Quito and 6 Day Galapagos Safari Camp
9 Days/8 Nights
From $6,179 per person
(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)
Galapagos Safari Camp is a new way to experience the Galapagos. Similar to an African safari, guests enjoy comfortable tented accommodations in the midst of nature – in this case, the Highlands of Santa Cruz. Set on a farm that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, the camp features nine luxury tents, a lounge, dining room, infinity pool, and viewpoint. This itinerary, which is ideal for families, begins with a city tour of Quito, and allows you to explore the natural attractions of Santa Cruz Island, observe giant tortoises and other wildlife, and to visit nearby islands by boat.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 8 nights (3 nights in Quito, and 5 nights at Galapagos Safari Camp), and 17 meals (7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners).
Best Time to Go: Year-Round.
Day 1: 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: 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: Quito-Baltra Airport-Land of the Giant Tortoise.
Transfer to the airport in Quito for the flight to Galapagos. The Galapagos Safari adventure begins after you meet your bi-lingual naturalist guide at the Baltra Airport or dock. Guests and baggage in tow, the journey begins; traveling by private transport from the arid zone through the transitional zone, into the lush highlands of Santa Cruz.
The first stop is Los Gemelos or the Twins; two overgrown, lava tunnels that formed massive sink holes when they collapsed. The larger of the twins is 2,300 feet deep and almost 1,300 feet wide! On a short hike around the rim, your guide will point out the birds of the endemic Scalesia forest such as Galapagos doves and eight species of Charles Darwin’s finches.
From Los Gemelos the day takes you to a tortoise reserve. The reserves of Santa Cruz are home to Giant tortoises with domed shells and short necks to accommodate the environment of the island. The many trails of the highlands, including those around the camp, lead to sightings of the reluctant giants resting in ponds and slowly traversing the land. Keep a look out for short-eared owls, if you are lucky, they can be spotted in the trees dotting the landscape.
Elsewhere in the highlands are elaborate, underground lava tubes, created centuries ago by the Santa Cruz volcano. The tubes formed when the lava at the surface cooled, insulating the molten lava underneath. As the lava flowed, it left these tubes in its wake. Some of the tunnels on Santa Cruz go for miles and are 60 feet high. Local folklore says that they were used by pirates to hideout and store supplies.
Descend into the caves for a mysterious look into the island’s formation, following a lit path with your guide through cavernous tunnels dating back at least one million years. The experience can be daunting in spots where the tubes get narrow, but it’s a worthwhile trek into the geological past of the island.
After stopping for lunch, the group makes way back to the camp. Enjoy a sunset cocktail on our lookout, and a four-course, tapas-inspired meal in the main lodge before retiring for the evening. Overnight at Galapagos Safari Camp. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Experience the East of Santa Cruz.
Located on the eastern highlands of Santa Cruz, Cerro Mesa is a private reserve, rich in endemic flora and bird life; with six subspecies of finches, mockingbirds, and short-ear owls. The area is also home to Galapagos tortoises, endemic to Santa Cruz.
The trip is a short drive from the camp. In the morning, you can explore the various trails at the reserve and end the circuit at the lookout where you can contemplate the lush landscape of Santa Cruz and the nearby islands on a clear day. After lunch, you will make your way to Garrapatero Beach. Depending on your level of energy you can hop back in your vehicle or take a gentle eight-mile bike ride for the rest of the way.
The striking contrasts of the black lava, white sand, and turquoise water of Garrapatero Beach catch many by surprise. Nearby, dense mangroves play host to all of the Galapagos ground finches, including the cactus finch, which feeds off the Opuntia cacti that dot the trail on the 15-minute hike to the area. As the beach comes into sight, watch out for the Manzanillo trees along the path. The small apples on their branches are inviting but poisonous, and even the sap touching your skin can cause burns and rashes. Other creatures above and below the waterline that call Garrapatero Beach home are marine iguanas, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, rays, and sea turtles.
