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zAAA Vacations® - Quito + The Galapagos

8 days

Small Ship Adventure aboard the 24-cabin La Pinta

Small Group Discoveries

  • Nightly lectures and informative briefings with our knowledgeable shipboard expedition team will enhance your wildlife-viewing shore expeditions.
  • Step ashore on a variety of distinct islands in small landing parties of never more than 16 guests accompanied by our expert naturalists; they’re the best in the Galapagos, praised by our guests for their unique capacity to educate, inspire, enthrall and entertain.
  • Extensive sightseeing through the Colonial district, our special cultural encounters, and a congenial lunch in historic La Ronda bring Quito to life.
  • Complimentary use of wet suits, snorkeling gear, sea kayaks and a glass-bottom boat enrich your exploration of the Galapagos, including the colorful undersea realms that surround these geologically diverse islands.

2014 Itinerary2015 Itinerary

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Day
1

An Extra Night in Quito

AAA Complimentary Inclusion: Enjoy a free extra night in Quito before your tour at the Casa Gangotena, ideally situated in the historic heart of town on Plaza San Francisco. With its artful blend of contemporary style and antique design, Quito’s best boutique luxury hotel offers just 31 elegant guestrooms and is perfect for our intimate groups of never more than 16 guests.

Day
2

Welcome to Quito c

Enjoy a day at leisure in Quito. Meals B

Day
3

Discover Quito’s Colonial splendor

Your exploration of this World Heritage city begins with San Francisco, a magnificent 16th-century Roman Catholic church and convent. At a local hat shop, the owner will share her millinery skills and the techniques learned from her father that have allowed her to produce some of the city’s finest hats for nearly 60 years. You’ll also spend time with the Carrion family in their 150-year-old workshop. For generations, this talented family has been restoring religious images which their customers use for festivals. Then it’s off to the Museo Casa de Alabado, set in a beautiful 17th-century residence and renowned for its meticulously curated collection of Pre-Colombian artifacts. In the historic heart of the city, you’ll behold important Colonial-era landmarks including the Presidential Palace and Cathedral. Your sightseeing ends in La Ronda, a charming historic district filled with inviting shops and galleries. Meals B,L

Day
4

Fly to the Galapagos Islands c

Fly to San Cristóbal Island and step aboard La Pinta, our deluxe and intimate yacht-style vessel. After lunch onboard, you’ll step ashore at Puerto Baquerizo Morena and travel overland to the island’s southern shore to visit the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve, a pioneering breeding center set in the midst of a beautiful deciduous forest. See highly-endangered giant Galapagos tortoises and learn about their origins, evolution and threats to the species from introduced animals. The region is also home to dozens of bird species and the endemic San Cristóbal lava lizard.  After dinner, this evening’s shipboard lecture with our fine naturalist team is the first of the nightly briefings which will enhance your exploration over the coming days.  Meals B,L,D 

Day
5

Morning and Afternoon Landings on San Cristobal

Step ashore this morning at Punta Pitt on the eastern tip of the island. A pleasant trail from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline and is the only site in the islands where all three species of boobies can be found together.  An endemic species of lava lizard and mockingbirds as well as Red-footed, Blue-footed and Nazca boobies are often seen in the vicinity of this morning’s landing site.

In the afternoon, explore Cerro Brujo, a beautiful white sand beach inhabited by numerous shore birds and colonies of sea lions. These are the same shores that Charles Darwin walked upon in September 1835 and the turquoise waters offshore are home to rays and sea turtles.  Meals B,L,D

Day
6

Two Landings on Espanola Island

Our morning landing at Punta Suarez offers a chance to see young sea lions frolicking in the breaking waves. Just a few steps inland and we’re sure to espy a variety of iguanas basking in the sun. As our naturalist-guided walk continues, you’ll observe Nazca and Blue-footed boobies nesting practically right along the trail along with Galapagos doves and finches congregating nearby. The trail leads toward picturesque coastal cliffs and the blowhole, a fissure in the lava rock where water shoots high in the air like a geyser.

