20873
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Nature’s Laboratory: Wild Finds in the Galápagos With Your Family

Alongside your family, explore volcanic landscapes, snorkel bright blue waters and learn about exotic animals (and maybe meet a few!), as you discover the Galápagos Islands together.
Rating (5)
Program No. 20873RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
5,699
Flights start at
500
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11 days
10 nights
27 meals
10 B 8 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Arrive to Quito
Quito
Hosteria Rincon de Puembo

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. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

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

DAY
2
Orientation to Quito, Ecuador, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Quito
B,L,D
Hosteria Rincon de Puembo

Activity note: This leisurely-paced day in Quito is very important as it will give the group time to acclimate to highland elevations.

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

Morning: 8:30 a.m. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We'll review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods 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. We'll 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 a 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. Prepare luggage for early check out and flights to the Galápagos. This is an Intergenerational Road Scholar Adventures Afloat program. Adults are responsible for their minor children. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Minors are never to be left unsupervised. In addition to lectures and field trips exclusively for our Road Scholar group, you are invited to take advantage of activities and events aboard ship that are separate from the Road Scholar program. The time available in each port is set by the cruise line and the Galapagos National Park. Whenever possible, the Road Scholar daily schedule indicates port arrival and departure times (subject to change by the cruise line and/or Galapagos National Park). This may mean that free time in port is limited. Regardless of the time in port, Road Scholar delivers a robust educational program. All routes, field trips, and excursions are subject to change as weather and sea conditions may affect the itinerary. Sea conditions could affect the progress of the ship, making it run late and sometimes miss ports because it is not safe to dock. Because of this, the cruise itinerary should always be regarded as provisional. The operator/Galapagos National Park reserves the right to change the content of field trips and excursions without prior notice.

DAY
3
Baltra Island, Board Yacht, Mosquera Islet
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top V

Activity note: The flight to/from the Galapagos makes a stop in Guayaquil; passengers remain on board. This flight allows each person to bring a 50 lb checked bag/suitcase, plus a carry on. Excess luggage can be stored at the hotel in Quito until our return. 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.

Breakfast: Early, 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 to the pier, followed by a short panga ride to the boat. 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.

Lunch: In the yacht dining room we’ll enjoy a light snack plus juice and water. Other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we will navigate a short distance to Mosquera Islet, located between Baltra and North Seymour. A wet landing will deliver us to a white sand beach in preparation for our walking explorations. From there, we’ll walk along the beach to observe resident sea lions, colorful sally lightfoot crabs and coastal birds. There will be an opportunity for snorkeling and/or swimming before we return to the boat.

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
Sullivan Bay, Rabida
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top V

Activity note: Sullivan Bay: wet landing and moderate difficulty due to rocky, volcanic terrain. Good walking shoes are a must, as the volcanic terrain is sharp and rough. Rabida Island: wet landing. Easy/moderate trail conditions due to sandy trails.

Breakfast: Aboard the yacht.

Morning: Wet landing at Sullivan Bay, followed by a walking field trip led by our naturalist leader. During this activity we'll be able to get a good look at the island's unique geological features. Santiago (a.k.a. San Salvador) is the fourth largest island in the Galápagos. A volcanic eruption that took place in the early 1900s formed huge lava flows in the area that is now Sullivan Bay. As the lava cooled off, it solidified into a black sheet of interesting shapes and textures that made its way to the sea. The rope-like lava seen on this island is called pahoehoe lava. Other interesting formations include lava bubbles and tree shapes, ghosts of Santiago's past. Few plant species have been able to root in this harsh environment. Although the volcanic formations on Santiago have the obvious spotlight, keep an eye out for American Oystercatchers nesting along the coast (July) and Galápagos Hawks performing their acrobatic courtship rituals (August). We will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel before returning the boat.

Lunch: Aboard the yacht.

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 boat.

Dinner: Aboard the yacht.

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
Punta Espinoza, Elizabeth Bay
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top V

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. Elizabeth Bay: about a 2-hour panga ride along mangroves and islets.

Breakfast: Aboard the yacht.

Morning: We’ll make a dry landing at Punta Espinoza and then walk on local trails in search of the resident sea lion colony and Flightless Cormorant nesting sites. 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 boat.

Lunch: Aboard the yacht.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will enjoy a panga ride in and around the mangroves and islets of Elizabeth Bay to look for shore birds, marine turtles, rays, sea lions, and more. Return to the boat.

Dinner: Aboard the yacht.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
6
Urbina Bay, Tagus Cove
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top V

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

Breakfast: Aboard the yacht.

Morning: After breakfast we will make a wet landing at Urbina Bay and 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. Opportunity for swimming and snorkeling before returning to the yacht in time for boat.

Lunch: Aboard the yacht.

Afternoon: We’ll join our naturalist group leader on a panga ride to Tagus Cove to view Galapagos Penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions and a variety of birds including boobies and Flightless Cormorants. Opportunity for swimming, snorkeling, and/or kayaking before returning to the boat.

