Your day-by-day itinerary
Overnight in Quito
Your Galapagos experience starts in Quito, where you’ll meet your guide and fellow shipmates for the coming days. You’ll be staying in a stylish, comfortable and well-located hotel, and in the early evening, there’ll be a welcome meeting to run through some admin details and ask any burning questions about the trip. The rest of the day is free to explore Quito’s Old Town or pick up any last-minute supplies you might need.
Fly to the Galapagos Islands - Isla Baltra
You’ll be up super-early this morning, and have breakfast on the go as you travel to Quito Airport for your flight to Isla Baltra. The plane will usually touch down in Guayaquil, with the journey taking around 3.5 hours in total. On arrival you’ll be whisked off to board the Grand Queen Beatriz, your comfortable floating home for the next week, where you’ll meet your expert local crew and naturalist guide over a freshly prepared lunch.
You’ll have a private en-suite cabin with a sea view and a small private balcony in the two upper deck suites. On-board you’ll have a-la-carte dining included, a lounge, bar and sun deck complete with jacuzzi. In the afternoon you can snorkel amongst rays and small reef sharks for your first taste of the underwater world. The evening is reserved for celebrating the beginning of your journey with your shipmates, as you sail overnight to Isla Isabela.
*You’ll need to pay some local taxes today – US$20 at Quito Airport and US$100 when you arrive in the Galapagos!
You’ll wake up on the southern coast of Isabela, the largest of the Galapagos Islands and home to five active volcanoes. You’ll start with a visit to Las Tintoreras, a channel which is home to a huge number of white-tipped reef sharks, before continuing your walk through an ancient lava flow where you’ll often see blue-footed boobies, penguins, brightly coloured crabs and marine iguanas lazing in the sun. In the afternoon you’ll visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre, before taking some free time the relax on the pristine beach at Puerto Villamil.
*There will be a $10 local tax to be paid on arrival at Isla Isabela.
This morning it’s time to explore Isla Floreana. You’ll start at Post Office Bay, where you’ll have a chance snorkel amongst the resident sea turtles before sailing to the famous Devil’s Crown. This volcanic cone is home to pelicans, frigates and boobies, whilst underwater you may find rays, turtles, sea lions, and small sharks. In the afternoon you’ll head ashore at the olive-coloured beach of Punta Cormorant, a popular hangout for sea lions, and you’ll take a walk to a nesting site for green turtles.
Isla Santa Cruz
You’ll disembark this morning at Puerto Ayora, one the archipelago’s main towns and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. You’ll learn a little about the conservation work which takes place here, and it’s also the best place to see giant tortoises close-up. In the afternoon you’ll travel to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz – a very different experience where you’ll pass agricultural land, misty forests, volcanic cones and some of the island’s unique plant and birdlife.
In the evening you’ll sail to nearby Isla Santa Fe, where you’ll drop anchor for the night.
Isla Santa Fe & Isla Plaza Sur
Start off your day swimming with the curious sea lions who live around Isla Santa Fe, before exploring this beautiful island on foot. There’s a huge range of wildlife here, including turtles, lava lizards, land iguanas, Galapagos hawks, doves and mockingbirds. Next, you’ll visit tiny Isla Plaza Sur, with its bright red and green volcanic landscapes, and rugged cliffs that are home to tropicbirds and gulls. Today really is wildlife overload!
You’ll sail overnight to Isla Espanola.
Española is one of the most spectacular Galapagos islands. Here you’ll find a huge colony of albatross, sea lions and marine iguanas as you explore the island’s trails. You’ll continue to Bahia Gardener – a stunning beach where sea lions and mockingbirds commune, and offshore you can snorkel amongst turtles and reef sharks. At Punta Suarez, you can watch enormous male sea lions relaxing on the beach, and perhaps see some elaborate albatross courtship rituals too.
Overnight, you’ll sail to Isla San Cristobal.
Isla San Cristobal
This morning you’ll explore the coastline of San Cristobál, taking a ride on a small ‘panga’ boat to see birds nesting offshore. Afterwards you’ll head to Leon Dormido. This striking crater remains in the middle of the sea, are home to an abundance of species. Tropicbirds soar above the boat, whilst marina iguanas and sea lions paddle along the surface as you cruise through. This is one of the most impressive places to snorkel, with turtles, rays, parrotfish, Galapagos sharks and even the occasional hammerhead residing around the iconic 150m ‘Kicker Rock’.
Isla San Cristobal, and flight back to Quito
Most flights leave mid-morning, giving you time for your final excursion at the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre. The centre is a great way to learn about the history and geography of the Galapagos Islands, as well as how their discovery and colonisation by humans has affected this unique environment. Your flight back to Quito will usually arrive late afternoon, and you’ll be transferred back to your starting hotel in time for an evening back amongst civilisation.
Departure from Quito
After breakfast it’ll be time to head home, or on to the next stop on your South American journey. We can book extra nights for you to explore Quito of course, and there’s plenty to see and experience in Ecuador or elsewhere on the continent.
Combine this trip with...
Where to next? This trip goes together perfectly with these: