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Galapagos Land & Sea – Central Islands
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Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin as you board the /Queen of the Galapagos/ for a fascinating voyage around these ecologically-rich islands. Stay the night on the island of San Cristobal, visit freshwater lakes, snorkel among sharks and rays, spot countless endemic birds and get up close to the iconic giant tortoise.
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Your Example Itinerary
Fly from the UK to Quito and transfer to your hotel to meet your group.
Isla San Cristobal
Fly to the wildlife haven of San Cristóbal Island and meet your guide, who will take you to Laguna El Junco, a freshwater lake at a slightly elevated altitude, to look for endemic birdlife. Call in at the Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Center and see various species of giant tortoise close up, some newly hatched and some over 100 years old. You’ll also take a look around the Interpretation Center, where you’ll learn about the history, geology and biology of the Galapagos Islands.
Spend the morning snorkelling at the mysterious Kicker Rock, a dramatic protrusion of monolithic rock surrounded by waters rich in nutrients. Both Galapagos and hammerhead sharks flock to the area, so enter the water and see what you can find. Next, board your comfortable boat, check in to your cabin and sail to the sea lions at Isla Lobos. You can snorkel right off the beach here, and if you are lucky, the inquisitive sea lions might come up and say hello.
Isla North Seymour
Look out for land iguanas at South Plaza, one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos. Take a walk through the cactus forest and see if you can spot red-billed tropicbirds or swallow-tailed gulls. In the afternoon, head on to North Seymour, home to vast colonies of sea lion, marine iguanas and various birds. Frigatebirds, with bright red pouches on their necks and blue-footed boobies are particularly photogenic favourites. You can also walk the trails through the forests, looking out for lava lizards and the Galapagos snake.
Chinese Hat / Bachas Beach
The Chinese Hat, or Sombrero Chino, is one of the most recognisable features of the Galapagos Islands: a gently sloping volcanic cone rising out of the water, which is also an excellent snorkelling spot. Look out for white-tipped reef sharks, or if you are very lucky, a Galapagos penguin. Walk barefoot along the soft coral sand of Bachas Beach, looking out for nesting turtles, exploring the lava rocks and looking out for the orange and blue Sally Lightfoot crabs.
Head on to Isla Santa Cruz and the town of Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos Islands. Visit the Charles Darwin Research station, including close encounters with giant tortoises and new-born giant turtles. The station aims to conserve the unique ecosystem on these islands, and is manned by international scientists and naturalist guides in training. Learn about the evolution of various endemic species and observe the land iguanas and tortoises in captivity, then fly to back to Quito for your final night.
Depart Quito and return to the UK.
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