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I have been designing trips to my home country of Ecuador for over 20 years. Traveling itself has always felt like magic to me: my mind is always on travel, but my heart is forever in the Galapagos as it never fails to surprise me.
Latin America Specialist
- from $8,076 PP
- 8 Nights
- Year round
- 12 hours from London / 9 hours New York
The Galapagos Islands entice travelers from around the world as a bucket list destination with legendary, abundant wildlife despite being a small archipelago in the middle of the eastern Pacific some 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast. Everything from penguins and 24 species of whales to giant tortoises, sea lions, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies can be encountered here. The species that arrived at these remote islands managed to survive not by diversifying but by evolving specific traits to suit the environment.
An adventure that will provide memories of a lifetime, a trip here begins in Ecuador’s high-elevation capital city of Quito before island-hopping through the Galapagos. Learn about the geology, unique wildlife, and Charles Darwin as well as enjoy activities like swimming, snorkeling, and nature walks along the way. You’ll even get to learn about Ecuadorian chocolate production, make your own, and taste a sample.
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- Sightseeing tour of Quito & its colonial architecture
- Stand in the spot where the equator crosses Ecuador
- Get up close to turtles at the Charles Darwin Research Center
- Snorkel among rays, sharks, colourful fish, turtles, sea lions, & marine iguanas
- Visit a black sand beach with fur seals
- Explore Santa Cruz Island’s highlands, a bird-watching paradise
- Spend the day at a renowned ranch with meals & activities included
- Discover the process of making cacao into chocolate & make your own chocolate bar
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Quito: Arrival
Welcome to Ecuador. Our private driver will transfer you from Quito’s international airport to your hotel. Perched at 9,350 feet above sea level, spread across a magnificent Andean valley, it’s one of the world’s highest capital cities. Visually breathtaking, it’s framed by dramatic volcanic peaks with its historical center, known as Old Town Quito,” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a maze of colonial architecture. The streets are fun to wander, filled with stunning cathedrals, parks, and museums. After settling into your room, you might get a preview by walking Calle la Ronda, one of the city’s oldest streets and most artsy.
Day 2 Quito: Full-Day Tour of Quito & the Centre of the World
Look forward to sightseeing in the historic center of Quito with your expert guide. Start by visiting San Francisco Church and its museum of religious art, then marvel at the seven tons of 16th-century Spanish gold in La Compañía, widely regarded as the most important baroque work in Latin America. Explore lively Independence Plaza, lined with the Cathedral of Quito and the Presidential Palace, concluding at Panecillo Hill where you’ll gaze out at breath-taking views of the city and surrounding mountains. Afterward, experience one of the city’s most popular attractions, Mitad del Mundo which sits at the spot where the equator crosses Ecuador.
Day 3 Galapagos: Flight to Baltra & Cruising by Catamaran
A private transfer will bring you to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island. Upon arrival, the cruise team will welcome you for transfer to the catamaran that will bring you on an unforgettable journey through this microcosm of evolution and its unique wildlife, following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin himself. Once everyone is on board and you’ve settled in, this afternoon you’ll enjoy an excursion to the Charles Darwin Research Station. You’ll see Galapagos tortoises up close as part of the vital work conducted here is a breeding program for the animals that are accustomed to human visitors.
Day 4 Genovesa, Galapagos: El Barranco & Darwin Bay
On Genovesa Island, walk the rocky stairway known as El Barranco, or Prince Philip’s Steps. It leads to a plateau of dried lava, with a colony of red-footed boobies and Nazca saw along the way. Meander through the Palo Santo Forest to a spot where storm petrels can often be seen launching over the ocean. Paddling alongside the cliffs, you might see the elusive Galapagos fur seals. Or snorkel among a variety of shark species. Reaching Darwin Bay this afternoon, the coral and sand beach make an ideal spot for paddling and snorkeling in water abundant with colorful reef fish, rays, and hammerhead sharks.
Day 5 Santiago, Galapagos: Beautiful Beach, Wildlife & Panga Ride
Your first stop is the pristine white sands of Espumilla Beach on Santiago Island. Filled with Sally Lightfoot crabs, it’s a favorite among pelicans, herons, and other predatory birds that come for a feast. It’s also ideal for paddling or snorkeling among sharks, octopuses, and eels. Visiting Buccaneer Cove, an important turtle nesting site where sea lions are often spotted, learn about its interesting history, and hop into a panga to view spectacular rock formations with ledges for birds like pelicans, boobies, and gulls. This afternoon, discover Egas Port, a black sand beach with grottoes where fur seals can lounge in the shade.
Day 6 Santa Cruz, Galapagos: Bachas Beach, Twin Craters & the Highlands
Visit Bachas Beach with its unspoiled white sands home to the ruins of a rusted barge and a popular nesting site for turtles. Up for snorkeling? You might find yourself swimming alongside them. There are also hermit and Sally Lightfoot crabs, with the saltwater lagoon behind it often frequented by pink flamingos. Venturing to the highlands, you’ll witness nearly identical crater-like holes and walk the trail leading up to and around their rims. From here, take in the beauty of the landscape with its lush ferns and Scalesia trees. Birds like Darwin’s finches, Vermilion Flycatchers, Galapagos doves, and sometimes short-eared owls can be seen.
Day 7 Naranjito: Explore Lobos Island
This morning you’ll reach Lobos Island by panga. The island is named for the sea lions that call it home, providing the rare opportunity to snorkel alongside the curious, playful dog-like animals. As you swim, watch for rays and green turtles that might come up and say “hello.” Back on land, you can take a walk along a trail where you’re likely to encounter nesting sites for frigates and blue-footed boobies. Once your excursion is over, you’ll transfer to San Cristobal Airport for your flight to Guayaquil. Once there, transfer to Hacienda La Danesa, a private chocolate farm in the green coastal region of Naranjito.
Day 8 Naranjito: Chocolate & Fresh Milk
A full day at Hacienda La Danesa, a cacao plantation, includes multiple activities and meals, plus non-alcoholic beverages. Learn about the production of cacao, watching the fermentation and drying process through the final stage, with the cacao beans stored and ready for purchase. A workshop headed by a local chocolatier will show you how artisan chocolate is made, and you’ll even get to make your very own. Later, one of the ranch’s cows will visit everyone in the gardens to share fresh milk – you can even bring an espresso to hold under its butter. Biking and tubing are possible too.
Day 9 Quito: Adventure’s End
It’s time to say goodbye to Ecuador unless you’ve decided to extend your journey. An approximately 90-minute transfer will bring you to Guayaquil Airport for a flight to Quito where you can connect to your flight home or onward travels. With so much to see and do in this country, if you aren’t ready to leave just yet, contact our travel experts who can create a bespoke itinerary. Visiting the Mindo Cloud Forest, the hot springs at Banos de Agua Santa, or even the Amazon, are just a few of the possibilities.
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them.
- Gratuities for local guides
- We strongly advise all guests purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Visas if required
Let’s get started making this itinerary yours.
Speak to experienced Destinations Experts about designing this itinerary around your budget and trip preferences
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