Road Scholar : Home
The Galápagos: Natural and Cultural History

Program Number: 6043RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/8/2015 - 3/20/2015; 9/23/2015 - 10/3/2015; 10/4/2015 - 10/14/2015; 10/18/2015 - 10/28/2015; 11/8/2015 - 11/18/2015; 1/1/2016 - 1/11/2016; 1/15/2016 - 1/25/2016; 1/20/2016 - 1/30/2016; 2/17/2016 - 2/27/2016; 2/24/2016 - 3/5/2016; 3/2/2016 - 3/12/2016; 3/9/2016 - 3/19/2016; 4/3/2016 - 4/13/2016; 4/10/2016 - 4/20/2016; 4/29/2016 - 5/9/2016; 5/25/2016 - 6/4/2016; 6/1/2016 - 6/11/2016; 8/11/2016 - 8/21/2016; 8/24/2016 - 9/3/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/28/2016; 10/5/2016 - 10/15/2016; 11/17/2016 - 11/27/2016; 11/30/2016 - 12/10/2016; 12/7/2016 - 12/17/2016;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Price starting at: $4,395.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship Cruising Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 34; 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt; Low Fat; Gluten Free    

Study unique animal and plant species on this small ship voyage in one of the world’s most extraordinary settings — the Galápagos Islands. Encounter the fascinating wildlife that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Activity Particulars

Quito, Ecuador has an elevation between 9,350 ft and 9,500 ft. Some participants find it helpful to fly into the city a day early in order to have extra time to rest and acclimate to the altitude. It also gives participants an extra day to catch-up to the program if there are unexpected travel delays—especially during busy travel seasons and times of year when bad weather is expected.

Wet and dry landings involve transferring in potentially rough waters from the yacht into a zodiac and stepping into either knee-deep water or onto rocky shores. Daily walks on sharp volcanic rocks and loose stones add another level of difficulty. Please view the Galápagos video "Galapagos Fitness Information - What to Expect" in preparation for your program activities:

Actual cruise itinerary and islands visited are assigned by the Galapágos National Park and can be changed without prior notice. The park carefully monitors and controls the number of visitors to each site in order to minimize damage to local wildlife and habitats. Please refer to the date-specific detailed itinerary on the Road Scholar website to check on the vessel and visitor sites included in your program. The expedition-style Galápagos vessels offered on this program can hold between 16 to 20 passengers in comfortable cabins with en suite facilities.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Quito (Ecuador), 2 nights; Galápagos cruise, 7 nights; Quito, 1 night; departure.

Days 1-2: Arrival in Quito (Ecuador):

Explore Quito's historic colonial center including a visit to La Compania and San Francisco Church and learn about pre-Columbian art at a local museum housed in a 17th century building. Lodgings: Modern hotel.

Days 3-9: Embark on the Galápagos cruise:

Sail from island to island to view the amazing biodiversity and rare species found only in this area. Look for sea lions and flamingoes, search for the illusive land iguanas, and learn about the endearing Galápagos Penguin. View giant tortoises and learn about their evolution. Swim and snorkel off sandy beaches looking or sea lions, rays, and a variety of colorful fish.

Days 10-11: Disembark/Quito/Departure:

After a morning field trip, disembark and fly to Quito. Lodgings: Hotel located in a town near the airport.


The Galaven is an 88 ft. expedition yacht equipped to carry up to 20 passengers in 11 air conditioned cabins. She was built in 2000 has spacious outdoor seating areas, dining room, and library with audiovisual equipment for onboard presentations. All cabins are air conditioned and have private bathrooms and ocean views.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Diego Quiroga

