Quito and 5 Day Finch Bay Eco Hotel

8 Days/7 Nights

From $3,559 per person

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Overview

This tour combines colonial Quito with five days at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel. This charming hotel on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos is named after the famous Darwin’s Finches, which are abundant in the area around the hotel. It has 27 air-conditioned rooms with twin or king sized beds, and private bathrooms, including 6 brand new ocean view rooms. The hotel’s amenities include a restaurant, bar and lounge, private outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, telephone service, internet access, and a private seaside location at Punta Estrada, steps from the beach. With the hotel as your base, you will have daily excursions by yacht to nearby islands, where you can observe plants and animals that evolved in isolation and are found nowhere else in the world.

Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 7 nights (3 nights in Quito, and 4 nights at Finch Bay Eco Hotel), and 15 meals (7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners).

Best Time to Go: Year-Round.

Destinations: South America, Ecuador, and Galapagos.

Interests: Adventure, All-Inclusive Properties, Culture & History, Expedition Cruising, Family Tours, Sea Kayaking, Snorkeling, Sun & Beach, and Wildlife Viewing.

Places Visited: Quito and the Galapagos Islands.

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Note: The order of yacht excursions and land activities, and the order of land activities themselves, can change according to various factors, including weather, tides, group sizes and physical abilities, languages, etc. The hotel expedition staff will confirm the order of the land activity schedules.

Depart to Quito. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel.

This morning, you will visit to downtown Quito to relish in this urban jewel and its treasures of art and architecture. Quito’s colonial quarter, the largest and best preserved of South America, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stroll starts at the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Visit the temple of La Compañía de Jesús and its awesome gilded interior. Continue on to the Monastery of San Francisco, one the of great religious buildings of the New World; its impressive façade and atrium that lead to its Baroque interior influenced by Moorish style, with the winged Virgin of Quito at its main altar. Then continue to the Equatorial Monument, 16 miles north of Quito, which marks the exact Middle of the World, latitude 0º, where you can stand with a foot on each hemisphere. Visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, which shows the different Native American groups living in Ecuador. Beside the monument there is a colonial-style town, complete with main square, church, post office, bullring, cafeterias, restaurants and many gift shops with postcards and souvenirs. You will get a certificate for having crossed the Equator. (B)

Early morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival in Baltra, guests are met by the hotel naturalist guides and transferred directly to the Sea Lion yacht. Welcomed by captain and staff, guests are briefed about safety issues as well as the National Park regulations. Lunch is served on board, while the yacht sails to North Seymour Island. North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit among the ledges and rocks. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom. This island is teaming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana; blue-footed booby nests sit beside the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. Further along, the rocky shore is interspersed with white sand, while large flocks of pelicans mass for a dive-bomb feeding-frenzy, painting a tableau from ages long past for us. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the “magnificent frigate bird.” These huge, dark acrobats have two-meter (6-foot) wingspans, and males, with puffed up scarlet throat sacks, sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks. This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain. Dry landing. After the visit, the yacht sails to Itabaca channel, from where we cross by bus faster over Santa Cruz Island to reach the south shore (42 km by bus is shorter and faster, than 50 km by boat), where the Finch Bay Eco Hotel is located. Check-in and enjoy the glorious beach-front location and facilities. Overnight at Finch Bay Eco Hotel. (B,L,D)

After a relaxed breakfast, guests will leave Academy Bay by bus 15 km up to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island. From there a short drive across the farming area will lead us to El Manzanillo, a site recently opened to visitors at the northern edge of the Giant Tortoise Reserve. El Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year round, tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-colored pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds). The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian-, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit. Lunch is served in the cooler highlands, with the stunning views of Santa Cruz Island. After lunch, we visit a small farm, where coffee, sugar cane and cocoa beans are grown, harvested and prepared – all organic and sustainable. We have the chance to taste the products while learning about the artisanal way to burn island spirits! We then return to the hotel to enjoy its pool, beach, or ask for suggestions for activities. Overnight at Finch Bay Eco Hotel. (B,L,D)

Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the archipelago. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted, and you can see where underwater lava once cooled off (pillow lava). A wet landing on a sandy white beach brings us into contact with one of the many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right to be Beach Master, while smaller males masquerade as females and make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily approached, perched atop salt bushes. The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name, with tree-sized trunks! Our goal is to spot one of the large species of land iguana, native to Santa Fe. Beige to chocolate brown in color with dragon-like spines, these huge iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs. An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thickets, and lucky hikers can spot harmless Galápagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than a swim in the calm waters of the bay, a great snorkeling opportunity with diverse marine life. Overnight at Finch Bay Eco Hotel. (B,L,D)

This is the magic of Galápagos: a short distance away from Academy Bay and the bustle of Puerto Ayora, lies the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the islands first settlers, this cove is protected from the swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side, by a gallery of mangrove trees on the other and cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The whole provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife. Every morning, hundreds of herons cross Divine Bay on their daily foraging trips, to return before sunset to perch amid the trees. Noddy terns use the natural burrows in the cliffs for nesting, while Galápagos brown pelicans prefer the evergreen mangroves, under the watchful eye of non-breeding blue footed boobies perched along the cliffs. Beneath the sea, sea turtles graze on sea weed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature. We can explore this lovely cove by boat while more adventurous guests could take the tandem, sit-on-top kayaks straight from the hotel’s beachfront. The morning’s visit includes snorkeling on a calm, but active, sector of the cove. This is next to a wooden dock we use to explore Punta Estrada. A dry landing and a short walk (0.5 km) will lead us to the south shore of the island, to a small beach called “Playa de los Perros” (Dog Beach). This is a great place to see intertidal organisms and learn about marine iguanas in their nesting sites. Also, there’s a nearby natural terrace from where young white tipped reef sharks can be observed from above as they swim about the lava crevices. After this morning’s visit we return to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise breeding program, with time to enjoy the town, or the hotel’s facilities. Overnight at Finch Bay Eco Hotel. (B,L,D)

After breakfast we leave the hotel and on the way to Baltra Airport, stop at the Twin Pit Craters, great geological depressions of volcanic material, formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. Then, overland transfer to the airport in Baltra to take the flight back to the continent. Overnight in Quito. (B)

Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

Prices & Dates

Price per Person

Category Single Double Triple
Garden View Rooms $5,069 $3,559 $3,169
Ocean View Rooms $5,709 $3,739 $3,329
** The prices shown above are in U.S. Dollars. See the cost of this tour in your currency here.

Notes:

  1. The above prices are valid until December 31, 2016.

Departure Dates

Saturday departures throughout the year.

What's Included

Price Includes

  • South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
  • Airport/hotel transfers including baggage handling.
  • Three night hotel accommodations at Swissotel Quito (or similar) including taxes and service fees.
  • Four night hotel accommodations at Finch Bay Eco Hotel including taxes and service fees.
  • Meals as indicated on the itinerary.
  • Yacht excursions as indicated on the itinerary.
  • Evening briefings and lectures.
  • Use of snorkeling equipment.
  • Local, English-speaking tour guides.

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare.
  • Domestic airfare ($498).
  • Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
  • Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
  • Transit control card ($20).
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Gratuities, gifts, and personal items.
  • Travel insurance.

We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare and travel insurance, and to make these arrangements for you.

Accommodations

Quito

Swissotel Quito, Quito, Ecuador

5 Star – Swissotel Quito

Additional Details

Group Private: All services in Quito are private, and all services in the Galapagos are operated on a group basis.

Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level.

IGTOA’S Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund: South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association).  In support of IGTOA’s Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, we contribute $20 for each passenger that we send to the Galapagos Islands.  You’ll travel knowing that you support the lasting protection of Galapagos Islands.

Sixty percent of the funding of this program goes directly to the Charles Darwin Foundation for science, conservation, and education.  Their work, carried out through the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park, is vital to the preservation of the islands.  You can visit their web site to learn more www.darwinfoundation.org.  The remainder goes toward IGTOA’s mission of creating a model of responsible and sustainable tourism.

Passport/Visa: For Ecuador, U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Ecuadorian embassy in their country before traveling.

Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.

To Book This Trip: We require a non-refundable deposit of $700 per person plus the cost of the international airfare (if we make the arrangements for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.