Road Scholar : Home
The Galápagos: Natural and Cultural History

Program Number: 6043RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/11/2015 - 11/21/2015; 1/20/2016 - 1/30/2016; 2/17/2016 - 2/27/2016; 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: 10 nights
Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Price starting at: $5,490.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 28; 10 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 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.

Seaman Journey

The M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey is a 90-foot expeditionary first-class catamaran able to accommodate up to 16 passengers. Polished teak interiors, quality furnishings, and spacious cabins provide a superior level of comfort while cruising in the Galápagos.

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 earned a master’s and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Illinois. Dr. Quiroga teaches at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and is an expert in the fields of medical anthropology, human ecology, and marine conservation and fisheries, and he has worked with Galápagos fishermen to learn how they interact with the environment. Dr. Quiroga represented Ecuador as a swimmer in the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hilton Colon Quito Hotel
  Quito, Ecuador 2 nights
   M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey
  Galapagos Islands, Ecuador 7 nights
   Hotel Rincon de Puembo
  Quito, Ecuador 1 night
 Hilton Colon Quito Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: Just 20 minutes from Mariscal Sucre International Airport, the Hilton Colon Quito hotel is 10 minutes' walk from the colonial Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Relax in our Fitness Center & Spa, complete with outdoor heated pool. Choose from 5 dining experiences, including gourmet Mediterranean at Portofino and Japanese at Kioto.... more Just 20 minutes from Mariscal Sucre International Airport, the Hilton Colon Quito hotel is 10 minutes' walk from the colonial Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Relax in our Fitness Center & Spa, complete with outdoor heated pool. Choose from 5 dining experiences, including gourmet Mediterranean at Portofino and Japanese at Kioto. All Hilton Colon Quito hotel rooms have wireless internet access. Choose a Suite for mountain views or an Executive Room for Executive Lounge access. In the business district, 5 miles from the airport, the hotel has 15 meeting rooms for up to 700, an Executive Lounge and wireless internet access throughout. The Hilton Colon Quito hotel enjoys spectacular views of the city. Enjoy the fitness center and spa treatments then relax with a massage. Have a flutter at our late-night casino.
  Contact info: Amazonas N 1914 Y Patria Avenida 1
Quito,   Ecuador
phone: +593-2-2560666
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Please call for pricing .
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey
Type: Other
  Description: The M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey is a 90-foot expeditionary first-class catamaran able to accommodate up to 16 passengers. Polished teak interiors, quality furnishings, and spacious cabins provide a superior level of comfort while cruising in the Galápagos.
  Ship Information: Type: Motor Catamaran Category: Boutique Yacht Naturalist Liveaboard Material construction: Fiberglass Length: 90 feet (27.6 meters) Beam: 36.08 feet (11 meters) Draft: 4.75 feet (1.45 meters) Year build: 2007 Main engines: 2x Cummins 350 hp IMO Electric system: 2x 50 kw IMO Electric power: 110v and 220v AC/DC Cruising Speed: 10 knots Water capacity: 3000 gallons Diesel capacity: 2500 gallons Passengers: maximum 16 Crew: 9 members Diving: Sport platform Equipment for sports: Snorkeling (free use of equipment), sea kayaking and surfing
  Contact info: Isla Española #144, between Av. General Rumiñahui and Av. Ilalo
Quito,   Ecuador
phone: +593-2-2867832
  Room amenities: Spacious outside cabins with A/C, picture window or porthole, closet, safety deposit box, hair dryer, and private bathrooms with full hot/cold shower. Cabins have dual 110/220 V outlets. No smoking allowed in the cabins.
  Facility amenities: Bar, lounge, dining area, and a spacious sun deck with chaise lounge chairs. Bar tabs and any other additional onboard purchases must be paid in full in USD at the end of the cruise. The vessel has four double kayaks available for guest-use during visits to specially designated sites within the national park (e.g., Tagus Cove, Chinese Hat, Gardner Bay, etc.). Snorkeling equipment such as fins, masks, and snorkels are provided free of charge during the cruise. Avid snorkelers sometimes prefer to bring their own equipment in order to guarantee a perfect fit. Wetsuits are available for rent ($30 USD payable in cash upon embarkation) for the duration of the cruise. Suits are available in women's and men's sizes ranging from small to extra large. Small and medium suits are available in children's sizes.
  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.
  Ship Information: N/A
  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 Hilton Colon Quito Hotel 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.
(Wednesday, November 11)

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: Hilton Colon Quito Hotel

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

(Thursday, November 12)
 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.
Accommodations: Hilton Colon Quito Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Galápagos -
Flight to Baltra Island/Board Yacht/North Seymour.