Dr. Diego Quiroga received his B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign. Dr. Quiroga is an expert in the fields of medical anthropology, human ecology, and marine conservation and fisheries. He teaches at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (U.S.F.Q.) and also serves as the vice president for external and student affairs. Research projects led him to travel to the Galápagos Islands, where he has worked with fishermen and other local professionals to understand how they interact with the environment. While in the Galápagos, he began writing about the history of scientists and other people who have visited the archipelago. As a member of the national swimming team he represented Ecuador in the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Dann Carlton
  Quito, Ecuador 4 nights
   M/V Legend
  Galapagos Islands, Ecuador 7 nights
   Hotel Rincon de Puembo
  Quito, Ecuador 1 night
 Hotel Dann Carlton
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Dann Carlton Quito Hotel is located in the center of the business, shopping and banking area of the city, just 15 minutes away from the Mariscal Sucre international airport. Decorated in a classy English style, it offers 212 comfortable rooms, fully equipped with everything you need for a pleasant stay. Enjoy a wide variety of Creole and international dishes at Park 20 Restaurant. Life music and Sushi Time at Picadilly’s Bar starting at 07h00 pm. Plan your business or social events with us! Our facilities include 10 rooms with a total area of 9397 sqft. Audiovisual equipment available
  Contact info: Av. Republica El Salvador N34-377 e Irlanda
Quito,   Ecuador
phone: +5932224908
  Room amenities: Free of charge WIFI service (unlimited) | Voice message phones | Direct international dialing | Cable TV (70 channels) | Desk | CD player mini stereo | Mini bar | Safe box | Iron | Bathrobe | Slippers | Hair dryer |
  Facility amenities: Swimming Pool, Park 20 Restaurant, Room Service, Picadilly’s Bar, Banquet and meeting rooms, Business Center, Free wireless internet everywhere in the hotel, Dann Fitness Club, Underground parking, Valet parking, Laundry Service, Joker Casino
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Check at time of booking. Please coordinate via Program Coordinator

 M/V Legend
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The M/V Legend is a 301 ft long expedition ship. It has 58 comfortable cabins and can accommodate up to 100 passengers. As one of the larger vessels operating in the Galápagos Islands, the M/V Legend is able to provide an added level of space, comfort, and amenities not available on expedition yachts.
  Ship Information: Length: 301 ft (92 mts) Wide: 47 ft (15 mts) Decks: 5 Made in: Germany Refurbished: September 2007 Cabins: 58 Passengers: 100 Crew: 60 Guides: 7 multilingual naturalists Speed: 17 knots Cruise speed: 15 knots
  Contact info: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Galápagos Islands,   Ecuador
phone: +59399456205
  Room amenities: Staterooms are fully air-conditioned with private baths (with showers), closet space, phones, safety deposit boxes, and TVs. Cabins vary in size and amenities based on category.
  Facility amenities: The ship has a spacious dining room, bar and lounge, sun deck, pool, jacuzzi, jogging track, sauna, massage services, gift shop, infirmary, library, and auditorium.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Hotel Rincon de Puembo
Type: Hotel
  Description: The hotel is located conveniently near the Quito airport in the beautiful village of Puembo.
  Contact info: Manuel Burbano N66 y Francisoc Ruiz
Puembo,  00000 Ecuador
phone: +593-22391106
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, telephone, wi-fi, and cable TV.
  Facility amenities: Las Cúpulas Restaurant
, El Grill Bar and Restaurant, large gardens, heated pool, sauna, Jacuzzi, gym
, business center, soccer, basketball, and volleyball courts. Billiards, table football, karaoke room, TV and reading room, laundry service, cable television, 24 wi-fi.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights after: Subject to availability Additional hotel nights are subject to availability. Please contact the program coordinator, Holbrook Travel, at 1-800-866-7111 or for information on availability and prices.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
All-day arrivals at the international airport in Quito, Ecuador. Hotel check-in starts at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Hotel Dann Carlton that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from the international airport in Quito, Ecuador. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Hotel Rincon de Puembo the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required from travelers arriving from an endemic area and those traveling to the Amazon region of Ecuador. For more information about entry requirements, please contact the Embassy of Ecuador in Washington, D.C. at (202) 234-7166 or visit
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Quito
  Nearest city or town:  Quito
  Nearest airport:  International Airport in Quito
  Transportation to site: Taxi transportation is available at the international airport in Quito. After completing Customs you will see a counter marked AIRPORT TAXI SERVICES. Please advise the representative which hotel you need to go to and they will issue you a ticket for that destination. Once outside, a taxi service representative wearing the official airport taxi badge will direct you to the next available taxi. Check to see that the taxi is in good physical condition with a registration number placard in the windshield. Taxis are payable in dollars (Ecuador’s currency is the U.S. dollar). If transferring to/from the airport by taxi, please be sure to only use official licensed taxis. The new Mariscal Sucre International Airport is located approximately one hour from downtown Quito.
  From End of Program
  Location: Quito
  Transportation from site: Taxi services are available for hire at the hotel. Please ask for assistance at the hotel's front desk.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Elevation Note: Quito is at an elevation of approximately 9,400 feet.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrive to Quito.
(Sunday, March 8)

Note: To minimize your chances of experiencing altitude sickness while in Quito, try to get plenty of rest before you travel, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and fatty foods, consume high carbohydrate foods, and avoid strenuous exercise at high elevations.

The new Mariscal Sucre International Airport is located approximately one hour from downtown Quito.

 Arrive To: Arrive at Quito's international airport.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign (only applies to Road Scholar group flights).

Transfer to the hotel and check-in.

Please note that this is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day.
Accommodations: Hotel Dann Carlton

Day 2: Quito –
Colonial Quito, the First UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Equator

(Monday, March 9)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Meet your Quito group leader and fellow Road Scholar participants during a welcome and introduction session at the hotel. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Explore Quito’s colonial center; the best preserved colonial and historic center in Latin America, starting with a panoramic view of the city at El Panecillo hill. Before the Spanish arrived, the hill known as El Panecillo (small bread roll) was used by the Inca for sun worshiping. In the early 1800s, the Spanish military took advantage of El Panecillo's strategic location and elevation (9,843 ft), and built a fortress to protect and monitor the city. In present times, the hill is the site of a city monument and lookout point where visitors can get 360° views of Quito. On clear days, it is even possible to spot Cotopaxi's snowy peak in the distance.

Afterwards continue to the colonial center. While walking through the narrow streets, you will learn about Quito’s rich history going from pre-Hispanic times, through the Colonial period, to the Republican era. Admire the wonderful architecture of its colonial buildings and the uniqueness of religious art pieces from the famous Quitenian School of art that combines the European Renaissance and Baroque styles with the indigenous and mestizo influences.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant including an introduction to Ecuadorian food products and typical Ecuadorian cuisine.
 Afternoon: After lunch, continue to the famous Middle of the World and celebrate the ability to be in both hemispheres at the same time - a once in a lifetime experience. Learn important facts, myths and legends about the Geography of Earth while visiting the Equator as well as the history of the first group of scientists who had the hard mission to determined Earth’s shape in 1743. Visit the Ethnographic museum where you will get a general vision about Ecuador’s demography, geography and economy.

Return to the hotel.

Lecture: The Past, Present, and Future of Ecuador.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Time at leisure at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Dann Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Quito -
Historic Hacienda/Otavalo Market/Andean Crafts.

(Tuesday, March 10)
 Breakfast: Early morning transfer to Imbabura to enjoy a country-style breakfast at a local hacienda.
 Morning: After breakfast, delight in the colonial architecture and centuries-old gardens of this private hacienda that dates back to the Republican Era. Here you will receive an introduction to one of the major economic activities in Ecuador--the floral industry. Learn about Ecuadorian roses, known worldwide for their beauty and fine quality.

Transfer to Otavalo to pay a visit to its famous market.

The Otavalo Market dates back to pre-Inca times, when people from the Oriente region and the highlands would meet to buy and exchange goods. Otavaleños are well known for their superior weavings. Examples of their craft can be found at this market and throughout stores in the country.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Lecture: The Indigenous Peoples of Otavalo: A Look at their History and Entrepreneurial Spirit.

Travel to Peguche, located just outside Otavalo, to visit a local, family-owned music workshop where traditional Andean instruments are fashioned by hand.

A stop at Jorge Cotacachi's atelier will introduce us to some of the finest weavings made in the area. Jorge and his family use traditional treadle-looms and back-strap looms to create vibrantly colored tapestries, wall hangings and blankets.

Transfer back to Quito.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Time at leisure at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Dann Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Quito -
Avenue of the Volcanoes/Cotopaxi National Park/Pujili Market.

(Wednesday, March 11)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Journey an hour and half south from Quito, along the scenic “Avenue of the Volcanoes,” to Cotopaxi.

The iconic snowcapped Cotopaxi Volcano is reputably the world’s highest active volcano, rising more than 19,000 above sea level, and Ecuador’s second highest peak. Its picture-perfect cone and bright white crest stand in sharp contrast to the stark highland plains that encircle its base. Cotopaxi and more than 30,000 hectares of surrounding lands belong to an important national park that bears the name of its centerpiece attraction. Although the park draws mostly mountain climbers and hiking aficionados from all around the globe, the protected lands also offer visitors a special opportunity to get an up-close look at the unique páramo vegetation and wildlife of this area.

