Fri 7 Guayaquil
Fly to Guayaquil. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel located downtown
Sat 8 Guayaquil (B)
Day at leisure to get adjusted to South America time . Suggest visit the Iguana Park and Malecon waterfront
Sun 9 Guayaquil -Galapagos (B,L,D)
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Galapagos. Please note there is a US$20 immigration fee payable on departure
One of the world's greatest treasures of natural history lies in the bewitching Galapagos Islands, famed for its fearless and unique wildlife, and is the highlight of most trips to Ecuador.
The Galapagos Islands have been named after the giant Galapagos Tortoises. The archipelago, 1000 Km. (600 miles) off Ecuador's Pacific Coast originated from undersea volcanic activity, six million years ago. The archipelago's 13 major islands, 6 smaller ones, and scores of islets are all part of Ecuador's National Park system. In 1835, the English naturalist Charles Darwin visited the islands and discovered this "living laboratory" which inspired his writings on the Theory of Evolution. Many of the animals on the Galapagos Islands have developed into different species from their continental relatives, and because they have never experienced man as a predator, they show no fear of humans. The world's most wondrous group of islands is yours for unhurried exploration.
Follow the nature trails; enjoy the amazing sights, wade and even dive among the animals of land and sea. The sixteen passenger “ Aida Maria “offers a great combination of comfort, style and economy for tours in the Galapagos. Each of the eight cabins has a private bath and hot shower, air conditioning and an ample external
deck to enjoy sunny Galapagos days. Its design is based in efficiency and comfort with ample social areas and 8 cabins 2 in main deck, 2 in upper deck and 2 in solarium providing optimum comfort for your experience exploring the Galapagos.. All meals and shore excursions are included . Accommodation in 2 berth cabins . Please note that the Galapagos National park fee of USD100 is to be paid in cash on joining the cruise. As you prepare to land in San Cristobal, peer out the window. The landscape below will seem out of this world - a place like no other. The Galapagos Islands are unique to the world and you are about to see why. Your bilingual naturalist guide will greet you at the airport and assist you through customs. After lunch we will go to the interpretation center, the local branch of the Galapagos National park service where your guide will explain to you about the formation of the islands, how the flora and fauna arrived and got established in Galapagos as well as visiting the corrals where we have several species of giant tortoises under the care of the National park service.
Night navigation to our next destination.
Mon 10 SANTA FE - PLAZAS (B,L,D)
After breakfast on the yacht, we continue to Santa Fe Island, upon arrival to the island, we will be treated to a noisy welcome by the local sealion colony. Following our naturalist guide on the island paths we will come to Santa Fe's main attraction, a towering forest of giant cacti. Scattered around the cacti trees you will see a number of the island's indigenous sun-seekers: marine and land iguanas, the rainbow-streaked lava lizards and, if you are lucky,land tortoises - the namesakes of the islands. After our walk we will plunge into the salty sea and snorkel in the company of sealions, lion fish and sea turtles. Finally, we will return to the yacht for lunch.
After lunch we will navigate to Plazas Island, where a large colony of sea lions lounges daily in the equatorial sun. Soon you will notice their subtly diabolic grins and wonder what they find so humorous; you only hope the joke isn't on you! Plaza also boasts excellent examples of typical Galapaganean flora such as the towering cacti "trees" that form the principal diet for both the land iguanas and the cactus finch. Other birds that may flutter by include lava gulls, yellow warblers and red-billed tropicbirds with their elaborate tails.
Tues 11 SANTA CRUZ - DARWIN CENTER - EL CHATO (Highlands) (B,L,D)
Here we can find itty bitty tortoises, hand-sized between the ages of one and five, and marvel at how they achieve such a large size as adults (500 lbs. or more!). Galapagos tortoises are believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years, so the young ones have a long life ahead of them as long as they receive the protection they need. Aside from the Station headquarters, Santa Cruz boasts the largest town and economic center of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. In this port-side town we can buy souvenirs of the islands (postcards, t-shirts, books, etc.). Check-out the uniquely Galapaganean ceramic shop near the entrance of the Charles Darwin Station. After shopping in Puerto Ayora and lunch on the boat (guests may dine in town if they desire), we will explore the upper region ('parte alta') of the island, a moisture-rich area with fertile volcanic soils. We will learn about the vegetation and animal life of this zone, often strikingly different than that found at lower elevations.This area in the highlands is called EL CHATO which is a giant tortoises reserve,one of the few places open to visitors where giant tortoises are found in their natural habitat interacting with the rest of the Galapagos life.
Wed 12 ISABELA ISLAND - PUERTO VILLAMIL - HUMEDALES - MURO DE LASLAGRIMAS - CENTRO DE CRIANZA (B,L,D)
Our first visit in the morning will take place in Puerto Villamil,one of the smallest towns in Galapagos,located right in front of a white sand beach is one of the most beautiful locations in the islands,after a dry landing wi will go to visit the humedales which is a mangrove area with small brackish water lagoons thatcreate the perfect environment for a small type of shrim which serves as food for flamingos making it easy to find them in this site.
Following this visit we will be transported to El Muro de las Lagrimas or the wall of tears, when the Ecuadorian government took posetion of the islands their main purpose was to harbor Ecuadorian prissioners, since there wasn’t much for them to do they were forced to carry rocks to a far location and build a wall which nowadays is know as the wall of tears.
After this visit we retun to the beach for relaxation before lunch on the boat.
In the afternoon we will visit the local branch of the Galapagos park service which main purpose is to take care of the many species of giant tortoises that inhabit isabela island so we can see the efforts made by the national park service to protect and increase the decaying population of giant tortoises in this island.
Back on board and night navigation to our next visitors site.
Thurs 13 PUNTA MORENO - ELIZABETH BAY (B,L,D)
After a whole night navigation we arrive to Punta Moreno on the west coast of Isabela, a dry landing on a lava field. The vegetation found in the area is small and concentrated mainly in the mangrove area and around the lakes. It should be noted that the three kinds of cacti are found here.
The main attractions at Punta Moreno are coastal lagoons amid black lava flows where there are several species of birds. It has a panoramic view of three volcanoes, the most active of the Galapagos that are Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul of Isabela Island and La Cumbre of Fernandina Island.
After lunch on board we continue on our way to Elizabeth bay, Located on Isabela Island`s west shore, this is extremely interesting for observing marine life. You can motor past a few islands where you usually see Galapagos penguins. One of the best areas to take their photos. A colony of these magnificent birds inhabit a rocky islet at the entrance to Elizabeth Bay.
We let our boat drift through a small passage lined with mangroves you emerge into an enclosed cove. We will turn the motor off and look in the sheltered waters for marine turtles, rays, flightless cormorants, sea lions, and, circling overhead, Galapagos hawks.
Fri 14 ISABELA CALETA TAGUS - FERNANDINA PUNTA ESPINOZA - ISABELA PUNTA VICENTE ROCA (B,L,D)
The visitors site of Tagus Cove is located west of Darwin Volcano on Isabela Island. The route of the trail is about 1800 meters. This was a favorite spot for pirates and whalers, a tradition is still observed that has continued since that time: the inscription of the names of boats. At the start of the walk, going up and passing the staircase, is a small cave where we find inscriptions dating to the 1800s.Its name originated from a British warship that went through the islands in 1814 looking for Galapagos Tortoise for food.
The road, mostly gravel, leads into the interior, along Darwin Lake. During the walk, you can see various land birds; we can identify the characteristic vegetation of the arid zone. Finally, we observe the lava fields of Darwin Volcano. Back on board for lunch and short navigation to Elizabeth Bay on Fernandina Island
Punta Espinoza is a narrow ledge of lava and sand that extends from the base of the volcano to the sea. There is a vivid description given by Captain Benjamin Morrell that from its anchorage at Bay Banks witnessed and recorded an eruption of Fernandina in the decade of the 1820s that probably gave rise to the Point. In 1975, there was an uprising, about 90 cm, which is why the pier built for landing can only be used during high tide.
Punta Espinoza is a place famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas and as the habitat of unique species like the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin, Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, among others. It is an ideal place to observe the lava cactus (Brachycerus nesioticus), which grow on young lava and survive with little water. After visiting FGernandina we will start our navigation to the central part of the Galapagos and on the way we will see from the Boat Punta Vicente Roca,a part of a mostly eroded and destroyed volcano whis now is a great site for seeing blue footed boobies,frigate birds and other marine birds from the boat.
Sat 15 JAMES BAY - RABIDA ISLAND (B,L,D)
James Bay is a black sand beach located on the west side of James Bay and northwest of Santiago Island. South of the beach is Sugarloaf Volcano, which has deposits of volcanic tuff, the same that has favored the formation of the black sand beach.El Cráter is just north of this site, it has a saltwater lagoon, which during the summer dry season becomes a salt mine. Between 1928 and 1930, there was the first exploitation of salt; there were no major achievement. Then in 1964 a new attempt was made that lasted for some time.
After lunch on board we navigate to our next destination, Rabida Island which consists of a red sand beach, a coastal lagoon behind the beach, and a loop trail. The approximate distance of the trail is 1.1 kilometers.
The color of the rocks and sand on the beach is due to the very porous volcanic material, which with the help of environmental factors (rain, salt water and sea breeze, has acted as an oxidizing agent. The main attraction of the place is the red sand beach, scenery, aside from the vegetation of the arid zone and the presence of native and endemic species.
Sun 16 Galapagos - Quito-Lima (B)
After an early breakfast we will disembark at North Seymour Island. Here we will see frigatebirds, the clownish blue-footed booby, and of course the ubiquitous sea lions. With luck we will witness the striking courtship display of the male frigatebird, in which he inflates a red balloon-like sac below his throat and struts his stuff for all of the young females. Seymour North, Plaza Sur and Plaza Norte, Baltra, northeastern Santa Cruz, Santa Fe and part of Española, were formed by uprisings of underwater volcanic lavas. They were part of a volcanic lava table deposited in sheet form along cracks located on the ocean floor. The uprisings occurred sporadically and lasted more than a million years to reach its current level. All marine fossils found in the archipelago are found in these islands and the best example is the North Channel side of Baltra. The fossils date from the Pleistocene, and specifically in the case of Baltra, one can say that these volcanic tables were close to the surface about a million years ago.
Return to the boat & sail to Baltra Island to catch our plane back to the mainland Arrive Quito later this afternoon and connect on LAN Airlines flight to Lima.
On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel Accommodation: Costa del Sol Airport Hotel
Mon 17 Lima - Puerto Maldonado- Tambopata (B,L,D)
Transfer to the airport for the short flight to Puerto Maldonado where you will be met by your naturalist guide and transferred to a dugout canoe for the trip up the Tambopata River to the lodge. On the journey the vegetation changes from colonized deforested areas to virgin rain forest. A box-lunch is provided on board. On arrival you'll have a welcome drink and meet the rest of the staff. After dinner a night walk to find nocturnal animals or insects by the eye-shine a specialization for increasing the light and see better, about 50% of the animals are nocturnal in the rainforest. We will be out at the river’s edge at night, scanning the shores with headlamps and flashlights to catch the red gleams of reflection from caiman eyes
Accommodation: Refugio Amazonas Lodge
Refugio Amazonas is built on a 200 hectare private reserve on the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve. It is becoming integrated to the communities of Brazil nut extractors that surround it, attempting to extend the benefits of ecotourism to the families that commit to the sustainable use of the forest within this buffer zone. It is located ten minutes walking from the river.