(Friday, November 13)

Note: 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 a flight to the Galápagos Islands. Your Quito group leader will assist you with the check-in process before bidding you farewell at the airport.

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: Depending on flight times, a light lunch will be served on the flight or on the boat.
 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 and going through Customs, you will be met by your Galápagos group leader and transferred to the harbor. Board a "panga" (motorized boat) and enjoy a short ride to the Galapagos Seaman Journey.

Enjoy an orientation, safety drill and a light snack before taking part in your first field trip in the islands.

Dry landing on North Seymour for a hike on park trails.

North Seymour has one of the most active seabird breeding colonies in the archipelago and includes the Galápagos' largest nesting colony of Great Frigatebirds. Visitors must tread carefully not to disturb the Swallow-tailed Gulls and Blue-footed boobies that oftentimes nest very near the trails. Although the birds tend to steal the show, the island does include other wildlife including sea lions, marine and land iguanas, lava lizards, and even Galápagos snakes.

Swimming and snorkeling opportunities.

Return to the boat.
 Dinner: On board the boat.
 Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.
Accommodations: M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Galápagos -
Genovesa (Prince Phillip's Steps and Darwin Bay).

(Saturday, November 14)

Note: Prince Phillip's Steps: Difficult dry landing onto the rocky shore, followed by a climb up a steep stone staircase with railings. Much attention must be given when climbing and descending the staircase since steps might be slippery. Darwin Bay: Easy to moderate hike on coral sand and slabs of lava. The trail is approximately .9 miles in length. When the tide is high, parts of the trail might be covered in water.

 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: Challenging dry landing at Prince Phillip's Steps, Genovesa Island for bird watching and site lecture.

Prince Phillip's Steps is a trail which leads up a steep rock staircase through squadrons of frigatebirds and Red-billed Tropicbirds. In March, male frigatebirds begin showing off their inflated red pouches in preparation for mating season which takes place in April. Red-footed Boobies perch on the branches of Palo Santo trees and Storm Petrels, which serve as prey for Short Eared Owls (mating season in June), are found in the open lava fields at the end of the trail. Along the beaches and rocky alcoves, sea lions are the main stars. Females give birth in August and by September, while still nursing their pups, begin searching for new mates. During this time, visitors should be particularly mindful of aggressive males fighting for territory and females protecting their young (pupping continues through November).

Optional swimming, snorkeling and sea kayaking.

Return to the yacht.
 Lunch: On board the boat.
 Afternoon: Wet landing at Darwin's Bay, Genovesa Island.

Genovesa's volcanic sea cliffs and salt bush offer a prime habitat for the birds of the Galápagos. August is a particularly active time, with large numbers of Red-footed Boobies congregating on the island while Nazca Boobies (a.k.a. Masked Boobies) and Swallow-tailed Gulls go about their nesting rituals.

Darwin's Bay is the caldera of an extinct volcano which has been partially eroded and offers superb swimming and snorkeling.

Optional swimming, snorkeling and sea kayaking.

Return to the yacht.
 Dinner: Onboard the boat.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities and lecture.
Accommodations: M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Galápagos -
Plazas Islands and Santa Fé Island.

(Sunday, November 15)
 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: Dry landing at South Plaza Island.

South Plaza is the larger of two islands located off the east coast of Santa Cruz. 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 boat.
 Lunch: Onboard the yacht.
 Afternoon: Dry landing on Santa Fé Island.

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

Return to the boat.
 Dinner: Onboard the boat.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.
Accommodations: M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Galápagos -
San Cristóbal Island (Interpretation Center), Kicker Rock and Lobos Island.

(Monday, November 16)

Note: Interpretation Center: Dry landing and easywalking on flat terrain. Lobos Island: Moderate to challenging hike on a .5-mile trail that traverses a dry vegetation zone, volcanic rocks, and a sandy area. Most of the trail travels through rocky terrain that requires careful footing.

 Breakfast: Onboard the yacht.
 Morning: Dry landing at San Cristóbal Island for a visit to the Interpretation Center.

The Interpretation Center features interactive displays that provide information about the volcanic origins of the islands, the arrival and colonization of plant and animal species, ocean currents, and human history in the archipelago.

Return to the boat.
 Lunch: Onboard the boat.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we will navigate around Kicker Rock to get a close up look at the iconic stone formation and observe sea birds that frequent the site.

This volcanic rock formation, likened to a sleeping lion or shoe, is a tuff cone (the effect created by magma reacting with water) that eroded into two separate pieces, creating a channel between the main island and a smaller formation that juts sharply out of the water. There is just enough space through the channel to allow small boats to navigate between the sheer rock walls, allowing visitors to get a closer look at this volcanic monument. Although there are no landing sites on the island, it is a good location for snorkeling (advanced level) and for viewing pelagic birds such as frigates, boobies, and tropic birds.

Dry landing at Lobos Island. During our hike we will search for sea lions, fur seals, and sea birds.

Lobos Island is a small rocky island located northeast of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, off the coast of San Cristóbal Island. Its name in Spanish means “Sea Lion Island” due to a large colony of sea lions that reside on the rocky shores. Loud and lively barks can be heard long before reaching the island. These vocal and playful mammals enjoy sunning themselves on the rocky outcroppings, providing visitors with a great opportunity to observe their social antics. In addition to sea lions, the island is also home to a colony of Blue-footed Boobies and it is an excellent snorkeling site.

Swimming and snorkeling opportunities.

Return to the boat.
 Dinner: Onboard the boat.
 Evening: Orientation of next day’s activities and lecture.
Accommodations: M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Galápagos -
San Cristóbal (Punta Pitt and Cerro Brujo).

(Tuesday, November 17)

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: Onboard the boat.
 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 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 boat.
 Lunch: On board the boat.
 Afternoon: After a wet landing, disembark at Cerro Brujo's beach on San Cristóbal Island's northern shore for walking explorations.

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 boat.
 Dinner: On board the boat.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.
Accommodations: M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Galápagos -
Española Island (Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay).

(Wednesday, November 18)

Note: Punta Suarez: Dry landing and difficult trail conditions due to rocky, uneven terrain. The trail is approximately 1 mile long. Gardner Bay: Wet landing and easy, sandy, trail conditions.

 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: Dry landing at Punta Suarez on Española Island. A walking field trip will take us through bird colonies and past a blow hole that periodically shoots water 20 - 25 feet into the air!

Española (a.k.a. Hood Island) is the southernmost island in the Galápagos. It is best known as the nesting place of the rare Waved Albatross. In fact most of the world’s population of these majestic birds nest here. Punta Suarez, on the western side, is home to the Galápagos Hawk and is also the best place to see the red form of the marine iguana. In January, marine iguanas adopt bright skin colors to try and attract mates. Visitors must watch their step because of the rocky terrain but also be mindful of wildlife as the trail passes right by nesting colonies of Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies and a Waved Albatross breeding colony.

Return to the boat.
 Lunch: On board the boat.
 Afternoon: Wet landing at Gardner Bay for walking and snorkeling.

Gardner Bay, located on the northeastern tip of Española, is often called the most beautiful part of the archipelago. Sea lions enjoy basking in the sun along the white-sand beach and green sea turtles come ashore to nest January - March. Three species of Darwin’s finches and Española Mockingbirds, the only carnivorous mockingbird species, may be seen at this site. This site does not include an inland trail and explorations must all be done from the beach.

Return to the boat.
 Dinner: On board the boat.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.
Accommodations: M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Galápagos -
Floreana (Punta Cormorant, Post Office Bay, and Baroness Lookout).

