19308
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Galapagos With Your Grandchild: Natural and Cultural History
Walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin with your grandchild as you snorkel, hike, examine volcanos and discover unique flora and fauna that exist nowhere else on earth!
Rating (5)
Program No. 19308RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
5,495
Flights start at
495
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11 days
10 nights
28 meals
10 B 9 L 9 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Arrive to Quito
Quito
Hotel Quito

Activity note: Elevations in Quito range from 9,223 ft - 9,883 ft. 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.

Afternoon: Upon arrival, proceed through Immigration, Baggage Claim, and Customs before exiting the secured arrivals area of the airport. Road Scholar flights will be met by a Road Scholar representative who will assist with transfer to the hotel. After checking in and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Orientation to Quito, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Quito
B,L,D
Hotel Quito

Activity note: This leisurely-paced day in Quito is very important as it will give the group time to acclimate to highland elevations. Prepare luggage for tomorrow's hotel check out and flight to Galapagos Islands.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we'll have a buffet meal with juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Orientation: 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. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time” and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, making new friends among fellow Road Scholars, or simply relaxing. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Meals on our program feature local cuisine. In many cases, they will be plated and served set meals; in others, we will have buffets with multiple options. Beverages include coffee, tea, water; other beverages are usually available for purchase. 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. Then ride to the center of the city for an orientation to Ecuador’s capital. We'll accompany the Group Leader in a walking exploration of the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site, learning about Quito's history from pre-Hispanic times, through the Colonial Period, to the Republican Era. The architecture found in Quito’s historical center is a great example of the Baroque style which is a fusion of Spanish, Moorish, Flemish and Indigenous art. Next, we'll visit the Museo Casa del Alabado to learn about Ecuador's pre-Columbian cultures through close examination of their art, pottery and ceremonial pieces. Unlike most museums which arrange displays in chronological order, the Casa del Alabado has organized its exhibits based on Andean cosmology. The approximately 5,000 artifacts showcased in this impressive space include 500 pieces that belong to the museum’s permanent exhibit.

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

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll continue by bus to the famous Middle of the World for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of being in two hemispheres at the same time! During this field trip we'll not only learn important facts, myths and legends surrounding our planet and the equator, but we will also become acquainted with the history of the first group of scientists who in 1743 had the hard mission of trying to determine Earth’s shape. Before returning to the bus and driving back to Quito, we'll pay a visit to the on-site Ethnographic Museum for an overview of Ecuador's demographics, geography and economy. Back at the hotel, we'll enjoy an expert presentation on the past, present and future of Ecuador.

Dinner: Enjoy a two course meal at the hotel restaurant plus water and coffee or tea. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Get a good night's rest in preparation for early morning activities the following day.

DAY
3
Flight to Baltra Island, Charles Darwin Research Station
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Galaxy II

Activity note: 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. Actual cruise itinerary and islands visited are determined by the Galápagos National Park. The park reserves the right to change cruise itineraries without prior notice. Please see "NOTES" section of the Prep Mats for more specific information regarding the cruise portion of the program.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Hotel check out. After boarding the bus we will transfer to the airport in preparation for our flight to the Galapagos Islands. Our Quito Group Leader will assist us with check-in procedures and bid us farewell as we 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 board a bus that will drive us as far as the Itabaca Channel. After a short ferry ride to Santa Cruz Island, we will get on another bus and transfer to the Puerto Ayora dock. A short panga ride will deliver us to our vessel. Once on board, we'll take part in a welcome orientation and a safety drill.

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

Afternoon: We'll tender ashore to the pier at Puerto Ayora and walk to the Charles Darwin Research Station and Interpretive Center. Our naturalist will lead us through the facility and introduce us to the station's mission and its tortoise breeding projects. The Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) is a biological research station based on Santa Cruz Island and operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation. The organization plays an important role in scientific research, environmental education, and conservation efforts in the islands. The station conducts its projects with the help of a large team of scientists, educators, volunteers, research students and support staff from all over the world . Once we complete our explorations at the CDRS, we will return to the pier and tender back to the catamaran.