Tues 18 Refugio Amazonas -Tambopata Research Centre (B,L,D)
Before breakfast ,a thirty minute walk from Refugio Amazonas leads to the 25 meter canopy tower. A bannistered staircase running through the middle provides safe access to the platforms above. The tower has been built upon high ground, therefore increasing your horizon of the continuous primary forest extending out towards the Tambopata National Reserve. From here views of mixed species canopy flocks as well as toucans, macaws and raptors are likely.After breakfast a few minutes hike from the lodge is a beautiful old growth patch of Brazil Nut forest that has been harvested for decades (if not centuries) where the precarious remains of a camp used two months a year by Brazil Nut gatherers can still be experienced. We will be demonstrating the whole process of the rain forest's only sustainably harvested product from collection through transportation to drying.Then a 4&1/2 hour journey by boat from Refugio Amazonas, in the pristine heart of the reserve, lies the Tambopata Research Centre.One and half hours into our boat journey, as we cross the confluence with the Malinowski River, we will leave the final traces of human habitation behind. Within the 700,000 hectare uninhabited nucleus of the reserve, sightings of capybara, caiman, geese, macaws and other large species will become more frequent. A 3-5km hike will lead us to overlooks commanding magnificent views of the Tambopata winding its way into the lowlands. The forest on this trail, regenerating on old bamboo forest, is good for Howler Monkey and Dusky Titi Monkey.After dinner attend a lecture providing a in depth look at the biology of macaws, their feeding habits, the theories for clay lick use, their breeding and feeding ecology, population fluctuations and the threats to their conservation Tambopata Research Center is built using a combination of traditional native materials (wood, palm fronds, wild cane and clay) and architecture and modern day eco-lodge technology. The lodge consists of one wing of 18 rooms connected by raised boardwalks to eight shared bathrooms, the research quarters and a dining room. The dining room is an open building that doubles as a bar.
Rooms are small and hold two beds. The walls dividing each room are built using cane, and extend from the floor to about 2.5 meters height making each room private. The side that looks out to the forest does not have a wall or screening of any kind, acting as a large window facing the forest. The reason we have been able to incorporate this "luxurious" design into our lodge is because mosquitoes are not really a problem around the lodge clearing and the open section allows for an intimate contact with the rain forest.. Doors are replaced with drapes. Rooms are not soundproof. Each room has beds, mosquito nets, bedside tables and a rack of clothes hangers. Bathroom are shared, and have no hot water. The research quarters is a two story building usually full of scientists and their assistants from the macaw project.
Wed 19 Tambopata Research Centre (B,L,D)
On most clear mornings of the year dozens of large macaws and hundreds of parrots congregate on this large river bank in a raucous and colorful spectacle which inspired a National Geographic cover story. Discretely located fifty meters from the cliff, we will observe Green-winged, Scarlet and Blue-and-gold Macaws and several species of smaller parrots descend to ingest clay. Outings are at dawn when the lick is most active. They arrive in search of minerals and salts and the digestive properties of the clay particles themselves. On average several hundred Macaws and smaller parrots visit the clay-lick daily, including Scarlet, Blue and Yellow, Red and Green, Chestnut- fronted and Blue-headed parrots, among others. This clay-lick is considered one of the largest in the world.
Following a late morning hike in the trail system in search of some of the nine species of monkeys present in the area, including Spider monkeys, Squirrel monkeys and Dusky titi monkeys as well as the elusive large mammals like Tapir, White-lipped peccaries and Jaguar. After lunch visit the Pond Platform-10 minutes upriver from the lodge is a tiny pond with a platform in the middle. It is a great place to spot waterfowl such as Muscovy duck, sunbittern and hoatzin along with the woodpeckers, oropendolas, flycatchers and parakeets that call this pond their home.After dinner you will have the option of hiking out at night, when most of the mammals are active but rarely seen. Much easier to find are frogs with shapes and sounds as bizarre as their natural histories
Thurs 20 Tambopata Research Centre (B,L,D)
Another outing at dawn when the macaw lick is most active. After breakfast hike the Terra Firme Trail.An entirely different habitat characterized by smaller, thinner trees atop hills and slopes is covered by this five kilometer trail. Saddleback tamarins are frequently found here. As we walk near the limits of the swamp we will also keep our eyes open for rare tapir tracks.After lunch enjoy a hike on the Palm Swamp Trail
Growing on the remains of an oxbow lake and providing both arboreal as well as terrestrial mammals with fruits throughout the year, the aguaje palms are one of the most important food sources in the rainforest. Demand for these fruits and great conditions for planting rice, makes the palm swamp also one of the most threatened habitats.