Visit the indigenous market at Pujili.
 Lunch: At Hacienda San Agustin de Callo.
 Afternoon: After lunch, explore Hacienda San Agustin del Callo, built on the site of an Inca palace. As recenly as the 15th century, this location served as an Inca fortress. It was later turned into an Augustinian convent and even served as a temporary base for the French Geodesic Mission in the 1730s.

Transfer back to Quito.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Time at leisure. Participants should try get a good night's sleep in preparation for tomorrow.
Accommodations: Hotel Dann Carlton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Galápagos -
Flight to Baltra Island/Board Yacht/Black Turtle Cove.

(Thursday, March 12)

Note: Black Turtle Cove: no landing. There is a (44 lb weight limit for checked luggage, please pack accordingly). Excess luggage can be stored at the hotel in Quito. Actual cruise itinerary and islands visited are always subject to change by the Galápagos National Park. Itineraries are not guaranteed.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to the airport for flight to the Galápagos Islands, where you will be assisted by your Quito group leader.

Depart for the Galápagos Islands.
**Note: The Galápagos airline tickets are issued in Ecuador and held by the group leader for safekeeping. The airline tickets will be distributed to participants on-site.**
 Lunch: Light lunch served on the flight.
 Afternoon: Upon arrival to Galápagos Islands, proceed through Immigration. Have your passport ready at the immigration counter before proceeding to baggage claim.

After collecting your luggage you will be met by your Galápagos guide and transferred to the ship.

Board and set sail.

Enjoy an orientation, safety drill and a light snack.

Our first visit in Galápagos will be Black Turtle Cove. The inlet is surrounded by mangroves and the shallow cove is a haven for wildlife such as white-tipped sharks, sea turtles and a variety of rays.

Swimming and snorkeling.

Return to the yacht.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.
Accommodations: M/V Legend
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Galápagos -
Santiago (Sullivan Bay) & Rabida Island.

(Friday, March 13)

Note: Sullivan Bay: Wet landing and moderate difficulty due to rocky, volcanic terrain. Rabida Island: Wet landing, easy to moderate trail conditions due to hills and sandy terrain.

 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Wet landing at Sullivan Bay and local explorations.

A volcanic eruption that took place in the early 1900’s formed huge lava flows in the area that is now Sullivan Bay. As the lava cooled off, it solidified into a black sheet of interesting shapes and textures that made their way to the sea. The rope-like lava seen on this island is called pahoehoe lava. Other interesting formations include lava bubbles and tree shapes; ghosts of Santiago’s past. Few plant species have been able to root in this harsh environment.

Snorkeling and swimming from the beach.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, spend time on one of the most colorful and volcanically varied islands in the archipelago, Rabida Island. Its famous red sand beach and stunning lookouts provide wonderful landscapes. The island is a birdwatcher's delight. Some of the rarest species are in abundance, such as nine varieties of finches, Large-billed Flycatchers, Galápagos Hawks, and Brown Pelicans.

Look for nesting seabirds during a dinghy ride along the coastal cliffs.

Snorkel off the coast where marine life is especially active.

Return to the ship.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities and lecture.
Accommodations: M/V Legend
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Galápagos -
Isabela (Urbina Bay & Tagus Cove).

(Saturday, March 14)

Note: Urbina Bay: Strong waves can make disembarkation tricky at this site. Use a zip-lock bag to protect cameras and binoculars from splashes during the wet landing. Please take steps to remain hydrated during this approximately 2-mile hike.

 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Wet landing at Urbina Bay's black beach.

Urbina Bay is situated approximately two fifths of the way along Isabela’s western coast. The flattened area of the bay exhibits signs of a coral reef on land; proof that the flat land we see today in that area was once uplifted from the sea. Cormorants, pelicans, marine iguanas, and Flightless Cormorants frequent this site in addition to marine turtles and rays which are sometimes seen swimming in the bay.

Snorkeling and swimming from the beach. If lucky, you might get to witness playful sea lions in the water.

Return to the ship.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Dry landing on Isabela Island. Walk on local trails to the salt water crater lake to view lava fields and other volcanic formations. A dinghy ride along the shore will reveal all nature of seabirds and marine life.

Tagus Cove offers visitors the opportunity to see writings (carved and painted) left behind by pirates and whalers who frequented the area in years gone by. A short trail leads to the base of the Darwin Volcano where different lava formations can be studied. The island is home to Flightless Cormorants, Galápagos Penguins, Mangrove Finches, pelicans, marine iguanas and a variety of other birds.