Dinner: 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
4
Isabela Island, Tintoreras, Breeding Center, Wall of Tears
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Galaxy II

Activity note: Tintoreras: rough, rocky trail due to lava formations. Wetlands and Wall of Tears: dry landing. Easy flat trail conditions. Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center: flat, easy trails.

Breakfast: Aboard the catamaran.

Morning: After breakfast we will make a dry landing at Las Tintoreras for a walking exploration and snorkeling. Las Tintoreras is located just south of Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. The small island's name means "sharks" because of reef sharks that are commonly found resting in the shallow waters at this site. A small bay and a connecting crevice provide shelter to a multitude of small fish as well as turtles, sharks, rays, and marine iguanas. The island is a prime nesting site for marine iguanas because it lacks non-native predators. After enjoying some swimming and snorkeling opportunities, we will return to the catamaran.

Lunch: Aboard the catamaran.

Afternoon: After making a dry landing on Isabela we will drive a short distance to the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center where we will learn about local tortoise conservation efforts. The center raises hundreds of juvenile and adult tortoises from the southern region of the island, many of which are in danger of extinction. The landscaping at the center showcases native plants. After leaving the breeding center we will pay a visit to the Humedales (wetlands) for a chance to observe flamingoes and migratory birds that frequent the local lagoons and mangroves. Here we can examine the four mangrove species present in the archipelago. We'll continue our visit with a stop at the infamous Wall of Tears (Muro de las Lagrimas). The 16-20 foot stone wall was built by convicts back in the days when the island housed a penal colony. The wall earned its now-popular name because of the many convicts who died in the course of its construction. We will return to the catamaran in time for dinner.

Dinner: Aboard the catamaran.

Evening: Enjoy an expert presentation by our naturalist Group Leader, followed by an orientation to the next day's activities. (Please note that the day/time of lectures is subject to change).

DAY
5
Isabela Island, Elizabeth Bay & Urbina Bay
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Galaxy II

Activity note: Elizabeth Bay: no landing. Approximately a 2 hour panga ride along mangroves and islets. Urbina Bay: wet landing. 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: Aboard the catamaran.

Morning: After breakfast we will visit Elizabeth Bay. Navigate around the mangrove forests and rugged coastline to observe marine life and shorebirds. Elizabeth Bay, located on Isabela's west shore, is an extremely interesting site for observing marine life. It is also one of the best areas to spot and photograph the elusive Galapagos Penguin. A colony of these unique birds inhabits a rocky islet at the entrance to the bay. A small passage lined with mangroves leads into an enclosed cove. The sheltered waters host marine turtles, rays, Flightless Cormorants, and sea lions. Although the marine life is the star of this visitor's site, don't forget to look up once in a while and scan the skies; Galapagos Hawks are oftentimes seen circling overhead. Optional swimming, snorkeling. Return to the catamaran.

Lunch: Aboard the catamaran.

Afternoon: After a wet landing at Urbina Bay, we will begin our walking exploration of this unique site. 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. There will be the opportunity for swimming and snorkeling before we return to the catamaran.

Dinner: Aboard the catamaran.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
6
Fernandina, Punta Espinoza and Isabela, Punta Vicente Roca
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Galaxy II

Activity note: Punta Espinoza: dry landing, moderate trail conditions due to slippery rocks at low tide and uneven terrain. Good walking shoes are a must for the 1.2 mile walk on sharp volcanic rocks. Punta Vicente Roca: no landing.

Breakfast: Aboard the catamaran.

Morning: This morning we will make a dry landing at Punta Espinoza and then walk on local trails in search of the resident sea lion colony and a flightless cormorant nesting site. 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. Return to the catamaran.

Lunch: Aboard the catamaran.

