18484
Galápagos Islands/Ecuador/Peru
The Best of the Galápagos and Peru: From Enchanted Islands to Machu Picchu
The Galápagos and Machu Picchu are two of Latin America’s most renowned icons. Come see for yourself as you discover the unique wildlife and preserved ruins of these two sacred places.
Rating (4.96)
Program No. 18484RJ
Length
17 days
Starts at
7,199
Flights start at
795
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17 days
16 nights
42 meals
16 B 14 L 12 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Check-in
Lima
Casa Andina Select Miraflores

Activity note: The Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima, Peru is located approximately 45 minutes from the arrival hotel.

DAY
2
Larco Museum, Peru Cuisine Presentation, Lima City Excursion
Lima
B,L
Casa Andina Select Miraflores

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a buffet featuring various types of breakfast foods including pastries and fruit, plus water, coffee, and juice.

Morning: Orientation to the program: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Meals included in our program feature local cuisine. In some cases, they will be plated and served with a set menu; in others, we will have buffets with multiple options. Included beverages are typically coffee, tea, water; other beverages usually available for purchase. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. After boarding a bus, we will transfer to the Larco Museum. A presentation by the museum curator will introduce us to Peru's ancient cultures and enhance our museum experience. Following the lecture, the curator will take us through the museum. The privately funded Larco Museum, also known as Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, holds one of the world’s largest collections of Peruvian pre-Colombian artifacts and showcases pieces from lesser known Peruvian cultures such as the Moche, Chimú, and Nazca, as well as the famous Inca. Its name honors the founder’s father, Don Rafael Larco Herrera, a well-known collector of pre-Columbian artifacts and archaeology aficionado. The museum is housed in an 18th century mansion in the Pueblo Libre District of Lima and has 6 exhibit halls, 11 storage rooms, a vault for gold and silver exhibits, a terrace with large stone displays, and a garden with a patio.

Lunch: Welcome lunch at local restaurant including a Peruvian Food presentation.

Afternoon: We will explore downtown Lima. The most important church in any town in Peru is usually called La Catedral (Cathedral). In the case of Lima, La Catedral is also the most important church in all of Peru. This beautiful colonial building in the Plaza de las Armas presumably houses the remains of Francisco Pizarro—whether the bones are authentic or not is a matter of conjecture. Lima's historic Santo Domingo Church and Convent was built by the Dominican Order in 1540, on land donated by Francisco Pizzaro. Colorful tiles, stained glass windows, catacombs, religious relics, and attractive courtyards are just some of the attractions at this site. Santo Domingo is located at the intersection of Conde de Superunda and Camana Streets, just a block away from the Plaza de Armas in central Lima.

Dinner: Dinner will be on your own to explore the local fare.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Fly to Cusco, Transfer to Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo Ruins
Yucay
B,L,D
Posada del Inca - Yucay

Activity note: There is a weight limit of 23 kg (approximately 50 lb) for checked luggage on the internal flights in Peru. Elevation in Cusco is approx. 11,000 ft. Elevation in Yucay is approx. 9,375 ft. To minimize your chances of experiencing altitude sickness, try to get plenty of rest before you travel, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and fatty foods, eat high carbohydrate foods, and avoid strenuous exercise at high elevations.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a buffet featuring various types of breakfast foods including pastries and fruit, plus water, coffee, and juice.

Morning: Transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Cusco. Traditional Inca welcome with coca tea upon arrival at the Cusco airport. Transfer to Ollantaytambo with an en route visit to the Awanakancha Alpaca Center. The Awankancha Alpaca Center is a living museum where visitors can see llamas, alpacas and vicuna. A demonstration will show how the wool from these South American animals is used to make woven textiles. On our way, we will briefly visit the handicraft market in Pisac for a look at locally made crafts from the area.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Ollantaytambo town.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will stroll through the Ollantaytambo ruins to learn about the engineering genius of the Inca. The Ollantaytambo Ruins are not ruins in the traditional sense. Ollantaytambo is a town with original buildings of Inca construction where the Inca retreated to make their last stand in the highlands against the Spanish. Running water still flows through the town in aqueducts and the agricultural terraces above the town are still in use. The pinnacle above the town is a small burial ground. Learn about Andean agricultural techniques and how local farms still use these practices today. Lecture: The Agriculture of the Incas. Transfer to the hotel and check-in.

