Quito and 8 Day Galapagos Island Hopping
11 Days/10 Nights
From $5,609 per person
(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)
Experience the Galapagos from a different perspective by staying at hotels on Isabela and Santa Cruz islands. This tour is ideal for travelers that want to explore the Islands without being confined to a ship. You will begin in Quito with a city tour and Middle of the World Monument visit and continue on to the Galapagos for eight days. Highlights include the observation of unique animals and plants and exploring parts of the Islands that are seldom seen by cruise passengers.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 10 nights (3 nights in Quito, 3 nights at Scalesia Lodge, and 4 nights at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel), and 20 meals (10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 3 dinners).
Best Time to Go: Year-Round.
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.
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-Isabela Airport-Scalesia Lodge.
Fly from Ecuador’s mainland to Baltra Airport in the Galapagos Islands and take a very scenic inter-island flight to Isabela Island. Please note that inter-island flights limit passengers’ check-in luggage to 22 lbs. (10 kg.). If needed, it is possible to send excess luggage directly to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, where you will arrive on Day 6. Check in at Scalesia Lodge and eat lunch before heading out on your first afternoon of discovery. Get to know the youngest side of the archipelago while exploring the rewarding visitor sites of the National Park, wetland lagoons, and the giant tortoise-breeding centre. Wrap up your day at the stunning white beach of Puerto Villamil before returning to the Lodge for dinner. Overnight at Scalesia Lodge. (B,L,D)
Note: On arrival into Baltra from mainland Ecuador please ensure you have separate bags packed for your stay at Scalesia Lodge and the remainder of your luggage will be transferred to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel.
Day 4 & 5: Either Sierra Negro Volcano and Beachcombing-Tintoreras Islets and Wetlands-Wall of Tears and Beachcombing.
Enjoy an early breakfast before setting out to explore Isabela Island. Depending on the day of the week and availability, you will enjoy one of these full-day excursions:
Sierra Negra Volcano. Walk along the rim of Galapagos’ largest caldera – one of the largest in the world – and see recent volcanic activity (last eruption in 2005) and the resulting fascinating formations. A light snack will be provided along the way while lunch is served back at the lodge. Wildlife focuses on the Darwin finches, flycatchers, mockingbirds, and occasionally the Galapagos hawk and rail. Stroll the beach at Puerto Villamil or rest in the afternoon.
Tintoreras Islets. After breakfast, you will drive down to the wharf of Puerto Villamil and board the bay cruiser to explore the maze of reefs and islets off the shores of Isabela. The visit includes a dry landing and a short walk over volcanic terrain (730 m/0.5 mi total distance). Relevant wildlife includes boobies, herons, penguins, marine iguanas and the white tipped reef sharks in the nearby lava crevasses. Bring your bathing suit as you will enjoy snorkelling in the shallow reefs. Lunch at Scalesia Lodge and later in the day, we can explore the wetlands of coastal Isabela. Sunsets at Puerto Villamil are spectacular!
Wall of Tears. A rare combination of human and natural history. A splendid coastal trail combines two segments: wend through mangroves and brackish lagoons (1.3 km/0.8 mi) and the arid palo santo forest until we reach the Wall of Tears (an additional 2.2 km/1.4 mi each way). This trail is mostly a flat dirt road (pedestrian and bikes only). Wildlife includes coastal Darwin finches, doves, stilts, ducks, flamingos, herons and giant tortoises.
Afternoons include the magical sunsets from the beach of Puerto Villamil. Dinner and overnight at Scalesia Lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Scalesia Lodge-Isabela Airport-Baltra Airport-Highlands of Santa Cruz-Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.
After breakfast, Scalesia Lodge’s staff will bring you back to Isabela Airport. A short but interesting flight will bring you back to Baltra Airport. Your guide will lead you across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island. The day’s visit includes a brief exploration of Los Gemelos, a natural volcanic formation in the upper end of the windward side of the island. Surrounded by a forest of high growing endemic daisies, this area is home to some of the most elusive land birds of Galapagos. Then you will visit the Tortoise Reserve, impressive lava tunnels and enjoy lunch at a restaurant in the Highlands of Santa Cruz.
In the afternoon, you will reach Puerto Ayora’s only pedestrian neighbourhood, Punta Estrada, where the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is located. Check-in and enjoy the hotel’s beachfront facilities. Dinner is up to you: choose the hotel´s signature cuisine or one of the many options in town. Overnight at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. (B,L)
Day 7: Full Day Yacht Exploration.
Depending on the day of the week and availability, you will enjoy a full-day yacht exploration to one of the following islands: North Seymour Island, Bartolomé Island, South Plaza Island, or Santa Fé Island (detailed description below).
All full-day yacht explorations end with a return to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel where you will enjoy the sunset from its beachfront facilities. Don’t forget to try one of our signature cocktails as you watch the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean. Dinner is up to you: choose the hotel´s top cuisine or one of the many options in town. Overnight at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. (B,L)
Day 8: Either Tortuga Bay or Divine Bay-Charles Darwin Research Station.
Depending on the day of the week and availability, you will visit either Tortuga Bay or Divine Bay, and then the Charles Darwin Research Station.
Tortuga Bay and Charles Darwin Research Station. After breakfast, you will leave for Tortuga Bay, voted Ecuador’s best beach. You will walk from Puerto Ayora’s western border, 2 km/1.3 mi along a fairly flat and straight paved path, where you will explore and understand more about the arid zone´s deciduous forest and its inhabitants. First, you will arrive to Playa Brava, a stunning 1 km (0.6 mi) long snow-white beach, a seasonal nesting site for the green sea turtles. A few minutes later, you reach Playa Mansa, a secluded natural mangrove cove, with clear and tranquil waters, ideal for swimming, snorkelling, paddling on tandem kayaks, or simply enjoying the landscape from the shade of a mangrove. You will board a small yacht to sail back to the hotel’s dock at Academy Bay. Lunch at the hotel.
