Equador

 

Day 1 Guayaquil
Depart the U.S.A. this morning for your flight to Guayaquil, arriving in the evening. Upon arrival you will be met and taken to the Hilton Colon, Guayaquil's most deluxe hotel, located minutes from the airport. 
Overnight Hilton Colon Hotel (B)

 

Day 2 Galapagos Islands - Baltra, Las Bachas
You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galápagos. Upon arrival at Baltra, guides will meet you, collect your luggage and escort you on the short bus ride to the harbor. Motorized rafts, called 'pangas' will transport you to the M/V Eclipse, a deluxe small ship carrying 48 passengers, with a naturalist guide for every 12 passengers. The ship also has such amenities as a 20 ft. swimming pool, a poolside bar, a souvenir shop, and an observation deck. There is an infirmary, with an MD on board at all times. Eclipse's staterooms are among the largest of any vessel in Galapagos. This afternoon you will visit Las Bachas, a white sand beach that is a major egg-laying site for sea turtles; On shore are marine iguanas, and, in the lagoon, flamingos are common.
Overnight 7 nights on the Eclipse (all meals and excursions included)

 

Day 3 Galapagos Islands - James Bay, Bartolome
This island has several sites to visit: Puerto Egas with its black sand beaches was the site of small salt mining industry in the 1960s and a hike inland to the salt crater is an excellent opportunity to sight land birds such as finches, doves, and hawks. A walk down the rugged shoreline will turn up many marine species as iguanas basking on the rocks and sea lions lazing in the tide pools. At the end of the trail there is a series of grottoes or sea caves where fur seals and night herons are found resting on shady ledges.
Bartolomé is a small island that has beautiful white sand beaches, luxuriant green mangroves and a colony of penguins. Activities will include swimming and snorkeling, and a climb to the summit of the island for one of the most breathtaking views in all the Galápagos. From the summit you will have the best view of the often-photographed Pinnacle Rock.

 

Day 4 Galapagos Islands - Tower Island
Tower is a collapsed volcano and ships sail directly into its large breached caldera to anchor at the foot of the steep crater walls. Tower attracts vast numbers of pelagic seabirds that come here to nest and breed: great frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and storm petrels. A trail leads from a coral beach past tidal lagoons where lava gulls and yellow-crowned night herons are seen, then along the low shrubs populated by frigates and boobies, and eventually to a cliff edge where seabirds soar. In the afternoon, a second trail called Prince Philip Steps leads to an open area for masked boobies, frigates, and red-footed boobies.

 

Day 5 Galapagos Islands – Fernandina
Fernandina is the youngest and most active volcano in the Galápagos, with eruptions taking place every few years. The flat lava of Punta Espinosa offers a stark and barren landscape, but here flightless cormorants build their nests on the point, sea lions sprawl on the beach or play in the tide pools, and marine iguanas dot the sand. This afternoon, on the towering cliffs of Tagus Cove, 19th and early 20th century ships' graffiti can be seen. After hiking beyond Darwin Lake, a saltwater lagoon above sea level, you will be rewarded with extraordinary views of Darwin and Wolf volcanoes.

 

Day 6 Galapagos Islands - Urbina Bay
Urbina Bay is very interesting in that it is a perfect example of the geological activity of the islands. In 1954 over 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the marine reef at the edge of the shore were uplifted by 13 feet (4 meters). At Elizabeth Bay enjoy a panga ride through the mangrove area to see the rays, turtles, sea lions, and, circling overhead, Galápagos hawks. A colony of penguins inhabits a rocky islet at the entrance to Elizabeth Bay.

 

Day 7 Galapagos Islands - Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is the only inhabited island to be visited during this Galapagos cruise. Puerto Ayora, with a population of about 10,000 people, is the location of the Charles Darwin Research Station, world-famous for its tortoise breeding programs. After touring the Station, journey by bus into the highlands to Los Gemelos, the two deep pit craters situated in the Scalesia forest with lots of interesting bird life. Go for a walk through the giant lava tubes, or visit the Tortoise Reserve to search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings. There will be some free time to explore the town of Puerto Ayora on your own.

 

Day 8 Galapagos Islands - Hood Island, Punta Suarez
One of the oldest of the islands, Hood offers Gardner Bay is on the eastern shore with a magnificent beach that is frequented by a transient colony of sea lions, and is a major nesting site for marine turtles. Around the small islets nearby, snorkelers will find lots of fish and sometimes turtles and sharks. On a trail leading to the western tip of the island you'll pass the only nesting sites in the Galápagos of the waved albatross, huge birds with a 6-foot wingspan. These huge birds nest here from April to December and represent the majority of the world's population of this species. This afternoon, Punta Suarez is one of the most outstanding wildlife areas of the archipelago, with a long list of species found along its cliffs and sand or pebble beaches. In addition to five species of nesting seabirds there are the curious and bold Hood Island mockingbirds, Galápagos doves and Galápagos hawks. Several types of reptiles, including the brilliantly colored marine iguana and the oversized lava lizard, are unique to this island.

 

Day 9 Galapagos Islands/Quito
This morning you have a ride through a tidal lagoon on a panga to view mangrove plants and various rays and sharks, and turtles. Return to Baltra and disembark in time for your flight to Quito. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the heart of the colonial district. Surrounded by churches, museums and national monuments, the Hotel Patio Andaluz is located in the heart of the historical centre of Quito. After check in, you will enjoy a delightful walking tour of this wonderful city, including La Compañía Church with its breathtaking gold-plated altars, considered the finest baroque jewel of America.
Overnight Patio Andaluz Hotel (B)

 

Day 11 Quito/Depart
This morning you will be met at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight back to the U.S.A.