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Northern Galapagos Cruise + Quito

8 days

Three Small Ship Adventures aboard the 24-cabin La Pinta

Overall Rating
based on 35 Reviews

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Small Group Discoveries

+ Our signature Small Group sightseeing brings Quito to life! Explore the architectural treasures of this UNESCO World Heritage capital and meet city residents eager to share insight into their life and culture.
+ With never more than 16 guests in a landing party, you’ll enjoy deeper engagement and more personalized attention from our expert naturalists, a more comfortable pace, and unforgettable up-close encounters with some of the most amazing animals on the planet.
+ Informative and entertaining shipboard lectures enhance your voyage and deepen your understanding of the island’s unique geology and wildlife.
+ Complimentary wet suits, snorkeling gear, sea kayaks and a glass-bottom boat enrich your exploration of the Galapagos’ colorful undersea realms.
+ With 3 nights luxury hotel + 4 nights cruise; 16 meals; all sightseeing + shore excursions; all transfers; both internal flights; Galapagos Park Fee + Transit Card; port charges; and all gratuities.

Includes 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites

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Day
1

Upon arrival at the airport, you’ll be met and escorted to Casa Gangotena, our luxury boutique hotel in the historic heart of Quito.

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 visit Chez Tiff, a boutique chocolate shop that produces fine confections from locally-sourced cocoa, herbs and fruits. 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
3

Fly to the Galapagos Islands

La Pinta

You’ll be escorted to the airport this morning for your included flight to Baltra Island in the center of the archipelago. On arrival, cross the narrow Itabaca Channel by ferry to Santa Cruz Island and sit down to lunch at a local restaurant. Then join our expert naturalist for an exciting excursion into the Santa Cruz Highlands. Observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat, learn about the unique ecosystem of this pristine nature reserve, and discover its unusual lava tube formations.
 
Then travel to Puerto Ayora to board our Galapagos vessel, the intimate La Pinta. You’ll have time to settle in to your Upper Deck outside stateroom before joining fellow passengers for dinner. This evening’s briefing with our expert shipboard naturalists offers an entertaining and informative introduction to your upcoming voyage.  Meals B+L+D

Day
4

Eden Islet and Chinese Hat Islet

La Pinta

Today’s excursions explore the diversity of two small and uninhabited isles. In the morning, a guided expedition in our maneuverable panga boats takes you along the shores of Eden Islet, where you might observe Nazca and blue footed boobies diving into the sea for food, reef sharks and frigatebirds. Conditions permitting, this is also a great place to take advantage of our free snorkeling gear and glass bottom boat. With its cinder cones, tuff cones and semi-eroded lava flows, Eden Islet also offers a chance to learn more about the volcanic origins of the Galapagos Islands.

After lunch, a guided nature walk on Chinese Hat Islet offers a chance to espy marine iguanas, Galapagos hawks, sea lions and Galapagos penguins. There’s also terrific snorkeling here amongst white-tipped reef sharks and penguins, or you might choose to explore these waters by sea kayak, glass-bottom boat or panga.  Meals B+L+D

Day
5

Bartolomé and Santiago Islands

La Pinta

After breakfast, join our naturalists ashore for an invigorating walk to the summit of Bartolomé Island. A network of wooden stairs and boardwalks protects the fragile environment, including small lava lizards and a species of cactus found only in the Galapagos. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most picturesque and memorable vistas of your Galapagos adventure! Later, a panga boat excursion around Pinnacle Rock offers a great opportunity to photograph this iconic natural formation. Before returning to La Pinta for lunch, you’ll have time to relax on the beach, snorkel or ride in the glass-bottom boat.

In the afternoon, you’ll step ashore at Sullivan Bay on the southeastern coast of Santiago Island. There was a major eruption here only 100 years ago, and the sinuous Pāhoehoe lava formations look almost like still-flowing molten lava. There may not be much wildlife here, but the barren, other-worldly landscape makes for remarkable photography, and this is a great place to observe and experience the volcanic origins of the Galapagos archipelago.  In addition, the lovely coral sand beach of Sullivan Bay is ideal for swimming and snorkeling.  Meals B+L+D

Day
6

Two landings on Genovesa Island

La Pinta

Genovesa is celebrated for its remarkable birdlife including magnificent frigatebirds, red-footed boobies, swallow-tailed and lava gulls, and yellow-crowned herons. This morning, you’ll step ashore with our naturalists at Darwin Bay. From the small sand and coral beach, an easy trail winds its way along a tidal lagoon, offering myriad opportunities to observe and learn about the island’s birdlife. After your guided walk, you can hike along a more challenging lava trail to a look-out point, go for a swim or snorkel in the bay. The more adventurous can paddle or snorkel along the cliffs at the edge of the bay.
 
After lunch back onboard, you’ll explore Prince Philip’s Steps - named for Prince Philip who visited the Galapagos in 1964 aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia. As you approach the lava cliffs in our panga boats, keep your eyes peeled for animals using the crevices for shelter and for red-billed tropicbirds flying overhead. You’ll make landing at the base of a staircase that leads to the top of the cliffs where a mile-long path will take us to the other side of this small island. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to espy large colonies of Nazca boobies, frigatebirds, storm petrels and the elusive short-eared owl.  Meals B+L+D

After breakfast, you’ll disembark on Baltra Island and transfer to the airport for your included flight back to the South American mainland. You can fly to Guayaquil at the Hotel del Parque or Quito at the JW Marriott: we include your overnight accommodations and a transfer to the airport in the morning. Or you can connect to your international flight on the same day.  Meals B

Day
8

Farewell, Ecuador

We transfer you to the airport today.  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

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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!

Pay-In-Full

Save $1,000 per couple + $500 solo on all of our Small Group, Small Ship and Private Journeys when you pay-in-full at time of booking.

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