Take a thrilling sojourn around the highlights of the unique flora- and fauna-rich islands of the Galapagos. From rubbing shoulders with prehistoric-looking giant tortoises and marine iguanas, to gazing up in wonder at the spectacular blue-footed boobies' synchronised fishing technique, the Galapagos offers the chance to see an abundance of rare creatures at close range. There are also heaps of opportunities to explore the underwater world of the Galapagos by snorkelling and diving in the surrounding waters - usually in the good company of playful sea lions and sea turtles. With just the right amount of relaxation, adventure and wildlife-filled awe, this Galapagos Venture is the way to see the very best of the Galapagos.
* Arrive early and discover Quito's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage, filled with colonial era buildings, boulevards of multicoloured mansions and gracefully ageing cathedrals
* Learn about the unique habit of the marine iguana. This dinosaur-like little creature has an iridescent sheen and is only found on the Galapagos Islands
* Many come to Isla Santa Cruz just for the giant tortoises. Get up close and personal with these enormous animals, as they drag themselves through the sand
* Birdwatching at the Galapagos is quite an experience. Watch the aerobatic routines of blue-footed boobies and the death defying stunts of the frigate birds, as they whizz through the air
* Get your blood pumping as you scale Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island
➕ Day 1 Quito
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please contact our 24 hour emergency number which is located on these trip notes. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. At the meeting you will be offered a duffle bag to use for the duration of your time in the Galapagos, please see the packing section in the trip notes for more information. Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America, sitting at an altitude of 2,850 metres under the gaze of Volcan Pichincha. With Colonial style buildings, a cosy Old Town and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, you may like to take a stroll this evening and see some sights. We will however be back in Quito at the end of the trip, giving you a chance to further experience the city, depending on when you are flying out ofcourse! Notes: Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer altitude sickness, regardless of age, gender or fitness. Please see the 'Is This Trip Right For You?' and 'Health' sections in the trip notes for detailed information. Optional Activities in Quito: Quito is an incredible city with loads to see and do. This trip doesn't include much time in Quito, so a few extra days to explore it is recommended. Great activities are available through our local office ' just email email@example.com before departing or, once you're in Quito, give our office a call +593 9 94014877 and they will happily assist you. Urban Adventures: If you are interested in any of the Urban Adventures listed you will need to contact Urban Adventures directly. Contact information for Quito can be found here: http://www.urbanadventures.com/contact-us City Tour & The Equator Line, an in-depth half-day city tour, including a trip to the equator line to see how it feels to be in the middle of the world, literally. If you're short on time You can choose to do just the city tour or Equator line (we've listed separate prices below) Otavalo Market, a full day tour of the biggest Indian market in South America in the northern town of Otavalo, full of local handicrafts to take home for your friends, and the Cotacachi leather market. Cotopaxi Volcano, for something more active, head out to the 5,897 metre high Cotopaxi Volcano ' drop by the National Park museum, then hike for around 2 hours and visit the picturesque Limpiopungo Lagoon. Quilotoa Lagoon, if you're into lagoons, maybe take a full day trip to the stunning Quilotoa Lagoon. Early in the morning, drive 3 hours south through the local communities and Andes views of the Avenue of Volcanoes. Then hike (2 hours return) to the beautiful Quilotoa volcano crater lagoon, before returning to Quito. Something more chill is a full day at the Papallacta Hot Springs ' take a scenic drive, reaching heights of 4,150 metres, and then relax in springs with views to the towering Antisana Volcano. Cloud Forest, maybe get in touch with the region's incredible nature with a shared services trip to the Cloud Forest ' take a guided hike through a reserve on the edge of the Choco Bio-region, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world, and get acquainted with the exuberant vegetation, bird life, and the fascinating adaptations to life in this special environment. Papallacta-Something more chill is a full day at the Papallacta Hot Springs ' take a scenic drive, reaching heights of 4,150 metres, and then relax in springs with views to the towering Antisana Volcano. Please note, the prices listed below include entrance fees, however these are paid separately by you during the tour. Some tours require a minimum of 2 passengers to operate. (Please note prices listed are subject to change)
➕ Day 2 Isla San Cristobal
Early this morning transfer to Quito airport for your flight to San Cristobal. This afternoon take an included visit to the Interpretation Centre and learn about the human and natural history of the Galapagos islands. Afterwards perhaps hike up to Frigatebird Hill or head to Mann beach and chill.
