Begin with our luxury stay in Quito and our exclusive sightseeing. Then we fly you to the Galapagos for a 4-night cruise in an Upper Deck outside cabin aboard the stylish, newly-renovated La Pinta. You’ll join our expert naturalists to explore the Northern reaches of the archipelago, home to some of the most iconic sights in the Galapagos.
Day 1 - Welcome to Ecuador
Upon arrival at the airport, you’ll be met and escorted to Casa Gangotena, our luxury boutique hotel in the historic heart of Quito.
Day 2 - Discover Quito #WHS#
In the engaging company of our expert resident guide, your exploration of this World Heritage city begins in the historic heart of town, home to important Colonial-era landmarks like the Cathedral and Presidential Palace. At the Church and Convent of San Francisco, you’ll discover a splendid 16th-century landmark that blends spectacular Baroque elements with Moorish architectural style.
Then delight in a guided stroll through La Ronda, a charming historic district filled with shops, studios and galleries. Spend time with some of these resident artisans including the owner of a hat shop who learned her millinery skills from her father; for 60 years, the family has been producing some of Quito’s finest hats! For lunch, we’ll take you to a restaurant set in a handsome Colonial house. Join the chef for a lively talk and cooking demonstration, followed by a congenial lunch of traditional Ecuadorian dishes. Meals B+L
Day 3 - Fly to the Galapagos Islands
You’ll be escorted to the airport this morning for your included flight to Baltra Island in the center of the archipelago. On arrival, cross the narrow Itabaca Channel by ferry to Santa Cruz Island and sit down to lunch at a local restaurant. Then join our expert naturalist for an exciting excursion into the Santa Cruz Highlands. Observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat, learn about the unique ecosystem of this pristine nature reserve, and discover its unusual lava tube formations.
Then travel to Puerto Ayora to board our Galapagos vessel, the intimate La Pinta. You’ll have time to settle in to your Upper Deck outside stateroom before joining fellow passengers for dinner. This evening’s briefing with our expert shipboard naturalists offers an entertaining and informative introduction to your upcoming voyage. Meals B+L+D
Day 4 - Eden Islet and Chinese Hat Islet
Today’s excursions explore the diversity of two small and uninhabited isles. In the morning, a guided expedition in our maneuverable panga boats takes you along the shores of Eden Islet, where you might observe Nazca and blue footed boobies diving into the sea for food, reef sharks and frigatebirds. Conditions permitting, this is also a great place to take advantage of our free snorkeling gear and glass bottom boat. With its cinder cones, tuff cones and semi-eroded lava flows, Eden Islet also offers a chance to learn more about the volcanic origins of the Galapagos Islands.
After lunch, a guided nature walk on Chinese Hat Islet offers a chance to espy marine iguanas, Galapagos hawks, sea lions and Galapagos penguins. There’s also terrific snorkeling here amongst white-tipped reef sharks and penguins, or you might choose to explore these waters by sea kayak, glass-bottom boat or panga. Meals B+L+D
Day 5 – Bartolomé and Santiago Islands
After breakfast, join our naturalists ashore for an invigorating walk to the summit of Bartolomé Island. A network of wooden stairs and boardwalks protects the fragile environment, including small lava lizards and a species of cactus found only in the Galapagos. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most picturesque and memorable vistas of your Galapagos adventure! Later, a panga boat excursion around Pinnacle Rock offers a great opportunity to photograph this iconic natural formation. Before returning to La Pinta for lunch, you’ll have time to relax on the beach, snorkel or ride in the glass-bottom boat.
In the afternoon, you’ll step ashore at Sullivan Bay on the southeastern coast of Santiago Island. There was a major eruption here only 100 years ago, and the sinuous Pāhoehoe lava formations look almost like still-flowing molten lava. There may not be much wildlife here, but the barren, other-worldly landscape makes for remarkable photography, and this is a great place to observe and experience the volcanic origins of the Galapagos archipelago. In addition, the lovely coral sand beach of Sullivan Bay is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Meals B+L+D
Day 6 – Two landings on Genovesa Island
Genovesa is celebrated for its remarkable birdlife including magnificent frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, swallow-tailed and lava gulls, and yellow-crowned herons. This morning, you’ll step ashore with our naturalists at Darwin Bay. From the small sand and coral beach, an easy trail winds its way along a tidal lagoon, offering myriad opportunities to observe and learn about the island’s birdlife. After your guided walk, you can hike along a more challenging lava trail to a look-out point, go for a swim or snorkel in the bay. The more adventurous can paddle or snorkel along the cliffs at the edge of the bay.
After lunch back onboard, you’ll explore Prince Philip’s Steps - named for Prince Philip who visited the Galapagos in 1964 aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia. As you approach the lava cliffs in our panga boats, keep your eyes peeled for animals using the crevices for shelter and for red-billed tropicbirds flying overhead. You’ll make landing at the base of a staircase that leads to the top of the cliffs where a mile-long path will take us to the other side of this small island. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to espy large colonies of Nazca boobies, frigatebirds, storm petrels and the elusive short-eared owl. Meals B+L+D
Day 7 – Back to the Mainland
After breakfast, you’ll disembark on Baltra Island and transfer to the airport for your included flight back to the South American mainland. You can fly to Guayaquil or Quito – where we include your overnight accommodations and a transfer to the airport in the morning. Or you can connect to your international flight on the same day. Meals B
Day 8 - Farewell, Ecuador
We transfer you to the airport today. Meals B