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The Galápagos Islands, surely, needno introduction. Ancient seafarerscalled them the Enchanted Isles,recognising their unique landscape andextraordinary fauna, but it was CharlesDarwin who drew them to the world'sattention. By observing the fascinatingchanges and adaptations made in thebirds and reptiles through thousands ofyears of isolation on these predator-freeislands, Darwin was able to formulate histheory of evolution.The Galápagos Islands form a largearchipelago straddling the equator some960 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador. Ofvolcanic origin, they are beautiful islandswith great variety and often bizarre form;each island with its own peculiar shapeand charm. There are volcanic peaks,strange lava fields, beautiful sandy bays,and clear seas, perfect for snorkelling inthe sheltered coves. Their natural history isoutstanding- so much of it endemic. 28bird species, from the Small Ground Finchto the magnificent Waved Albatross, occurnowhere else in the world. There are gianttortoises, prehistoric-looking Land andMarine Iguanas, colourful crabs such asthe Sally Lightfoot, and even a GalápagosSnake. Most appealing of all is the tame and obliging nature of this extraordinarywildlife; it is a photographer's paradise-a telephoto lens is usually unnecessary.Our 2-week cruise is special. We avoid the routine, large and luxury motor vessels,and their noisy crowds, by chartering ourown vessel -an elegant 2-masted TopsailSchooner that accommodates 16passengers in characterful quarters. Thisprovides a freedom, flexibility and groupindependence essential to the specialistnature of our holiday. Moving at our ownpace, we will have a greater chance toenjoy these islands to the full, and tobenefit from the knowledge of our localnaturalist-guide and our own Naturetrekexpert.Although our final day-to-day itinerary willonly be released by the National Parkauthorities shortly before departure, we willaim to visit all the major islands and manysmaller ones, starting and ending ourcruise on Baltra Island. At Academy Bay,on Santa Cruz Island, we will visit theCharles Darwin Research Station and thegiant tortoise breeding station, and maymake a trip up to the highlands to look forthe reptiles in the wild. We will walkamongst spectacular volcanic scenery onBartolomé Island, and we will swimamongst fur seals and Sea Lions from thebeaches on James Island. With a mixtureof night-time voyages (for the longernavigations) and shorter day-time sailings,we will explore each island for its ownpeculiar wildlife specialities. On Españolawe should see the magnificent WavedAlbatross in January (and, in August, itsremarkable courtship display) togetherwith thousands of nesting seabirds andcolourful Marine Iguanas. Genovesa, wayto the north, hosts huge colonies offrigatebirds and Red-footed and MaskedBoobies, plus a population of storm-petrel-hunting diurnal Short-eared Owls.Fernandina, geologically the newest of theislands and volcanically active as recentlyas 2005, offers wonderful scenery withspectacular isolation. Endemic FlightlessCormorants breed here and we must keepan eye to sea for the chance of a passingpod of Killer or Bryde's Whales.As we cruise between the islands, there istime to read, relax and keep a tour diary.There will be time to sea-watch, enjoyingour quiet companions the petrels,shearwaters, gulls and boobies, and tokeep an eye out for dolphins playfullyswimming in the bow-wave of our boat. In Ecuador, after our cruise, we offer achoice between spending a day visitingand birdwatching on Antisana, amagnificent volcano permanently adornedwith snow, and a day at Otavalo, an Indiantown to the north of Quito with one of thebest indigenous markets in South America.We also offer an extension to Sacha Lodgein the Amazon Jungle, enjoying the richbirdlife of the area and the various trailsand dug-out canoe excursions that enablea