Is there an eager explorer lurking inside you? Perhaps there's a scientist or geologist wanting to discover our planet's natural history? Maybe you're simply drawn to 'chilling out' in amazing places? If you can say 'yes' to any or all of the above, then you'll love our small-group Galapagos Explorer tour because it has the lot - exploration, discovery, relaxation and a whole lot more besides.
The Galapagos Islands are actually a collection of volcano remnants inhabited by weird creatures and funny birds with strange habits. Imagine having to step around 'wildlife' that is so unfazed by you it will sleep at your feet. Picture an open-air performance by some of the avian world's best dancers. Those elaborate mating rituals of the waved albatross and the blue-footed booby are a sight to behold! And when languid iguana or lumbering giant tortoise stare you in the eye, you'll probably blink first.
We visit Galapagos in early June when the seas are generally warm and calm, the islands are lush and the spectacular frigate birds are nesting. Our chartered motor vessel will take you to coves and beaches that are inaccessible to larger vessels carrying larger groups. The quick, easy access means you'll have much more time ashore for investigation, observation and photography - and for 'chilling out'.
But before we get to Galapagos, we'll spark your imagination with a visit to Easter Island, quite possibly the most the mysterious island on earth. What are the secrets of those colossal Moai? Who was the Birdman and what happened to his Tangata-Manu cult? What was the fate of the ancient Rapa Nui people?
Few destinations offer the complete uniqueness and intrigue of these two Pacific treasures with their history, mystery, archeology and wildlife. Between Easter Island and Galapagos we'll stop off in mainland Ecuador to peek into the country's history and culture and visit its magical Cloud Forest.
You'll relish this journey from beginning to end.
28 May – 14 June 2019
8-day private boat charter Galapagos, Quito and Cloud Forest.
Depart Auckland, New Zealand
*includes return economy airfares
Depart Australia (Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne)
*includes return economy airfares
*price subject to change due to airfare and exchange rate increases
Easter Island (option) - magnificent moai, lost culture, rich mythology.
8-day cruise - exploring the peerless Galapagos Islands on a private boat charter.
Wildlife - giant Galapagos, tortoise, marine and land iguana, lava lizards, seals, turtles...
Birdlife - albatross, blue, red and masked boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, flamingoes, mockingbirds, finches...
Quito - Ecuador's capital, South America's best-preserved colonial quarter.
Cloud Forest - delight of nature-lovers and bird-watchers.
Equatorial line - mitad del mundo, middle of the world.
Otavalo Indian Market - a melting pot of colour, craft and character.
From the time the first islands in this remarkable archipelago thrust through the ocean floor some 3-5 million years ago, Galapagos has remained an active volcanic site with the most recent eruption being in 2005. The youngest islands in the group, Isabela and Fernandina, are still forming. Isolation has enabled the birds, mammals and reptiles of Galapagos to evolve in unique, even bizarre ways: 'so silly they do not know how to flee', according to the first written account of the islands in 1535. Even now, the wildlife remains largely unfazed by humans so a visit to Galapagos means plenty of thrilling close-up encounters.
The tiny isolated island lying some 3,800km west of Chile is known by many names: its original name Te Pito o Te Henua ('The Centre of the World'); Rapa Nui (bestowed by Tahitian sailors in the 1860s); Easter Island (given by the first European visitor who arrived Easter Sunday 1722); and, Isla de Pascua, conferred by its Spanish-speaking owner, Chile. Often referred to as an open-air museum, it is one of the most remote places on earth.
Although this triangular isle jutting from the Pacific Ocean is merely 160 km² in area, it is actually just the tip of a giant extinct volcano that rises ten thousand feet from the ocean floor. The island's magnificent, enigmatic moai (stone statues) and cliff-top petroglyphs (rock carvings) pose as many questions as they answer about the fascinating but lost culture that once flourished here. Add in volcanic craters, lava formations, archeological sites and brilliant blue-ocean views from every point, and visitors find Easter Island a surprisingly captivating destination.
So do you fancy following the footsteps of the bold and curious, explorers such as Charles Darwin? Are you intrigued by Darwin's theory of the evolution of species through natural selection or by the natural history of our planet?
Then, take note of a travel report from this famous naturalist: "The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable: it seems to be a little world within itself." He was referring, of course, to Galapagos.
Come and see for yourself. You don't have to be a Darwin devotee to find this amazing 'little world' truly remarkable. There's no better place to feed your spirit of adventure. Contact us now for more information on our Galapagos Explorer small-group tour.