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ECUADOR 
The Wonders of the Galápagos - Itinerary
DATES & COST 

February 3 - 11, 2020 
9 Days / 8 Nights
Tour starts and ends in Quito, Ecuador

$4,990 per person / double occupancy
$1,930 optional single supplement (4 single rooms available)
$890 optional balcony cabin upgrade (single or double)

Additional night in Quito: $280 twin or single room (includes airport transfer)
Includes all fees and taxes

TOUR DIRECTOR 
TOUR MAP 
Click on the image to enlarge the map

ONE ROOM LEFT (SINGLE OR SHARED)

This tour starts on MondayFebruary 3, 2020 in Quito.
Since there are no activities scheduled on February 3, you can arrive at any time during the day.

Day 1: Arrivals in Quito 

If you are arriving in Ecuador from the US or Canada, your flight will probably arrive late in the evening. On arrival at the Quito International Airport (UIO), you will be met by your private chauffeur, who will transfer you to the hotel. At 9,350 feet, Quito is the highest capital city in the world. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, yet only miles from the Equator, the city is famous for its magnificent Spanish colonial architecture and lively street life. The Swissotel Quito is located in the city's Floresta neighborhood, within a 10-minute walk of Museo Amazonico and close to Quito’s Old Town District, set among art galleries, upscale restaurants and leafy parks, the perfect place to begin your Ecuador adventure.
Accommodations: Swissotel Quito
Meals: none

Day 2: Quito 

We'll spend our first full day in Ecuador touring the capital city of Quito. With its thousands of years of native South American and Inca traditions interwoven wtih European culture and Catholic religion, Quito offers a fascinating mix of monumental Spanish gothic and baroque cathedrals and churches set against the modern, gleaming skyscrapers. This morning, we'll visit the Plaza Grande flanked by the Presidential and the Archbishop’s palaces from the 13th and 14th century, the Moorish-styled Metropolitan Cathedral, the baroque Jesuit Church and Convent, and Plaza of San Francisco. In the evening, we'll celebrate our upcoming adventure with an elegant dinner at one of Quito's upscale restaurants.
Accommodations: Swissotel Quito
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Pichincha Volcano, Middle of the World  

Today, we'll continue our exploration of Quito, starting with a ride on the TeleferiQo, a gondola up the side of Pichincha Volcano. From the top, we'll be able to admire both the capital city below and the Pichincha Volcano towering above it. We'll continue the day with a stop at the Mercado Artesanal, a lively artisan market, selling Ecuadorian textiles, jewelry and traditional local crafts. Afterwards, we’ll travel 11 miles north of the city, close to the Equator and after a delicious lunch at an emblematic restaurant on the edge of a volcano, we’ll see the "Middle of the World" site and the Equator Monument situated at 0º0’0” latitude, where an 18th century multinational expedition located the Equator and established for the first time the Earth's accurate measurements, followed by a visit to the Ethnographic Exhibit, illustrating the diversity of Ecuador’s indigenous groups.
Accommodations: Swissotel Quito
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Quito to Baltra, Santa Cruz

Click on the image to enlarge the map

This morning, we'll take an early flight to the Galápagos Islands. On arrival at the Baltra airport, we'll transfer to M/V Galápagos Legend, our home for the next 4 nights. After some time to rest and lunch onboard, in the afternoon we'll set out to the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. There are two flamingo ponds beyond the beach, where native species of red and black mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon. Here, we’ll be able to see iguanas sunbathe and  observe coastal birds, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and gulls. This beach is one of the main sea turtles nesting sites in the Galápagos. A turtle lays eggs 3 or 4 times per season with an average of 70 eggs each time, and meanwhile they enjoy swimming in the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface while fish, rays and small sharks circle below. 
Accommodations: M/V Galápagos Legend
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Egas Port and Rabida 

