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Upcoming Programs:
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The Galapagos Islands & Ecuador

July 14-24, 2008
U.Va. Faculty: Fred Diehl, Professor of Biology Emeritus

Price: Starting at $6,195, per person, double occupancy, not including air

Discount available for children or grandchildren!


Registration is Open

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Join Professor Fred Diehl for a sea adventure in the extraordinary natural environment of the Galápagos Islands. These Islands are indeed a land of legend, a magical place where we can walk alongside giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, explore underground lava tubes, and swim safely among sharks and sea lions — adventures that will provide memories for a lifetime. We begin in Quito, Ecuador, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site that brings the past to life in the museums, convents, colonial mansions, carved stone facades, and golden altars of its churches. Aboard the 100-passenger M/V Galapágos Explorer II, we'll then cruise the Galápagos Islands. We conclude our expedition in the thriving port city of Guayaquil, replete with museums, shops, monuments, and cafés.


This program has been exclusively designed for University of Virginia alumni, families, children, and friends who would enjoy exploring the Galápagos Islands and learning about its natural history aboard the M/V Galápagos Explorer II , and also visiting fine cities and museums in Ecuador. This is a moderately active program. In the Galápagos, walks are approximately one to two miles long (sometimes over uneven and rocky terrain) at a leisurely pace suitable for wildlife observation. There will be wet landings on many islands. Dinghy rides along the coast and shorter walks are available for passengers not wanting to go on longer and more challenging walks. There are opportunities for swimming and snorkeling (snorkeling equipment is available for rent aboard the M/V Galápagos Explorer II ). Temperatures range between the 70s and 90s F in the Galápagos and 50s to 70s F in highland Ecuador. Quito 's elevation is 9,350 feet. Travel is by regular scheduled jet aircraft, motor coach, air-conditioned ship, and Zodiac-type dinghies.

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Program Highlights

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Fred A. Diehl is an Emeritus faculty member in the Department of Biology at the University of Virginia and has over 30 years of teaching biology at all levels. In 2007, Fred led the U.Va. Cavalier Travels program to Costa Rica and Panama. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of zoology, developmental biology, ecology and marine sciences, with a specialization in Invertebrate Biology. Whenever possible, field experiences and laboratories have been an important component of of his courses and he is a firm believer in learning from direct observation and first-hand exposure to nature. Professor Diehl has a long history of working with the Advanced Placement Biology program and in-service teacher preparation in addition to his dedication to undergraduate and graduate education. His proudest accomplishment as a faculty member at the University of Virginia is having successfully taught a variety of courses to a total of over 25,000 undergraduate students, 700 of whom were enrolled in his renowned course in Marine Biology/ Coral Reef Ecology in the Bahamas, which has been offered for over 25 years and is still going strong! Currently he is teaching a course in the Ecology and Conservation of Belize, as well.

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Day 1 - Miami - Quito

Depart the U.S. on your flight to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Transfer to Swissôtel (meals aloft).

Day 2 - Quito

Arguably the most beautiful city in South America, Quito nestles in a high Andean valley 9,350 feet above sea level and just 14 miles south of the equator. Lush green foothills rise to meet snow-capped volcanic peaks in a wonderful spring-like climate. A morning city tour introduces us to Colonial Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where narrow cobbled streets echo with history, and whitewashed walls with heavy wooden doors offer glimpses of quiet courtyards filled with exotic blooms.

