Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands
Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands
- Departure Date:
- Wednesdays (Eastern Islands itinerary). Northern Islands itinerary is also available, which departs Sundays.
from AUD 10,116/pp
Ecuador is one of the most diverse and colourful corners of the planet, a country bursting with life and a promise of wild, unforgettable adventures.
The pinnacle of Ecuador’s natural attractions though, is the Galápagos Islands. On a small-ship Galápagos Island tour, each day brings exciting adventures: picture yourself with a giant tortoise, snorkel or kayak with sea lions, and trek across ancient lava flows dotted with intriguing iguanas. Cruise in our glass bottom boat and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn how these islands inspired our understanding of life as we know it.
We head east from Baltra to start our adventure with the sea lions and land iguanas of South Plaza. Then off to Santa Fe and San Cristobal before sailing south to Española Island and remarkable Punta Suarez, home to hundreds of marine iguanas, sea lions, marine birds, and even albatross (April-December). Enjoy aquatic activities at Gardner Bay and finish with a visit to world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz.
Your home during your expedition, the La Pinta, offers exclusive island visits in the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve. Enjoy personalized attention with small expedition groups of up to 12 guests, led by Park-certified naturalist guides. Itineraries are designed to include all Park-approved expedition activities. Eco-friendly Carbon Neutral policies ensure awe-inspiring and sustainable expeditions.
Eastern Islands itinerary – Wednesday departure (embark ship on Thursday)
Day 1 – Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! Your home during your stay in Quito is the Casa Gangotena, a gorgeous hotel full of history and character. Quito has seen its history played out in its plazas, most notably at San Francisco, the largest colonial religious centre in South America and an important regional marketplace. The Gangotena family acquired its mansion on the corner of the plaza in the 18th century. In 1914, after a ‑re destroyed the entire house, they rebuilt it as the European-style Gangotena Palace, one of the most stylish residences in the city. In 2012, the newly restored Casa Gangotena boutique hotel, featuring 31 exquisitely decorated rooms and spacious, elegant public areas, reopened its doors to the public, still with the intimacy of an exclusive family home but with all the facilities and services today’s sophisticated world travellers expect.
Depending on your arrival time into Quito, you may have some free time to explore the town. Casa Gangotena offers an unbeatable base for admiring breathtaking Baroque churches, visiting local artisans and craft schools, exploring markets and museums, or simply making surprise discoveries amid the chessboard grid of streets.
Overnight: Casa Gangotena
Day 2 – Quito > Galapagos
You will be collected from your Quito hotel and taken to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos! Our Galapagos adventure begins with a morning flight to Baltra Island and transfer to the dock to board your yacht, La Pinta. There will be a welcome introductory briefing, boat drill and cabin assignment followed by a delicious lunch. We weigh anchor and start sailing for our first afternoon outing at South Plaza Island. The turquoise waters of the channel here contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline, while a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus beyond, populated by yellow-grey land iguanas. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while sea birds play with the thermals that form along the cliffs of this small but spectacular island. (B,L,D)
Day 3 – Galapagos
Santa Fe Island:
We take the dinghy over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by colonies of sea lions. Galapagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The Santa Fe land iguana, unique to just this island, may be spotted during the walk. Following the walk, we can snorkel and swim along a natural wave barrier or ride the glass-bottom boat.
Cerro Colorado Tortoise Habitat (San Cristobal Island):
After lunch, we disembark at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the island’s capital, and drive 40 minutes to the island’s southern shore. At Cerro Colorado, we visit the breeding centre for highly endangered giant tortoises in the midst of a fantastic deciduous forest, home to dozens of bird species, including the San Cristobal mockingbird, and the San Cristobal lava lizard, both island endemics.
Day 4 – Galapagos
Punta Pitt (San Cristobal Island):
We land at the eastern tip of San Cristobal Island this morning. The trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline; we can observe frigates, plus a colony of bachelor sea lions. After the walk, if conditions are favourable, there is a chance to swim from the beach and snorkel. We keep our eyes open for red-footed boobies.
Cerro Brujo (San Cristobal Island):
In the afternoon following lunch on board, a dinghy ride along the shores of tuff-stone layers takes us to Cerro Brujo’s expansive, white coral beach, great for walking, with rewarding bird-watching featuring seabirds and shore birds. Also, look out for Galapagos sea lions. These are the same shores that Charles Darwin walked upon, back in September 1835.
Day 5 – Galapagos
Punta Suarez (Española Island):
Our morning outing at Punta Suarez provides an exciting walk on lava/boulder terrain to visit its unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses (April-January), boobies, swallow-tail gulls, and the famous “blowhole” lava formation. Also, look for red-green-black marine iguanas. Many regard this site as the best in the Galapagos. Back on board for lunch.
Garden Bay (Española Island):
In the afternoon, we set down at this beautiful, white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches or enjoy the beach. There is great snorkelling in this area, or else there’s time to kayak or ride in the glass-bottom boat.
Day 6 – Galapagos > Quito
Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz island):
Disembarking in the morning, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the captive rearing programme for the giant tortoises. Here we witness the efforts and results of Galápagos fieldwork and study done in the name of science. We transfer via bus across Santa Cruz Island and a short ferry ride to Baltra Island. From here, we transfer to the airport to fly back to Quito and upon arrival, transfer you to your Quito hotel.
Overnight: Casa Gangotena (B)
Day 7 – Quito
After breakfast, check out of your hotel for onward arrangements. (B)
- 2 nights’ accommodation at the boutique Casa Gangtena in Quito (Luxury Room) with breakfast
- 4 nights’ aboard the m/v La Pinta
- Meals as per itinerary
- All non-alcoholic beverages on board m/v La Pinta
- Transfer from Quito hotel to airport on Day 1
- Transfer from Quito airport to hotel on Day 7
- Transfers to/from m/v La Pinta
- Galapagos National Park Fees
- Transit Control Card (Galapagos National Park)
- Flights Quito-Baltra Island-Quito
From AUD 10,116 / USD 6,654 / GBP 5,966 / EUR 6,908 per person twin share
*Single traveller pricing available on request.