Day 9 (Tues) Transfer to the airport to fly from Lima to QUITO, ECUADOR. Upon arrival in Quito transfer to your Hotel in doubles with breakfast daily for 3 nights, Day 9,10,11.
Quito is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. (B).
Day 10 (Weds) Take the FULL DAY TOUR. Visit the historic stone murals of the Legislative Palace, Independence Plaza and the 16th century San Francisco Monastery. The Jesuitís La Compania Church with its stunning golden altars; and the impressive paintings at the Workshop and museum of Oswaldo Guayasamin. (B)
Day 11 (Thurs) Quito. Excursion to Cotopaxi National Park & Ride on the Chiva Express. Todayís adventure takes you into Cotopaxi National Park at the foot of Cotopaxi Volcano. Inside the park, enjoy lunch at a local familyís hacienda where your meal comes from the surrounding area, with fresh cheese from the farm, vegetables just picked from the garden, homemade desserts, and natural seasonings. Later there will be time to horseback ride, bird watch, or explore the surroundings on foot. Next, head to the station of Chasqui, where the "Chiva Express" a colorful one-coach train, like a bus on tracks, is ready to depart. A highlight of the trip is to "ride the roof" with panoramic views of the stunning Andean region of Ecuador. Up top in the open air, you will leisurely enjoy the ever changing scenery as you roll along the rails, passing local villages and country homes (B,L)
Day 12 (Fri) Morning flight to Baltra, one of the remote Galapagos Islands. Board the M/V Santa Cruz for 4 days of cruising among various Galapagos Islands. Each day, travel ashore to the remove islands with your expert naturalist who introduces you to the unique fauna living free and fearless of man. Giant tortoises, Galapagos fur sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, frigates, and finches are just some of the many endemic species you will find on land. You will also have the chance to take a dip in the turquoise blue waters for a snorkel with colorful tropical fish, playful sea lions and maybe even an equatorial penguin or shark! Today, visit San Cristobal Island, where Charles Darwin first set foot in the Galapagos back in 1835. This island is home to seabirds like blue footed boobies, Nazca boobies, herons, frigate birds, and some shore birds. Also watch for the Chatham (San Cristobal) Mockingbird and Chatham Lava Lizard - both species are endemic to this island and seen nowhere else in Galapagos (B,L,D)
Day 13 (Sat.) Galapagos Islands Cruising. Your exploration continues on Espanola (Hood Island) to see unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses (April - December), Nazca and blue footed boobies, Darwinís finches, and the famous blowhole. Look for red green black marine iguanas and a rookery of sea lions right at the landing site. On Floreana, visit a brackish water lagoon where Greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers and others may be observed. The Florena beach is a great place for marine enthusiasts to spend some time snorkeling (B,L,D)
Day 14 (Sun) Galapagos Islands Cruising. This morning brings you to the youngest island, Fernandina. Having no introduced mammals, Fernandina has a very unique environment with the highest density of marine iguanas, sharing their island habitat with sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs, and hawks. In the afternoon, enjoy a coastal exploration by panga along the cliffs of sunken Ecuador Volcano where our naturalist guides explain the dramatic geology of the area with remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. This is the nesting place of flightless cormorants, the only birds in the world that have changed from flying birds to diving birds. Wildlife here includes sea lions, Galapagos penguins, blue footed and Nazca boobies and noddy terns (B,L,D)
Day 15 (Mon) Galapagos (Disembarkation) Quito. This morning, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, established to help conserve the islandsí natural habitats and protect the areaís famous giant tortoises. Depart the Galapagos today and return to Quito. This evening, gather with your fellow traveling companions as your Tour Director hosts a special Farewell Dinner to celebrate an unforgettable experience. (B,D)
Day 16 (Tue) Enjoy a full day at leisure. Your homebound flight departs late this evening (B).
Day 17 Arrive home.
M/V Santa Cruz: The 46 cabin M/V Santa Cruz was build exclusively for Galapagos Islands cruising. This ship features a bar and jacuzzi, along with an observation platform for dolphin and whale watching on the top deck. The dining room, lounge, and bar are elegantly appointed, as is the well stocked library/reading room. All cabins are outside and feature air conditioning, private bathrooms, hairdryer, and safety deposit boxes. As an alternative to snorkeling, the glass bottom boat offers another opportunity to observe marine life. The M/V Santa Cruz has gained worldwide recognition for its excellent standards, including superb service, expert crew, the most knowledgeable multilingual naturalist/guides, and menus that feature the very best international cuisine and celebrated Ecuadorian dishes.
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS EXTENSION: $2,745 pp