Galapagos: Wildlife Wonderland Holiday 2013
(December 23 Departure, For Families)
9 days with Tauck Rating:
877-828-4774 877-828-4774 Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive Quito, Ecuador
Tour begins: Swissôtel Quito. A transfer is included from Quito’s International Airport to the Swissôtel Quito, where you’ll spend the next two nights in Executive Level rooms. Begin your adventure early tomorrow morning in Ecuador’s capital city, standing at an altitude of 9,200 feet above sea level.
Day 2 Stand in two hemispheres at once
Taking its name from the Equator which splits the city in two, Quito has a history as colorful as the sites you will see today. Your discoveries start at the Equator, the imaginary line that divides the Northern and Southern hemispheres. You’ll be able to stand with one foot on each side of the world during your visit this morning, before stopping at the Intiñan Museum to learn more about one of the Earth’s first solar GPS systems. Volcanoes have made their presence known in Ecuador since the 1600s when the first recorded eruption took place; have lunch near the dormant crater of one of these hot-headed geologic wonders, then head downtown to explore Quito’s colonial quarter. Sights include Independence Plaza, the Presidential Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace. Enjoy a special reception featuring local entertainment before our welcome dinner back at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 3 Cruise to islands time forgot
Hop on a plane headed to Baltra Island, the starting point for your Galápagos Islands expedition*. The crew of the M/V Santa Cruz is waiting to welcome you aboard. Settle into your cabin and get your sea legs ready for one of the most amazing wildlife expeditionary cruises in the world! Your first shore excursion is to North Seymour where our naturalist takes you to see greater flamingoes, common stilts, pintail ducks and other shore birds. The fun continues back aboard ship with a naturalist’s briefing and the Captain’s welcome reception, followed by your first dinner at sea. (B,L,D)
Day 4 Isabela & Fernandina Islands
Chart a course to Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island this morning where you’ll explore the coast by panga. This is the nesting place for a large population of flightless cormorants, the only existing marine birds in the world other than penguins that have evolved from flying birds to diving birds. Their neighbors include sea lions, fur seals, Galápagos penguins, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, and noddy terns – you may spot the island’s seasonal residents, green sea turtles and oceanic sunfish in the waters. Explore the youngest of all the islands when you join us for a one-mile walk over dark lava on Fernandina Island. Marine iguanas, sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs and birds are in abundance here. A chance for snorkeling and an expedition briefing on ship round off your day. (B,L,D)
Day 5 Tagus Cove & Darwin Crater
Every day is a different adventure here in the Galápagos, with volcanic islands as diverse as the wildlife that lives on them. Your ship sails to Tagus Cove on Isabela Island today. A dry landing explores this secluded cove that was once a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. Look for the old graffiti that was carved on its walls by these adventurers. An uphill hike takes you to the back of saltwater-filled Darwin Crater, where the views of the neighboring volcanic islands are awesome. Back down on the water, a panga ride scours the volcanic shores to see boobies, penguins, flightless cormorants and sea lions. After lunch, walk on what once was the ocean floor at Urbina Bay, careful not to step on the land iguanas who sunbathe here. Cool off for a snorkeling encounter with comical penguins. (B,L,D)
Day 6 Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz
Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island to find out about the ongoing conservation efforts to preserve the natural environments and wildlife – including the rare giant tortoises of the Galápagos, some of which you may get to meet today. Explore the town of Puerto Ayora and have lunch, before heading to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island for a chance to see them in their natural environment. These gentle giants can live to be well over one hundred years and can weigh as much as 800 lbs. with shells as long as 4 feet! During today’s walk to a cloud forest, abundant with lush vegetation including Scalesia trees, look for curious Vermilion Flycatchers – the males have a bright red breast, black wings and “mask” across the eyes. (B,L,D)
Day 7 A Post Office on Floreana Island
Prepare to get wet when we go ashore on Floreana Island, rich in lore and intrigue for its history as a favorite stopping point for whalers, sailors and buccaneers. Bring your postcards with you for a wet landing at Post Office Bay – the first wooden post barrel was established here in 1793 as a place where passing ships could send and receive mail. Rays, turtles and sea lions may be seen gently swimming next to our pangas. On land, take a short hike up a volcanic cone to Baroness’s Tower for amazing views of the north shore of the island; your naturalist guide will share stories and legends of days past to make this a day to remember. After lunch aboard ship, head over to Punta Cormorant where you will go ashore on an olivine-crystal beach. Look for ducks, sandpipers, stilts and flamingoes in the island’s wildlife-rich lagoon and walk along a powder-sand beach where nesting sea turtles may be seen from December through May. Time permitting, go snorkeling or take a glass-bottom boat ride to view marine life under the water. Your captain hosts you at a farewell reception tonight before dinner to celebrate your last day at sea! (B,L,D)
Day 8 Disembark and fly to Guayaquil
Watch a slide show presented by your team of naturalists before bidding farewell to M/V Santa Cruz and her crew. Disembark your ship at Baltra Island for a flight to Guayaquil on the mainland of Ecuador where you will spend the night at the Hilton Colón Guayaquil. Tonight, join us for a festive farewell dinner by the swimming pool with all your new-found friends! (B,D)
Day 9 Homeward bound
Tour ends: Guayaquil. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Hilton Colón Guayaquil to Guayaquil International Airport; allow a minimum of three hours for flight check-in. (B)
877-828-4774 877-828-4774 Map
877-828-4774 877-828-4774 All This Included
Pack your bathing suits, sunscreen, hats and comfortable hiking shoes and prepare to get wet as you set sail for some of the most amazing tropical islands in the world... Special Holiday Departures of Tauck Bridges' 9-day family Galápagos cruises feature a 5-night cruise aboard M/V Santa Cruz. Have you ever seen birds wearing bright red or blue "shoes"? You're sure to see lots of them during this eco-cruise because the Galápagos is one of their favorite places to kick up their heels. How about giant tortoises that weigh up to 550 lbs. and prehistoric-looking iguanas that hunt and fish in the ocean? Did you ever see penguins and sea lions so friendly that they may swim right alongside you in brilliant blue water? Even the crabs are different here with their bright red and yellow shells that provide quite a contrast to the black-lava rocks of these volcanic islands. Luckily for us, not much has changed since Charles Darwin first set foot on these remote islands off Ecuador in 1831; these islands are protected and tourists must leave these islands exactly as they found them, leaving only their footprints so this amazing place can thrive as nature intended.
877-828-4774 877-828-4774 Accommodations
Quito: Swissôtel Quito
Cruising: cabin aboard M/V Santa Cruz
Guayaquil: Hilton Colón Guayaquil
877-828-4774 877-828-4774 Notes
877-828-4774 877-828-4774 Terms and Conditions
For Tauck terms and conditions, please click here.
* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.