ECUADOR and GALAPOGOS
Cock-of-the-Rock © Papyrus Tours
|GLE1/13||17||Thursday 4th April to Saturday 20th April 2013||10 plus leader||£5285 (£295)*||TBA|
Tandayapa extension returns on Wednesday 24th April, cost £825 (£95)*
*Single room supplement
- Galapagos Islands – a seven night cruise on a motor yacht visiting several islands
- Sacha Amazon Rainforest Reserve
- Optional extension to Tandayapa Valley
Ecuador and Galapogos
The unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands will forever be known as the inspiration behind Charles Darwin’s theories on evolution. It was many years after leaving the islands before Darwin crystallised his thoughts. However, their immediate impact was all too clear, “ … both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact – that mystery of mysteries – the first appearance of new beings on earth.” (Origin of Species, 1859)
Today, these remote islands remain an inspiration to professional and amateur naturalists alike. However, they are certainly no conventional paradise – volcanic and mainly arid, the foreboding landscapes of these magical islands often give visitors the feeling they are taking pioneering steps as they land for the first time, and we will awake to a new island each day on our cruise.
The lush and verdant forests of mainland Ecuador are some of the richest in the world and could not provide a greater contrast to the barren islands. Sacha Lodge is built deep in the jungle on the banks of Laguna El Piche and is reached by fast motor-canoe from Coca. The prolific birdlife is viewed from an elevated boardwalk, by dug-out canoe or from the many trails in the rainforest. Those wishing to have a second mainland experience can extend the tour to visit Tandayapa, a lodge in the Western Lowlands which will offer more superb birdwatching opportunities.
Blue-footed Booby © Papyrus Tours
The mainland section of the tour has been designed to maximise wildlife watching potential, visiting fewer, but staying longer in each of the locations and providing an excellent complimentary experience to the barren islands!
Days 1 and 2 : Flight from London to Ecuador
We depart from London for Ecuador where on arrival in Quito on Day 2 we transfer to our hotel.
Days 3, 4 and 5 : Sacha Amazon Rainforest Reserve
On Day 3 we fly from Quito across the eastern Andes to Coca, a journey of 45 minutes, and then transfer downstream on the Napo River by motorised canoe (2½ hours) to Sacha Lodge for three nights. Here, situated in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest, we will be able to appreciate all that the most bio-diverse region on our planet has to offer. During walks, boat rides and from a purpose-built canopy observation tower, we hope to see a bewildering array of birds – over 500 species have been recorded – together with countless butterflies, other insects and some mammals such as the Red Howler Monkey.
We will have access to the 2,000 ha (4,940 acres) private reserve which surrounds the Lodge. A typical day will begin at sunrise in order to take advantage of the cooler morning hours, when the rainforest animals are most active. During the three days we will use several trails gaining access to a variety of habitats including dry and flooded woodland (using boardwalks), and the lake and river shores.
Our bird list will be substantial but there is so much more. Canoe trips along the back water creeks give possibilities of spotting animals such as Pygmy Marmoset, Caiman, Three-toed Sloth or Howler Monkey, in a pristine setting of luxuriant lianas, bromeliads and palms. The 43 m (140 ft) high observation tower, constructed around a giant kapok tree for stability, provides a canopy view where it is possible to see foraging flocks of parrots, toucans and many more.
A visit to the butterfly farm, a walk on the canopy walkway, 35 m (115 ft) above the ground, and a visit to the nearby parrot lick (where hundreds of parrots of several species gather in the morning), will combine to make your time at Sacha Lodge varied and rewarding.
The Lodge itself is built on stilts in the native style. Rooms have full facilities and are connected to the dining area and bar by elevated walkways which look out over the lake.
Day 6 : We retrace our steps up the Napo River to Coca and fly on to Quito for overnight.
Days 7 to 13 : Galapagos Islands
On Day 7 we fly to Baltra in the Galapagos and begin a 7-night cruise aboard a comfortable motor yacht modified specifically to cater for small groups of naturalists. There are air-conditioned cabins, each with en suite facilities. The small crew includes an English-speaking naturalist guide from the Galapagos. All meals are taken on board.
We will visit a variety of islands within the archipelago. After landing, each of these locations can be explored (keeping rigidly to the paths), and typically the close proximity of the wildlife affords experiences unlike anywhere else on earth. Between the islands there are always birds such as petrels and shearwaters to look out for plus, of course, a distinct possibility of encountering dolphins and perhaps whales. Our itinerary will include some of the following islands:
Our starting point for the cruise. The motor yacht will be waiting nearby. Frigatebirds and Blue-footed Boobies are generally seen.
Home of the famous Charles Darwin Research Station, where Giant Tortoises and Land Iguanas are bred for release back to the wild. Puerto Ayora in Academy Bay is the main town of the Galapagos. In the highlands are wild Giant Tortoises and an excellent variety of birdlife.
One of the outlying islands, Genovesa is the richest in birdlife. Many species can be seen including Magnificent Frigatebirds, Red-footed and Masked Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, petrels, doves, Darwin’s Finches and owls.
A lunar landscape of lava flows and cones of cinder. The views across Sullivan Bay from the top of the island are spectacular. There is a lovely beach offering the chance to snorkel with Galapagos Penguins, while a neighbouring beach is favoured by rays and harmless sharks.
There is a wealth of seabirds on this island, especially around Punta Saurez: Waved Albatross, Blue-footed and Masked Boobies, Red-billed Tropic Birds and Swallow-tailed Gulls, plus surfing Sea-lions, Red Marine Iguanas and Lava Lizards.
Robida is a small island of only some 5 sq km. It has a sea lion bachelor colony and there is also a trail which affords good views of the island’s 367m volcanic peak.
This sparsely settled island offers good opportunities to see a wide variety of wading birds and ducks with the Galapogos Hawk hopefully wheeling overhead. We may also see the endemic Medium Tree Finch.
Day 14 : We will return by air for Baltra to Quito for a two night stay.
Day 15 : A full day in the Quito area.
Days 16 and 17 : Return flight to UK
On Day 16 we transfer to the airport for our return flight to the UK where we will arrive on Day 17.
Day 16 : Transfer to Tandayapa Bird Lodge.
Days 17 and 18 : Tandayapa Bird Lodge.
We have two full days to explore the habitat around the lodge which will yield many species not encountered elsewhere on the tour.
Day 19 : Return to Quito where we will stay overnight.
Days 20 and 21
On Day 20 we transfer to the airport for our return flight to the UK where we will arrive on Day 21.
Iguana © Papyrus Tours