January 27 – February 3, 2022
THUR, JAN 27: Fly to Quito, Ecuador
Hotel: Illa Experience Hotel
Fly to Quito today. Most flights arrive later in the evening. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. This hotel, an early Ecuadorian 20th century mansion, offers a unique cultural experience in Quito’s most welcoming traditional neighborhood – San Marcos. For generations, San Marcos has been home to artists, writers and musicians. The hotel is within walking distance of cultural attractions, cafes, shops and restaurants.
FRI, JAN 28: Tour Orientation; Teleferico Ride to Pichincha Volcano; Colonial Quito Walking Tour; Free Time; Dinner at Neuma Restaurant
Hotel: Illa Experience Hotel
After breakfast, meet for a Tour Orientation in the hotel. Learn details about the trip and meet your fellow travelers.
Welcome to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. Quito lies at 9200’ high in the Andes. It is spread along the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano bordered by lush green mountains. Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its geographical beauty, 18th-century colonial architecture and traditional culture. This morning, head out to ride the Teléferico Quito that reaches 12,150’ and offers sweeping views of the city and its surrounding mountains. Afterward, enjoy a guided walking tour of Quito’s crown jewel, Old Town, packed with colorful restored colonial buildings and monuments. Stop for a traditional Ecuadorian lunch along the way. Relax and enjoy some free time in the later afternoon. That evening, dine at Nuema Restaurant, considered one of the best restaurants in Latin America. The executive chef, Alejandro Chamorro, is part of a new breed of South American chefs who has used his training at Noma in Denmark and Astrid & Gastón in Peru to elevate Quito’s restaurant scene.
Meals: B, L, D
SAT, JAN 29: Fly Quito to the Galapagos; Board Boat; Cruise to North Seymour Island
Accommodations: Catamaran Allya
Depart for the Galapagos Islands and arrive at Baltra Airport. Your will be met by a crew member and transferred to the catamaran. Today, cruise to North Seymour Island which is home to large colonies of magnificent frigatebirds. Watch them display their red balloons to attract the females. Blue-footed bobbies nest in the ground and perform their famous dance in the open areas. Swallow-tailed gulls perch on the cliff edge. Marine iguanas bask on the rocks by the sea close to sea lions which often like to body surf in the waves. This is a great place for an afternoon snorkel because it has a tremendous diversity of fish, sea lions, eels, turtles, rays and more.
SUN, JAN 30: Cruise to South Plaza Island & Santa Fe Island
Accommodations: Catamaran Alya
You will visit South Plaza Island this morning which is one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos. South Plaza allows visitors while North Plaza is kept exclusively for scientific research. South Plaza is the iguana island. It is the only place in the Galapagos where land iguanas share territory with marine iguanas. South Plaza is carpeted with reddish cactus vegetation giving this island its unique personality. A large colony of sea lions give you an opportunity to see playful pups enjoying the tide pools and grumpy males defend their territory. Hike to a cliff where you can observe sea birds such as frigatebirds, red-billed tropicbirds, boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and pelicans. In the afternoon, enjoy Santa Fe Island with its giant prickly pear cactus, barren lava rocks and one of the most beautiful bays in the Galapagos. Turquoise water and white sand beaches make this location ideal for swimming snorkeling, hiking or kayaking while taking in sea turtles, rays and a large variety of tropical fish.
MON, JAN 31: Cruise to San Cristobal Island Accommodations: Catamaran Alya
Today, visit the San Cristobal Interpretation Center and view the permanent exhibits that take guests through the origin, history and settlement of the islands. This Interpretation Center also presents current conservation efforts in the Galapagos. In the afternoon, cruise on to Lobos Island to a small islet separated from San Cristobal by a narrow channel that forms a sheltered bay. San Cristobal is surprisingly packed with wildlife. Groups of sea lions welcome you at the landing spot. As you walk a few steps inland, male frigatebirds perched in the trees display their inflated red balloons. Blue-footed boobies often nest on the trails and give an opportunity to observe their famous courtship dance. This is a great place to snorkel. The water is usually calm and the sea lions often show off their swimming skills. You might even be able to swim with the playful baby sea lions! Sea turtles and rays are often seen resting in the sandy bottom.
Meals: B, L, D
TUES, FEB 1: Cruise to Española Island Accommodations: Catamaran Alya
This morning, visit Gardner Bay on Española Island. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos. Its fine coral sand and turquoise water give it a tropical appearance. Walk on the beach amongst the sea lions basking in the sun. Learn about the biology of sea lions and other endemic species such as the Española mockingbird, marine iguanas and the Galapagos hawks. There are several great swimming and snorkeling spots to observe the many species of fish including angelfish, parrotfish, damselfish, surgeonfish and more. In the afternoon, enjoy Suarez Point, one of the most amazing nature walks in the Galapagos. From the moment you set foot on the island, experience the amazing diversity of fauna. Sea lions and marine iguanas welcome you followed by large colonies of sea birds, including Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies and tropical birds.
Meals: B, L, D
WED, FEB 2: Cruise to Floreana Island Accommodations: Catamaran Alya
Cormorant Point is located on Floreana Island and is known for its large coastal lagoon with American flamingos, white-cheeked pintails, black-necked stilts and other shorebirds. A beautiful white sand beach is an important nesting ground for green sea turtles. Blue-footed boobies breed close to the trail. This is also a great place to learn about the endemic plants. Snorkel at Devil’s Crown, a heavily-eroded small volcano close to Floreana Island. The crown is one of the best snorkeling sites in the archipelago because the current funnels plankton through the crown attracting huge schools of snapper, Creole fish, parrotfish, angelfish, reef sharks, sea turtles, rays and an array of marine life. In the afternoon, hike Alieri Hill, the remnant of an old volcano. This is one of the best locations for plant lovers as the native vegetation includes many endangered species that are hard to find elsewhere in the Galapagos. The views of the northern coast of Floreana are superb. This island boasts interesting bird species such as flycatchers, yellow warblers and Darwin finches.
Meals: B, L, D
THURS, FEB 3: Cruise to Santa Cruz Highlands; Transfer to Baltra Airport; Fly to Quito; Day Hotel Room in Quito; Fly Home
End the trip with a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands where you will take a light trek to look a the Galapagos Land Tortoises in their natural habitat. After the visit, you will be escorted to the Baltra airport for your return flight home. Upon arrival in Quito, you will have a private hotel room for the day at the Wyndham Quito Hotel. Most flights back to the U.S. depart early the next morning/after midnight.
PLEASE NOTE: The Catamaran Alya offers hiking, snorkeling, panga rides, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Activities are subject to change due to climatic conditions, orders from the Galapagos National Park Service and other unforeseen circumstances.