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INTRODUCTION Set sail aboard the Monserrat to discover the exotic landscapes and incredible wildlife of the South and East Islands. Experience the beautiful white-sand beaches of Española, encounter giant
INTRODUCTION Set sail aboard the Monserrat to discover the exotic landscapes and incredible wildlife of the South and East Islands. Experience the beautiful white-sand beaches of Española, encounter giant tortoises, sea turtles, iguanas and a multitude of birds, and gain a fuller understanding of it all at the Charles Darwin Research Centre. An adventure not to be missed! DAY 1: Arrival transfer in Quito ITINERARY On arrival into Quito you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Today is free for you to explore Quito at your leisure. Sitting at 2,850 metres above sea level high in the Andean foothills lies Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The city, a short distance from the Equator and with an amazing backdrop of snow-capped mountains, is known for its stunning colonial architecture and art-work. Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city, Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas. It was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978. DAY 2: San Cristóbal Island This morning you will be transferred early to the airport for your flight to the Islands. On arrival in San Cristóbal you will be met by your naturalist guide and transferred to the ship. Please note that the National Park charges a visitor fee of USD100, payable on arrival, which funds park maintenance and supervision in the, as well as ecological study and conservation. The Islands are located about 1000 kilometres (620 miles) off the Pacific coast of South America. The archipelago is comprised of 13 major islands and scores of islets that served as a living laboratory for Charles Darwin, the renowned evolution theorist. Long before Darwin arrived in the, seafarers knew these isolated islands as home to some of the strangest and most wonderful wildlife imaginable, including birds that could swim but no longer fly, aquatic iguanas, dragon-like lizards left over from prehistoric times and the giant tortoises for which the islands were named. Later in the day we explore the tiny Islas Lobos, home to a large sea lion colony and abundant marine life. Here you will explore on foot and by boat for some great wildlife encounters, taking a panga ride to view the sea and shore birds nesting and feeding. You may spot a small colony of blue-footed boobies, nesting frigatebirds as well as two species of sea lion. There is also the opportunity to snorkel off the beach at Isla Lobos, in amongst the families of sea lions and their inquisitive pups looking to play. We return to our ship, the Monserrat, a spacious 20 person vessel, sailing overnight to ensure that you arrive refreshed and ready to explore the next destination. Enjoy the amenities while cruising - spend time in the top deck lounge and bar, indulge in a meal with new friends or relax in the indoor air-conditioned areas. The ship travels at night so you will wake up in a new destination, ready to explore. DAY 3: Cerro Brujo & Highlands The first landing for the day is at Cerro Brujo on the north coast of San Cristóbal, where we explore the coastline and look for wildlife and seabirds and learn about the island s natural and human history. The sandy beach is home to Sally Lightfoot crabs, brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies and California sea lions as well as marine iguanas. There will be time to take a refreshing swim and to walk to a freshwater lagoon frequented by flamingos. We then spend the afternoon visiting the highlands, a tortoise natural breeding area surrounded by endemic flora of the islands. We also visit the Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Centre in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. At this giant tortoise Breeding Centre you can see all of the different species of tortoises close up. The tortoises are bred in captivity in a protected wild area, safeguarded from predators. There are newly hatched tortoises as well as full-grown adults that can live well over 100 years. You may also see finches, warblers and mockingbirds in the vegetation surrounding the Breeding Centre. DAY 4: Espanola Island Today we visit Gardner Bay and Punta Suárez on Española Island, one of the oldest in the archipelago, with guided walks to observe wildlife and free time for swimming or snorkelling. Gardner Bay is an excellent site for swimming and snorkelling and features a magnificent white sandy beach, home to sea lions and seabirds. The beautiful turquoise waters support incredible sea life. Look out for young sea lions and schools of large tropical fish, including yellow-tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish and bump-head parrot fish. There is the option to snorkel at Gardner Bay. Further out towards Tortuga Rock and Gardner Island you may see schools of large colourful tropical fish, manta rays and whitetip reef sharks. You may get the chance to swim with the sea lions - an opportunity not to be missed! In the afternoon we sail to Punta Suarez on the western side of Española Island. Española (also known as Hood) is the southernmost island in the archipelago and is home to several species of wildlife including masked and blue-footed boobies and the waved albatross. A hike to the top of the cliff provides spectacular photo opportunities. We follow the trail through a rookery and learn the geological history of the island from our guide, including its dramatic volcanic features, climate, flora, and fauna. DAY 5: Floreana Island Punta Cormorant is the only landing site on Floreana Island. The landing site is a green sand beach, coloured by olivine crystals, volcanicderived silicates of magnesium and iron. The trail leads to a lake normally inhabited by flamingos and other shore birds and continues to a beach of fine white sand particles known as Flour Beach, an important nesting site for turtles. You may see penguins and marine iguanas and there will be the chance to explore the lava tubes with your guide. In the afternoon we visit historic Post Office Bay. In the late 18th century, English whaling vessels placed a barrel here to be used as a post office. Today the box is used mainly by tourists, who drop off and pick up unstamped letters to be carried to far destinations. We also plan to make a stop at Champion Islet where you will be able to snorkel with a colony of playful sea lions that reside in the waters off this tiny island. You may also see turtles, rays and tropical fish. You need to be a strong swimmer to snorkel here due to the currents around the island. DAY 6: Santa Cruz Island & Quito This morning we disembark in Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz and visit the Charles Darwin Research Centre. Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the, with the largest population and with Puerto Ayora as its main town. It also boasts the most varied of the islands vegetation zones including coastal, transition, scalesia, miconia and pampa. The Charles Darwin Research Station is located a short walk from the centre of the town. It is a science organization that was initiated in 1964, working to preserve the ecosystem of the through the conservation efforts of scientists, researchers and volunteers. It also provides a study location for international scientists and training for Naturalist Guides. We tour the exhibition centre to see photo displays of recent volcanic eruptions, charts outlining geological formations and drawings of the evolutionary development of endemic species. The station is also a great place to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity, brought back from the brink of extinction. Here you can see the famous tortoise close up. A corral houses adult tortoises and there is a nursery in which the young are cared for until around age three when their shells have hardened. **Please note: The Charles Darwin Research Station has partially closed until December Groups affected will visit the highlands to see the giant tortoises in the wild.** After the visit you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Quito. On arrival there is a transfer to the group hotel with time to enjoy one last night in Ecuador s capital. DAY 7: Transfer to the airport for onward destination At the appropriate time, you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your outward flight from Quito. INCLUSIONS & DETAILS Accommodation Cabin Inclusions Difficulty Rating Single Surcharge Notes Price Dependent upon 4 nts in the Galápagos Islands aboard the Monserrat Arrival transfer on Day 1 Flights to and from the Galápagos Islands Certified Galápagos National Park Service guides All landings, excursions, and transportation, Snorkeling equipment. Visit to a wildlife interpretation centre. 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners. (Allow USD50-65 for meals not included. Drinks and tips while on the yacht are extra.) Hotel (2 nts), aboard the Monserrat in twin-share or double cabins (4 nts). Local flight, Monserrat motorized yacht, van, Zodiac, private bus. 2 Galápagos National Park Service guide while in the islands. You must pay a USD20 Transit Control Card fee at the Quito airport and a USD100 (cash) Galápagos park entry fee immediately upon arrival to the Islands (subject to increase). 1 (easy) Available upon request Contact us for more details Season and availability SUSTAINABILITY Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including: 1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you re visiting. 2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community. 3) Chimu s Pass it on programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America. 4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities. 5) Chimu Adventures offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.
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