Afternoon: In the afternoon, we'll join our naturalist leader in a panga ride to Punta Vicente Roca. As we navigate in and around the coves we will look for resident wildlife. 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. Before returning to the catamaran we will have the opportunity to enjoy a bit of swimming and/or snorkeling.

Dinner: Aboard the catamaran.

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

DAY
7
Santiago Island, Puerto Egas and Rabida Island
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Galaxy II

Activity note: Puerto Egas: Wet landing and easy to moderate walking conditions. Rabida Island: wet landing. Easy/moderate trail conditions due to sandy trails.

Breakfast: Aboard the catamaran.

Morning: A short panga ride will take us to Santiago Island, followed by a wet landing on a black sand beach that was visited by Darwin in 1835. As we explore local trails our naturalist leader will help to point out local wildlife. Puerto Egas, located on the northwestern side of Santiago Island, has black volcanic formations that provide shelter to a number of creatures. Here it is possible to see marine iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks while sea birds fly overhead in search of food. Brightly colored Sally Lightfoot crabs live in the rock crevices and tide pools; a sharp contrast to the black lava formations they call home. Galápagos fur seals enjoy the inlets along the western shoreline and have been known to swim with visitors from time to time. We'll enjoy some optional swimming and snorkeling opportunities and then return to the catamaran.

Lunch: Aboard the catamaran.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will make a wet landing at Rabida Island. Our naturalist leader will point out the island's unique flora and fauna during a walking exploration of the beach and local trails. Rabida (Jervis) has a dark red beach favored by sea lions and nesting pelicans. A salt water lagoon located a small distance from the beach is home to flamingoes and the occasional White-cheeked Pintail. Palo santo trees cover the island's volcanic peak, which can be seen from a short trail (approximately a .5 mile walk). Some of the Galápagos' rarest bird species are here in abundance, including Large-billed Flycatchers, Galápagos Hawks and nine varieties of finches. After optional swimming and snorkeling opportunities we will head back to the catamaran.

Dinner: Aboard the catamaran.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
8
Santa Cruz, Cerro Dragon or Daphne Major & Playa las Bachas
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Galaxy II

Activity note: Cerro Dragon: moderate walking conditions due to rocky, volcanic beach. Playa las Bachas: wet landing. Easy trail conditions.

Breakfast: Aboard the catamaran.

Morning: This morning (dependent on the tide) we will visit Cerro Dragon or Daphne Major. After a panga ride and a dry landing, we will initiate our walk to the lookout point on Cerro Dragon. Cerro Dragon ("Dragon Hill"), located on a northwestern corner of Santa Cruz, was named after a colony of land iguanas that inhabited the site in the 1970s. Flamingoes and shorebirds seasonally visit the lagoons in search of shrimp, appearing in larger numbers during the dryer season when the crustaceans are more plentiful. The rocky beach provides good snorkeling opportunities when the tide is high. Or navigate around Daphne Island, located off the coast of Santa Cruz. Located just north of Santa Cruz Island and west of Baltra Island, Daphne Major is a volcanic island consisting of a tuff crater rising 394 ft. above sea level. Biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant conducted extensive studies of Darwin’s finches and their results have strongly supported Darwin’s theory of evolution. Daphne offers a large variety of other birds including the Galápagos Martins, Blue-footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Short-eared Owls, Red-billed Tropicbirds and Magnificent Frigate birds. Visitors are not allowed on the island but can only observe from the banks.

Lunch: Aboard the catamaran.

Afternoon: After making a wet landing at Playa las Bachas for a field trip to a flamingo lagoon. Apart from being an important nesting site for sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), Playa las Bachas is also a great location for viewing migratory and aquatic birds. The name of this location dates back to WWII, when the U.S. army abandoned two barges on the beach. Locals found it hard to pronounce the word "barges" in English; over time, the common mispronunciation of the word became the norm, resulting in the name Playa las Bachas. Opportunity for snorkeling and/or swimming before returning to the catamaran.

