This exiciting 12 day itinerary combines the wildlife haven of the Galapagos Islands, situated 600 miles from the coast of Ecuador out in the Pacific Ocean, with magical Easter Island, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and famous for its monumental statues known as Moai.
Day 1: Private transfer from Guayaquil Airport to your hotel. 1 night accommodation including breakfast Hotel Wyndham.
Day 2: Transfer from your hotel in Guayaquil to the Airport. Flight from Guayaquil to Baltra.
Baltra - Manzanillo Tortoise Reserve
Upon arrival at the airport on Baltra Island, we travel across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island where a bus takes us to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Here we visit the Giant Tortoises Reserve in their natural habitat, a once in a lifetime experience! Make sure you wear outdoors clothing and sturdy footwear this day. Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year round, tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-coloured pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds). The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian-, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit. After lunch and exploring the tortoise reserve, we continue our road south bound across Santa Cruz Island to Puerto Ayora, the Galápagos’ most populous town, where we board the hotel’s fiber glass boat (called a “panga”) for the short hop across to the “German Neighborhood”. This part of Puerto Ayora can only be reached by boat and there are no cars. A short walk along a path takes us to the hotel. Welcome to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel! After checking in, guests are free to enjoy the hotel’s attractions: the pool and bar area, the white coral beach in front of the hotel, or swing in their hammock. In the evening, dinner includes the delicacies of local and international gastronomy, one of the main reasons people choose the Finch Bay Hotel.
Day 3: Carrión Point & South Plaza Island
Today we visit this small island full of fascinating wildlife, both along its shore and along its dramatic, wind-swept cliffs: sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, Opuntia cacti and vegetation that changes colors according to the season. We cross the island of Santa Cruz to meet the yacht at the Itabaca Channel (which separates Santa Cruz Island from Baltra - this road should be familiar to you). This way we maximize the distance and the time available to be able to visit two National Park sites and spend less time sailing on the yacht (it is shorter and faster to take a bus 42 km, rather than sailing on the yacht 50 km!). At Itabaca, we embark on the Sea Lion Yacht, and immediately get acquainted with the safety procedures, as well as facilities of the vessel. The captain will soon set course to the first stop, Punta Carrión, at the north-eastern tip of Santa Cruz Island. Our guides will seek out the best site along the cliffs for an enjoyable snorkel. Back on board, we continue sailing round the eastern coast of Santa Cruz until we reach a group of islets and rocks: South and North Plaza are twin, crescent-shaped islands. While the northern twin remains accessible only for scientists, South Plaza is one of Galápagos most impressive visiting sites. Only 130 meters wide (426 feet), it was formed from uplifted seabed, giving it a tilted tabletop aspect. Our landing is in the channel between North and South Plaza, where the island slopes down toward the water. The approach makes for a lavishly colorful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange “Sally light foot” crabs. Further up the shore, a carpet of scarlet Sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-gray land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. The trail gradually follows the tilt of the island to the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the south, where swallow-tailed gulls nest. Red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-footed boobies ride the gusty currents. The overlook is a great place for spotting large marine life, including manta rays. Surf pounds an inlet at the western corner of the island, where a colony of bachelor sea lions make their home, accounting for the surprising surface of the rocks, polished by the oils of their fur.
Day 4: Divine Bay
This is the magic of Galápagos: a short distance away from Academy Bay and the bustle of Puerto Ayora, lies the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the islands first settlers, this cove is protected from the swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side, by a gallery of mangrove trees on the other and cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The whole provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife. Every morning, hundreds of herons cross Divine Bay on their daily foraging trips, to return before sunset to perch amid the trees. Noddy terns use the natural burrows in the cliffs for nesting, while Galápagos brown pelicans prefer the evergreen mangroves, under the watchful eye of non-breeding blue footed boobies perched along the cliffs. Beneath the sea, sea turtles graze on sea weed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature. We can explore this lovely cove by boat while more adventurous guests could take the tandem, sit-on-top kayaks straight from the hotel’s beachfront. The morning’s visit includes snorkeling on a calm, but active, sector of the cove. This is next to a wooden dock we use to explore Punta Estrada. A dry landing and a short walk (0.5 km) will lead us to the south shore of the island, to a small beach called “Playa de los Perros” (Dog Beach). This is a great place to see intertidal organisms and learn about marine iguanas in their nesting sites. Also, there’s a nearby natural terrace from where young white tipped reef sharks can be observed from above as they swim about the lava crevices. After this morning’s visit we return to the Finch Bay Hotel for lunch. Afternoon visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise breeding programme, with time to enjoy the town, or the hotel’s facilities.
Day 5: Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the archipelago. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted, and you can see where underwater lava once cooled off (pillow lava). A wet landing on a sandy white beach brings us into contact with one of the many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right to be Beach Master, while smaller males masquerade as females and make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily approached, perched atop salt bushes. The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name, with tree-sized trunks! Our goal is to spot one of the large species of land iguana, native to Santa Fe. Beige to chocolate brown in color with dragon-like spines, these huge iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs. An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thickets, and lucky hikers can spot harmless Galápagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than a swim in the calm waters of the bay, a great snorkeling opportunity with diverse marine life. This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain.
Day 6: Departure
After breakfast we leave the Finch Bay Hotel and on the way to Baltra, stop at the Twin Pit Craters, great geological depressions of volcanic material, formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. Then, overland transfer to the airport in Baltra to take the flight back to the continent.
Flight from Baltro to Guayaquil. Private transfer from Guayaquil airport to your hotel.
1 night accommodation including breakfast Hotel Wyndham.
For excursions, please take solar protection, cap or hat, bathing suit, long-sleeved shirt, water bottle, snorkelling gear (if you have your own; mask, snorkel and fins are provided free of charge), camera, appropriate shoes for wet landings and hikes on lava terrain (sneakers or similar) with thick soles. Expedition staff will give further details and recommendations, as well as more natural history background, the night before. - Lunch is served on board the yacht during excursions. Please let us know of any dietary restrictions.
Optional Activities - At Extra Cost - Please Enquire
Cerro Puntudo hike. Specialised birdwatching; full-day mountain biking; full-day surfing; full-day kayaking; SCUBA diving packages also available.
Day 7: Private transfer from Hotel in Guayaquil to Airport. Flight from Guayaquil to Santiago. 1 night accommodation including breakfast Hotel Holiday Inn Airport Santiago.
Day 8: Flight from Santiago to Easter Island Arrival on Easter Island, a charge of USD60.00/person needs to be paid to immigration for entrance to national park. This can not be pre-paid so please ensure you carry the correct cash. Transfer from Easter Island Airport to your hotel. 4 nights accommodation including buffet breakfast Hotel Otai.
Day 9: Shared tour of Easter Island. Includes entrance to the museum, with English speaking guide. Departure from the hotel in Hanga Roa, tour across the Moai route, these colossal sculptures carved in volcanic rock are scattered all around the island. Visit the “Ahu” o ceremonial platforms, starting with Ahu Vaihu, surrounded by Moais that lay face down on the ground. Then visit to Ahu Akahanga, where the first king of the island was buried. The tour continues to Rano Raraku Volcano, located near the southern coast and at the feet of Poike, the most spectacular crater of the zone, where the ancient natives sculpted these stone giants. Later, departure to Ahu Tongariki, the biggest Moai platform in the island, it is formed by 15 Moais. The place was destroyed in May 1960 by a tsunami, and it has been restored mainly thanks to Japanese foundations. Arrival to Ahu Te Pito Kura, where there is an enormous spherical rock and the Moai Paro, the largest statue in the island. Later, arrival to Anakena, one of the most beautiful beaches in the island. Return to the hotel in Hanga Roa.
Day 10: Departure from the hotel in Hanga Roa, heading North towards Ahu Akivi, platform composed by 7 Moais. These are the only Moais on the island that were positioned facing the sea. Departure to Ana Tepahu, also known as the Cave of the Bananas. The tour continues visiting the Puna Pau, quarry where the Pukao where carved, Pukao are also known as the typical hairstyle or the hats of the moais. Here it is possible to learn more about the making, building, and transportation process of these colossal sculptures carved on volcanic rock. Return to the hotel in Hanga Roa.
Day 11: Departure from the hotel in Hanga Roa, towards Rano Kao Volcano, inside its deep crater there is a lake of fresh water covered with totora. Located on the top of the crater is Orongo, the centre where each year the Tangata Manu or Bird Man ceremony was celebrated, those festivities currently take place during summer. There are more than 100 petroglyphs representing the god Make Make, the Tangata Manu, and the Manutara sea bird, among others. Visit to the caves Ana Kai Tangata, which contains several cave paintings. Departure to the ceremonial platform Ahu Vinapu, well known for its architectural perfection. Return to the hotel.
Day 12: Transfer from your hotel to Easter Island Airport. Flight from Easter Island to Santiago.
Tour Recommendations Easter Island: comfortable shoes and clothes, cap or hat, sun block, sunglasses, mineral water.