Opportunity to enjoy some deep water snorkeling before returning to the ship.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.
Accommodations: M/V Legend
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Galápagos -
Fernandina Island (Punta Espinosa) & Isabela Island (Punta Vicente Roca).

(Sunday, March 15)

Note: Punta Espinoza: Challenging landing when the tide is low. Visitors cannot disembark at the dock during low tide and must land on rocks. Punta Vicente Roca: no landing.

 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Dry landing at Punta Espinoza.

Punta Espinoza, Fernandina’s only land visitor site, is a thin strip of sand and lava that stretches from the sea to the base of La Cumbre Volcano. This young island is the third largest in the Galápagos and is also the westernmost; located next to Isabela. Fernandina has some of the most dramatic landscapes found in the archipelago and is also one of the best places to see the lava cactus. The aa and pahoehoe lava formations create a unique landscape and provide visitors with a great chance to study lava flows and the forces which gave birth to the Galápagos Islands. Although Punta Espinosa is better known for its large colony of marine iguanas (January - June is nesting season), one can also expect to see sea lions, Flightless Cormorants and Galápagos Penguins.

Snorkeling and swimming activities.

Return to the ship.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, enjoy a dinghy ride along the coast to observe sea and coastal birds.

As cold currents flow around the northwestern tip of Isabela, food-rich waters are brought closer to the surface, attracting all sorts of marine life and birds. Punta Vicente Roca’s coves, rich marine life, and well protected bay have made this into a prized diving location in the islands. Flightless Cormorants, Masked Boobies and Blue-footed Boobies can be seen along the cliffs and the water’s edge.

Snorkeling and swimming activities.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Orientation of next day’s activities and lecture.
Accommodations: M/V Legend
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Galápagos -
Santa Cruz (Highlands) & Mosquera Islet.

(Monday, March 16)

Note: Santa Cruz Highlands: Moderate to difficult trail conditions due to uneven terrain and sometimes muddy conditions. Mosquera Islet: Easy walk on sandy terrain.

 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Dry landing on Santa Cruz. Transfer by bus to a highland reserve for a chance to view giant tortoises living in the wild.

Most of the island's wild population of giant tortoises lives in the highlands. In June to August the tortoises make their way to lower ground to begin nesting. The eggs start to hatch with the arrival of the warmer season (December - April).
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Wet landing at Mosquera Islet. Enjoy a leisurely walk in search of shorebirds.

Snorkeling and swimming.

Return to the ship.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities and lecture.
Accommodations: M/V Legend
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Galápagos -
South Plaza & Santa Fe Island.

(Tuesday, March 17)

Note: South Plaza Island: Dry landing, moderate trail conditions due to uneven, rocky terrain. Santa Fe Island: Dry landing, moderate trail conditions due to uneven, rocky terrain.

 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Dry landing at South Plaza Island.
Walk on rocky trails to view land iguanas, Opuntia cacti, Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, and more.

South Plaza is the larger of two islands located off the east coast of Santa Cruz Island. A dry landing on a jetty will lead us to a cactus forest where we will take a close look at land iguanas and their habitat before continuing our hike in search of local sea lion colonies. This small island is known as a great place to watch seabirds in flight. A walk along the cliff top provides perfect views of Red-billed Tropicbirds, Frigatebirds, pelicans, Swallow-tailed gulls, and others.

Return to the ship.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Wet landing on a white sand beach at Santa Fe.

Santa Fe is located southeast of Santa Cruz and has some of the tallest stands of opuntia cacti in the Galapagos. Some have been reported to grow as high as 33 feet! A trail into the highlands of Santa Fe Island leads visitors to the only place in the archipelago where the illusive Santa Fe land iguana can be found.

Deep water snorkeling activities.

Return to the ship.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.
Accommodations: M/V Legend
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Galápagos -
San Cristobal Island (Punta Pitt & Pitt Islet/Cerro Brujo)

(Wednesday, March 18)

Note: Punta Pitt: Wet landing on a beach frequented by sea lions (young males and retired adults). Keep your distance to avoid disturbing them. Parts of the trail are challenging as it requires climbing a steep ravine on slippery terrain. Cerro Brujo: Wet landing on a coral sand beach. Easy walking on a sandy, coastal trail.

