A Galápagos cruise combined with an adventurous Andean Ecuador tour and sidetrip to the Amazon jungle, all in one memory-packed ecotour adventure. Just imagine...

Imagine snorkeling in a clear blue sea with sea lions, giant marine turtles and neon rainbows of fish of all shapes and sizes....

Imagine walking across a portion of the earth so new that the boiling flowing forms of the basalt lava are so fresh the rock appears to still be liquid....

Imagine stepping around hundreds of seabirds and prehistoric-looking marine iguanas too unafraid of humans to move out of your way....

Imagine following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and experiencing first hand some of the wonders of nature that inspired his famous theory....

These experiences and much more need not be imagined... They are yours to live in an eight-day Galápagos tour aboard the yacht Cachalote in May 1998. Check out the ITINERARY!

Imagine riding through the Andes mountains in the open air on top of a rocking train car....

Imagine yourself in a native market haggling with sharp Otavalo Indian traders for ponchos, blankets or sweaters woven of llama or alpaca wool....

Imagine spending the night in a 400-year-old hacienda, once headquarters for a wealthy colonial family, now a hotel within sight of soaring volcanic cones....

Imagine boating down a tributary to the Amazon to experience the jungle flora and fauna from a ecologically sensitive hotel built right in the jungle....

These experiences and more are part of a 10-day Ecuadoran mainland trip that precedes the 8-day Galápagos cruise. Check out the ITINERARY!

In May 1998, Dr. Richard Finch, of the Dept. of Earth Sciences, Tennessee Technological University, will lead a special summer field excursion to the Galápagos Islands and mainland Ecuador, South America. The trip will last approximately 3 weeks. It will be a multicultural experience open to adventurous travellers wanting to experience three of the world's premier ecotourism destinations: the Galápagos Islands, Andean Ecuador, and the Amazon Basin. This trip can be taken for pure pleasure, or for college credit. Students from Tennessee Tech and other institutions can earn 4 hours course credit for this excursion. Non-student participants do not need to be affiliated with any university.

This trip will be an awesome experience: spectacular scenery, colorful Andean people, fascinating history, Inca archeology, tropical flora and fauna ranging from alpine to Amazon basin, good food, and some geology and geography thrown in to boot!

The trip is scheduled as a 20-day excursion leaving the U.S. for Quito, Ecuador on Saturday May 16, 1998, and returning to the U.S. on Thursday June 4. The trip itinerary is shown at the end of this web page.


The inscription fee for this trip will be approximately $2860 per person. This trip fee covers all lodging, breakfast at the hotels on the mainland, van, train and boat transportation in Ecuador, all park entry fees, round trip air fare from Quito to the Galápagos Islands, a one-week cruise on a chartered yacht, all meals while on the cruise, bilingual guide on the mainland and bilingual national park naturalist-guide on the Galápagos cruise, Ecuador entry/exit taxes. Not included in the trip fee: air fare US-Quito-US, lunch and supper meals while on the Ecuadoran mainland, beverages, tips, or souvenirs. Travellers are expected to tip the guides and yacht crew. Students participating for class credit must pay tuition.

The Andean Ecuador and Galápagos Islands trip segments may be purchased separately if you wish a shorter trip. The 10-day Andean Ecuador segment, May 17-27, will be approximately $1380; the 8-day Galápagos Islands cruise will be approximately $1560.

A word about our yacht, the Cachalote: she is a steel hulled ketch-rigged motor/sailor built in California in 1971. She is not a large vessel, being only 70 feet long, with a beam of 18 feet, but she is a beauty. She has the graceful thoroughbred lines of a traditional sailing ship (in comparison, many of the newer Galápagos tour boats look like toast racks). The Cachalote, which translates "Sperm Whale", is powered by a 280 h.p. diesel engine, but can move under sail, and the sails are commonly deployed. Her cruising speed is 9 knots. She is well-provided with radio communications, depth sounder, marine radar, etc. Her crew consists of the captain, two sailors, and the cook. A park-authorized multilingual naturalist guide is also aboard each cruise.

The Cachalote is cozy, carrying only 10 guests in 5 two-bunk cabins. Passengers share bath facilities, with two heads (each with toilet, wash basin, and fresh water shower) for the four aft cabins. While not a luxury ship, the Cachalote more than makes up for any lack of un-necessary amenities by providing an intimate setting for convivial groups. She also has a maneuverability advantage over some of the large, deeper-draft cruise vessels.


A deposit/downpayment of $500 is required to reserve a place on this trip. A second payment of $500 will be due on Jan. 15, 1998. The balance of the trip fee will be due in two equal payments, on Mar. 1 and April 1.

NOTE: Although the deadline for the first payments has past, it is still possible to sign on to the Andean Ecuador excursion, or on to an 8-day Galápagos cruise on the yacht Sulidae with an itinerary almost identical to that described on this web page. However, interested parties need to act fast! [Note posted 17 Feb. 1998.]

