Galapagos Darwin's trail 17 Day Trekking Tour:
The Volcanic Archipelago Galápagos is a paradise on earth, with its animal world next to the nature and lots of endemic species, thus many of them are unique: a quarter of the species of shore fish, half of the plants and almost all the reptiles are found nowhere else. There is hardly a place on earth where you can observe and photograph animals in their natural environment so well and close. Our tour will guide you to places the most beautiful and most crowded with animals of the Galápagos Archipelago.
After that, we will land in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. After a visit to the Old Town, which is really worth seeing we will visit the next day the Equator Monument and following to that a trekking through the crater of the inactive volcano Pululahua.
Already the next day starts our Galápagos tour with the flight from Quito to San Cristobal, where we from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the provinces capital of Galápagos go on our first excursion. By boat it continues from island to island, to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, to Floreana and Isabela. From Puerto Villamil on Isabela we start our trekking through a bizarre lava landscape to the active volcano Sierra Negra, which is with its 1.500m height and its ca. 9-kilometer diameter is the second largest volcano cone on earth. Among our trekkings to former pirate caves on Floreana, the lava tunnels of Santa Cruz and along breathtaking beaches, we will always find time to explore the under water world as in Cabo Rosa through a snorkling tour. The specially trained guide will enrich this exciting time with information about flora, fauna and the history. But the peak experience will be the encounters with friendly animals in the water and on land.
After 13 exciting days full of adventures we will head back to Quito. Before we leave we take a last glance at the paradise of the deep blue ocean. By visiting the famous Indio market of Otavalo we are getting a last opportunity to buy presents and souvenirs, before we will fly back home the next day from Quito.
Day 01: Arrival in Quito – City trip
We will pick you up from the airport and bring you to your hotel. After a short break we make a trip to get a first impression of the versatility of the capital and its turbulent history. From the modern part of the city in the north with its many parks and shopping street Amazonas, on which a lot of street bars invite you to come in, it continues to Plazas Santo Domingo, to plaza La Independencia and San Francisco in the colonial part of the city in the south. The historical buildings of the Old Town were declared in 1978 a Cultural Heritage. In the evening everything about the trip will be explained accompanied with a welcome cocktail.
Day 02: Mitad del Mundo – Pululahua
We will drive from Quito towards the north ca. 25 kilometres to the Equator Monument. The monument reminds of the French-Spanish geographical expedition of 1736-1744, which has under the guidance of Charles de la Condamine defined the position of the equator. Here you can stand with one foot on the north- and with the other foot on the south of the globe and you have the opportunity to visit the ethnographical museum in the center of the monument. Directly after we will drive back to the Reserva Geobotánica Pululahua, which is located in the crater of the volcano of the same name. During a trekking through the crater we are able to admire the beauty of the original flora and the many hummingbirds and butterflies. In the evening we will head back to Quito. B/L/-
Day 03: Quito – San Cristóbal / Hotel Orca
Today we will fly from Quito to San Cristobal. After the transfer to Hotel Orca in the province capital of Galápagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, we will visit the center of information to get a first detailed impression of the history of the buildings and nature of the archipelago. In the harbor basin of the original friendly fishing village we are able to see sea lions encircle the small boats. In the afternoon we will make our first snorkling trip in the neighborhood of frigate birds. At night we will return to our hotel on the north side of the pretty bay of the harbor. B/L/D
Day 04: San Cristóbal / Lagune El Junco – China Beach
In the morning we will drive to the east of the prairie like highlands of the island to the sweet water lagoon El Junco. Here we can observe frigate birds, Bahama-ducks and numerous other species of birds. We will walk further over the Cerro to the house of Don Guido, where we will have lunch. In the afternoon we continue to walk down to China Beach, were we can snorkel and swim in between sea lions. In the afternoon we will head back to the hotel. B/L/D
Day 05: San Cristóbal / Galapagera
A longer boat trip followed by a small trekking will lead us to the north eastern part of San Cristóbal to Galapagera, a turtle resort, where the famous giant turtles can be observed in their natural environment. These huge animals can become up to 200 years old and adult turtles can have a weight of 300 kilos. Overnight you will stay in the hotel Orca again. B/L/D
Day 06: Island Floreana / Hostal Wittmer
Today we will cruise by boat to the most southern island of the archipelago, to Española, where we go on land by Punta Suárez, a rocky reef promontory, in the middle of a sea lion colony. A trekking of ca. 2 km leads us through a colony of nesting blue footed boobies and further to sea iguanas and lava lizards. Apart from that, masked boobies, seagulls, tropic birds, Galápagos pigeons, mockingbirds and Galápagos hawks live here. After the tour we will sail further to Floreana Island, where we will stay in Puerto Velasco Ibarra in hostal Wittmer. Margot Wittmer is the writer of the bestseller ¨Floreana-poste restante¨ and lived for over 60 years on Floreana. In the afternoon you can relax on the nice beaches of Floreana. B/L/D
Day 07: Floreana Island / Highlands
