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.
Quito and 5 Day La Pinta Cruise – Northern Galapagos Islands
Explore Quito and the northern 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 the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island and marine iguanas on Sombrero China Islet, hiking to the summit of Bartolome Island, and viewing frigate birds, boobies, and mockingbirds on Genovesa Island. Opportunities for snorkeling, sea kayaking, and glass bottom boating 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.
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)
Early morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival in Baltra Island, you will be transferred to the Itabaca Channel. A small ferry will take you across the Channel to the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. You will then board a bus to the Highlands of Santa Cruz, where you will learn about the unique ecosystems and biodiversity. Lunch at a local restaurant.
Highlands of Santa Cruz. After lunch, you continue by bus to reach a reserve that is one of the best places in the archipelago to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The tortoises are easy to spot, lumbering around, eating grass and leaves and wallowing in the small pools. There are several lava tunnels in the reserve, too. A short bus ride takes you down to Puerto Ayora to board Yacht La Pinta. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Eden Islet. After breakfast, a panga ride takes you to Eden Islet, located off the coast of Santa Cruz, where you can observe blue footed boobies diving into the water, reef sharks and frigates. There’s a chance to snorkel and, if weather conditions permit, to ride in the glass-bottom boat. The volcanic setting of this area is quite stunning due to its variety of volcanic debris, including cinder cones, tuff cones, and semi-eroded lava flows.
Sombrero Chino Islet. The tiny island of Sombrero Chino gets its name from its appearance, reminiscent of a Chinese hat. This islet, formed only fairly recently, makes a beautiful visit as one explores the wildlife along its 400-metre long trail, which begins at a crescent-shaped white sandy beach. The cove offers excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities amid white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos penguins. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Bartolome Island. This morning, a Galapagos icon awaits: Bartolome Island. A great way to start the day, with a steep climb up a wooden staircase: the view from the top is worth the effort! Following the walk, you take to the dinghies for a ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, followed by time to enjoy the beach and some snorkeling. You can also ride in the glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.
Sullivan Bay. After lunch, you board the pangas to land at Sullivan Bay on the east coast of Santiago, a white coral sand beach great for swimming and snorkeling, and with a trail over a lava field that flowed here less than 100 years ago. This is the perfect place to see and feel the volcanic origin of Galapagos while observing its wildlife. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Darwin Bay. In the morning, you begin your exploration of this island with an easy stroll to observe marine and land birds. There is an optional walk over sharp lava and uneven terrain for dramatic views, or else you can return to the beach to enjoy swimming and snorkeling at this beautiful natural harbor. The more adventurous can snorkel along the cliffs or paddle sea kayaks.
Prince Philip’s Steps. The afternoon starts with a very interesting panga ride along the cliffs before you disembark for a short but steep climb up a wooden staircase. Once at the top, the land is flat, allowing for a captivating walk of about a mile to the other side of this small island, observing large colonies of Nazca boobies, frigate birds and storm petrels and the elusive short eared owl. Farewell Cocktail, departure briefing and dinner. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Your journey ends at Baltra Island, where you transfer to the airport to take the 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 location to building an airport. Upon arrival, you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
- The above prices are valid until December 21, 2017.
- 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 21, 2017-Jan 4, 2018) surcharge of $263 per adult and $158 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 night 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 ($500).
- 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 $1,200, $1,000, and $950 per person, plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you).