Bienvenido a Ecuador! South America's Most Biodiverse Country.
Take free time today to relax and prepare for your upcoming Galapagos adventure, or walk through the historic city to sample ceviche or helado (Latin-American ice cream). Dine out tonight or ask about the best clubs for music and dancing.
A Gold Altar, Artistic Avenues, and Two Hemispheres in One Day.
CLASSIC - Take a Guided Sightseeing Tour of Quito that showcases the colonial city's historic sites, including the impressive Legislative Palace with its enormous sculpted mural of Ecuadorean history. You'll also see Independence Plaza and visit the 16th-century San Francisco Monastery, and La Compania Church-the exquisite Jesuit cathedral with its spectacular Spanish baroque architecture-more than 160 years in the making.
DISCOVERY - Take a Guided Walk down Calle La Ronda-one of Quito's oldest streets-with a wealth of artist's workshops and galleries where you'll meet local artists and learn about their original works.
Later, visit a local chocolate factory for a tour and a tasting to discover why Ecuador is one of the world's finest chocolate producers.
CLASSIC - Your day in Quito ends with a Guided Excursion to the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo-a monument to the Equator-the "middle of the world". Stand in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at the same time at the exact location of the Earth's Equator. Observe the equatorial effects of the dual-spiraling directions of water and balancing eggs on end.
This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with delicious regional cuisine. (B,D)
The Theory of Evolution-and Giant Babies.
This morning, take a flight to the Galapagos island of Baltra where you'll embark on your five-day cruise aboard the Treasure of Galapagos.
DISCOVERY - Join your naturalist on a Guided Excursion to Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station- established to help conserve the Galapagos' natural habitat and protect the famous giant tortoises. While here, learn about the tortoise-rearing program and see many of the various islands' tortoises.
Later on board your ship, join in a briefing of the next day's adventures, and enjoy a Captain's welcome with cocktails and dinner.
NOTE: The ship's itinerary may vary according to Galapagos National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, and seasonal changes to create the perfect cross-section of sites visited. (B,L,D)
Volcanoes, Marine Life, and Lunar Landscapes.
DISCOVERY - This morning, you will find yourself anchored in the western-central part of the archipelago where volcanoes are still active, attributing to the dramatic scenery. Take a Naturalist Led Excursion of Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island where you will walk on newly-formed (less than 100 years ago) lava flows reminiscent of the lunar landscape. You can catch sight of lava lizards, marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, and even the Galapagos penguin.
This afternoon, cruise to Bartolome Island.
BARTOLOME ISLAND: Hike the Summit, Snorkel, and Swim
ACTIVE - Take a Guided Hike to Bartolome's 114-metre summit for spectacular panoramic views of the region with two beautiful bays and fascinating formations of lava flows and spatter cones, including the iconic Pinnacle Rock. Later, take a snorkel and swim off the beach here-home to playful sea lions, Pacific green turtles, white tip reef sharks, and Galapagos penguins. (B,L,D)
Masterful Marine Iguanas and Birds of a Different Colour.
CLASSIC - Take a Naturalist-Led Excursion to see colonies of remarkable bird species, including blue-footed boobies, great frigate birds, and magnificent frigate birds-with its inflated red chest and nearly 7-foot wingspread. Watch for gulls and herons of all assortments.
ACTIVE - Take a Guided Snorkelling Excursion in the aqua blue waters just off North Seymour Island's shore-teeming with sea lions and amphibious marine iguanas-found only in the Galapagos.
This afternoon, cruise for the sandy island of Mosquera Islet.
MOSQUERA ISLET: A Sea Lion Haven of White Coral Sand
DISCOVERY - Take a Guided Walk on the white coral beaches to the islands' largest congregation of Galapagos sea lions. You'll see a wide variety of shore birds reflecting the island's amazing biodiversity- from the deep-gray lava gull to the yellow-crowned night heron. (B,L,D)
Tracing Darwin's Footsteps and Audubon's Muses
DISCOVERY - This morning, take a Naturalist-Led Excursion to South Plaza Island to observe wildlife, including sea lions, land iguanas, marine iguanas, and hybrid iguanas (only found on this island and a result of a cross between land and marine iguanas). You will see blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, Audubon's shearwaters, and many other species.
This afternoon, cruise to Cerro Brujo on San Cristobal Island.
SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND: Blue Herons, Blue Lagoons, and a Sleeping Lion.
ACTIVE - Take a Guided Walk at the site where Charles Darwin first visited the Galapagos. See the volcanic remains of magnificent Kicker Rock-also called Leon Dormido (Sleeping Lion). Walk beside one of the island's blue lagoons to see a number of migratory birds, including pelicans and great blue herons. (B,L,D)
The Geological Genesis of a Magical Archipelago.
DISCOVERY - This morning, cruise to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno for a Naturalist Guided Tour of the San Cristobal Interpretation centre. You'll learn about the Galapagos' fascinating volcanic origins, remote location, climate, and the arrival of diverse species that inspire both imagination and science.
This afternoon, you'll say farewell to the magical islands of Galapagos and fly to Quito. This evening, spend free time relaxing or enjoy one of Quito's many fine restaurants. (B)
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)