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A Red-footed Booby sitting in a bush.

Darwin’s Islands & Colonial Quito

Example 9 Day Cruise aboard La Pinta (UC)
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Spend two nights in Quito, the capital of Ecuador and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then discover the unique Galapagos Islands, a perfect destination that mixes resting and adventuring perfectly! Explore Punta Vicente Roca, a marine site of impressive geological formations, tour the Charles Darwin Research Station, and witness the exceptional conservation program where baby tortoises, “galapaguitos,” are reared in protective captivity until they are old enough to safely repatriate back to their native areas. See blue-footed and Nazca boobies, yellow warblers, several species of Darwin’s finches, and pelicans at Rabida Island. Drop your postcard in Isla Floreana’s famous and historic barrel mailbox. Snorkel, hike, kayak, skiff, or simply relax on the beach on this very unusual expedition.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive in Quito
Day 2 : Quito
Day 3 : Baltra | Embark | North Seymour
Day 4 : Isabela | Fernandina
Day 5 : Isabela
Day 6 : Rabida | Santa Cruz
Day 7 : Santa Cruz
Day 8 : Floreana
Day 9 : Baltra | Disembark | Quito

Highlights

  • Visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Galápagos Islands and Quito
  • Observe and enjoy unique wildlife in their natural habitat
  • Scan the pristine waters for whales and dolphins at Bolivar Channel
  • Enjoy the perfect vantage for a photo-op at Baroness Viewpoint

Ship

La Pinta (UC)

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Baltra
  • Charles Darwin Center
  • Dragon Hill
  • Floreana
  • Isabela
  • North Seymour
  • Punta Cormorant
  • Quito
  • Rabida
  • Santa Cruz
  • Tagus Cove
  • Urbina Bay
  • Vicente Roca Point

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

A Red-footed Booby sitting in a bush. Colorful kayaks on the beach Sea lion on North Seymour Floreana Island Two frigate birds

Day 1 Arrive in Quito

Welcome to Ecuador! Begin your journey in this historic city rich in legends and culture. Your first stop is the grand Casa Gangotena, voted the #1 Hotel in Ecuador by TripAdvisor and where you stay these first two nights. A gorgeous example of Spanish Colonial style, enjoy this restored boutique hotel just steps away from picturesque Plaza de San Francisco, built atop Incan temples and markets.

Day 2 Quito

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Once called the Northern Capital of the Inca Empire, the capital city of Quito has long been a center of commerce and culture. The city’s growth after the Spanish took over in 1534 included the building of many outstanding convents, monasteries, and churches, earning Quito the title “Capital of Art of Spanish America.” Discover why the city’s exquisitely preserved historic center is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site—departing from your hotel, a walking tour explores its past, present, and future, including a visit to the fascinating pre-Columbian Museo Casa del Alabado. Your full day of exploration ends at a local restaurant with sunset views overlooking the city.

Day 3 Baltra | Embark | North Seymour

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning, travel to the second UNESCO World Heritage Site on your itinerary: the legendary Galapagos Islands. From Quito, fly to Isla Baltra where your captain and crew welcome you aboard the yacht La Pinta. As Charles Darwin certainly was in 1835, be awed by the unique beauty of the islands as you take your first exploratory steps on Isla Seymour Norte—home to blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds. Formed by volcanic uplift, the small island of scruffy vegetation is ideal nesting terrain. Get an up-close view of these birds’ quirky characteristics by hike and panga ride.

Day 4 Isabela | Fernandina

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Explore Punta Vicente Roca, a marine site of impressive geological formations, by panga—your guide helps with decoding the visible clues of the islands’ fiery beginnings. Beyond the geology, spy winged residents including blue-footed boobies and flightless cormorants. The wildly rocky coast with a partially sunken cave provides phenomenal conditions for a menagerie of fish and green sea turtles. If conditions allow, don your mask, fins, and snorkel and dive in for a close-up view! Later, stretch your legs on a guided walk experiencing one of the most pristine islands in the Galapagos, Isla Fernandina. The island’s active volcano erupted as recently as 2009. Thousands of bright land iguanas reside here, and it’s also a favorite haunt of Galapagos penguins.

Day 5 Isabela

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Large in landmass and young at 1 million years old, Isla Isabela supports abundant wildlife and sea life. An Urbina Bay shore walk reveals large, colorful land iguanas and perhaps giant tortoises. Crossing from Urbina Bay to Tagus Cove, scan the water for whales and dolphins that frequent Bolivar Channel from one of La Pinta’s spacious decks. At Tagus Cove—an otherworldly landscape of eroded tuff cones—there’s a chance to snorkel, kayak, or ride a panga before hiking the backside of Darwin Crater to a saltwater lake. There are excellent opportunities for viewing penguins, Galapagos hawks, cormorants, petrified rain (bits of lava that cooled quickly after contacting water), and old signatures from pirates and whalers etched into the rock.

