barriers for the slow-moving reptiles; they were unable to cross the lava flows, causing several different sub-species of tortoise to develop. Today, Galápagos giant tortoises roam free in the calderas of Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Sierra Negra, and Wolf Volcanoes.

Vicente Roca Point (Isabela Island)

At Vicente Roca Point in the north, remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves with a bay that is well protected from ocean swells. This is a popular anchorage from which to take panga rides along the cliffs that are the volcano’s remains or to explore a partially sunken cave at the water’s edge. Blue-footed and Nazca boobies perch along the sheer walls, while flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline. Landing: None.

Fernandina Island

Visiting Fernandina is like seeing the Earth when it was brand-new. The most westerly of the Galápagos Islands, Fernandina is the youngest and most active volcanically, with eruptions occurring from its single volcano, La Cumbre, every few years. Lava fields extend from La Cumbre’s base to the ocean, and both types of flows — `a`a (pronounced “ah ah”), and pahoehoe — can be seen. Fernandina is literally land-in-the-making.

Espinosa Point (Fernandina Island)

Here you may see some of the most unique Galápagos species: flightless cormorants, Galápagos hawks, Galápagos penguins, and the largest colony of marine iguanas in the islands. In 1994, Espinosa Point was raised between two and three feet by tectonic uplift, leaving the landing dock inaccessible except at high tide. Landing: Dry.

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Day 5

Continue with your 7-night Galapagos Islands Cruise. Your excursions today are at Urbina Bay (Isabela Island) and Tagus Cove (Isabela Island).

Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)

A trail leads away from the beach and into the arid zone of the island. Here you may encounter large land and marine iguanas and giant tortoises. Closer to the water you may see flightless cormorants. The most unique feature here is the miles-long stretch of coral reef jutting into the air – a result of a major uplift in 1954. Landing: Wet.

Tagus Cove (Isabela Island)

Early pirates and whalers frequented Tagus Cove and some even wrote their names on the cliffs along the shore. A short steep hike leads to Darwin Lake, which is comprised of salt water and lies within a tuff cone. It is a good place to spot a variety of land birds such as ground and tree finches, hawks, yellow warblers, large-billed flycatchers and, occasionally, woodpecker finches. A panga ride along the cliffs may reveal flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, and Galápagos sea lions. Landing: Dry (with slippery rocks).

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Day 6

Continue with your 7-night Galapagos Islands Cruise. Your excursions today are at Bartolomé Island and Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island).

Bartolomé Island

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to visit the moon, Bartolomé might just provide you with the answer. An extinct volcano, Bartolomé Island appears to be geology in its purest form: The island is dotted with craters, cinder cones, lava flows, spatter cones, and broken lava tunnels which run down from the summit. And just offshore is Pinnacle Rock, the tuff cone that is probably the most famous landmark in the Galápagos.

Although at first glance, words that describe a moonscape — such as barren and desolate — might come to mind, Bartolomé supports a starkly beautiful complex of life. Some Arid and Littoral Zone plants have taken hold. On the slopes of the volcano, low-to-the-ground gray matplant thrives in the volcanic sand; and spurge, which forms a small tuft of green with tiny, white flowers, pushes up. Endemic lava cacti adorn some of the older lava.

Pinnacle Rock (Bartolomé Island)

Pinnacle Rock is an eroded volcanic formation that juts from the sea like an obsidian knife. It is truly an iconic site and is one of the best-known and most photographed sites in the islands. After landing on the beach adjacent to the rock, visitors can swim with colorful fish, sea lions, Galápagos penguins and can swim and snorkel around the rock itself. A short trail leads to a beach to the south where swimming is prohibited, though you may see stingrays, spotted eagle rays and black tipped sharks. The northern beach is a nesting site for green sea turtles from January to March. Landing: Dry.

Opposite Pinnacle Rock is another landing site. Visitors climb an 1800-foot trail to the 600-foot summit of the island. Much of the trail is a wooden staircase, built to prevent erosion. Along the way, you will notice many interesting volcanic formations including spatter and tuft cones and lava flows. The summit provides stunning views of Pinnacle Rock, Sullivan Bay, and Daphne Major and Minor. Landing: Dry.

Santiago Island

Once a favorite island of pirates and whalers, Santiago is now appreciated for its Galápagos fur seal grotto and newly plant-colonized lava flow on the southern coast. Northwest of Santa Cruz Island, Santiago Island is composed of a number of tuff cones and a central volcano. The vegetation is dense in the highlands, and a scalesia forest covers the northwest side of the volcano.

Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island)

While it doesn’t boast much wildlife, Sullivan Bay provides visitors with an opportunity to walk across a recent lava flow and examine its otherworldly beauty. Don’t worry; the lava isn’t hot, as it was formed in the late 19th century. The trail here crosses pahoehoe lava, dotted with pyroclastic cones. Inland, striking red and yellow tuft cones rise above the flow. Keep an eye out for tiny molluga plants growing in the lava fissures. Landing: Dry.

