Visiting the Galápagos Islands is a life-changing experience, and the magic and mystery of the islands will inspire you to think differently about the world. This isolated group of volcanic islands, sprinkled 620 miles off Ecuador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean, has taken on almost mythological status as a showcase of biodiversity which inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. With the lack of natural predators, the friendly Galápagos animals are completely fearless of humans, and this is perhaps the only place in the world, where you can see the wildlife so close-up: gigantic sea tortoises walk next to you, the blue-footed booby performs its mating dance right in front of you and sea lions do figure eights as you snorkel past. Most of the islands are devoid of vegetation and it is this lunar landscape, one of the most amazing places on Earth, that supports the fragile ecosystem offering such truly unique experiences. The enchanted Galápagos Islands comprise a mysterious landscape of wonder, beauty, and the most unusual wildlife found anywhere on Earth.
The focus of the tour is the abundant biodiversity and the geological wonders of the enchanted Galápagos Islands, but we will also spend two full days exploring Ecuador's capital of Quito, getting an appreciation for its fascinating colonial history, its people and its culture. While the Galápagos Islands will make you feel like you’ve journeyed off the map, the experience of visiting Quito is very much grounded on Earth. The city is a geographical contrast: located at 10,000 feet and flanked by gorgeous snowcapped mountains, it is only 11 miles from the Equator. It also offers surreal visual contrasts: the Colonial Old Town, filled with gothic and baroque Spanish churches, is lined with gleaming skyscrapers and modern architecture. This visual drama of the city sets the stage for wonders of the rest of the country.
After two days spent touring Quito, we'll fly to the Galápagos Islands, and board M/V Galápagos Legend to spend 5 days cruising around six of the islands, made famous by Charles Darwin, as we learn about their uniqueness from a highly qualified and diverse team of experts. The magnificent M/V Galápagos Legend is a newly refurbished ship, outfitted with a fleet of Zodiacs and snorkeling gears. It is small enough for an intimate experience, yet offers the little luxuries that our travelers expect: a spacious library and lecture rooms, a bar and a restaurant, a pool, a jacuzzi and a running track. During the cruise, we'll explore the varied marine life and the rich flora and fauna, as we wake up to a new vista each day.
We'll see prehistoric iguanas, giant tortoises, exotic birds, plants, beautiful landscapes of volcanoes, lava cones and magma flows. We'll swim and snorkel in the warm clear waters among tropical fish, manta rays, sea lions, swordfish, sea turtles and other marine wildlife. We'll watch the antics of Blue-footed Boobies and observe the beauty of Nazca Boobies, flamingos, and Frigate birds. We'll get up close to sea lions, seals, Sally Lightfoot crabs, iguana, penguins, and giant land tortoises in their native habitat, where Darwin developed his research on evolution. We'll enjoy two shore excursions daily, as well as lectures explaining the geology, history, evolution, flora and fauna of the islands.