Galapagos 2003


Galápagos Itinerary

Voyage on the M/S Galápagos Legend

Written by Mrs. Chetty and Mr. Sutton of The Harker School

June 14th to 26th, 2003

Day 1 – Quito

Day 2 – Quito

Day 3 – Santa Cruz

Day 4 – Genovesa

Day 5 – Espanola & San Cristobal

Day 6 – Bartolome

Day 7 – Fernandina & Isabela

Day 8 – Isabela

Day 9 – Santa Cruz

Day 10 – Puerto Ayora

Day 11 – Puerto Ayora

Day 12 – Quito

Day 13 – Return to US

A magical landscape that has sustained its vitality, the Galápagos Islands offer naturalists the opportunity to observe wildlife in unlike any other on earth.  Charles Darwin was inspired by the island’s unique wildlife populations to form his theory of natural selection.   From red and black lava formations of the lowland to the lush rolling hills of the highlands, the  Galápagos Islands provide a unique terrain for exploration and discovery of your own.  You can swim with sea lions and get face-to-face with penguins as frigate birds fly overhead.   Witness blue-footed boobies perform their mating dances and encounter giant tortoises lumbering through cactus forests.   The Galápagos provides an incomparable learning environment and a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

    June 14th       Quito, Ecuador

Upon your arrival in Quito, you will meet your Ecuadorian representative and transfer to your downtown hotel. Located at 2,850 meters above sea level and surrounded snow-capped volcanoes, Quito is the second highest capital city in the world. Listed on the World Heritage List for its fine collection of colonial architecture, Quito is a history lover’s paradise. The old town is an area of preserved colonial churches, monasteries, museums and whitewashed buildings with red-tiled roofs.   Overnight at the Four Points Sheraton

    June 15th       Quito, Ecuador

Quito situated on a plateau nestled between the eastern and western range of the Andes Mountains .   Today you will journey to the mist shrouded cloud forests of Bellavista for a day of exploration and stunning scenery.   The Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve is located on the slopes Ecuador’s western Andes range and adjacent to the Choco bio-region – one of the most biologically diverse places in the world.  The 700 hectare preserve is dissected by deeply forested mountain peaks, deep gorges, and rushing waterfalls.   Here you will have the chance to discover and enjoy the flora and fauna of this unique and endangered ecosystem as you hike the reserve’s trails with your expert naturalist guide.   Overnight at the Four Points Sheraton. (BLD)

  June 16th       Galápagos –   Isla Santa Cruz

This morning you will fly from Quito to the Baltra airport in  Galápagos, (aprox. 2 hours and half flight), where you will be greeted by a guide at the airport and transferred to the M/V  Galápagos Legend.   Enjoy lunch on board of the M/V Galapagos Legend.   Following lunch you will visit Dragon Hill, on Isla Santa Cruz.   After a dry landing at a dock, a short walk will take you to a hypersalinic lagoon behind the beach often frequented by flamingos. The trail then leads up a winding trail to Dragon Hill, which offers a beautiful view of the bay.   This area is a nesting site for a large number of land iguanas re-introduced by the Charles Darwin Research Station. There is also a Scalesia tree forest.   Return to the Legend where the crew will welcome you with canapŽs.   Enjoy a briefing by the crew and a safety drill followed by a little leisure time on board.    Evening briefing on the next day activities at the auditorium.   Overnight on the M/S  Galápagos Legend.  (BLD)

  June 17th        Galápagos – Isla Genovesa

Today you will visit Isla Genovesa.   Disembark at El Barranco (Prince Philip’s Steps) and walk over lava terrain. On the sides of the path passengers will observe red-footed boobies and frigate birds along with Palo Santo trees. Return to the vessel for lunch. In the afternoon you will visit Darwin Bay for up-close observation of red-footed boobies, frigates, sea lions, lava gulls and night herons, fiddler crabs.  Enjoy some snorkeling in the bay and search for marine wildlife as well.    Return to the vessel and relax before dinner and the guides’ briefing on next day’s activities. Overnight on the M/S  Galápagos Legend.   (BLD)

  June 18th        Galápagos –   Isla Espanola and Isla San Cristobal

Disembark at Punta Suarez (Espa–ola Island) for an up close look at the island’s famous sea lion colonies.   This area is also one of the most important sites for bird watching. Many species can be spotted up close such as the hood mocking bird and red-billed tropicbirds.  You will also spot large marine iguanas with traces of green and red along with lava lizards and colorful sally light foot crabs. After a short trek you will run into colonies of masked and blue-footed boobies.   Their nesting grounds sometimes overlapped over the trail so be careful where you step!   You will also find  Galápagos doves, hawks and swallow-tailed gulls.   After crossing the nesting grounds you will reach the colony of waved albatross.   They come to this site in the (15000 aprox.), they all come to the  Galápagos for their mating rituals.  Finally you will visit the blowhole where water shoots into the air at almost 23 m. (75 ft.). After a 3-hour trek you will want to stay longer but lunch awaits you on the vessel.    In the afternoon dry landing at Baquerizo Moreno port in San Cristobal Island. You will visit the Interpretation Centre, where you will learn about the natural and human history of the islands, followed by a special guest lecture from the staff of the Universidad San Fransico & the Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts & Sciences.   Return to the vessel for dinner and the guides’ briefing on next day’s activities.   Overnight on the M/S  Galápagos Legend.   (BLD)

