Quito and 5 Day La Pinta Cruise – Eastern Galapagos Islands
8 Days/7 Nights
From $5,829 per person
(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)
Explore Quito and the eastern Galapagos Islands on this luxury tour of Ecuador. The tour starts in Quito with a city tour and visit to the Middle of the World complex, and continues on to the Galapagos. Highlights include observing giant tortoises at Cerro Colorado and the Charles Darwin Research Center, land iguanas on South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands, and sea lions at Punta Pitt and Cerro Brujo. You will also view the famous blowhole lava formation on Punta Suarez. Opportunities for snorkeling and sea kayaking are also available.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 7 nights (3 nights in Quito and 4 nights aboard the La Pinta), and 15 meals (7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners).
Best Time to Go: Year-Round.
Note: The route and program may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and wildlife encounters.
Dry Landing: Guests step from the dinghy directly onto rocks or a dock.
Wet Landing: As the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
Day 1 (Tue): Quito.
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. Overnight in Quito.
Day 2 (Wed): City Tour of Quito-Equatorial Monument.
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. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Day 3 (Thu): Quito-Baltra Airport-South Plaza.
Early morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival in Baltra Island, you will be transferred to the La Pinta. There’s a welcome introductory briefing, boat drill, cabin assignment and then lunch. You weigh anchor and start sailing for your first afternoon outing.
South Plaza Island. The turquoise waters of the channel here contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline, while a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus beyond, populated by yellow-grey land iguanas. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while sea birds play with the thermals that form along the cliffs of this small but spectacular island. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Day 4 (Fri): Santa Fe-Cerro Colorado (San Cristobal).
Santa Fe. You take the dinghy over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by colonies of sea lions. Galapagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The Santa Fe land iguana, unique to just this island, may be spotted during the walk. Following the walk, you can snorkel and swim along a natural wave barrier or ride the glass-bottom boat.
Cerro Colorado. After lunch, you disembark at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the island’s capital, and drive 40 minutes to the island’s southern shore. At Cerro Colorado, you visit the breeding center for highly endangered giant tortoises in the midst of a fantastic deciduous forest, home to dozens of bird species, including the San Cristobal mockingbird, and the San Cristobal lava lizard, both island endemics. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Day 5 (Sat): Punta Pitt-Cerro Brujo (San Cristobal).
Punta Pitt. You land at the eastern tip of San Cristobal Island this morning. The trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline; you can observe frigates, plus a colony of bachelor sea lions. After the walk, if conditions are favorable, there is a chance to swim from the beach and snorkel.
Cerro Brujo. In the afternoon following lunch on board, a dinghy ride along the shores of tuff-stone layers takes you to Cerro Brujo’s expansive, white coral beach, great for walking, with rewarding bird-watching featuring seabirds and shore birds. Also, look out for Galapagos sea lions. These are the same shores that Charles Darwin walked upon, back in September 1835. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Day 6 (Sun): Punta Suarez-Gardner Bay (Española Island).
Punta Suarez. Your morning outing at Punta Suárez provides an exciting walk on lava/boulder terrain to visit its unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses (April – January), boobies, swallow-tail gulls, and the famous “blowhole” lava formation. Also, look for red-green-black marine iguanas. Many regard this site as the best in the Galapagos. Back on board for lunch.
Gardner Bay. In the afternoon, you set down at this beautiful, white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches, or enjoy the beach. There is great snorkeling in this area, or else there’s time to kayak or ride the glass-bottom boat. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Day 7 (Mon): Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz)-Baltra Airport-Quito.
Disembarking in the morning, you visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the captive rearing program for the giant tortoises. Here you witness the efforts and results of Galapagos fieldwork and study done in the name of science. You transfer via bus across Santa Cruz Island for a short ferry ride to Baltra Island and the airport for your flight back to the mainland. Baltra’s flat substrate (due to its uplifted origin) is the reason why the island was chosen back in the 1940s as the construction site for an airport. Upon arrival, you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Day 8 (Tue): Quito.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
- The above prices are valid until December 22, 2022.
- Three Cabins are available for Single use, with a surcharge of 50%.
- Triple rates are based on one child under 12 sharing cabin with two adults paying full fare.
- There is a high season (Dec 23, 2022-Jan 2, 2023) surcharge of $261 per adult and $157 per child.
Every other Saturday departures throughout the year.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Private airport/hotel transfers on the first and last day of the tour, and shared transfers out/in from select hotels in Quito and in/out in the Galapagos islands on the date of the cruise.
- Three nights hotel accommodations at Swissotel Quito (or similar) including service fees and taxes.
- Accommodations on board the Yacht La Pinta.
- All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Soft drinks and juices during the cruise.
- Daily excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Evening briefings and lectures.
- Use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare ($529).
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to ship crew and guides.
- Bar, 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.
Group Private: All services in Quito are private, except for the shuttle transfers to/from the airport on the first and last days of the cruise, 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: 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: Call or email us to confirm the availability of a cabin on this ship for your desired dates of travel. The non-refundable deposits for single, double, and triple passengers are $1,500, $1,200, and $1,200 per person, plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you).
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