Somewhere around 3.5 million international trips are taken each year for the sole purpose of bird watching. Every year more than 20 million Americans go on bird watching tours, spending upwards of three billion dollars. Yep, you read that right. BILLION.
Discover a true escape in IE's luxurious, fully staffed private villa in the Galapagos Islands. This well-appointed, glamorous five-bedroom villa on Santa Cruz Island offers a rare opportunity to savor the famed nature of Galapagos during private, naturalist-led excursions while being spoiled by an attentive staff. During day excursions in the islands, you can relax and sunbathe on your private boat, swim and snorkel in the Pacific amidst unrivaled natural beauty; or hike in the forested highlands to meet giant tortoises. The villa staff includes a naturalist, concierge, private chef, barman, waiter, and housekeeper. Plus, all meals, wine and cocktails are included and customized to your preferences.
Galapagos Villa: Sample Itinerary
U.S. DEPARTURE / GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR
Our expedition begins in the U.S., where we check in for our early evening flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador. We pass quickly through immigration and customs and are met by our representative for assistance with our luggage before transferring to our deluxe accommodation, the Hotel Hilton Colon, for the night.
GUAYAQUIL / BALTRA / SANTA CRUZ – PUERTO AYORA
After breakfast at our hotel, we transfer to the airport and fly to the Galapagos Islands. On arrival in Baltra, we are met by our private guide who accompanies us to our villa, where lunch is waiting. This luxurious residence offers beautifully appointed ocean view rooms, two living rooms, five bedrooms, ample closet space, private baths, a pool and complete audio visual system in the TV room. Whether you are exploring the islands or relaxing by the pool, your stay is assured to be beyond compare. Beyond the villa’s amenities there are many extra touches designed to make the most of your stay, including the in-home chef who prepares a variety of gourmet Galapagos-fusion dishes and a personal naturalist guide who will also take care of any special requests during your stay. There are bikes, kayaks and wet suits all available during your stay. Following lunch, we visit Charles Darwin Station to see the Giant Tortoises "Galapagos" and learn about the different conservation programs. Walk through the town of Puerto Ayora, the largest one in the islands and back to the villa for cocktails and a delicious dinner. (B,L,D)
Following an early breakfast, we depart via bus and speed boat to Bartolome Island. This is one of the most beautiful places in the Galapagos. The island is famous for Pinnacle Rock, wonderful volcanic views, pioneer plants, the Galapagos penguins and of course a beautiful golden beach. After walking, we may go into the water to explore the diverse marine life and hopefully swim with a penguin and the many different fish. We return to the villa smiling, happy, tired and ready for more adventure! (B,L,D)
SANTA CRUZ HIGHLANDS
We have a chance to sleep a little later this morning, or rise early and enjoy our surroundings. Following a late breakfast, we will depart for the highlands of Santa Cruz. Traveling overland by bus, we go to the "Gemelos" which are two pit craters. We walk in the remains of a scalesia forest, and see the Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat. In the highlands, we also find the colorful vermilion flycatcher. We enjoy a tasty barbecue lunch and then explore one of the wonders of the highlands … a lava tunnel. Following the day’s activity, we return to our villa. (B,L,D)
We depart early this morning by speed boat to Isabela, the biggest island in the Galapagos and the one with five active volcanoes. After a 2 ½ hour trip, we arrive at the small colorful village of Puerto Villamil with a population of about 2,000 people –– mostly fisherman. A 45-minute drive by truck brings us to the horses which take us all the way to Sierra Negra volcano (the second largest caldera in the world). Here, we enjoy a delicious picnic with wonderful views of the volcano and the northern part of Isabela. Returning to town, we visit the Isabela Tortoise Rearing Center, and enjoy a stop for ice cream in this little village. We return to the villa for a wonderful dinner prepared by our personal chef. (B,L,D)
TORTUGA BAY (or South Plaza Island)
Today we go to the most beautiful beaches in the island most famous throughout the world–– "Tortuga Bay" –– named after the turtles that used to nest here many years ago. We enjoy the clear water, swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing and relaxing, with lunch on the beach. Some Galapagos wildlife can be found here, such as pelicans, frigatebirds, ghostcrabs and marine iguanas. As an alternative we may choose to travel one hour by boat to South Plaza Island. This is a small uplifted island covered by a low red vegetation called sesuviem and it holds one of the larger sea lion colonies, as well as the Galapagos land iguanas. Walking along the cliff we see many sea birds. After walking we can go snorkeling and enjoy the wonderful marine life including sea lions and sometimes turtles. (B,L,D)
NORTH SEYMOUR / BACHAS BEACH
Following an early breakfast, we depart for North Seymour Islands and Bachas Beach. North Seymour Island is the only place we will see the male frigatebirds showing their big red pouch. We will also see blue-footed boobies, gulls, marine iguanas and fur seals. After our adventure, we return to the boat, change clothes and go snorkeling to explore the marine life. We will see countless tropical fish and sometimes little sharks. Following lunch, we navigate to Bachas Beach, a beautiful white coral beach located in the northern side of Santa Cruz Island. This is also a sea turtle nesting site where we will also see a flamingo lagoon, marine iguanas, mockingbirds and pelicans. Of course we will also enjoy the wonderful beach and its clear warm water! Return to the villa for evening and overnight. (B,L,D)
SANTA CRUZ / BALTRA / GUAYAQUIL
This is our last morning in the Galapagos. Mid-morning, we say goodbye to our staff who have become our friends! We depart for the airport on Baltra to board our flight back to mainland Ecuador. We are met on arrival and enjoy a city tour before retiring to our hotel for the evening or transferring to the airport if an overnight flight back to the U.S. was selected. Our accommodation is again the Hilton Colon. (B,L)
GUAYAQUIL / U.S. RETURN
We will be met at our hotel and transferred to the airport to check in for our international flight home. (B)