On the base of ancient Inca monuments, Spanish conquerors built churches, convents, and palaces in the exuberant style of the Spanish Baroque. Inca gold gleams from the altars of cool, dim cathedrals. We'll visit the recently restored Monastery of San Diego, a renowned center of retreat in colonial times for monks and laymen alike. At the Museo de la Ciudad we'll explore daily life in the city from 10,000 BC to the present. In the afternoon, we relive the history of Ecuador 's moaily life in the city from 10,000 BC to the present. In the afternoon, we relive the history of Ecuador 's most ancient cultures in one of the finest archaeological and gold collections in the Americas, part of a vast collection owned by the Banco Central del Ecuador. Housed in the Casa de la Cultura, the Archeology Museum exhibits cover successive cultures from 4000 BC to 1534 AD. We'll have time to visit the folkloric shops and galleries in Quito, which carry some of the finest crafts found in South America. Swissôtel (B, L)

Day 3 - Quito - San Cristobal Island

We'll fly to the Galápagos to begin our cruise, arriving on San Cristobal, easternmost of the Galápagos Islands. Our seagoing home is the M/V Galápagos Explorer II, a 293-foot, first-class oceangoing cruise ship that carries 100 passengers. Experienced naturalists lead shore expeditions to seek out wildlife and help us learn about the fascinating natural history of these volcanic islands. When we're not exploring, we can enjoy the ship's pool, solarium, and reading room.

The Galápagos archipelago is renowned for its unique and fearless wildlife. Here we can swim with sea lions, float eye-to-eye with penguins, and stand beside a blue-footed booby as it feeds its young. The barren volcanic landscape is peerless in its haunting beauty. This first day in Galápagos we'll visit a location near San Cristobal Island. After a wet landing at Cerro Brujo, we'll go to the beach for swimming and snorkeling activities. We'll also look for blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, Darwin 's finches, and yellow warblers.
M/V Galápagos Explorer II (B, L, D)

Day 4 - Española Island (Hood Island)

This morning we visit Hood Island, the southernmost island of the archipelago. Because of its isolation, the island has a large population of indigenous wildlife. We will explore Punta Suarez, one of the most spectacular spots in the Galápagos, where we'll look for sea lions surfing the breaking waves and groups of iguanas basking in the sun. Further inland, masked and blue-footed boobies nest beside the trails.

Later we'll see Gardner Bay, a 1km long beach that is among the most magnificent in all Galápagos. It is home to many sea lion colonies, and the turquoise water makes a beautiful contrast to the white shell-dust sand. Mockingbirds fight for their territory and inspect the backpacks of tourists. About 50m offshore there is a rock where we can snorkel and encounter tropical fish and rays. Even more spectacular is the Gardner Rock, which can be reached by dinghy and is home to white-tipped reef shark, cactus finch, and other colorful sea dwellers.
M/V Galápagos Explorer II (B, L, D)

Day 5 - Santa Cruz Island (Charles Darwin Research Station)/Rabida Island

The Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora is staffed with international scientists conducting biological research and conservation projects. Here we can admire and photograph the giant tortoises that are part of the breeding program. There should be time for shopping and strolling through Puerto Ayora.

In the afternoon we'll visit Rabida Island, a small island covered by dry and coastal vegetation. Rabida contains the largest variety of lava types, red being the dominant color. A saltwater lagoon offers occasional sightings of flamingos. While the beach holds a large sea lion colony, fur seals also may be seen here. Red sands and teal waters characterize this island. A short walk to the top of the trail provides us with a wonderful view of the clear waters and volcanic peaks.
M/V Galápagos Explorer II (B, L, D)

Day 6 - Santa Cruz Island

This morning brings a wet landing at Las Bachas on a beach made of soft white decomposed coral, a favorite site for nesting sea turtles. In interior lagoons, we may find flamingos. There is also a wonderful opportunity to snorkel here from the beach.

This afternoon, we visit Dragon Hill, a new visitors' center opened by the Galápagos Islands National Park Administration. After a dry landing at a dock, we'll walk to a hypersalinic (saltier than the ocean) lagoon behind the beach, often frequented by flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks, and other species of birds. A short walk uphill rewards us with a great view of the bay and a nesting site of land iguanas, rarer than the marine iguanas.
M/V Galápagos Explorer II (B, L, D)

Day 7 - Bartolome Island & James (Santiago) Island

This morning we'll visit Bartolome, an island of varied volcanic formations with a 350-foot summit and a fabulous 360-degree view. Depending upon the weather, we may be able to spot five other islands, one of the most spectacular views of the archipelago. We'll make a wet landing in a cove to see a small colony of Galápagos penguins – the only penguins north of the equator.

