Preferred Benefits: Open bar, city tour and a 2-night stay at Casa Gangotena.
Formerly a privately owned, luxury yacht, the MY Passion has been completely refurbished to offer its only 12 passengers, the best Galapagos expedition cruising possible. The ship offer lots of space with a length of 48.5 meters (159 feet) spread over four decks. You will find that the interior of the yacht is ample and lovely decorated. The exterior is also fantastic as it includes social areas such as; a panoramic lounge with bar, separate dining room, and wonderfully spacious decks with more than 200 m2 of fine teak decking.
There are also four spacious staterooms with picture windows, air conditioning as well as a private bathroom (with bathtub) so that the moments you will have alone on the ship are just as luxurious as everything else. The two existing suites on the yacht feature a seating area as well as two very chic marble bathrooms.
The crew is very friendly and welcoming and includes a naturalist guide, who ensures that you are making the most out of every activity on your itinerary. Last but not least, the MY Passion can also be chartered exclusively, which means you can have the option to enjoy the whole ship to yourself!
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Once you have landed at the Quito airport, you will be taken on a private transfer (with guide) to your hotel – Casa Gangotena – where you will stay for one night in a double bed luxury room with breakfast included. After doing the check-in and settling in your room, it is time to start exploring Quito on a fantastic half-day city tour.
Quito is not just the capital of Ecuador, but rather a picturesque city with a very unique location as it situated 2,800 metres above sea level, making it the highest capital city in the world. It was also one of the first World Cultural Heritage Sites to be declared by UNESCO, back in 1978. This historic town as it has been constructed on the foundations of an ancient Incan city, and its historic centre is a great proof of this, as you will be able to confirm by its beautifully preserved 16th- and 17th-century churches, or by all the other 130 monumental buildings that you can find here. A few highlights would be - the Carondelet Palace, Basilica del Voto Nacional, Quito Cathedral or the Church of El Sagrario. There are also lots of market stands with its shamanistic healers or fourth-generation hat-makers, which are worth popping at, as they are a great representation of Quito's Ecuadorian Sierra culture.
So what will you be seeing in your half-city tour? The tour starts at the lovely San Juan neighbourhood as you make your way towards the city centre. The streets as beautiful everywhere and filled with coloured colonial houses and its flowery dressed balconies. Once at Plaza de la Independencia, you will be able to view one of the most important buildings in the city - La Catedral de Quito which is one of the oldest cathedrals in South America. Other important stops are - the Centro Cultural Metropolitano; Iglesia de la Compañia (a Jesuit church featuring Baroque art); the great Plaza de San Francisco and its church (which dates back to pre-Incan times when the square was the main market place). You will also be able to look for the mythical 'stone of Cantuñas' in the church’s vestibule as well as to visit the museum and its 4000 pieces, such as sculptures and oil paintings from the Éscuela Quiteña.
Finally, the tour ends at the café Tianguez, where you can enjoy Ecuador’s famous high altitude coffee, or simply shop some traditional Ecuadorian souvenirs at the fair-trade bazaar. Later on, you will return to your hotel where you will be able to have dinner and relax before embarking on a new adventure the next day.
After a fantastic day in Quito the previous day, it is time to travel again. A private transfer will take you from the hotel all the way to the airport where you will take a flight to the Baltra airport. Once you have landed you will be boarding your 8-day/7-nights Western Islands Passion Cruise.
You will be on board the Passion – a former privately owned yacht that has undergone a complete refit to offer a group of 12 passengers, the most luxurious Galapagos cruising experience there is.
Once you have arrived at the Baltra airport you will be welcomed by a cruise representative and then transferred to Puerto Ayora. Right after, you will have your first visit on the islands, as you head to the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre. Expect to see various tortoises from different islands as well as learn lots about them. These beautiful animals are kept under the safest conditions possible so that they can better procreate. This has been achieved by keeping them in large semi natural pens that are divided according to four different stages: eggs, neonates, juveniles (until they are mature enough to be "repatriated"), and finally, adults.
Once your first visit is completed you will be heading back to Puerto Ayora. If you would like, you can take some time to explore the town before boarding the M/Y Passion. Once on board, you will be welcomed by the crew and captain and you can head to your standard cabin where you will be reunited with your luggage, have a short security drill and then enjoy your first dinner on-board.
