16 days

Ecuador and the Galapagos

Ecuador and the Galapagos

Sullivan Bay's black lava field

Sombrero Chino

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial Quito

Frigatebird spotting

Puerto Ayora

The tortoises of Charles Darwin Research Station

Trip rating
  • As we fly from Quito to the Galapagos Islands, located in the equatorial water of the Pacific Ocean, we suddenly find ourselves in a very different world. As we board our vessel, M.C Queen Beatriz, and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, we start to encounter nature at its finest. This is indeed the Galapagos journey with something for everyone.

    Why we love it

    • As you board your vessel, M.C Queen Beatriz, and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, you will encounter nature at its finest.
    • Explore the islands from on deck, on foot and in the water, no doubt with your eyes open for your next unique sight.
    • You'll encounter giant Galapagos tortoises, blue-footed and masked boobies, pelicans and frigate birds, as well as land and marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals and perhaps dolphins, whales and sea turtles.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Quito

    • Your tour will begin with a welcome meeting at 2pm. Please ask the hotel reception for details of the meeting's location.
    • Quito sits 2,850 metres above sea level, under the towering Volcan Pichincha. It is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in South America. The city stretches along the valley and is surrounded by the Andes. The Old Town of Quinto is awash with history, with more than 30 churches to explore, and a number of fascinating museums. La Compania de Jesus is considered to be the most beautiful church in the Americas, and is definitely one of the most ornate. Calle La Ronda is Quito's oldest street, and it is well worth exploring.
    • Note: Quito is located at 2850 metres above sea level. At this altitude you may experience some of the milder effects of altitude sickness, such as dizziness, insomnia and a shortness of breath. If so, we recommend you avoid any strenuous activity. Before departing it is wise to check with your doctor if you have any pre-existing medical conditions that may make the impact of altitude more difficult or dangerous for you. While your tour operators are trained in first aid and know where the closest medical facilities are, it is integral that you monitor your own health and seek assistance where neccesary.
    Cafe Cultura
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 2 - Otavalo

    • You will travel on to a nearby town called Otavalo today, stopping en route to taste biscochos, a typical local pastry. Upon arrival in Otvalo, you will have free time to explore the town
    • The town is famous for its market, one of the most significant indigenous markets in Ecuador. Villagers from the surrounding area travel to Otavalo each week to sell their wears. You will find everything from handmade goods to fruit and vegetables and livestock. Many of the regional indigenous communities still wear traditional dress of intricately woven fabrics and the men often wear their hair in long ponytails.
    Cusin Hotel

    Day 3 - Otavalo- Papallacta

    • You will have the opportunity to explroe the Otvalo market today, before travelling along the Avenue of Volcanoes to Papallacta.
    • Upon arrival you will have the remainder of the day free to relax at the hot springs and enjoy stunning views of the snow-capped Antisana Volcano.
    Termas De Papallacta

    Day 4-5 - Cotopaxi

    • You will travel south today, again passing along the avenue of Volcanos to reach a local hacienda. The trip will take around three hours.
    • Upon arrival you will have free time to explore the surrounding national park. There are a number of optional activities and hikes that you can partake in to maximise the beauty of the area.
    Cienega Hotel or similar

    Day 6 - Cotopaxi- Quito

    • You will start your day with a walk around Laguna de Limpiopungo (weather permitting) before travelling back to Quito today.
    Cafe Cultura

    Day 7 - Quito

    • You will have a free day in Quito today before meeting your fellow Galapagos travellers for the next leg of your journey.
    Cafe Cultura

    Day 8 - Morning flight to San Cristobál, transfer to the M.C Queen Beatriz. Visit Galapaguera.

    • This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Please note the pick-up time will usually be as early as 4am as the airport is a one hour drive and you must allow for delays and check-in times.
    • On arrival at Baltra Airport in the Galapagos you must pay the US$110 arrival tax for entry to Galapagos National Park (which includes the US$10 transit fee). This is best done using cash, as using credit cards can be a time consuming process.
    • You will be met in the arrival hall of the airport by a National Park Guide, and transferred to the catamaran ‘M.C Queen Beatriz’. Lunch will be served on the boat.
    • This afternoon you will travel into the interior of the island to visit the highlands site of ‘Galapaguera of Cerro Colorado’ (Red Hill) where the national park has established a breeding program and information centre for tortoises. Here, you will be able to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat and learn all about their origin, evolution and their threatened future.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9 - Visit Bartolomé Island and Sullivan Bay.

    • Bartolomé is a relatively new island in the archipelago and traces of its volcanic past can be seen everywhere, as evidenced by the amazing lunar-like landscape.
    • The Pinnacle Rock is one of the most photographed sites in the Galapagos – an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth, while nearby two golden bays back onto each other.
    • You can hike to the top of a once-active volcano here, and enjoy superb views across to Sullivan Bay, on nearby Santiago Island.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 10 - Santiago Island, including Espumilla beach, Bucanero Cove and Puerto Egas.

    • Today you will visit some wonderful places. Espumilla Beach, on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay, is one of the most idyllic locations in the Galapagos Islands and is an important nesting site for marine turtles. Espumilla beach is also well known for its Palo Santo Forest and some extraordinary lava formations.
    • This morning you will also visit Caleta Bucanero (Buccaneer Cove), a natural monument of rocks caused by sea erosion. This cove was used by pirates to careen their ships. It is a place of local legends and stories! Port Egas is a black sand beach located on the west side of James Bay and northwest of Santiago Island.
    • South of the beach is Sugarloaf Volcano, which has deposits of volcanic tuff. This site is named Puerto Egas, after Hector Egas who last attempted to mine salt here. The walk along the beach offers hundreds of marine iguanas, California sea lions and Galapagos fur sea lions.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 11 - Santa Cruz Island, visiting Charles Darwin Station and the highlands.

    • Today you will visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic centre of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. You will also observe baby tortoises and land iguanas.
    • Afterward you'll head up into the highlands for a total change of scenery. Beginning at the coast you will travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests. This is a lush humid zone containing miconia bushes, scalesia and inactive volcanic cones.
    • Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any of the other islands and you are likely to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat and perhaps even the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 12 - North Seymour and Mosquera Island.

    • Today you will take a morning excursion to North Seymour. The trail on North Seymour crosses the inland through the island and then explores the rocky coast. Along the way the trail passes colonies of blue footed boobies and frigate birds.
    • The magnificent frigate bird, a large black bird with a long wingspan, and a hooked beak, is extremely fast and has excellent vision. Frigate birds are known for the large red pouch on their necks. During mating season the males throw back their heads, inflate the pouch (sometimes to the size of a soccer ball), and shake trying to capture the attention of female frigates.
    • Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. Sharing the same nesting area on North Seymour, blue-footed boobies nest on the ground making their nests from the twigs of the palo santos trees, while the frigate birds nests just above them in the saltbushes.
    • After lunch you will visit the small sandy island of Mosquera, it’s a relaxing, picturesque stop. Along the rocks and in the tide pool, sally lightfoot crabs (red lava crabs) scamper back and forth, skipping across small pools of water in search of food. These crabs with their bright red shell tops and blue under shells are stunning against the black lava.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 13 - Visit Black Turtle Cove and Cerro Dragón.

    • Today you will take a morning excursion to Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) - a red mangrove wetland on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. You will paddle among the cove’s peaceful waters, for your first taste of the underwater riches of this region – it’s a wonderful place to see green turtle and is a nursery for rays and Galapagos sharks.
    • There is also abundant birdlife, such as the yellow warbler and lava heron. This is also a breeding area for turtles, so it is not uncommon to see them mating. Go for a walk on Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) this afternoon, this is one of the best places to see land iguanas in the islands. You’ll walk along the trail from the beach, and along with the land iguanas, other sightings include marine iguanas, flamingos and Sally Lightfoot crabs.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 14 - Rabida Island and Sombrero Chino.

    • abida, also known as ‘Jervis’ is a tiny island sitting roughly five kilometres south of Santiago and is one of the most striking of the archipelago. Introduced species were eradicated in 1971, meaning that the indigenous wildlife has now been returned to a state of splendid isolation. Additionally, volcanic activity here has produced vivid, fantastical colours, not least the beaches of red sand and cliffs of scarlet.
    • From the shore, the trail leads through to what is one of the finest lagoons in the Galapagos for viewing flamingos. Rabida is also a wonderful place to spot nesting pelicans. Elsewhere, pintail ducks, marine iguanas and sea lions are all present. Sombrero Chino is a small islet located near the south-east coast of Santiago. It's shaped like a Chinese hat (Sombrero Chino) when seen from afar, and is geologically fascinating, with many lava tubes leading from the cone to the coast.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 15 - Bachas Beach and onto Baltra for our flight to Quito.

    • Today you will take an early morning excursion to Las Bachas, which was so named after the barges abandoned by the American Navy here in the 1940s. The sandy, white beaches of Las Bachas on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island are a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle, and marine iguanas are also commonly seen. The sand here is particularly white and soft as it is made of decomposed coral.
    • The rocks provide great snorkelling and are the perfect habitat for the Sally Lightfoot crabs, which are plentiful on the island. A saltwater lagoon near to the beach is home to flamingo and whimbrel, and look out too for great blue herons. This is your final excursion before you return to the airport in Baltra for your flight back to Quito.
    • As you will be leaving the boat this morning, please remember that if you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them. As a guideline we recommend each passenger consider US$15 per day for the crew and US$10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on the last day of your journey.
    • Upon arrival in Quito Airport you will be transferred back to your hotel for an overnight stay.
    Cafe Cultura
    Breakfast

    Day 16 - End Quito (Mon).

    • Your journey will come to an end today after breakfast.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of an expert English-speaking naturalist guide and a crew of eight onboard the Galapagos vessel.
    • Return flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands.
    • Accommodation onboard the Queen Beatriz.
    • All Zodiac and shore excursions during the voyage.
    • All meals aboard the M.C Queen Beatriz.
    • Use of snorkelling equipment including a wetsuit during the voyage.
    • Arrival transfer to the Peregrine joining hotel.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure tax
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSEG
Start City: Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
End City: Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Style: Small Group

What to know

The National Park and Transit Card fee of US$110 is not included in the trip cost and must be paid in cash upon arrival at Baltra airport.

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