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Galapagos Tortoise Special

11th November - 22nd November 2013

Summary of Trip

  • Excellent tortoise viewing possibilities
  • Specially chartered private yacht in the Galapagos
  • Behind the scenes look at the Charles Darwin Research Station
    and the chance to meet resident experts
  • Small group of up to 15 guests

This special holiday will give you fantastic opportunities to see the magnificent wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, in particular Giant Tortoises in the wild, and meet experts helping restore the tortoise population. Accompanied by one of the top naturalists in the Galapagos, Santiago Bejarano, you will visit and explore in depth some of the most spectacular visitor sites in the Galapagos, with an extended stay on the Island of Santa Cruz, the best Island to see Giant Tortoises in the wild. Ideal for people who can’t travel to Quito for health reasons.

Details

  • 12-day trip begins and ends in Guayaquil
  • 8 days/7 nights on board the yacht, 2 at Finch Bay Hotel, 2 hotel nights at the Grand Hotel Guayaquil.
  • Tour Cost £3190 per person, excluding international flights. Includes all accommodation, guide services, meals, transport, internal flights Guayaquil-Baltra-Guayaquil, non-bottled soft drinks.
  • Flights from the UK to Quito and Guayaquil start at around £850. We can help guests co-ordinate their international flights which are available from local UK airports.

Outline Itinerary
11th November – Arrive Ecuador
12th November – Guayaquil
13th November - 14th November – Santa Cruz Island
15th November - 22nd November – Galapagos Cruise
22nd November –Flight back to the UK

NOTE:
Land cost includes:
  • Return domestic flights from Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands.
  • All accommodation meals and soft drinks in mainland Ecuador and aboard the yacht in the Galapagos.
  • The price is based on 2 people sharing a double room.
  • $10 Galapagos Migration Card.
  • The services of expert local naturalists and all transport in the Galapagos.
Land Cost Does Not Include:
  • International airfare.
  • Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100 per person) .
  • Alcoholic beverages. Gratuities.
Single Supplement:

If you prefer your own room, there is a single supplement cost of £260 per person for the time in mainland Ecuador. All boat cabins must be shared, except by special arrangement.  ** 2 single cabins are available on a first come first served basis for single guests for no additional charge.

 

** KLM offer flights direct to Guayaquil via Amsterdam from local airports in the UK. From London Iberia fly via Madrid, or various airlines fly via the USA.

 

If you would like any more information or to chat over the details of the trip we would be delighted to help. Telephone Telephone01482 872 716 for more information or email email us today.

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Itinerary

11th November – Guayaquil Arrive early in the afternoon/evening to the airport in Guayaquil. You will be met at the airport and taken to our hotel the Grand Hotel Guayaquil. Time to relax before a light evening meal together at the hotel (this itinerary is designed assuming guests fly with KLM, but also works with flights on Iberia via Spain or on flights via the USA).

Tortoise12th November – Guayaquil – Cerro Blanco Tropical Forest An early start today to visit one of the last remaining areas of dry tropical forest on Ecuador’s coast. A private reserve, around half an hour drive from our hotel on the outskirts of the city which is home to 54 species of mammals, including Howler Monkey and White Fronted Capuchin Monkey, as well as 219 species of birds including the Great Green Macaw and 7 species which are globally threatened as well as a rich variety of plant life. We return to the hotel for lunch. Then in the afternoon we will visit the nearby Iguana Park, and then back to the hotel for some time to relax before our welcome dinner. Overnight Grand Hotel Guayaquil.

13th November – Santa Cruz This morning we take our flight out to Baltra where our Galapagos experience begins. Upon arrival our local guide will meet us and we will cross a small channel to the island of Santa Cruz. From here we go onto a farm for lunch where there are Giant Tortoises roaming wild. After lunch we will spend the full afternoon in search of Giant Tortoises, taking a relaxed pace so you can really enjoy seeing these magnificent giants in their natural territory. Overnight at the Finch Bay Hotel in Puerto Ayora, a beautiful hotel set by the sea, were you can see Marine Iguana’s resting on the lava rocks.

Iguana14th November – Santa Cruz After an early breakfast we go to visit the private house of Jacqueline de Roy, which has amazing possibilities to see Galapagos Finches, from here we take a boat across the bay to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. This offers a great chance to learn about the work being done to conserve and protect the islands wildlife, we will have the chance to meet researchers working in the field and will be led around by one of the researchers at the Tortoise Rearing Centre.

After the visit to the Charles Darwin Station we will have lunch together, then the afternoon free to explore the small town of Puerto Ayora, or return to the hotel with its beautiful little beach next to an area of mangroves, populated by Marine Iguana’s and finches. Evening meal together at the hotel.

15th November - 22nd November – Cruise on board the Tip Top III After breakfast we set off back across the highlands of Santa Cruz, stopping on the way to visit Los Gemelos, the twin sinkhole craters which are home to some 300 different fern species as well as a “forest” of Sunflowers and some elusive endemics like the Woodpecker Finch (one of only two bird species in the world to use twigs as tools), the Small Tree Finch, Vegetarian Finch and Galapagos Rail all found in the lush forest of Scalacia (Giant Daisies) that characterise the highlands of this island.

