|Itinerary at a Glance
Ecuador & Galapagos Islands
|3||Quito, Galapagos Cruise: San Cristobal & Punta Pitt|
|4||Galapagos Cruise: Sante Fe Island & South Plaza Island|
|5||Galapagos Cruise: Santa Cruz Island, Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station|
|6||Galapagos Cruise: Española (or Hood) Island, Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay|
|7||Galapagos Cruise, Baltra Island & Quito|
|8||Quito, Otavalo, & Departure|
|Departures||August 2013 – March 2014|
|Highlights||Quito, Otavalo, San Cristobal Island, Sante Fe, South Plaza, Santa Cruz Islands, Charles Darwin Research Center|
|Travel Style||This fast-paced, locally hosted tour involves a significant amount of walking or hiking, often on uneven terrain, and reaches high altitudes requiring a high level of physical fitness to fully enjoy the trip. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops|
Discover the wonders of Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, a remarkable collection of landscapes, people, cultures, animals, plants, and more. Our Galapagos Islands tour covers the highlights of this incredibly diverse country. You'll visit the capital city and UNESCO World Heritage Center of Quito and the colorful and bustling Otavalo market. Round out your tour with a cruise through the Galapagos Islands, a unique, living laboratory, where Darwin, and those who followed, studied evolutionary changes that led to a new understanding of life on earth.
This Galapagos Islands adventure vacation is truly a once in a lifetime trip that you'll never forget. Your Galapagos tour will be filled with discovery, beauty, history, culture and more fun than you can imagine. And while there are no compromises in the quality of the hotels and the scope of touring included in our program, it's yours for a price that's as amazing as the trip itself!
As seen in:
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All prices, fees and deposits are per person, subject to change at any time, and not guaranteed until we receive your final payment.
|Departures & Prices*|
|Thu||Jun 20||2013||Fri||Jun 28||2013||$3899||Closed|
|Thu||Jul 4||2013||Fri||Jul 12||2013||$4399||$3999||Closed|
|Thu||Aug 1||2013||Fri||Aug 9||2013||$4199||$3799||Waitlist|
|Thu||Aug 15||2013||Fri||Aug 23||2013||$4199||$3799||Available|
|Thu||Sep 26||2013||Fri||Oct 4||2013||$3899||$3499||Available|
|Thu||Oct 24||2013||Fri||Nov 1||2013||$4199||$3799||Available|
|Thu||Nov 21||2013||Fri||Nov 29||2013||$4199||$3799||Available|
|Thu||Dec 5||2013||Fri||Dec 13||2013||$3999||$3599||Available|
|Thu||Jan 16||2014||Fri||Jan 24||2014||$4299||$3899||Available|
|Thu||Jan 30||2014||Fri||Feb 7||2014||$4199||$3799||Available|
|Thu||Mar 13||2014||Fri||Mar 21||2014||$4199||$3799||Available|
* Prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and include airfare and Airline Taxes, Fees & Sept. 11th Security Fee. Prices do not include excess baggage fees, extensions or optional items. Prices in orange reflect an early booking discount for bookings made by 6/25/2013.
Want to stay longer? We may be able to arrange for you to extend your stay later than the scheduled dates, subject to availability. Contact us about dates, prices and restrictions.
|Seperately Paid Fees|
|Ecuador Departure Tax1 (paid separately)||+$45|
1. All departure taxes are paid locally at the time of departure. Amount is approximate and reflects current exchange rates.
|Optionals & Upgrades|
|Rooming Selection / Cabin Categories|
|Main Deck Cabin, Double Occupancy|
|Jul 4, Sep 26, Oct 24||unavailable|
|All other departures||included|
|Main Deck Cabin, Single Occupancy|
|Jul 4, Sep 26, Oct 24||unavailable|
|All other departures||+$1199|
|Upper Deck Cabin, Double Occupancy||+$125|
|Upper Deck Cabin, Single Occupancy|
|Sep 26, Dec 5||+$1149|
|All other departures||+$1299|
|Boat Deck Cabin, Double Occupancy||+$300|
|Boat Deck Cabin, Single Occupancy|
|Sep 26, Dec 5||+$1399|
|All other departures||+$1549|
Coming from somewhere else? Unfortunately, we don't offer departures from cities that are not listed, but you can book your own connecting flights separately.
To make a reservation, we only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card. This non-refundable deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package. You can pay the balance due later by credit card, check or money order. Your final payment is due 105 days prior to departure, or within 72 hours of booking, whichever is later.
Ticketing: Airline tickets for this tour are usually issued within 24 hours of your booking, and once issued, cannot be changed, refunded or transferred. To issue tickets, we must receive photocopies of the signature and picture pages of your passport(s) within 24 hours of your booking, or your reservation may be subject to a higher airfare or cancellation.
Ticketing: Flights must be ticketed within 24 hours of booking. Additional charges for flights from cities other than Miami will be charged within 24 hours of your booking. Once issued, the tickets and these charges are unchangeable, non-refundable and non-transferrable.
We must receive photocopies of the signature and picture pages of your passport(s) in our offices within 24 hours of your reservation being completed. If we have not received this information, your reservation will be subject to a higher airfare and/or cancellation.
Day 1: USA/Quito. Your exciting tour begins today as you depart Miami for Quito, Ecuador's capital city. Your guide will greet you upon arrival and escort you to your centrally located hotel for check-in. Accommodations: Hilton Colón or similar.
Day 2: Quito.This morning, enjoy a panoramic city tour of Quito. Arguably one of the loveliest of South American cities, Quito enjoys a spectacular setting surrounded by mountains and several snow-capped volcanoes, including the still-active Mt. Pichincha.
The real beauty of Quito is in its wonderful Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you'll find blocks of colonial architecture, some of it dating from the mid-1500s when the Spanish founded the city. Before the Spanish arrived, Quito was an important Inca settlement, and before the Inca, other tribes lived at the site. Vintage facades line the streets and large open plazas are surrounded by cathedrals and stately public buildings. Even more breathtaking are the interiors of some of the buildings, particularly the churches, many of which gleam with real gold leaf.
Begin your walking tour at Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, Presidential Palace, Municipal Building and the Archbishops’ Palace. The next stop, La Compañía de Jesús, has an ornate and richly sculptured facade and interior, with colored columns, 10-sided altars, and gilded balconies. Several of its most precious treasures, including a painting of the Virgin Dolorosa framed in emeralds and gold, are kept in the vault of the Banco Central del Ecuador and appear only at special festivals. Continue to the Monastery of San Francisco, built in the 16th century and Quito's oldest church, which is an exact replica of the Escorial Palace of Madrid.
Next, drive 16 miles north of Quito to the Equatorial Monument, the Mitad del Mundo ("Middle of the World"), where you can stand with one foot in each hemisphere straddling latitude 0º. Visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, which depicts the different Native American groups living in Ecuador. Then, stroll through the colonial-style town, complete with main square, church, post office and bullring. Breakfast provided.
Day 3: Quito, Galapagos Cruise: San Cristobal & Punta Pitt. Transfer to the airport for your flight to San Cristobal Island, gateway to the Galapagos Islands to begin your adventure. Upon arrival, transfer to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to board your first-class cruise ship, the M/V Santa Cruz, your home for the next 4 nights. Settle into your cabin, and enjoy an introductory briefing and lunch.
In the afternoon, disembark on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, an eroded tuff cone, and walk along the trail with spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, and you may be lucky enough to view all three! After a walk along the trail, weather permitting, there will be a chance to swim from the beach or snorkel at the nearby islets. Accommodations: M/V Santa Cruz. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 4: Galapagos Cruise: Sante Fe Island & South Plaza Island. After breakfast, take a dinghy to Sante Fe Island, where you'll find an idyllic sandy white beach populated by many sea lion harems. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Here, you may snorkel and swimming from the beach, or explore the water from a glass-bottomed boat.
