Galapagos Loop 6D / 5N

WEEKLY DEPARTURES FROM SUNDAY TO FRIDAY

DAY 1: SUNDAY – TRANSFER IN SANTA CRUZ – HIGHLANDS (L)

Arriving in Baltra we will take a shuttle to Santa Cruz Island, journeying across the island into the highlands, the visitors will be amazed by the island’s variety of wildlife and geology. Beginning at the coast and traveling north along the road to Puerto Ayora, the road climbs through the agricultural zone and into the mist-covered forests of the highlands. Santa Cruz possesses all of the various life zones present on the archipelago, with wonderful birding opportunities. Whether it’s the bright red feathers of a Vermilion Flycatcher or one of Darwin’s finches almost every land bird present on the islands can be found here. Continuing we will stop at one of the ranches; lunch will be served at this ranch and the best part is that passenger will be able to explore the grounds in search of tortoises. Descending through the agricultural zone into the Transition Zone where the Tortoise Reserve is located, the introduced vegetation of the farmlands is replaced by native vegetation. After lunch we’ll continue to Puerto Ayora for the rest of the afternoon for some leisure time. Accommodation in selected hotel.

DAY 2: MONDAY- TRANSFER TO FLOREANA ISLAND – SNORKELING AT LA LOBERIA (B, L, D)

This morning after breakfast we will head to take our speed boat to Floreana Island; this ride will take us 2h 30 minutes approx. This Island has, arguably, the most interesting human history of all of the Galapagos Islands. It is the site of the first “post office”, established in 1793 by whalers. Floreana was the first island to be colonized by Ecuadorians in 1832. It was a penal colony that didn’t last long because of the lack of fresh water. A fish canning plant was established there by Norwegian immigrants in 1924; it lasted only a couple of years. A few years later, Friedrich Ritter, a German doctor, arrived with his female companion Dore Strauch, who suffered from multiple sclerosis. Doctor Ritter removed all of his teeth and used stainless-steel dentures to avoid any dental complications. Together, they set up a very successful garden and lived off the land.

A pregnant woman, Margret Wittmer arrived in 1932, with her husband Heinz and her step-son Harry. They built a house and also established an agricultural lifestyle before giving birth to their son Rolf, the first person to be born in Galapagos.

Floreana is the most well-known Island, for being the site of several mysterious disappearances in the 1930s—the one receiving the most attention being that of a supposed Austrian baroness, who had arrived shortly after the Wittmers with her two servants (lovers). After her arrival, people started disappearing mysteriously and she later vanished as soon as she arrived. The Ecuadorian government conceded land to build up a 5-star hotel, close to Post office bay, which never happened and appeared to be a complete fraud.

Arriving to Floreana, our guide will give us some time to spend at the dock where we will be able to admire the native sea lions and the “Red Marine Iguanas”, only found on this particular island. These two species coexist naturally in the dock´s surroundings. At this point, you will have an interpretation by our guide on how these species live, their natural behavior and evolution.
After checking-into our lodge we will enjoy lunch. After this we will begin our excursion to “La Loberia”, a sea Lion breeding area, we will take an short walk along the shore for approximately 30 minutes, after the interpretation and some time to admire the landscape of this visitor’s site, we will start our first marine excursion in the bright turquoise water where you might be able to swim with sea lions, sea turtles, manta rays and a variety of colorful coral fish. We will then walk back to the town enjoying the colors of a typical Galapagos sunset and head back to the hotel to relax. You will enjoy dinner in the hotel, where you could possibly exchange experiences with some members of the original Wittmer family. After dinner, end of the day’s activities and accommodation in the hotel.

DAY 3: TUESDAY – HIGHLANDS FLOREANA – PIRATES’ CAVE – TORTOISE BREEDING CENTER – TRANSFER TO ISABELA (B, L)

Today after breakfast, our guide will pick us up and we will head to the highlands of the Island. Our first destination, will be the cemetery, where you will have a quick explanation about this site and the Wittmers´ tombstones. Our second destination to visit would be “Cerro Alieri”, approximately a 15-minute ride from the port, this site is interesting for those who enjoy the vegetation on the Galapagos islands and some birdwatching. Over 48 different species have been identified here, 56 % of which are native and 33 % endemic. In addition, this is the site of a major conservation program for a critically endangered plant, Linum cratericola. It was believed extinct until it was reencountered by scientists and park wardens in 1997.

The third site to visit, Asilo de la Paz, is a 45-minute ride from town. It is primarily a historical site where visitors can view a pirates’ cave and the fresh water spring, which is the main source of water for the population. Also in this place, the Wittmer family set out to live inside the caves while they were constructing their first house made of leather and stone. In these caves “Rolf Wittmer” was born, becoming the first baby ever to be born on Floreana. He lived in the caves with his family for his first year of life. Here our guide will interpret how they used to live, so you can go back in time and picture the idea of how extreme it was to live on this island back in the day. Nearby, you will find a corral with various giant tortoises that were originally owned by residents of Floreana. Along this path, we will also see Giant tortoise’s species from this island that have been recently re-introduced, since they were considered extinct. Return to the lowlands to have lunch, and then continue to board the speed boat that will transfer us to Isabela Island; this ride will take approx. 2h30 min.

