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zJourney to the Galapagos - MV Galapagos Explorer - 11 Day Adventure

11 days

11 day small group escorted cruise & tour

Small Group Discoveries for our World Travelers

  • Our signature Small Group sightseeing brings Quito to life…. Explore the culture, flavors and architectural treasures of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, hailed by many as one of South America’s most beautiful cities.
  • You’ll find a bottle of fine South American wine in your shipboard suite – with our compliments.
  • Step ashore with our experienced Naturalist Guides and explore 14 unique landing sites on 7 islands.
  • With no more than 16 guests in a landing party, you’ll enjoy deeper engagement and more personalized attention from our Naturalist Guides, a more comfortable pace and unforgettable up-close encounters with wildlife.
  • Built for speedy ocean-cruising, our ship will even take you to the far western edge of the Archipelago for fascinating exploration on Fernandina and Isabela Islands.
  • Discover 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites c

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Day
1

Welcome to Quito c

Check in to the deluxe Swissotel, perfectly located in the heart of the capital.

Day
2

Discover Quito’s Colonial splendor

This morning’s city sightseeing begins in the heart of the capital’s historic San Juan neighborhood. At a popular local pastry shop, in business for more than 40 years, you’ll savor a cup of Ecuadorian hot chocolate and a quesadilla, a traditional cake-like sweet made from flour, eggs and cheese. Focusing on Quito’s handsome Colonial-era architecture, your exploration continues with some of the city’s most significant churches and monuments, including the Church of the Compania of Jesus and the Church of San Francisco. A pleasant guided stroll brings you next to La Ronda, home to artisan workshops specializing in traditional crafts including textiles, hats and candles. After lunch in one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants here, you will be escorted back to your hotel in the mid-afternoon. If you prefer, you can be dropped off at the Central Bank Museum to explore its highly regarded collection on your own. Meals B,L

Day
3

Fly to Baltra Island in the Galapagos c

Transfer to the airport for your included flight to Baltra Island where your deluxe ship awaits. This afternoon, explore Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island. A 2-hour guided walk along the beach and over lava fields is a chance to espy lava lizards, Galapagos penguins and numerous bird species. Dinner is followed by the first of your nightly briefings from the ship’s well-informed naturalists. Meals B,L,D

Day
4

Bartholomew and Santiago Island

Don’t forget your camera this morning! Bartolomé is famous for its dramatic formations like Pinnacle Rock. A short hike brings you to the summit for a panoramic view. A nearby beach, home to Brown Pelicans and other sea birds, offers calm waters where white tip reef sharks are known to congregate. After lunch, go ashore on Santiago Island where a beach walk leads to a pristine lagoon, home to greater flamingos and white-cheeked pintail ducks. Meals B,L,D

Day
5

Remote Isabela and Fernandina Islands

At the edge of the archipelago is Isabela Island, usually visited only by faster boats like the Explorer II. Your morning exploration of the island’s northwestern tip is well worth the journey. Explore by panga, a small motorized dingy, along coastal cliffs to see Blue-footed and masked boobies, Galapagos penguins and pelicans. The snorkeling here can be spectacular with frequent sightings of Manta rays, sea turtles and even dolphins. As you prepare to land on Fernandina, keep your eyes peeled for diving penguins and the rare spectacle of iguanas feeding underwater. Meals B,L,D

Day
6

More of Isabela Island

Exploring Tagus Cove this morning reveals the amazing geological and wildlife diversity of this remote island. Take in fantastic views of a saltwater lagoon which sits in the middle of a volcanic tuff cone and see the expansive lava fields of the Darwin Volcano. In the afternoon, explore by Zodiac through the pristine waters of spectacular Elizabeth Bay. With sharp eyes and the right conditions, your 90-minute excursion is a great chance to observe masked boobies, rays, sharks, sea lions and penguins. Meals B,L,D

Day
7

Explore Floreana Island

Settled by Norwegians in the early 1900’s, Floreana is one of only four inhabited islands in the Galapagos. On morning and afternoon excursions, step ashore to explore historic Post Office Bay and the island’s unique fauna – including Galapagos sea lions, Brown Pelicans, warbler finches and numerous other bird species. Meals B,L,D

Day
8

Discover San Cristobal Island

Step ashore on San Cristobal this morning for a motorcoach excursion to the Cerro Colorado Reserve, home to the elusive giant Galapagos tortoise! After lunch, enjoy a guided walk to Wizard Hill to observe the magnificent frigate bird, marine iguanas and raucous sea lions. Meals B,L,D

Day
9

Santa Cruz Island...

Enjoy a landing at The Twins on Santa Cruz Island. After lunch, alight in Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Research Center. Here you will learn about the pioneering research and important conservation work being done to preserve the islands’ precious natural heritage. Meals B,L,D

Day
10

Ashore on Santa Cruz and fly to the mainland

Transfer to the airport on Baltra Island for your included flight back to the mainland. Upon arrival in the thriving Pacific port of Guayaquil, you’ll be met and escorted to the deluxe Hilton Colon Hotel where the balance of your time is free. Meals B

Day
11

Farewell to Ecuador

Your voyage with us ends this morning. 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

Private Tour Add-Ons

Lake Titicaca

Our 3-day FreeStyle Travel package includes a choice of fine hotels, 3 meals, chauffeured airport transfers and in-depth sightseeing

Machu Picchu

Our 2-day FreeStyle Tour includes a choice of fine hotels, daily breakfast, private car transfers, roundtrip Vistadome Train to Machu Picchu, and in-depth sightseeing with your own personal guide.

Nazca Lines and Ballestas Islands

Our 2-day FreeStyle Tour includes a choice of fine hotels, daily breakfast, roundtrip transportation from Lima, flight-seeing over the Nazca Lines and cruise excursion

MapSearch

Ask about international air service on LAN, including business class. See your travel agent or call us for current international airfare associated with this program. We offer both economy and business class fares. Prices are in U.S. currency and are per person based on double occupancy, unless otherwise noted. Availability is limited.

Extra nights are available before or after your tour.

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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