June 19th        Galápagos – Isla Bartolome

Disembarkation at Baltra Beach, located at north end of Santa Cruz Island.   Here you will find sea lions and marine iguanas.   Enjoy the opportunity to swim and snorkel along the beach.   Return to the vessel for lunch.   Following lunch explore Bartolome Island. It will seem as if you were walking on the moon due to the amazing volcanic formations – lava bombs, spatter cones, and cinder cones. There is a steep hike to the summit aided by wooden steps, from where you will have an impressive view of the  Galápagos Islands including Pinnacle rock.   On your way to the top you have the possibility of admiring a large colony of marine iguanas and lava lizards. Among the flora you may find Red mangroves, tiquilla, cacti.   Later in the day enjoy the pleasure of snorkeling in the company of  Galápagos penguins, marine tortoises (January through March), white-tipped sharks. Return to the vessel and relax before dinner and the nightly guides’ briefing on next day’s activities.   Overnight on the M/S  Galápagos Legend.   (BLD)

June 20th       Galápagos –   Isla Fernandina and Isla Isabela

Disembark to visit Espinoza point on Fernandina Island. Catch the sight of largest colony of Marine iguanas sharing space with sally-light foot crabs.   Also to be found are flightless cormorants,  Galápagos penguins,  Galápagos hawks and sea lions where resident bulls are present.   Among the many flora and volcanic formations you will find Brachycereus cactus, pa hoe hoe & aa lava formations, and mangroves extending into the sea. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano are also evident. Return to the vessel for lunch.   In the afternoon, visit Tagus Cove on Isabela Island.   Isabela is the largest island in the  Galápagos and it was created by the eruption of five volcanoes that flowed together. Graffiti dating back to 1800’s is written on the rocky cliff, believed to be done by pirates and buccaneers. The trail leads to Darwin’s salt-water lagoon and an excellent view of the lava fields, volcanic formations and the ocean. A Dinghy ride will allow you to see marine life and  Galápagos penguins and flightless cormorants. Visit largest population of giant tortoises – approximately 4000.    Return to the vessel and relax before dinner and the nightly guides’ briefing on next day’s activities.   Overnight on the M/S Galápagos Legend.   (BLD)

    June 21st        Galápagos – Isla Isabela

After breakfast you will cruise through the Bol’var channel in search of whales and dolphins.   A Panga ride will take you to Moreno point on Isabela Island.    Here you will go for a medium-length walk in search of giant tortoises and land iguanas, orange-yellow in color with large spines along their backs, as well as flamingos and oystercatchers. There are also great possibilities for swimming and snorkeling, where you can spot hammerhead sharks, white tipped sharks,  Galápagos sharks, eels, groupers, and snappers. After lunch, visit Urbina Bay on Isabela Island.   Return to the vessel and relax before dinner and the nightly guides’ briefing on next day’s activities.   Overnight on the M/S  Galápagos Legend.   (BLD)

    June 22nd       Galápagos – Isla Santa Cruz

This morning you will visit the Charles Darwin Station, staffed with international scientists doing biological research and conservation projects. Here you can also admire giant tortoises and their one-year old offspring, the second being a miniature version of the first.   These tortoises are part of the CDRS breeding program.   Also worthy of admiration is the impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest and the many land birds. After your visit, spend some free time exploring the town and shop for souvenirs or postcards.   Boarding a bus, you will cross the highlands of Santa Cruz where you can observe the twin pit craters, Los Gemelos and later visit Cerro Chato.   Today lunch will be at a local restaurant, followed by free time to explore the island   Return to the vessel and relax before dinner and the nightly guides’ briefing on next day’s activities.   Overnight on the M/S  Galápagos Legend.   (BLD)

    June 23rd       Galápagos – Isla Santa Cruz & Puerto Ayora 

Following breakfast you will return to Baltra Beach where you can enjoy a final opportunity to swim or snorkel along the beach.    Return on board the M/V Galapagos Legend, check out and depart to the port city of Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz.   Enjoy a few hours of leisure time before joining the students from the Colegio Nacional Galapagos & Miraflores High School for an evening of cultural exchange and dinner at the Hotel Angermeyer in Puerto Ayora.   Overnight at the Hotel Angermeyer. (BLD)

    June 24th       Galápagos – Isla Santa Cruz & Puerto Ayora

Today you will have the truly unique opportunity to explore and investigate the unique ecosystems found on Isla Santa Cruz.   Under the supervision of the Charles Darwin Research Station, Harker students will be joined by   students from the Miraflores High School as they collect data in various ecosystems around the island.     Overnight at the Hotel Angermeyer. (BLD)

    June 25th       Quito

Depart this morning for the airport on Baltra Island and return to Quito.   You will be met at the airport by your mainland driver and guide and will transfer to the Four Points Sheraton.   En route to dinner at the exclusive El Ronda restaurant, you will have an opportunity to visit a local art center and artisans market for some last minute mementos from Ecuador.   Enjoy a wonderful farewell dinner at El Ronda and return to your hotel to prepare for your return to the US.   Overnight at the Four Points Sheraton.   (BLD)

    June 26th       Return to the US

Today, laden with memories of new friends made in Ecuador and new knowledge of the planet’s unique bio-diversity, you will be escorted to the airport for your flight home.

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