Fri 21Tambopata -Puerto Maldonado - Rio Branco (B)
An early start today to return by boat to Puerto Maldonado and connect by bus across the Peru-Brazil border to the town of Rio Branco .
Accommodation Rio Branco Holiday Inn
Sat 22 Rio Branco -Pantanal (B,D)
We depart early morning for a flight to Cuiaba.
Depart to the Pantanal, driving for 90 min before reaching the famous Transpantaneira Road. This raised dirt and gravel road is one of the best wildlife viewing areas in the world. Here you can admire the flora and fauna along the Transpantaneira and make several stops on the way to film or take photographs. Arrive at the lodge
SouthWild Pantanal was once called Fazenda Santa Tereza, which was a traditional cattle ranch. Today, it is an eco lodge on 1,500 hectares of flooded lands situated on the banks of the wildlife rich Pixaim River. Here you are deep in the Pantanal and from our boats on the river and in walks in our riverine forest, you can see three species of monkeys, up to 400 bird species, Capybaras,caimans, and Giant Otters. You can also explore the marked trails through the forest surrounding the SouthWild Pantanal. Two wildlife observation towers are strategically located at the Jabiru Stork nest and in the riverine forest.
Sun 23 Pantanal (B,L,D)
early morning and late afternoon excursions from the lodge included today to observe the nature and wildlife of this unique habitat
Mon 24 Pantanal (B,L,D)
After a early morning excursion continue along the Transpantaneira Road to Porto Jofre.
Then connect by boat to the SouthWild Jaguar Flotel.
The Jaguar Flotel is anchored 2.5 km downstream from the mouth of the Three Brothers River, thus permitting our special scout boat system to produce an average of 1.5 Jaguar sightings per day. Built in 2010, the SouthWild Jaguar
Flotel is an air-conditioned, floating hotel with 10 double-occupancy rooms with split air conditioners and en suite bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers. The Flotel's large, air-conditioned dining room/lounge has picture windows that look out over the wild Pantanal on the mighty Cuiaba River. Additionally, guests can relax in hammocks, sunbathe, or enjoy breakfast, lunch, or after-dinner drinks on the Flotel's expansive, partially-roofed top deck. The Flotel is run by generators. During the night the generator will be floated away from the Flotel to be less audible.
From the floating hotel excursions are made to spot for jaguar one of the most elusive and charismatic wildlife species on earth, and observing and photographing them in wild Brazilian rivers churning with piranha. A 4 hour boat outing per day to search for & observe Jaguars and Giant Otters on some or all of the following rivers and their connecting channels: Three Brothers, Cuiaba, and Piquiri.
Tues 25 Pantanal (B,L,D)
The day is spent searching for the elusive Jaguar
Wed 26 Pantanal (B,L,D)
A further excursion this morning for jaguar and then we return along the Transpantaneira Road to South Wild Pantanal .Late afternoon a further excursion from the lodge
Thurs 27 Pantanal -Manaus (B)
Early morning excursion . This afternoon return to Cuiaba and connect by air to Manaus. On arrival you will be transferred to our B&B
Fri 28 Manaus (B)
Commence a walking tour of Manaus including the Teatro Amazonas(Opera House) ,Palacete Provincial , Municipal and Fish Market.