Through the mangroves skirting the sand is a freshwater lagoon where you can often spot flamingos, white-cheeked ducks and black-nested stilts in the morning or in late afternoon. Just past the tide pools on the beach, clear waters offer a secluded spot for swimming. We can also arrange kayaking off the beaches’ shores in search of sea turtles; a great way to actively explore the bay.
On your way back to the Camp you will visit to El Trapiche Ecológico, a working farm in the highlands that produces sugar cane liqueur and Galapagos coffee. Learn about the different methods used to refine sugar cane, including the use of a mule-driven press. There is also a demonstration of how artisan coffee is produced, from picking the berries to roasting the bean.
As the day winds down, you head back to the camp for a relaxing drink or dip in the pool before an inviting dinner and some independent stargazing if it is a clear night. Overnight at Galapagos Safari Camp. (B,L,D)
Day 5-6: Explore an Uninhabited Island.
During your six-day safari, you will be able to visit two of the following islands: Bartolomé, North Seymour, South Plaza, and Santa Fe (described below). Please note that the destinations visited will depend on the day of the week.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the dock (30-minute drive). Once onboard, you will navigate to your destination and spend the rest of the day with the group’s guides exploring, walking, and snorkeling, and you will end the day back at camp. Overnight at Galapagos Safari Camp. (B,L,D)
Note: We design our Safaris according to the best experiences possible at any given time of year and around yacht operations. We will confirm the islands you will visit once you get in touch.
Day 7: Tortuga Bay.
Spend the day exploring the arid, southern coast of Santa Cruz Island, including the island’s main town of Puerto Ayora and Tortuga Bay (one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, according to several travel publications).
Your day begins with a 45-minute trek to Tortuga Bay. Starting on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora, the trailhead to this remote strip of coastline is a 2.5km paved path through a prickly pear cacti forest. The trail ends on Playa Brava, a spectacular kilometer-long beach of blinding white sands peppered with marine iguanas. Here, the bay’s rolling, turquoise waves are perfect for surfers. Whether you’re a first-time learner or a seasonal pro, we can arrange surf lessons here with advanced notice.
If you continue to the far end of Playa Brava, and around the corner, you will find Playa Mansa, a smaller bay sheltered on one side by a cactus forest and on the other by mangroves. Its calm, shallow waters are rich in wildlife, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling. We can also arrange kayaking here which is another fun way of exploring the nooks and crannies of the bay. In addition to marine iguanas, look out for baby reef sharks, rays and turtles. Above the water, expect to find brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies and red Sally Lightfoot crabs.
On returning to Puerto Ayora, you are free to explore the town’s intriguing collection of shops, art studios and restaurants (we can give you recommendations). During the week, the wharf is bustling with fishermen and seafood stalls. But what makes this fish market particularly special is the crowd it attracts. Sea lions slide up to the counter, snatching whatever they can reach while pelicans and frigate birds dive bomb the stalls from above before being swatted away by irate merchants.
Following lunch, the Charles Darwin Research Station is well worth a visit. Just a 10-minute walk from the town center, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the conservation work that is ongoing across the archipelago. The complex is home to a tortoise breeding center, where visitors can observe the iconic reptiles from hatchlings to adulthood at close range, as well as one of the most remarkable wildlife discoveries ever made, a male tortoise by the name of ‘Lonesome George’. Now preserved by taxonomists and displayed in a glass cabinet, find out more about this Pinta tortoise and how he remains a symbol of hope for endangered species around the world.
Return to camp for a dip in the pool and evening drinks. Overnight at Galapagos Safari Camp. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Sunrise Walk and Departure-Baltra Airport-Quito.
Enjoy the serenity that Galapagos Safari Camp has to offer. Relax, walk, or enjoy the sunrise from our observatory before departure to Baltra Airport and Quito. (Here’s where you’ll wish you had extended your journey!) Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Note: Please remember that this is just a sample based on some of the options available. Let us know and we can craft your perfect journey.