 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Wet landing at Punta Pitt. Join your naturalist guide on a walking exploration in search of local flora and fauna.

Punta Pitt is located at the northeast end of San Cristóbal Island. This is the only site in the islands where visitors can watch all three species of boobies and two species of frigates nesting in the same area. The abundant supply of food in the area makes it unnecessary for the birds to compete, leading to a peaceful coexistence among the species. Blue-footed Boobies generally nest in the interior areas of the island, while Red-footed boobies nest on bushes, and Masked Boobies nest along the cliffs. The wind-carved landscape of this seemingly barren island is quite breathtaking. A closer look reveals a surprising array of plant life that, against all odds, continues to thrive here. Look for Palo Santo trees, small cacti, saltbush, and red Vesuvius.

Return to the ship.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Cerro Brujo has one of the nicest white-sand beaches found in the islands. Walk along the beach trail in search of marine iguanas, colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions, or enjoy swimming and snorkeling off the beach.

Return to the ship.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.
Accommodations: M/V Legend
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Galápagos and Flight to Quito-
San Cristobal Island (Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve).

(Thursday, March 19)

Note: San Cristobal: Dry landing and easy, flat terrain.

 Breakfast: On board the ship.
 Morning: Dry landing at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island. Transfer by bus to the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve (about a 40-minute drive).

The tortoise breeding project at the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve was founded by the Galápagos National Park in 2003 in the hopes of protecting San Cristobal's tortoise population. The reserve has an information center where visitors can learn about the origin and evolution of this island's tortoises (Geochelone chatamensis) and current efforts to protect these iconic creatures. The site also has a herpetology lab, tortoise breeding pens, and interpretive trails. A walk along the interpretive trails reveals all nature of native and endemic plants including Galápagos guava (Psidium galapageium), romerillo (Macraea laricifolia), lechoso (Scalesia pedunculata), matazarno (Piscidia carthagenensis), and more.

Transfer to the airport to catch a flight back to Quito.
 Lunch: Light snack served on the flight.
 Afternoon: Late afternoon arrival in Quito.
Transfer to the hotel.

Free time to freshen up before dinner.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Spend your last evening in Ecuador with your new Road Scholar friends, finish your packing, or get a good night's sleep in preparation for international departures tomorrow.
Accommodations: Hotel Rincon de Puembo
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Depart from Quito.
Arrive to the U.S.

(Friday, March 20)
 Depart From: Transfer to the international airport for flight to the U.S.

This concludes the program. We hope you enjoyed your Road Scholar adventure! When you get home, remember to stay in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network; share memories, pictures, and comments about your recent travels.

Note: Participants with independent travel arrangements and/or scheduled on later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own on this day.
 Breakfast: Early morning breakfast at the hotel restaurant (dependent on flight times).
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Galapagos, A Natural History Guide

Author: Michael Jacks

Description: This comprehensive overview of the habitats, plants, birds, and animals of the islands, written with the curious visitor in mind, is practically mandatory reading. It's the single best overview of the archipelago. Jackson also includes a useful bibliography, wildlife checklists and a list of plants by vegetation zone. Illustrated with many charts and maps, we refer to the book often.

Galapagos, World's End

Author: William Beebe

Description: A wry, wonderfully evocative account of a 1924 scientific expedition, including an excellent chapter on the human history of the Galapagos by Ruth Rose. A contemporary reviewer wrote, "Galapagos is a glorious book. It is high romance, exact science and wild adventure." Originally published in 1924, it includes several color plates and maps.

Insight Pocket Guide Ecuador and Galapagos

Author: Peter Frost

Description: Written and photographed by South America expert Peter Frost, this handy pocket guide features a pullout map of Ecuador, hundreds of color photographs and suggested itineraries.

Voyage of the Beagle

Author: Charles Darwin

Description: The wide-eyed tale of a young man on a five-year voyage that changed his life -- and our way of thinking about the world. First published in 1839, this book is still essential reading. Darwin's South American chapters are an excellent introduction to the Galapagos, Beagle Channel, Chile, Tierra del Fuego, the Chilean fjords and the Brazilian coast. With maps and appendices.

Galapagos Wildlife, A Visitor's Guide

Author: Bradt Travel Guides

Description: FIELD GUIDE: A compact guide to the birds, reptiles, insects, plants and marine life of the archipelago featuring a very good selection of large color photographs. Separate chapters cover visitor sites, history, conservation and habitats. The authors present key information on the flora, fauna and places in Galapagos for the traveler.

