Your day-by-day itinerary
Overnight in Quito
Your Galapagos experience starts in Quito, where you’ll meet your shipmates for the next few days. You’ll be staying in a comfy, well-located hotel, and in the early evening there’ll be a welcome meeting to run through some admin, and to answer any 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 need.
Fly to the Galapagos Islands - Isla Santa Cruz
You’ll be up early, travelling 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 Le Grande Daphne, your floating home for the next week, where you’ll enjoy a freshly prepared welcome lunch. You’ll also be fitted for snorkelling gear, ahead of your first dip in the water when you sail to nearby Isla Santa Cruz in the afternoon.
Le Grande Daphne has everything you need for the coming days, with cosy air-conditioned cabins, en-suite bathrooms, a communal lounge and a top-level sundeck where you can watch the world go by. All meals are freshly prepared by the on-board chef, and your crew and naturalist guide will be on hand throughout. This evening is all about getting settled in and enjoying a couple of drinks as you get to know your shipmates a little better.
*You’ll need to pay some local taxes today – US$20 at Quito Airport and US$100 when you arrive in the Galapagos – so make sure you’ve got some cash!
North Seymour & Bartolome
This morning you’ll walk around North Seymour, a small island which is home to boobies, frigate birds, iguanas and sea lions, before you’ll have the chance to snorkel amongst colourful fish and small reef sharks just off the coast. In the afternoon you’ll visit Isla Bartolomé – formed from lava flows of a now inactive volcano. A walkway leads to the top of the volcano where you’ll have a spectacular view of the jagged coastline, and you’ll also meet the resident penguins and lava lizards.
Once a pirate hideout and part of Darwin’s original route, Santiago’s landscape is formed of black sand beaches, ancient lava formations, rock pools and sparse forest. You’ll find a huge variety of wildlife too; turtles, pelicans, oystercatchers, hermit crabs, Galapagos hawks and sea lions all call this home. You’ll stop at a couple of beaches around the coast before sailing to Buccaneer Cove. You’ll have chances to snorkel of course, and may meet the island’s friendliest residents – the Galapagos fur seals.
Overnight, you’ll sail to the western side of Isla Isabela.
Isla Isabela & Isla Fernandina
Isabela is largest island in the archipelago, with a huge amount of diversity both on land and in its waters. You’ll wake up this morning at Tagus Cove, where you’ll head ashore to see pirate graffiti dating back centuries and you’ll see penguins and the rather odd flightless cormorants. Later you’ll head to Fernandina where you’ll see huge populations of iguanas, sea lions, tiny penguins and Sally Lightfoot crabs, as well as strange lava cacti. You’ll be able to do some amazing snorkelling around the coast too.
You’ll wake up near to a protected part of Isabela which can only be explored by small ‘panga’ boat. You’ll ride near the shore with your guide, looking for tiny penguins, before entering the mangrove forest where turtles, sea lions, lava herons and rays come to feed. Later on, you’ll sail to Punta Moreno, where flamingos hangout against a backdrop of blue lagoons and three active volcanos. With all the strange wildlife around, you may be surprised to see the occasional duck float by!
After some snorkelling, to look for the elusive sea horse, you’ll sail overnight to the east of the island.
You’ll start today with a visit to Las Tintoreras, a channel which is home to a huge number of white-tipped reef sharks, before continuing through an ancient lava flow where you’ll often see penguins, sea lions, brightly coloured crabs and marine iguanas lazing in the sun. In the afternoon you’ll walk to the recently erupted Sierra Negra Volcano, and visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre to see the archipelago’s most iconic species.
Overnight you’ll sail to Isla Santa Cruz.
Isla Santa Cruz
You’ll start today at Cerro Dragon, following a trail through a land iguana nesting site where you’ll also encounter birds such as warblers and flamingos, before reaching a spectacular viewpoint where you’ll see the whole northern coast. In the afternoon you’ll sail to Punta Carrion – a shallow cove where you’ll have a final chance to snorkel with reef sharks and rays, before a celebratory final dinner aboard the Daphne.
Isla Baltra, and back to the mainland
You’ll be up early to make the most of your final morning, travelling to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz – a very different experience where you’ll pass agricultural land, misty forests, volcanic cones, some of the island’s unique plant and bird life, as well as the famous giant tortoise. Your flight departs mid-morning from Isla Baltra, and on arrival in Quito you’ll be transferred back 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: