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Explore Galapagos: Soft-Adventure Hiking Highlands and Galapagos 15/14n

Albatross - Marina Avifauna of the Galapagos IslandsThis soft adventure walking program combines hiking in the world famous Galapagos Islands and exploring some wonderful places of continental Ecuador. This tour is designed for families or adventurers looking for a close encounter with nature, enjoying Ecuador's beautiful landscapes and marvelling at the fantastic fauna and flora of the Galapagos Islands. We will first visit the northern part of Ecuador, home of the Otavalo Indians, followed by a visit to the Papallacta hot springs amidst stunning surroundings, before heading up to Cotopaxi National Park.

For the second part of the journey, we will take a plane to the Galapagos Archipelago, where we will land in San Cristobal Island. Here we will start our exclusive soft adventure hiking program in the worldfamous Galapagos Islands, we will take a plane to the Galapagos Archipelago, where we will land on Santa Cruz Island. Here we will observe Giant Galapagos Turtles in their natural habitat, then ascend to El Puntudo Volcano, and finally hike up to the rim of immense crater of the Sierra Negra Volcano, (the 2nd largest crater in the world), on Isabela Island.

This tour can also be combined with extension tours in Ecuador, Peru or Bolivia. We do not sleep on board of a yacht but we will sleep in small charming hotels and share the life of the locals.

Galapagos Walking Itinerary 9 days/ 8 nights San Francisco - Quito, Ecuador

Day 1: Arrival in Quito:

We will welcome you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Here we will enjoy a welcome drink and briefing about the activities of the following days.

Day 2: Free day in Quito:

To help you acclimatize to the altitude, this day is at your leisure to rest or perhaps enjoy one of our optional tours, such as a visit to the charming colonial old town with its narrow cobbled streets, admire the beautiful churches, and interesting museums, or maybe take the cable car up to the Cruz Loma Hill looming up behind Quito at an altitude of 4000 meters, from where we can get a wonderful view of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. (There are several other options - just ask) Hotel. (D)

Day 3: Quito - Otavalo:

Wild Vicunas in the Andean HighlandsToday, early in the morning we will take off towards Imbabura, the Lake Province and home of the famous Otavalo Indigenous community. We will first visit the pre-Inca ruins of Cochasqui, which archaeologists believe to have been a mayor ceremonial center just prior to the Inca conquest. On a clear day the views from here towards Quito are fabulous. Llamas and vicuñas may be wandering around, immediately conveying the sense of being in a very different land. From here we will continue towards Otavalo city. After lunch (on your own) we will travel to the Cuicocha Lake, located in one of the side craters of the imposing Cotacachi Volcano. Here we take a short hike around the lake to observe beautiful flora of the high Ecuadorian Andes and to marvel at the great views of the surrounding vistas. Hotel accommodations in Otavalo. (B)

Otavalo Market, Ecuador

Day 4: Otavalo - Cayambe - Machachi:

In the morning we will visit the Indigenous market of Otavalo (Saturday and Wednesday), famous for its lively atmosphere and colourful collection of goods, from arts and crafts to vegetables and livestock - you can find it here. Afterwards we will tour the beautiful highlands of the Mojanda Lakes. Later, we will travel to the city of Cayambe, nestled beneath the 3rd highest volcano of Ecuador of the same name. The town is famous for its delicious "biscochos" (biscuits) and "rope de mora" (kind of liquid blackberry marmalade), which we will have a chance to sample ourselves. From here we continue our drive south towards the town of Sangolqui where we can try the famous "cuy" (guinea pig). Finally we will reach the town of Machachi, where we will be lodging at a beautiful hacienda. Hotel. (B)

Day 5: Cotopaxi National Park - Quito:

