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Bienviendos a Ecuador! Upon arrival you will be met at the international airport and transferred to your hotel in Quito where the rest of the day is free.
This morning visit downtown Quito and its architectural treasures on a shared city tour. Your stroll takes you through Independence Plaza, past the Cathedral and the Presidential Palace, and on to the temple of La Compañia de Jesús with its dazzling gilded interior. Touring continues with the Equatorial Monument that marks the exact point of the Middle of the World. With a latitude of 0°, you can stand with a foot in each hemisphere and collect a certificate for having crossed the Equator. Next visit the Ethnographic Museum to learn about the different Native American groups living in Ecuador.
Early this morning transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galápagos. Arriving on Baltra Island transfer to the dock to board the M/V Santa Cruz for an introductory briefing and lunch. Set sail for North Seymour Island for an amazing walk along the coast observing bird colonies of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. You’ll also spot sea lions and marine iguanas. Welcome cocktail and dinner on board.
Enjoy a coastal exploration of Isabela Island (Punta Vicente Rosa) on board a panga, a small watercraft, while the naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area with remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. The island is also the nesting place for flightless cormorants and groups of sea lions, Galápagos fur seals and penguins also gather on the shores. After lunch back on board continue to Punta Espinoza, the youngest island of the archipelago and see native wildlife including sally light-foot crabs and hawks.
Exploration of Isabela Island continues today at the secluded Tagus Cove, a favourite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. An uphill hike brings you to the back of the salt water-filled Darwin Crater. A panga ride along the volcanic shore of the cove offers wildlife spotting opportunities and maybe even swimming and snorkelling. After lunch on board disembark at Urbina Bay, located at the foot of the Alcedo and Darwin volcanoes. Here you can find corals, shells and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water. The area is also home to large and very colourful Galápagos land iguanas and giant tortoises.
This morning visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration in the Galápagos. The afternoon brings with it several different options for land and water based activities. Trek along trails amid miconia forest, mountain bike down to Garrapatero Beach, sea kayak or visit an organic coffee plantation. There’s also the option to spend the day SCUBA diving, at an additional cost.
Explore the north shore of Floreana Island along narrow channels with a short walk to Baroness’s Lookout for amazing views of the island and a history lesson on the island’s first settlers. Enjoy a spot of swimming or snorkelling off a sandy beach before lunch. Continue snorkelling around the volcanic Champion Islet or stay dry aboard a glass-bottom boat. Later we land on the olivine-crystal beach at Cormorant Point. An easy walk brings you to a brackish water lagoon where greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts and herons gather. Further on you come to a white-sand beach where sea turtles emerge at night to nest between December and May. Enjoy a farewell cocktail and dinner back on board.
This morning disembark back at Baltra Island for your flight back to Quito. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel where the rest of the day is free for you to enjoy at leisure or head out to La Mariscal for last-minute souvenir shopping.
Sadly today tour arrangements conclude after breakfast and hotel check out with a departure transfer to the airport for your onward journey.