After lunch onboard, explore the picturesque beaches of Gardner Bay to observe colonies of sea lions, mockingbirds and finches. There is great snorkeling in this area or you can take the time to kayak or ride the glass-bottom boat. Meals B,L,D

Day
7

Charles Darwin Research Center and Fly to Guayaquil

Disembark this morning on Santa Cruz Island and visit the esteemed Charles Darwin Research Center to learn about the important work being done to preserve the Galapagos’ natural heritage. Then transfer to the airport on Baltra Island for your included flight back to the mainland. Upon arrival in Guayaquil, you’ll be met and escorted to the deluxe Hilton Colon Hotel. Meals B

Day
8

Farewell to Ecuador

Your voyage with us ends today.  Meals B

Day
1

An Extra Night in Quito

AAA Complimentary Inclusion: Enjoy a free extra night in Quito before your tour at the Casa Gangotena, ideally situated in the historic heart of town on Plaza San Francisco. With its artful blend of contemporary style and antique design, Quito’s best boutique luxury hotel offers just 31 elegant guestrooms and is perfect for our intimate groups of never more than 16 guests.

Day
2

Welcome to Quito c

Enjoy a day at leisure in Quito. Meals B

Day
3

Discover Quito’s Colonial splendor c

Your exploration of this World Heritage city begins with San Francisco, a magnificent 16th-century Roman Catholic church and convent.. AAA Engaging Experience: At a local hat shop, the owner will share her millinery skills and the techniques learned from her father that have allowed her to produce some of the city’s finest hats for nearly 60 years. You’ll also spend time with the Carrion family in their 150-year-old workshop. For generations, this talented family has been restoring religious images which their customers use for festivals. Then it’s off to the Museo Casa de Alabado, set in a beautiful 17th-century residence and renowned for its meticulously curated collection of Pre-Colombian artifacts. In the historic heart of the city, you’ll behold important Colonial-era landmarks including the Presidential Palace and Cathedral. Your sightseeing ends in La Ronda, a charming historic district filled with inviting shops and galleries. Meals B,L

Day
4

Onward to the Galapagos Islands

Fly to the Galapagos to San Cristobal Island. After lunch, visit the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Center to learn more about these fascinating indigenous creatures. AAA Engaging Experience: This evening’s informative and entertaining lecture with our experienced shipboard naturalists, the first of your daily briefings, has been specifically designed to enhance your exploration over the coming days.  Meals B,L,D

Day
5

Morning and afternoon landings on San Cristobal

Step ashore this morning at Punta Pitt on the eastern tip of the island. A pleasant trail from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline and is the only site in the islands where all three species of boobies can be found together.  In the afternoon, explore Cerro Brujo, a beautiful white sand beach inhabited by numerous shore birds and colonies of sea lions.  Meals B,L,D

Day
6

Two Landings on Espanola Island

A guided morning walk across the unusual lava terrain at Punta Suarez is rewarded with more bird and wildlife encounters including boobies, swallow-tail gulls and marine iguanas. After lunch onboard, explore the picturesque beaches of Gardner Bay to observe sea lions, mockingbirds and finches. AAA Engaging Experience: There is great snorkeling in this area or you can take the time to kayak or ride the glass-bottom boat.  Meals B,L,D  

Day
7

Charles Darwin Research Center and Fly to Guayaquil

Disembark this morning on Santa Cruz Island and visit the esteemed Charles Darwin Research Center to learn about the important work being done to preserve the Galapagos’ natural heritage.  In the Llerena Breeding Center, you’ll see tortoise hatchlings and the enormous adults that are part of the ongoing research to ensure the survival of the species. Then transfer to the airport on Baltra Island for your included flight back to the mainland. Arrive in Guayaquil where you’ll be escorted to the deluxe Hilton Colon Hotel.  Meals B

Day
8

Farwell to Ecuador

Your voyage with us ends today. Or why not discover more of South America with our affordable, easy-to-add extension to Peru.  Meals B

Extend Your Trip

Discover Peru after your Galapagos Cruise

6-Day Extension from $3,499

Enhance your travels in South America with our fully-guided 6-day tour to Lima, Cuzco and Machu Picchu. We include all on-tour transportation, luxury hotels and extensive sightseeing.

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Day
1

We fly you to Lima, Peru

At the end of your Galapagos journey, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your included flight from Guayaquil or Quito to Peru. On arrival in Lima, you’ll be escorted to the JW Marriott Hotel; our luxury city center hotel is ideally located in the vibrant seaside district of Miraflores.

Day
2

Discover Lima

After a leisurely breakfast, your car, driver and guide will be waiting to show you Lima’s highlights – starting at the Larco Museum; renowned for its superb collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, your private tour is the perfect introduction to the Inca sites you’ll explore in the coming days.
 
After a light lunch, continue to Plaza Mayor in the historic heart of the city. Admire the Archbishop’s Palace, easily recognized by its grand wooden balcony, and behold the impressive 18th-century Cathedral. Close by, you’ll tour the beautiful Convent and Basilica of Santo Domingo, built in 1766.
 
Then spend time exploring the streets of Barranco, where 19th-century aristocratic homes have been given new life as cafés, galleries and boutique. Visit MATE, a pioneering contemporary art museum founded by Mario Testino, the Peruvian photographer famed for his portraits of cultural icons including Diana, Princess of Wales, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. In addition to a permanent collection of Testino’s works, MATE features rotating exhibits devoted to established and emerging contemporary artists.  Meals B+L

Day
3

Fly to Cuzco

After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your included flight to Cuzco, the ancient capital of the once vast and mighty Inca Empire. On arrival, you’ll be escorted by private car to the 5-star JW Marriott Hotel,  where oxygenated rooms promise greater comfort in this high-mountain town. With your own personal guide, this afternoon’s tour begins in the peaks outside of town where you’ll discover the magnificent ruins of Sacsayhuaman. Built in the 1400’s by the Inca Emperor Pachacútec, the massive limestone blocks of this venerated complex were cut with such precision that they fit together without mortar like the interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle! With some individual stones towering more than 10 feet tall and weighing several hundreds of tons, Sacsayhuaman is a monumental achievement of architecture and masonry.
 
You’ll also visit San Pedro Market and Almudena Cemetery; here at these seemingly quotidian sites, your guide will offer fascinating cultural perspectives and personal insights into how ancient traditions – many dating back to Inca times – still endure in the life of local citizens. Then discover Cuzco’s Cathedral and the other Colonial-era landmarks that line the Plaza de Armas. At the Temple of the Sun and Convent of Santo Domingo, you’ll discover one of Peru’s most fascinating sites. It also demonstrates the rich layering of history here in Cuzco, where a sacred structure of one culture, the Convent, literally sits atop and practically encloses another, the Inca-built Temple of the Sun. Finish your tour with an engaging local bartender and learn how to make the perfect Pisco Sour, Peru’s signature cocktail.  Meals B

Day
4

By Rail to Machu Picchu

After breakfast, you’ll be chauffeured to the station to board the Vistadome Train for your journey through the Sacred Valley. Sit back and enjoy the views as you travel through this timeless region of snow-capped Andean peaks, quiet villages and terraced fields that have been cultivated for centuries. On arrival in the charming town of Aguas Calientes, you’ll board the coach for the 30-minute ride up the switchback mountain road that brings you to the entrance to Machu Picchu. The fabled Lost City is certainly the single greatest landmark in Peru – and perhaps all of South America. Indeed, little can be written here that would do justice to the breathtaking grandeur of its mountain setting, the enigmatic power and aura that so permeate this ancient citadel, and the unforgettable experience of standing among these ancient stones. And with your personal guide’s illuminating expertise, your visit will bring to life the ancient Inca civilization that built Machu Picchu. After sightseeing, check in to the Inkaterra Pueblo Machu Picchu, our evocative retreat nestled in a riverside cloud forest in the shadow of Machu Picchu, where you’ll have time to refresh before dinner. Meals B+L+D

Day
5

Morning at Machu Picchu + Back to Cuzco by Train

We’ve included your motorcoach transportation back up the mountain and your entry ticket so you can explore the Lost City at your own pace.  At this early hour, people have yet to arrive from Cuzco or the Sacred Valley. With far fewer visitors and the soft light of morning just breaking over the surrounding mountain peaks, your return visit promises an exceptionally powerful and evocative experience.
 