Cotopaxi National Park, EcuadorEarly in the morning we will set off to visit Cotopaxi National Park, a thrilling experience as we will be able to hike around one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. On a clear day the views are stunning. Cotopaxi's impressive snow capped cone rises 5897 meters above sea level. In the foothills of this volcano we can observe an extraordinary variety of beautiful Andean flora and with luck also some highland animals: rabbits or deer, and perhaps even observe the flight of the impressive Andean condor. We will take a 1 hour hike, attempting to reach the Rivas hut, which is located at 4800 meters from where we can enjoy the view across impressive glaciers. (Whether we will reach the hut will depend on how well participants have acclimatized to the altitude and on the weather conditions). Later on we will drive back to Quito where we will visit the old town, and explore the narrow cobbled streets and impressive churches dating back to colonial times. Hotel (B)

Day 6: Arrival in Galapagos (San Cristobal Island):

Frigate colony, GalapagosUpon arrival on San Cristobal Island we will take you to your Hotel in the small town of Puerto Baquerizo. After lunch we will visit the Interpretation Centre of San Cristobal, where our guides will give you an introduction to the Galapagos Island, its formation, its history, its culture and ecology. Late in the afternoon we will walk to "Cerro de las Tijeretas", a unique site where you can observe 2 types of frigate birds nesting in the same colony. The views from this hill across the sea and the town below and the surrounding landscape are very beautiful. Afterwards we will enjoy the beach. Return to our Hotel. (B)

Day 7: Cerro Brujo - Isla Lobos - Pto. Baquerizo:

Blue-footed Booby, GalapagosEarly in the morning we will take a boat ride to a site known as "Cerro Brujo", an impressive geological site, where we will be able to observe pelicans, boobies and seagulls. The white coralline sand beach is beautiful and idyllic for sun bathing and swimming. Behind the beach there is a brackish water lagoon where birds such as the common stilts, ducks, herons and other coastal birds come to feed. After enjoying a picnic lunch we will continue south, towards Isla Lobos, a small islet separated from the main Island by a narrow stretch of calm water. Upon its rocky shores blue footed boobies nest and sea lions rest. An idyllic scene of tranquillity and primordeal beauty. Finally we will return to Puerto Baquerizo. Hotel. (B, BL)

Day 8: San Cristobal Island - Santa Cruz Island - El Chato Reserve:

Lava Tunnel, Galapagos IslandsThis morning is at your leisure to explore this small typical Galapagos town on your own. At about 10 a.m. we will take you to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island, where upon arrival you will be transferred to the small town of Pto. Ayora. Along the way we will stop to hike up to a place known as "El Chato". This is a green lush area surrounding a lake, where we can observe several species of marine birds as well as the Giant Galapagos Turtles, which rest on the shores of the lagoon. Later on we hike into one of the lava tunnels. In the afternoon we carry on to our hotel in Pto. Ayora. The rest of the afternoon and evening is at your leisure. Hotel. (B, BL)

Day 9: Santa Cruz Island: Puntudo Volcano - Tortuga Bay Beach

Marine Iguana, Galapagos National ParkAfter breakfast a car will take us to a place known as "Media Luna" from where we will start an easy hike up to the summit of Puntudo Volcano. The trail will first take us to the agricultural zone near the National Park Boundary, the Miconia zone and then leads to the Fern and Sedge zones that are typical of the highlands of the islands. Given good weather conditions we will be able to enjoy wonderful views of rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones that are covered with grass and lush vegetation all year round.

Return to Puerto Ayora where we will have time for lunch and to rest at the hotel. In the afternoon we will walk to Tortuga Bay, which has one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos. The long beach is composed of fine white sand and is backed by an extensive area of sand dunes. Later on we will visit a protected beach where we will walk and observe a marine iguana colony and various marine birds (Pelicans, Finches, seagulls, etc). Here we can also observe the typical red mangroves of Galapagos. For the rest of the afternoon we have time to enjoy the beach. Late in the afternoon we will return to Puerto Ayora. (B)

Galapagos Turtle Rearing Center

Day 10: Santa Cruz - Isabela Island - Galapagos Turtles Rearing Centre - The Wall of Tears

After breakfast we will embark on a boat ride to Isabela Island, one of the biggest islands in the Galapagos Archipelago. This boat trip will last for about 3 hours and with luck perhaps we can observe dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, etc. After arrival in Puerto Villamil we will be transferred to our Hotel. Free time for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit the Centro de Crianza, a breeding center for the Galapagos tortoises. During our visit we will learn about the National Park efforts to preserve this fantastic animal species. Later on we will visit the Wall of Tears, a gruesome memorial built by the first inhabits of the Island under awful conditions as prisoners of the penal colony that existed in Isabela Island from 1944 until 1954. The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy the beach at your leisure. Hotel. (B)