Day 6 Rabida | Santa Cruz

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Isla Rabida’s unusual red beach is a favorite sunbathing spot for sea lions and marine iguanas. Go eye-to-eye with blue-footed and Nazca boobies, yellow warblers, several species of Darwin’s finches, and pelicans. The warm maroon-colored beach also makes a great jumping in spot for from-the-beach snorkeling. Or keep your eyes above the waterline, inspecting marine life from the glass-bottom boat. You have a birds-eye view from Isla Santa Cruz hiking Cerro Dragón, or Dragon Hill. Enjoy a well-earned panorama of the western islands, the bay below you, and possibly even lounging land iguanas.

Day 7 Santa Cruz

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today, it’s all about the magnificent giant tortoise. Touring the Charles Darwin Research Station, witness the exceptional conservation program where baby tortoises, “galapaguitos,” are reared in protective captivity until they are old enough to safely repatriate back to their native areas. Embrace Galapagos conservation by learning about threats that still endanger this fragile ecosystem. After a lingering poolside lunch at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel (bring your swimsuit just in case), explore the misty, forested highlands and see the lumbering and charming tortoises in their natural habitat. You also have a chance to walk inside the island’s famed lava tubes for a geological exploration of these remarkable volcanic channels.

Day 8 Floreana

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Your day is chock-full of adventure, with opportunities to snorkel, hike, kayak, skiff, ride the glass-bottom boat, or simply relax on the beach. Send a note home from Post Office Bay, dropping your postcard in Isla Floreana’s famous, historic barrel mailbox. Then take in the island’s geologic history with a panga ride or kayak investigation of its maze of volcanic channels. A stop at Baroness Viewpoint provides the perfect vantage for a photo-op. A tale of two beaches, walk along the green olivine beach of Punta Cormorant to a brackish lagoon known to be a flamingo hideout, then on to a white-sand beach where green sea turtles come ashore to rest at night.

Day 9 Baltra | Disembark | Quito

  • 1 Breakfast
Your adventure of a lifetime aboard La Pinta concludes on Isla Baltra. From here, transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito and await your connecting flight home.

La Pinta (UC)

Casa Gangotena

Per person starting at
$8,295
Captain cabin on La Pinta
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Captain
Sitting area; queen, fixed queen, or twin beds; desk and chair; private bath with shower; safe deposit box.
Admiral cabin on La Pinta
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Admiral
Sitting area with foldout couch; queen or twin beds; desk and chair; private bath with shower; safe deposit box.

Notes

 A passport is required on this itinerary. Itineraries are guidelines and variations and the order of days will occur to maximize your experience.

Rate Includes:
  • Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Galapagos Islands and Quito’s Colonial city center
  • Two nights at Quito’s historic, boutique Casa Gangotena
  • Six night Galapagos cruise aboard La Pinta
  • A private dinner at Quito’s premier view restaurant
  • Certified guides escort small groups of 12
  • Roundtrip air between Quito/Galapagos
  • Alcoholic beverages on La Pinta
  • All onboard meals and Day 2 meals in Quito
  • Premium spirits, fine wine, beer (uncommon for Galápagos)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages
  • Exclusive transfers and baggage handling between airport/hotel/yacht on embark/disembark days
  • Port fees and taxes; Galápagos entrance fee, tourist card, and Quito tour fees
  • All from-the-yacht adventure activities and equipment
  • Wellness program: hot tub and fitness equipment
Not Included:
  • Airfare to and from your home city
  • Discretionary gratuities to vessel’s crew
  • Travel protection
  • Optional excursions and land tours

Child Discount

Children under 12 receive a discount of $135 off adult flight rates, and discounted Galapagos Entrance Fee of $50

Included

  • Accommodations on board La Pinta (UC) based on double occupancy
  • Meals while in the Galapagos
  • Bilingual Naturalist Guide
  • Shore Excursions
  • Swimming and Snorkeling
  • Adventure Life Pre-departure Services and In-Country Assistance (Quito Representative)
  • Transfers and Baggage Handling in the Galapagos
  • Snorkeling Equipment
  • Wetsuit
  • Sea Kayaking

Excluded

  • Airfare (see Galapagos Flights)
  • Quito/Guayaquil Hotel and Transfers
  • $100 Galapagos Park Fee
  • $80 Galapagos Transit Card and Airport Assistance
  • $45 International Departure Tax
  • Gratuities and drinks aboard the ship
  • Travel Insurance

Galapagos Flights

  • Quito - Galapagos Roundtrip
    • $530 - $595
  • Guayaquil - Galapagos Roundtrip
    • $475 - $540

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Callie W

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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