➕ Day 3 Isla San Cristobal
Enjoy a free day on Isla San Cristobal. You may also like to take an optional boat ride to Kicker Rock or Isla Lobos. This is one of your leader's favourite optional activities. You'll be able to observe the famous Galapagos marine life along the way, and have the opportunity to go snorkelling with sea turtles, eagle rays and the harmless Galapagos shark, just to name a few.
➕ Day 4 Isla San Cristobal
Early in the morning, take a two-and-a-half hour public speed boat ride to Isla Santa Cruz. Once in Santa Cruz have breakfast and Settle into the hotel. Mid-morning visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station's visitor centre and museums contain information about the islands and the conservation efforts being made to preserve the unique ecosystem here. It's also a great place to have close encounters with giant tortoises. In the afternoon, head to the higher part of the islands to observe these giants roaming in their natural habitat.
➕ Day 5 Isla Isabela
Travel to Isabela Island. Check-in to the hotel and enjoy breakfast. The island is the largest in the Galapagos and one of the most volcanically active places on earth. A worthwhile optional activity today is an excursion to Tintoreras Island, home to the rare Galapagos penguin. The excursion will then take you to "shark alley", where white-tipped sharks rest during the day. This is also a popular nesting site for the endemic marine iguanas.
➕ Day 6 Isla Isabela
Start the day with a visit to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre for a close encounter with these placid giants. Here you can see tortoises in different stages of development as well learn about the preservation program of this unique species. Take a bus to the highest part of Isabela Island where Sierra Negra Volcano is located. Weather permitting, go for a hike up to the crater to enjoy spectacular views and the possibility of sighting the rare vermillion flycatcher. The challenging 17-kilometre hike takes between five and six hours both ways, but at the top you'll be able to enjoy spectacular views. Please ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes that offer good support for the rocky climb. During the rainy season it can get quite muddy. There is an option to hire gumboots locally, should you wish to do so. During the hike it can get quite hot, there isn't much shade along the way so be sure to come prepared with your hat and sunscreen etc. After the hike, make your way back to town in the late afternoon for some free time to curl up with a book or venture down to the water for a relaxing swim before dinner. Unfortunately, recycling isn't available on Isabela, so please take your plastic rubbish with you.
➕ Day 7 Isla Isabela
Travel back to Santa Cruz in the morning. We'll enjoy breakfast back in Santa Cruz. Consider taking part in some of the optional activities available, such as an excursion to Tortuga Bay, an immaculate natural paradise where you can go kayaking, observe marine iguanas and birds or swim with harmless sharks in an alcove. You may also like to rent some snorkelling gear while you're here.
➕ Day 8 Quito
Say goodbye to these enchanting islands. The flight back to Quito leaves at midday, we get back to Quito in the late afternoon. A representative from Intrepid will take you from the airport to your hotel, then you'll be free to explore more of Quito. You may like to get out and enjoy the nightlife of this vibrant Latin city.
➕ Day 9 Quito
There are no activities planned for the final day and you're able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities. As there's little time spent in Quito, we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of your time in here. Ecuador has some of the most beautiful churches in the Americas, including the lavish La Compania de Jesus which is decorated with seven tonnes of gold and the pale art filled La Merced. Not far from the capital, there are volcanoes, hot springs and Incan ruins to explore. Consider doing our one-day sightseeing tours of Quito, including tours of the town, markets and culinary delights (see urbanadventures.com).