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|Itinerary at a Glance
Galapagos Islands Explorer
|2||Quito & San Cristobal|
|4||San Cristobal & Isabela|
|5||Isabela & Santa Cruz|
|6||Santa Cruz & Quito|
|Quito Post-Tour Extension|
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departs||Miami (MIA) (flight schedule)|
|Highlights||Quito and San Cristobal, Isabela, & Santa Cruz Islands, plus optional Quito extension|
|What to Expect||This fast-paced, locally hosted tour involves a significant amount of walking or hiking, often on uneven terrain, and reaches high altitudes requiring a good level of physical fitness to fully enjoy the trip.|
|As Seen in|
Come with us to tour the Galapagos Islands in style. Ecuador is one of South America's jewels, with a remarkable collection of landscapes, animals, plants, people, volcanoes, cloud forests, and most amazing of all, the Galapagos Islands. More than 600 miles offshore in the Pacific, these islands are home to fascinating species of birds and animals such as marine iguanas, giant tortoises, blue and red-footed boobies, pelicans and even a few penguins.
These are the legendary islands that inspired Charles Darwin to propose his theory of evolution. They've inspired us to create this incredible Galapagos Island tour package, which includes flights, first-class hotels and island lodges, most meals, National Park fees, and a truly fascinating program of exploration on San Cristobal, Isabela and Santa Cruz Islands.
Don't wait a moment to book our new Galapagos Islands Explorer. Space is truly very limited, and at these prices, you won't find a better value-for-money vacation anywhere.
Sorry, there are no currently available tour dates.
Day 1: USA/Quito. Your exciting tour to the Galapagos begins today as you depart for Quito, Ecuador. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Accommodations: Sheraton Quito Hotel or similar.
Day 2: Quito & San Cristobal Island. Transfer to the airport for your flight to San Cristobal Island, the easternmost island of the Galapagos archipelago. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel for lunch as well as a short orientation meeting and overview of your trip. Your Galapagos experience starts with a visit to the local Interpretation Center where you will learn about the Galapagos' unique wildlife, geology, natural history, and social dynamics. Next, hike to Frigate Hill over the lava rock trails, and along the way, your naturalist guide will explain all about the Galapagos cotton, palo santo, acacia, and cacti that surround you. You may also be able to spot blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, herons, gulls, warblers, mockingbirds, and finches among vegetation and sea cliffs. This walking tour provides marvelous views of the rugged coastline and the small town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
On the way back, snorkel or swim at beautiful Carola Beach. Here, you may find sea turtles, sea lions, and marine iguanas! After a gorgeous sunset and dinner, explore the friendly and laid-back town. We recommend you take a stroll down the boardwalk to view the immense colony of endemic Galapagos sea lions. Accommodations: Casa Opuntia. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 3: San Cristobal Island. Today, head out on an incredible snorkeling adventure! Discover Isla Lobos by boat, searching coves and cliffs for sea turtles, sea lions, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, and Nazca boobies. Once there, you´ll snorkel with sea lions, marine iguanas and countless reef fish. This site consistently proves to be the best sea lion encounter in the Galapagos Islands - after all, Isla Lobos translates to Sea Lion Island.
Next, sail to Kicker Rock, two breathtaking rock massifs (tuff cones) that jut out from the ocean. Above the waters, thousands of sea birds cling to their walls, while millions of fish swim under the surface. The channel between the two rock walls is home to some of the best snorkeling in the islands. You may be able to see spotted eagle rays, golden rays, Galapagos sharks, starfish, clams, and fish of every shape, size, and color. After a full day exploring the seas, head back to the hotel for dinner and a relaxed evening. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 4: San Cristobal Island & Isabela Island. After breakfast, take a short plane ride to Isabela Island (approx. 30 mins). This is the largest island in the Galapagos, constantly changing and evolving due to six shield volcanoes that render it one of the most thrilling volcanically active spots on the planet.
Hike to "El Muro de las Lagrimas" (Wall of Tears), a towering wall of lava rocks built by prisoners during the time Isabela was a penal colony, for no other purpose than to keep the inmates distracted from the madness of isolation. Continue along white sand beaches, a poison apple forest, lava tube, dark mangroves and brackish lagoons. The area is filled with giant tortoises and birdlife including flamingos!
After lunch, explore the beautiful Tintoreras, a set of small islets filled with hidden coves and beaches. Here, you may find the endemic and incredibly fast swimmer, the Galapagos penguin, as well as reef sharks, sea turtles, and sea lions! At the end of the day, retire to your hotel to relax by the pool or enjoy the neighboring white sand beach. After dinner, feel free to stroll the seemingly endless beach or sandy streets of this idyllic lazy town. Accommodations: Iguana Crossing. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 5: Isabela Island & Santa Cruz Island. After breakfast, journey via speedboat to Santa Cruz Island (approx. 2 hours, dependent on weather conditions). Along the way look out for whales and dolphins! Arrive at Puerto Ayora and head to "El Chato" reserve, a natural habitat in the Santa Cruz highlands, home to the Giant Tortoise. Explore the reserve’s grounds, hiking among these fascinating giants, who can live to be over 175 years old. You may also be able to see pintail ducks, finches, frigate birds, egrets, and hopefully the vermillion flycatcher - a red jewel of a bird.
Continue your natural history exploration by walking through some incredible lava tunnels that pirates frequented and perhaps hid Inca gold! Proceed to "Los Gemelos", two deep volcanic sinkholes at the top of the island. This walking tour takes you through a forest of endemic scalesia trees, which are covered with ferns and epiphytes and exude an almost eerie feel, where you will look for the short-eared owl.
In the late afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about the ongoing conservation efforts on these enchanted islands. The Research Station rears endemic Galapagos plants, land iguanas, and giant Galapagos tortoises for educational, scientific, and conservation purposes. Compare the diverse evolutionary paths of the various giant tortoises from different islands. Afterwards, retire to the hotel for dinner and overnight. Accommodations: Angermeyer Waterfront Inn. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 6: Santa Cruz Island & Quito. Transfer to Baltra Airport for the return flight to Quito. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel and enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. Accommodations: Sheraton Quito Hotel or similar. Breakfast provided.
Day 7: Depart Quito. After breakfast, spend your final day in Quito at leisure. Later this evening bid adios to Ecuador & the Galapagos as you board your return flight to the USA. Depending on your flight schedule, late check-out is available for a supplement (See Dates & Prices). Breakfast provided.
Day 8: Arrive USA. Your exciting Galapagos adventure ends today as you touch down in Miami.
Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare to extend your stay in Quito, capital city of Ecuador and a UNESCO World Heritage site. You'll return to the U.S. 2 days after the return dates shown.
Day 7: Quito. Quito is arguably among the loveliest of South American cities, that enjoy a spectacular setting surrounded by mountains and several snow-capped volcanoes, including the still active Mt. Pichincha. The origins of the city date back to the first millennium, when the Quitu tribe occupied the area. Later, it was an important Inca settlement, and in the mid-1500s the Spanish founded the modern city. The real beauty of Quito is in its wonderful Old Town, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you'll find blocks of colonial architecture, some of it four centuries old. Vintage facades line the streets and large open plazas are surrounded by cathedrals and stately public buildings. Even more breathtaking than the exteriors are the interiors of some of the buildings, particularly the churches, many of which gleam with real gold leaf.
After breakfast, begin your tour in the modern section of Quito, and continue towards the city's historic district. Visit San Agustín Convent and its historical Sala Capitular. Drive by Independence Square, flanked by the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace and City Hall. Stroll past El Sagrario Church and marvel at the exquisite stone facade of La Compania Church. Visit the San Francisco Church, built over the ruins of an Inca Palace in the 16th century. Tour the City Museum, which is housed in the old San Juan de Dios Hospital, a restored building from the 16th century. Here, you will gain insight into what life was like in Quito, from prehistoric times to the 19th century. Conclude the tour with a ride up the road to the Panecillo for a breathtaking view of Quito. Accommodations: Sheraton Quito Hotel or similar. Breakfast provided.
Day 9: Depart Quito. After breakfast, spend your final day in Quito at leisure. Later this evening bid adios to Ecuador & the Galapagos as you board your return flight to the USA. Depending on your flight schedule, late check-out is available for a supplement (See Dates & Prices). Breakfast provided.
Day 10: Arrive USA. Your exciting Galapagos adventure ends today as you touch down in Miami.
My husband and I just got back from the "Ecuador and Galapagos" trip with Friendly Planet. It was our first trip with them and we are ready to sign up for another! It was a fabulous trip and extremely well planned and conducted. We were impressed with every aspect of the trip and felt it was everything we had hoped. The tour guides were knowledgeable, on time, and gave us a wonderful insight into the culture of Ecuador. The Galapagos portion on the M/N Santa Cruise was outstanding! Each of the guides on had in-depth knowledge of the wildlife and provided a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Thanks for a great trip!
Mary Ann Esfandiari, Ellicott City, MD