Visit the Galapagos Islands with PolarQuest
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Galapagos ReQuest with the highlands of Ecuadors 2017

Accommodation: Hotels in Otavalo, Quito and Cuenca, cabin on board the M/Y Beluga. Transport: Expedition yacht, Zodiacs, bus, plane. Ship: M/Y Beluga. Guides: One PolarQuest tour leader and one experienced National Park guide in Galapagos. Passengers: 11 - 15 participants.. Languages: English & Swedish. Length: 14 days, 7 nights on ship. Price: From USD 9 590.

Itinerary

This exciting trip starts on mainland Ecuador, where we explore its capital, Quito, and the Indian village of Otavalo. We continue to the Galapagos Islands and spend seven nights on board the comfortable 15-passenger yacht M/Y Beluga. A PolarQuest guide will escort us throughout the trip and in Galapagos a knowledgeable National Park guide will join us. We will use our sturdy Zodiacs to make daily landfalls and explore the islands’ unique flora and fauna. There is snorkelling equipment on board and we will get several chances to explore the amazing underwater world of these enchanted islands. We swim with penguins, photograph tortoises and meet charming and playful sea lions on white sandy beaches. The animals of the Galapagos are curious and unafraid of humans and we will have many incredible and close wildlife encounters. After eight days in the Galapagos we return to mainland Ecuador and head to the Andean highlands. We stay in Cuenca, known for its beauty and impressive colonial architecture. We also explore the magnificent Cajas National Park and the famous Inca ruins of Ingapirca.

Day 1: London – Quito – Otavalo, Ecuador

We fly from London and arrive in Quito, Ecuador’s beautiful capital situated at 9 300 ft above sea level and flanked by the snow-capped peaks of the Andes. We transfer by bus to the Indian village of Otavalo, where we check in at the lovely Hacienda Pinsaqui and enjoy a delicious dinner.

Day 2: Otavalo

Today we explore the colourful Indian food and handicraft market. Later we walk through one of the other picturesque villages in the area, Iluman or Pequche, where we visit some of the local craftsmen. We eat dinner and spend the night at Hacienda Pinsaqui.

Day 3: Pinsaqui – Quito

On our way to Quito we pass the Equator and take a closer look at the monument that marks the centre of our planet. We enjoy lunch in the vicinity of El Panecillo, from where we have an excellent view of Quito. Afterwards we explore the old town and continue to the charming Café Cultura for dinner and overnight.

Day 4: Quito – Baltra & Santa Cruz, Galapagos

We fly to Baltra in Galapagos and transfer to the island of Santa Cruz. Here, we head for the highland and the wild giant tortoises. In the afternoon we board our comfortable motor yacht M/Y Beluga and enjoy our first dinner on board.

Day 5: Floreana

Floreana is not only known for its interesting history of buccaneers, whalers, convicts and early colonists but also for its wildlife. At Punta Cormorant we land on a greenish beach, coloured by a large amount of olivine crystals and usually filled with playful sea lions. Close by we find a beautiful white sandy beach and the bay is frequently visited by rays. We hike from black mangrove beds to a large inland lagoon. If lucky we meet the pink flamingos that can be seen here. Just off Punta Cormorant lies Devil Crown, one of Galapagos’ many wonderful snorkelling sites. Here we have a chance to swim with different species of tropical fish, sea turtles, reef sharks and sea lions. The reef is a completely submerged volcano that eroded and created the appearance of a crown. We will also visit Post Office Bay with its unique post barrel from 1793. The postal service still works in the same way today!

Day 6: Isabela

Today we get familiar with Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago, formed by five young and still active volcanoes. We head for Sierra Negra, which caldera measure a diameter of ten kilometres. The adventure continues towards Puerto Villamil, a small and charming village. In the area we find a tortoise breeding station, a lagoon, that is a popular haunt for flamingos, and Los Humedales with wetlands, mangroves, sandy beaches and rocky shores.

Day 7: Isabela

Punta Moreno is located on the South-western coast of Isabela and offers fantastic views of the volcanoes Alcedo, Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. Here we find mangrove forests, lava formations, lagoons and cactuses. The site is also a popular spot for coastal and migratory birds. Later we explore the mangrove lagoon Elizabeth Bay with our Zodiacs and hope to see penguins, blue footed boobies and cormorants. We also keep our eyes open for rays and sea turtles!

Day 8: Isabela

Today we explore Urbina Bay. At the lava shores we encounter dragon-like marine iguanas and sea birds such as the brown pelican. Hopefully we also see giant tortoises and colourful land iguanas. Close to Urbina Bay is Tagus Cove, a natural harbour, where whalers and pirates centuries ago painted and carved their ships’ names on the rocks. From here we make our way up to Darwin’s crater, which today is a salt-water lake, to enjoy the rewarding views.

Day 9: Fernandina & Isabela

Fernandina is the youngest and a still active volcanic island of the Galapagos. Punta Espinoza is famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas – the world’s only sea-living lizard. It is also the habitat of several unique species such as the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin and Galapagos hawk. The landscape is dominated by cactuses, mangrove areas and different types of lava flows. One of our goals on Isabela is to explore Punta Vicente Roca with our Zodiacs. As we cruise along the cliffs and the partially sunken cave at the water’s edge, we hope to spot the Nasca boobies, and the charming blue-footed boobies that inhabit the shoreline.

Day 10: Santiago & Bartolomé

At Puerto Egas on Santiago we meet the endemic Galapagos fur seals and marine iguanas and watch the playful sea lions. This island is also home to a variety of birds such as yellow-crowned night herons, lava herons and oystercatchers. The surrounding water is perfect for snorkelling and swimming and if lucky we see manta rays, sea turtles or reef sharks. A walk along the rocky coastline will show us some of Galapagos’ most spectacular tide pools. The island Bartolomé offers incredible sceneries and we hike across a moon-like landscape of lava fields and volcanic craters. At the beach we hope to encounter the endemic Galapagos penguin as well as marine iguanas, sea lions and lava lizards.

Day 11: North Seymour – Baltra – Guayaquil – Cuenca

North Seymour is one of few places in Galapagos where you can encounter the magnificent frigate bird with its red-coloured throat pouches. Here we also have the chance to see colonies of blue footed boobies, swallow tailed gulls and the endemic Palo Santo tree. On Baltra we disembark M/Y Beluga and fly to Guayaquil in Ecuador to explore the highlands. On our way towards the mountains we travel through magnificent landscape. In Cuenca we check in at the hotel Mansion Alcázar, an impressive piece of architecture from the colonial times. Before dinner we stroll along the cobblestone streets of Cuenca, by many considered the most beautiful city in Ecuador.

Day 12: Ingapirca

We venture deeper into the Andean highlands to Ingapirca, Ecuador’s most important archaeological site, built by the Inca Indians in the 1400’s. A local guide helps us grasp the intriguing history of this ancient empire. After lunch we return to Cuenca and explore the market. Here, we find a wealth of exotic fruits, weavings and other handicrafts. In the evening we enjoy a delicious dinner at our charming hotel, Manison Alcázar.

Day 13: Cajas National Park – Guayaquil

Travelling through high Andean mountain passes we reach Cajas National Park. Here we walk among the impressive paper bark trees, while our guide helps us identify some of the area’s many colourful bird species. In the afternoon we return to Guayaquil, leave Ecuador to fly back home.

Day 14: London

Arrive in London.

Please note:
Our exact route and port calls will depend on local authorities and might be subject to change.

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The ship M/Y Beluga

  • Superior cabin
  • Lounge

The spacious motor yacht M/Y Beluga accommodates 15 passengers in 8 comfortable cabins. She is equipped with the most modern safety and mechanical equipment. All cabins are air-conditioned and have private facilities. The standard cabins have portholes and the superior cabins large windows. M/Y Beluga offers social areas with all the comforts and facilities of a superior first class motor yacht. On board you find a lounge and dining room and on the large sundeck you can relax, search for wildlife or just enjoy the magnificent sceneries of Galapagos. There is also a top deck and the bridge is open at all times.

Cabins & prices

Cabin category Price per person
Standard Cabin (2 separate beds or double bed) USD 9 590
Superior Cabin (2 separate beds or double bed) USD 10 390

Please note: both trips are fully booked. Please let us know if you would like be on the waiting list or register your interest for future trips.

Price includes: Flights London - Quito, Quito - Galapagos, Galapagos - Guayaquil, Guayaquil - London . 7 nights on board the M/Y Beluga . 2 nights at Hacienda Pinsaqui outside Otavalo . 1 night at Café Cultura in Quito . 2 nights at Mansion Alcázar in Cuenca . All transfers . All meals . 1 PolarQuest tour leader . 1 experienced National Park guide in Galapagos . Lectures on board and guided walks ashore . Snorkeling equipment and wetsuit on board M/Y Beluga . Entrance Fee to the Galapagos National Park (USD 100) . Comprehensive pre-departure material and a post expedition logbook . The customary gratuity to all local guides and ship’s crew.

Not included: Travel and cancellation insurance . Beverages . Airport taxes.

Departures & booking

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or wish to make a reservation.

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Departure Return
7 November 2017 20 November 2017
21 November 2017 4 December 2017