We will explore the highlands of the island, where Cerro Pajas towers above all, a perfectly shaped volcano cone and surrounded by idyllic springs and mysterious old pirate caves. At nighttime we will return to hostal Wittmer. B/L/D
Day 08: Floreana Island / Post Office Bay and Punta Comoran – Isabela Island
We will make a short boat trip to Post Office Bay, were on a delicate beach stands a post office, which is established in 1793 by the English captain Colnett, offers you the opportunity to send letters, when its destination is on its own route. Directly after it continues to Punta Cormoran Beach. A short road leads from here to a mangrove lagoon, where often flamingos are strutting around. Furthermore, flamingos, Galápagos ducks, Darwin finches and Galápagos hawks and many more can be observed. In the afternoon we will sail from here through a longer boat trip to Isabela, where we will spend the night in the elegant hotel Casa de Marita. B/L/-
Day 09: Wednesday: Excursion to the volcano Sierra Negra
Following the foothills of volcano Sierra Negra by private vehicle, you arrive in the highlands where you begin a hike uphill to the edge of the crater of the tremendous volcano. The hike leads you out of dense shrub to the barren landscape of the volcano and its solid lava flows. From here you can enjoy a fantastic view over looking the north part of the island as well as the distant volcanoes Alcedo and Wolf. Afterwards you hike back to have lunch at a typical highland farm before returning to Villamil. You will be back at the hotel by late afternoon and the rest of your time before is to fill as you wish. Dinner and night at Casa de Marita.B/L/D
Day 10: Thursday: Kajak trip and Mongroves
In the morning you will do a relaxing kayak trip in Harbour basin. Apart from sea lions and pelicans you are going to visit the penguin colony on the small island of Las Tintoreras. Hike through bizarre lava formations and get in touch with the huge iguana colonies. In the afternoon you get the chance to discover a mangrove forest at La Concha Perla bay as well as the colourful underwater life. Dinner and accommodation in the Hotel La Casa de Marita. B/L/D
Day 11: Friday: The Lava tubes of Cabo Rosa
This morning you head off in a small motor boat along the southcoast from Puerto Villamil to the cooled lava flows of the Cerro Azul volcano. Through explosions the cooled lava flows built huge lava tubes which are now the perfect location for birds and sea animals to relax. This is a unique chance to observe interesting seabirds and snorkel between colourful scholls of fish encountering the inhabitants of the coral reef along the way. In the afternoon return to Puerto Villamil where you spend the night in the hotel La Casa de Marita and can spend the rest of the day as you wish. B/L/D
Day 12: Saturday: Flamingos and giant turtles
In the morning you will go on an excursion to a remote part of the island where flamingos lazily fish crustaceans in a large lagoon. In this marshland you can observe black-necked stilts, herons and Galapagos pintails. Afterwards the trip leads you to the turtle raising station on Isabella, where the staff dutifully try to sustain a potentially endangered species. The following hike takes you through a diversity of flora ending on the beach and finally at the hotel. The rest of the afternoon is at your personal disposal. Overnight at the hotel La Casa de Marita. B/L/D
Day 13: Santa Cruz / Charles Darwin Station
Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic centre of the archipelago, with the largest population of the 4 inhabited islands (approx 10.000). Santa Cruz is also the only island where six different zones of vegetation can be seen: Coastal, Arid, Transition, Scalesia, Miconia, and Pampa Zones. The Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos National Park offices are based here. We will have an opportunity to visit some of the best scientists of their kind. Scientists, park rangers and park managers among others, who make huge efforts to preserve this Unesco World Heritage Site, conduct the conservation of the islands. The station is also a tortoise breeding and rearing centre, where tortoises of different subspecies are prepared for reintroduction to their natural habitats. The most popular inhabitant of this island will probably be Lonesome George. He is the only survivor of the specific turtle species. After visiting the station you will walk to the beautiful white-sanded beach Tortuga Bay. In the evening you will go back to Puerto Ayora and stay in the Hotel Silverstein for the night. B/L/D
Day 14: Santa Cruz Island / Highlands
Today we will explore the highlands of Santa Cruz. On our way we pass by different vegetation zones, from the dry lower region full of cactuses to the Scalesia forests in the humid highlands. In the highlands we will investigate the labyrinth-like Lava tunnels, some of them are up to 2 km long. We will spend the night in Hotel Silverstein. B/L/-
Day 15: Santa Cruz Island / Caldera de los Gemelos – Baltra – Quito
In the morning we will also visit in the highlands the double crater Caldera de los Gemelos, which is known for its diversity of ca. 300 different fern species and the close by “forest” of sunflowers. After that, we will make a last boat trip to Baltra, to fly back to Quito from there on. A last glance back at the enchanted islands, a unique paradise, which has charmed us with its fantastic nature. B/L/-
Day 16: Otavalo
The visit of the famous Otavalo Indio market in the north of Ecuador is the closing highlight of our exciting journey. On the Plaza de los Ponchos and in the surrounding streets woven articles of all kind and a large variety of arts are being sold. The market is known far beyond its boundaries and attracts meanwhile salesmen from all over the country, even from Colombia. In the afternoon we will head back to Quito. B/L/-
Day 17: Return home
After a last day in Quito we will guide you back to the airport and we will say goodbye – till our next meeting! B/-/-