Vacations

Galapagos Adventure Galapagos Adventure Galapagos Adventure Galapagos Adventure Galapagos Adventure Galapagos Adventure Galapagos Adventure

The Galápagos Archipelago, first visited by Charles Darwin 151 years ago aboard the bark 'Beagle' is a wildlife paradise still largely intact due to its protection as an Ecuadorian National Park. Rising out of the Pacific Ocean 600 miles west of the coast of Ecuador, the islands are host to abundant and exceptional wildlife that has no fear of man, and there is no place on earth where one can wander among the crags, the lava flows and the beaches, and not feel like an intruder.

The underwater world is as fascinating as what is above. Snorkeling is superb, with a dazzling array of tropical fish, marine iguanas, penguins (yes, there are penguins in the Galapagos-although not as many as in Antarctica, one must say) and sea lion pups that cavort around you playing underwater tag.

Aboard the deluxe motor sailing yacht Sagitta, we will cruise, and explore much like Darwin did. The pace is unhurried, and island crossings will be made mostly at night, so as to give us maximum daytime to hike, swim, snorkel and even kayak for those interested,

An experienced naturalist will guide us and will help us understand myriad aspects of this unique corner of the work, making lifelong nature enthusiasts and conservationists of us along the way.

S/S Mary Anne

Launched in 1997, this elegant barquentine was designed specifically with environmentally friendly operations in mind. When there’s breeze, OCSC sailors are invited to unfurl, trim sails and steer Mary Anne to the wind, as she has 1000m2 of canvas with which she majestically takes to the waves.

The S/S Mary Anne can accommodate up to 16 passengers in 12 double, tastefully furnished cabins. All cabins have private bathrooms with hot water and all are designed with one double lower berth and a single upper berth. Two cabins have two lower beds.

Snorkeling

There will be many opportunities for snorkeling. Although our vessel provides some snorkeling gear, we recommend you bring your own mask and snorkel to ensure a good fit and for sanitary reasons. Wetsuits (2-3 mm thickness) are definitely recommended for the cool season (April-October) when water temperatures range from 60-68°; some people prefer to wear a “skin” or 1-2 mm wetsuit in the warm season (November-March) when water temperatures range from 68-75°, as cool waters flow through the archipelago throughout the year. Wetsuits in your size may be available for rental on board. Arrangements must be made ahead of time through OCSC.

Seasonal Considerations

The Galápagos Islands are a year-round destination. The best time to visit is up to your individual preference. There are two seasons in the Galápagos: the warm season (November-March) and the cool season (April-October). No matter when you visit, there’s always a lot to see in the Galápagos.

Wildlife

  • Arrival of waved albatross to Española with amazing courtship displays

  • Frigate birds continue courting at North Seymour

  • Flightless cormorant nesting at Fernandina

  • End of hatching season of the giant tortoises

  • Eggs of green sea turtles begin to hatch

  • Eggs of land iguanas begin to hatch

  • Galapagos martin could be seen near the Western Islands

Weather

The weather is still warm, but it is changing, and very quickly! Days are sunny, with occasional drizzles, but at night-time the temperature drops. There’s very little wind, so the seas are calm. Air temperature is around 27ºC (81ºF). A water-proof wind-breaker is advisable.

The water remains warm. The average temperature is around 23ºC (74ºF), depending on the site; it gets colder in the West (Isabella and Fernandina Islands). We recommend you to bring a wetsuit if you are planning on going snorkeling. A wetsuit or a Farmer John (shortie) is also a good idea to keep the sun away from your back!

 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1-2 – Two Nights At The Plaza Grande Hotel, Quito

Hotel Plaza Grande is a five-star luxury hotel in the historic center of Quito, Ecuador. The hotel is located next to the Carondelet Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace and faces the Old Town’s eponymous central plaza, Plaza de la Independencia. It is located in a restored Spanish colonial mansion, which formerly belonged to one of the earliest colonial inhabitants of Quito, Juan Diaz de Hidalgo.

Make yourself at home in one of the 15 air-conditioned suites. The suites are spread over the second and third floors. They are all luxurious and spacious, boasting rich furnishings, original works of art, repro colonial armories, mirrors, closets and desks, and plenty of drapery to give that old world feel. The social areas have large, comfortable sofas and armchairs, while the sizable bedrooms come with huge beds embellished with Egyptian cotton sheets. This country is one of the largest exporters of roses, Plaza Grande makes liberal use of them.

Day 3 – Saturday

PM
We travel to Genovesa Island and reach Darwin Bay (wet landing), a unique site lined with red mangroves and soft-haired prickly pear cacti where red-footed boobies and great frigatebirds perch tamely.

Day 4 – Sunday

AM
We travel to Genovesa Island and reach Darwin Bay (wet landing), a unique site lined with red mangroves and soft-haired prickly pear cacti where red-footed boobies and great frigatebirds perch tamely.

PM
At El Barranco (dry landing), we climb the edge of a cliff where frigatebirds, masked boobies, and red-footed boobies nest. We will be seeking out the impressive red-billed tropic-bird amidst Galapagos storm petrels.

Day 5 – Monday

AM
Dry landing at Bartolomé to climb up the wooden steps and reach the summit of this spatter cone for a most breath-taking panorama of the island’s well photographed Pinnacle Rock and views of neighboring Santiago and many other central islands in the distance.

PM
Less than a quarter of one square kilometer in size, this island gets its name from being shaped like a Chinese hat. The hat shape is best appreciated from the north side. Lava formations can be seen on the western side of the island, formed under the sea and raised upward and for this reason, it is possible to observe coral heads on the lava. Be amazed by the landscapes covered by sea lions colonies, marine iguanas, and Galapagos penguins.

Day 6 – Tuesday

AM
Wet landing onto Rábida’s deep-red beaches to explore the red island’s fascinating interior and saltwater lagoon. Darwin’s finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, and yellow warblers feed off the vegetation. Given the right time of the year, we may see brown pelicans nesting on salt bushes that fringe the beach.

PM
We head across to Cerro Dragón on Santa Cruz’s northwest shore (dry landing) to visit a saltwater lagoon, home to Greater Flamingos, black-necked stilts, and white-cheeked pintails. Further inland we find a fantastic land iguana nesting site.

Day 7 – Wednesday

AM
We will spend this day visiting Santa Cruz Island´s most famous highlights. We will have a dry landing at the dock of Puerto Ayora to then board our transportation and head to the island’s highlands. This area, in contrast to the coastal region, has lush vegetation and forest due to the humidity in the higher regions.

We will visit one of the ranches of the area where it is possible to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. As these animals migrate from the coastal area to the highlands and back, the chosen ranch will depend on the presence of the tortoises since they roam free and change locations.

This is also a good place to see the Galapagos hawk and barn owl of this island and the surrounding forests are filled with birds such as the vermilion flycatcher or the yellow warbler.

PM
We will enjoy lunch at the ranch to then head back to Puerto Ayora for our second visit of the day, the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center.

Here, we will see tortoises from different islands. The animals are found in large semi natural pens for their protection, but also to ensure an easy view for the visitors. The pens are divided according to four different stages: eggs, neonates, juveniles (held here until they are mature enough to be “repatriated”), and adults.

Day 8 – Thursday

AM
Dry landing on one of the oldest docks of the archipelago, colorful Plaza Sur is home to vibrant green prickly pears, deep red Sesuvium, and coppery-orange land iguanas. Impressive seaward cliffs are excellent for a variety of coastal birds. This is also a great place to observe the adult and pup sea lions swimming along the shores.

PM
After a wet landing on Santa Fe onto a white beach where sea lions are usually resting, we will be looking for the endemic species of land iguana, larger and yellower than land iguanas on other islands. The largest prickly pear cacti in the Galapagos are also found here.

Day 9 – Friday

AM
In the morning we will head to Punta Suarez The trail is about 4 km (2 miles) long and the walk takes about 2 hours. A geyser near the trail sprays water some 25 m (75 feet) into the air. This is one of the most popular landing sites in Galapagos.

The highlights include: sea lions near the landing place, sometimes to be seen body-surfing in the large breakers; large marine iguanas, with red-coloured males in the breeding season; oystercatchers; blue-footed and Nazca boobies; Galapagos hawk; Galapagos dove; swallow-tailed gull; red-billed tropicbirds in flight; and three species endemic to Española – waved albatross (present only from April to December), Española mockingbird, and Española lava lizard.

PM
We will spend the day in fantastic Española, starting with Gardner Bay (wet landing), an outstanding beach with sea lions, marine iguanas, and the intrepid Española mockingbird.

Close to Española, there is a good spot for snorkeling called Gardner Islet. While snorkeling, there is a good chance playful sea lions will join you. Get ready for more snorkeling at Osborn islet, a great place to observe great quantities of marine life.

Day 10 – Saturday

AM
This is our last day on the islands. After breakfast we will disembark in Puerto Ayora to take our transport to the Baltra airport, making a short stop to visit the Twin Craters. The Gemelos (twins) are two deep craters located on the side of the road that leads to Puerto Ayora from the other side of the island. These huge holes were probably created in a volcanic explosion or by magma chambers underneath the island´s surface.

This is also a good place to see the Galapagos hawk and barn owl of this island and the surrounding forests are filled of birds such as the vermilion flycatcher or the yellow warbler. Something worth mentioning is the contrast of the vegetation of the highlands with the arid coastal zones.

After this visit, we will make our way to the Baltra airport for the flight to mainland Ecuador.

 

Prices

Member Rate (And returning OCSC trip travelers)

$6,495

Non Member

$6,995

Price includes two nights (with breakfast) at the Plaza Grande Hotel at Quito, airport transfers.

Payment Plan

35% deposit on booking, non-refundable unless a canceled spot can be subsequently filled.

35% deposit of total due May 1st, 2018.

Final 30% due August 1, 2018. The OCSC member discount will be deducted from final payment.

S/S Mary Anne, an elegant barquentine

OCSC Members & Repeat OCSC Adventurers save 5%!

Dates and Leaders
Start End Leaders

November 8, 2018

November 17, 2018

Rich Jepsen and Cecilia Trost