Quito, Sacha Lodge, and 5 Day Galapagos Sea Star Journey Cruise
12 Days/11 Nights
From $7,359 per person
(Dbl. Occupancy, Not Incl. Airfare)
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.
Day 1 (Mon): 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 (Tue): 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 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)
Day 3 (Wed): Quito-Coca-Sacha Lodge.
Depart Quito´s airport at 9:45 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. Upon arrival, you will be transported to the town docks where you will board Sacha´s private canoes for the two-hour journey down river to Sacha Lodge’s property.
After arriving at Sacha Lodge around lunchtime and meeting your guide – who stays with you for the entirety of your trip – you will take your first excursion into the forest. Once you have returned and had dinner, you will set out for your first nighttime adventure. Overnight at Sacha Lodge. (B,L,D)
**The guide will suggest optional excursions for each day based on your interests. You can choose wildlife observation on the Canopy Walkway (unique to Ecuador and probably one of only a few in the world at 1,000 ft. long and 120 ft. high), or the Kapok tower (140 ft high), paddling through the flooded forest, swimming in Lake Pilchococha, visiting a local community, and more.
Day 4 (Thu): Sacha Lodge-Optional Excursions.
Choice of optional excursions. Overnight at Sacha Lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 5 (Fri): Sacha Lodge-Optional Excursions.
Choice of optional excursions. Overnight at Sacha Lodge. (B,L,D)
Day 6 (Sat): Sacha Lodge-Coca-Quito.
Breakfast and a departure from the lodge. One last walk on the boardwalk to the river, and from there a two-hour canoe ride back to Coca for your 30-minute flight back to Quito. Arrive in Quito at 11:45 am (subject to change). Upon arrival in Quito, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Day 7 (Sun): Quito-Baltra Airport-Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz).
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)
Day 8 (Mon): Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz)-Chinese Hat.
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)
Day 9 (Tue): El Barranco-Darwin Bay (Genovesa).
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.
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. (B,L,D)
Day 10 (Wed): Bartolome-Sullivan Bay (Santiago).
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)
Day 11 (Thu): Highlands of Santa Cruz-Baltra Airport-Quito.
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)
Day 12 (Fri): Quito.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Private airport transfers including baggage handling in Quito.
- Four nights accommodations at Swissotel Quito (or similar) including service fees and taxes.
- Three nights accommodations at Sacha Lodge including service fees and taxes.
- 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 and all other excursions as indicated on the itinerary including entrance fees.
- Evening briefings.
- Use of snorkeling equipment and kayaks.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare.
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Native Community Interpretation Center fee ($7.50 collected locally).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
- Gratuities to ship crew and guides.
- 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 $2,400 per person for Single Occupancy and $1,450 per person for Double/Triple Occupancy, plus the cost of the international airfare (if we arrange it for you).
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