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Day 7

Continue with your 7-night Galapagos Islands Cruise. Your excursions today are at Las Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz Island) and Rábida Island.

Santa Cruz Island

Geologically, Santa Cruz is an eroded island, with the oldest formations in the northeast. Human history here started in the twentieth century, when European and American settlers arrived between the two World Wars. The fertile soil of the tropical Moist Zones of the highlands saw the rise of the villages of Bellavista and Santa Rosa. With the settlers, however, came a great number of exotic plants and domestic animals, most of which turned feral and that then created a disastrous impact on the native species of the island. Cerro Colorado (the Red Rock) is a tectonically uplifted hill in which basaltic lava and fossiliferous tuff are layered with volcanic tuffs from the Miocene period. Santa Cruz is the home of the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) and the Galápagos National Park (GNP). Santa Cruz is also the home of the largest lava tunnels in the Galápagos Islands and several reserves where you may encounter Galápagos giant tortoises in the wild.

Las Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz Island)

Las Bachas Beach is located in the north of Santa Cruz Island. Its soft, white sand is derived from decomposed coral, making it a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind the beach there is a small brackish lagoon, where it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. Landing: Wet.

Rábida Island

Often called the geographic center of the Galápagos archipelago, Rábida is predominantly composed of scoria, a particulate material created when hot lava meets seawater. Scoria has a high iron content, giving the island a red color. Rábida’s single volcano is extinct, but it left behind a legacy: a spectacle of tall, red cliffs and a red-sand beach; which when played against the teal waters, makes this island visually stunning.

Rábida Beach (Rábida Island)

On these red sands, marine iguanas and a noisy colony of Galápagos sea lions attempt to rest in the shade of nearby caves. Brown pelicans make homes by the beach in saltbushes. Behind the beach is a lagoon where wading birds and white-cheeked pintail ducks feed. A short trail inland leads through Littoral and Arid Zone plants, such as palo santos, prickly pear cacti, and spiny bushes. Galápagos doves, Galápagos mockingbirds, yellow warblers, and several species of Darwin’s finches flitter in the vegetation, while blue-footed boobies and Nazca boobies linger in the cliffs. Snorkel along the rocks at the east end of the beach to encounter scores of near-shore and pelagic fish. Landing: Wet.

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Day 8

Continue with your 7-night Galapagos Islands Cruise. Your excursions today are at Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island), El Chato Tortoise Reserve (Santa Cruz Island) & Lava Tunnels (Santa Cruz Island).

Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)

The Charles Darwin Research Station is about a ten-minute walk from the center of Puerto Ayora and is the operational center of the non-profit Charles Darwin Foundation, which conducts research and provides technical assistance to other researchers and governmental agencies, including the Galápagos National Park. Visitors can tour the Van Straelen Exhibition Center, where staff members are available to answer questions about the islands. Adjacent to the visitor center you will find the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center, which began in 1965 to save the giant tortoise population on Pinzón, but soon expanded to include other populations, including Española, where only 14 individuals remained. The center has repatriated 4,000 tortoises to their islands of origin. You can observe 11 subspecies of tortoises here, ranging in age from hatchlings to juveniles to adults. Landing: Dry.

El Chato Tortoise Reserve (Santa Cruz Island)

Located in the Highlands of Santa Cruz, El Chato Tortoise Reserve is one of the best areas to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. It is divided into two areas: Caseta and Chato, with the trail beginning at Santa Rosa (22 km from Puerto Ayora). The Caseta route is the more challenging of the two. The reserve allows visitors to observe many giant tortoises in the wild, enjoying the water pools or nesting. It is also a great place to spot birds, including short-eared owls, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, vermillion flycatchers, Galápagos rails and paint-billed crakes. Landing: Dry.

Lava Tunnels (Santa Cruz Island)

These underground tunnels located at the southeast of the village of Santa Rosa are more than 1km in length and were formed when the outside skin of a molten-lava flow solidified. When the lava flow ceased, the molten lava inside the flow kept going, emptying out of the solidified skin and thus leaving tunnels. The tunnels have electrical lighting (you can also hire flashlights/torches).

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Day 9

Continue with your 7-night Galapagos Islands Cruise. Your excursions today are at Punta Suarez (Española Island), Gardner Bay (Española Island), Gardner Islet (Española Island) & Osborn Islet (Española Island).

Española Island

At 3.4 million years, Española is the oldest of the Galápagos Islands. With its breadth of one-of-a-kind wildlife and plant species, it truly embodies the spirit of the Islas Encantadas. Washed by surf and spray and bordered by steep cliffs, Española is probably the Galápagos you envisioned when you decided to make the trip to the islands. As the southernmost island in the archipelago, Española’s relative isolation has resulted in not only an abundance of unusual wildlife, but species and subspecies that are endemic to the island itself, such as the Española (Hood) mockingbird, the Española (Hood) racer snake, the Española (Hood) lava lizard, the waved albatross, and the island’s brightly colored marine iguanas.

