Begin your amazing 8-day expedition at the riverfront Wyndham Guayaquil then discover the unique Galapagos Islands, a perfect destination that mixes resting and adventuring perfectly! 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.
Set foot on seven islands and islets of the Galapagos
View marine life by snorkel, panga, and glass-bottom boat
See the nesting birds and wildlife in their natural habitat
Visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Galápagos Islands
Welcome to Ecuador! Begin your journey in this port city known as the gateway to the Pacific. Your first stop is Wyndham Guayaquil, voted the #1 Hotel in Guayaquil on TripAdvisor and where you’ll stay the night. This dazzling riverside hotel is a short walk to the vibrant Malecon 2000 boardwalk as well as historic Santa Ana Hill and its famous lighthouse. Explore the city sights on your own, relax at the rooftop pool, and get a good night’s rest before your adventure.
Day 2: Isla Baltra | Embarkation | Isla Seymour Norte
Up and at ‘em. Get an early start and travel to the legendary Galapagos Islands—UNESCO World Heritage Site. From Guayaquil, fly to Isla Baltra where your captain and crew welcome you aboard Yacht La Pinta. As Charles Darwin certainly was in 1835, you’ll 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.
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.
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’ll be 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.
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’ll have a birds-eye view from Isla Santa Cruz hiking Cerro Dragon—or, Dragon Hill—and enjoy a well-earned panorama of the western islands, the bay below you, and possibly even lounging land iguanas.
Today, it’s all about the magnificent giant tortoise. Touring the Charles Darwin Research Station, you’ll 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’ll also have a chance to walk inside the island’s famed lava tubes for a geological exploration of these remarkable volcanic channels.
Your day will be 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.
Your adventure of a lifetime aboard La Pinta concludes back on Isla Baltra. From here, transfer to the airport for your flight to Guayaquil—where you’ll await your connecting flight home or begin your adventures on your own.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!