In the afternoon, you’ll make the return rail journey through the Sacred Valley. On arrival in Cuzco, you’ll be met and chauffeured to the luxurious JW Marriott.  Meals B

Day
6

Fly Back to Lima

We’ll take you to the airport this morning for your included flight to Lima, where you can connect to your homeward journey.  Meals B

Add the rainforest before your journey!

4 days from $1,499

Discover the amazing diversity of Ecuador’s rainforests! We include transportation, one night at the Caso Gangotena in Quito, two nights at Mashpi, a new luxury jungle lodge, all meals, and guided rainforest activities like nature walks and canopy tours.

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Day
1

Quito

Upon arrival, you’ll be met and escorted to the Casa Gangotena.

Day
2

Overland from Quito to the Mashpi Reserve

Depart Quito after breakfast and head north from the capital, crossing the Equator and driving up to the Pululahua Crater for magnificent views over the mountains and countryside. Continue to the archaeological site of Tulipe and learn about the Yumbo civilization that built these pools and stone structures. Continue to the Mashpi Reserve, a 3,200-acre protected rainforest reserve acclaimed for its rich biodiversity. Check in to the exceptional Mashpi Lodge in the heart of the reserve and enjoy a briefing from our naturalist guides before sitting down to lunch. Depending upon the interests of you and your fellow guest as well as the local conditions, your afternoon activity might include a guided walk along jungle trails or a visit to the Observation Tower. Climbing this 85-foot tall structure is well-rewarded by the chance to see toucans, woodpeckers, parrots and even raptors. After dinner, the adventurous can join our naturalist for a night safari along the Reserve’s well-maintained trails.  Meals B,L,D

Day
3

A Day in the Rainforest

Morning activities for the early-riser are designed to explore the forest at dawn, when birds and other wildlife are active. Return to the Lodge for breakfast and then enjoy another guided nature excursion, perhaps a hike to a jungle waterfall followed by a refreshing dip. After lunch, you can rest or join another rainforest adventure: Maybe visit the Lodge’s Hummingbird Viewing Station or explore the forest canopy and cross a deep river gorge on a Sky Bike! You can also visit the Life Center to learn more about the many species of flora and fauna that thrive in this protected Reserve.  Meals B,L,D

Day
4

Back to Quito

Enjoy an early breakfast and another guided rainforest adventure this morning. After checkout at 11am, you’ll depart the Lodge for the overland journey back to Quito with a boxed lunch to enjoy en route. Depending upon local conditions, you’ll arrive back in Quito around 3:00pm. Meals B,L

Private Tour Add-Ons

Lake Titicaca

With its pristine beauty and unique indigenous communities, Lake Titicaca is a terrific way to enhance your travels through Peru and South America. We include private airport transfers, a choice of fine hotels & resorts and a full-day, expertly guided excursion across the Lake.

Machu Picchu

Enhance your trip to Peru with one of South America’s most inspiring sites, the fabled Lost City of the Inca! We include roundtrip rail transportation from Cuzco, a choice of fine hotels, an extensive afternoon tour of Machu Picchu and the opportunity for a second sunrise visit – before the day visitors arrive!

Nazca Lines and Ballestas Islands

Complement your travels in South America with two of Peru’s most diverse wonders! We include roundtrip transportation from Lima, a selection of fine hotels and resorts, a flight-seeing tour over the Nazca Lines and a cruise excursion to observe the wildlife of the Ballestas Islands.
 

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Prices are per person, land only. We offer air on LAN. Add extra nights.

Family + Friends

Travel is one of  life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
  • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
  • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
  • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
  • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!

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