Check out the highland haven of Quito – Ecuador’s vibrant mountainous capital. If you’ve got time, why not extend your stay here and discover the historic Old Town and Volcan Pichincha lookout.. The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unique wildlife on earth – many you may not have heard of before! Spot blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, frigate birds and so much more on your island escape.. Consider a range of optional activities to enhance your wicked wildlife stops with your small group. Snorkelling at Kicker Rock? Swimming alongside sea lions near Isla Lobos? It’s up to you!. Take land-side visits to San Cristobal’s Interpretation Center and Isabela’s Giant Tortoise Breeding Center to discover more about the islands’ history and conservation efforts to preserve this far-flung paradise.
The Galapagos Islands have a bit of a reputation – think the wildest wildlife, colourful underwater worlds and some of the most remote beaches and rock forms on earth. Spend nine days discovering this explorer’s dream, staying at the bustling centres of Isla San Cristobal, Isabela and Santa Cruz, and top and tailing your island escapade in Ecuador’s capital, Quito. Volcanoes, marine iguanas, playful sea lions and the giant tortoise all await on this animal-focused island getaway – what’s not to love about the Galapagos?
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 5 or 6 pm. Sitting at an altitude of 2850 metres above sea level and under the gaze of Volcan Pichincha, Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America. Long and incredibly thin, the city stretches along a central valley formed by the east and west ranges of the Andes. Although compact, Quito's Old Town is full of historic buildings – there are more than 30 churches to explore, not to mention the fascinating museums.
Isla San Cristobal
This morning, head to the airport with your group leader and fellow travellers to board a flight bound for Isla San Cristobal, with a short stop at Guayaquil. Depending on flight schedules, this flight may be early in the morning – your group leader will provide you with all the details at your welcome meeting. Once arrived, take an included visit to the San Cristobal Interpretation Center and learn about the natural history of, and human impact on, the Galapagos. Afterwards, you’ll have time to explore on your own. Perhaps take a hike up to Frigatebird Hill or head to Mann Beach to spot some sea lions lazing on the shore. If you hit the water for a spot of snorkelling, be sure to keep an eye out for sea turtles, an array of colourful fish and even the odd sea lion coming up to swim with you!
Isla San Cristobal
Today is free for you to continue to explore the wildlife-rich and naturally beautiful Isla San Cristobal. There are a range of optional activities that are available to you today – your group leader will be able to recommend some and help book them. You might like to take an optional boat ride to Kicker Rock – an incredible rock island that is home to some of the most interesting snorkelling in the islands. Otherwise, you could book a visit to Isla Lobos, which is known for its populations of blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and sea lions. Consider taking a walk down Ochoa Beach on Lobos and soaking up this wildlife paradise.
Isla Santa Cruz
Early in the morning, take a 2.5-hour public speedboat ride to Isla Santa Cruz. Once in Santa Cruz, have some breakfast and settle into the hotel. In the midmorning, continue onwards to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The visitor centre and museum exhibits house a whole range of information about the islands and the conservation efforts being made to preserve the unique ecosystem here. This station is also an ideal place to meet the Galapagos tortoise. Later in the afternoon, continue your search for tortoises when you and your group head to the higher part of the island to observe these ancient giants roaming in their natural habitat.
Rise and shine again early this morning to travel to Isla Isabela. Check in to the hotel and enjoy breakfast with your group. Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos and one of the most volcanically active places on earth. A worthwhile optional activity today is an excursion to Las Tintoreras – home to the rare Galapagos penguin as well as other unique Galapagos wildlife. The excursion will then take you to ‘shark alley’, where white-tipped sharks rest during the day. This is also a popular nesting site for the endemic marine iguanas.
Start the day with a visit to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre for a close encounter with these placid giants. Here you can see tortoises in different stages of development as well as learn about the preservation program of this unique species. Afterwards, take a bus to the highest part of Isabela where Sierra Negra Volcano is located. Weather permitting, go for a hike up to the crater to enjoy spectacular views and the possibility of sighting the rare vermillion flycatcher. The challenging 17-kilometre hike takes between 5-6 hours, and at the top you'll be able to enjoy spectacular views. After the hike, make your way back to town in the late afternoon for some free time to relax up with a book or venture down to the water for a swim before dinner.
Isla Santa Cruz
Travel back to Isla Santa Cruz in the morning, where you’ll enjoy breakfast on arrival. Consider taking part in some of the optional activities available, such as an excursion to Tortuga Bay – an immaculate natural paradise where you can go kayaking, observe marine iguanas and birds or swim with harmless sharks in a cove. You may also like to rent some snorkelling gear while you're here and discover a whole other world underwater. Today you can choose your own adventure, so be sure to ask your knowledgeable group leader for their recommendations.
Bid farewell to the Galapagos Islands and all its inhabitants and head to the airport for a flight back to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito Airport, you’ll be transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay. Hit the streets in Quito with some of your travel crew and find a place for some dinner and drinks – you might like to knock back a couple of canelazos (a spiced cinnamon and rum drink)!
After breakfast, there are no activities planned, so you are free to leave the accommodation at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s check-out policy. That doesn’t mean your adventure has to come to an end! If you would like to spend more time in Ecuador’s capital, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).