thorough exploration of this area of thegreat Amazon rainforest.Ecuador & the Galápagos IslandsA 20-day holiday incorporating a 2-week cruise around the 'Enchanted Isles' in our elegant 2-masted Topsail Schooner, a visit to Cotopaxi or Otavalo, plus an optional 4-day extension to the Amazon Jungle.Monday 10th December - Saturday 29th December 2012 Cost: £5,495Monday 21st January - Saturday 9th February 2013 Cost: £5,595Monday 11th February - Saturday 2nd March 2013 Cost: £5,595Monday 9th December - Saturday 28th December 2013 Cost: £5,695Monday 6th January - Saturday 25th January 2014 Cost: £5,695*Monday 10th February - Saturday 1st March 2014 Cost: £5,695*Amazon extension available on all tours Cost: £795 Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationSEYMOURSAN CRISTOBALRABIDABARTOLOMÉBALTRASANTA FÉESPA~NOLAFLOREANAISABELAFERNANDINASANTACRUZSANTIAGOGENOVESAPTA. MORENOELIZABETH BAYURBINABAYPTA.ESPINOSAWRECK BAYACADEMY BAYPUNTA CORMORANTTAGUSCOVEPTO. GARCIAALCEDO CRATER 3,700'PTA. ALBEMARLEPTA. PITTEQUATORGALÁPAGOS ISLANDSOutline itineraryDay 1Fly London to Quito. Day 2Quito. Day 3/16Galápagos cruise. Day 17Quito. Day 18Antisana or Otavalo. Day 19Depart Quito.Day 20Arrive London.ExtensionDay 19/21Sacha Lodge, rainforestsafari. Day 22Return Quito. Day 23Depart Quito. Day 24Arrive London.AccommodationFor this cruise we charter theCachalote, a 2-masted TopsailSchooner (see page 279).In Quito weuse a comfortable hotel and ontheAmazonextensionwe stay at SachaLodge. All have private facilities.FoodIncluded in the price, except formain meals in Quito. Allow £30.GradingGrade A. Easy and optional daywalks, though terrain can be rough.See Trip Itinerary for details.FocusNatural history.LeaderDarwin Alvarez.Single room supplement (Quito only)£160 (extension: £295). Web quick search: ECU10 *Dates and prices subject to confirmationin our 2014 brochure.269CachaloteBlue-footed BoobiesEXCLUSIVENATURETREK CHARTERBartolome and Pinnacle Rock

There are few superlatives in theEnglish language to fully describe thebreathtaking beauty of Greenland.This huge ice-covered island is edged withjagged mountains - the highest in theArctic - and deep valleys down which thelargest glaciers in the northern hemisphereslowly flow. As they reach Greenland'sintricate coastline, towering cliffs of icecalve into giant icebergs which dot thenumerous fjords and bays - the deepblues of centuries-old ice contrasting withthe clean white snow on the mountainsand the dark rocky tundra at their feet.This spectacular landscape is home to anexciting variety of polar wildlife such asArctic Fox, Long-tailed Skua, PurpleSandpiper, Grey Phalarope and GyrFalcon. It is the underwater world,however, that draws naturalists andscientists to Disko Bay in westernGreenland, for each Arctic spring thisdramatic iceberg-dotted coastline not onlybecomes a temporary home for HumpbackWhales, but the bay's cold nutrient-richwaters, coupled with its proximity to theice-edge, attracts one of the animalkingdom's true polar enigmas, the rareBowhead Whale!Much of Greenland is inaccessible byland, so the best way to explore this Arctic island is from the water. For this excitingwildlife and scenery cruise we have takenfull charter of the 34-berth sailingschooner, the SV Rembrandt van Rijn. Freefrom the shackles of having to visit non-wildlife sites, our cruise will focus solely onthe region's unique natural history anddramatic landscapes, spending time inparticular to the south of Disko Island insearch of Bowheads and other cetaceans.The holiday begins, however, with a flightto Keflavik in Iceland where we spend onenight. From here we fly over thespectacular coastal mountains and inlandicecap of Greenland before landing atAasiaat in west Greenland, the fifth largestsettlement on the island. Aasiaat sits onthe shores of Disko Bay and is thedeparture point for our 7-night cruise. We will keep the exact itinerary of ourcruise flexible, in order