Summary : The far-flung Galapagos archipelago is unique on Earth. Giant tortoises roam misty meadows. Sea lions loll, nonchalant, on pristine beaches. Iguanas bask on sun-baked lava while sea turtles, and rays swim with snorkelers in aquamarine waters. Paddling this primeval paradise is a privilege few visitors get to enjoy. A pioneer of kayaking in the Galapagos, this tour operator has special paddling permits allowing access to places most visitors never see. Aboard a privately chartered deluxe catamaran, whisk between anchorages while enjoying comfortable accommodations. Each day you'll explore a different island, on foot, by kayak, via snorkeling, and sometimes all three—you won't sit around on deck on this adventure! The islands are surprisingly diverse, with new discoveries at each spot you visit.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
$5,495 to $6,395
Upon arrival at the airport in Quito, you are met by a local representative and transferred to Quito's historic Old Town, about an hour away. Settle into your luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the colonial quarter and enjoy dinner at your leisure this evening at one of Quito’s many fine restaurants.
After breakfast, embark on a full day of discovery in Ecuador’s historic capital. Heralded as Latin America’s most beautifully preserved colonial city, Quito’s Old Town is filled with cobblestone lanes, elegant plazas and monuments, and ornate gilded churches and monasteries. Your tour of the historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, may include the 16th-century Church and Convent of San Francisco and the baroque splendor of La Compañia Church with its gleaming gold-leaf interior. Along the way, stop for a leisurely lunch of traditional Ecuadorian food in a classic local restaurant. Visit Independence Plaza, the original center of Quito from which to view the Archbishop’s Palace, Cathedral and Presidential Palace. And take in a sweeping view of the city and surrounding volcanic peaks from the overlook at Itchimbia or Panecillo Hill. As the sun sets over Quito, enjoy a welcome dinner.
Rise early for the transfer back to Quito airport, where your flight to the Galapagos awaits. Your second Expedition Leader meets you once you land on the island of Baltra later this morning. You're then off via road and ferry for Santa Cruz Island, winding up into the misty highlands to land at Nat Hab's private Tortoise Camp.
This exclusive setting offers a rare opportunity to spend a night in wild tortoise habitat, and these ancient, amiable reptiles that are the archipelago's namesake often wander right through camp. Accommodations are in safari-style raised platform tents and treehouses with views of the ocean. While rustic, they offer comfortable amenities, including real beds and private en suite facilities. But the true treat of our stay is the proximity to wild tortoises, which are attracted to the area by the lush vegetation. They are most commonly seen in camp from July through February. From March to June, we make an excursion to a nearby tortoise reserve for closer views, as they migrate seasonally to a lower elevation. Nearby, we can also explore a network of subterranean lava tubes and caverns.
Embark the Nemo III today. Listed below is a sample of the islands you may visit during your expedition, and the types of activities you may experience.
Española is also the world's main nesting site for the huge waved albatross. Paddle along the north shore of the island and follow a cliff formed by eroded cinder cones. Observe giant cacti and many different bird species. Deep-water snorkel at one of the offshore islets in Gardner Bay. Go ashore where an idyllic white sand beach awaits and sea lions laze by the dozens. Pacific green sea turtles frequent the rocky part of the shoreline. Hiking on the headlands of Punta Suarez to see abundant birdlife: mockingbirds, blue-footed boobies, nesting swallow-tailed gulls and Galapagos hawks.
Land at Punta Cormorant and follow a trail through a Palo Santo forest to a lagoon where you may see pink flamingos. Wind your way past a rich variety of plants to reach a beach where sea turtles lay eggs in the dunes and rays swim in the shallow water. Sail to Champion Islet just offshore for a great spot to drift-snorkel. You may be followed by playful young sea lions. Floreana's rich cultural history is filled with intrigue, including tales of pirates who once hid out here. The "Post Office Barrel" established by British whalers in 1793 is where travelers still leave mail for personal delivery via visitors passing through.
North Seymour Island:
Follow a trail that leads you to swallow-tailed gulls, blue-footed boobies and endemic land iguanas. Spot the large colony of magnificent frigatebirds. Stroll along the beach to see marine iguanas and sea lions bodysurfing.
San Cristobal Island:
Land at Cerro Brujo, an ancient volcanic tuff cone that sits next to an expanse of white sand that's home to a large colony of Galapagos sea lions, as well as blue-footed boobies, pelicans, egrets and marine iguanas. Paddle the shoreline via kayak and observe the tunnels and caves eroded by the relentless action of the waves.
Nemo III returns to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz this morning, where you disembark. From here, ferry over to Baltra to board your flight back to the mainland. Upon arrival at the Quito airport, travelers departing on overnight flights may choose to transfer to a hotel located just minutes away, for a relaxed layover in a comfortable day room (extra fee). A complimentary shuttle will return you to the airport in time for your evening flight.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
This is a very active trip with early mornings and long days filled with varied activities. General physical fitness and mobility are required to participate in this trip. If you have no prior experience with kayaking, it is asked that you are prepared to learn and sign on knowing that your participation may be limited if you cannot meet minimum abilities. Activities include mainland and island walking, kayaking, swimming and snorkeling. Snorkeling is a big component of this trip, with excursions offered nearly every day, sometimes twice a day. So it is strongly recommend practicing beforehand if you have limited experience.
Medical Evacuation Insurance is mandatory for this trip. Note that the cost of a medical evacuation policy will be added to your tour invoice. If you wish to decline this coverage and opt for a different carrier, you will need to provide other proof of coverage including your insurance company’s name and contact number, and your insurance policy number.
Airport transfers on Day 1 and Day 8; two pre-cruise hotel nights in the Quito; overnight at Galapagos Tortoise Camp (weather permitting); shipboard accommodations; kayaking; gear on loan (wetsuits, snorkeling gear); meals from breakfast on Day 2 through breakfast on Day 8; local beer and house wine with dinner aboard the ship; most gratuities. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; Galapagos National Park entrance fee; Galapagos Transit Card; some gratuities; alcohol not mentioned as included; items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, internet etc.; required medical evacuation insurance; travel insurance; optional activities; some gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.
Airfare between Quito/Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands:
The flights between mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) and the Galapagos Islands are an additional cost. To secure your seats on often overbooked flights, ExpeditionTrips must reserve these flights for you at the time of cruise booking. Approximate cost (including service fee): $500-$700 per adult; $350-$450 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).
Photos ©: Natural Habitat Adventures
*A surcharge for Travelex medical evacuation insurance through Natural Habitat Adventures is added to your invoice. It is mandatory to have this insurance for this trip. If you wish to go with a different carrier, you will need to show proof of coverage to have this charge removed from your invoice. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.