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Estrella - Land & Sea: North & Central

Overview

Explore the incredible Galapagos archipelago in the company of an expert naturalist guide and discover the islands made famous by Charles Darwin. One night is spent in Puerto Ayora before you board the Estrella del Mar to cruise around the northern and central islands and discover the amazing wildlife and spectacular scenery that this region has to offer. Swim with the marine life, hike and kayak at Tortuga Bay, explore dramatic volcanic rock formations and snorkel in the caldera of a collapsed volcano.

Optional Activities :

Trip Code: SEVL07LB

Location: Ecuador

Ship: Estrella del Mar

CRUISE ITINERARY

On arrival, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel.
He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it. Should you not be able to locate them, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details of our representative office. Please note this service is with a driver only.

Arrival transfer in Quito

Sitting at 2,850 metres above sea level high in the Andean foothills lies Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The city, a short distance from the Equator and with an amazing backdrop of snow-capped mountains, is known for its stunning colonial architecture and art-work. Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city, Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas. It was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978.

Quito

This morning you will be transferred early to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. On arrival in Baltra, you will be met by your guide and transferred to the hotel in Puerto Ayora where you will spend your first night in the Galapagos.

Please note that the Galapagos National Park charges a visitor fee of USD100, payable on arrival, which funds park maintenance and supervision in the Galapagos, as well as ecological study and conservation.

The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000 kilometres (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.

We check into the hotel before having lunch followed by a short afternoon hike to the beautiful white sand beach of Tortuga Bay and a kayak ride amongst the mangroves.

Tortuga Bay (Turtle Bay) is a great place to see sea turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas, pelicans, flamingos and lava gulls which are endemic to the islands and commonly found along the shores. The two beaches at Tortuga Bay are separated by red mangroves. You may see tintoreras sharks, turtles and manta rays in the shallow waters.

There is also the opportunity to explore the mangroves by kayak. As you paddle through the waters, look out for the wide variety of marine life, including colourful reef fish, rays and sea turtles. Afterwards, relax on the beautiful fine white sand beach where you may see iguanas basking in the sun.

Baltra Island & Puerto Ayora

This morning we visit the Charles Darwin Research Centre on Santa Cruz Island. This is the second largest island in the Galapagos, with the largest population and with Puerto Ayora as its main town. It also boasts the most varied of the islands’ vegetation zones including coastal, transition, scalesia, miconia and pampa.

The Charles Darwin Research Station is located a short walk from the centre of the town. It is a science organization that was initiated in 1964, working to preserve the ecosystem of the Galapagos through the conservation efforts of scientists, researchers and volunteers. It also provides a study location for international scientists and training for Naturalist Guides.

We tour the exhibition centre to see photo displays of recent volcanic eruptions, charts outlining geological formations and drawings of the evolutionary development of endemic species. The station is also a great place to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity, brought back from the brink of extinction. Here you can see the famous Galapagos tortoise up close. A corral houses adult Galapagos tortoises and there is a nursery in which the young are cared for until around age three when their shells have hardened.

**Please note: The Charles Darwin Research Station has partially closed until December 2016. Groups affected will visit the highlands to see the giant tortoises in the wild.**

After boarding the Estrella del Mar, we sail to Bartolome to snorkel and take a scenic hike to one of the most famous view points in the Galapagos.

Here on Bartolome we have a guided tour of the dramatic volcanic features of the island, before hiking to a panoramic viewpoint. At the summit of the island you will gain an understanding of its volcanic origins and enjoy a spectacular view.

The island is famous for Pinnacle Rock, one of the most iconic rock formations in the Galapagos and an excellent spot for swimming and snorkelling. Here you may encounter Galapagos penguins, sea turtles, sea lions, whitetip reef sharks and a huge variety of fish. The Galapagos penguin is the only species of penguin found north of the Equator.

We return to the Estrella del Mar for our first night on board. Carrying only 16 passengers, the Estrella is modest yet surprisingly roomy. We sail overnight to ensure that you arrive refreshed and ready to explore a new destination each day.

Puerto Ayora & Bartolome

Today we make a landing at Genovesa, also known as Bird Island, an old imploded volcano. We walk along the white coral sands of Darwin Bay and follow the trail to see the massive colonies of frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, gulls and other seabirds as well as striking volcanic cliffs that rise from the ocean.

There is an option to snorkel at Darwin Bay in the sunken caldera. Here you can see huge schools of tropical fish that swarm near the vertical walls and you may be lucky enough to see a hammerhead shark or manta ray.

We also visit El Barranco, or Prince Philip’s Steps, a steep pathway with excellent views and amazing birdlife. Located on the southern tip of the island, this is an amazing wildlife watching opportunity. We hike up the steps to see a seabird colony teeming with life including the breeding grounds for red-footed boobies and masked boobies.

Genovesa

We make a morning landing at South Plaza (Plaza Sur), one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos. This island is home to one of the largest populations of land iguanas as well as a wide range of other fauna and incredible birdlife. We walk along a path through a cactus forest and view a combination of dry and coastal vegetation. We may see red-billed tropicbirds and indigenous swallow-tailed gulls resting on the cliffs, as well as sea lions playing in the water.

This afternoon we land at the tiny island of Santa Fé for a guided walk through the giant prickly pear forest in search of land iguanas and other amazing wildlife. The hike takes us towards the cliffs on the northern shore of the island. The island, also known as Barrington, is home to an endemic species of land iguana and rice rat. It is also one of the best locations to see sea turtles, swim with sea lions and maybe get a glimpse of a whitetip reef shark.

There is the opportunity to snorkel off the beach at Santa Fé, an amazing chance to swim with playful sea lions and search for sea turtles, rays and reef sharks in amongst large schools of brightly coloured tropical fish.

South Plaza & Santa Fe

This morning we make an early visit to the highlands of Santa Cruz to see the giant tortoises and lava tunnels.

El Chato Reserve is located in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island and here it is possible to see giant land tortoises in the wild in their natural environment. We explore the reserve’s lagoon and lava tunnels, keeping an eye out for owls that often roost in the entrances to the tunnels. The lava tunnels are massive underground lava tubes found throughout the island that extend several kilometres in some places.

Later we transfer to the airport for the flight back to Quito. On arrival there is a transfer to the group hotel with time to enjoy one last night in Ecuador’s historic capital.

Santa Cruz & Baltra Island

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Transfer to the airport for onward destination
DOWNLOAD ITINERARY PDF

Pricing & date

Departing Ending Duration
29 May 2019 04 Jun 2019 7
12 Jun 2019 18 Jun 2019 7
26 Jun 2019 02 Jul 2019 7
10 Jul 2019 16 Jul 2019 7
24 Jul 2019 30 Jul 2019 7
07 Aug 2019 13 Aug 2019 7
21 Aug 2019 27 Aug 2019 7
04 Sep 2019 10 Sep 2019 7
18 Sep 2019 24 Sep 2019 7
02 Oct 2019 08 Oct 2019 7
16 Oct 2019 22 Oct 2019 7
30 Oct 2019 05 Nov 2019 7
13 Nov 2019 19 Nov 2019 7
27 Nov 2019 03 Dec 2019 7
11 Dec 2019 17 Dec 2019 7
25 Dec 2019 31 Dec 2019 7
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Important Information

    • 4 nts in the Galápagos Islands aboard the Estrella del Mar
    • Flights to and from the Galápagos Islands
    • Certified Galápagos National Park Service guide
    • All landings, excursions, and transportation
    • Snorkelling equipment
    • Visit to a wildlife interpretation centre.
    • 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners. (Allow USD75-100 for meals not included. Drinks and tips while on the yacht are extra.
    • Hotels (2 nts), aboard the Estrella del Mar in twin-share cabins (4 nts)
    • Local flight, Estrella del Mar motorized yacht, van, Zodiac, private bus.
    • Galápagos National Park Service guide while in the islands.
    • Small group experience; Max 16, avg 12.

     

    Not Included:

    USD20 Transit Control Card fee at the Quito airport and a USD100 (cash) Galápagos park entry fee immediately upon arrival to the Islands (subject to increase)

  • 2 (light adventure)
  • Available upon request

  • Contact us for more details

  • Season and availability

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including:

1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting.

2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community.

3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America.

4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities.

5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.