2023-24 Christmas in Galapagos & New Year's in Brazil
Montserrat First Class yacht
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Arrival in Quito and transfer to your hotel.
Pick-up from your hotel for a visit of colonial Quito, declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1978. You will enjoy the Old Town, including the Plaza de la Independencia; as the President still conducts business here. It is also the home of the tomb of Sucre and houses interesting 17th and 18th century paintings. The Plaza de San Francisco which was constructed by the Spanish in 1553 has a high altar made of gold and beautifully carved ceilings. A visit to the middle of the World monument before returning to your hotel.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the early flight to San Cristóbal Island. Arrival, arrange payment of the Galapagos fee and then visit the Interpretation centre where you will learn about the origins of the Galapagos; from the very beginning of their volcanic origins through to today's conservation efforts. Tour the Human History exhibit to learn about the islands' discovery and colonization, and discover the natural history and variety of flora and fauna that make the Galápagos so fascinating. A visit to Tijeretas will follow, a great viewpoint and your first wildlife encounter. This hill bears its name thanks to the frigate birds as "Tijeretas". Here we will enjoy from a great view of beautiful landscapes at the foot of a frigate bird nesting colony. The tour on the cruise will then begin enjoying dinner onboard your first class yacht for the next 3 nights, the Montserrat.
Today, you will arrive to Española Island, one of the oldest in the archipelago. Visit the white sandy beach of Gardner Bay's and the bird colonies of Punta Suárez. Arriving at Gardner Bay's in the morning, you will spend the morning exploring on shore and snorkelling at Gardner Island in the bay, home to sea lions and sea birds. Be sure to explore the beautiful turquoise water and its incredible sea life and spot young sea lions and large schools of surprisingly big tropical fish, including yellow-tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish, and bump-head parrot fish. Also, look out for white-tipped reef sharks napping on the bottom After lunch, sail to the western side of the islands to Punta Suárez, known for its amazing bird colonies and home to the waved albatross (April and December), it is home to one of most rich wildlife landing sites in the Galápagos. Be greeted by surfing young sea lions on arrival. Head to the trail to find many species of nesting sea birds, and, if lucky, see the waved albatross. Follow the path up to a cliff for great views over the ocean, and watch sea birds gliding in the wind. Return to the yacht for dinner and continue the cruise.
Today, you will land at Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island. You will enjoy guided walks to observe the bird and wildlife and learn about the natural history. You will discover two amazingly different beaches: one with green sand, coloured by olivine crystals, and another with white sand particles known as 'Flour Beach'. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, rays and colourful fish swimming by. There can be currents in this area, so this activity should be done by strong swimmers only. Spend the afternoon observing flamingos and other shore birds feeding in the lagoon. Spot penguins and marine iguanas at the water's edge, and explore the lava tubes. Visit Post Office Bay and learn about its unique history. In the late 18th century, English whaling vessels placed a barrel here to be used as a post office. Today, the box is used mainly by tourists, who may drop off and pick up unstamped letters to be carried to far destinations. Continue the tradition - leave a letter and take one to deliver. Dinner onboard and continue the cruise.
Today, you will disembark at Puerto Ayora and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the giant Galápagos tortoises. You will visit Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, a great place to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity. Brought back from the brink of extinction, see the famous Galápagos tortoise up close - a corral houses adult tortoises, and a nursery cares for the young until around age three when their shells have hardened. This area also houses the Charles Darwin Research Station, a scientific organization initiated in 1964, which works to preserve the Galápagos' ecosystem through the conservation efforts of scientists, researchers, and volunteers. While the offices themselves are not open to visitors, the research station provides a study location for international scientists and environmental education for the local community. After the tour, transfer to the airport for the flight back to mainland Ecuador and connect with your international flight to Rio.
Arrival in Rio, reception and transfer to your hotel.
After breakfast, a full day visit of the "marvelous city" including a sightseeing tour to Sugar Loaf Mountain. A two-stage cable car takes you to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain where you will enjoy a splendid view of Rio, Copacabana Beach, and Guanabara Bay. After lunch, a trip to the heart of Rio for a historical city tour including Santa Teresa, the Teatro Municipal and the Fine Arts Museum. Thje trip also includes a visit to the São Bento Monastery, the Candelaria (the candle- makers), Praça XV (where the royal family landed when they first arrived in Rio. Paço Imperial was their first residence), the "Travessa do Mercado", the Imperial Palace, the cultural centre located in the beautifully-restored Banco do Brasil and Casa Franca-Brazil (a masterpiece by the architect Grandjean de Montigny). Return to your hotel.
After breakfast, a half day visit to Corcovado, the mountain home to the world famous, Christo de Redentor statue for a magnificent 360° panoramic view of Rio. Free afternoon at leisure. In the evening, welcome in the New Year and enjoy the magnificent Rio city with dinner and New Year's Gala show.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to Iguazu. Reception and transfer to your hotel. Start of your excursion of the Iguazu falls, the most voluminous falls in the world and more than three times the width of the Niagara Falls. The falls lie on the three borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. The tour will include a Macuco safari boat ride on the Parana River, heading towards the Iguazu falls themselves. Return to your hotel.
Today, you will cross the border and enter Argentina for a closer view of these magnificent falls. Set in a subtropical rain forest reserve of over 180,000 hectares, Iguazu is home to jaguars, pumas, caiman and over 400 species of bird. It also offers a chance of seeing the falls close up. Return to Brazil and your hotel.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to Rio Janeiro and your return flight home.