December 21 / Sunday: Quito
Arrival to Quito. Reception and transfer to your hotel.
December 22 / Monday: Santa Cruz
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to Santa Cruz. Welcome by the crew of the Beluga yacht. The highlands offer the lush humid zone with its vegetation of Miconia bushed, Scalesia and inactive volcanic cones. Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any other island in the Galapagos. The Galapagos tortoises can be seen in their natural habitat here. The Charles Darwin Station and headquarters of the Galapagos National Park may be visited at Puerto Ayora, the Islands' most populated human settlement.
December 23 / Tuesday: Isabela
Punta Moreno and Elizabeth Bay Punta Moreno: Main attractions are Brackish water lagoons, Flamingos and White cheeked pintail ducks. Elizabeth Bay: Island Isabela area of giant red mangroves, Penguins, Sea turtles, Pelicans, Sea lions, Lava herons and Rays Flightless cormorants.
December 24 / Wenesday: Urbina Bay / Fernandina: Punta Espinosa
Urbina Bay: Island Isabela Attractions: Remains of a coral reef uplifted from the bottom of the sea. Flightless cormorants, Brown pelicans, Large marine iguanas, Rays Marine turtles and seashells Punta Espinosa: Flightless Cormorant, Pelicans, Sea Lions, Sally Light Foot Crabs and an abundance of Marine Iguanas can be seen along the shores of one of world's most active volcanoes.
* Special Christmas Dinner
December 25 / Thursday: James Island: Puerto Egas and Bartolomé
At Puerto Egas, you will see Galapagos Fur Seals in pools cut into lava cliffs and there is a good chance of spotting the Galapagos Hawk, the Galapagos Dove and Vermilion Flycatcher. Tucked behind Espumilla Beach are salt water lagoons where Flamingos and White Cheeked Pintail Ducks may be seen. Bartolomé: Nowhere else is the geological history of the Islands better portrayed than here. The most impressive volcanic scenery.
December 26 / Friday: Turtle Cove - Baltra
After breakfast, visit to Turtle Cove where you will find Mangroves, Golden Rays and White tipped Sharks. Transfer to the airport for your return flight to mainland.
December 27 / Saturday: Quito - Otavalo
Today, after breakfast, transfer to Otavalo for a visit to the colourful Indian market of Otavalo, with its many impressive arts and crafts of the local people. The market dates back to pre-inca times when jungle products from the east were traded with highland products. Traditional dress is observed throughout the market. In the afternoon, a visit to Cotacachi, famous for its leatherwork. Return in the evening to Quito.
December 28 / Sunday: Quito - Cotopaxi
After breakfast, we start our journey south through the spectacular avenue of the volcanoes towards Cotopaxi, the most famous of all Ecuatorian volcanoes. We shall pass Pasochoa, Ruminahui and Corazon volcanoes along this spectacular journey. Arrival to the magnificent Hacienda Cienega, one time residence of the German scientist Von Humboldt. After lunch at the hacienda, we shall visit the Hacienda San Agustin de Callo at the very foot of Cotopaxi.
This Hacienda has been written about by the Spanish chronicler, Cieza de Leon (1553) and is one of only two major Inca sites in Ecuador. The temple was built around 1440 AD by one of the last Inca emperors, Huayna Cápac, and to this day the remaining rooms prevail as a magnificent sample of the unique style of Inca construction. The site is currently being investigated by Dr. David Brown of the University of Texas, the funding of which was provided by the National Geographic Society. Previously unknown portions of Inca walls and foundations have been discovered throughout the restoration process of the house. Since the 15th century San Agustin de Callo has served as an Inca fortress, Augustinian convent and temporary home for the French Geodesic Mission whose scientific results helped to determine the true shape of the planet. Continue the tour into the Cotopaxi National Park for a closer view of the volcano. Before returning to Quito, time permitting, we shall visit one of the Indian Markets, either Pujilí or Saquisilí. These are amongst the most authentic markets in Ecuador with their colourful displays of spices, fruits and hand woven ponchos. Return to Quito.
December 29 / Monday: Quito
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 there is time, we will visit 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 Cochabamba Restaurant. Continue the tour to the middle of the world monument before returning to your hotel.
December 30 / Tuesday: Quito
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
Our price Includes:
Price includes international return flights from London, accommodation on a luxury yacht and a 5 star hotel in Quito, most meals, all tours with entrance tickets (not including the Galapagos National Park tax of US$100 per person and the tourist monitoring fee of US$10 per person payable upon your arrival to the Galapagos Islands), and the return flights to the Galapagos Islands.
Our price does not include:
Meals not specified, airport taxes and travel insurance are not included in the quote.