For further information about the detailed itinerary, costs, reading suggestions, or other information, contact:

Dr. Richard C. Finch
Box 5062 TTU
Cookeville TN 38505

tel 931-372-3751
fax 931-372-3363

Itinerary for Ecuador and the Galápagos:

May 16: Fly U.S. to Quito; lodging at the Orange Guest House.

May 17: Tour colonial Quito, designated by UNESCO as a "Cultural Heritage of Mankind" site. Visit Plaza de la Independencia, Palacio Nacional, San Francisco Monastery, the Virgin of Quito monument, and the Basílica. Transportation by minibus, with bilingual guide.

May 18: Leave Quito, via the impressive Mitad del Mundo monument marking the equator, en route to the Otavalo area. Afternoon hike at Laguna Cuicocha. Lodging at Hostería Pinsaqui, an hacienda converted into a hotel, near the town of Cotacachi.

May 19: Visit to the colorful Otavalo market, a great place to bargain and haggle with Indian merchants for alpaca sweaters and other woolen goods. Afternoon visit to Lago Mojanda. Lodging at Hacienda Guachala, near Cayambe.

May 20: Drive south and east from Cayambe, crossing the cordillera, passing through the towns of Papallacta and Baeza, to descend into the Amazon Basin to Mishualli on the Río Napo (a major tributary to the Amazon). Arrive around 4 PM at Cabañas Aliniahui, a comfortable but rustic jungle lodge.

May 21: See some of the Amazon basin jungle flora and fauna: guided nature trip by canoe, including a visit to a biological station. Lodging at Cabañas Aliniahui.

May 22: Travel to Baños, via the Amazon basin route through Puyo, if the road is open. This road is currently under repairs, and if it is not open at the time of this trip, we will return via Papallacta and then head south to Baños (a long day's drive, this route). Good scenery by either route. Lodging at Isla de Baños.

May 23: Day in and around Baños, a resort town famous for its thermal baths. You can "take the waters," hike some of the spectacular mountain trails above and below the town, or just "hang out."

Leave for Riobamba in the late afternoon; lodging at the Hotel Chimborazo.

May 24: Morning train ride through beautiful Andean scenery from Riobamba through Alausí, down the spectacular "Devil's Nose" switchbacks, to Huigra. Bold riders can ride al fresco on top of the train cars!

Met by our bus and driver in Huigra, then drive on to Ingapirca to see the Inca ruins there. Lodging at Posada Ingapirca.

May 25: Drive north toward Quito, through the Andean highland, passing through Riobamba again, then Ambato, and Latacunga to reach the 400 year old Hacienda La Ciénega, where we will stay the night.

Visit to a native market en route to Hacienda La Ciénega.

May 26: Morning visit to Cotopaxi National Park to gawk in astonishment at the incredible snow-capped cone of Volcán Cotopaxi, and to see the specialized flora and fauna of the extreme high Andean environment known as the páramo.

On to Quito in the late afternoon. Lodging at the Orange Guest House again.

May 27: Fly from Quito to the Galápagos Islands, to begin an 8-day cruise of the islands, led by Galápagos Islands National Park approved naturalist. Land on Baltra Island, board the yacht Cachalote, a 70-foot ketch-rigged motor/sailer. Visit Turtle Cove.

May 28: Easy climb to the peak of Bartolomé Island for one of the most dramatic scenic vistas in the islands; next, snorkeling around Pinnacle Rock. Later, hike across part of the 100-year old Sullivan Bay pahoehoe lava flow; more snorkeling at Sullivan Bay.

May 29: Sail around Santiago to visit historic James Bay; landing at Rábida Island on a red sand beach by a lagoon inhabited by sea lions, flamingos, and brown pelicans. We'll do some snorkeling today, too.

May 30: On Santa Cruz Island, visit the Darwin Research Station to see the tortoise breeding program and other conservation and research efforts; bus up to the highlands to become acquainted with the flora and fauna of a totally different island environment.

May 31: Visit Floreana Island: flamingo lagoon, sting-ray beach, and snorkeling around the dramatic "Devil's Crown", where we might see hammerhead sharks!

June 1: Swimming and snorkeling with sea lions at Gardner Bay.

Stroll along the cliffs at Punta Suárez, through the rookeries of thousands of sea birds: blue-footed boobies, masked boobies, swallow-tail gulls, waved albatrosses, frigatebirds, and many others, plus sea lions and marine iguanas.

June 2: Visit Isla Santa Fé: a hike through a forest of opuntia cactus that have evolved into "trees" with trunks, perhaps as protection from being eaten by the giant tortoises; Galápagos doves and finches seen here, too. More snorkeling at this stop, too. Afternoon visit at Islas Plazas, where huge land iguanas can be seen basking under cacti; sea lions, marine iguanas and plenty of sea birds, also. And a final snorkeling opportunity to see more underwater marvels.

June 3: On North Seymour Island, a final walk through a sea bird nesting site, with frigate birds, boobies and others. Then back to Baltra to end the cruise and catch the afternoon flight to Quito. Final night in Orange Guest House.

June 4: Fly back to the U.S. from Quito. End of excursion, but the beginning of many many wonderful memories.



Images on this webpage by Janie and Ric Finch, @copyrighted.