Summary : Take a magnificent leap backwards and travel back in time to the islands that inspired Charles Darwin. Nothing opens up the world—or your imagination—like the Galapagos Islands. Isolated from the world for millions of years, these islands are home to stunning foliage and amazing animals that exist nowhere else. Discover rare species while treating yourself to the creature comforts of an all-inclusive experience filled with indulgences, including room service, plush bathrobes, a hot tub, al fresco dining, and fitness room. Mild or strenuous excursion options allow you to explore the islands at your own pace while scouting for a plethora of unique wildlife such as blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, and playful sea lions. Experienced on-board naturalist guides certified by the Galapagos National Park will share their knowledge throughout the voyage. While the Galapagos Islands are Ecuador's most famous destination, its capital, Quito, is a remarkable place unto itself. At an altitude of 9,350 feet, this UNESCO World Heritage site offers one of the largest, least-altered, best-preserved historic centers in the Americas. Pre- and post-cruise nights in this lively city of about 2 million people allow you to discover her many churches, restaurants, and museums, both on your own and with guided tours.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling
$5,885 to $7,329
On the first day of your journey, you'll be greeted at the airport by a cruise representative who will assist with your transfer to the JW Marriott hotel. Enjoy free time in Quito and settle in.
Breakfast is served at the hotel. During your guided tour of the capital of Ecuador, situated at an altitude of 9,350 feet, you’ll stand on the equatorial line at the Middle of the World Park and Museum, and marvel at the monastery of San Francisco and la Compañia Church. Your tour director will escort you throughout your Quito stay, and serve as your personal concierge. Lunch with a spectacular view of the city, and enjoy a welcome dinner at a local gourmet restaurant.
After breakfast, you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Baltra, Galapagos. During World War II, Baltra served as a U.S. military base protecting the Panama Canal from enemy attack. Now its cactus-strewn landscapes are home to the region’s main airport and where you will meet the ship. From the airport, it's a short bus ride and Zodiac ride to the ship for embarkation.
Daphne is a satellite volcanic cone located north of Santa Cruz Island. The crater floor is an important breeding site for blue-footed boobies. Daphne is famous for the scientific investigation led by Peter and Rosemary Grant on the island's finch population, one of the most important studies supporting Darwinism. The island's cliffs and shore are home to sea lions, pelicans, blue-footed boobies, and tropical birds which can be observed during the circumnavigation of the island.
Each voyage is unique. Listed below is a sample of the islands you may visit during your expedition:
Bartolome Island hosts one of the region’s most photographed views in a spectacular geological setting. Its barren moon-like volcanic landscapes, spatter cones, and pinnacle rock make for a unique stop. Home to the endemic Galapagos penguin, it provides an excellent snorkeling experience. Excursion options include a hike up 350 stairs “to the top” of the volcano, a Zodiac ride, and an optional beach swim or snorkel.
A long, white sand beach and clear blue waters make Gardner Bay an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling, or relaxing on the beach. In the water, sea turtles, sea lions, rays, colorful tropical fish, and white-tip reef sharks may be seen. Sail to Suarez Point in the afternoon to observe sea lions, hawks, marine iguanas, and both blue-footed and Nazca boobies. Keep an eye out for Waved Albatrosses migrating through to mate and raise their young.
Floreana was the first capital of the Galapagos, and where Charles Darwin met the islands’ Governor. Its small brackish lagoon is often home to flamingos, stilts, and white-cheeked pintail ducks, and one of its beaches is a highly used nesting site for sea turtles. Check out the green-hued sand where you land! Visit Post Office Bay on Floreana Island in the afternoon. Rich in history, this site is home to the post office barrel established in about 1793, where pirates, buccaneers, whalers and others could leave their mail to be picked up by outbound ships. The tradition continues today, as visitors leave addressed postcards in the barrel and sort through left mail to deliver at home.
Along Moreno Point's beautiful rocky shore, a field of hardened black lava flow is dotted with shallow pools which are home to shorebirds and flamingos. The mangrove-lined shore provides a chance to see marine iguanas, sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, penguins, and Flightless Cormorants.