Day 9: Quito.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Island Exploration (Depending upon Day of the Week)
Our day starts with a hike up a 600-meter wooden boardwalk and stairway across ancient red, black and orange lava fields to the highest point on the island. The panoramic view from the lookout surveys the iconic Pinnacle Rock in the foreground, Sullivan Bay in the distance, and Daphne Major and Minor on the horizon. Following the hike, we enjoy a dinghy ride around the coastline, looking for Galápagos penguins and hawks resting on the cliffs. In the afternoon, we explore the shore, where sea lions, Sally Light-Foot crabs, and marine iguanas greet us on the beach. This is a great place to snorkel, discovering the colorful underwater world of the islands among playful Galápagos sea lions, penguins, reef sharks and rays.
This island is among the oldest in the archipelago, with underwater lava formations dating back 3.9 million years. Its visitor trails are bursting with animal activity. Santa Fe is home to a healthy population of terrestrial iguanas including the Santa Fe yellow iguana, as well as the inky-black marine iguanas. Other residents include Galápagos hawks and blue-footed boobies. Friendly sea lions line the shores and swim besides you when snorkeling, while marine iguanas bask in the sunshine on shoreline rocks, or dart quickly past under the waves. We can also hope to observe sharks, rays, and colorful schools of fish.
This island, brimming with life across its rocky surface, hosts blue-footed booby and frigate mating colonies. Land iguanas also frequent the area, seen along the 2-mile trail that loops around the southern section of the island. As we begin our walk, we come across nests of comic-looking blue-footed boobies. Galápagos mockingbirds and yellow warblers are often spotted. As we draw near to the frigate colony, the remarkable birds seem to be nesting in every surrounding tree. Males inflate their red, basketball-sized pouches to attract mates. Back in our dinghy, we head to Mosquera islet, in the channel between Baltra and North Seymour. Here we can find a large sea lion colony, full of pups, bulls and females of different ages.
While en route to Plaza, we stop at Punta Carrión. The shallow waters of the sheltered cove make a fun place to snorkel with schools of fish, rays and, if we are lucky, reef sharks. The dock at South Plaza is usually overrun with sea lions, but we can maneuver round them to start walking along the trail that winds its way past yellow land iguanas resting in the shade of groves of prickly pear cactus trees. The landscape is vibrant, the black lava outcrops and ground carpeted with the reds and yellows of sesuvium cactus. At the island’s southern cliff edge, we can observe all sorts of birds swirling in the currents, including dazzling, red-billed tropic birds. Following the trail round to the west, we come to a busy sea lion colony. South Plaza’s other residents include land and marine iguanas, Nazca and blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls and other species of birds.
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
|Double Occupancy Tent||$8,019||$6,179||$5,929|
- The above prices are valid until December 31, 2022.
- Triple prices are based on one child under 12 sharing the tent with two adults (the child sleeps in a sofa bed).
Daily departures throughout the year.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Airport/hotel transfers including baggage handling in Quito and the Galapagos.
- Three nights hotel accommodations at Patio Andaluz in Quito (or similar) including taxes and service fees.
- Five nights hotel accommodations at Galapagos Safari Camp including taxes and service fees.
- Meals as indicated on the itinerary.
- Water, tea, and coffee readily available all day long.
- Yacht excursions as indicated on the itinerary.
- Use of wetsuits and snorkeling equipment, kayaks, and bicycles.
- Local, English-speaking naturalist guides.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare.
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100/$50 Child).
- 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.
Group Private: All transfers and services in Quito are private. In the Galapagos, all transfers are private, the land tours on Santa Cruz Island are private, and the yacht excursions 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 availability for your desired dates of travel. Once we have confirmed availability, you will need to make a non-refundable deposit of $1,900, $1,500, and $1,400 per person, plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.
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