- Starts at: Quito, Ecuador
- Ends at: Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador
- Duration: 17 Days / 16 Nights
Wild Tracks is excited to offer this very special itinerary in support of the Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT). Not only will you be able you explore the picturesque islands of the Galapagos on board the Beluga, but you will have unique access to some of the GCT’s conservation initiatives.
We are thrilled that award-winning guide Pablo Valladares will accompany the full 2 weeks.
Joining the first week is GCT’s Kelly Hague. Kelly’s passion for conservation stems from two and half years travelling through Africa and South and Central America. She spent over 20 years helping fund environmental projects, through work with BirdLife International, Tree Aid, the Grasslands Trust and the South Georgia Heritage Trust.
Joining the second week is Chief Executive of the Trust, Sharon Johnson. Since 2015 Sharon has been helping to drive forward and promote conservation work in Galapagos. Sharon’s vast experience in conservation projects include working for the Indonesian Forestry Commission in Borneo, the Royal Society of Nature Conservation in the Seychelles and as a warden for Birds Australia.
Arrive in Quito, the capital of Ecuador in the middle of the Andes that has an altitude of 2800m. Your local guide will be at the airport to welcome you and organise your transfer from the airport to your hotel. He will also inform you of your activities during your stay in Quito.
Constructed on the foundations of an ancient Incan city, Quito is known for its fascinating blend of European, Moorish and indigenous architecture. It is also officially the second highest capital in the world, perched dramatically in the Andes at 2,850m above sea level.
02 nights and 1 ½ day at La Casona de la Ronda, Quito with breakfast included.
After a well deserved rest and a healthy breakfast you will visit the city of Quito. The tour will cover the major colonial churches and the historic colonial quarter of Quito. After lunch we will drive 25 km north from Quito to “Mitad del Mundo” (literally “middle of the world”) where the Equatorial Line Monument is located.
Welcome cocktails in the evening and a talk by whale shark expert Alex Hearne.
You depart Quito in the morning. Upon arrival in Baltra you will meet with the staff of Beluga who will transfer you to the pier to board the vessel. We will start an incredible 7 day itinerary visiting some of the most exciting and wildlife abundant islands of Galapagos. You will enjoy the next week cruising through the islands…spotting dolphins and whales…snorkelling with sea lions…studying the birdlife…enjoying the scenery and volcanoes…and marvelling at the colour of the sea and its glorious beaches.
Santa Fe is a smaller island of 24 km2. Highlights include Santa Fe land iguanas, pelican nesting sites, a sea lion colony, mockingbirds and Palo Santo trees.
South Plaza Islands consists of two very small islands that were uplifted from the sea, separated by a channel. The highlights include tall Opuntia cactus, land and marine iguanas, rocky cliff that looks out towards the open ocean which is also a nesting site for red-billed tropic birds and gulls and a seal lion bachelor colony.
Galapagos Science Centre on San Cristobal is a hub of conservation activity. We are planning to meet leading scientists here.
San Cristóbal is the easternmost island of Galapagos and also one of the oldest. Witch Hill (or Cerro Brujo) is a volcanic cone that looks over a beautiful white sandy beach which has plenty of sea lions, pelicans, blue-footed boobies, waders and marine iguanas.
Hood Island (Española) is the oldest of the Southern Islands. Because of its remote location a unique range of endemic species evolved here.
Gardner Bay has a long and beautiful white sand beach inhabited by sea lion colonies.
Islote Garnder and Islote Osborn are snorkelling sites where visitors will see an abundance of tropical fish, reef sharks, and turtles. The wildlife of Punta Suarez is plentiful and varied. Along the cliff visitors can enjoy the blowhole where seawater is forced about 20m into the air. The highlights are the Waved albatross (that are only found on Hood) and. Galapagos hawks, blue-footed boobies, Ñasca boobies, and Española lava lizards .
Santa Cruz Island (Indefatigable) is the second largest island and the most populated. It is here you will meet further scientists and learn about the giant tortoise project. In Puerto Ayora visitors can enjoy a stroll through town and market stalls, sample the bars and visit the fish market surrounded by hungry pelicans and sea lions. There will be a visit to the Charles Darwin Station as well as a visit to the highlands of Santa Cruz where Galapagos giant tortoises can be seen in the wild.
Sombrero Chino is a small volcanic island just off the southeast tip of Santiago. Fauna includes sea lions, marine iguanas and the Galapagos penguin.
James Island (Santiago): James Island is located between Isabela and Santa Cruz Islands. This Island offers a wide variety of seabirds, marine iguanas and fur seals.