Along with this rich faunal life, the vegetation on Española is a blend of Littoral, Arid, and Transition Zone plants. Galápagos carpetweed and spiny shrubs, such as Galápagos lantana, bump up against each other here. Intertidal life bursts with green and pencil-spined sea urchins, angelfish, and sea anemones.

Punta Suarez (Española Island)

As you land at Punta Suarez on the western tip of the island, you may see young sea lions surfing the waves and colorful marine iguanas basking in the sun. Blue-footed and Nazca boobies nest just inland. A two-mile hike leads visitors past colorful Española lava lizards to the cliffs and the famous blowhole, which spurts water over twenty feet into the air at high tide. Between April and December, the world’s entire population of adult waved albatrosses (between 25,000 and 30,000 individuals) can be found nesting here. They mate for life and perform an elaborate mating dance that includes stumbling, honking, and beak-fencing. Landing: Dry.

Gardner Bay (Española Island)

With an expansive white sand beach (one of the longest in the Galápagos), Gardner Bay is popular with tourists and sea lions alike. There is no trail here, so the main activities are wandering the tranquil beach and snorkeling and swimming. Three species of Darwin’s Finches and Española Mockingbirds (the only carnivorous mockingbird species) can be spotted here. From January to March, Green Sea Turtles can be found nesting on the beach. Landing: Wet.

Gardner Islet (Española Island)

Gardner Islet is lined with vertical cliffs that drop to sandy ledges and large boulders. The area has an abundance of fish including schools of snappers, creole fish, king angelfish, butterflyfish, jacks, large pufferfish and a variety of sea urchins and sea stars. When snorkeling here, you will encounter the smallest of the Galapagos fish: garden eels, snake eels, blackspot morays, pufferfish, scorpionfish, and red-lipped batfish.

Osborn Islet (Española Island)

After landing, you can walk across a lovely white sand beach amongst a busy sea lion colony or dive into the water to swim with sea lion pups. This small island is a marine visit where you can enjoy fantastic snorkeling and swimming. Landing: Wet.

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Day 10

Continue with your 7-night Galapagos Islands Cruise. Your excursion today is at Interpretation Center (San Cristóbal Island).

San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal is the easternmost and one of the oldest islands in the Galápagos, with eroded volcanic peaks in the north and densely vegetated slopes in the south. The provincial capital of the Galápagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, lies at the head of Wreck Bay at the southwest tip of the island. One of the archipelago’s two airports is here (the other is on Baltra Island). In 1998, the Galápagos National Park Service opened the San Cristóbal Interpretation Center here, giving visitors the opportunity to learn more about the plants, ecosystems, wildlife, and human history of the archipelago.

San Cristóbal is the only island in the Galápagos with permanent freshwater, held in a small lake named El Junco near the top of the island. Because of this availability of water, the island was settled early in Galápagos history. In fact, Charles Darwin’s first stop in the Galápagos was on San Cristóbal in 1835 when the island was the home of the archipelago’s governor.

Interpretation Center (San Cristóbal Island)

The center, which is just outside of the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, was opened in 1998 and features exhibits showcasing the natural and human history of the Galápagos and the ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the islands. Landing: None.

End your Galapagos cruise this morning. Disembark your vessel at San Cristóbal Island and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Quito.

Arrive Quito. Outside baggage claim, you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel.

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Day 11

You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to your onward destination.

Included

Land Arrangements Include

• Accommodations as indicated in the itinerary, including any hotel taxes and resort fees, unless noted otherwise
• Daily meals as indicated in the itinerary
• Excursions as indicated in the itinerary including entrance fees, unless otherwise noted
• English speaking guides for all included excursions
• In-country or regional flights, unless quoted separately and indicated as not included in the land rate
• Ground transportation with driver (note, for some services, the guide is also the driver)
• Tickets for any rail transportation, if applicable to the itinerary
• Tickets for any water vessel transportation, if applicable to the itinerary
• Airport transfers as indicated in the itinerary
• Porterage of up to 2 pieces per person for loading/unloading luggage in/out transfer vehicles at airports during included airport transfers
• 24/7 Emergency Assistance during a trip
• Trip consultation, research and planning, documentation processing, communications, and all operational charges

Excluded

Land Arrangements Do Not Include

• Any form of Travel Insurance
• International Airfares, unless noted otherwise
• Any costs associated with obtaining passports and entry visas, Immigration Reciprocity Fees and other border fees
• Any arrival or departure airport taxes to be paid directly at airports, unless noted otherwise
• Any airline Checked Baggage or Excess Baggage fees
• Gratuities of any kind
• Meals other than those specified in the itinerary
• Beverages unless noted as included in the itinerary
• Any meals for your guide if you invite him/her to dine with you
• Any sightseeing or optional excursions not included in the itinerary
• Personal expenses such as laundry, communication charges, Internet access fees and any other forms of hotel incidentals