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 7 Day La Pinta Cruise – Western Galapagos Islands
Explore Quito and the western 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 sea lions and land iguanas on North Seymour Island, flightless cormorants on Fernandina Island, and viewing giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station and in the Highlands of Santa Cruz. Opportunities for snorkeling, sea kayaking, and glass bottom boating are also available.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 9 nights (3 nights in Quito and 6 nights aboard the La Pinta), and 21 meals (9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 6 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 La Pinta. There’s a welcome introductory briefing, boat drill, cabin assignment and then lunch.
North Seymour. Following an afternoon disembarkation, you enjoy a walk along the coast and the interior of this beautiful flat island, observing numerous bird colonies as well as sea lions and land iguanas. There are opportunities for coastal exploration by dinghy. Evening briefing, welcome cocktail and dinner. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Punta Vicente Roca. Since there is no landing site at this location, the coastal exploration is by panga, while the naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area, with remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. There is abundant wildlife and, depending on the conditions of the ocean, you’ll be able to snorkel along the cliffs, hopefully in the company of green sea turtles.
Punta Espinoza. In the afternoon, you visit the youngest and most pristine island of the archipelago, Fernandina, one of many visitors’ all-time favorites. Punta Espinoza has an amazing combination of barrenness and abundant wildlife. Highlights include hawks, penguins, flightless cormorants and astounding views of the surrounding volcanic landscapes. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Urbina Bay. After breakfast, you disembark at Urbina Bay, on the western side of Isabela Island, the result of an uplifting of the ocean floor. Here you can see corals, shells, and large and very colorful Galapagos land iguanas, as well as (occasionally) giant tortoises. Navigating the Bolívar Channel, there are good chances of spotting several species of whales.
Tagus Cove. On the northwest of Isabela, secluded Tagus Cove provided a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries, and today makes a great visitor site. An uphill hike takes you to the back of Darwin Crater, filled with salt water. You can snorkel or ride kayaks amid the dramatic landscape before going on a hike. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Rabida. In the morning, you disembark at Rabida Island’s red-colored beach. A stroll along the beach allows you to observe marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach. For non-snorkelers, you can ride in the glass-bottom boat for an exploration of life underneath the waves.
Dragon Hill. The north shore of Santa Cruz hosts the fascinating landscapes of Dragon Hill. Our walk includes circling a brackish water lagoon frequented by lagoon birds, while further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as the chance to observe land iguanas. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Puerto Ayora & Charles Darwin Research Station. The morning visit heads to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest. These are the Galapagos’ headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. A delicious lunch is served at the poolside of the Finch Bay Eco Hotel.
Highlands of Santa Cruz Island. After lunch, we head up to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island by vehicle. This is a great place to look for the emblematic Darwin’s Finches and the endemic Scalesia trees. The highlands are also great for exploring the exuberant vegetation where giant tortoises roam in the wild. This will surely be one of the most remembered visits of the whole voyage. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Post Office Bay. After breakfast, you land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries. Panga rides along the maze of channels on Floreana’s north shore can also be enjoyed. Views from La Lobería and the Baroness Viewpoint are quite rewarding. There’s great kayaking and swimming from the beach as well.
Champion Islet & Punta Cormorant. Before disembarking at Punta Cormorant you can snorkel or ride the glass-bottom boat along the coast of an extinct cone called “Champion Islet”. Later in the afternoon, your visit to Punta Cormorant takes in an olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk by a brackish water lagoon where bird species like greater flamingos may be observed. On the other side of the island, you come to a white-sand beach where sea turtles come out at night to nest. 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 Wednesday 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 $1,550, $1,200, and $1,150 per person, plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you).