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!
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 we make our way up the Island of San Cristóbal through the settlements of El Progresso and La Soledad. One we've arrived at the top, enjoy the stunning panoramic view looking out over the Pacific Ocean towards the islands of Santa Cruz, Floreana and Santa Fé. An exhilerating downhill bike ride takes us back down through the lush landscape of the San Cristóbal, passing through the village of El Progresso once again and arriving into the township of Puerto Barequizo Moreno. 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 we have a welcome dinner, sampling some of the island's fresh fish and produce. Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours (By flight)
The day begins with a short boat ride to Kicker Rock, an island also known as "Leon Dormido", which resembles a sleeping lion. It is formed from the remains of an underwater volcano rising 150 metres out of the sea, a truly impressive sight! Enjoy another opportunity to snorkel while you keep an eye out below for sea turtles, manta rays and maybe the odd harmless Galapagos shark, just to name a few. It is quite striking and if conditions are right we may be able to sail through a narrow channel which splits Kicker Rock in half. This 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 center in the afternoon.
This morning we depart San Cristóbal Island and make our way to Floreana Island. Keep an eye out for dolphins and the magnificent albatross along the way. The history of Floreana Island (also called Charles) has gradually evolved to reach near mythic proportions. The story begins when a baroness and her two lovers, a German doctor and his mistress, and a German couple and their young son all came to settle on this land. Their dalliances and disasters, shrouded in mystery, were chronicled in John Treherne’s book The Galapagos Affair. Descendants of the German family, the Wittmers, still live on the island in the small community of Puerto Velasco Ibarra. Mrs. Margaret Wittmer has also written a booked entitled "Floreana" and this can be purchased at the airport in Baltra or at a local bookstore. Experience some of the best snorkelling in the islands at Enderby Islet and Champions Bay. Please make sure you are a comfortable swimmer, the water here can be rough and the currents strong. After some great snorkelling, we make our way to the isolated town of Puerto Velasco Ibarra to our hotel located right on the black sand beach. Take a walk around the musuem. We may also visit the highlands of the island. For dinner, enjoy the abundance of fresh seafood available! Approximate Distance: 74km Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours (By speed boat) Please note: Seas can be rough during this voyage please bring sea sickness medication if you require.
After a tranquil night, we make our way up to the seldom-visited highlands of Floreana. Hear the tales about the pirates, whalers, seal hunters and bucaneers who once lived in this isolated and unique landscape. After lunch we bid farewell to the mysterious Floreana and set sail to Isabela Island where we check-in to our hotel. Shaped like a seahorse, Isabela is the largest island in the Galápagos archipelago, stretching over 100 kms long and extremely narrow. It is also a very active island, with six volcanoes found on Isabella - Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf. All of these volcanoes except Ecuador are still active, and two of them are over 1,700 metres high - Wolf and Cerro Azul. Explore your new surroundings with a short walk nearby to observe pink flamingos in the wetlands, and catch a stunning Isabela sunset on the beach. Afterwards we make our way to the Wall of Tears built by convicts many years ago. Along the way we stop at a lookout point, visit natural pools, walking trails, beaches and mangrove swamps. Approximate Distance: 37km 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.
A full day tour on Isabela Island takes us up the Sierra Negra Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Galapagos boasting the second largest crater in the world. Either hiking or on horseback (optional), you can experience a birds-eye view of this magical landscape. This evening we can relax at the bar or on the beach and enjoy a nice cold beer or cocktail. Approximate Distance: 55km Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours 30 minutes (Hike and Bus)
Today we visit “Tintoreras“ Shark Alley to observe the white tip reef sharks found swimming in the channels between the rocks. Get a close-up view of pelicans, frigate birds and diving blue footed boobies. Watch for manta rays and rare Galapagos penguins, of which only 800 pairs exist. Set sail for Santa Cruz Island and dock at the town of Puerto Ayora. After a late hotel check-in, you are free to explore this bustling little town and sample some of the local restaurants and bars, or maybe do some souvenir shopping in one of the many shops. 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.
Today we 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. Later in the day we head to Tortuga Bay, a beautiful beach with fine white sand, to visit marine iguanas do some kayaking, or to soak up some sun.
Before bidding farewell to the Enchanted Islands, 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. 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 on the town. 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)
Depart Quito at any time.