23384
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Galápagos Islands: Natural Treasures & Amazing Wonders

Discover the Galápagos Islands at a leisurely pace as expert naturalists immerse you in the ever-evolving story of one of the world’s iconic ecosystems.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 23384RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
6,899
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11 days
10 nights
28 meals
10 B 9 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Arrive to Guayaquil
Guayaquil
Hotel Oro Verde

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

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

DAY
2
Orientation, Guayaquil's Malecon
Guayaquil
B,L,D
Hotel Oro Verde

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles; about 2.5 hours; slow paced walking on paved surfaces, some steps, intermittent periods of standing. Many opportunities for sitting/resting along the way.

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

Morning: Orientation: 8:30 a.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We'll review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Adventures Afloat program. 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. Whenever possible, the Road Scholar daily schedule indicates port arrival and departure times (subject to change by the cruise line). 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 could affect the progress of the ship, making it run late and/or miss ports if it is not safe to dock. Because of this, 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. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. During the cruise, getting to/from shore for land field trips will require getting in/out of tenders. Some wet and dry landings. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Next, we'll visit a typical coastal hacienda that grows bananas and cocoa. We'll learn from a farm representative about the sowing and harvesting process and what is needed to prepare the goods for export. Banana and cacao are some of the most exported products in the nation and important revenue sources for Ecuador.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a tasty meal with coffee and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We'll then ride to Guayaquil's waterfront area in preparation for a walking exploration of the colorful neighborhood of Las Peñas and the bustling Malecón (river walk). Our Group Leader will reveal interesting aspects about Guayaquil's history and its miraculous transformation from a seedy port to a vibrant city centered on an attractive 2-mile riverfront walkway. Las Peñas runs the length of Numa Pompilio Llona (its only street) and its architecture exemplifies Ecuador's coastal colonial style.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll enjoy a 2-course plated meal, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. 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 selections available. Beverages include coffee, tea, water; other beverages are usually available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for early morning check-out and flight transfer to the Galápagos.

DAY
3
Baltra, Embarkation, Santa Cruz Highlands
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
M/V Legend

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, plane and pangas (boat tenders). Driving about 3.5 miles to Guayaquil Airport; approx. 1/2 hour. Flight to Baltra Island is about 2 hours; checked luggage weight limit is 50 pounds; extra luggage can be stored at the hotel in Guayaquil. Walking approx. 1.5 hours; flat, grassy terrain and unpaved, often muddy trails. Schedule is representative; actual cruise itinerary and islands visited are determined by Galápagos National Park.

Breakfast: Early hotel buffet.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll board a bus and transfer to the Aeropuerto Internacional Jose Joaquin de Olmedo (GYE), Guayaquil, for our flight journey to the Galapagos Islands. Our Guayaquil 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’ Seymour Airport (GPS) on Baltra Island, we'll deplane and walk across the tarmac to the airport building and complete immigration procedures. 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 ride to the yacht on a panga, or tender. 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. Throughout the program, our Group Leader and a naturalist will accompany us on field trips. The Galápagos National Park regulations require 1 certified park naturalist for a group of up to 16 people; if the group exceeds 16, we will have 2 naturalists. This program will follow the routes and allowed activities at specific visitor sites as established by the park. Everything will be carried out at a slower pace. Before each field trip/walk, our leaders will outline what physical parameters to expect so that you can evaluate your needs and prepare accordingly. You may always choose to remain on the ship enjoying onboard amenities if you wish to skip an activity.

Lunch: In the ship's dining room, we’ll enjoy a light buffet lunch, plus juice and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After a dry landing, we'll board a bus and journey up to the misty highlands of Santa Cruz. Once there, we'll accompany our naturalist leader on a walking field trip in search of wild giant tortoises. 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. We'll drive back to port and tender back to the ship.

Dinner: Aboard the ship, we'll sit down for a plated meal with dessert, juice and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: With our Group Leader, we’ll go over the activities for the following day. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
4
Genovesa Island, Prince Philip's Steps & Darwin Bay
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
M/V Legend

Activity note: Dry landing at Prince Philip's Steps onto rocky shore; ascending/descending a steep stone staircase of about 40 steps carved into the approximately 82-foot stone cliff. The staircase has a wooden railing; individual steps are irregular in both shape and size and oftentimes slippery. Darwin Bay hike is approximately 1 mile; easy-to-moderate on coral sand and slabs of lava. When the tide is high, parts of the trail might be covered in water.

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

Morning: We will tender ashore to Genovesa Island for a dry landing at Prince Philip's Steps (a.k.a. El Barranco). After slowly climbing the stone steps, we will walk on local trails with our naturalist leader in search of local birds, looping back to the staircase at the conclusion. The Prince Phillip's Steps visitor site includes a steep stone staircase and a rocky trail that extends for approximately 1 mile through squadrons of frigate birds 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. Anyone unable to climb the stairway will have a brief scenic ride along Genovesa's rocky shore on the way back to the ship. Then, we’ll enjoy some "down time" to relax and enjoy onboard amenities until we regroup for lunch.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: After a dinghy ride and wet landing, we will accompany our naturalist leader on a walking exploration of Darwin Bay in search of pelagic species. The island's volcanic sea cliffs and salt bush offer a prime habitat for the birds of the Galápagos. In March and April, male frigate birds 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. We’ll have an opportunity for swimming and snorkeling before returning to the ship.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: Gathering in our meeting place aboard, we’ll settle in for an expert presentation given by our naturalist Group Leader before going over our activities for tomorrow.

