TYPES OF TOURS:
Service Programs / Volunteer Vacations
Educational / Cultural Tours
   
2006/2007 DESTINATIONS:
Africa
Australia
Asia
Mexico
Central & South America
Caribbean
North America
   
GROUP DEPARTURES:
Galapagos Enchanted Isles: June 23-July 3**
   
Other Programs:
Musician's Cultural Workshop in Ecuador
   
** These programs are available for credit through the Colorado School of Mines Teacher Enhancement Program.
   

GALAPAGOS ENCHANTED ISLE ADVENTURE
June 23-July 3, 2007

INTRODUCTION:
Ecuador is a land of contrasts. For a country smaller than the entire state of Colorado , it encompasses the full geographic diversity of South America : high Andean terrain, Amazonian jungle, and tropical coast. Straddling the equator, the country offers a wide variety of climates, cultures, and memorable experiences for adventurous eco-tourists.

Nestled in a long, narrow valley between the lush base of the Volcano Pichincha to the west and the precipitous river canyon to the east, the capital city of Quito enjoys an unmatched natural setting. Quito 's classic architecture and modern structures work with the timber and vegetation that ring them to produce South America 's most beautiful capital city.

The Galapagos Islands are located along the Equator, 600 miles off of the coast of mainland Ecuador . Here Darwin formulated his theory of evolution by natural selection. In 1934, Ecuador 's government set aside most of the islands as a wildlife sanctuary. You'll have a number of close encounters with wildlife on the islands. Snorkel alongside the only penguins that live on the Equator. Sunbathe with sea lions on pristine beaches. Marvel at Sally Lightfoot crabs. Watch the albatross, with an eight-foot wingspan, soar over rocky cliffs.

click on map for larger image

ITINERARY:
Saturday, June 24 - Arrive in Quito
You will be picked up at the airport and shuttled to the Hotel Antinea. Opened in 1992, is a first-class hotel with unique furnished apartments. The hotel is located in the heart of Quito 's commercial and banking districts and close to the best restaurants, bars, and shops in Quito .

Sunday, June 25 - Quito
Breakfast Orientation, explore Quito and visit to local artisan market. Lunch and dinner on your own

Monday, June 26 - Fly to Galapagos, board boat, visit San Cristobal Island
San Cristóbal is the most Eastern island in the Galapagos. It is home of the oldest settlement in the islands, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is also the capital of the province Galapagos. San Cristóbal claims some of the most spectacular landscape. The cloud forest in the highlands is perfect habitat for giant tortoises. Frigatebird Hill is a short distance walk where you can see Magnificent Frigatebirds and Great Frigatebirds. El Junco Lagoon is one of the few permanent fresh water lakes in the Galapagos where the bird watching is exceptional as well as the view. About 1 hour travel across a small channel, will take you to Isla Lobos. The name means Sea Lion Island , which is certainly appropriate since many sea lions frolic, leap and make their homes here. This island is also a great place for snorkeling opportunities as well as to view blue-footed boobies. Kicker Rock (or Leon Dormido) is an enormous rock, located off the north west coast of San Cristobal , that rises 500 feet straight up from the ocean. It has the shape of a sleeping lion, and a split with towering verticals on either side, forming a narrow channel.

Tuesday, June 27 - Visit Española: Suarez Point, Gardener Bay.
This is the southernmost island and because of its remote location, it has a high proportion of endemic fauna. For example it is the breeding site of nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses. Española teems with mockingbirds, blue-footed and masked boobies, Darwin finches, Galapagos doves, hawks, red and green marine iguanas, and sea lions. Gardener Bay offers great opportunities for enjoying some beach time in the Galapagos. Punta Suarez is quite an amazing site and one of the most attractive in the Galapagos, because of the quantity and variety of wildlife. The trail along the island will take you past sea lions surfing the breaking waves, iguanas basking in the warm sun and boobies nesting right in your path. The trail continues towards the cliffs and the blowhole, which is a fissure in the lava where water spurts high in the air like a geyser.

Wednesday, June 28 - Visit Floreana: Cormorant Point, Devil´s Crown; Post Office Bay
There are three sites on the north coast of Floreana . Post Office Bay has had a barrel that's been change many times, over the years. Whalers and Galapagos residents use to leave their mail inside it, waiting for a captain of any boat headed to where the mail was addressed to deliver it. Very close-by is a pleasant swimming beach. At Punta Cormorant there is a greenish beach, do to the accumulation of olivine crystal mineral. Sea lions swim and play around while you enjoy a good snorkel. The trail goes to a white sand beach, which is a nesting area for Green Turtles, Stingrays (be careful) and White-tipped reef sharks swimming where waves crash, being visible from the shore. Devil's Crown is a half-submerged volcanic cone, considered to be one of the most outstanding marine sites of the Galapagos Islands .

Thursday, June 29 - Isabella Island: Tortoise Reserve, Flamingo lagoon and Shark Lagoon
Isabela is largest and one of the most volcanically active islands in the Galapagos. The island has six volcanoes and it is well known for the 5 subspecies of giant tortoise that live in the cloud forests of Isabella. These forests, as well as the massive volcanoes silhouetting against the sky, offers a remarkable contrast to the lower islands of the eastern archipelago. West of Isabella, you might very well catch a glimpse of humpback whales breaching completely out of the water, as well as playful dolphins. Stingrays, small sharks, and turtles are found in mangrove lagoons on Isabella. Tagus Cove is one of the landing spots on the island and was historically used as an anchoring site for pirates and whalers. The trail that goes from Tagus Cove will take you through many different vegetation zones and offers spectacular views of Darwin Lake , which is a saltwater crater lake. Once you get to the top of the trail, you will be able to see Darwin Volcano as well as Wolf Volcano, which is the highest point of the islands.

Friday, June 30 - Santa Cruz : Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Station
Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic center of the archipelago, with the largest population of the 4 inhabited islands, approximately 8,000. Tourism, fishing, boat building and commerce are the major productive activities. Santa Cruz is also the only island where six different vegetation zones can be seen: Coastal, Arid, Transition, Scalesia, Miconia and Pampa zones. Santa Cruz is home to the Charles Darwin Station, where visitors can observe tortoise research and breeding programs. Scientists, park rangers, and park managers among others conduct the conservation of the islands and make huge efforts to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don't forget to say hello to the tortoise Lonesome George - the last of his species. A trip to the lush greenery of the Santa Cruz highlands offers a welcome contrast with the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands. You will get a chance to see enormous pit craters, lava tunnels and giant tortoises roaming freely.

Saturday, July 1 st - North Seymour: Bartolomé, Baltra Island
North Seymour is a small, flat island and typical for the arid zone. Palo Santos are endemic to the island. A trail makes a loop to the southwest, inland and along the rocky coast, crossing a colony of blue-footed

Boobies, followed by a colony of magnificent frigate birds. Sea lions bask on the black lava rocks. Bartolome Island - One of the most photographed sites in the Galapagos is a Pinnacle rock, an eroded tuff cone. A 30-minute climb to a summit of a once active volcano offers a panoramic view of Sullivan Bay . The view is educational as well as inspiring, featuring lava formations - spatter cones and lava tubes. There is an excellent opportunity to snorkel from the beach that lines the northern shore. Frequently, penguins are spotted in this area. Take a walk through mangroves to the southern beach. Here you may find mating sea turtles and white tipped sharks close to shore. Wildlife: Galapagos penguin, lava lizard, Galapagos grasshopper, sea turtle, Galapagos. On the west coast of Baltra, Aeolean Cove offers a smooth sand beach. The port is used by the Ecuadorian Navy and as an Air Force base. Baltra Airport was built by the U.S. during WWII as an Army base to defend the Panama Canal . Bachas Beach : The name translates to "barges" which were wrecked offshore during WWII. There is a very lovely beach here with a saltwater lagoon behind it and a longer beach for a leisurely stroll. The lagoon houses great blue herons, sanderlings and semi-palmated plovers. Both beaches are nesting sites for the green sea turtle.

Sunday, July 2 - Domingo, Plazas and Santa Fe.
One of a pair of small uplifted islands a short distance from the east coast of Santa Cruz , South Plaza has a unique Sesuvium plants and Opuntia cactuses landscape which provides some of the most interesting wildlife observation available in Galapagos. Land iguanas are easily seen from the trail. Swallow-tailed gulls, along with various other sea birds use the rising air to glide effortlessly over the escarpment. The protected rocky seashore is prime habitat for a large colony of noisy sea lions. Santa Fe Island has a two trail choices for visitors, one of which takes you to the tallest Opuntia cactus in the Galapagos; while the other trail takes you into the highlands where the land iguana may be seen. After a long walk, swim in calm waters or snorkel with playful sealions.

Monday, July 3 - San Cristobal Interpretation Center
Flight to Quito , Rest at Hotel or go for a final walk around Quito . In the evening, tour the colonial district by carriage and enjoy a traditional farewell dinner.

Tuesday, July 4 - Departures for home

DETAILS:
Dates : June 24- July 4, 2006. Other departures can be arranged for a customized group tour.

Price: The price is $2495 per person based on double occupancy and includes: airfare from Quito to the Galapagos Islands, National Park Fee, accommodations, all transportation while in Ecuador , meals and activities on the yacht, and naturalist guide. The price does NOT include international airfare to Quito , departure taxes, meals on 6/24, lunch and dinner on 6/25 and lunch on 7/3, alcohol, gratuities or personal expenses.

Yacht: Estrella del Mar - This Luxury Yacht features wide sun decks and comfortable dining lounge areas. All double cabins (berth beds) have windows, air conditioning, private bathrooms with hot/cold water and 110V/220V AC.

Call Pam at 720-746-0748 or email her at pam@kindredspiritstourandtravel.com

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