with Colonial Quito and a Touch of the Andes
January 7-17, 2012
(This tour combines with the separate Ecuador Tour,
January 16-22, 2012)
From Quito, which has a colonial old town, we fly to the Galapagos, Darwin's enchanted islands. For eight days we wander the Archipelago in our private yacht. Our yacht has eight double berths, allowing a maximum of 15 passengers plus guide. We have a crew of 12, and an Ecuadorean naturalist trained by the Charles Darwin Station, which we'll visit. Groups and boats of this size are ideal for visiting the Islands, enabling us to waste little time getting ashore, and also allowing us to stop at smaller, lesser known sites, often with few or no other boats.
The Galapagos are unique in the tropics for the surprisingly few species they harbor, but the species that are here are unique, large and showy, and very tame. These volcanic islands arose from the seafloor in the last 10 million years; all organisms had to float, fly, or be carried to the islands. Because of the cold Humboldt Current that bathes the islands, the air is dry and desert conditions prevail in the Archipelago most years. There are fifteen larger islands and hundreds of smaller islets; we visit ten larger islands.
Each island has a distinctive collection of organisms, relating to island size, prevailing currents, proximity to other islands, and past lower sea levels. This unique itinerary gives us a chance of seeing all the endemic Galapagos birds, including the 13 "Darwin's Finches" and Waved Albatross at their remarkable colony on outlying Hood Island.
We'll drive to the highlands of three islands, see Giant Tortoises in the wild as well as at the excellent Darwin Station, and boat to far-western Isabella and Fernandina Islands, with their recently active volcanoes, where we'll see the Flightless Cormorant, Galapagos Penguins and Flamingoes. Whales and dolphins are often found in these waters.
For photographers it is paradise; the animals are unafraid of humans and everything from iguanas to boobies and albatrosses allows close approach. We'll snorkel amongst dazzling fishes and be face-to-muzzle with sea lions. See the itinerary for island-by-island details.
January 7-17, 2012
LEADERS: Mark Smith and local naturalists
This tour combines with separate Andes and Amazon of Ecuador tour,
January 16-22, 2012