DAY
5
Dragon Hill, Santa Fe Island
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
M/V Legend

Activity note: Getting on/off tenders for rides to/from shore. Walking approx. 4.5 hours total for the day; about 2 hours on Santa Cruz Island and roughly 2.5 hours on Santa Fe Island; moderate walking conditions due to rocky, volcanic beach. Scenic dinghy ride lasts about 1 hour. Swimming and snorkeling opportunities.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: After a dinghy ride and a dry landing, we will initiate our walk to the lookout point on Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill), Santa Cruz. We'll follow a trail over rocky terrain and pass through areas featuring typical dry zone vegetation. 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. We’ll then return to the ship.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We will board our tenders and navigate to Santa Fe Island, making a wet landing on a small local beach. As we explore the island on foot, we'll be on the lookout for opuntia cacti (also known as prickly pear), Santa Fe iguanas, and Galapagos Hawks. Before returning to the ship, we will enjoy a scenic dinghy ride along the coastline in search of resident sea lions, Galapagos sharks, sea turtles, and rays.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: After a quick review of tomorrow’s activities, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
6
Santa Cruz Island, Bachas Beach & Mosquera Islet
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
M/V Legend

Activity note: Walking approximately 3.5 hours total throughout the day on Bachas Beach and at Mosquera Islet; easy walk on flat, sandy terrain, wet landing. Swimming and snorkeling opportunities.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: After a wet landing at Playa las Bachas on Santa Cruz Island, we’ll go for a walking 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 and, over time, the common mispronunciation of the word became the norm, resulting in the name Playa las Bachas.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We will take a short dinghy ride 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.

Dinner: Aboard the ship.

Evening: After reviewing tomorrow’s activities, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
7
Puerto Egas, Rabida Hike & Scenic Dinghy Ride
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
M/V Legend

Activity note: Wet landings at Puerto Egas and Rabida Island. Walking approximately 2.5 hours at both Puerto Egas and Rabida; easy-to-moderate walking conditions due to sandy trails. Scenic dinghy ride lasts about 1 hour. Swimming and snorkeling activities.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: A short dinghy 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. Before returning to the ship, we'll have the opportunity to swim and/or snorkel.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: This afternoon, we will make a wet landing at Rabida Island where 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 saltwater 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 1/2 mile walk). Some of the Galápagos' rarest bird species are here in abundance, including Large-billed Flycatchers, Galápagos Hawks and nine varieties of finches. Our field trip will include a scenic dinghy ride around Rabida's rocky shores in search of nesting seabirds and time for swimming and snorkeling. Then, we'll return to the ship.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: After a quick review of tomorrow’s activities, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
8
Isabela Island, Urbina Bay & Tagus Cove
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
M/V Legend

Activity note: Wet landing in Urbina Bay; strong waves can make getting to shore tricky at this site; use a zip-lock bag to protect cameras and binoculars from splashes during the wet landing; hiking approximately 2 miles on site; about 2.5 hours; swimming/snorkeling opportunities; be sure to stay hydrated. Dry landing at Tagus Cove; hiking approx. 3 hours; steep trail. Scenic dinghy ride is about 1 hour.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: After breakfast we will make a wet landing at Urbina Bay and begin our walking exploration of this unique site, which 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. We’ll have an opportunity for swimming and snorkeling before returning to the ship in time for lunch.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: Upon making our dry landing on Isabela Island, we'll walk on the park trail leading up to Darwin's saltwater crater lake in order to view lava fields and other volcanic formations. Before returning to the ship we'll have time to swim and snorkel and also take part in a scenic dinghy ride along the shoreline in order to spot wildlife and view Tagus Cove's historic graffiti, which was left behind by sailors, some as far back as the 1830s.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: Gathering, we’ll enjoy an expert presentation by our naturalist Group Leader, followed by an briefing of tomorrow’s activities.

DAY
9
Punta Espinoza, Punta Vicente Roca
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
M/V Legend

Activity note: Getting on/off tenders; dry landing at Punta Espinoza. Walking up to 1.5 miles; about 1.5 hours; moderate trail conditions due to slippery rocks at low tide and uneven terrain; closed-toe walking shoes required for walk on sharp volcanic rocks. No landing at Punta Vicente Roca; scenic dinghy ride will last about 1 hour. Swimming and snorkeling activities.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: After making our dry landing at Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island, we’ll 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 Galapagos 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.

Lunch: Aboard ship.

Afternoon: We'll join our naturalist leader in a dinghy 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 ship, we will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel.

Dinner: Aboard ship.

Evening: After a briefing on tomorrow’s activities, be sure to prepare for check-out, disembarkation, and transfer in the morning.

DAY
10
Pit Craters, Baltra Airport, Flight to Guayaquil
Guayaquil
B,L,D
Hotel Oro Verde

Activity note: Getting in/out of tenders for rides to/from shore. Getting on/off bus; driving approximately 34 miles throughout the day; about 2 hours total, with stops. Walking approximately 1/2 mile at Pit Craters; about 1 hour; unpaved, undulating forest trails. Getting on/off plane; flight to Guayaquil is about 2 hours.

Breakfast: Aboard ship.

Morning: We will tender ashore to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, and then board a bus that will take us into the highlands. Our naturalist will lead us on a walking field trip along local trails and through lightly wooded areas to view Los Gemelos (The Twins) pit craters and the surrounding Scalesia forest. Afterwards, we’ll transfer to the airport to catch our flight to the mainland, then bid farewell to our Galápagos Group Leader and the Islas Encantadas.

Lunch: At the airport, we will be provided a sandwich and drink for lunch en route. A light snack will also be served on the flight.

Afternoon: After a late afternoon arrival in Guayaquil, we'll board a bus and transfer to our hotel for check in. Before joining the group for dinner, take some time to finish packing or relax.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a plated farewell dinner à la carte, along with a glass of wine, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning. Participants with flights departing very late this evening/before dawn next morning will check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport in preparation for airline check in.

DAY
11
Program Concludes, Flights to North America
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.

Morning: 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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