(Thursday, November 19)

Note: Punta Cormorant: Easy walking over 1.2 miles of mostly flat, sandy terrain. On the white beach, do not walk on the sand above the high tide level, because it is a nesting site for sea turtles. Post Office Bay: Easy walking on a flat, sandy trail. Baroness Lookout: Moderate level of difficulty--walking on rocky terrain, at times on an incline.

 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: A wet landing at Punta Cormorant, on Floreana Island, will take us through a beach of greenish sand where sea lions like to congregate. The beach’s unusual color is a result of the olivine crystals present in the sand. From here, a trail leads us to a lagoon where flamingoes can be found wading with other birds such as oystercatchers, and Black-necked Stilt. A white sandy beach near the lagoon is good for swimming and is sometimes used by turtles as nesting site.

Return to the boat.
 Lunch: On board the boat.
 Afternoon: Disembark at Post Office Bay on Floreana Island. Visit the barrel used as a mail box and learn about its interesting history. A short walk from the famous barrel will take us to a tunnel formed by laval flows. The infamous Post Office Bay can be found on the northern side of the island. This is the site where whalers used to “mail” their correspondence. A barrel was used as a postbox, and held letters from sailors across the globe. If a passing ship was heading where the mail was addressed, the captain would collect and deliver it. Although the barrel is no longer the original one, the system still works since visitors continue to collect and drop off mail.

Wet landing at Olla Bay and hike to the Baroness Lookout.

The Baroness Lookout is on the top of a basaltic tuff formation, between Punta Cormorant and Post Office Bay. It was once a favored spot of the infamous Baroness Eloisa von Wagner ("The Galapagos Affair" by John Treherne)--one of the island's colorful first inhabitants. Visitors who make it to the top are rewarded with views of the coastline from Enderby Islet to Post Office Bay, as well as a large palo santo forest, Punta Cormorant's flamingo lagoon, and Cerro Pajas.

Return to the boat.
 Dinner: On board the boat.
 Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.
Accommodations: M/C Galapagos Seaman Journey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Galápagos and Flight to Quito-
Santa Cruz Island (Charles Darwin Research Station).

(Friday, November 20)

Note: Charles Darwin Research Station: Easy walk on flat, paved walkways.

 Breakfast: On board the boat.
 Morning: Dry landing at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island and walk to the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about local conservation efforts including the Galápagos' giant tortoise breeding program.

Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the archipelago. It is the administrative center of the islands and the most populated. The National Park Service is based here, but perhaps the most important organization is the Charles Darwin Research Station, the headquarters of all research and conservation efforts on the islands. While at the station, visitors can observe giant tortoises of all ages ranging from hatchlings to adults at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center--part of the park's tortoise breeding and repatriation program.

Transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Quito.
Say farewell to your Galápagos group leader and board a flight back to the mainland.
 Lunch: Light snack served on the flight.
 Afternoon: Late afternoon arrival in Quito. Meet your Road Scholar representative at the airport after collecting your luggage and exiting the secured area.

Transfer to the hotel.

Free time. 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. Meet the rest of the group for dinner.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Rincon de Puembo
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Depart from Quito.
Arrive to the U.S.

(Saturday, November 21)
 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

Birds, Mammals and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Author: Andy Swash, Robert Stills

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

Ecuador Adventure Map

Author: National Geographic Society

Description: This double-sided, waterproof map covers Ecuador in splendid detail (1:750:00) and also includes a Galapagos map (1:1 million).

Evolution's Workshop

Author: Edward J. Larson

Description: A vivid history of the Galapagos and the role of the islands as a crucible of evolutionary ideas, written by a Pulitzer Prize winner. Larson covers Darwin and the discovery of the islands, the visits of Hancock and Beebe, the influence of the United States during WWII and the establishment of the national park.

Galapagos Bedtime Stories

Author: Paula Tagle Saad

Description: These delightful children's stories, organized by island, were inspired by Saad's many trips as an expedition leader. Each illustrated tale revolves around an animal or incident in the islands, including a newly hatched Waved Albatross, a sea lion pup and a nesting Flightless Cormorant.

Galapagos Islands Explorer Map

Author: Ocean Explorer Maps

Description: Not just handy for keeping track of your Galapagos cruise, this detailed map (1:400,000) of the islands includes illustrated biographies of famous visitors and a wildlife guide.