Dinner: Aboard the catamaran.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
9
Santiago Island, Sullivan Bay and Bartolome Island
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Galaxy II

Activity note: Sullivan Bay: wet or dry landing depending on tides. Moderate trail conditions due to lava rock trails. Bartolome Island: dry or wet landing. Difficult climb of stairs to the top of the viewpoint.

Breakfast: Aboard the catamaran.

Morning: After a wet or dry landing at Sullivan Bay, our naturalist leader will escort us on a walking field trip across recent lava fields and local trails. Good walking shoes are a must--the volcanic terrain is sharp and rough. This area of Santiago Island is covered by pahoehoe lava flows (solidified lava in corrugated or accordion form). It was very active in the last 25 years of the nineteenth century, making this flow geologically very young. The magma formed is flat, but the movement of underground lava, the rapid cooling and other eruptions led to the break in many places. 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 Opportunities for swimming and snorkeling before we return to the catamaran.

Lunch: Aboard the catamaran.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will make a dry or wet landing on Bartolome Island. The 1.2 mile walk to the top of the volcano includes a climb up a long wooden staircase (375 steps) with railings. The views are worth the effort! Bartolome Island is home to Pinnacle Rock, the "Guardian of the Isles" which rises sharply from the coast. The lunar-like landscape is home to one of the islands' most endearing residents: the Galápagos Penguin. The penguins make their home here, fishing in the waters nearby. During our hike we will be able to observe volcanic formations such as lava bombs, spatter, and cinder cones. From the summit, we'll get to enjoy great views of the surrounding islands, including Pinnacle Rock's eroded tuff cone. On the way to the summit we might come across colonies of marine iguanas, lava lizards, tiquilla and various cacti. While swimming and snorkeling from the beach we might get to spot Galápagos Penguins, sea turtles, and white tipped reef sharks.

Dinner: Aboard the catamaran.

Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.

DAY
10
Santa Cruz Island, Visit the Highlands, Flight to Quito
Quito
B,L,D
Hosteria Rincon de Puembo

Activity note: Cruise conclusion and final disembarkation. Santa Cruz Highlands: dry landing and moderate to difficult trail conditions due to rocky, uneven (and possibly muddy) trail. Participants with international flights departing very late this evening/before dawn next morning will check out of the hotel after dinner and transfer to the airport for airline check in. Please see “Program Notes” section for more options.

Breakfast: Aboard the catamaran.

Morning: Early this morning, after breakfast, we will disembark and tender ashore to Puerto Ayora. Next, we'll transfer by bus to the highlands. Our naturalist will lead us on a walking field trip on local trails and lightly wooded areas in search of giant tortoises living in the wild. We'll learn more about their diet, breeding habits and overall biology as we observe them in their natural habitat. In addition to giant tortoises, Santa Cruz is home to several species of Darwin's finches as well as Yellow Warblers, Galápagos Rails and Paint-billed Crakes. A dramatic change in vegetation zones can be seen as one travels into the highland region of the island. After our field trip we will return to the bus and transfer to the Itabaca Channel. A short ferry ride will take us across to Baltra Island where a bus will be waiting to transfer us 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 be provided a sandwich and drink at the airport*, for lunch en route. A light snack will also be served on the flight. *The lunch location on this day is subject to change depending on the flight schedules from the Galápagos.

Afternoon: Late afternoon arrival in Quito. We'll board a bus to our hotel and check in, followed by free time to finish packing or relax before joining the rest of the group for dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel. During a farewell dinner, share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and international flights to North America. Participants with international flights departing very late this evening/before dawn next morning will check out of the hotel and transfer to the Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) in preparation for airline check in.

DAY
11
Program Concludes, In Transit from Program
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel (dependent on flight times).

Morning: Early transfer to the airport in preparation for flights to North America. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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