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The Galapagos Islands: 8 Days of Wonder & Amazement

Join the Alumnae Association of Barnard College for an exploration of the Galapagos Islands from October 7-14, 2015. Designated the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, the Galapagos Islands have been described as a “unique living museum and showcase of evolution.” Undiscovered by Europeans until the 16th century, the Galapagos Islands hold a central position in modern history as the birthplace of the theory of evolution.October 7, 2015 to October 14, 2015

Cruise through the archipelago on a 40-passenger ship, the deluxe Isabela II, providing unparalleled access to the fauna and flora of the Islands, with expert naturalists to guide you through the wonders of this national park, whale sanctuary, and marine reserve. Each island in this volcanic archipelago has species that are exquisitely adapted to the available food sources and surrounding environments: the marine iguana, which eats mostly algae and is the only sea-going lizard in the world; the flightless cormorant, whose vestigial wing feathers are testament to the abundance of its preferred food; and the Galapagos tortoises, some species of which were hunted to the brink of extinction by 18th and 19th century whalers. You can also see how species have evolved to interact with each other - certain Darwin's finches have developed a symbiotic relationship with land iguanas, who will obligingly raise themselves up from the ground so that the birds can more easily pluck parasites from their bellies. Because the human presence is still relatively minimal, many of the animals are remarkably unafraid of visitors. This will allow you to observe and photograph them at very close range, either sitting quietly in the midst of a colony of tropical penguins or snorkeling with inquisitive and playful sea lions.

This exciting journey also features a day of guided touring in Quito and an optional extension to Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley. Shared with alumni from Dartmouth College, cabin availability is limited. For special Barnard Alumnae Travel Program rates (alumnae, family, and friends are all welcome), please call the Travel Program office at (800) 417-1127 or email travel@alum.barnard.edu. You may also reserve now with the reservation form in the Travel Brochure.


Itinerary:

Day 1: U.S. / Quito
After an evening arrival in Quito, transfer to your hotel for a comfortable night's sleep.
Overnight: Hilton Colon, Quito

Day 2: Quito
Head out for a full-day, guided walking tour of historic Old Town. Your local guide will take you through the Quito neighborhood called San Roque, where we'll visit with local artisans, shopkeepers, hat makers, and sweet confectioners. Next, explore the San Francisco Market—one of the oldest in the capital—up the hill on Calle Rocafuerte. There, learn about the unique fruits and vegetables grown in Ecuador, local culinary traditions, as well as meet herbal healers with shops in the market. Continue your journey downhill to the cobbled street of La Ronda, featuring balconies overflowing with geraniums. Speak with artisans in the workshops, and stop by a chocolatier to taste the finest chocolates of Ecuador! Next, head north towards the political heart of the city. Following a brief narrative, stroll to the Jesuit church of La Campañia, with its stunning gold-leaf interior. A lunch of Ecuadorian specialties will be served in the beautiful 19th-century Teatro Nacional Sucre. In the afternoon, head to the Casa del Alabado Archaeological Museum, within a restored 17th-century colonial mansion, to view its collection consisting of Pre-Columbian art.
Overnight: Hilton Colon, Quito (B,L)

Day 3: Quito / Baltra / Santa Cruz - Embarkation
Arrive by plane to Baltra Airport and transfer to the Itabaca Channel to ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. After a short, scenic drive across Santa Cruz Island, arrive in the Highlands to enjoy lunch. Afterwards, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and giant tortoise pens within a prickly-pear cactus forest, which is home to many land birds. Take a late afternoon stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora before embarking on Isabela II. Join the Captain this evening for a cocktail, followed by a welcome dinner and briefing.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D)

Day 4: Floreana
Floreana is perhaps best known for its colorful history of buccaneers, whalers, and colonists. After breakfast, visit the historic Post Office Barrel, where, for over two centuries, letters continue to be hand carried to far-flung destinations without stamps. Perhaps enjoy mid-morning snorkeling off the beach, then following lunch, walk along Punta Cormorant to see the flamingos, stilts, and sandpipers that inhabit a brackish-water lagoon.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D)

Day 5: Española
After breakfast, take a walk along the lava terrain of Punta Suarez to the blowhole that shoots water 50 feet into the air. Along the way, observe unique sea bird colonies, including the famous boobies and swallow-tail gulls. In the afternoon, disembark at Gardner Bay onto a white coralline beach, where you can watch sea lions, Hood mockingbirds, and finches.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D)

Day 6: San Cristóbal
This morning, arrive at the eastern tip of the island for more spectacular wildlife viewing. Take a walk on the beach and, if conditions are favorable, there is a chance to swim, snorkel, or kayak. After lunch on board, venture out on a panga ride along the shores to Cerro Brujo's expansive beach to enjoy a coastline stroll and more bird watching.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D)

Day 7: San Cristóbal / Quito
Depart San Cristóbal for Quito, where you will spend your final night.
Overnight: Hilton Colon, Quito (B,L aloft)

Day 8: Quito / Depart for U.S.
In the morning, transfer to the airport to board your flight back home. (B)

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner


Program Highlights:

• Appreciate the diversity of life first-hand while observing endemic species such as the flightless cormorant, the Galapagos penguin, blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, marine and land iguanas, and the famous "Darwin's finches."
Swim with sea lions, snorkel among colorful tropical fish or sea turtles, and see the underwater realm of the world's second largest marine reserve aboard a glass-bottom boat.
• Explore remote coralline beaches and secluded inlets, such as Gardner Bay—where sea lions lounge, Española mockingbirds sing, and Green Sea Turtles make their nests.
• Discover dramatic and historic places, including the Charles Darwin Research Center, where the National Park and conservation programs are headquartered, and Cerro Brujo, one of the first sites visited by Darwin.

Activity Level:

Moderate
Daily activities include panga and glass-bottom boat cruising to hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling, available at activity levels ranging from beginner to intermediate. It is our expectation that guests on this program are able to climb in and out of pangas, walk up and down stairs, and walk at least one mile on rocky, volcanic, uneven ground, as the nature treks can be on irregular and elevated terrain. The ship has a variety of walking sticks for guests to use if they want extra stability on the terrain. There will be two types of landings on the islands: wet and dry. Wet landings involve disembarkation directly into the water, which can be anywhere from ankle to knee-high. Dry landings involve disembarkation onto volcanic rocks. A crew member will always be available to assist you on and off the pangas.

What's Included:

• 4 nights aboard the Isabela II, with exploration by pangas, naturalist-led hikes and excursions, and evening lectures
• Three nights at the Hilton Colon in Quito
• 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 4 dinners
• Complimentary use of kayaks, masks, fins, and snorkels
• Galapagos National Park entrance fee and transit card
• Internal air travel (between Quito and the Islands on days 3 and 7)
• Airport transfers for guests arriving and departing on suggested flights
• Gratuities for airport and excursion drivers, hotel porters, and guide in Quito

Not included:
Taxes; passport, visas and associated fees if applicable; personal expenses such as laundry, internet access and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship and hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; excess baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air/airport tax(es); airfare and associated local taxes, airport facility and security taxes and federal inspection fees not listed in the “Included Features” section of the brochure; transfers to/from hotels if flights do not coincide with timing of complimentary group transfers; meals, alcoholic or other beverages and all other services not specifically mentioned in the “Included Features” section.

Please view the Travel Brochure for more information.

Please call toll-free at 1-800-417-1127 or email travel@alum.barnard.edu for more details.

  
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