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, Sacha Lodge, and 5 Day Galapagos Sea Star Journey Cruise
Ecuador’s Amazon Basin and the Galapagos Islands offer incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. This tour includes the colonial city of Quito, with its wonderful views of the Andes and nearby volcanoes, Sacha Lodge, which features a canopy walkway, numerous hiking trails, a canopy tower, and a butterfly house, and a five day Galapagos Islands cruise aboard the Galapagos Sea Star Journey, where you will observe plant and animal species that are found nowhere else on Earth.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 11 nights (4 nights in Quito, 3 nights at Sacha Lodge, and 4 nights aboard the Galapagos Sea Star Journey), and 25 meals (11 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 7 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.
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 ft 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)
Depart Quito´s airport at 11:00 am (subject to change). A 30 minute flight over the Andes Mountains leads you to a bustling oil town called Coca located in the Amazon Basin. A quick lunch in Sacha´s private house and then it’s off to the town docks where you will board Sacha´s private canoes for the two hour journey down river to Sacha Lodge’s property. A 30 minute hike through the rainforest leads you to lake Pilchicocha. Here, you are met by native workers to paddle you across the lake to your final destination.
Arrive at Sacha Lodge around 3:30 or 4:00 pm (subject to change). Swim in Lake Pilchicocha, which is a black water lake home to many species of fish and animals. A refreshing swim after arriving may be just what you need after being in the equatorial heat all day. Bird observing from the mini tower offers guests an excellent opportunity to view several species of birds common around the lodge. Also a great place to watch the sun set. Visit the butterfly house with your naturalist guide to view the beautiful colors of many different species of butterflies. After dinner, accompany your naturalist guide on a night walk through the rainforest to view the hundreds of different species of animals that can only be found at night. Or maybe a canoe ride on the lake to view the spectacled and black caimans with their glowing orange eyes as you silently paddle across the lake to get a closer view. Overnight at Sacha Lodge. (B,L,D)
Begin morning activity between 6:00 and 7:00 am. Begin walking on trail Liana Chica and arrive at the canopy walk, for spectacular views of the rainforest canopy and the many different species of vibrantly colored birds. Designed to be a self-standing rigid suspension canopy walk, it is one of only a few in the world! Located within Sacha´s private reserve, two miles from the shores of the Rio Napo and one mile from the lodge, the bird walk gives guests the opportunity to get an up close and personal view of the rainforest canopy. Two of the three towers have observation decks every 12 meters making towers accessible for everyone. The canopy walkway is at 36 meters high and 275 meters long, giving guests a “birds eye view” of all the wonders and beauty the tropical rainforest has to offer. The canopy walk is designed as a sturdy walkway enabling guests to casually move along while enjoying the spectacular views. After the canopy walk, Liana Grande through terra firma and igapo forest habitats where native guides will explain many different species of medicinal plants that have been being used in their culture for hundreds of years. Liana Grande will turn into the trail Higueron, which will take you through pristine primary forest with huge Kapok and Fig trees towering hundreds of feet above your head.
After lunch, you may choose to take a leisurely hike along the Rio Napo, or choose a little more challenging hike on the trail Leoncillo to try and spot the elusive dusky titi monkey. Either way the trails will lead you back to the main boardwalk for your final hike and canoe ride back to the lodge. Overnight at Sacha Lodge. (B,L,D)
Leaving the lodge after breakfast, you begin your hike on Lagartococha trail. This trail offers you the chance to learn more about the native people and their relationship with the forest. Learn about the trees where native people believe the spirits of their ancestors live, and the mysterious “dwende” or devil-man of the forest. After arriving at lake Lagartococha, take a tranquil canoe ride through a natural swamp, which is the home of anacondas, caimans, and capybaras. After the canoe ride, a walk on the other side of Largatococha may give you the opportunity to spot capuchin or squirrel monkeys playfully jumping through the trees. Return from the walk or canoe ride and head back to the lodge for a refreshing dip in the lake, or a nice relaxing nap in your personal hammock on your private balcony.
After lunch, your native guide will teach you how to fish for the infamous razor-toothed piranha. Keep in mind that piranhas will never attack a person and swimming at the same time is perfectly safe and fun! Around 15:30 you will begin what many think is the best trail at Sacha, a silent canoe ride through the flooded Amazonian forest, where you have a good chance of being surrounded by troops of squirrel, capuchin, and howler monkeys. Keep your eyes peeled for the shy and elusive river otter as well as the incredibly well camouflaged three-toed sloth! After your eye-popping ride through the flooded forest, you will arrive at Sacha´s135-foot wooden tower built around an ancient Kapok tree. Get close up views of vibrantly colored birds through Sacha´s powerful scopes, and watch the sun set with an amazing view of Mount Sumaco, a volcano, and possibly a view of the snow-covered caps of the Andes! Leaving the tower just before or after sunset will give you an experience not soon forgotten. A canoe ride back through the flooded forest at night will be an awe-inspiring experience. Listen to the symphony of frogs and insects as you navigate through the narrow flooded forest trail, keeping your eyes open for caimans. Watch the several species of bats flying over your heads and listen to the many species of nocturnal birds making their eerie nighttime calls. Finally, after your mesmerizing canoe trip through the Amazon, you will arrive back at lake Pilchicocha and the welcoming lights of Sacha lodge. Overnight at Sacha Lodge. (B,L,D)
Breakfast and a departure from the lodge at 7:30 am. One last walk on the boardwalk to the river, and from there a two hour canoe ride back to Coca for your 35 minute flight back to Quito. Arrive in Quito at 12:30 pm (subject to change). Upon arrival in Quito, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)
The flight from Quito to the Galapagos is approximately 2 ½ hours. Upon arrival at Baltra Airport, travelers pass through an airport inspection point to insure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands, as well as to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless it has been prepaid). A guide will meet you, help you collect your luggage, and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbor and then on board M/Y Galápagos Sea Star Journey.
