The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands

Behold the birthplace of evolution and Darwin’s “living laboratory” in one of the most biologically unique places on Earth. Witness local wildlife that thrives on a lack of natural predators as you enjoy the acquaintance of giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, sea lions and more. Observe how species have evolved to interact with each other. For example, certain Darwin finches have developed a symbiotic relationship with land iguanas, who will obligingly raise themselves up from the ground so the birds can more easily pluck parasites from their bellies.

Trip Itinerary:

April 17 En Route from U.S. / Arrive in Quito, Ecuador

After an evening arrival in Quito, transfer to your award-winning hotel for a comfortable night's sleep.
Overnight: Casa Gangotena – Quito

April 18 Quito

Head out for a full-day, guided walking tour of historic Old Town. A local expert will take you through the Quito neighborhood called San Roque, where you'll visit with local artisans, shopkeepers, hat makers, and sweet confectioners. Explore the San Francisco Market—one of the oldest in the capital—up the hill on Calle Rocafuerte. There, learn about the unique fruits and vegetables grown in Ecuador, local culinary traditions, as well as meet herbal healers with shops in the market.

Continue your journey downhill to the cobbled street of La Ronda, featuring balconies festooned with colorful flags. Stop by a chocolatier to learn how cacao beans are processed, and taste the finest chocolates of Ecuador!

Next, head north toward the political heart of the city. Following a brief narrative, stroll to the Jesuit church of La Compañía to admire its stunning gold-leaf interior. A lunch of Ecuadorian specialties will be served in the beautiful Restaurant Cedrón.

In the afternoon, head to the Casa del Alabado Archaeological Museum, within a restored 17th-century colonial mansion, to view its collection of Pre-Columbian art. This evening, meet your traveling companions for a welcome reception and prepare for your upcoming adventure.
Overnight: Casa Gangotena – Quito (B,L,R)

April 19 Quito / Flight to Baltra / Santa Cruz - Embarkation

Arrive by plane to Baltra Airport and transfer to the Itabaca Channel to ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. After a short, scenic drive across Santa Cruz Island, arrive in the Highlands to enjoy lunch and visit the iconic species for which these islands are named. Spot the saddle-backed shell of the lumbering Galapagos giant tortoise and walk among them while your naturalist guide describes their habits as well as the conservation efforts surrounding this remarkable reptile.

Take a late afternoon stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora before embarking on Isabela II.

Join the captain this evening for a cocktail and briefing on the exciting activities that are to come.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D)

April 20 Floreana

Floreana is perhaps best known for its colorful history of buccaneers, whalers, and colonists. After breakfast, board the pangas for coastal exploration of Baroness Cove. Look for the bobbing heads of sea turtles, or vibrant Sally Lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas clinging to the intertidal rocks. Visit the historic Post Office Barrel, which originated in the late 1700s as an unofficial mail box. Whalers going out to sea would deposit letters for ships returning home to collect and deliver. Today postcards continue to be hand carried to far-flung destinations by other visitors.

Mid-morning snorkeling off the beach provides the opportunity to observe sea turtles and colorful fish, or perhaps kayak to spot wildlife near shore. Following lunch, walk along Punta Cormorant to see the flamingos, stilts, and sandpipers that inhabit a brackish-water lagoon. A short walk leads to a sandy beach composed of coral ground so fine that it feels like flour. Green sea turtles nest here, and it is a good place to see sting rays near shore.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D)

April 21 Española

After breakfast, hike the tumbled terrain of Punta Suárez to the blowhole that shoots water 50 feet into the air. Along the way, observe unique sea bird colonies, including striking Nazca boobies and swallow-tail gulls. The Galapagos Albatross—the largest bird in the archipelago—is found only on Española Island, and only between April and December.

In the afternoon, disembark and relax at Gardner Bay on an expansive, white coralline beach, where you can watch sea lions, Hood mockingbirds, and finches.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D)

April 22 San Cristóbal

This morning, arrive at the eastern tip of the island for more spectacular wildlife viewing. San Cristobal is the only place in the islands where you can find the three species of boobies (Nazca, red-footed and blue-footed) in the same area. Choose a hike up the hill in search of their nests, and admire the unique landscape and spectacular views of the beach below. Or, take a walk on the beach and, if conditions are favorable, there is a chance to swim, snorkel or kayak.

After lunch on board, venture out on a panga ride along the shores to Cerro Brujo's dramatic beach to enjoy a coastline stroll and more bird watching. Join fellow guests and crew for a festive farewell toast followed by dinner.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D)

April 23 San Cristóbal – Disembarkation / Flight to Guayaquil

Bid a fond adiós to the Isabela II crew this morning prior to departing San Cristóbal for Guayaquil, where you will spend your final night.
Overnight: Wyndham Hotel – Guayaquil (B,L aloft)

April 24 Guayaquil / Depart for U.S.

In the morning, transfer to the airport to board your flight back home. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, R = Reception

Map:

Testimonials:

Orbridge did a great job with this tour. Looking forward to more travel possibilities with them and the Alumni Alliance.

- Joyce Schroeder, 2018

Orbridge makes it easy to relax and enjoy the experience. Everything is taken care of so once I leave home everything is done.

- Thomas Worcester, 2018


Back to all trips