2018 Galapagos Cruise
12 May – 22 May 2018
This trip starts and finishes in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito.
To book please phone Tribes Travel on 01473 890499.
We are delighted to have partnered with the Galapagos Conservation Trust for this special departure lead by the Galapagos Conservation Trust’s chairman Dr Mark Collins.
The itinerary has time in Quito and then an 8-day cruise aboard the Majestic. During the trip you will get a selection of talks about some of the key conservation issues of the Galapagos as well as privileged meetings with scientists and a behind the scenes visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station.
There are limited spaces available and priced at £5,500 per person (ex international flights) for a lower deck cabin we expect this trip to fill quickly.
DAY 1 (SATURDAY 12th MAY) – QUITO
You will arrive into Ecuador’s capital city, Quito to meet your fellow guests and your host Dr Mark Collins, Galapagos Conservation Trust’s chairman. You will stay at the La Casona de la Ronda Heritage Boutique Hotel, located in the historical centre of Quito Old Town
DAY 2 (SUNDAY 13th MAY) – QUITO
Your adventure truly begins today as you have the option to take one of two available tours:
Explore the historical city of Quito.
Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca settlement, Quito spreads across an Andean valley and is fringed by volcanos – a remarkable setting for the country’s capital city. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, it is considered the best preserved city in Latin America. Your guide will take you around the top sights of this fascinating city with lunch and all entrance fees included.
Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve (additional supplement of £180 per person).
Located 52 km from Quito, this certified conservation area sits on the North-Western slopes of the Andes. A plethora of life awaits your discovery as you explore this biodiversity hotspot with a naturalist guide. There are beautiful views across the Tandayapa Valley with flowers in bloom all year round and hummingbirds in aplenty. This is a must visit for birders, botanists and nature lovers alike. Round trip transport from Quito, breakfast and lunch are included.
DAY 3 (MONDAY 14th MAY) – SAN CRISTOBAL
In the morning you will be collected from the hotel and taken to Quito airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. On arrival into San Cristobal airport you will be met by a staff member from the Majestic and transferred to the yacht where you will have time to settle into your cabin before enjoying lunch on board and a welcome briefing.
Your afternoon will be spent on the island of San Cristobal, the first stop Darwin made in Galapagos. You will visit El Junco Lagoon. Located in the highlands 19km from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, El Junco is located in the caldera of an extinct volcano. This is a freshwater lagoon fed by rainwater and is one of the only permanent freshwater bodies in Galapagos. It can be a good spot to observe local water birds
DAY 4 (TUESDAY 15th MAY) – FLOREANA
Your next stop, like Darwin, will be Floreana Island. Today, GCT is working to restore the unique ecosytem of the island and reintroduce locally extinct species. In the morning you will visit the famous Post Office Bay. You will head to a spot where 18th century whalers placed a wooden barrel which was used as an unofficial mail box. The tradition was, if there was mail in the barrel destined for the same place as you, you would take and deliver the mail by hand. The custom continues to this day, with Galapagos visitors posting postcards in the barrel, but don’t be too surprised if it takes a while for them to make their way home.
Your afternoon visit is to Cormorant Point. Here you will enjoy a hike to a salt-water lagoon which is home to a flamboyance of flamingos. You will also have the chance to snorkel around Devil’s Crown, the rocky remains of an offshore volcano sticking out of the water. This is a great location to see a wide variety of marine life.
DAY 5 (WEDNESDAY 16th MAY) – ESPANOLA
Your morning visit will be to Suarez Point. On a short hike you will have the chance to watch blue-footed and Nazca boobies before reaching the breeding site of nearly all of the world’s 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses. GCT have supported research to monitor these birds, which are critically endangered.
In the afternoon, your excursion will take you to the spectacular Gardner Bay, where white-sand beaches are home to swathes of sea lions. You will have the opportunity to dive into the water to swim with these playful animals and may be lucky enough to spot some sea lion pups. On the beach you may also see curious mockingbirds, one of the species that inspired Darwin’s theories.
