Courses are available on the mainland and the Galapagos. We take care of all your travel, food and shelter needs in Ecuador. You will be with a group of 15-20 fellow travelers. We begin our days with breakfast at 7am and end with dinner at 7 pm, followed by informal evening discussions of local history, geology, biogeography, flora, fauna and conservation efforts.
Our days will be spent interacting with nature and local people. Activities include hiking, observing nature, swimming, snorkeling, boating and horseback riding. Each tour is a little different, sculpted to the needs of the participants and scheduling of transportation but the description below will give you a good idea of what to expect.
You will arrive by air in Quito, Ecuadors capital city, and be taken to the Alston Hotel. Our travel group will dine together at a nearby restaurant and meet for a trip overview before bed.
After breakfast we fly to San Cristόbal (the oldest and most eastern of the islands) and then to a Biological Reserve in the highlands which will be our home base for the next 8 days. We will hike, swim and snorkel at La Loberia beach, Puerto Chino beach and Tijeretas Bay, where Darwin first landed in the Galapagos. We will visit a Galapagos tortoise breeding facility as well as the San Cristobal Island Interpretive Center with nice displays of Galapagos history, flora and fauna and current conservation issues. Before leaving San Cristόbal we will cruise the ocean and small rock islands nearby to see nesting blue-footed and masked boobies plus an ocean lava tunnel on Punta Pit. We will snorkel with rays, hammerhead sharks and many colorful fish near Kicker Rock.
Departing San Cristobal by boat to Floreana Island, steeped in history, where the first documented inhabitants of the islands lived. A German dentist set-up house at what is now known as Asilo de Paz Caves near a freshwater spring. We will bus and hike to this site and visit another Galapagos tortoise breeding facility on the way. Another adventure awaits us on the Island of Isabella, the largest island and a volcanic hot spot in the archipelago that boasts an estimated 2,500 volcanic cones. We will stay in the town of Puerto Villamil (population about 1,500) with a bay surrounded by numerous, large black lava structures, fringed by mangroves. Numerous sea gulls, marine iguanas, lava lizards and Galapagos penguins will greet us as we enter the bay.
In the highlands of Isabella, we will travel by horseback to the rim of the Volcano Sierra Negra caldera (the second widest in the world). At the southern end of the caldera, we will hike to sulfur-rich fumaroles adjacent to the caldera. From Isabella we will boat to Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Ayora, the largest town on the Galapagos with an estimated 10,000 people. We will shop in town on our first day and on the second day go by bus to a terrestrial lava tunnel, Los Gemelos (the twins, two large sink-holes or depressions created after magma chambers became empty and the ground above them collapsed) and The Charles Darwin Foundation where we will see Lonesome George who is the last member of his species of Galapagos tortoises. After breakfast, we will travel by bus and water taxi to the nearby island of Baltra to fly back to Quito for more shopping and a grand farewell dinner.
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