Dinner: Enjoy a typical two course Peruvian plated meal, juice and water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Machu Picchu
B,L
El MaPi Hotel

Activity note: Elevation in Aguas Calientes is approx. 6,695 ft. There is a weight limit of 11 pounds for luggage on the Peru Rail transfer to Machu Picchu. Plan to pack an overnight bag for one night in the Machu Picchu area. This bag must weigh no more than 11 pounds and measure no more than 62 inches /157 cm (length, plus height, plus width). Excess luggage can be left with the driver and vehicle, and will be secured until your return to Cuzco.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a buffet featuring various types of breakfast foods including pastries and fruit, plus water, coffee, and juice.

Morning: Early morning transfer to Ollantaytambo train station. Board a train to Machu Picchu. This scenic journey by rail follows the meandering path of the Urubamba River and provides travelers with spectacular views of the snowcapped Andes. Disembark at the Aguas Calientes Station (6,693 ft) and board a bus that will take you up the mountain to the Machu Picchu Ruins (7,972 ft). Upon arrival, continue with a bus transfer to the Machu Picchu ruins.

Lunch: At a local restaurant near the ruins featuring a buffet, juice and water.

Afternoon: Full afternoon guided field trip in and around Machu Picchu ruins. This ancient Inca city was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, a Yale graduate and U.S. senator fascinated with Inca archaeology. Bingham found Machu Picchu, with the help of a local farmer who knew about the ruins, while searching for Vilcabamba and Vitcos. He hypothesized that the site was a "citadel," existing for strategic and defense purposes. He also speculated that the site was a refuge for Cusco's Virgins of the Sun, based upon the finding of skulls there, although not scientifically classified as female. Breakthroughs in archaeology since 1985 have, taken as a whole, supported the emerging view of Machu Picchu as a ceremonial and administrative center for a very populous region. Machu Picchu was built, flourished, and fell into demise within a period of 100 years. Transfer by bus down to the town of Aguas Calientes. Check-in to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own for a chance to explore local fare.

DAY
5
Train to Ollantaytambo, Visit Chincheros, Transfer to Cusco
Cusco
B,L,D
Casa Andina Private Collection – Cusco

Activity note: Elevation in Cusco is approximately 11,000 ft. Participants who plan to return to Machu Picchu this morning will need to purchase their entrance tickets in advance. Park tickets are not sold on site. Please contact the program coordinator at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com if you are interested in buying Machu Picchu entrance tickets. Buses begin boarding for the park at 6:00 a.m. and participants must return in time for early lunch before departure.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a buffet featuring various types of breakfast foods including pastries and fruit, plus water, coffee, and juice.

Morning: Guided excursion around the town of Aguas Calientes. Visit the local market. Participants who wish to revisit Machu Picchu are welcome to skip the town excursion and spend the morning at the ruins (at own expense--entrance fee is not included and tickets must be purchased in advance).

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant featuring a buffet of typical Peruvian dishes, juice and water.

Afternoon: Transfer to the train station. Board the early afternoon train to Ollantaytambo Station. Arrive at the Ollantaytambo Station and board a bus for your transfer to Cusco with en route stop in Chincheros. Excursion to Chincheros town including a visit to a weaving cooperative, where you will meet with locals and learn about traditional weaving styles and techniques. Weaving is a way of life in Chincheros, as important for preserving ancient traditions as it is for earning a livelihood. Located in the Peruvian Andes on the Inca road between Cusco and Machu Picchu, Chincheros was an early Inca center built by emperor Tupa Inca as his country estate. During Inca reign, textiles were woven and offered to mark special occasions, from peace treaties and sacrifices to marriage ceremonies and puberty rites. In Chincheros, children grow up playing with their mother's spindle and loom. By age six or seven, most children learn to weave by watching their elders. They begin by weaving jakimas, or narrow ribbons, before moving on to more complicated pieces. Continue with transfer to Cusco. Arrive in Cusco and check-in to the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Time at leisure.

DAY
6
Sacsayhuaman Ruins & Introduction to Cusco
Cusco
B,L
Casa Andina Private Collection – Cusco

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a buffet featuring various types of breakfast foods including pastries and fruit, plus water, coffee, and juice.

Morning: Field trip to the Sacsayhuaman Ruins. The fortress of Sacsayhuaman forms the head of the Puma design of old Cusco. It is a wonder of technical achievement and a testament to human will. It is a mystery how it was constructed, since the stones are not found in the region, and most of the blocks weigh more than a ton. The largest rock weighs more than 300 tons. Sacsayhuaman is constructed of huge polygonal blocks which interlock with one another. The stones are so precisely placed that a knife blade cannot be inserted between them. Excursion through the city of Cusco. The center of Cusco is a history lesson. Modern and colonial buildings are built on top of Inca foundations, and colonial churches dominate the central square.

Lunch: At a café in the main plaza where you can enjoy the colonial architecture of the city.

Afternoon: Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to experience the ancient city of Cusco at your own pace. Please see the “Notes” section for a list of points of interest and activities in Cusco. Pre-dinner presentation by local expert on the history of Inca and Andean musical instruments. Your group leader will provide instructions for the best times to arrive back to the hotel.

Dinner: Dinner on your own for a chance to explore local fare.

Evening: Time at leisure.

DAY
7
Flight to Quito via Lima
Quito
B,D
Hotel Quito

Activity note: The Mariscal Sucre International Airport is located approximately one hour from downtown Quito. Elevations in Quito range from 9,223 ft - 9,883 ft. To minimize the chances of experiencing altitude sickness while in Quito, try to get plenty of rest before travel, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and fatty foods, consume high carbohydrate foods, and avoid strenuous exercise at high elevations.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a buffet featuring various types of breakfast foods including pastries and fruit, plus water, coffee, and juice.

Morning: Check-out of the hotel and attend a lecture by a local expert before departure to the airport: “History and Anthropology of the Andes.” Transfer to the Cusco airport for flight to Quito via Lima.

Lunch: On your own. There will be opportunities for lunch at the Lima airport, however, this will be a late lunch so we suggest eating a large breakfast

Afternoon: Upon arrival to Quito, we will collect our luggage and board the bus. A boxed dinner will be provided as we transfer to the hotel. Upon arrival, check-in. transfer to the hotel and check-in. Our Quito group leader will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have

Dinner: Boxed dinner en route to the hotel.

Evening: Time at leisure.

DAY
8
Quito Orientation, Casa del Alabado, Capilla del Hombre
Quito
B,L,D
Hotel Quito

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a buffet featuring various types of breakfast foods including pastries and fruit, plus water, coffee, and juice.

Morning: After breakfast we will travel by motorcoach to Quito's colonial section. Accompany the group leader in a walking exploration of the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site. While walking through the narrow streets, we will learn about Quito’s rich history going from pre-Hispanic times, through the Colonial Period, to the Republican Era. We will have the opportunity to study the architectural styles of local 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. After our city explorations we will enjoy a visit to the Museo Casa del Alabado to learn about pre-Columbian art. The art museum is housed in a two-story, renovated 17th century Spanish colonial residence in Quito’s historic downtown area. Unlike most museums which arrange displays in chronological order, the Casa del Alabado has organized its exhibits based on Andean cosmology. The approximately 5000 artifacts showcased in this impressive space include 500 pieces that belong to the museum’s permanent exhibit.

Lunch: At local restaurant with an introduction to Ecuadorian food products and typical Ecuadorian cuisine.

Afternoon: After lunch, pay a visit to Guayasamin's Capilla del Hombre. Quito’s Bellavista neighborhood is home to some important spaces dedicated to the works of Ecuador’s beloved artist, Oswaldo Guayasamin (1919-1999). The Guayasamin Foundation features various pieces from the artist’s private collection as well as a large exhibit of his paintings. A few blocks from the Guayasamin Foundation, on a hill overlooking the city, stands the Capilla del Hombre. This monument, chapel, and museum was designed by Guayasamin (he died before its completion) as a cultural space dedicated to the plight of Latin American people—from pre-Columbian times until the present—a subject featured prominently in the artist’s work. Return to the hotel. Lecture: Introduction to Geology of the Galápagos Islands.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant featuring a two course plated meal, including water.