Evolution's Workshop, God and Science on the Galapagos Islands

Author: Edward J. Larson

Description: A vivid history of the Galapagos -- and the role of the islands as a crucible of evolutionary ideas. It covers not just Darwin but the discovery of the islands, visits of Hancock and Beebe, influence of the United States during WWII, and the establishment of the national park. Pulitzer Prize-winning Larson, a historian of science, has also written about the Scopes trial (Summer for the Gods) and the creationist controversy in the United States (Trial and Error).

Galapagos Islands Explorer Map

Author: Ocean Explorer Maps

Description: A detailed map of the Galapagos archipelago for the traveler at a scale of 1:400,000, including illustrated biographies of famous visitors, a brief wildlife guide with color photographs, a map of Darwin's route.

The Panama Hat Trail

Author: Tom Miller & Tony Hillerman

Description: An accurate and wonderfully descriptive picture of Ecuador and its people. The author tells the story of the Panama hat and the lives it touches; from growing the straw, processing it, and weaving it, to the final product that is exported worldwide.

Charles Darwin Slept Here

Author: John Woram

Description: John Woram recounts with verve and humor the human history of the archipelago, featuring a colorful cast of buccaneers, scientists and adventurers. With ar-chival drawings, maps and extensive notes.

Galapagos: The Enchanted Islands, Through Writer's Eyes

Author: John Hickman

Description: John Hickman weaves original accounts by Galapagos whalers, gentleman pirates, fitful castaways, settlers and scientists, including Ambrose Crowley Herman Melville, Charles Darwin and William Beebe, in this these tales of the color-ful human history of the archipelago.

The Boy on the Back of the Turtle

Author: Paul Quarrington

Description: Humorist, novelist and family man on a quest, Quarrington offers an entertain-ing account of a Galapagos voyage in the company of his seven-year-old daugh-ter and seventy-year-old father.

Galapagos, A Novel

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Description: In this madcap novel, a classic, Vonnegut looks back from the future (alas, the human race has been wiped out except for a small group stranded in the Ga-lapagos) on the Nature Cruise of the Century.

Galapagos, Preserving Darwin's Legacy

Author: Tui De Roy

Description: Tui de Roy corralled researchers and friends for this stunning survey of the natural history, ecology and conservation of the Galapagos. With 450 breath-taking color photographs and chapters by Jack Grove (fishes), Peter and Rose-mary Grant (finches), Dennis Geist (geology) and many other scientists.

Galapagos, Exploring Darwin's Tapestry

Author: John Hess

Description: Professor Hess pulls off the rare trick of being both scientifically accurate and inviting in this illustrated coffee-table primer on Galapagos, its geol-ogy, evolution and magnificent wildlife.

Reef Identification, Galapagos

Author: Paul Humann

Description: Sturdy enough to take along on a boat, this comprehensive photographic guide includes a map, checklist and brief overview of the archipelago.

Flowering Plants of the Galapagos

Author: Conley McMullen, Ghillean Prance

Description: Indispensable for the botanically minded, this excellent guide features color photographs of 436 species, an overview of ecology and habitats, and a plant checklist for each visitor site.

Galapagos Wildlife

Author: Pocket Naturalist

Description: This fold-up, laminated card includes color drawings and short descriptions.

Galapagos, Discovery on Darwin's Islands

Author: David Steadman

Description: All the birds, mammals, reptiles and other vertebrates of the Galapagos are beautifully illustrated in this insightful overview of natural history and evolution by a researcher who has worked throughout the islands. Steadman's brother Lee provides the full-color, full-page water color illustrations.

Birds, Mammals and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Author: Andy Swash, Robert Stills

Description: This strikingly compact, comprehensive field guide features 500 color photo-graphs, distribution maps and information on status, habitat and behavior.

The Beak of the Finch

Author: Jonathan Weiner

Description: This Pulitzer Prize-winning work is an accessible look at the modern debate on the mode and rhythm of evolution, using the story of Peter and Rosemary Grant and their field work on Daphne Major as an example.

Galapagos, The Islands That Changed the World

Author: Paul D. Stewart

Description: This stunning three-part BBC documentary captures the rugged beauty, allure, wildlife and history of the archipelago like never before

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