Arrive In Quito
When you arrive in Quito, Ecuador, you will be met by a representative who will take you to your city centre hotel. Depending on what time you arrive you may have chance to explore the city or you might opt to rest after the long flight and be fully revitalised ready for the adventures that await.
After breakfast, you will embark on a guided tour to highlight the city's main sights such as the Plaza de la Independencia, the main square, with its imposing palaces and cathedral, and El Panecillo Hill and the panoramic view over Quito and the whole valley. This will give a good overview of Quito. The afternoon is free for you to explore further or sit at a café and do some people watching before returning to your hotel.
To Galapagos, Santa Cruz
Enjoy an early breakfast before you transfer to the airport and fly to the world famous Galapagos Islands and your waiting yacht, Beluga. Settle in, unpack and after a spot of lunch it is time for your first excursion, the highlands of Santa Cruz. Here, you might see some of best known inhabitants of the islands, the fascinating giant tortoises. Watch them as they forage for food, and find out more about them and the rest of the islands' flora and fauna at the Charles Darwin Centre. Tonight you dine on board, and get to know your fellow passengers and crew.
Today you will explore Floreana which is know for having the longest human history of the archipelago. Your guide will have plenty of stories to tell of past inhabitants. You will traverse a trail at Punta Cormorant which leads to a lagoon where the flamingos gather. You'll return to the boat for a tasty lunch. After lunch you pay a visit to Post Office Bay, steeped in island history, this is where the 18th century sailors left letters they had written and collected others deposited by others in order to deliver them after their voyage. To this day travellers continue this quaint tradition and you too can join in by leaving and/or collecting a card!
Marvel at the impressive volcanic scenery of Isabela today which includes Wolf Volcano, the highest point in the islands, and Sierra Negra with a massive volcanic crater, an impressive 10km in diameter, the second largest in the world (after that of Yellowstone National Park). There will be time to spend admiring some of the striking and unusual lava formations. In the afternoon you will visit the giant tortoises at the breeding centre in Puerto Villamil where you can see hatch-ling and juvenile tortoises, adorable and there will be time to visit a lagoon that attracts numerous birds.
Exploring more of the archipelago to day we visit Punta Moreno where the land is made up of solidified flows of black lava, the tidal lagoons here attract many species of birds. Witness magnificent views of 3 of Isabela's volcanoes: Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul and Alcedo. After lunch you take to the panga to Elizabeth Bay where you can view blue-footed boobies and penguins on the rocks, then venture further into the mangroves where you might see turtles and pelicans.
This morning you will pay a visit to the west coast of Isabela at Urbina Bay. You'll make a wet landing and together with your guide walk along the beach to an exposed 6km long wall of coral which was raised to the surface by a volcanic eruption in the 1950s. If you keep your eyes peeled you are likely to see land iguanas, giant tortoises and flightless cormorants, then it's back to the boat for lunch. Later you land at Tagus Cove, where many pirates and mariners from the early 19th century trod before you. There is even some ancient graffiti on the rocks left by some of them. You will hike up to Darwin Lake, a saline lagoon which attracts a variety of birds, and you may bump into more lumbering land iguanas as you head back down towards the bay.
Today you will experience the youngest and most volcanically active of the islands, Fernandina. Landing at Punta Espinosa you can walk along the shoreline, you should be able to observe sea lions, Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants and marine iguanas. Once you've explored this area, board the panga and head out towards the cliffs at Punta Vicente Roca, this is where Nazca and blue-footed boobies, storm petrels, terns and gulls nest. There is abundant marine life, too, you can expect to see dolphins and sea lions. Whales can often seen in large numbers as the favourable currents provide an abundant food supply for these large mammals.