From here we travel to Baltra where we will be transferred to our private yacht, the Tip Top III, a spacious and comfortable motor yacht which was fully refurbished in 2008, which has a fantastic friendly crew and is run by one of the oldest families in the Galapagos. The yacht accommodates 16 passengers in 10 double cabins each with private shower and toilet. Just some of the luxuries you'll enjoy on the yacht's three decks are air conditioning, a TV, a VCR, a full sound system, an inviting dining room, a fully equipped bar, a library filled with a variety of reading materials, a spacious sundeck, and snorkelling equipment. Moreover, each of the craft's homey cabins is outfitted with a private bathroom with both hot and cold water, a personal safe, and a wardrobe. The vessel is also equipped with the most advanced navigational and safety equipment, all of which meets or exceeds international Coast Guard safety regulations.

15th November – Santa Cruz Bachas Beach A beautiful white sandy beach punctuated by lava formations. The wonderfully soft sand here makes it a favourite site for nesting Sea Turtles. Here you will also see white mangroves, one of the three species found in the Galapagos, as well as Marine Iguanas and Flamingos if we are lucky. A great place for your first snorkel.

16th November – Santiago Island – (Santiago) – Sullivan Bay Sullivan Bay offers a rare look at a recently formed lava-field. Located on the eastern coast of James Island, just across from Bartolome, this lava field is thought to have been created in eruptions that took place around 1890.

Bartolome Home to one of the most iconic scenery shots of Galapagos, this small island located off the eastern shore of James Island is home to beautiful panoramic views. The striking volcanic landscape looks almost lunar and provides a great introduction to the volcanic origins of the islands, with spatter cones and cinder cones. We will also see Pinnacle Rock, a striking example of a tuff cone, and good examples of pioneering plants, including some beautiful strands of lava cactus. At sea level, this is a great place for swimming and snorkelling, if we are lucky with Galapagos Penguins.

17th November – Genovesa (Tower)  A highlight of any visit to the Galapagos, a truly beautiful island thanks to the richness of its birdlife. Located in the northeast portion of Galapagos, the island is an outpost for many seabirds (as is Espanola in the South). Interestingly there are no land reptiles here and only very small Marine Iguanas, due to direction of ocean currents which apparently would not have carried terrestrial animals here. You will visit the following sites.

Darwin Bay – Genovesa This bay is actually the caldera of an extinct, partially eroded volcano, with the surrounding cliffs forming the inner portion of the rim. We arrive on a coral beach, and will immediately be struck by the birdlife. Great Frigate bird, Red-Footed Boobies nesting in the mangroves, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Lava Gulls, Yellow-Crowned Night Herons. Our trail takes us past a beautiful tide pool area.

Prince Philip’s Steps – Genovesa The tour begins with a great panga (small dingy) ride along the base of the cliffs where you and see Red billed Tropicbirds trying to make a precise landing in their nest. Squadrons of Frigate Birds are seen flying back and forth, whilst Red-Footed Boobies perch on branches of Palo Santo trees which seemingly grow out of the cliffs. Once we arrive on land and climb to the cliff-top, we enter an area where nesting Masked Boobies and Great Frigate birds are found. It is also a great place to see Galapagos Doves and Vampire Finches (sharp-beaked ground finches)…ask your guide for the full story on the name! We will also see great numbers of Storm Petrels here, sometimes in tens of thousands. If we are lucky, we may also see a Short-Eared Owl.

18th November –James Bay (Buchaneer Cove) This was the island where Charles Darwin spent the majority of his land visits in Galapagos. At James Bay, the Fur Seal Grotto provides great chances to get close views of both Fur Seals and Sea Lions in a series of rocky pools. This visit also provides some of the best opportunities for tide-pooling in the Galapagos, with the chance to see Plovers, Herons and Oyster Catchers with some good swimming and snorkelling off the beach. The afternoon will be spent sailing, with great chances to see whales, dolphins and other sea life.

North of Puerto Egas, on the other side of a lava flow lies. Playa Espumilla, a tawny beach couched in mangroves, favoured by Marine Turtles as a nesting ground. A trail leads inland from the beach, weaving through the mangroves alongside a salty lagoon into thick vegetation, home to Darwin's finches and flycatchers.

19th November –Isabela – Vicente Roca Point Beautiful volcanic scenery and amazing lava intrusions as well as a huge sea cliff categorise this area, in the northern part of the island which lies on the flank of 2,600 foot Volcano Ecuador. Here the remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves with a bay that is well protected from ocean swells.

Masked and Blue-Footed Boobies sit along the cliffs whilst Flightless Cormorants stay along the shoreline and if we are lucky we will see Penguins in the water. The upwelling of cold water currents has created an abundance of marine life, making for great snorkelling.

