As you board your vessel – the M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz – and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, you will encounter nature at its finest.. Explore the islands from on deck, on foot and in the water, no doubt with your eyes open for your next unique sight.. Sea lions and iguanas await you at Plaza Sur and Santa Fe, whilst in San Cristobal you meet the grand-daddy of the Galapagos – the giant tortoise.. A hike on Bartolome offers panoramic views across some of the other islands, showcasing the dramatic volcanic landscape. This is indeed the Galapagos journey with something for everyone.
From Quito, discover the wonders of the Galapagos Islands, located in the equatorial water of the Pacific Ocean. As you board your vessel – the M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz – and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, begin to encounter nature at its finest. Sea lions and iguanas await at Plaza Sur and Santa Fe, whilst in San Cristobal, meet the father of the Galapagos – the giant tortoise. A hike on Bartolome offers panoramic views across some of the other islands, showcasing the dramatic volcanic landscape.
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 3
On arrival at Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure. A welcome meeting will be held in the evening at either 5 pm or 6 pm when you meet others travelling with you on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Quito sits at high altitude under the towering Pichincha volcano. It is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in South America. The city stretches along the valley and is surrounded by the Andes. The Old Town of Quito is awash with history, with more than 30 churches to explore, and a number of fascinating museums. La Compania de Jesus is considered to be the most beautiful and ornate churches in the Americas. The city's oldest street, Calle La Ronda, is well worth exploring.
Quito – Isla San Cristobal
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Please note the pick-up time will usually be as early as 4.30 am, as the airport is a one-hour drive away and you must allow for delays and check-in times. A boxed breakfast will be provided. Your tour leader will confirm this time with you at the welcome meeting yesterday evening.The flight to the Galapagos will make one stop in Guayaquil to pick up other passengers. (Total flight time is about 3.5 hours). You will be met in the arrival hall of the airport by the National Park Guide, and transferred to your motor yacht ‘Grand Queen Beatriz’. This afternoon you will travel into the interior of the island to visit the highlands site of ‘Galapaguera of Cerro Colorado’ (Red Hill) where the national park has established a breeding program and information centre for tortoises. Here, we will be able to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat and learn all about their origin, evolution and their threatened future.
Bartolome – Bahia Sullivan
Bartolome is one of the most spectacular volcanic landscapes in the Galapagos, full of parasitic spatter cones, lava flows, Galapagos penguins and lava lizards. It is a relatively new island in the archipelago and traces of its volcanic past can be seen everywhere, as evidenced by the amazing lunar-like landscape. The Pinnacle Rock is one of the most photographed sites in the Galapagos – an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth, while nearby two golden bays back onto each other. You can hike to the top of a once-active volcano here (360 wooden steps), and enjoy superb views across to Sullivan Bay, on nearby Isla Santiago. If you are in luck you might catch a glance of the Galapagos Hawk here. You also have the opportunity to go snorkelling with plenty of tropical fish, starfish, white-tipped reef sharks, rays and hopefully penguins. On Santiago's eastern coast sits Bahia Sullivan. Here you walk on Pahoe-Hoe lava, from an eruption that occurred in 1897, and witness the colonisation of plant species since the last eruption. Hopefully see some marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions, finches, turtles, sharks and penguins. On a walk, your guide will explain the geological history of the islands.
Isla Santiago – Espumilla Beach – Buccaneer Cove – Puerto Egas
Today you will visit some wonderful places. Espumilla Beach, on the northern coast of Isla Santiago, is one of the most idyllic locations in the Galapagos Islands and is an important nesting site for marine turtles. With large waves, it is also often a favourite among beach lovers. Potentially we will see Galapagos hawks up close, ghost crabs, blue-footed boobies (often plunging for fish) and brown pelicans. It is also well known for its palo santo forest and some extraordinary lava formations. You will also visit Caleta Bucanero (Buccaneer Cove), a natural monument of rocks caused by sea erosion. This cove was used by pirates to careen their ships. It is a place of local legends and stories! It is also where Darwin camped for nine days while making his study of the islands and their wildlife. If conditions are favourable, you can enjoy some further snorkelling. Puerto Egas is a black sand beach located on the west side of James Bay and northwest of Santiago Island. South of the beach is Sugarloaf Volcano, which has deposits of volcanic tuff. This site is named Puerto Egas, after Hector Egas who last attempted to mine salt here. The walk along the beach offers hundreds of marine iguanas and Galapagos sea lions. You will also see amazing tidal pools formed from ancient lava flow and home to sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish. Snorkelling with the seals always offers the possibility of thrilling encounters.
Isla Santa Cruz – Quito
As flights to the mainland from Galapagos depart mid morning, it is an early start for our last morning on the islands. Depending on the time of our flight, our time spent on this final excursion could be limited. Our final excursion will be a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands. Travel through the agricultural region and into the misty forests where we can see the Unique Scalesia cloud forest, get up close to the dome shaped giant tortoises in the wild, different species of Darwin finches and possibly the world famous woodpecker and warbler finches as well as vermillion flycatchers. This is your final excursion before you return to the airport in Isla Baltra for your flight back to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito Airport you will be transferred back to your hotel for an overnight stay.
End Quito (Thu).
Your Galapagos adventure will come to an end today after breakfast. There are no activities planned for the final day so you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. There are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito, so please speak to our customer service representative about any optional activities that might be of interest. They can also assist you in booking a departure transfer to the airport.