After lunch on board and a chance to rest, disembark in the South Plaza Island channel, whose turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. A carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. You may see yellow-grey land iguanas patiently waiting for pears to drop. Along the coastline you may find sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, and shearwaters glide above, playing with the thermals. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 5: Galapagos Cruise: Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora, and the Charles Darwin Research Station. In the morning, disembark (dry landing) to visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoises within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest, also home to many land birds. The Research Station is the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Later, board our transport to travel to the cooler highlands of the island, a completely different ecosystem, to enjoy lunch.
At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the M/V Santa Cruz. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 6: Galapagos Cruise: Española (or Hood) Island, Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay. This morning, enjoy an exciting walk at Punta Suarez, to see its colonies of unique sea birds, including waved albatrosses (April-December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tail gulls. You'll also see the famous Galapagos "blow-hole," and keep an eye out for the famous marine iguanas with their interesting red, green and black coloration. Return to the ship for lunch on board.
In the afternoon, the picturesque white coral beach of Gardner Bay provides a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches. Enjoy an opportunity to snorkel or a ride aboard a glass-bottomed boat. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 7: Galapagos Cruise, Baltra Island & Quito. Your cruise comes to an end as you disembark at Baltra Island and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Accommodations: Hilton Colón or similar. Breakfast provided.
Day 8: Quito, Otavalo, & Departure. This morning, check out from your hotel and then set out on the Panamerican Highway to Otavalo. After driving through dramatic Andean scenery, arrive at the famous Indian fair and the textile market of Otavalo, undoubtedly one of the best in all of Latin America.
The beauty of Otavalo lies in its people, the Otavaleño Indians. Unlike other indigenous groups who have given up their traditional dress for modern jeans and t-shirts, Otavaleños are true to their ancestral cultural heritage, and are still easily identified by their distinctive dress. Women wear intricately embroidered blouses and a wealth of beaded necklaces, while men have long, braided hair and wear calf-length white trousers, ponchos and sandals. Stroll by their many stalls filled with ponchos, scarves, blankets, hats, handbags and more, and observe as the Otavaleños barter in silence.
Later, return to Quito for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 9: Arrive USA. Your Galapagos adventure comes to an end as you arrive in the USA early this morning.
Dry landing: guests step from a dinghy onto rocks or a dock.
Wet landing: as a dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
Our tours may look similar to others you've seen, but we invite you to shop & compare. There are important differences that make Friendly Planet tours the best you can find.
No Compromise on Quality: Despite our extraordinary prices, there are no compromises on our South America tours. You'll stay in Deluxe and Superior First Class, centrally located hotels that are noted for their amenities and service, and you'll cruise aboard the newly refurbished, 5-star M/V Galapagos Legend.
Included Features: Your transfers as well as important visits to all the "must see" places in Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands are all included, not expensive extras as in other tours.
Free Destination Guide: You will receive a free, comprehensive Friendly Planet Ecuador & Galapagos destination guide with lots of destination information, helpful hints, plenty of night-life and restaurant suggestions, organized by cuisine and cost, so you have up-to-date spots to try on the evenings when dinners are not included. Your free guide will even include recommendations for tipping, local customs, dress, great shopping spots and much more.
Credit Cards or Cash: Whether you pay by check, money order or your favorite major credit card, your tour price on this tour is the same. No extra cost to charge your dream vacation when you book with Friendly Planet.
Personal Service: Most important of all, the extra ingredient that makes our tours stand apart from others—the wonderful, personal attention you'll receive from our friendly staff in the USA and our representatives in South America —is completely free of charge. Compare our programs to others, feature for feature. You'll see for yourself that ours are the very best value for money you'll find anywhere.
The trip last May to Peru and Ecuador was one of the best vacation experiences I have ever had. The food was excellent and the other 7 couples on the tour were super. Machu Picchu, Lima, Quito, Lake Titicaca, and the Galapagos Islands were all fun to visit. I will be touring with Friendly Planet again this May to Japan.
— Arthur Low, Sunnyvale, CA