After breakfast today, we'll set out for Egas Port, a black volcanic sand beach, visited by Darwin in 1835. We’ll take a walk on the trail among the volcanic ash and the black basalt rock through this unique, strikingly layered terrain of Santiago shore, home to a variety of animals including the bizarre yellow-crowned night heron and marine wildlife including lobster, starfish and marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside Sally light-foot crabs. It is easy to see colonies of endemic fur seals swimming in cool water volcanic rock pools. After lunch on the ship, we'll set out for the dark red beaches and surreal landscapes of Rabida. With the diversity of its volcanic geology, this island is considered the epicenter of the Galápagos. Some of the unique Galápagos species can be seen on the island of Rabida: Brown Pelicans, Marine Iguanas, Sea Lions, Blue-footed Boobies, and nine species of the famous Darwin’s finches. After exploring the island, we'll take a dinghy ride along the cliffs to observe nesting seabirds, and snorkel off the coast, where marine life is particularly active. In the evening, we'll enjoy dinner, followed by the ship's naturalists' lecture on the Galápagos flora and fauna.
Accommodations: M/V Galápagos Legend
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Isabela 

Today, we'll trace the west coast of the Isabela Island, one of the younger Galápagos islands, formed by six shield volcanoes, five of which remain active. We'll first land on a volcanic black beach of Urbina Bay, keeping an eye out for giant tortoises, land iguanas and the unusual Flightless Cormorant. After a short walk, we'll enjoy some excellent snorkeling, giving us another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay also features a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season, and we'll observe the beautiful colors of plants that attract different insects, birds and reptiles, and a backdrop of the spectacular view of Alcedo Volcano. Later, we'll explore the aftermath of the 1954 volcanic activity which left nearly four miles of coral reef suspended 15 to 20 feet above the water’s surface. In the afternoon, we'll take a short, but steep, hike to Darwin’s salt-water crater lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations. Then, we'll enjoy a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where we will admire a variety of seabirds, such as Blue-footed Booby, Brown Noddy, terns, Flightless Cormorant and a large number of small Galápagos Penguins, the only penguin species to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the equator. The population of penguins on the islands is about 2,000, they are monogamous and lay their eggs in small cracks of lava near the shoreline. Later, we'll have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water, before coming back to the ship in time for dinner and another fascinating lecture on the Galápagos geology.
Accommodations: M/V Galápagos Legend
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Fernandina and Isabela 

In the morning, we'll dry land at Espinosa Point on the moon-like island of Fernandina, where we can see across the Bolívar Channel which boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galápagos. The largest, most primitive-looking race of marine iguanas are found here, mingling with sea lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs, and it's a wonderful opportunity to encounter Flightless Cormorants at their nesting sites, Galápagos Penguins and the Galápagos Hawk. “Pa-hoe-hoe” and “AA” lava formations cover the majority of the island, and the vegetation is thus scarce, but we'll come across Brachycereus cacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores. We'll spend the afternoon on the seahorse-shaped island of Isabela, enjoying some great deep-water snorkeling at Bolivan Channel, one of the richest marine havens on Earth. Later, we'll take a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds; Nazca and blue-footed boobies, noddies, brown pelicans, penguins, and the flightless cormorants. In the evening, we'll say good-bye to the Enchanted Insland with a BBQ dinner under the stars.
Accommodations: M/V Galápagos Legend
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Santa Cruz, Flight to Quito 

On our last day in the Galápagos Islands, we'll dry land on the Santa Cruz island, whose pristine white beaches, prickly pear cacti, vibrantly colored flamingos, and prehistoric-looking iguanas make it an essential stop during a cruise of the archipelago. We'll take a narrated, 45-minute bus ride into the Santa Cruz Highlands, where we'll find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the island’s name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 550 and 650 lbs., and can live up to 200 years. After the visit, we'll be transferred to the Baltra airport for our return flight Quito. After checking back into the Swissotel, we'll have a little time to rest before getting together for our farewell dinner.
Accommodations: Swissotel Quito
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Departures 

After breakfast, you may have some free time for individual exploration of the city before your private transfer to Quito airport according to your flight departure time.
Meals: Breakfast

This tour ends after breakfast on Tuseday, February 11, 2020 in Quito.
You can schedule your return flight at any time during the day.

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

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Why travel with other women?
Many women do not have families or compatible friends who wish to travel. When going on a main-stream tour, women often find that most activities are geared towards couples and quite often they feel left out. Singles' tours are not always what women are looking for. If you do not have a traveling companion, there is also the issue of the expensive "single supplement", sometimes as much as 50 or even 100 percent of the tour cost. By going on women-only tours, women can easily avoid paying for the single supplement by sharing a room with another woman traveler.
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