For the afternoon, the grand finale includes strolling around the Charles Darwin Research Station where the highlight is the conservation program for the iconic giant tortoises.
Divine Bay and Charles Darwin Research Station. Just 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 by cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The bay provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife. Beneath the sea, sea turtles graze on seaweed, 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. A refreshing short walk (0.5 km / 0.3 mi) takes us to “Playa de los Perros” (Dog Beach) for a view of marine iguanas in their nesting sites and white tipped reef sharks. You will also explore the coast on the pangas. And for those who like to snorkel, there is a chance to explore a calm, but active, sector of the cove.
Lunch at the Finch Bay before heading out on an afternoon excursion to the world-renowned Charles Darwin Research Station where you will have the opportunity to learn about the giant tortoise-rearing program and visit the tortoises in person.
Dinner is up to you: choose the hotel´s top cuisine or one of the many options in town. Overnight at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. (B,L)
Day 9: Full Day Yacht Exploration.
Depending on the day of the week and availability, and what you chose to do on Day 7 of the itinerary, you will enjoy a full-day yacht exploration to one of the following islands: North Seymour Island, Bartolomé Island, South Plaza Island, or Santa Fé Island (detailed description below). Overnight at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. (B,L)
Day 10: Transfer Out to Baltra Airport-Quito.
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Baltra Airport for your return flight to Quito. Upon arrival, you will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)
DAY 11: Quito.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Full Day Yacht Excursions
North Seymour Island.
Start the day with the Finch Bay’s generous breakfast, featuring local and international favourites, before leaving for Itabaca Channel, 42 km (26 mi) away on the north shore of Santa Cruz. Board the Sea Lion yacht. Your day includes a dry landing and a 1.5 km/1 mi walk over a mixture of sand and rounded boulders. Be amazed by land and marine iguanas, Nazca- and blue-footed boobies, frigates, sea lions and fur seals. The other highlight is Las Bachas, a stunning white beach with dreamy small brackish lagoons, home to various waders, such as plovers, stilts, and flamingos. You have a chance to swim or snorkel here.
The day begins with the Finch Bay’s tempting breakfast buffet before setting out for a 42 km (26 mi) drive to Itabaca Channel on the north shore of Santa Cruz, where you will board the Sea Lion yacht. A 21-nautical mile sailing stretch is well worth its length. Dolphins or whales are often seen in these waters. A dry landing marks the start of the 1.5 km/1 mi walk. Much of the trail is over a wooden boardwalk with a staircase of 366 steps. There are several observation platforms on the way up to the summit of Bartolomé (150 masl/ 492 ft above sea level).
Once atop, you will enjoy one of Galapagos’ most famous views: the tilted pinnacle rock, the golden beach of Bartolomé and the impressive lava fields of Santiago Island. Upon descending back to the coast, you will have a chance to scan the volcanic shore, in search of flashy Sally Lightfoot crabs and Galapagos penguins, before enjoying a soothing dip at the beach. Lunch on board and a brief exploration of nearby Sullivan Bay before sailing back to the Itabaca Channel for the drive back to the hotel.
South Plaza Island.
After breakfast, you will board the Sea Lion yacht (depending on the day, it could be moored in Itabaca Channel or in Academy Bay). Your day includes two highlights. One of them, the snorkelling/swimming site known as Punta Carrion, has a name that startles some English speakers, but in this case, it’s merely a reference to a family name. And just 8 nautical miles away, South Plaza Island shocks visitors with the sheer volume of amazing wildlife that greets them right upon arrival: dozens of frolicking sea lion pups, patrolling alpha male sea lions, basking marine and land iguanas, stunning red crabs and various Darwin finches await. The trail is over 1.5 km/1 mi long, over rounded boulders.
Santa Fe Island.
After breakfast, you will board the Sea Lion yacht minutes away from the hotel at Academy Bay. The yacht will cruise to Santa Fe, an impressive volcanic island 17 nautical miles away from Puerto Ayora. After a wet landing on a fantastic white sandy beach amongst basking sea lions, you will walk along a rocky terrain to find the island’s highlight: the endemic Santa Fe land iguana patiently waiting under the enormous giant cacti for falling fruits and pads. Other relevant species today are pelicans, boobies and the archipelago´s top predator, the Galapagos hawk. Return to the yacht and enjoy one of Galapagos best snorkelling sites. Lunch on board the Sea Lion yacht. Upon the cruise back to Puerto Ayora, you will scan the sea surface for pelagic birds and whales.
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
- The above prices are valid until December 20, 2022.
- Room upgrades and additional nights in each destination are available upon request.
- Triple prices are based on one Child under 12-year old sharing a room with two adults.
- Christmas week and other peak-season surcharges may apply.
Daily Departures Throughout the Year.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Inter-island flights Baltra-Isabela-Baltra.
- Airport/hotel transfers including baggage handling.
- Hotel accommodations including service fees and taxes.
- Meals as indicated on the itinerary.
- Excursions as indicated on the itinerary.
- Use of snorkeling equipment at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and on Sea Lion Yacht.
- Rubber boots and Ponchos at Scalesia Lodge.
- Local, English-speaking tour guides.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare.
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100/$50 Child).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Municipal fee to Puerto Villamil ($10).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Optional activities with extra cost: sea kayaking, diving, and mountain biking.
- 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 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: Call or email us to confirm the availability of the hotels and domestic airfare for your desired dates of travel. Once we have confirmed availability, you will need to make a non-refundable deposit of $1,500 for single passengers, $1,100 per person for double passengers, and $1,100 per person for triple passengers. The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.
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