The visitor site at Dragon Hill has been open for visits since 1993. This site is located in northwestern Santa Cruz Island and consists of a trail that leads to a hyper-saline lagoon behind the beach, frequented by flamingos, pintail ducks and other species of birds. This site has been re-populated with land iguanas from Seymour, Isabela and Santa Cruz islands. There is a short walk to the Hill, which offers a beautiful view of the bay. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Black Turtle Cove is located at the northern side of Santa Cruz island. It is a red mangrove lagoon very calm and quiet which makes an ideal place as nursery for many sharks and rays. Its crystal waters permit you to observe large groups of white-tip reef, black tipped reef, and hammer head sharks; schools of golden rays, and spotted eagle rays. There are no landing sites, so the visit is done by panga or kayak. Sea turtles are frequently seen and sometimes they are seen mating in the mangrove-lined waters. Pelicans and Herons are also seen in this area.
Chinese Hat is a small islet (1 sq km) located just off the southeastern tip of Santiago Island. It is a recent volcanic cone, shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from the north side. On the west, lava formations, formed under the sea and raised upward, can be seen. This is why coral heads are found on the lava. This is an excellent visit for interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows. The landscape is covered by sea lion colonies, marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Darwin Bay originated when the crater of Genovesa collapsed below sea level. The wet landing is on a beautiful white coral sandy beach. This is a favorite island for birdwatchers: red footed-booby, masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels Yellow-crowned, black-crowned and lava herons, with and yellow warblers can be seen in the area. Continuing on the trail, visitors climb gradually to the edge of the cliff seeing Red-Foots nesting in the Mangrove trees below. Bird watching includes sightings of Sharp-Beaked Finches, Large Cactus and Ground Finches, Galapagos Doves and Swallow-Tailed Gulls. Reaching the end the trail at the cliff’s edge offers an incredible view of the island and the many birds living there.
El Barranco is located in the southern part of Darwin Bay and it is also known as Prince Philip’s Steps. Passengers will climb to a plateau that is part of the stretch of land that surrounds Darwin Bay on its eastern side. There is a big population of Masked boobies and Red-Footed boobies in the trees; Storm petrels and Short-eared Owls have found in Genovesa lava flows the ideal place for nesting. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Bartolomé Island is situated across Sullivan Bay. It has an altitude of 114 meters, from where we can observe one of the most beautiful sceneries of the Galapagos Islands such as: Volcanic cones, lunar-like craters, lava fields, and the famous Toba formed pinnacle eroded by the sea. There is very little vegetation on this island. It has two breathtaking beaches where marine turtles exist and at the base of the pinnacle, as well as a very small colony of Galapagos penguins.
Sullivan Bay. Santiago, also called James, or San Salvador Island, is located in the west central part of the Galapagos archipelago. It is the fourth largest island in the archipelago (following Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Cruz). Along with some of the large western volcanoes of Isabela and Fernandina, Santiago is also volcanically active, with many young flows and cones to be seen, particularly along the south, west, and east coasts. These may even be seen from the summit of Darwin Volcano and from space. A number of historic eruptions have been reported over the last two centuries. Santiago actually consists of two coalesced volcanoes: a typical shield volcano on the northwest end and a low, linear fissure volcano on the southeast end. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Highlands of Santa Cruz. The trail to the Highlands leaves from Bellavista and passes through the agricultural zone, near the National Park boundary, the Miconia Zone, and then goes to the Fern and Sedge zone. With clear weather (unpredictable), this area affords beautiful scenes of rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round.
Following the visit, you will be taken to the airport for your flight to Quito. Upon arrival, you will be 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 31, 2015.
- Triple rates are based on one child under 12 sharing cabin with two adults paying full fare.
Every other Monday departures throughout the year.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Round-trip Quito-Galapagos-Quito airfare ($500).
- Round-trip Quito-Coca-Quito airfare ($180).
- Private airport transfers including baggage handling in Quito.
- Four night accommodations at Patio Andaluz (or similar) including service fees and taxes.
- Three night accommodations at Sacha Lodge including service fees and taxes.
- Yasuni National Park entrance fee ($25).
- Accommodations on board the M/Y Galapagos Sea Star Journey.
- All meals scheduled on board during the cruise and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Daily excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Other excursions as indicated on the itinerary including all applicable entrance fees.
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Evening briefings.
- Use of snorkeling equipment and kayaks.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Yasuni national park entrance fee ($20).
- 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, and all other services 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 and the domestic airfare for your desired dates of travel. Once we have confirmed availability, you will need to pay a non-refundable deposit of $2,000 per person for Single Occupancy and $1,300 per person for Double/Triple Occupancy, plus the cost of the international airfare (if we arrange it for you).