This afternoon we'll visit Puerto Egas on James ( Santiago ) Island. The landing is on a black beach with eroded rock formations in the background. Land iguanas are scattered around feeding on exposed algae while oyster catchers try to capture sally lightfoot crabs.
M/V Galápagos Explorer II (B, L, D)

Day 8 - Fernandina Island & Isabela Island

On the youngest and westernmost island in the Galápagos, we'll land at Punta Espinoza, where some of the most unusual Galápagos species can be seen. While the panga (zodiac) driver skillfully eludes the reef to reach the landing site near a small mangrove forest, we'll look for penguins diving off the rocks into the water. Sally lightfoot crabs disperse on the lava near the shore, and herons, sandpipers, and wimbrels explore the mangrove roots. Marine iguanas congregate in larger groups here than on any other island. We may see them basking in the sand, swimming near the shore, grazing on the exposed seaweed in the lava, even blocking the way at the landing dock. This is one of the few places where we have the opportunity while snorkeling to watch these creatures feeding underwater.

This afternoon we visit the largest of the Galápagos islands, Isabela, composed of six shield volcanoes merged into a single land mass. Wolf Volcano on Isabela is the highest point in the archipelago. The Galápagos Explorer II is one of only a few boats able to make the long journey from the central islands to the visitor sites on the western side of Isabela. The trip is more than worthwhile, for the unique species that occur only in this part of the archipelago and because the landscape, with massive volcanoes silhouetted against the sky, offers a striking contrast to the lower-lying islands of the east.
M/V Galápagos Explorer II (B, L, D)

Day 9 - North Seymour & Santa Cruz Islands

This morning we'll visit North Seymour, a small flat island with a long sandy stretch where sea lions and marine iguanas hang out next to the surf. The interior of the island has a palo santo small opuntia cactus forest with blue-footed boobies and frigate bird colonies.

We'll drive to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to view the giant tortoises roaming in their natural habitat. The island's birdlife includes such species as the vermilion flycatcher, the tree finch, and the elusive woodpecker finch. We also have an exciting opportunity to go underground and explore dormant lava tubes.
M/V Galápagos Explorer II (B, L, D)

Day 10 - San Cristobal Island - Guayaquil

This morning we return to San Cristobal Island and fly to Guayaquil for a tour of this bustling port's colonial heart and its sparkling waterfront. Malecón 2000 is the jewel in the crown of Guayaquil. Running parallel to the Guayas River, the Malecón is home to hundreds of cafés, monuments, and shops. We can explore the fortress, complete with cannons that defended Guayaquil against pirate attacks long ago. We'll visit the Municipal Museum, which showcases gold and archaeological collections. And who can resist the shrunken heads? Shuar natives of the Amazon rainforest employed a complex process to shrink the heads of their enemies, as well as those of highly respected people from their communities in order to preserve their spirits and their wisdom. Then we'll gather for a farewell dinner to recount our adventures.
Oro Verde Hotel (B, D)

Day 11 - Guayaquil - Miami

A morning transfer takes us to the international airport for a return flight from Guayaquil to Miami and connections home. (B)

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Program Fees

Land/Cruise Rates
(per person, double occupancy)
ADULTS Children
(7-17 years old)
Third Person
(applies to the third person sharing the cabin or room, child or adult)
Classic Suite $6,195 $5,495 $300 less
Premium Suite $6,595 $5,895 $300 less
Deluxe Balcony Suite $7,295 $6,695 $300 less
Renaissance Suite $7,595 $6,895 $300 less

Single Supplement: 80 to 90 percent of the double cabin rate. Limited in availability.

Airfare: International roundtrip airfare to Equador is not included in the land/cruise rates. Sample airfare Miami/Quito/Guayaquil/Miami is approximately $630.

If you wish, you are welcome to make your own international flight arrangements.