Fernandina The youngest of the Galapagos Islands at just over 100,000 years old, this is the most pristine and untouched of all the islands (not just in Galapagos, but in the world). Volcanically it is still active with eruptions occurring every few years. Punta Espinosa, is a truly spectacular visitor site and a real highlight. A narrow strip of land extending out from the base of the Fernandina Volcano it offers the best chance to see Marine Iguanas with the largest colony in the Galapagos. You will also have the chance to see Flightless Cormorants here, at the tip of the narrow point.

20th November – Isabela – Tagus Cove The land tour here takes you up the slopes of the Darwin Volcano up to a salt water lagoon at the top, providing a great view of the fragile lava fields, the volcanic formations as well as the ocean. A great part of the visit here is a panga ride along the coast, dramatic colours and beautiful tuff formations, Blue-Footed Boobies, Penguins and Marine Iguanas.

Isabela – Urbina Bay In 1954, almost 4 miles of coastal seabed, with marine-life and all, were dramatically and very suddenly uplifted about 15 ft. This area is now a nesting site for Brown Pelicans and Flightless Cormorant and giant Marine Iguanas can be seen. We will also see a few large Land Iguanas and if we are lucky a Giant Tortoise or two can be seen.

Isabela – Elizabeth Bay Located on the west coast of the Isabela, no landings are permitted here, but it makes for a beautiful panga (small dingy) ride. This is one of the best areas to see Galapagos Penguins as they prefer the cooler waters found in this area of the archipelago. Flightless Cormorants and Giant Marine Iguanas, which have grown so large thanks to the plentiful food are also see in this area. As we then enter a narrow cove lined with large Red Mangrove trees, we see Marine Turtles, Rays and shore birds.

21st November –Isabela – Villamil (Las Tintoreras or White Tipped Reef Shark Canal Measuring over 1800 square miles, and accounting for over half the land surface area in Galapagos, at about 80 miles in length, the seahorse shaped Isabela Island is the largest in the Galapagos. Isabela is formed from six separate volcanoes (Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf). This morning we visit a small bay with completely calm turquoise waters, located located south of Puerto Villamil Las Tintoreras is a great place to see Sea Lions, Sea Turtles and Marine Iguanas as well as other Galapagos wildlife. The site also gets its other name thanks to a small crevice in the middle of the trail where at low tide, sharks (White Tipped Reef Sharks) can be seen resting. Most of the trail is lava, except for a white sand beach which is host to a small colony of Sea Lions and a nesting site for Marine Iguanas, and a second beach of black stones which is entirely surrounded by mangroves.

Puerto Villamil – Tortoise Breeding Center
The Galapagos has 11 different species of Giant Tortoise with five different species on the island of Isabella. You get the chance to see them at a new breeding site built by the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station, just outside of town to protect and increase the endangered populations of tortoises in the southern part of the island. It is a beautiful setting, with lots of space and shade for the tortoises.

22nd November A leisurely breakfast this morning before we head back to Baltra for our flight back to Guayaquil. Chance to go to the nearby Hilton hotel, to relax for a few hours and freshen up before returning to the airport for your flight back home.  

23rd November Arrive back in the UK

Please note: Itineraries are unlikely to change significantly but are subject to change. Weather, wildlife breeding, instructions from the Galapagos National Park, specific abilities and interests of passengers as well as operational matters may cause your guide or captain to change the times or nature of your visits. Your guide will always endeavour to have the best itinerary for you within these constraints.

 

If you would like any more information or to chat over the details of the trip we would be delighted to help. Telephone Telephone01482 872 716 for more information or email email us today.

Accommodation

Tip Top IIITip Top III

The Tip Top III is owned by one of the oldest families in the Galapagos, which has a great reputation for good food, good service and a very helpful crew....

Grand Hotel GuayaquilFinch Bay Hotel

This stylish low rise hotel, has its own private sand beach in a quiet location where only pedestrians and cycles are allowed. The hotel is only accessible by boat...

 

If you would like any more information or to chat over the details of the trip we would be delighted to help. Telephone Telephone01482 872 716 for more information or email email us today.

Think Galapagos

SantiagoCall Santiago, Galapagos specialist and trip leader
on 01482 872 716
Contcat us online

Quote “A dream holiday come true. The organisation of the trip was brilliant and Santiago and his guides, drivers etc were excellent.”

Sue Wilkinson.

Quote “Trip of a lifetime. The trip was even better than I had expected. Extremely well organised.”

George Thompson.

Quote "This was a wonderful holiday that was made memorable by the quality of the guides and the input of local knowledge that can only come from a bespoke and dedicated company."

Ian Thorpe.

Quote "Excellent in every way. We can’t fault it. Locations, guides, food, boat, organisation brilliant."

Mr and Mrs Coley-Smith.


Soft landings and extensions
We are very happy to organise ‘soft landings’ and extensions to our trips, arriving early for your tour or taking an extension at the end. This can often help get you in the right time zone at the beginning or give you a rest, or a chance to visit more of Ecuador after the main tour has finished.

Rachel DexCall Rachel, Ecuador and Galapagos Specialist
on 01482 872 716
Contcat us online