Evening: Prepare for check out and flight tomorrow. There is a 44 lb weight limit for checked luggage on the flights to the islands. Please pack accordingly. Extra luggage can be stored at the hotel in Quito.

DAY
9
Baltra Flight, Board Yacht, Playa de las Bachas
Galápagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top III

Activity note: Actual cruise itinerary and islands visited are determined by the Galápagos Nat'l Park. The cruise itineraries, field trips and excursions are subject to change without notice based on sea and weather conditions. Therefore, the cruise itinerary should always be regarded as provisional. The operators reserve the right to change the content of field trips and excursions without prior notice.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, enjoy a buffet featuring various types of breakfast foods including pastries and fruit, plus water, coffee, and juice.

Morning: After breakfast, we'll transfer by motorcoach to the airport in preparation for our flight to the Galapagos Islands. Our Group Leader will assist us with check-in procedures at the airport. After saying a fond goodbye to our Quito Group Leader, we will proceed through security and get ready to embark on our flight. Upon arrival to the Galápagos Islands, we'll deplane and walk across the tarmac to the airport building and follow the arrival signs to Immigration. With passport in hand we will stop at the Immigration counter for an inspection of our travel documents before we can proceed to the baggage claim area. After collecting our luggage, we will meet our naturalist Galápagos Group Leader and together we will board the yacht. Once on board, we'll take part in a welcome orientation and a safety drill as we sail to our first visitor site in the Galápagos. During all walks, our guide will provide expert commentary on the flora and fauna that we observe.

Lunch: Aboard the boat we’ll enjoy a typical two course Ecuadorian meal, plus juice and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will navigate a short distance along the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island. Then, we will board pangas and make a wet landing at Bachas Beach in preparation for our first adventure in the Galápagos. We will join our naturalist leader on a walking exploration in search of aquatic and migratory birds. The sand dunes at this site are nesting grounds for Galápagos Green Turtles and a nearby lagoon is home to flamingoes, White-cheeked Pintail ducks, Common Stilts, and some migratory species. There will be an opportunity for snorkeling and/or swimming before we return to the yacht.

Dinner: Aboard the boat. After enjoying a welcome cocktail with the boat crew, we'll sit down for a plated meal with dessert, juice and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
10
Genovesa Island, El Barranco, Darwin's Bay
Galápagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top III

Activity note: El Barranco: 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 1 mile in length. When the tide is high, parts of the trail might be covered in water.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat.

Morning: Dry landing at El Barranco (a.k.a Prince Phillip's Steps). After climbing the stone steps we will walk on local trails in search of local birds. El Barranco visitor site includes a steep stone staircase and a rocky trail that extends for approximately 1 mile through squadrons of frigatebirds and Red-billed Tropicbirds. Red-footed Boobies perch on the branches of Palo Santo trees and Storm Petrels, which serve as prey for Short-eared Owls, are found in the open lava fields at the end of the trail. Return to the yacht.

Lunch: Aboard the boat.

Afternoon: After a panga ride and wet landing, we will accompany our naturalist leader on a walking exploration of Darwin Bay. The island's volcanic sea cliffs and salt bush offer a prime habitat for the birds of the Galápagos. In March and April, male frigatebirds begin courtship rituals, showing off their inflated red pouches. By August, the island is full of Nazca Boobies (Masked Boobies) and Red-footed Boobies, and Swallow-tailed Gulls can be found nesting. Darwin Bay is the caldera of an extinct volcano which has been partially eroded and offers superb swimming and snorkeling. Opportunity for swimming and snorkeling before we return to the yacht.

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: Lecture and orientation to the next day's activities. (Please note that the day/time of lectures is subject to change)

DAY
11
South Plaza Island and Santa Fe
Galápagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top III

Activity note: Santa Fe: wet landing and moderate difficulty due to rocky, uneven trail conditions. South Plaza: dry landing and moderate difficulty due to slippery rocks and uneven trail conditions.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat.

Morning: Following our dry landing on South Plaza Island we will embark on a walking field trip on rocky trails in search of local flora and fauna. As we follow the trail to a cactus forest, we hope to get a closer look at land iguanas and their habitat before moving on in search of local sea lion colonies. Sea lions usually give birth from August - November and females begin mating within weeks of having their young. South Plaza is also a great place for viewing seabirds in flight including Red-billed Tropicbirds, frigatebirds, pelicans, Swallow-tailed Gulls, and other pelagic species. After our explorations we will return to the yacht.

Lunch: Aboard the boat.

Afternoon: We will make a wet landing on a small beach on Santa Fe Island. As we explore the island we'll be on the look out for opuntia cacti and Santa Fe iguanas. Before returning to the yacht we will have an opportunity to swim and snorkel from the beach. This spot is one of the best locations for swimming with sea lions!

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
12
San Cristobal Island, Cerro Brujo, Leon Dormido
Galápagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top III

Activity note: San Cristobal: dry landing – 25 minute bus ride to Tortoise Reserve. Leon Dormido: no landing. Cerro Brujo: wet landing and easy walking on sandy trails.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat.

Morning: We will make a dry landing on San Cristobal Island and travel via bus to the highlands for a visit to the Jacinto Gordillo Galapagos Tortoise reserve. The Galapagos Tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise, it can weigh up to 800 lb, and is one of the longest-living vertebrates; the Galapagos Tortoise have lifespans in the wild of more than 100 years. The reserve was established in 2003 by the Galapagos National Park as a breeding center and information center for visitors interested in discovering more about these fascinating creatures. We will have the opportunity to observe the giant tortoises in a natural type of setting and learn about their origin, evolution, and the threats they face from foreign animals introduced to the island. Our next stop is to the Interpretation Center of Human History in the Islands. 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 yacht.

Lunch: Aboard the boat.

Afternoon: After lunch we will make a wet landing at Cerro Brujo and enjoy a walk on a white sand beach that is often frequented by lively sea lions. There will be some free time for swimming, and snorkeling. Next, we’ll navigate around Leon Dormido (a.k.a. Kicker Rock) to get a closer look at the iconic stone formation and search for nesting sea birds. The tuff-rock, which rises almost 500 feet from the ocean, has eroded to give it the shape seen as a shoe or sleeping lion. We will be on the lookout for Blue-footed Boobies, Masked Boobies, and frigatebirds dotting its cliffs. We will have some time to snorkel. Kicker Rock is often recognized as one of the best places for snorkeling in the Galápagos due to the abundance of marine wildlife often seen in its waters. Return to the yacht.

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: Lecture and orientation to the next day's activities. (This lecture may take place on another evening of the cruise.)

DAY
13
Floreana, Post Office Bay, Punta Cormorant, Devil's Crown
Galápagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top III

Activity note: Baroness Point View: dry landing. Post Office Bay: wet landing and easy trail conditions. Punta Cormorant: wet landing and easy trail conditions. Devil's Crown: strong currents.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat.

Morning: We board pangas and head to Baroness Point View. Following a dry landing, we will enjoy a short walk along the beach while taking in the beauty of Floreana. Reboard the pangas and depart for Post Office Bay. Our half-mile walk at Post Office Bay will begin with a wet landing on the sandy beach and a visit to the Post Office Barrel. The infamous Post Office Bay can be found on the northern side of Floreana Island. This is the site where whalers used to "mail" their correspondence. A barrel was used as a makeshift postbox, and held letters from sailors across the globe. If a passing ship happened to be heading where the mail was addressed to, 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 their letters and postcards. Return to the yacht.

Lunch: Aboard the boat.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will board a panga and navigate by panga to Floreana and make a wet landing on the green beach at Punta Cormorant. During our walking explorations we hope to observe shorebirds and flamingoes at the local lagoon and spot endemic plants such as Scalesia vellosa and Lecocarpus pinaffitidus. We will most likely have the chance to spot sea lions lounging lazily on the beach. 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 a known nesting site for green sea turtles. Around January, pregnant females come ashore at night to dig nests and lay eggs (between 75-100 eggs per nest) before returning to sea. The eggs begin hatching in April and May. Next, we head to Devil's Crown to enjoy swimming and snorkeling activities. Devil's Crown is a shallow sunken crater that makes for one of the best snorkeling sites in the islands. The largely submerged volcano has clear blue waters and a variety of colorful fish. Sea lions are sometimes seen frolicking in the waters and seabirds nest in the crevices. This site is only suggested for good swimmers as the currents can be very strong. Following our time at Devil's Crown we will return to the yacht.

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
14
Española Island, Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay
Galápagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top III

Activity note: Punta Suarez: dry landing and difficult trail conditions due to rocky, uneven terrain. Walking approximately 2 hours. Gardner Bay: wet landing and easy, sandy trail conditions.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat.

Morning: We'll make a dry landing at Punta Suarez this morning in preparation for our hike. Our walking exploration will take us over loose boulders and challenging rocky ground as we make our way to view nesting boobies and the famous blowhole. Punta Suarez is home to the Galápagos Hawk and the red form of the marine iguana. In January, the iguanas change color, adopting bright hues that are attractive to potential mates. Visitors have a good chance of seeing Blue-footed Booby chicks around October. Española is also the breeding site of most of the archipelago's Waved Albatrosses, so be on the lookout for these large and graceful flyers! Albatrosses display courtship behavior in April, nest and lay eggs in May, and by December the young fledge and leave for a few months before returning in March. A panga will take us back to the yacht in time for lunch.

Lunch: Aboard the boat.

Afternoon: We will take a panga ride around the Osborn Islet and the Islets of Gardner. We will make a wet landing at the white sand beach in Gardner Bay. Enjoy a short walk and swimming and snorkeling off of the beach. Gardner Bay's white beach is usually dotted with large quantities of sunbathing sea lions, especially during breeding season which takes place from May through January.This is also an important nesting site for sea turtles! In January, green sea turtles steal ashore under cover of night to dig pits and lay eggs before making their way back to sea. Eggs hatch from April to May. After our visit to Gardner Bay, we return to the yacht.

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.

DAY
15
Santa Cruz Island, Wild Tortoises, Charles Darwin Station
Galápagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top III

Activity note: Driving approximately 1.5 hours throughout the day.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat.

Morning: We will disembark on Santa Cruz and will board a bus for a drive into the highlands. Once in the highlands, we will stop for lunch and to observe wild tortoises in their natural habitat. The Galapagos’ tortoise is one of the islands' most famous residents. These creatures, which were endemic to each of the big islands; Española, Fernandina, Floreana, Pinta Pinzón, San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe and Santiago now exist only on three islands as a result of exploitation and volcanism. The average lifespan for a tortoise is more than 100 years and the largest tortoise recorded weighed over 880 lb.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in the highlands.

Afternoon: Returning to Ayora, we will accompany our naturalist Group Leader on a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and its Interpretive Center. The Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) is a biological research station operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation. The objective of the CDRS is to conduct scientific research and environmental education to promote conservation of the islands' unique environments. The Station has a team of over a hundred scientists, educators, volunteers, research students and support staff from all over the world. Return to the yacht.

Dinner: Aboard the boat.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
16
Santa Cruz, Black Turtle Cove, Flight to Lima via Quito
Quito
B,L,D
Hotel Rincon de Puembo

Activity note: Black Turtle Cove: no landing.

Breakfast: Aboard the boat.

Morning: After boarding a panga we will navigate to Black Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz Island to observe its rich marine life. 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. Return to the yacht and gather your personal belongings for disembarkation. We will board a bus that will take us as far as the Itabaca Channel. From there we will take a short ferry ride to Baltra Island and then transfer by bus to the airport. After checking in for our flight to Quito, it will be time for us to bid farewell to the Islas Encantadas and our Galápagos Group Leader.

Lunch: We will receive a voucher for lunch at the airport. Once we pass through security, we will be able to use it at a designated café in the airport. Our Group Leader will provide us with more specifics.

Afternoon: Late afternoon arrival in Quito. Time at leisure to finish packing or relax before joining the rest of the group for dinner.

Dinner: Enjoy a Farewell Dinner with a typical two course Ecuadorian plated dish, juice and water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
17
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity 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 buffet breakfast at the hotel restaurant (depending on flight times).






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