Price includes:

Price does not include: roundtrip international airfare to Ecuador- (quoted separately, please see above) ; customary shipboard gratuities; international departure tax from Ecuador; passport/visa fees; meals not specified in the itinerary; dishes or beverages not included with meals; items of a personal nature; excess baggage charges; individual transfers; medical expenses; travel insurance; optional extensions or deviations from the scheduled tour.  * Any increase in the in-tour airfare to the Galapagos (included as part of the program cost), airport taxes, security, or fuel surcharges imposed after the initial pricing of this program are not included and will be passed on to participants.

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How To Register

Ready to register? The best way to do this is by phone so we can ensure we are meeting all of your needs. Please call us toll free at 866-765-2646. Or e-mail with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

A deposit of $600 per person is required to reserve your spot. Final payment by check is due April 14, 2008.

Deposits can be made via Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

Early registration is encouraged as space is limited.

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General Terms & Conditions


Your tour operator will include information on obtaining trip insurance in your confirmation letter. Please note that there is a time frame for securing trip insurance. The University of Virginia will cancel its endorsement of and faculty and staff participation in any program destination for which a Travel Warning is issued by the U.S. Department of State. Vendor Terms of Agreement will specify under what circumstances the vendor will cancel a program and/or under what circumstances participants might receive some reimbursement if they cancel their travel with the vendor themselves. U.Va. strongly recommends that all participants purchase trip cancellation insurance which includes protection in the face of political unrest, natural disasters, and personal emergencies and participants should discuss this insurance directly with the vendor or other travel services with whom they deal. You will find more useful travel information by going to the Travel Resources link on this website.


Royal Adventures (CST #2009579-40), its owners and employees, act only as agents for the various independent suppliers and contractors providing transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services connected with this tour. Such travel and services are subject to the terms and conditions under which such accommodations, services and transportation are offered or provided, and the University of Virginia and Royal Adventures and their respective employees, agents, representatives, and assigns accept no liability therefor. The University of Virginia and Royal Adventures assume no liability for any injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or other irregularity which may be caused by the defect of any aircraft or vehicle or the negligence or default of any company or person engaged in carrying out or performing any of the services involved. Additionally, responsibility is not accepted for losses, injury, damages or expenses of any kind due to sickness, weather, strikes, local laws, hostilities, wars, terrorist acts, acts of nature or other such causes. All services and accommodations are subject to the laws of the country in which they are provided. The University of Virginia and Royal Adventures reserve the right to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their sole judgment, conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience or safety of the tour participants. They reserve the right to withdraw this tour without penalty. The right is also reserved to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of the tour, or to substitute another qualified leader or special guest. Baggage and personal effects are the sole responsibility of the owners at all times. The price of the program is given in good faith based on current tariffs and rates, and is subject to change. Any tariff, exchange rate, security surcharge or fuel increases will be passed on to participants. Neither the University of Virginia nor Royal Adventures accepts the liability for any airline cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable airline ticket. The air ticket when issued shall constitute the sole contract between the passenger and the airline concerned. As part of the consideration and right to participate in this tour, each participant will be asked to sign a liability release.


Deposits and Final Payment: Deposits may be charged to a credit card. Final payment is due April 14, 2008, and must be paid by check payable to the operator, Royal Adventures. Royal Adventures handles all bookings, ticketing, and invoicing. CST #2009579-40

Cancellations and Refunds: Refunds, less a cancellation fee of $350 per person, are made if we are notified in writing on or before April 14, 2008. No refunds are made after that date. All cancellations must be made in writing. There are no refunds for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features.

Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance. An application for trip cancellation insurance will be available upon confirmation. Neither the University of Virginia Alumni Travel Program nor Royal Adventures accepts liability for any airline cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a non-refundable airline ticket or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for the tour.

Questions: Please call or e-mail the University of Virginia Alumni Travel Program at 1-866-765-2646 or 434-243-4984; E-mail; or call Briana Gerot, Royal Adventures (925) 820-6260 or 1-800-453-4754.

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