Sullivan Bay: This site is of great geological interest. Highlights: 100 hundred year old lava flow field, pahoehoe formations, and lava bubbles.
Tower Island (Genovesa): Tower is an eroded flat volcanic island, with a natural harbour, which is actually the submerged caldera of this volcanic island.
Darwin Bay: The steep cliffs of this area dominate the island. This area is home to thousands of frigate birds, red-footed boobies, Noddy terns, lava gulls, tropicbirds, doves, storm petrels and Darwin’s finches.
El Barranco: There is a good possibility of seeing the unique “Short- eared owl” at this site. During the dinghy rides along the cliffs fur seals and several species of seabirds can be spotted.
Caleta Tortuga is a red mangrove lagoon on Santa Cruz and a perfect example of how mangroves alter the marine environment to create a rich and unique habitat.
You will have the opportunity to spend some time in Puerto Ayora, a delightful port with fish market, shopping, market stalls and bars and places to sample Ecuadorian cuisine.
Floreana Island is best known for its colourful history of buccaneers, whalers, convicts, and early colonists. You will visit some of the Island’s bays and beaches: Punta Cormorant, Devil’s Crown and Post Office Bay. GCT is working to restore the outstanding ecosystem of the island and reintroduce locally extinct species. You will have a unique insight into the eradication programme by GCT funded scientist.
Punta Cormorant has two very different beaches and a large, inland lagoon where pink flamingoes can be seen. Visit Devil’s Crown – a stunning snorkeling site, formed by completely submerged volcano, eroded to create the appearance of a jagged crown. Post Office Bay gives you a glimpse into some of the human history of the area: visit the wooden mail barrel where letters are dropped off and picked up, as well as the remains of a Norwegian fishing village.
Isabela Island was formed by the fusing together of five volcanoes. It is the largest of the Galapagos Islands with Wolf Volcano being the Galapagos’ highest point at 1707m. With so much to explore, you will have three days on Isabela, taking in the coves, beaches and bays.
Today, you will visit Volcán Sierra Negra’s cauldron-like caldera (diameter of 10km), view recent lava flows, moist highland vegetation, and parasitic cones. You will also visit the charming village of Puerto Villamil, situated on a stretch of sand white beach. Highlights here include the Tortoise Breeding Station and the flamingo lagoon.
This day of exploration includes a visit to Punta Moreno, located in the central southwestern coast of Isabela Island and an outing to Elizabeth Bay by dinghy. Punta Moreno boasts spectacular views of the Alcedo, Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul volcanoes. Some highlights include impressive lava flows, desolate and pristine landscapes, as well as varied and unusual arid zone vegetation. Elizabeth Bay is a long, narrow bag surrounded by three species of mangroves and is a great place to spot Galapagos sea turtle and rays, and to watch endangered penguins at play – GCT support research into monitoring these birds to ensure their protection.
Your third day exploring Isabela Island includes a trip to Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove. Urbina Bay is located at the central-west coast of Isabela Island at the foothills of Alcedo and Darwin volcanoes. Highlights include the colourful land iguanas, Galapagos Giant tortoises and the coral uplifting from 1954. Tagus Cove is a natural harbor where centuries ago whalers and pirates left their ship’s names painted or carved on the rocks. A walk uphill to Darwin’s Crater saltwater lake will provide an excellent view.
Your final port of call on Isabela is a dinghy ride along the cliffs to the sunken cave of Punta Vicente Roca, where flightless cormorants Nasca and blue-footed boobies inhabit the shoreline. You will then sail on to Fernandina Island – the youngest, still active volcanic island in Galapagos. Here you will visit Punta Espinoza, home to unique species like the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin, Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, as well as large marine iguana colonies.
Located between Isabela and Santa Cruz, James Island is home to a wide variety of seabirds (such as the rare oystercatcher), marine iguanas and fur seals. At Puerto Egas, you will walk along the rocky coast line exploring some of Galapagos’ most dynamic tidal pools. Other highlights include: Sugar loaf volcano and the old salt mine. On Bartolome Island you can hike to the highest point for a spectacular view. Sea lions and penguins can be seen around Pinnacle Rock, and the sandy beach is an ideal swimming and snorkeling spot.
North Seymour Island is a piece of land that formed thousands of years ago when oceanic lava bubbled up from the ocean, leaving a fascinating flat piece of land. It is home to endemic Palo Santo trees, colonies of blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and magnificent frigate birds.
Today you leave the Enchanted Isles via Baltra Island to catch your flight to Quito or Guayaquil.