On you first full day on board you will be arriving at the beautiful Floreana Island by morning. This Galapago's island and was named after the first Ecuadorian presidente, Juan Jose Flores, but it had been previously called Charles Island - after the King Charles II of England - and Santa Maria – after one of Columbus caravels. The highest point in the island is Cerro Pajas (at 2,100) ft which is also the highest point of the island's volcano, as it is the case in most smaller islands in the Galapagos. Another interesting characteristic of this island is that it is one of the few in the Galapagos that has its own source of fresh water. This contributed to the fact that this archipelago was one of the very first to be inhabited. While you are here you will visit Asilo de La Paz (the famous fresh water source) as well as the caves that served as hideouts for pirates and where the first Galapegueño was born - Rolf, son of Magret Wittmer and her husband Heinz, who arrived on the island in 1932, built a house there, and lived from agricultural. The island is know for its intriguing human history which includes the stories behind all of its first inhabitants. Nowadays the island's residents make their living by farming the land as well as from the main water source on the island; a natural pond that fills up with rain water during the rainy season.
In the afternoon, you will be going on a long navigation from Floreana Island to Isabela Island, on the look out for whales and dolphins which are usually seen around here. Make sure to bring the camera as you look for this fantastic creatures and also don't miss the incredible landscapes you will be passing by such as Cerro Azul volcano.
Later on is time to return to the vessel, have some drinks, socialize with you fellow travellers and eat a delicious and well earned dinner after all the energy you have spent exploring Floreana island.
On the fourth day of your Ecuador trip (and second on board exploring the Galapagos), you will be arriving at the largest in the Galapagos archipelago, known as Isabela island. This island was named after Queen Isabella of Spain and it is one of the most volcanically active places on the planet, with its highest point being Volcano Wolf, at 5,600ft. The flora and fauna here is also incredible. Here you can find more wild tortoises than in any other Galapago's island, but that is not all. Some of the other wildlife present includes; penguins, cormorants, marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, pelicans, Sally lightfoot crabs, Galapagos land iguanas, Darwin's finches, Galapago's hawks and doves, as well as unique lowland vegetation. Some whales and dolphins can also be seen around here, on the west coast of Isabela, in the Bolivar Channel.
When arriving at Isabela island you will step ashore at Punta Moreno, and your first activity will include lots of Galapagos flamingos, as you will be taken on short hike to a lagoon where you can often spot them. In the afternoon, you will disembark at Urbina Bay (black sand beach) to view some green sea turtles. Here you can also admire the beautiful coral heads, marine fossils, as well as doing some snorkel, should the weather and sea allow it. Afterwards, you will be taken on a short hike inland as you search for land iguanas and giant tortoises (seasonal).
Once the day activities are over, you will be heading back to the boat just in time for drinks and dinner. Make sure to rest well as there is much to see and do in the Galapagos and you will want to be as energetic as possible.
This day will still be spent on Isabela Island, more precisely at Tagus Cove which located on the west coast of Isabela island, and across the Bolívar Chanel from Isla Fernandina. Named after an English warship that passed by in the early 1800s, this cove has been recognised as a safe port for more than 300 years due to its sheltered location. Pirates and whalers were among the first to arrive, making this island a known historical pirate hideaway. Another interesting fact about Tagus Cove is that it is a little bit of a tradition that the crew and ships that anchor here paint (or carve) the name of the ship(s) on the cliff that surrounds the cove. In fact, a large part of this same cliff has the writing in graffiti, a mark left by the US Navy back in mid-1900's. But this is not all, you can also still view the names of even more ancient vessels, so do take the time to spot and admire this little corner of the Galapagos.
Once at Tagus Cove, you be doing a hike that will take you to some of the most beautiful Galapagos landscapes, such as Darwin Lake, a salt-water crater lagoon surrounded by tuff stone. Afterwards you will be crossing Bolivar Channel to Fernandina Island, recognised as one of the world’s most unspoilt sites. After disembarking at Punta Espinosa, you will be strolling along the shoreline on the lookout for flightless cormorants, Galapagos sea lions, Galapagos penguins, Galapagos hawks, sooty coloured marine iguanas as well as bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs. There will be plenty of great moments to capture so make sure to bring your camera (or phone) charged!
In the evening as per usual, you will be returning to the vessel in order to relax as well as to have a fantastic meal on board.
This day will be dedicated to a visit to Puerto Egas, located on the Santiago island. If you are wondering where the name of this place comes from you might be glad to learn that the name comes from the salt mining efforts of hector Egar during the 1920's. Unfortunately, this ended up being a failure as even though the salt could be extracted quite easily, the transportation costs were overly expensive making it the entire procedure not viable. Today, the salt-lake crater is home to white-cheeked pintails as well as the occasional flamingo. But this is not all that Puerto Egas is famous for, it is also a great location for observing shorebirds, especially during the low tides when they are on the lookout for food. There is also a short trail that takes you to a rocky landscape where you can often spot seals and young sea lions, and last but not least, the beautiful beach makes for the perfect place to pursue activities such as swimming or snorkelling.
