Galápagos
Ecuador & Galápagos
October 9–19, 2020
Marvel at the one-of-a-kind sights of Ecuador & the Islands of the Galápagos.

SHARE THIS TRIP:

$7,995
double occupancy
$4,795
single supplement

This exceptional trip will more than satisfy the traveler who hungers for the unique cultural and wildlife experiences Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands have to offer. From Ecuador’s capital city of Quito—the largest colonial town of the Americas, rich with the culture and architecture of its people—to yachting the Galápagos Islands aboard the Isabella II— disembark for remarkable opportunities to spot the famous Galápagos tortoises, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and many others—this will prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Galapagos

October 9

San Diego/Houston/Quito

Your journey begins as you fly from San Diego to Quito, via Houston. Upon arrival in Quito in the evening, you will be escorted to your elegant hotel, which is located in the heart of historic “Quito Antiguo” and surrounded by churches, museums, and national monuments.

Overnight at the Hotel Patio Andaluz. (Meals Aloft)

October 10

Quito/Otavalo

Set out this morning on a drive across the colorful valleys of Guayllabamba and Cayambe, where avocado and the local cherimoya fruit are grown in rolling orchards alongside dairy pastures and rows of beautiful roses. The breathtaking setting offers great photo opportunities. After two hours of traveling through the riveting Andean countryside, arrive at the province of Imbabura, known as the Ecuadorian Land of Lakes, where you’ll visit the Otavalo Craft Market, the most famous and picturesque market in South America. Saturday is the main market day, full of bargaining and chatter, while people of the region exchange local produce, animals, utensils, cookware, and textiles. For visitors, the market offers the possibility of approaching Ecuadorians at a more intimate level as you negotiate prices of a variety of woven goods, bags, hats, flutes or simply appreciate the skillful and generous people responsible for the elegance and beauty of their clothing and handicrafts. After a busy shopping day, there is nothing better than a delicious lunch at the historic Hacienda Cusin.

On your way back to Quito, time permitting, visit Cotacachi, an Indian village which features leatherwork including bags, jackets, hats, gloves and belts, Cuicocha Crater Lake, whose wonderful scenery is dominated by mountains and moorland scenes with numerous native plants and many birds or visit the village of Peguche with traditional looms and handcrafted wind instruments where you can purchase their goods directly from the people who make them.

Overnight at the Hotel Patio Andaluz. (B,L)

October 11

Quito

Quito is the largest colonial town of the Americas and was the very first UNESCO World Heritage Site, which you will discover today. Enjoy the eclectic architecture, ranging from the modern quarters to varied colonial facades and structures built throughout the last five centuries. The tour includes parks like El Ejido and Alameda, the monument of Simon Bolivar, the gothic Basilica of the Heart of Jesús, and Independence Square, along with the Metropolitan Cathedral. Walk along the so-called street of the seven crosses and pass by the Jesuit convent, once headquarters of the first university in the country, El Sagrario Church, with a unique orthodox cross layout dating back to the seventeenth century, as well as the jewel of the crown, the Jesuit temple of La Compañía de Jesús, perhaps the most important monument of the baroque art in Quito. From there, continue to the plaza of San Francisco, with its temple and richly decorated historical convent. End your day with a welcome dinner with your fellow travelers.

Overnight at the Hotel Patio Andaluz. (B,D)

October 12

Quito/Galápagos Islands: Baltra And Santa Cruz Islands/Highlands

Fly to Baltra, where you will be transferred to Santa Cruz Island, having crossed the Ithaca channel by ferry. Travel by bus to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island and watch as the scenery gradually changes while you wind your way through all seven vegetation zones found in the Galápagos. Here, you can find giant tortoises on a private farm in the highlands. Then, visit Los Gemelos (Spanish for the twins), a pair of large pit craters on the highest part of Santa Cruz, where it is easy to spot the bright-red male vermilion flycatcher. Due to their long history of isolation from humans, both land and sea animals remain virtually fearless and unaffected by visitors, and they will allow you to come close for photographic opportunities.

Enjoy a late afternoon stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora before embarking on the yacht Isabela II, where you will have a briefing on the next day's activities followed by a welcome dinner with the captain.

Overnight aboard the M/Y Isabela II. (B,L,D)

October 13

Galápagos Islands: Santa Fe Island & South Plaza Island

Located in the southeastern part of the Galápagos, this island was formed from an uplift instead of a volcanic origin, which is why it is mostly flat and home to the archipelago’s oldest rocks. The small bay on Santa Fe's northern coast provides one of the most picturesque harbors within the archipelago. A large sea lion colony inhabits most of the surrounding landing site. Follow the trail among a very tall forest of opuntia cacti, where large endemic land iguanas can be seen. A variety of finches and the Galápagos mockingbirds abound. Back to the ship for lunch, as you sail to South Plaza Island. Disembark (dry landing) in the channel between North and South Plaza Islands, where the island tilts toward the water, making for a lavish colorful sight as the turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the archipelago occur here. Look out for land iguanas in the cactus shade and swallow-tailed gulls nesting on the rugged southern cliffs. The protected rocky seashore is a prime habitat for a large colony of noisy sea lions, who share the shore with yellow–tailed mullets, Audubon’s shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and brown pelicans.

Overnight aboard the M/Y Isabela II.  (B,L,D)

October 14

Galápagos Islands: North Seymour Island & Las Bachas (Santa Cruz)

Take a dinghy ride along the shores of tuff-stone layers this morning to Seymour Island, where you will follow a trail that leads to sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls and blue-footed boobies. Visit the largest colony of magnificent frigate birds found in the Galápagos. As you stroll along the beach, watch for sea lions body surfing the northern swells. The sandy shore teems with the Galápagos sea lions and marine iguanas among the cacti, palo santo trees, and salt bushes. Continue on to Bachas Beaches, where the soft, white sand is made of decomposed coral, perfect as a nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there is a small brackish water lagoon, where you might spot flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels.

Overnight aboard the M/Y Isabela II. (B,L,D)

October 15

Galápagos Islands: Bartolome Island & Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island)

Disembark at Bartolome, a small, rugged island off the eastern shore of Santiago, opposite Sulivan Bay. Together, Bartolome and Sulivan Bay evoke a lunar landscape of cones and craters in varying shades of deep chocolate and light brown, black, and gray. After a wet landing, walk on paths of hardened century-old lava. This is a perfect place to see and feel the volcanic origin of Galápagos. Once you land on the island, you will have a 30-minute climb to a summit of a once-active volcano for a panoramic view, which includes the guardian point of Pinnacle Rock. Down below, the water is crystal clear. You can swim and snorkel with schools of fish while looking for penguins, sea turtles, and white-tipped sharks.

Overnight aboard the M/Y Isabela II. (B,L,D)

October 16/17

Galápagos Islands: Finch Bay

After breakfast, disembark and return to Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz, your home for the next two nights. The charming Finch Bay Hotel--- named after the famous Darwin's finches abundant in the surroundings---is just steps from the beach on a private seaside location. At dusk, the orange-colored skies are the backdrop for thousands of cattle egrets that fly overhead on their way from the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to their nesting area in the mangroves at the back of the hotel. Blue-footed boobies and brown pelicans plunge into the ocean, looking for their last bite before retiring for the night, while the night herons awaken and emerge from the mangroves to look for food along the beach.

You will have plenty of time to also enjoy optional activities available at your hotel as well as to visit the Darwin Research Station, which is nearby, and to discover the quirky scene of Puerto Ayora. At the CDRS, you will see the giant tortoise pens, an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest, and land birds like Darwin's finches, Galápagos mockingbirds, and flycatchers.

Scientists from all over the globe work at the station and conduct biological research from anatomy to zoology. You’ll also get your picture taken with the giant tortoises and observe year-old tortoises and learn about the captive-breeding program.

Overnights at the Finch Bay Hotel. (B Daily)

October 18

Santa Cruz Island /Quito/En route

A last morning to soak in the Galápagos sun before you transfer to the airport for your flight back to Quito, where you will have dinner at Rincon de Puembo. Later this evening transfer to the airport for your return flights home (currently UA#1036 departs at 12:35am-October 19). (B,D)

October 19

Houston/San Diego

This morning you land in Houston where you connect with your flight home. Whenever you look back on this experience, know that you’re in good company: the Galápagos Islands have touched the hearts and imaginations of Lord Byron, Charles Darwin, and countless others like yourself.

INCLUDED:

  • Flights between Quito/Galápagos/Quito on the main trip.
  • Superior and best available accommodations at hotels and cruise ship in Ecuador.
  • American breakfast in Quito. All meals while on the Galápagos cruise. All other meals as specified in the itinerary.
  • 5-Days/4-Nights Cruise to the Galápagos Islands on the M/Y Isabela II. Naturalist guide provided aboard the ship. Accommodations are in double, air-conditioned cabins (classic cabins), with private facilities. Single cabins on board Isabela II are limited.
  • Tips to guides, crew, staff and other conveyance attendants on the main trip.
  • Expert local guides throughout.
  • Gratuities for baggage handling, hotel tips, and taxes.
  • Complimentary baggage tags and passport wallet.
  • Complimentary emergency evacuation insurance.

EXCLUDED:

  • Round-trip flights from San Diego to Ecuador.
  • Cost of passport.
  • Excess baggage charges levied by airlines.
  • Meals, other than specified and all beverages.
  • Laundry and other items of a personal nature.
  • Personal, trip cancellation, accident, and baggage insurance.
  • Any cost not specifically included in the listing above.
  • $25 Airport Departure Tax from Ecuador.
  • $100 Ecuadorian Park Tax in the Galápagos, to be collected prior to departure from the USA.
  • $20 Galápagos Islands Entrance Card Fee, to be paid upon arrival in the Galápagos.

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