Quito and 8 Day Horizon Cruise – Western Galapagos Islands
11 Days/10 Nights
From $8,269 per person
(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)
Cruise the Western Galapagos Islands aboard the luxurious 16 passenger Horizon trimaran, one of the newest ships in operation. Travel in comfort to the visitor sites on Santiago, Isabela, Fernandina, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, South Plazas, Floreana, and San Cristobal Islands. Observe a nesting colony of flightless cormorants, enjoy the panoramic views of Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul volcanoes, and visit the breeding center at Charles Darwin Station.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 10 nights (3 nights in Quito and 7 nights aboard the Horizon) and 24 meals (10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 7 dinners).
Best Time to Go: Year-Round.
Places Visited: Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Baltra Island, Fernandina Island, Floreana Island, Isabela Island, San Cristóbal Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Fe Island, Santiago Island, and South Plaza Island.
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 (Thu): 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 (Fri): City Tour of Quito-Middle of the World.
In the morning, you will have a city tour of Quito. You will explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas, and visit some of its most important churches such as the majestic La Compania and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. You will drive through the traditional neighborhood of San Juan and finish the morning at the Panecillo hillside, with its breathtaking views of the old and modern parts of the city.
Following the city tour, you will be driven to the “Middle of the World City” complex, which is located 11 miles north of Quito. Here, you will see the monument of the equatorial line, a 98 foot high stone trapezoidal monument with a brass globe on top. The monument forms the focal point of a park and leisure area with gift shops and restaurants. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Day 3 (Sat): Quito-Baltra Airport-Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island).
Morning transfer to the airport in Quito for the flight to Galapagos. Upon arrival to the airport in Baltra you will be greeted by a guide and crew member of the ship M/T Horizon and taken to the ship and your cabin. Afterwards, the guide and cruise manager will hold a short briefing on all safety and emergency protocols, the different areas of the ship, and the normal routine of the itinerary.
Southeast of Santiago Island, Sullivan Bay shows off an interesting lava field with a geologically young flow from 1897. Because the rocks are black and formed of lava, it can get quite hot. Appropriate footwear is required for this visit to protect your feet. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Activities: Hiking, swimming and snorkeling; Difficulty: Moderate; Landing: Dry; Possible Wildlife: Sea lions, various shorebirds, sally lightfoot crabs.
Day 4 (Sun): Vicente Roca Point (Isabela Island)-Espinosa Point (Fernandina Island).
Vicente Roca Point. Isabela Island is the largest of all the Galapagos islands. It is most famously known as the island shaped as a seahorse. While in the panga, keep an eye out for the magnificent mola-mola sunfish!
Activities: Snorkeling and panga ride; Difficulty: Easy/moderate; Landing: No landing; Possible Wildlife: Sea lions, blue-footed boobies, various shorebirds, mola-mola sunfish, sea turtles, Galapagos penguins, Nazca boobies, sally lightfoot crabs; What to Bring: Dry bag for camera or any electronics brought onto the panga.
Between the Bolivar Channel dividing Isabela and Fernandina Islands lies Espinosa Point. The highlight of this visit is the nesting colony of the Flightless Cormorant, which over time lost its ability to fly due to evolutions distinct changes, helping it swim better and faster. Also seen at this site is the incredible remnants of solid magma. Watch your step for the many marine iguanas known to crowd the area. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Activities: Hike; Difficulty: Moderate; Landing: Dry but may be slippery at low tide; Possible Wildlife: Sea lions, various shorebirds, sally lightfoot crabs, flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguins, fur seals and marine iguanas; What to Bring: Walking sticks and sturdy footwear.
Day 5 (Mon): Tagus Cove-Urbina Bay (Isabela Island).
Tagus Cove. If you like historic remnants, then you will enjoy finding what was left behind from pirates and sailors in the 1800s. This site was one of their preferred pit stops while traveling the seas. The hike here will provide incredible views of the cove and on the other side the mangrove forest where the last 35 pairs of Mangrove finches thrive.
Activities: Hike, snorkeling and panga ride; Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult; Landing: Dry; Possible Wildlife: Sea lions, various shorebirds, flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas, sally lightfoot crabs, mangrove finches; What to Bring: Walking sticks and sturdy footwear for the hike, camera is a must!
Millions of years ago, Urbina Bay was once laying on the ocean floor. Volcanic uplifts caused it to rise and now it is occupied by sea lions, land iguanas and flightless cormorants. It is a great place to enjoy some free time on the beach or the guide may suggest a hike. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Activities: Hike, snorkeling and panga ride; Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult; Landing: Wet; Possible Wildlife: Sea lions, various shorebirds, flightless cormorant, marine iguanas, sea turtles, land iguanas, Galapagos Hawk, sally lightfoot crabs, Galapagos tortoise.
Day 6 (Tue): Elizabeth Bay-Moreno Point (Isabela Island).
On the eastern coast of Isabela Island is Elizabeth Bay with many islets. These parts are visited by panga and on the rocky shores Galapagos penguins can be seen. There is a large abundance of marine life that can be seen in the clear waters. It is great for snorkeling.
Activities: Panga ride; Difficulty: Easy; Landing: No Landing; Possible Wildlife: Sea lions, frigate birds, sea turtles, various shorebirds, flightless cormorant, marine iguanas, pelicans, sally lightfoot crabs, tropical fish and marine life such as Galapagos sharks.