Galapagos Wildlife

Author: Pocket Naturalist

Description: A fold-up, laminated card featuring color drawings and short descriptions of commonly encountered birds, mammals and reptiles of the Galapagos.

Galapagos Wildlife, A Visitor's Guide

Author: David Horwell, Pete Oxford

Description: With chapters on visitor sites, history, conservation and habitats, this compact photographic guide introduces birds, reptiles, marine and other life of the archipelago.

Galapagos, A Natural History

Author: Michael Jackson

Description: This comprehensive guide to the natural history of the Galapagos is practically mandatory reading -- the single best introduction to the geology and climate, habitats, plants, birds, animals, ecology and evolution.

Galapagos, A Novel

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Description: In this madcap classic, Vonnegut's narrator lives in a future where the human race has been wiped out -- all except for a small group who boarded the "nature cruise of the century" only to get stranded in the Galapagos.

Galapagos, Islands Born of Fire

Author: Tui De Roy

Description: A stunning celebration of the landscapes, wildlife and habitats of the Galapagos by a photographer who was raised in the archipelago. Tenth anniversary edition.

Galapagos, The Islands That Changed the World

Author: Paul D. Stewart

Description: Stewart and co-authors, associated with the BBC natural history unit, present the natural and human history of the islands in this wide-ranging, beautifully illustrated book, the companion to the BBC series.

Galapagos, The Islands That Changed the World

Author: Paul D. Stewart (Director)

Description: Also available on Blu-Ray, this stunning three-part BBC documentary captures the rugged beauty, allure, wildlife and history of the archipelago like never before.

Galapagos, World's End

Author: William Beebe

Description: This wry, wonderfully evocative account of a 1924 scientific expedition includes an excellent chapter on the human history of the Galapagos.

Galapagos: The Enchanted Islands, Through Writer's Eyes

Author: John Hickman (Editor)

Description: 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 these tales of the colorful human history of the archipelago.

Inside the Beagle with Charles Darwin

Author: Fiona MacDonald

Description: MacDonald gives detailed accounts of daily life aboard the Beagle, animals and places encountered, as well as excellent illustrations and a balanced discussion of Darwin's ground-breaking scientific theories. Ages 8 and up.

Insight Guide Ecuador and Galapagos

Author: Insight Guides

Description: Presenting the natural history, politics, culture, wildlife and attractions of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with style and authority.

Satan Came to Eden

Author: Dore Strauch

Description: The original memoir of Dore Strauch, early settler to the Galapagos and participant in the fascinating unsolved mystery known as The Galapagos Affair, the subject of a new documentary. First published in 1936, it's back in print after 80 years.

The Boy on the Back of the Turtle

Author: Paul Quarrington

Description: Humorist, novelist and family man on a quest, Quarrington offers an entertaining account of a Galapagos voyage in the company of his seven-year-old daughter and 70-year-old father.

The Galapagos, A Natural History

Author: Henry Nicholls

Description: Editor of the Galapagos Conservation Trust magazine and author of Lonesome George, Henry Nicholls charts the human and natural history of the archipelago from its fiery origins through famous visitors and current conservation challenges.

The History of Ecuador

Author: George Lauderbaugh

Description: this compact book includes chapters on Ecuador today, Ecuador's indigenous and colonial past, the oil boom and other events.

The True Adventures of Charley Darwin

Author: Carolyn Meyer

Description: Meyer turns the facts of Darwin's early life in Shrewsbury and his transformation aboard the Beagle into a novel for young adults.

Understanding Galapagos: What You'll See and What it Means

Author: Sehoya Cotner, Randy Moore

Description: An excellent introduction to the flora and fauna of the Galapagos and a stellar overview of evolutionary biography on the islands. Accessible for readers from all backgrounds.

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, it's still a marvelous introduction to the wildlife, nature and allure of South America.

Wildlife of the Galapagos

Author: Julian Fitter, Daniel Fitter, David Hosking (Photographer)

Description: A compact identification guide to Galapagos nature and wildlife, featuring 400 color photographs, an overview of the history, climate, evolution and geology of the islands, and helpful full-color visitor site maps.

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