Today you will find yourself at the centre of the archipelago, Santiago. You will land at Puerto Egas at the southern end of James Bay and follow a trail inland for about 3 km, ending at a disused salt mine, where now a seasonal lagoon is frequented by flamingos and other wading birds. After lunch and a rest, it's another hike to the highest point on nearby Bartolome to witness one of the best known views in the Galapagos, don't forget your camera. Look down the spine of the island flanked by beautiful bays on both sides, and see the spire of Pinnacle Rock to the right and dramatic backdrop of Santiago Island. On the hike back down you'll pass lava tufts and cones, and there may even be time for a refreshing swim after all the exploring.
Following you last breakfast on board you visit North Seymour, named after Lord Hugh Seymour, a prominent British naval officer in the late 18th century. On this final excursion you can hope to see great frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, blue-footed boobies, land iguanas, marine iguanas and sea lions. Later you travel to Baltra airport and board the flight to Guayaquil on the mainland, where you spend the night at Oro Verde.
Part two of your adventure begins today with a flight to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. From the airport it's only a half hour drive to your hotel in the central highlands. Finca Rosa Blanca is at the heart of a working coffee plantation and is owned by an artist who has filled the property with colourful local artworks. The views over the central valley are spectacular. You can relax and recover after your journey and take a gentle stroll through the gardens, swim in the pool and soak in the Jacuzzi, your time is your own.
Fully rested and after a good breakfast it is time to venture north through the countryside of central Costa Rica, towards the town of La Fortuna and Arenal Springs Resort and Spa where you spend the next 2 nights. With beautiful tropical gardens and stunning views of the iconic Arenal volcano, the hotel provides spacious suites, relaxing thermal springs and a choice of restaurants. Once you've settled in you will have the opportunity to take the Sky Walk. This is a guided trail through the forest consisting of a series of hanging bridges high up in the tree canopy, it's a different way of exploring the rainforest and will give you an insight into the various habitats and the creatures who make the forest their home.
There is no rush today, you have the morning at leisure. In the afternoon you meet up with some fellow travellers for a guided hike at the foot of Arenal volcano. You will explore forested areas with varied plant and animal life, and stop to rest at stunning viewpoints where you can take in the scenery. Once the hike is over you can relax and soothe any aches and pains in the natural hot springs before enjoying dinner.
This morning you take to the road again for the journey to Manuel Antonio National Park on the central Pacific coast. You will see the scenery change as you near the coast. Your hotel is on a hill overlooking the ocean, set amidst lush tropical gardens. There are no plans for this afternoon, so you are free to explore the resort, enjoy the outdoor pool, swim-up bar or even indulge in a spa treatment. There is a choice of restaurants and terraces here so choose your spot and relax.
This morning is earmarked for a guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park. Don't let the popularity of the park put you off, there is a lot to see here in a small area and you can get fairly close to a lot of the wildlife. On your tour you can expect to see quite a variety including monkeys, sloths, agoutis, iguanas, birds and butterflies. The tour lasts about 3 hours through the rainforest, and your eagle eyed guide will be pointing out things of interest all the while. At the end of the walk you can either return to the hotel or opt to spend time on one of the glorious beaches, sunbathing and swimming. There are regular shuttle buses back to the hotel.
Today is a free day for you to do as you please. You can do as much or as little as you like. There are plenty of excursions on offer such as jungle hikes, ziplining, catamaran cruises, a visit to botanical gardens and a butterfly atrium, all of which can be arranged by the hotel, or you might simply choose to soak up the sun and enjoy the beach for your final day in Costa Rica.
After a leisurely breakfast you will have time to take a final wander in the gardens, or simply sit and enjoy the ocean views, then it's time to say goodbye. You will transferred to San Jose international airport in time for your flight home. You will have lots of memories and photos of your epic holiday and perhaps you will return.
We've left this day open, so you are free to do as you wish. There are activities a-plenty in Arenal, from ziplining to bird watching, mountain biking to white water rafting, certainly enough to fill your day. On top of that the hotel offers therapeutic thermal pools, a spa, gym, yoga classes and 3 swimming pools There's almost too much to choose from!
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