Family Land Galápagos—Multi-Activities
Day 1 Quito
Arrive in Quito at any time. There are no planned activities, so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. A G Adventures representative will greet you at the hotel and brief you on the various aspects of the tour. If you are not able to attend the welcome meeting, our representative will leave all important information at your hotel’s reception indicating what time to be ready on Day 2 of your trip. If there is any confusion on arrival, please do not hesitate to call the contact number listed in this dossier. Located 2850m (9348 ft) above sea level, the Ecuadorian capital of Quito enjoys a wonderful spring-like climate, despite the fact that it is only 22 km (14 miles) south of the Equator. Nestled in a valley flanked by mountains, on a clear day several snow-capped volcanoes, including nearby Pichincha, are visible from the city centre. Add to its beautiful location a rich history and well-preserved colonial district, and you begin to understand Quito’s appeal to thousands of tourists every year. In 1978 UNESCO declared Quito a World Heritage site, and any new development in Quito's old town is now strictly controlled. Life in Quito tends to be peaceful, though the drivers are fond of using their car horns! There are approximately 2,000,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area, but the pace is relaxed and the residents hospitable. Since pre-Columbian times, the site of Quito has been inhabited by the Quitus, the Shyris and the Puruhas. The Inca reached this city before the Spaniards, but levelled it to the ground rather than give it up to the Spanish. The present capital was founded by the Spanish on December 6th, 1534. Quito is separated into two basic sections, the old and the new cities. The old city is full of historical buildings and churches. One of the more noteworthy is the Catedral de Quito, located on the Plaza de la Independencia. Built between 1550 and 1562, it was one of the first neoclassical works in Quito. La Compañía de Jésus Church is considered one of the most beautiful in the Americas. The decorations in the Compañía contain approximately one and one-half tons of gold, and construction of the church took 170 years (1605-1775). There are several excellent museums scattered throughout the city. The Casa de la Cultura Ecuadoriana has an interesting display of traditional musical instruments and Ecuadorian traditional dress, a large art collection, and a small natural history museum. For archaeology the best museum to visit is the Museo del Banco Central with its well displayed pottery, gold ornaments, skulls showing deformities and early surgical methods, a mummy and many other objects of interest. The small, rounded hill dominating the old town is El Panecillo or 'the Little Bread Loaf,' a major Quito landmark. From here there are marvellous panoramic views of the entire city and surrounding volcanoes. You can easily take a trolley (streetcar) or a cab between the Old Town and New Town. Quito’s large foreign population and steady stream of travellers have given it a varied and vibrant nightlife, and salsotecas and other dance clubs abound. For a real Ecuadorian experience though, be sure and drop by a peña if you can; these are great places for meeting locals and dancing, as well as enjoying local cooking. Just a couple of hours south of Quito is Parque National Cotopaxi, home to Cotopaxi Volcano (5897 m/19342 ft). the beautiful cone-shaped, snow covered volcano is Ecuador’s second highest peak and the highest active volcano in the world. This is a great spot for a days hiking (up to the refuge on the glacier’s edge) or mountain biking (downhill all the way). True enthusiasts attempt the climb to the summit (overnight excursion). Allow yourself an extra day or two in Quito, before or after your trip, if you want to conquer Cotopaxi. Warning: Please take care when wandering about the city on your own, as pick pockets and purse-snatchers are common, particularly in the Old Town. Be safe and leave your passport, credit cards, traveller’s cheques and cash you don’t need in the hotel’s safety deposit box. Most Quiteños are honest and genuinely helpful and friendly, but be safe and enjoy the city!
Day 2 San Cristóbal Island (1B,1L)
The trip begins with an early morning transfer to the airport and a flight to San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos. Meet our friendly staff and check-in to the hotel. San Cristóbal is the easternmost island of Galapagos and one of the oldest. The principal town is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos. The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000 km (620 miles) off the Pacific coast of South America. The archipelago is comprised of 13 major islands and scores of islets that served as a living laboratory for Charles Darwin, the renowned evolution theorist. Long before Darwin arrived in the Galapagos, seafarers knew these isolated islands as home to some of the strangest and most wonderful wildlife imaginable, including birds that could swim but no longer fly, aquatic iguanas, dragon-like lizards left over from prehistoric times, and the giant Galapagos tortoises for which the islands were named. Covering nearly 5000 square km (3100 square miles), the Galapagos Islands are now a National Park. The Galapagos National Park is the institution that controls the preservation of this environment, assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. Inaugurated in 1964 and based in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station is the one place where visitors can easily see the famous Galapagos Tortoises, which may live up to two hundred years. After lunch visit the Interpretation Center and learn more about the history of Galapagos, sometimes referred to as “The Enchanted Islands”. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on Mann Beach or swimming with playful sea lions as the Frigate birds glide on the thermals. In the evening opt for a dinner sampling some of the island's fresh fish and produce. Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours (By flight)
Day 3 San Cristóbal Island (1B,1L)
The day begins with a short boat ride to Isla Lobos, an islet populated by numerous sea lions, which give the island it's name. Here you can snorkel right off the beach itself, amongst the families of sea lions, with inquisitive sea lion pups swimming around you. This is an ideal location to spot nesting frigate birds and the famous blue-footed boobies. his is a fantastic opportunity to observe the abundant marine life that Galapagos is renowned for. Back onboard the boat, we sail to the main town and visit interpretation centre in the afternoon.
Days 4-6 Santa Cruz (3B)
A change of scenery today as we take a boat to Santa Cruz. Over the next 3 days, we have time to explore the island in depth. On Day 4 we head to Tortuga Bay, a beautiful beach with fine white sand, to visit marine iguanas do some sea kayaking, and to soak up some sun. The mangroves of Tortuga Bay are home to a wide variety of marine life, be sure to keep an eye out while we kayak. On Day 5, we pay a visit to Lonesome George at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Inaugurated in 1964 and based in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station is the one place where visitors can easily see the famous Galapagos Tortoises, which may live up to two hundred years. This is also the training centre for naturalist guides who accompany all visitors landing at more than 40 approved sites on the islands, and members of the international scientific community often come to study at the station. This is a great opportunity to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity, brought back form the brink of extinction. On Day 6, visit the highlands of Santa Cruz to observe the Galapagos Giant Tortoise in its natural surroundings. This area is also famous for amazing lava tunnels, some which are over 1km long! From this elevation the panoramic views of other islands is stunning. Approximate Distance: 46km Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours (By speed boat) Please note: Seas can be rough during this voyage please bring sea sickness medication if you require.
Day 7 Santa Cruz Island/Quito (1B)
After a transfer over the island of Santa Cruz, we arrive at Baltra Island for our return flight to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito, transfer to the hotel for one last night with our newfound friends. Our representative in Quito will be able to advise you and help with some of the many day tours available in and around Quito. Approximate Distance: 970km Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours (By flight)
Day 8 Quito (1B)
Depart Quito at any time.