The youngest island in the Galapagos. With its extraordinary black lava rocks, Espinoza Point hosts the largest colony of marine iguanas in the archipelago, along with sea lions and a nesting site for Flightless Cormorants. Discover ancient volcanic remains at Vicente Roca Point.
Best known for its red sand and eroded volcanic landscape, Rábida is a small island south of Santiago. A nesting colony of pelicans make their home here along with sea lions and seabirds. Excursion options include a Zodiac ride and short walk, swimming and snorkeling from the beach, or a deep-water snorkel for the more experienced.
With its sandy beach, black rocks, and blue-water grottos, Puerto Egas offers a taste of geology, great snorkeling, and an opportunity to see shorebirds and Galapagos fur seals. Excursion options include a long walk along the shore to the grottos to see fur seals, or a shorter coastal walk. Both options are followed by optional swimming and snorkeling.
San Cristóbal Island:
Visit the islands' capital, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, a serene waterfront town. Excursion options include a tour of the local interpretation center with time for shopping, or a brisk long walk to scenic vistas, followed by a visit to the interpretation center. In the afternoon, sail onward to Punta Pitt. Your visit to this location, thought by many to be the most spectacular site in San Cristobal, will offer you the rare opportunity to visit the only place in the Galapagos where you can observe all three species of boobies: blue, red, and masked, and two species of frigate birds nesting in the same area.
South Plaza Island:
One of two twin islands off Santa Cruz, South Plaza is home to land and marine iguanas, and a sea lion colony. Uplifted during a geological event, the rocky island is strewn with prickly pear cactus. Dragon Hill, or "Cerro Dragon," is named after its population of land iguanas. The site offers a beautiful view of the landscape and two small brackish lagoons where flamingos and other shore birds occasionally feed. Along the trail, you will cross a beautiful "white forest" of Palo Santo (incense) trees and Galapagos cotton plants.
Santa Cruz Island:
Puerto Ayora, the islands' most populous center, is home to the National Park Tortoise Breeding Center and the Charles Darwin Research Station. After learning about the islands' comprehensive conservation program, take a bus ride to the Highlands to observe giant tortoises in the wild and walk through a lava tunnel.
Return to Baltra Island and say farewell to the Enchanted Islands. Upon arrival in Quito, a representative will escort you to your hotel. Enjoy an optional afternoon excursion, time permitting, to the local craft market. Dinner is served at your hotel.
Enjoy an included breakfast at your hotel before transferring to the airport for your return flight home.
Please Note: If you wish to extend your stay in Quito, additional pre-/post-cruise hotel nights may be available. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes. Read this itinerary as a guide only, as the exact route and the wildlife you encounter may vary.
Round-trip coach class Quito/Baltra airfare; two pre-cruise nights in a shared double occupancy room at the Quito JW Marriott Hotel; one post-cruise night at the Quito JW Marriott Hotel with dinner and breakfast; pre-cruise transfers between Quito airport/JW Marriott; transfers between Baltra Airport/ship; post-cruise transfer between JW Marriott/Quito airport; a full-day guided tour of Quito; afternoon shopping tour to local craft market, time permitting; shipboard accommodations; internet access; room service; onboard entertainment, programs, and lectures; gear on loan (snorkeling equipment, wetsuits, binoculars, walking sticks); all meals aboard the ship; meals during the land portion of the package in Quito including all meals on Saturday, plus Sunday breakfast pre-cruise (excluding dinner on the day of arrival in Quito); most beverages on board the ship including select wines, sparkling wines, spirits, soft drinks; bottled water, coffee and teas; all gratuities for on board crew, lecturers, and naturalist guides as well as hotel staff and tour guides in Quito. Inclusions subject to change without notice.
Airfare of any type not mentioned in above inclusions; any ground transfers other than as stated; any additional food or beverages obtained off the ship (except as noted); purchases on board or ashore such as souvenirs, gifts, and other personal items; personal services such as spa, laundry, and telecommunications; baggage, travel cancellation, and personal insurance; certain premium alcoholic beverages; Galapagos National Park fee*; Galapagos transit card fee*; fuel surcharge may apply.
*Listed under this shipping company's Taxes and Fees.
PHOTOS: © Celebrity Cruises, © ExpeditionTrips (blue footed booby)