Day 11: Trekking Volcano Sierra Negra and Chico Volcano:

Sierra Negro Volcano, Galapagos

Today we will be transported up to the highlands of Isabela Island. After reaching the National Park check point we will start an easy hike (1 hour) up to the rim of the crater of the Sierra Negra volcano. This crater is considered the 2nd largest in the world (approximately 6 miles diameter) and it is one of the most impressive examples of the volcanic activity in the Islands. Down at the bottom of the crater we can observe a fresh lava flow from the last eruption, which occurred in 2005. From there we will continue to hike until we reach the volcanic fissure known as "Chico" Volcano where it is possible to observe the fumaroles. Late in the afternoon return to our trail head and return to Pto. Villamil by car. Hotel. (B, BL)

Day 12: Pto. Villamil

Giant Turtle, Galapagos IslandsAfter breakfast we will have a free day to enjoy this tranquil, beautiful Island in the Pacific Ocean. The beach offers great opportunity to relax and rest in this "far away from the modern world" spot. Or, you can visit in some other interesting spots on your own, like The Tunnel of Lava, The Flamingos Lagoon, etc. Hotel accommodation. (B)

Day 13: Pto. Villamil - Pto. Ayora

After breakfast we will navigate towards the small city of Puerto Ayora. Beginning the afternoon and after lunch (on your own) we will visit The Charles Darwin Station where we will find out how the scientists conduct their researches in the Galapagos Islands. Afterwards you will have a free time for your last shopping in Pto. Ayora. Hotel. (B)

Day 14: Galapagos - Quito

In the morning after breakfast you will be taken back to the Airport for your return flight back to Quito. In Quito you will be met at the airport and taken back to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure. Hotel accommodation. (B)

Day 15: Quito - Transfer Airport for return flight

In the morning, at the appropriate time you will be picked up at your hotel and taken back to the airport for your flight back home. (B)

Rates per person for 2008:

Minimum number of participants:2

Number of PassengersUSD$
2 Passengers:US$3449
3 Passengers:US$2705
4 Passengers:US$2329
5 Passengers:US$2096
6 Passengers:US$1941

If your group is larger please inquire for rate

Included: all transfers in and out in Galapagos, hotels (accommodation in twin bed rooms in clean, comfortable small local hotels), English/Spanish local speaking guides, all the excursions that are mentioned in the program, small boat transport between islands, noted meals (B=breakfast; L=lunch; BL=box lunch: D=dinner).

Not included: Domestic and International flights, entrance fees to the Galapagos National Park and other parks and reserves, airport taxes, extras, tips, personal expenses, other meals.

2008 GALAPAGOS AIR FARES:

Routelow season
May 1 - June 11
Sept. 15 - Oct 30
high season
Nov 1 - Apr 30
June12 - Sept 14
Quito - Galapagos - QuitoUS$365.00 US$420.00
Guayaquil - Galapagos - Quito US$345.00 US$395.00
Guayaquil - Galapagos - Guayaquil US$325.00 US$370.00
San Cristobal - Santa Cruz US$110.00 US$130.00
2008 Galapagos Entrance Fee (pp): US$100.00 US$100.00

Note:

In our Galapagos Hiking program we provide:

Our crew is made up of charming, friendly, experienced professional guides, helpers, etc.
Our tours include: all transfers, public & private transportation, 3 star small local hotels (upgrades on request at an extra cost), permanent assistance from our office staff, transportation between islands with small local boats for maximum 16 pax, noted meals.

Tour Grading

This tour is easy, aimed for those looking for a very soft adventure and families with children so no complicated or difficult situations will be present during the trip. However, is important to note that good trekking shoes are necessary as well as a lot of sun protection and drinking water during the walks and navigations.

Recommend equipment:

For further information and booking inquiries please send us and e-mail.