Dinner: Aboard the yacht.

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
7
Puerto Egas, Bartolome
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top V

Activity note: Puerto Egas: Wet landing and easy to moderate walking conditions. Bartolome: dry landing. The 1.2-mile walk to the top of the volcano includes a climb up a long wooden staircase (375 steps) with railings.

Breakfast: Aboard the yacht.

Morning: A short panga ride will take us to Santiago Island in preparation for a wet landing at Puerto Egas' black sand beach. 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. Opportunity for swimming and snorkeling.

Lunch: Aboard the yacht.

Afternoon: Dry landing at Bartolomé Island. After disembarkation we will accompany our naturalist leader on a hike up Escalera Hill. On Bartolomé Island we will be able to view volcanic formations such as lava bombs, spatter, and cinder cones. From the summit it is possible to see surrounding islands as well as Pinnacle Rock's eroded tuff cone. On the way to the summit, watch for colonies of marine iguanas, lava lizards, tiquilla and various cacti. Bartolomé is one of the best places to find Galápagos penguins. Return to the boat.

Dinner: Aboard the yacht.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
8
Sombrero Chino, Dragon Hill
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top V

Activity note: Sombrero Chino: wet/ dry landing (depending on local weather conditions). Cerro Dragon: moderate walking conditions due to rocky, volcanic beach.

Breakfast: Aboard the yacht.

Morning: We will start the day by navigating around Sombrero Chino to observe its resident wildlife and lava formations. Depending on the weather conditions, we may also make a wet or dry landing and undertake a short hike around the island. This small island can be seen a short distance from Santiago Island’s southeastern tip. The name, meaning Chinese hat, describes the volcanic cone’s unique shape. A cove on the northern side of the island offers good conditions for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking; it is also a favored sea lion hangout. Other species frequently seen in and around the island include American Oystercatchers, Brown Noddys, Galápagos Hawks, Sally Lightfoot crabs, spotted eagle rays, whitetip reef sharks, Galápagos Penguins, marine iguanas, Lava Herons, lava lizards, and Brown Pelicans.

Lunch: Aboard the yacht.

Afternoon: After a panga ride and a dry landing, we will initiate our walk to the lookout point on Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill), Santa Cruz. In the 1970s, the site was known for its colony of land iguanas. 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.

Dinner: Aboard the yacht.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
9
Santa Cruz Highlands, Twin Craters & Wild Tortoises
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
Tip Top V

Activity note: Santa Cruz Highlands: dry landing at Puerto Ayora and moderate to difficult trail conditions due to rocky, uneven (and possibly muddy) trails.

Breakfast: Aboard the yacht.

Morning: We will tender ashore to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island then, board a bus that will take us into the highlands. Our naturalist will lead us on a walking field trip on local trails and lightly wooded areas to view Los Gemelos (The Twins) pit craters and the surrounding Scalesia forest. Then we’ll drive to a nearby location to walk on grassy trails 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.

Lunch: At a local farm, we’ll enjoy traditional Ecuadorian fare with juice and water.

Afternoon: Our bus will deliver us back to Puerto Ayora in preparation for our field trip to the Charles Darwin Research Station and Interpretation Center Fausto Llerena. Our naturalist will lead us on foot 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. Late afternoon return to the boat.

Dinner: Aboard the yacht.

Evening: Orientation of next day's activities. Prepare luggage for final disembarkation.

DAY
10
North Seymour, Flight to Quito
Quito
B,D
Hosteria Rincon de Puembo

Activity note: Participants with international flights departing very late this evening/before dawn next morning will check out of the hotel after dinner, then transfer to the international airport in preparation for airline check in. Due to limited flight times from the Galápagos to Quito, the timing between the farewell dinner and the transfer afterwards to the airport can be diminutive. See “Program Notes” section for more details regarding departure options.

Breakfast: Aboard the yacht.

Morning: Early this morning we will make a dry landing on North Seymour Island to enjoy a 1.5-mile walk on local trails. North Seymour Island is conveniently located next to Baltra Island. The island has a major nesting colony of Blue-footed Boobies and Magnificent Frigatebirds. During April-May the Blue-footed Boobies can be spotted performing their comical mating dance. Blue-footed Boobies oftentimes nest very near the trails, giving visitors the opportunity to get a closer view during the walks. From August-November sea lions are giving birth and it is possible to view pups of all sizes. Just remember to stay at a safe distance as females tend to be very protective of their young. A walk near known iguana nesting sites offers a good opportunity to view marine iguanas and land iguanas. Besides boasting abundant fauna, North Seymour Island is dotted with the endemic Palo Santo tree (Bursera graveolens). Upon our return to the boat, we will set sail to Baltra Island in preparation for our flight to Quito. From the pier we will board a bus to the airport, where we will bid farewell to our Galápagos Group Leader and the Islas Encantadas. The flight to Quito makes a stop in Guayaquil; passengers remain on board.

Lunch: On your own, at the airport. Sandwiches, empanadas and snacks are available for purchase after going through security.

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). 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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