Land Based Galapagos Tour Christmas 2016
Arrival to Quito, reception and transfer to your hotel.Day 2 (Dec. 24). QUITO – BALTRA – SANTA CRUZ B
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Baltra, Galapagos. Reception and transfer to the 3* Fernandina Hotel in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Settle in to your hotel and relax in your sea view room. Take in the views, ambience and environment of the Galapagos with the sun, the sea, and salty-fresh island breeze. Visit the Charles Darwin station for an overview and history of the islands. Free day to explore the small town and enjoy the weather.Day 3 (Dec. 25). SANTA CRUZ – TOUR OF THE ISLANDS B,L
After breakfast, enjoy a full day tour out to Bartolome, North Seymour and Las Bachas, or South Plazas and Punta Carrion. In the late afternoon, return to the Sol y Mar Hotel for an open evening. Bartolome Island: Arriving we will ascend a lookout point from where you can admire the spectacular panorama of the Sullivan Bay and the famous needle shaped rock, the so-called Pinnacle Rock. The Island has some fine and a museum of vulcanology. North Seymour and Las Bachas: North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile.
The island houses the largest nesting site in the Galápagos of the "magnificent frigate bird". Las Bachas, a sandy white-coral beach, invites you for a swim in the crystal-clear water or to relax in the sun. Afterwards you will be visiting the bay Caleta Tortuga Negra which is close by. While snorkeling you can have a swim with the turtles, white-tip sharks and rays. A newer visitor’s site, Dragon Hill (Cerro Dragon) is a brackish water lagoon that attracts flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks and other species of birds. South Plazas and Punta Carrion: Our landing is in the channel between North and South Plaza, where the island tilts toward the water. Located In the east of Santa Cruz, the island contains one of the largest sea lion colonies of the Galapagos, along with swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds. South Plazas: South Plaza is one of the smallest yet richest islands in the archipelago. Only 130 meters wide (426 feet), it was formed from uplifted seabed, giving it a titled tabletop quality.The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The trail gradually follows the tilt of the island to the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the south. The overlook is a great place for spotting large marine life. The shoreline of Las Plazas makes for excellent snorkeling in a sea lion colony of nearly a thousand. Your guide will find the right spot to swim with youngsters away from areas claimed by the surly bulls.
Enjoy a day touring an island not yet seen. Return to the 3* Fernandina Hotel for accommodation.Day 5 (Dec. 27). SANTA CRUZ – TOUR OF THE ISLANDS B, L
Enjoy a day touring an island not yet seen. Return to the 3* Fernandina Hotel for accommodation.Day 6 (Dec. 28). SANTA CRUZ – PUERTO VILLAMIL – ISLA ISABELA B
After breakfast, transfer to the port for the motor boat trip to the island of Isabela, some two hours west of Santa Cruz. (The flight may be taken if preferred and is subject to availability).
Isabela is one of the youngest islands of the entire Galapagos archipelago and offers a fascinating insight into the volcanic origins of the islands. Once you arrive to Pueto Villamil, the capital of Isabela Island, reception and transfer to the 3* Casa Marita Hotel, a delightful lodge located on the beach. We shall take a boat ride out to Las Tintoreras, where we shall see fascinating lava formations and enjoy a visit to the colony of marine iguanas and sea lions. There will also be an opportunity for snorkeling with sea turtles and the "Tintoreras" (white tipped shark). If lucky, we may also see eagle rays, sting rays and golden rays. We shall return to the main island, observing colonies of Humboldt penguins, blue footed boobies, pelicans and frigates along the way. Return to your hotel.
After breakfast, we will leave the town by pickup truck and head towards the highlands. Once in the highlands, we will collect our horses, saddle up and start our horseback riding tour to Sierra Negra and to the Chico Volcano, both of which still active. The Sierra Negra is one of the finest examples of a volcano in the archipelago. It is also the second largest crater in the world after the Ngorongoro crater in Africa, and has an immense caldera, around 10 km. in diameter, and is the oldest on the Island. It last erupted in October 2005.
The weather is often clear and good but it can also turn to rain and fog very rapidly so it is recommended to wear long trousers for the horseback riding. During the trip to the volcanoes, the different vegetation of the island will be observed, and once at the Chico Volcano you will be able to see the various types of lava according its age, in addition to "fumaroles" and boiler eyes; and from the northern part of the boiler, we will enjoy excellent views of the Perry’s Isthmus, Elizabeth Bay and even the Alcedo Volcano. We shall enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to Puerto Villamil. Upon arriving to Puerto Villamil, we shall visit the famous Tortoise Raising Center, and walk along the footpaths to the beautiful brackish lakes that are a refuge to flamingos and other birds. We shall finally arrive to the famous "Muro de las Lagrimas" (Wall of the Tears) constructed of lava rocks and which was once used as a punishment for the penal colony that inhabited this area in 1959.
More than 200 prisoners had constructed the wall whose only ruins are an enormous basalt wall of 50m in length, 5m wide and almost 8m high. Behind the wall, there is a footpath that leads up to a beautiful view of the sea. Return to your lodge for accommodation.
After an early breakfast, transfer to the port for the boat trip back to Santa Cruz and transfer to the airport for your return flight to Quito.Day 9 (Dec. 31). QUITO B, L , D
After breakfast, a full day’s guided visit of colonial Quito, declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1978. A visit to the Old Town, including the Plaza de la Independencia. The President still conducts business here, so access to the inside may be limited. It is the home of the tomb of Sucre and also houses interesting 17th and 18th century paintings. A visit to the Parque Alameda that houses the oldest astronomical observatory in South America, as well as an impressive monument of Simon Bolivar. The Plaza de San Francisco was constructed by the Spanish in 1553, and the church has a high altar made of gold and beautifully carved ceilings. You shall also visit La Compañia, the finest of all Jesuit churches. Damaged through the years by fires and earthquakes, it has since been restored and has a richly sculptured facade and interior. If time, we will visit the some of the markets, including the Indian market at Avenida de 24 de Mayo at the base of El Panecillo and the Ipiales market. These are best visited on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the main market days. Lunch at Café Mosaico; affording excellent views of Quito from its incredible location above Quito. Continue the tour to the middle of the world monument before returning to your hotel. Dinner and Gala at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel.Day 10 (Jan 1). QUITO B
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
End of services.