May 1st-10th, 2017 | 10 Day Customized Small Group Retreat
Mapping The Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador. Set 1000 kilometres (600 miles) off the coast they are made up of 13 major islands, 6 minor islands and 40 islets in the Pacific Ocean. Accumulated lava oozing upward from the ocean floor along the juncture of three tectonic plates formed the Galápagos Islands. This geological process reached sea level nearly 4 million years ago. Today, several volcanoes are still active, having erupted 13 times in the last 100 years. The most recent eruption was in April 2009 on the newest and largest island, Isabela. As the islands age, they move southeast on the globe, with the oldest island being Española.
Your Retreat Will Focus On The Islands of Isabela and Santa Cruz
Isabela Island was named in honor of Queen Isabela. With an area of 1,792 sq. miles, it is the largest island of the Galápagos, greater in size than all of the other islands combined. Its highest point is Volcán Wolf, with an altitude of 5,600 ft. One of the youngest islands, Isabela’s seahorse shape is the product of the merging of six large volcanoes into a single land mass. The island’s rich fauna is beyond compare. It is home to more wild tortoises than all the other islands combined, with a separate species on each volcano. On the west coast of Isabela the upwelling of the nutrient-rich Cromwell Current creates a feeding ground for fish, whales, dolphins, and birds making it some of the best snorkeling in the world. Isabela is known for Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs abound. At the skirts and calderas of the volcanoes of Isabela, land iguanas can be observed, as well as Darwin finches, Galapagos hawks, Galapagos doves and bizarre lowland vegetation. Puerto Villamil is the third-largest human settlement of the archipelago, but it still has fewer than 1,500 people for such a huge landmass. It is the only island to have the equator run across it. It is also the only place in the world where a penguin can be in its natural habitat in the Northern Hemisphere. An interpretive trail runs from Puerto Villamil, through the Lagoons, and ends at the Tortoise Center, approximately 1.5 km from town. The beach and lagoons near Villamil are the best sites in the archipelago to view migratory birds. Black-necked stilts and flamingoes are two of the most common resident species. At the Tortoise Center visitors can see both hatchling tortoises and the older breeding animals. Isabel’s 6-km long wildlife park is usually only visited by those staying several days and therefore ideal for quiet observation of animals. The trail passes the Villamil cemetery shortly after leaving town, with tombs of the first settlers. Then it snakes around a white sand beach with surrounding lagoons where all four species of mangroves that exist in Galapagos can be seen. The trail continues through the dry zone until reaching the Wall of Tears, a penal colony which once existed on Isabela.
The second largest of the Galapagos Islands is located in the center of the archipelago. The name Santa Cruz is Spanish for “Holy Cross,” but its English name — Indefatigable — was named for the British vessel HMS Indefatigable. Santa Cruz has a long history of human settlement and agriculture, which has left the landscape permanently altered by invasive species. In its humid highlands, farmers raise cattle and plant crops such as avocados, coffee, sugarcane, bananas, oranges, and lemons.
Puerto Ayora is the main tourism hub for all the Galapagos archipelago, given its proximity to the airport on Baltra Island to the north. Puerto Ayora is a port town where sailboats fill the bay, sea birds fill the air, and marine iguanas dot the shore. It is the heart and soul of the Galapagos Islands’ human population and island culture.
Known for its quaint hotels with creative architecture and small restaurants with delicious seafood, Puerto Ayora is the base point for most tours and offers the most services in Galapagos, including a hospital, banks, post office, radio station and a TAME airline office. It is also home to the headquarters of the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station.
The Origin of Species
Charles Darwin didn’t actually discover the Galapagos, but his name is inextricably linked to the islands. He arrived in 1835, and during his five-week visit he gained insights that formed the foundation for his theory of evolution. It was eventually published in 1859 as “The Origin of Species.”
In that book, Darwin noted that it was possible to distinguish which island a tortoise came from by the shape of its shell, as well as how the finches and hummingbirds varied from island to island.
We will be staying for 5 nights on Isabela Island at the picturesque Casa de Marita Boutique Hotel. Situated directly on a quiet beach, the island breezes keep rooms cool and magicial (although the rooms do include air conditioning.) Specifically-requested rooms will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.
Considered a moderately-priced hotel, Casa de Marita gets high marks with all visitors (check out Trip Advisor.) Many single and double occupancy rooms face on a beautiful island garden, but for a nominal upgrade, double rooms on the beach are available.
Returning for 3-nights on the island of Santa Cruz, our hotel will be situated in a cheerful, small town setting. Santa Cruz is filled with quaint streets and with restaurants and galleries. We’ll be right in the center of them, walking and biking distance from everything. Single and double rooms are available for you, as you prefer.
It goes without saying that maid service will be provided every day during the retreat, and a full breakfast is always included daily while in the islands. All our hotels have air conditioning, comfortable beds and Western accommodations.
WHAT’S THE PRICE?
Shop around, and you’ll see that even though our tour is exclusive and exquisite, it’s still modestly priced. Reservations for this 10-day Retreat start as low as $3995/person for double occupancy. We expect this adventure to fill up fast, but you can reserve your place, risk-free, for $750 until Thanksgiving.
Read what’s included: CLICK HERE