Festival of Wildlife 2005 Itinerary
Saturday 2nd April 05 Depart London to Quito
Depart from London Heathrow Terminal 2 at 07:25 bound for Quito flying via Madrid with Iberia.
On arrival in the evening at 16:15, you will be transfer to the Grand Hotel Mercure Alameda in Quito for a 2-night stay on a full board basis. The capital of Ecuador, Quito, brings the past to life in its museums, monasteries, the carved stone facades and golden altars of its many churches, as well as in the Archaeological Museum that displays centuries of pre-Columbian treasures. After a tour of the old town you enjoy a welcome dinner at one of Quito's top restaurants.
The Grand Hotel Mercure Alameda is graced with a veritable tradition of hospitality and top quality services and is classed as a "first superior" hotel, this being equivalent to our 4/5 star hotels. It is situated just off the Amazonas Avenue, in an ideal position for restaurants, shopping, and if you had time perhaps a visit to the park and museums. Rooms here are very comfortable, with all those facilities usually offered by a hotel of this standard, including mini-bar, en-suite bathroom and hairdryer!
Sunday 3rd April 05 Day trip to Cotopaxi
Today you will travel south along the Avenue of Volcanoes, to visit Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary of 36,000 hectares surrounding the Cotopaxi Volcano (which means "neck of the moon") - the worlds highest active volcano. The snow-covered peak towers almost 6000 metres above the valley. Here, you may spot llamas, wild horses, wild cattle, deer, the Andean Puma, wolves, rabbits, the Andean Gull, ducks, hummingbirds and if you are exceptionally lucky an Andean Condor!
You will enjoy a traditional Ecuadorian lunch at the Hacienda El Porvenir, isolated high in the Ecuadorian Andes at the edge of Cotopaxi National Park, its location makes it the perfect destination for adventurous spirits, while its overall charm, tranquility, exquisite service and cuisine make it the perfect place to relax. You will be able to spend the rest of the day hiking or horse riding through the Andean moorland, before returning to Quito and the Alameda Hotel for the night, where you will have dinner followed by an introductory talk on the Galapagos and its wildlife.
Monday 4th April 2005 Board the M/V Santa Cruz, Baltra & Santa Cruz Islands
After breakfast you will be transferred to Quito airport for your flight, via Guayaquil, to Baltra Island and immediately transfer by bus (5 minutes) to the dock to board the MV SANTA CRUZ, your home for the next 4-nights on a full board basis. Cabin assignment is followed by an introductory welcome talk, lunch, and ship's boat drill, before sailing on to Santa Cruz Island.
The Galapagos Islands (named after the giant Galapagos tortoises), lie 1000 Km. (600 miles) off Ecuador's Pacific Coast originated from undersea volcanic activity, six million years ago. The archipelago's 13 major islands, 6 smaller ones, and scores of islets are all part of Ecuador's National Park system. In 1835 the young Charles Darwin visited the islands and discovered this "living laboratory" which inspired his writings on the Theory of Evolution. Many of the animals on the Galapagos Islands have developed into different species from their continental relatives, and because they have never experienced man as a predator, they show no fear of humans.
After lunch you will disembark at Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) (dry landing) to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station (with a special "behind the scenes" tour of the captive-breeding program for the giant tortoises). Impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest and many land birds can be also seen. Then, a stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora will allow you to see how GalapagueÆ?Â±os live in this magical paradise. Return to the MV SANTA CRUZ for your first dinner, talk and night on board
Tuesday 5th April 2005 BartolomÆ?Â© & Puerto Egas Islands
After sailing on to BartolomÆ?Â© Island you disembark (dry landing) for a hike to the summit. This is a steep climb aided by a wooden staircase; the view from the top is worth the effort. You will travel by panga around the colossal Pinnacle Rock, where you will have time to enjoy the beach (wet landing) and snorkel, perhaps with GalÆ?Â¡pagos Penguins. There is also the possibility to ride on the glass bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.
After lunch you will enjoy an afternoon outing at Puerto Egas (wet landing). This is a great location to see shore birds, while land birds can be observed a little more inland. The trail brings you to a colony of endemic fur-sea lions. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon emerald green algae beds. There should be the opportunity for some outstanding snorkelling and swimming from the beach before the walk back to the ship.
Wednesday 6th April 2005 Darwin Bay & North Seymour Islands
Before breakfast, there will be an early morning arrival into Darwin Bay. Wet landing at a small white-coralline beach for an easy stroll observing hundreds of birds, mainly Great frigate birds, red footed and Nazca (masked) boobies, lava gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. Those of you who feel a bit more adventurous can snorkel along the cliffs and look for Hammerhead Sharks. You will return to the boat for lunch, then may wish to spend some time on deck looking for dolphins and possibly whales.
North Seymour Islands is one of the few uplifted islands in GalÆ?Â¡pagos. In previous times, this was the ocean's bed. This afternoon's walk includes a dry landing to view the coast and the interior of the island, while exploring colonies of blue footed boobies, frigate birds, and swallow-tail gulls. The sandy shore teems with GalÆ?Â¡pagos sea lions and marine iguanas.
Thursday 7th April 2005 Santa Fe & Santa Cruz Islands
Today there will be an early morning disembarkation to visit Gardner Bay (Hood Island). After breakfast, disembark (wet landing) for a short walk along the whitest coral beach you can possibly imagine. You can either take a short walk and watch the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches, enjoy the beach, snorkel and swim from the beach, or ride the glass-bottom boat around nearby islets.
After lunch there will be an afternoon excursion at Punta Suarez (dry landing) for an exciting walk on lava terrain to visit its unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses (April - December) and the famous blowhole. This is also home for blue-footed boobies, swallowtail gulls, the Hood island mockingbird, red-green-black marine iguanas, and of course a rookery of sea lions right at the landing site. For those planning not to walk the entire trail, there will be a dinghy ride arranged along the coastline of Punta Suarez, followed by a very short walk under easy walking conditions.
Friday 8th April 2005
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San CristÆ?Â³bal Island)
Disembark at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. This small attractive port is the provincial capital of the GalÆ?Â¡pagos Islands (population 4,000), along a crescent-shaped bay. It was this very same island that Charles Darwin first visited, back in September 1835. You will pay a final visit to the San CristÆ?Â³bal highlands in search of giant tortoises, before being transferred to the airport to take the flight back to the continent and Guayaquil.
You will arrive into Guayaquil, located in a tropical region and Ecuador's largest and most modern city. You will spend one night here at the Grand Hotel Guayaquil, with time to relax or explore as you wish.. Just a few meters from the beautiful Guayas River, the new and spectacular Malecon 2000 Harbour, and Museums the Grand Hotel Guayaquil is unique - it shares a whole city block with the largest and the most spectacular Cathedral in Guayaquil. The Cathedral's spires and impressive stained glass windows adorn the hotel's inner court and lush climbing garden. You will enjoy a final, farewell dinner at the hotel's colonial style "1822" restaurant.
Saturday 9th April 2005 Depart Ecuador
After breakfast you may wish to explore the city and do some souvenir shopping, just relax at the hotel or visit a banana Hacienda for lunch. After lunch you will be taken to the Melecon 2000 Imax Cinema for a special showing of the Smithsonian Institution 3D film "Galapagos". You will depart from Guayaquil airport at 19:55 on the overnight Iberia flight IB 6634.
Sunday 10th April 2005 Arrive UK
Arrive into London Heathrow Terminal 2 at 15:55
Please note that the exact itinerary and series of talks and workshops has yet to be finalized and will be done in due course.
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