The beautiful rocky shores of Moreno Point offer a plethora of birds to be seen. It is truly a birders delight. The main attraction are the coastal lagoons where white tipped reef sharks can be observed and the panoramic views of Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul volcanoes cannot be missed. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Activities: Hike, snorkeling and panga ride; Difficulty: Moderate; Landing: Wet; Possible Wildlife: Sea lions, great blue herons, various shorebirds, flightless cormorant, marine iguanas, sally lightfoot crabs, sea turtles, land iguanas, Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos tortoise.
Day 7 (Wed): Charles Darwin Research Station-Highlands of Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz Island).
The Charles Darwin Research Station is one of the Galapagos Island’s most important sites for visitors. It is a research facility that has an extensive collection of Galapagos plant life specimens carefully preserved and also acts as a biological research station and active breeding center operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation.
Activities: Visit to the research station; Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult; Landing: Dry; Possible Wildlife: Galapagos tortoises in captivation and various stages of tortoises.
The Highlands are located in the northern part of Santa Cruz Island and can reach elevations up to 1,500 meters. This area is rich with hills, ferns, volcanoes, and wildlife, and a great contrast to the molten lava harden beaches and rocky areas of other islands already seen. It is home to giant tortoises, mockingbirds, finches and many other species. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Activities: Hike; Difficulty: Moderate; Landing: Dry; Possible Wildlife: Galapagos tortoises, finches, mockingbirds, lava lizards, pintail ducks, and other shorebirds.
Day 8 (Thu): Santa Fe Island-South Plazas Island.
Santa Fe Island is home to the endemic Santa Fe iguana. The island was created by a volcanic uplift hat now hosts a forest of Opuntia and Palo Santo trees. It is a picturesque island with two different trails, one leading to a scenic viewpoint and the other leading to a small beach.
Activities: Hike; Difficulty: Moderate; Landing: Dry; Possible Wildlife: Santa Fe land iguanas, frigatebirds, sally lightfoot crabs, sea lions, finches, various shorebirds; What to Bring: Sturdy footwear for hiking and walking sticks.
South Plazas Island. This small island with steep cliffs was formed by rising lava. It is home to one of the largest sea lion colonies, as well as colorful land iguanas. The most characteristic plant on the island is the Sesuvium that turns bright red during the dry season, creating a contrast on the island. The amazing colors of the turquoise waters against the black lava create a setting for amazing photography opportunities. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Activities: Hike; Difficulty: Moderate; Landing: Dry; Possible Wildlife: frigatebirds, sally lightfoot crabs, sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, various shorebirds and seabirds; What to Bring: Sturdy footwear for hiking and walking sticks.
Day 9 (Fri): Post Office Bay-Devil’s Crown-Cormorant Point (Floreana Island).
Post Office Bay. Ask the Cruise Manager for one of our complimentary postcards to write a message and address it home. Leave it in the barrel used before by pirates and sailors. While your there, see if there are any other postcards you can take home with you to send for fellow travelers who have already left their messages!
Activities: Post office barrel and leave a postcard, relaxing on the beach, swimming or snorkeling; Difficulty: Easy/moderate; Landing: Wet; Possible Wildlife: frigatebirds, sea lions, sea turtles, various shorebirds and seabirds, marine life; What to Bring: Bring your swimsuit and don’t forget your postcards.
Just off of Floreana Island is a fantastic snorkeling site known as Devil’s Crown. Various tropical fish species can be seen, even galapagos sharks or white-tipped sharks. Sea lions can be seen hunting for fish or playing through schools of hundreds of fish in circles, it is really quite the site to see. Cormorant point on Floreana Island is a great place to see one of the places where flamingos live in salt-water lagoons. Walking along the trail after the lagoon leads to a hidden beach great for walking in the soft sand. Watch your feet if walking in the water, stingrays love to hang out here as well. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Activities: Snorkeling and hiking; Difficulty: Snorkeling – Moderate to difficult/hike – easy; Landing: Wet; Possible Wildlife: frigatebirds, sea lions, sea turtles, Galapagos sharks, white-tipped sharks, tropical fish, various shorebirds and seabirds, marine life; What to Bring: If you have an underwater camera, this is definitely one of the best places to bring it while snorkeling.
Day 10 (Sat): Interpretation Center (San Cristobal Island)-San Cristobal Airport-Quito.
At the Interpretation Center you’ll find many different exhibits on information about the natural and geological history of the Galapagos Islands. It first opened in 1998 to help enforce the efforts of wildlife protection and the natural environment through means of population and tourist control.
Activities: Interactive exhibits; Difficulty: Easy; Landing: Dry.
The only visit you will have on this day is to the Interpretation Center. After this visit, you will have time to gather your belongings and then the guide and cruise manager will thank you for your time. Then, you will be transferred to San Cristobal Airport for your return flight to Quito. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Day 11 (Sun): 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 20, 2022.
- Triple cabins are available and based on one child under 12 years old sharing with two full-paying adults.
- The minimum age for this cruise is 7 years old.
Alternating Thursday departures throughout the year. Call for availability.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Airport/hotel transfers including baggage handling.
- Hotel accommodations including service fees and taxes.
- Accommodations on board the M/T Horizon.
- All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Regular soft drinks and juices during the cruise.
- Daily excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Use of snorkeling equipment, wetsuits, and kayaks.
- Evening briefings.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare.
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to ship crew and guide ($15/day for the crew, $10/day for the naturalist guide).
- Alcoholic beverages and plastic bottled beverages during the cruise.
- 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: 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 this ship for your desired dates of travel. Once we have confirmed availability, you will need to pay a non-refundable deposit of $2,900 per person in Single Occupancy, $2,100 per person in double occupancy, and $1,900 per person in triple occupancy, plus the cost of the international airfare (if we arrange it for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.
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