Arriving to Isabela you can relax for the rest of the day on the pristine beaches of the biggest and one of the newest Islands. .

DAY 4: WEDNESDAY – SIERRA NEGRA AND CHICO VOLCANOES (B, BL)

Breakfast. Today, we go by car to the mountainsides of the Sierra Negra Volcano. We will have an approx. 2 hour walk until we reach the crater of the volcano. There we will have a wonderful view of the crater and with a little bit of luck, we will be able to see the Galapagos Sparrow Hawk. We will get to know the geology of the Sierra Negra Volcano, learning that most of this island was formed by AA lava. We will have a box lunch and visit the “El Chico” Volcano. Return to the hotel, the afternoon can be spent leisurely to enjoy marvelous coral sand and turquoise water beaches. Overnight at your selected hotel.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY INSTEAD OF SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO

THE TUNNELS (BL)


Today we will visit a unique place on the islands, “Los Tuneles”. Our trail starts on board our speed boat on a 45 minute trip. Our experienced captain will securely lead us across the waves that normally hide this treasure. The Tunnels were formed millions of years ago when rivers of liquid magma ran across the island reaching its coastal shore. The cold water froze their superficial layer isolating the interior while liquid magma kept flowing into the sea. When the eruption finished, a hollow structure was formed and its wall later broke allowing water to seep inside, creating a tunnel. Our guide will join us along hundreds of tunnels while we snorkel and encounter marine life such as sharks, lobsters, penguins, sea lions, boobies, marine turtles among other endemic species of the Galapagos. A snack will be served on board our boat. If lucky enough, we will have the chance to see giant manta rays feeding in open water. Afternoon return to Isabela for accommodation in your selected hotel.

DAY 5: THURSDAY – TORTOISE BREEDING CENTER + FLAMINGO´S LAGOON+ SANTA CRUZ (B) CRUZ (B)

After breakfast, our guide will take us to visit the Famingo’s Lagoon. This is an approx. 2km trail where we will have explanation of the vegetation and geology of this young Island, Isabela Island. Arriving to the Flamingo lagoon we might be able to see Flamingos feeding in this lake. This is an artificial lake, which, due to construction related excavations, was filled up by the rain. After this we will continue to visit the Tortoise breeding center. Here you will learn more about the reproduction and breeding of the Tortoises. Back to Puerto Villamil to take our boat and transfer to Santa Cruz. Leisure time for the rest of the afternoon in Puerto Ayora and accommodation at your hotel.

DAY 6: FRIDAY – CHARLES DARWIN STATION – TRANSFER AIRPORT FLIGHT BACK (B)

After breakfast, we will head to the Charles Darwin Station. The center is a reservoir of information on habitats and local conservation, as well as other fascinating relevant statistics. The most striking attraction of this station is certainly the Tortoise Breeding Center, where it is possible to view tortoises of different shapes and sizes. Travelers here can freely walk and get their pictures taken with the tortoises. Additionally, in order to fully take advantage of your visit to the Galapagos Islands, you will be able to visit the station where legendary “Lonesome George” is exhibited as the last of his species. In 2012, after his death, he was shipped to New York to the American Museum of Natural History in order to start an embalming process for his conservation. Lonesome George was exhibited in the museum for one year. Now Lonesome George is back in the Charles Darwin research station, as a “symbol” of conservation. After this our guide will transfer you to the airport so you can take your flight back to mainland Ecuador.

EXTENSIONS FOR ITINERARY:

EXTENSION A
-DAY 6 FRIDAY: FULL DAY TOUR BARTHOLOME ISLAND (B, L)
-DAY 7: SATURDAY – FULL DAY TOUR NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND (B, L)
-DAY 8: SUNDAY – CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION + TRANSFER OUT (B)

EXTENSION B
-DAY 6: FRIDAY – TRANSFER TO SAN CRISTOBAL-FRIGATE HILL & INTERPRETATION CENTER (B)
-DAY 7: SATURDAY – KICKER ROCK (B, BL)
-DAY 8: SUNDAY – TRANSFER OUT (B)

INCLUDED:

-Transfer Airport – Hotel – Airport.
-Accommodation in the selected hotel with breakfast.
-Meals noted (as per the program – depending of the meal it can be at the hotel, onboard or at a local restaurant).
-Excursions mentioned in the itinerary.
-Bilingual Naturalist Guide in all Excursions (English/ Spanish).
-Private sped boat for the passengers.
-Snorkeling equipment.
-Contribution to the local community.

NOT INCLUDED:

-Airfare to/from Galapagos .
-Entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park (US$ 100 per person).
-Galapagos Migration Card (US$ 20 per person).
-Optional excursions mentioned in the itinerary as a supplement.
-Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary.
-Tips (it is not mandatory).
-Extra expenses.

Note:

Departures with minimum 2 pax