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I'd like to invite a few of you to join John Racanelli on a trip I've enjoyed a couple of times, sailing the Galapagos Islands! There are precious few places left on the planet where you can experience nature and wildlife in a pristine state like it was before the arrival of humans. Having close encounters above and below the water surface will be the adventure of a lifetime. I’ve been leading our OCSC trips for 30 years and each one is different and extraordinary. What makes our travel so special is you and the wonderful community of people OCSC has attracted who will be our companions. Our shared love and respect for the outdoors and the power of real first hand contact with nature set us apart as special travelers and not just tourists. Please call me personally and we can chat about how we can craft this adventure together.
The Galapagos 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, marina 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.
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.
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.
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
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. 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 wet suit if you are planning on going snorkeling. A wet suit or a Farmer John (shortie) is also a good idea to keep the sun away from your back!
The local OCSC representative will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport. He or she will answer questions, brief you on the immediate arrangements, and escort you to the Casa Aliso hotel; a small boutique hotel that offers all of the style and comfort of a small luxurious home. Casa Aliso is located in the fashionable residential neighborhood of "La Floresta", a few steps away from the rush of the city and just a short taxi ride to some of the most popular tourist attractions in Quito. Welcome dinner for the group.
Duration: 3 hours
Altitude Average: 2800 ms / 9217ft
Special interest: Colonial, Artistic, Historic, Religious
Quito's year-round mild weather, rich colonial history and dramatic mountain setting make it a desirable place to visit. Its colonial buildings were declared by the United Nations a UNESCO or “World Cultural Heritage Site”. Quito became a center of art and sculpture in the New World, with the school of Quito producing remarkable art pieces inspired by Christian themes.
We will start our tour with the hill of San Juan and the gothic-inspired La Basilica church. Our tour will visit the heart of Colonial Quito, Plaza de la Independencia. This plaza is also known locally as Plaza Grande, the square is dominated by la Catedral (the Metropolitan Cathedral). The other sides of the Plaza are flanked by Palacio de Gobierno (Presidential Palace), the Archbishop´s Palace and City Hall.
We will visit the outstanding church La Compania. This Jesuit baroque church took 163 years to finish and it is the most ornate in the country. Another important site is the Plaza San Francisco, named for its monastery and church. Finally, we will take you to El Panecillo, a hill over looking the old city and topped by a statue of the Virgen of Quito, with an observation deck.
Return to your hotel, afternoon and night free to explore Quito.
After breakfast at the hotel we have an early transfer to the airport. Fly from Quito to the Galápagos Islands with a stopover in Guayaquil (cost of flight not included in the tour cost).
On arrival at Baltra airport you will be met by our guide and transferred to the yacht where you will be assigned a cabin. The captain will then set course for North Seymour Island giving you the chance to become acquainted with the vessel and have lunch. On arrival, there will be a dry landing followed by a 2-hour walk during which Galapagos sea lions, blue footed-boobies, and magnificent frigate birds can be seen.
During the morning we’ll explore Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island), where we will learn about the tortoise and land-iguana breeding programs, followed by some time in town for optional shopping & sightseeing.
During the afternoon we’ll have the opportunity to see Galapagos Giant Tortoises in the wild. This is also one of the best sites for watching land birds: Darwin's Finches and Vermilion Flycatchers. The land visit may last 2-3 hours (including a bus ride).
During the morning we’ll explore Gardner Bay (Hood Island/Espanola Island), snorkeling along Gardner Islet, maybe kayaking, and a walk on the beach to observe sea lions and Hood Island mockingbirds.
During the afternoon we’ll explore Punta Suarez with an extensive nature walk to observe the large colonies of blue-footed and masked (Nazca) boobies, marine iguanas, albatross and swallow-tailed gulls.
During the morning we’ll explore Punta Cormorant (Floreana Island). We start off with a short walk to a lagoon, where we find flamingos and other wading birds. At the end of this trail we reach a beautiful white sandy beach where sea turtles nest. This will be followed by a short panga ride to Devil’s Crown, one of the most spectacular snorkeling site in the islands.
During the afternoon we’ll visit the historic Post Office Barrel.
During the morning we’ll explore Punta Moreno (Isabella Island) with a two-hour walk across lava fields, and ‘oasis like’ lagoons rich in flora and fauna. We will see Galapagos flamingos and hopefully our first cormorants and penguins.
During the afternoon we’ll explore Elizabeth Bay (Isabella Island). There will be a panga ride to a quiet mangrove lagoon where sea turtles rest. Occasionally around Mariela Rocks, Galapagos penguins, cormorants, and blue-footed boobies may be sighted.
During the morning we’ll explore Urbina Bay (Isabella Island). We will walk over different terrains, seeing large land iguanas, a variety of native and endemic plants, and sometime giant tortoises in their natural habitat. There are also remains of fifty years of oceanic up-lifting, which include exposed coral heads and other marine fossils.
During the afternoon we’ll explore Punta Espinosa (Fernandina Island). We will be walking over lava fields observing large colonies of marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, penguins and sea lions.
During the morning we’ll explore Puerto Egas (Santiago Island); south of James Bay and on the west side of Santiago Island. There is a long, lava shoreline where eroded rock formations host an excellent variety of wildlife. This is a beautiful coastal walk exploring the great variety of tidal marine life, including Galapagos fur seals, sea lions, marine iguanas, and other surprises. There is good swimming off the beach and a broad array of marine life to view when snorkeling.
During the afternoon we’ll explore Bartholomew. A steep uphill walk to the summit offers magnificent views of Bartholomew Island and its famous Pinnacle Rock. We will also be swimming and snorkeling off the beach where we may see more penguins.
Before breakfast, we’ll explore Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz Island) by panga. This is a red mangrove lagoon which serves as a nursery for many sharks and rays. It is also a great location to observe mating black sea turtles. Sail back to Baltra in time for the flight to mainland Ecuador.
After exchanging farewells with the naturalist and crew in the late morning, we fly to Quito via Guayaquil, arriving in the late afternoon. (Lunch is included on the flight)
Transfer to the airport for homeward bound flight..
The S/S Sagitta, a splendid 120 foot, 3-masted motor sailing yacht.
Cost of adventures and flotillas vary depending on factors like attendence, the number of people in your crew, and size of your yacht. Please inquire for trip rates and pricing.
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April 25, 2011
May 5, 2011
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