DAY 6 (THURSDAY 17th MAY) – SANTA CRUZ
In the morning you will visit Twin Craters, located on opposite sides of the road leading from Puerto Ayora to Baltra. The name is only figurative; they are not real craters but formations created by collapsing surface material into underground fissures and chambers. The views from here are breathtaking as you look over the Scalesia forests.
The Charles Darwin Research Station is your destination for the afternoon. This world leader in Galapagos research celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014 and is still going strong. You will get an exclusive, GCT behind the scenes tour of the centre to meet some of the scientists we support, as well as a chance to visit their famous giant tortoise captive breeding programme. You will have the chance to see tortoises ranging from hatchlings to adults and many of the older tortoises are accustomed to humans so will stretch their heads out, making for great photo opportunities.
DAY 7 (FRIDAY 18th MAY) – GENOVESA
In the morning you will visit El Barranco. Also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, it is a rocky path that leads up to a high cliff-face where a marvellous view can be appreciated. The mystical palo santo tree grows here and sightings of red-footed boobies, short-eared owls, storm petrels and Galapagos doves are also a possibility.
You will visit the white-sand coral beach of Darwin Bay in the afternoon. From here you will take a half mile trail which winds its way through the mangrove forests. This is a wildlife hotspot so watch out for everything from golden rays and sea turtles to red-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. Further down the path you will find sea lions playing in tidal pools and at the end there are spectacular views of the cliffs.
DAY 8 (SATURDAY 19th MAY) – RABIDA and CHINESE HAT ISLET
In the morning you will visit Rabida Island, one of the most colourful islands in Galapagos and great for snorkelling. Its famous maroon sandy beach and stunning lookouts provide wonderful landscapes. The island is a birdwatcher’s delight with chances to see nine species of finches and Galapagos hawks.
Chinese Hat Islet is so-called for its distinctive shape and is your afternoon destination. This small islet is located near the southeast coast of Santiago, where Darwin made his final stop, and has many interesting geological formations such as lava tubes and lava flows. Some of the lava flows were formed underwater and have subsequently been pushed up above sea level – evidenced by the presence of coral heads which can still be clearly seen. This is a good spot for marine iguanas which you will have the chance to observe whilst snorkelling.
DAY 9 (SUNDAY 20th MAY) – SAN CRISTOBAL
In the morning you will visit Witch Hill. Located on the northern coast of the island, this eroded hill and its surroundings present one of the most picturesque beaches in Galapagos with its fine white sand and abundance of animals. Wildlife often spotted here includes turtles, rays, tropical reef fish, sea lions, mockingbirds and boobies. The clear water provides an excellent opportunity for you to enjoy a swim and a snorkel.
In the afternoon you will visit Lobos Island, which means “Sea Lion Island.” This appropriately-named island is the perfect place to spend time with noisy and frolicking, sea lions. As well as being able to snorkel with them, there are opportunities to see blue-footed and Nazca boobies.
In the evening, you can relax and enjoy a special farewell dinner for your last night aboard the Majestic.
DAY 10 (MONDAY 21st MAY) – SAN CRISTOBAL
Your final morning will include an exclusive visit to the research centre and a tour of the Interpretation Centre where you will be able to learn more about the natural and human history of the Islands and the conservation efforts taking place. The Museum of Natural History explains the volcanic origin of the Archipelago, its ocean currents and climate, and the arrival of Galapagos’ unique endemic species. The Human History Exhibit gives a chronological description of events such as discovery and colonisation of the Islands.
After visiting the Interpretation Centre you will be taken to the San Cristobal airport to catch your flight back to mainland Ecuador. You will then return to the La Casona de la Ronda Heritage Boutique Hotel in Quito for one more night.
DAY 11 (TUESDAY 22ND MAY) – QUITO
You have the morning free in Quito and will then be transferred to the airport in time for your onward flight home.
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To book – call Tribes Travel on 01473 890499.