Once in Puerto Egas, you will disembark on a dark sand volcanic beach where you will be able to enjoy a a walk along the shore and observe the abundant marine life. Afterwards and already at Buccaneer Cove, you will take a panga ride around the beautiful coastline, where you can expect to see extraordinary views of the cliffs and beach. Make sure to also spot ‘the monk’ and ‘elephant rock’ - two famous and unusual rock formations that you can admire from here. Later on, you will be heading to central Santiago and disembark at Espumilla on a golden‐colored sand green sea turtle nesting location. From here you will take a forest trail to see some of the biggest specimens of Palo Santo on the islands, to observe yellow warblers, the amazing Galapagos flycatcher as well as Darwin finches.
The day will end as usual on board, socializing, having drinks and a delicious dinner meal in the company of your fellow travellers.
Another day, another location; this time you will be heading to Sullivan Bay, in Santiago Island.
Named after Bartholomew James Sullivan, the first lieutenant on HMS Beagle, and also the ship that brought Charles Darwin to the Galapagos – Sullivan Bay – is a wealth of unique landscape. It is well known for its pair of eroded scoria lava cones, which were engulfed by a recent pahoehoe lava flow (lava that cools down and forms smooth, wavy, or ropy surfaces), and which is considered one of the finest in the world. Even though this lava is 170 years old, the isolated location of the island has kept well preserved and given it a much more recent appearance.
Once you have arrived at Sullivan Bay you will take a walk over the lava flow including the fresh pahoehoe lava formations, lava bubbles containing crystallized minerals as well as pioneer plants. As you walk along the shoreline you might also spot some Galapagos penguins or herons busy catching small fish.
In the afternoon, it will be time to disembark on a new location; North Seymour. This small, unpopulated island is famous for being a great place to spot various Galapagos bird species. This is due to North Seymour being one of the most important fishing sites for marine birds, in this area. While you are here the time will be solely dedicated to observing the wildlife and it will be worth as anything could happen. You will be able to view bird colonies, witness intimate courtship, breeding and nesting behaviours of this wonderful creatures. While here you could spot anything from - frigate birds, blue footed boobies, sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, snakes, herons, hawks, sharks and rays. Perhaps if lucky enough you might even see the famous mating dance of the Blue Footed Boobies
The day will start with a visit to Mosquera, a small islet located between Baltra Island and North Seymour. It is a great site for snorkelling as here you will be able to view beautiful coral reefs as well as fantastic marine life. Here you can expect to see anything from – sea lions in their large colonies, seabirds, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, sally lightfoot crabs, and if lucky, you might also spot some orca whales around the islet.
After this short visit to Mosquero, your vessel will sail to Baltra where your cruise journey ends. From Baltra you will take a transfer to the airport, and then a flight back to Quito where you will spend the night on a double luxury room at Casa Gangotena with breakfast is included.
On your last day in South America you will start the day with a delicious breakfast followed by a private transfer to the airport. Once at the aiport you will take a flight from Quito to Bogota and afterwards a second fligtht from Bogota to London Heathrow.
The MY Passion is a privately owned luxury yacht, that offers 12 passengers at a time the most luxurious and refined onboard experience possible. The yacht has been recently refurbished and it offers lots of space with a length of 48.5 meters (159 feet) spread over four decks. The interiors are ample and beautifully decorated, and the exterior social areas include a fantastic panoramic lounge with bar, separate dining room, as well as big decks with more than 200 m2 of fine teak decking.
While on board you can stay in one of the four spacious staterooms which feature picture windows, air conditioning as well as one private bathroom and bathtub in each one of them. If you feel like getting yourself a little treat, then you could also opt for one of the two available suites which feature lovely seating areas as well as stunning marble bathrooms.
The crew is very friendly and welcoming, and will be ready to attend all your needs all day and all night, making your stay all the more enjoyable. There is also a naturalist guide on board who will ensure you are making the most out of your Galapagos trip. You can ask him any questions you might have any time as he is extremely knowledgeable about the Galapagos and always eager to put at ease curious minds.
Last but not least, the MY Passion can also be hired exclusively, allowing you to enjoy the Galapagos cruising experiencing completely on your own, or with family.
Passion Technical Specifications
Type: Motor yacht
Capacity: 12 passengers
Length: 48,5 meters / 159 feet
Beam: 8,64 meters / 28 feet
Speed: 10 knots
Guide: Level 2 or 3
Crew: 1 crew member per guest
Layout: 2 decks / 6 cabins
Cabin/Lower deck: Stateroom 1 = queen bed
Cabin/Lower deck: Stateroom 2,3,4= twins Cabin/Lower deck: VIP suite = king bed
Main deck: Master suite = king bed
Beds layout: Twins, doubles & suite cabins
Rooming: Private or shared cabins
Sharing: Allowed / same gender guaranteed
Toiletries / towels
Large interior lounge
Wide LCD/DVD player
Sundeck – Solarium
Exterior sky lounge area
Interior / exterior bar
Jacuzzi – hot tub
Al fresco dining
Fine teak decking
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