Afternoon free to relax by the pool
Sat 29 Manaus - Amazon Lodge (B,L,D)
Leave the hotel at 7:30 a.m. by car to the river port. Take a speedboat to the village Careiro da Varzea”. Along the way we will pass by the Meeting of the Waters. It is where the Negro and Solimões Rivers meet to form the Amazon River, which flows all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. The two rivers run side by side without mixing for many kilometers and we will most likely be visited by a few curious river dolphins. After a stop in Careiro village, you will take a bus or van to the Manaus-Porto Velho highway then arrive at the Arara River Port, to take a speedboat on the Mamori River. This length of the trip is ideal for observing wildlife due to the abundance of the many varied species, such as: birds, alligators, fish, sloth, monkeys, and the famous giant Amazon water lilies (Vitoria Regia) which are named after Queen Victoria. Arrival at AMAZON TURTLE LODGE where lunch will be served.
Later this afternoon there is a motorized canoe trip that will introduce you to the area. Throughout the duration of this trip you will experience the pristine and varied landscapes of the region, with the opportunity to observe and enjoy the great diversity of animals found in the area.
The Amazon Turtle Lodge, located in the margin of the Tracajá Lake (approx. 100km southeast from Manaus), is a sustainable lodge with the idea of conservation and preservation of the region, as well as involving the local community, consisting of 23 families, having some of them as part of the staff. The main building is a combination of typical native’s house with some modern style. In the first floor there is the reception, the Amazon Turtle bar and a cozy place for reading or playing cards. On the upper floor, the restaurant offers a great panoramic view, especially when the level of the waters is high. Besides the incredible landscapes and sunsets, it is also possible to appreciate the biodiversity rich in fauna and flora, close to rivers called igarapés e igapós (small channels formed by the floods); the ideal place for those who love nature!
Sun 30 Amazon Lodge (B,L,D)
Early this morning leave the lodge to embark on the sunrise and bird watching tour, a wonderful opportunity to experience the majestic Amazon and observe all the animals awaking with the rising of the sun. We will return in time for breakfast.
After breakfast put on your walking boots and get ready for an exciting trek in the jungle, to learn about jungle survival techniques and medicinal plants with our experienced jungle tour guides. Enjoy lunch and time to relax until the next adventure- piranha fishing! Return in time for dinner at the lodge and then ll embark on a night trip to go alligator spotting.
Mon 31 Amazon Lodge-Manaus-Sao Paulo (B)
We will visit a native’s house to learn more about their customs and culture. On the way back we will visit a cassava plantation so you can see from start to finish how the local native people make flour from the cassava, a staple food of the Northern Brazilian diet, usually eaten with rice and beans or fish. Travel back to Manaus and transfer to the airport for a late afternoon flight to Sao Paulo . On arrival you will be transferred to our hotel
Tues 1 Depart Sao Paulo (B)
You may choose to extend your stay or international flight connections are available home.
Dates & Prices:
7 July 2017 NZ$15695 share twin/double
NZ$2350 single room supplement
ALL travel as per itinerary between Guayaquil & Sao Paulo – buses, boats, flights, transfers and taxis
ALL transfers as per itinerary
ALL accommodation twin/double share with private facilities in comfortable 3 star hotels
ALL entrance fees and sightseeing as detailed in the itinerary
Breakfasts daily,all meals in Galapagos, Amazon & Pantanal
Services of Professional Tour Manager (subject to a minimum of 6 people travelling, except on Galapagos Cruise where a on-board guide/naturalist accompanies the group)
All applicable taxes on airlines tickets
Services of local English speaking guides
Meals not specified as above. It is necessary to allow USD$35-45 per day to cover this on those days where breakfast only is included.
Tips & gratuities that have to be paid en route (allow US$280)
Optional sightseeing and personal expenses,Galapagos immigration fee US$20, Galapagos Park entrance fee of US$100 which must be paid in US cash on arrival.