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Ecuador: The Wonders of the Galápagos

The enchanted Galápagos Islands, with their volcanic, otherworldly landscapes, are a magnet for wildlife lovers. Until their discovery in 1535, the islands were completely isolated from the mainland, so the species living here developed to adopt to this unique environment, and are different from anywhere else in the world. Until recently, these animals had no exposure to people and never learned to fear them, so they are extremely tame around humans. The islands’ moon like landscapes of mist-covered volcanic peaks, red sand beaches, and strange forests of prickly pear cactus are full of prehistoric looking iguanas, giant tortoises, doe-eyed sea lions playing with you while you snorkel, vividly pink flamingoes, blue-footed boobies performing their "sky pointing" dance, and hunting penguins swimming around your legs.

Animals and Wildlife in the Galapagos Islands
Animals and Wildlife in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands have a low biodiversity because the islands are 600 miles from the nearest land and this huge expanse of inhospitable ocean in-between makes it very difficult for new kinds of plants and animals to reach the islands. Marine organisms, such as green sea turtles and corals, probably came on their own, swimming, or as floating larvae. Sea birds are all strong flyers that frequently make long journeys across the open sea. But most of the Galapagos life forms reached the islands by accident, and all had a long sea voyage. During that trip, both plants and animals were exposed to saltwater, drying winds, and intense sunlight. >>

Charles Darwin in the Galapagos
Charles Darwin in the Galapagos

Perhaps our first association with the word "Galapagos" is the name "Darwin." Darwin's visit to the Galapagos Islands had a resounding impact on the formation of his Theory of Natural Selection. A rather unmotivated and failing medical scholar, Charles Darwin accompanied Captain Robert Fitzroy as a travel companion and naturalist on the HMS Beagle. His book the Voyage of the Beagle is an account of his worldwide journey. When setting off from England in 1831 for a five-year voyage, Darwin had little ambitions for groundbreaking scientific research. After surveying the coasts of South America, the ship stopped over in the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos Conservation TrustDuring his visit to the islands, Darwin noted that the unique creatures were similar from island to island, but perfectly adapted to their environments which led him to ponder the origin of the islands' inhabitants. Among those that struck Darwin so greatly were the finches that are now named in his honor. >>

Quito
Quito

Isolated in the Andes at 9,350 feet altitude, the city of Quito is spread along the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano and is bordered by the hills of Panecillo and Ichimbia.  Founded by the Spanish in 1534, on the ruins of an Inca city, Quito proudly possesses one of the most extensive and best-preserved historic centers of Spanish America. The city offers a remarkable example of the Baroque school of Quito (Escuela Quitena), that brings together the indigenous and European artistic traditions and which is renowned for providing the greatest contribution of Spanish America to universal art. >>

Middle of the World

In the 18th century, a major debate was taking place in the scientific community, especially in the French Academy of Sciences, as to whether the circumference of the Earth was greater around the Equator or around the poles. French astronomer Jacques Cassini held to the view that the polar circumference was greater. Louis XV, the King of France and the Academy sent two expeditions to determine the answer: one was sent to Lapland, close to the Arctic Circle, under Swedish physicist Anders Celsius and French mathematician Pierre Maupertuis. >>

ECUADOR 2019 / 2: DATES & COST

November 11 - 19, 2019
9 Days / 8 Nights

Tour starts and ends in Quito

$4,990 per person / double occupancy
$1,920 optional single supplement (4 single rooms available)
$880 optional balcony suite upgrade (single or double)
$280 additional night in Quito, twin or single room (includes airport transfer)
Includes all fees and taxes

ECUADOR 2020 / 1: DATES & COST

February 3 - 11, 2020 
9 Days / 8 Nights

Tour starts and ends in Quito, Ecuador

$4,990 per person / double occupancy
$1,930 optional single supplement (4 single rooms available)
$890 optional balcony cabin upgrade (single or double)

$280 additional night in Quito, twin or single room (includes airport transfer)
Includes all fees and taxes

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