to take intoaccount the ice conditions, location of thepack-ice edge, recent wildlife sightings,and the advice of the captain andexpedition crew. Before heading outtowards Disko Island, however, we will takethe opportunity to enjoy the breathtakingscenery that abounds in westernGreenland. We will cruise towards the vastIlulissat Glacier which flows into thebeautiful Ilulissat Kangerlua (JakobshavnIcefjord), a 'World Heritage Site'. Here wecan enjoy a panorama of huge deep-blueicebergs sculpted into an inexhaustiblevariety of shapes by wind, water and ice.Bearded and Ringed Seals are often seenresting on the smaller floes, whilst birds tolook out for include King Eider, GlaucousGull, Arctic Tern and perhaps even apassing white-phase Gyr Falcon. We will spend the next couple of days insearch of Bowhead Whales out in themouth of Disko Bay, most likelyimmediately south of Disko Island, afavoured feeding area. The first Bowheadsarrive in Disko Bay in late February andthey stay until June when they head furthernorth as they follow the retreating icetowards Baffin Bay and beyond. Whilstnothing is certain in the world of wildlife-watching, we stand a very good chance oflocating one or more of these rarecreatures and, once found, their slow-moving nature and tendency to feed nearthe water's surface make them fairly easyto observe. Sadly, these sluggish habitsalso made Bowheads an easy target forthe early whalers. It has recently beendiscovered that Bowheads are one of thelongest living animals - a harpoon headdating from 1885 having been removedfrom an adult Alaskan Bowhead in 2007proving that the animal was at least 130years old. Indeed, it is now widelyaccepted that these amazing creaturesmay live for as long as 200 years! We will also take time to enjoy landings onDisko Island and some of the smalloffshore islands such as Hunde Ejland andKronprinsen's Ejland where Long-tailedSkuas, Snow Buntings, NorthernWheatears, Greenland White-frontedGeese and twirling Grey Phalaropes allbreed. Finally we must make our way back, pastthe icebergs, to Aasiaat. There we boardour flight back to Iceland and, after a finalnight in Keflavik, we head home. West Greenland - Bowheads,Icebergs & Glaciers!A 10-day holiday, including a 7-night cruise, around Disko Bay in search of Bowhead and Humpback Whales, huge icebergs and spectacular West Greenland scenery.Monday 27th May - Wednesday 5th June Cost: from £3,295(This holiday can be combined with our 'Iceland' tour outlined on Page 82) Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Keflavik andovernight.Day 2Fly Aasiaat; embark SVRembrandt van Rijn andbegin cruise.Day 3/8Disko Bay cruise.Day 9Disembark SVRembrandt van Rijn andfly Keflavik.Day 10Fly London.AccommodationFor this cruise we have exclusivelychartered the 34-berth SVRembrandt van Rijn, a 56-metre(168-foot) sailing schooner fullyrefurbished and refitted in 2011.She features 17 comfortable twincabins (most with private facilities),a spacious dining room, and plentyof deck space for wildlife-viewing.Twin-bedded private inside cabins(no porthole) are included in thetour cost; private outside cabinswith portholes are available at anextra cost of £295 person.Additional information on SVRembrandt van Rijn can befound on page 281 of thisbrochure. In Iceland we use acomfortable tourist hotel withprivate facilities. FoodAll included in the price, except forlunches and dinners in Iceland andAasiaat. Allow £90.GradingGrade A.FocusWhales and other mammals, birds,Arctic flora, and spectacularscenery. LeaderTim Melling or Paul Stanbury, pluslocal expedition staff.Single room supplementFor the purchase of a twin cabin forsingle occupancy, the cost is onlyavailable on application.Web quick search: GRL02270Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip Itinerary ARCTIC CIRCLEGREENLANDDISKOISLANDBAFFIN BAYAASIAATDISKO BAYBowhead WhaleKing EiderSV Rembrandt van RijnBowhead WhalesEXCLUSIVENATURETREK CHARTER