Galapagos Islands Express
Quito, Baltra, Santa Cruz & 2 other islands, plus optional Quito & Otavalo extension
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|Style||Small Group Tour
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Highlights||Santa Cruz Island, Charles Darwin Research Center and 2 additional islands (Bartolome, Seymour, Plazas or Santa Fe)|
|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. Day trip navigations are in small motor boats.|
Dates, Prices & Options
Sorry, there are no currently available tour dates.
Transfers: Transfers for this package are provided on a group basis only. For passengers deviating in any way from the group program, transfers are not provided. Individual, private transfers can be arranged at a supplement in price. Taxis and other forms of transportation are also available and may cost less than private transfers. If you wish to arrange private transfers, please request this service at the time of reservation.
The Galapagos Islands are among Ecuador’s jewels. 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. Stay on Santa Cruz Island, and visit two different islands on this incredible Galapagos Island experience, which includes flights, first-class hotels and most meals, as well as a truly fascinating program of exploration of the Galapagos. Don't wait a moment to book our new Galapagos vacation package. Space is truly very limited, and at these prices, you won't find a better value-for-money vacation anywhere.
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: Radisson Royal Quito.
Day 2: Quito. Baltra & Santa Cruz Island. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Baltra Airport. Upon arrival, a short ferry ride will bring you to Santa Cruz Island. Starting with a short hike to Los Gemelos (The Twin Craters), two enormous collapsed lava chambers, covered in endemic flora and fauna, and home to many birds such as finches and the vermillion flycatcher. Enjoy a snack of typical empanadas and coffee, and then continue on a short hike in El Chato Wildlife Reserve, a natural habitat for the giant tortoise in the Santa Cruz highlands. See the stalagmites, stalactite and rippled floor of the lava tunnels. After a late lunch at Puerto Ayora continue to your hotel for check-in. Relax at your hotel until dinner time. Accommodations: Angermeyer Waterfront. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 3: Santa Cruz Island & North Seymour Island.** After breakfast, proceed to the dock to board you speedboat, and navigate to North Seymour, a small island near Baltra. The island, covered with low, bushy vegetation with a maximum altitude of 28 meters, is named for an English nobleman; The island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as red-breasted frigate birds. Hike the visitors trail crossing the island (approximately 1.5 miles). See the many land iguanas, descendants of the breeding stock translocated from Baltra Island to North Seymour Island in the 1930’s. A box lunch will be provided. Return to Santa Cruz by speedboat. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 4: Santa Cruz Island & Bartolome Island.** After breakfast, proceed to the dock to board your speedboat, and navigate to Bartolome Island, one of the younger islands in the Galapagos archipelago. The island is named after a naturalist Lieutenant aboard the HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin’s ship. This small island offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the archipelago, consisting of an extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, green and glistening black volcanic formations. Climb the volcanic cone and enjoy the great view of the surrounding islands, as well as Pinnacle Rock, one of the most famous landmarks of the islands. Galapagos penguins are often spotted and sea lions snooze on the sandy beaches. A box lunch will be provided. Return to Santa Cruz by speedboat. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
South Plaza Island: After breakfast, proceed to the dock to board your speedboat, and navigate to Plaza Island, off the east coast of Santa Cruz. This small island, only 426 feet wide, is home to birds such as red-billed tropic birds, Nazca and blue-footed boobies. Bright orange Sally light foot crabs can be found along the shore-line. Land iguanas sit amongst the scarlet ice plants and prickly-pear cactus. Manta rays can be spotted in the inlets and a colony of male sea lions make their home here. A box lunch will be provided. Return to Santa Cruz by speedboat.
Sante Fe Island: After breakfast, proceed to the dock to board your speedboat, and navigate to Sante Fe, also known as Barrington Island. This is one of the oldest islands in the Galapagos, with lavas dated at 3.9 million years. The vegetation is arid and abundant with giant prickly-pear cactus plants. The island boasts a very beautiful cove, and here you may see hawks, many different types of finches and mockingbirds. Playful sea lions are usually sunning on the beaches. A box lunch will be provided. Return to Santa Cruz by speedboat.
Day 5: Santa Cruz Island/Depart Quito. After breakfast, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Learn about the ongoing conservation efforts and scientific research made for the endemic plants, land iguanas and giant tortoises. Here, compare the diverse evolutionary paths of the various tortoises from different islands. Transfer to Baltra Island airport via ferry, and board your flight to the mainland. Upon arrival in Quito, transfer to the nearby village of Puembo for dinner at the colonial hacienda Rincon de Puemba. Afterwards, bid adios to Ecuador and the Galapagos as you transfer back to the Mariscal Sucre International Airport for your return flight departing shortly after midnight. To see more of Ecuador, extend your tour with the Quito & Otavalo Optional Post-Tour Extension. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 6: Arrive USA. Your exciting Galapagos adventure ends today as you touch down in Miami.
** Some departures will visit Plaza or Sante Fe islands. The specific islands and the order of the visits may be adjusted.
Quito & Otavalo Optional Post-Tour Extension
Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare to extend your stay in Quito and visit the famous Indian market of Otavalo. You'll return to the U.S. 2 days after the return dates listed.
Day 5: Santa Cruz Island & Quito. After breakfast, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Learn about the ongoing conservation efforts and scientific research made for the endemic plants, land iguanas and giant tortoises. Here, compare the diverse evolutionary paths of the various tortoises from different islands. Transfer to Baltra Island airport via ferry, and board your flight to the mainland.
Upon arrival to Mariscal Sucre International Airport, transfer to Quito’s city center and check into your deluxe hotel. Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure. Accommodations: Radisson Royal Quito. Breakfast provided.
Day 6: Otavalo & Quito. This morning, after breakfast, set out on the Panamerican Highway to Otavalo in the Imbabura province. 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. After exploring the market, proceed to the nearby Indian village of Cotacachi, where local artisans craft fine leatherworks and learn about their culture and everyday life. Next, visit the picturesque crater lake of Cuicocha, located about 10 miles northwest of Otavalo. Later this afternoon, return to Quito. Breakfast provided.
Day 7: Depart Quito. Quito is arguably among the loveliest of South American cities. It enjoys a spectacular setting surrounded by mountains and several snow-capped volcanoes, including the still active Mt. Pichincha. After breakfast and the morning at leisure, check out of the hotel then enjoy a panoramic city tour of Quito. See the Government Palace that was built in the 17th century for the Real Audiencia de Quito, and the Church of San Francisco, the first church built in Quito in 1536, but not finished until 1605. The church is an exact copy of the Escorial palace of Madrid, for this reason it is called the Escorial of the Andes. Continue to a local restaurant for dinner. Afterwards, bid adios to Ecuador and the Galapagos as you transfer to the Mariscal Sucre International Airport for your return flight departing shortly after midnight. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 8: Arrive USA. Your exciting Galapagos adventure ends today as you touch down in Miami.
I returned last night from my first trip with Friendly Planet. What a glorious adventure this was. Our guide, Dennis, is a remarkable, knowledgeable, and patient man with a great sense of humor. (He humored me when—after our first stop—I saw the need to feed stray dogs along the way.) Food and hotels were all magnificent. I learned so much. Ecuador and the beautiful people will be forever in my heart. Thank you very much, Friendly Planet.
Liesel Appel, Asheville, NC
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