A naturalist’s yachting adventure in Ecuador and the Galápagos aboard the Grand Majestic from Wednesday, May 13–Monday, May 18, 2020 for four (4) couplesQuito,
M/Y Grand Majestic Details:
• Length 128 feet/39m, Beam 24 feet/7.3m, cruising speed 18 knots
• Deluxe motor yacht, built in 2018; can accommodate up to twelve (12) people in seven (7) cabins
• Crew of eight (8) including a Galápagos Park naturalist/guide, a yacht manager to assist the couples from arrival to departure and a professional photographer
• All cabins have private bathrooms, hot water, panoramic windows and air conditioning
• Yacht features a sundeck, solarium with Jacuzzi, shaded outdoor deck areas, an outdoor bar, al-fresco dining and an indoor dining room
In describing what earns the Galápagos Islands World Heritage status, UNESCO makes reference to this unique archipelago as a ‘living museum’ and a ‘melting pot’ of marine species. Situated at the remote convergence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos boasts young and active volcanic islands with dynamic terrain above and below sea level, and abundant diversity of plant and animal life, much of which can only be found within this isolated island chain.
A trip to the Galápagos is best served by an equally abundant desire for adventure and exploration. From giant tortoises to manta rays and albatrosses to sea lions, the magnificent array of species soaring above, swimming below or traversing the islands is sure to inspire the same awe that Mr. Darwin must have felt when he arrived as a young naturalist in 1835. Unlike the relative discomfort in his voyage on The Beagle, however, you will suffer no such injustice aboard the Grand Majestic, a 39-meter, three deck luxury yacht newly launched in the fall of 2018.
Your trip begins with arrival in Quito for one night in a Plaza View room at the Casa Gangotena Hotel. First up, take a day exploring Quito, Ecuador, a city known for its rich culture and beautifully preserved historical district. At 9,350 feet above sea level, Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, but it is dwarfed by the 15,696-foot Pichincha volcano at its outskirts.
Your island adventure begins with a flight to Baltra Island and private transfer to the luxury yacht. This magnificent vessel is brand new and fitted with every luxury. Seven spacious cabins accommodate up to 12 guests, three decks provide extensive opportunities to relax and socialize in style, while an eight-member crew ensures your safety and comfort.
That afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Station/Fausto Llerena Breeding Center. The Charles Darwin Research Station is home to turtles from three inches (new hatchlings) to four feet long. Subspecies of turtles interact with one another and the babies are kept until they are about four years old and strong enough to survive on their own. Step back in time experiencing these ancient creatures in their most natural habitat.
The following day, visit to El Barranco and Darwin Bay. Also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, El Barranco’s steep, rocky paths lead up to a high cliff-face with remarkable views. This site is home to palo santo vegetation as well as red-footed boobies, short-eared lava owls, Galápagos swallows and Galápagos doves. At Darwin Bay, the white sand coral beach heads a half-mile trail that winds through mangroves filled with land birds. Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls can be spotted here. Further down the path are tidal pools where sea lions swim. Explore heaven on earth in this remote locale.
After a relaxing, refreshing overnight on the boat, complete with dinner prepared by your private chef, it’s time to visit Rabida Island and the Chinese Hat Islet. Rabida Island (Jervis) is one of the most colorful and volcanically varied islands in the archipelago and a great snorkeling site. Enjoy its famous maroon sandy beach and stunning lookouts. The island is a birdwatcher’s delight with some of the rarest species – nine varieties of finches, large-billed flycatchers, Galápagos hawks and brown pelicans. Chinese Hat Islet is located near the southeast coast of Santiago Island. Its name comes from the distinct shape of the islet’s summit. This small islet is a great location to view many geological formations including lava tubes and lava flows.
Visits to Witch Hill and Lobos Island fill your final full day. Located on the northern coast, this eroded hill and its surroundings present one of the most picturesque beaches in the Galápagos with its white powdery sand and abundance of animals. Lobos Island means “Sea Lion Island.” This appropriately named island is ripe with noisy, frolicking, jolly sea lions. Wildlife includes sea turtles, rays and various types of booby birds. The clear water provides excellent swimming and snorkeling as well as the chance to see blue-footed and Nazca boobies.
As your escape to Darwin’s learning laboratory comes to a close, enjoy a stop at the Interpretation Center. Opened in 1998 as a phase of the project “Interpretation and Environment Education Project,” visitors enjoy expositions on natural history, human history and conservation. The conservation efforts represent the movement to protect the wildlife and natural environment through means of population and tourist control.
Even if you’ve been to South America or done other island hopping, you haven’t experienced this kind of nature immergence before; the glorious Galápagos is a world truly unto itself, wondrously unique and passionately protected.
It’s time to make like a frolicking sea lion and jolly well win the bid for this evolutionary experience!
Airfare to and from South America from the United States is not included. Trip dates are confirmed for Wednesday, May 13–Monday, May 18, 2020. Airfare from Quito to Baltra Island and return from San Cristóbal to Quito is included. M/Y Grand Majestic can accommodate up to twelve (12) people. If additional guests join the four (4) couples, their hotel accommodations in Quito and their roundtrip airfare to the Galápagos Islands would be at their expense. The exact itinerary will not be determined until approximately six (6) months prior to embarkation. Cruise includes Galápagos National Park entrance fees; Galápagos Transit Control Card; all shore excursions listed in the itinerary; all meals and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the cruise; a Galápagos National Park certified guide; use of snorkeling gear and wetsuits; kayaks and all guided tours in Galápagos in sharing basis. Cruise doesn’t include personal expenses, gratuities for guides and crew, alcoholic beverages and in-room service charges are not included. Cabin details: The Main Deck includes one (1) Master Suite at 420 square feet and one (1) Stateroom at 132 square feet. The Lower Deck includes six (6) Staterooms—Cabins 1 and 2 are 170 square feet; Cabin 3 is 181 square feet; Cabin 4 is 176 square feet; Cabin 5 is 148 square feet and Cabin 6 is 145 square feet.
with thanks to Sterling Yachting and Christin McKay, Luxury Travel Advisor with SmartFlyer
Airfare donated by Darlene & Don DeMichele