Discover the hidden universe of the Galapagos Islands with this special offer! Hop aboard the Expedition Vessel of your choice, and embark on a voyage of exploration through some of the most iconic islands in the archipelago! Unique species, otherworldly landscapes, and extraordinary adventure await!
Additionally, you’ll get a generous array of free perks to make this experience truly unforgettable, with free domestic airfare and free stays in the heart of Quito’s mesmerizing Historic Center at an extraordinary Boutique Hotel – complete with magnificent views of one of the first cities in the world to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Prepare to live one of the most marvelous experiences of the year, all of it for a truly unbeatable price!
Important Note: This package can easily be customized with a different Expedition Vessel of your choice upon contacting our Destination Experts. Package price will vary upon selecting a different Expedition Vessel.
A professionally guided tour of:
Welcome to Quito, Ecuador! You will be greeted at the airport by a member of our team who will help you with your luggage. You’ll take a transfer to your hotel in Quito–Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel. During the ride, you will receive a brief introduction to Quito and Ecuador along with valuable information regarding your stay in the country.
Quito’s Historic Center–the largest and most well preserved Colonial Quarter in South America–is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On this day, we stroll through Independence Plaza where we’ll see the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. After that, we visit La Compañia de Jesus and San Francisco Church and Convent with their impressive, gilded and baroque interiors, respectively. The tour ends at a lookout point with a great view of Quito.
On this morning, you’ll take a transfer to Quito’s airport and fly to the Galapagos to begin your 7-day Northern Galapagos Islands itinerary:
You will land in Baltra Island by plane in the morning and then transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II. After an introductory briefing onboard, we will all partake in an emergency boat drill, be assigned to your cabin and then be invited to lunch.
After lunch, the Santa Cruz II will sail to Mosquera Island – a small piece of volcanic uplift that sits between the larger islands of Baltra and North Seymour. An easy, enjoyable walk along the coastline allows visitors to admire the young sea lions and give snorkeling a go, too!
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
After breakfast, we will disembark (dry landing) at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the archipelago’s capital, where we’ll get to visit Cerro Colorado and the Breeding Center for highly endangered giant tortoises that amble around under the cover of a fantastic deciduous forest. This forest also happens to be home to dozens of bird species and the San Cristobal lava lizard – both of which happen to be endemic species on this island!
In the morning, the group heads over to the eastern tip of San Cristobal Island. The trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline, allowing guests to observe frigatebirds and a colony of bachelor sea lions. After the walk, weather permitting, you will have the chance to swim along the beach and snorkel.
Santa Fe Island
We take a dinghy from the Santa Cruz II over to this idyllic white-sand beach that’s populated with colonies of sea lions. The brilliantly yellow Santa Fe land iguana, which, in the entire world, is exclusive to just this island, might also be spotted during the walk. Later, you’ll have your choice of swimming or snorkeling along a natural wave barrier.
South Plaza Island
Here, the turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand beach and volcanic rocks that make up the shoreline. Along the coastline, you’ll spot sea lion colonies and seabirds frolicking along the cliffs of this small but spectacular island.
Puerto Ayora & the Charles Darwin Research Station
In the morning, we disembark in Puerto Ayora and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to check out the breeding program for giant tortoises. Afterward, a bus takes the group up and over Santa Cruz Island to visit the highlands.
You will have several options to choose from in the afternoon, these of which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, guests will return to Puerto Ayora and hop aboard the Santa Cruz II.
The morning outing at Punta Suarez gifts us a spirited trek across lava terrain to visit the unique seabird colonies that populate this area. Waved albatrosses (visible from April until January), and the famous “blowhole” geological formation await! Afterward, we return to the Santa Cruz II for lunch.
In the afternoon, we disembark at this beautiful, white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds and finches. Guests can choose to simply enjoy the beach or explore the astonishing sites via snorkeling.
Eden Islet (Santa Cruz Island)
After breakfast, a panga ride takes us over to Eden Islet – a small islet located off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. It is here that you will have the chance to observe blue-footed boobies diving into the water, reef sharks swimming around and frigatebirds flapping about. There’s a chance to snorkel and, weather permitting, take a ride aboard the glass-bottom boat or do some kayaking.
North Seymour Island
North Seymour is the result of oceanic uplift that resulted from a volcanic event long ago. Its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Enjoy a walk along the coast and inner area of this beautiful and relatively flat island. Throughout the excursion, you will get to observe numerous bird colonies as well as sea lions and land iguanas.
On the last day, you will disembark at Baltra Island, take the transfer to the airport and hop on your flight back to the continent.
I imagine there are many ways to see the Galapagos Islands as there are hotels on several islands and ships of various sizes and styles that offer “cruises” of the islands. Our experience was limited to the Santa Cruz II, which is owned and operated by Metropolitan Touring out of Quito, so I cannot compare it to other operators in the Galapagos. What I can tell you is that compared to the nearly dozen other cruises I’ve taken, primarily in the Caribbean on large ships, this was far and away the best in every respect. Make no mistake, this is not a traditional cruise but rather an adventure. The focus is NOT activities on the ship, but it is the islands, oceans, and wildlife. It is both fun and educational.
BruceDenise – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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