THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
and Quito, Ecuador
February 4 -11, 2022
We have always had a lot of requests for a club trip to The Galapagos Islands - those storied islands off the Ecuadoran coast made famous by Charles Darwin and his book "The Origin of Species". Darwin noticed that after millions of years, many of the species we are familiar with had evolved unique characteristics more adaptable to these surroundings. The most well known are the giant tortoise, Darwin's finch's, and the giant land iguana. In sum, the Galapagos islands are spectacular in every sense - volcanoes, forests, beautiful beaches, and friendly people.
After a good deal of searching, we've decided to work with a small local tour operator that caters to small groups. We've used them in the past for trips to Patagonia and Ecuador, and they've provided professional, life-changing experiences nearly every day of their trips. If you've ever researched visiting these remote islands, you've noticed that prices generally start at $5,000 per person and go up from there. The government of Ecuador has severely restricted the number of visitors to the Galapagos Islands, so most tour companies squeeze every penny out of each spot by packaging the visit with expensive cruises and tours of Ecuador. This makes the Galapagos Islands out of reach for many.
So here''s the incredible deal we've been able to negotiate:
$1,969 per person double occupancy, $2,319 single
Round trip air from Miami, FL
Accommodations at 3-4 star hotel in Quito, with transfers, breakfast included
Tour of Quito, Ecuador with local English-speaking guide
Tour of "Middle of the Earth" monument and park at the line of the equator
Round trip air from Quito to Baltra airport, Galapagos Islands
6 nights accommodations at 3-4 star hotel in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, breakfasts included
Services of a local English-speaking naturalist to accompany us each day
All daily tours as described in the itinerary below
Maximum of 12 travelers
DAY 1, Friday February 4
Leave Miami in the evening and arrive Quito late evening. Transfer to the hotel.
Day 2, Saturday
After breakfast we'll participate in a half day tour of Quito. Our English-speaking guide will show us this magnificent mountain capital and former capital of the Incas. After lunch we'll enjoy a guided visit to the "Middle of the World" monument marking the Equator. Upon our return we'll have time to rest or explore before we meet for happy hour and dinner. Overnight: Quito
DAY 3, Sunday
In the morning we'll transfer to the airport for our short flight to Baltra, in the heart of the Galapagos islands. After settling into our hotel (we'll be here for the duration of our visit - no packing and unpacking!) we'll meet our naturalist and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and Breeding Center. Here we'll gain insight into the efforts being made by scientists, guides, and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most visitors to the Research Station come to see a very special individual: Lonesome George, the last remaining Pinta Island giant tortoise. For years, it was believed that the Pinta Island subspecies of giant tortoise was extinct. In 1971, however, one lone survivor was found. The Station also houses several large tortoises and a family of land iguanas. Upon our return to the hotel you'll have some free time to explore the island before we meet as a group for happy hour and dinner. Overnight: Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.
Day 4, Monday - After breakfast we'll travel to Tortuga Bay. Tortuga Bay is popular for a visit, not just because it is a stunning beach but also because it is home to a wide range of Galapagos Islands wildlife. The wide white-sand beach is home to marine iguanas, as well as the brightly colored Sally Lightfoot crab. Brown pelicans can also be found here, and sea turtles nest in the white sand on the beach. Flamingos can be seen in the lagoon which sits behind the beach. You may also spy a few blue footed boobies. The vegetation in the area is also interesting. You’ll see Palo Santo trees, cacti and salt bushes, among others. We may want to take a rest on the beach and relax as we view the wildlife and vegetation. After lunch we'll take a highland tour and visit El Chato and its lava tunnels. El Chato is a reserve where there is a large population of Galápagos giant tortoises in their natural and free state. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Tortoises can be seen grazing on the vegetation, wallowing in muddy banks or in the small red ponds. The area is teeming with wildlife - woodpecker finches, mockingbirds, flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons, and gallinules. Upon our return we'll meet for happy hour and dinner. Overnight: Santa Cruz Island.
Day 5, Tuesday - After breakfast we travel to Las Grietas, an incredible snorkeling and hiking area. If you're into snorkeling, this is a memorable experience where you can view thousands of fish and other aquatic life particular to the Galapagos. Or, you can opt to take one of the many hiking trails that surround Finch Bay. In the afternoon we'll travel to Playa de Los Alemanes. While there will be plenty of wildlife to watch and photograph, you'll be able to spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach and perhaps enjoying a swim.
DAY 6, Wednesday - In the morning we visit more sites on the island of Baltra, including additional sights to view tortoises, finches, and other wildlife. Afternoon is on your own, or you you can spend time shopping in Puerto Ayora or hike in the surrounding seashore or hills behind.
DAY 7, Thursday - Depart Ecuador for your flight home, full of memories, local flavors, and a phone full of lasting memories.
Our first stop is the magical former Inca city of Quito, the highest capital in the world. We'll also visit the nearby equator.
Tortuga Bay is an incredible place to see sea lions as well as a wealth of other wildlife and unique vegetation.
During our visit to El Chato, you'll see many Galapagos tortoises roaming in their natural habitat.
Our visit to Las Grietas will be your opportunity to see aquatic life unique to this remote island.
Darwin Tree Finch
Darwin's finches are unique to the Galapagos Islands. Our naturalist will tell us why.
Beautiul Galapagos Islands
The views are stunning whichever way you turn.