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 (4.89)
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. 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, Guayaquil's Malecon
Guayaquil
B,L,D
MV Galapagos Legend

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.

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.

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

DAY
3
Baltra, Embarkation, Bartolome
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
MV Galapagos Legend

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach, plane and pangas (boat tenders). Driving about 3.5 miles to Guayaquil Airport. Flight to Baltra is about 2 hours; checked luggage limit is 50 pounds; extra luggage can be stored at the hotel in Guayaquil. Schedule is representative; actual cruise itinerary and islands visited are determined by the National Park. Bartolome Island: dry and wet landings, moderate to difficult trail conditions due to a long walkway of 375 wooden steps rising 374 ft. to the lookout point.

Breakfast: Early, at the hotel.

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 ship 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: 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. Opportunity for swimming and snorkeling before returning to the ship.

Dinner: After enjoying a welcome cocktail with the crew, 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
South Plaza Islet, North Seymour
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
MV Galapagos Legend

Activity note: South Plaza: dry landing and moderate difficulty due to slippery rocks and uneven trail conditions. North Seymour Island: dry landing, moderate to difficult trail conditions due to uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Aboard the ship.

Morning: Following our dry landing on Plaza Sur (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. Return to the ship.

Lunch: Aboard the ship.

Afternoon: 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). Before returning to the ship, we'll have the opportunity to snorkel.

Dinner: Aboard the ship.

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).v

DAY
5
Punta Pitt & Islet, Cerro Brujo
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
MV Galapagos Legend

Activity note: Punta Pitt: wet landing, 1.5 mile trail includes volcanic terrain and a gradual incline; snorkeling from beach. Cerro Brujo: wet landing and easy walking on sandy trails; snorkeling from beach.

Breakfast: Aboard the ship.

Morning: A dinghy ride and a wet landing at San Cristobal Island will prepare us for a walking field trip at Punta Pitt. This is the only location in the Galápagos where we'll have the chance to spot all three species of boobies nesting. During our explorations, we'll also look for cacti, saltbush, red Vesuvius and Palo Santo trees that--against all odds-- manage to grow at this windy and rocky location. The visitor site includes a beach trail as well as an uphill path through volcanic terrain and interesting lookout points. Opportunity for swimming, snorkeling or kayaking from the beach before returning to the ship.

Lunch: Aboard the ship.

Afternoon: Well make a wet landing at Cerro Brujo to enjoy a nature walk on a white sand beach that is often frequented by lively sea lions. Opportunity for swimming, snorkeling or kayaking from the beach before we go back to the ship.

Dinner: Aboard the ship.

Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.

DAY
6
Cerro Colorado, Interpretation Ctr & Tijeretas
Guayaquil
B,L,D
Hotel Oro Verde

Activity note: Cerro Colorado: dry landing, easy walking on mostly flat unpaved and paved paths. Interpretation Ctr: standing, walking on flat, paved terrain and some stairs.

Breakfast: Aboard the ship.

Morning: After a dry landing on San Cristobal Island, we'll board a bus to the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve (a.k.a. La Galapaguera) to learn about its efforts to increase the island's native tortoise population. During our visit, we'll be able to view San Cristobal tortoises, in all stages of development, wandering in semi-natural habitats. After our visit, we'll return to the ship in time for lunch.

Lunch: Aboard the ship.

Afternoon: Dry landing at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island. The Galápagos Group Leader will escort us through the Interpretation Center and its exhibits. Opened in 1998, the center features expositions on natural history, human history and conservation efforts in the islands.The Museum of Natural History explains the series of natural circumstances, such as ecological and environmental events, that formed the islands. The Human History exhibit narrates the most significant events regarding the discovery and colonization of the islands. Return to the ship.

Dinner: Aboard the ship.

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
Gardner Bay, Suarez Point
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
MV Galapagos Legend

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

Breakfast: Aboard the ship.

Morning: Following a panga ride to Española we will make a wet landing at the white sand beach in Gardner Bay. A short walk and swimming/snorkeling activities off the beach will give us the opportunity to relax in one of the islands' most beautiful locations. Gardner Bay's white beach is usually dotted with sunbathing sea lions. The soft sand and clear waters make this a perfect location for snorkeling and swimming. 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. Opportunities for swimming and snorkeling before going back to the ship.

Lunch: Aboard the ship.

Afternoon: We'll make a dry landing at Punta Suarez in preparation for our approximately 2.5 hour 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. After our explorations we will return to the ship in time to freshen up for dinner.

Dinner: Aboard the ship.

Evening: Orientation of next day's activities.

DAY
8
Post Office Bay & Cormorant Point, Devil’s Crown
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
MV Galapagos Legend

Activity note: Post Office Bay: wet landing and easy/flat trail conditions. Punta Cormorant: wet landing and easy trail conditions. Devil's Crown: due to strong currents, this site is only recommended for very strong swimmers.

Breakfast: Aboard the ship.

Morning: Our half-mile walk at Post Office Bay will begin with a wet landing on the sandy beach and then a visit to the Post Office Barrel. The famous 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. Before returning to the ship we'll have the opportunity to swim and/or snorkel.

Lunch: Aboard the ship.

Afternoon: We'll 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 flamingos 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 flamingos 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. Weather/sea conditions permitting, we'll navigate to Devil's Crown to enjoy swimming and snorkeling and search for for local marine life. 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 strong swimmers as the currents can be very strong.

Dinner: Aboard the ship.

Evening: Orientation to the next day's activities.

DAY
9
Charles Darwin Station & Breeding Center, Ballena Bay
Galapagos Islands
B,L,D
MV Galapagos Legend

Activity note: Charles Darwin Station: dry landing and walking on flat, paved terrain. Santa Cruz Highlands: slow-paced walking on mostly flat, unpaved trails; muddy conditions when there is rain. Ballena Bay: walking at beach and on rocky terrain; opportunity for snorkeling and swimming.

Breakfast: Aboard the ship.

Morning: We'll navigate to Puerto Ayora in preparation for our field trip to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center. 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. Then we'll board a bus that will take us into the highlands. Our naturalist will lead us on a walking field trip 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: Aboard the ship.

Afternoon: After a wet landing we'll begin our walking exploration of the green sand cove at Ballena Bay, on the western coast of Santa Cruz Island. We'll search for marine iguanas and resident birds during our walk, then we'll return to our starting point to enjoy snorkeling and swimming from the beach. Return to the ship.

Dinner: Aboard the ship.

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

DAY
10
Carrion Point, Flight to Guayaquil, Farewell Dinner
Guayaquil
B,L,D
Hotel Oro Verde

Activity note: Punta Carrion: dinghy ride around rocky cliff and snorkeling.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 airport in preparation for airline check in. Due to limited flights from the Galápagos to the mainland, the timing between the farewell dinner and the airport transfer can be diminutive. See “Program Notes” section for more details regarding departure options.

Breakfast: Aboard the ship.

Morning: We'll begin the day snorkeling around Punta Carrion on Santa Cruz Island in search of colorful fish and rays. Then we'll return to the ship to change clothes and check out before transferring to the Baltra airport for our flight to Guayaquil.

Lunch: Aboard the flight.

Afternoon: Late afternoon arrival in Guayaquil. 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, 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. 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 international airport in preparation for airline check in.

DAY
11
Program Concludes, Flights to North America
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out 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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