Un-Cruise Adventures: Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Explore Quito’s Old Town then head to the Galápagos. Arguably the world’s most iconic marine habitat, this unspoiled archipelago is filled with exquisite creatures—giant tortoises, penguins, boobies, Darwin’s finches, Waved Albatross, and rowdy sea lions. Kayak, snorkel, hike, discover the unexpected as Charles Darwin did in 1835.
Darwin’s discoveries in the Galápagos had a profound impact on the way we understand the world. From Ecuador’s northern highlands to a yacht cruise among these notable islands—adventure, culture, wildlife, and discovery awaits you. Uncover New World marvels and Darwin’s archipelago wonderland—flip through this Experience Guide for an in-depth glimpse of our Galápagos exploration.
No matter how you travel—with a companion, family, solo, or in a group—connection, place, and adventure are at the heart of your exploration. Uncover hidden treasures, meet locals (the human, feathered, and wild-and-woolly ones), and learn while having fun. Change the way you see the world.
- Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Galápagos Islands and Quito’s Colonial city center
- Two nights at Quito’s historic boutique Casa Gangotena Hotel
- Six-night Galápagos cruise aboard La Pinta
- A private dinner at Quito’s premier view restaurant
- Set foot on seven islands and islets
- Nesting birds and wildlife in their natural habitat
- View marine life by snorkel and glass-bottom boat
- Charles Darwin Research Center
- Certified guides escort small groups of 12
- Roundtrip air between Quito/Galápagos
- Alcoholic beverages on La Pinta
Day 1: Quito / Arrival
Welcome to Ecuador! Your first stop is the grand Casa Gangotena. A gorgeous example of Spanish Colonial style, enjoy this restored boutique hotel just steps away from picturesque Plaza de San Francisco, built atop Incan temples and markets.
Day 2: Quito
Discover why the city’s exquisitely preserved historic center is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Once called the Northern Capital of the Inca Empire, the capital city of Quito has long been a center of commerce and culture. Your full day of exploration ends at a local restaurant with sunset views overlooking the city.
Day 3: Quito / Isla Baltra – Embarkation / Isla Seymour Norte
From Quito, fly to Isla Baltra where your captain and crew welcome you aboard Yacht La Pinta. Formed by volcanic uplift, the small island of scruffy vegetation is ideal nesting terrain. Get an up-close view of these birds’ quirky characteristics by hike and panga ride.
Day 4: Isla Isabela / Isla Fernandina
Thousands of bright land iguanas reside here, and it’s also a favorite haunt of Galápagos penguins. Explore Punta Vicente Roca, a marine site of impressive geological formations, by panga—your guide helps with decoding the visible clues of the islands’ fiery beginnings. Later, stretch your legs on a guided walk experiencing one of the most pristine islands in the Galápagos, Isla Fernandina.
Day 5: Isla Isabela
Large in landmass and young at 1 million years old, Isla Isabela supports abundant wildlife and sea life. There’ll be excellent opportunities for viewing penguins, Galápagos Hawks, cormorants, petrified rain (bits of lava that cooled quickly after contacting water), and old signatures from pirates and whalers etched into the rock.
Day 6: Isla Rábida / Isla Santa Cruz
Isla Rábida’s unusual red beach is a favorite sunbathing spot for sea lions and marine iguanas. Go eye-to-eye with Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, Yellow Warblers, several species of Darwin’s Finches, and pelicans. You’ll have a birds-eye view from Isla Santa Cruz hiking Cerro Dragón—or, Dragon Hill—and enjoy a well-earned panorama of the western islands, the bay below you, and possibly even lounging land iguanas.
Day 7: Isla Santa Cruz
Today, it’s all about the magnificent giant tortoise. Touring the Charles Darwin Research Station, you’ll witness the exceptional conservation program where baby tortoises, “galapaguitos,” are reared in protective captivity until they are old enough to safely repatriate back to their native areas. You’ll also have a chance to walk inside the island’s famed lava tubes for a geological exploration of these remarkable volcanic channels.
Day 8: Isla Floreana
Your day will be chock-full of adventure, with opportunities to snorkel, hike, kayak, skiff, ride the glass-bottom boat, or simply relax on the beach.
Day 9: Isla Baltra / Quito – Disembarkation
Your adventure of a lifetime aboard La Pinta concludes on Isla Baltra. From here, transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito and await your connecting flight home. If you’ve opted for the Peru/Machu Picchu Extension, you’ll disembark en route during a short stop in Guayaquil.
Departure dates in 2017
February : 22
May: 3, 17
July: 12, 26
Departure dates in 2018
February: 7th, 21st
April: 4th, 18th
May: 2nd, 16th, 30th
July: 11th, 25th
What’s Included: All onboard meals and Day 2 meals in Quito; 2 nights deluxe hotel accommodations in Quito and a 6-night cruise; premium spirits, wine, beer aboard La Pinta (uncommon for Galápagos); non-alcoholic beverages; airfare between Quito/Galápagos; exclusive transfers and baggage handling between airport/hotel/yacht on embark/disembark days; port taxes/fees; entry fees to national parks/preserves; all from-the-yacht adventure activities and equipment; wellness program: hot tub and fitness equipment.
La Pinta was designed to keep the magnificent surroundings in the spotlight. Three spacious decks, an outdoor Sky Bar, and an Observation Lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows provide vantage points to absorb and witness the scenery around you.
PORTS OF CALL
Isla Santa Cruz
The second largest by land size and largest by population, Isla Santa Cruz is geographically located in the center of all the other islands. Renowned for its lava tubes, Santa Cruz has several diverse zones from the dry, volcanic coastal zone to the misty, forested highlands where lumbering tortoises can be seen. The marvelous hiking on land is matched only by the fantastic snorkeling and diving in the water.
Baltra was a U.S. Air Force Base during World War II and today is both an Ecuadorean military base and the location of the mainland airport. Palo Santo trees, prickly pear cactus, and saltbush vegetate this small island, home to Frigatebirds and Boobies. Isla Baltra is also the location of an active conservation program to reintroduce the Galápagos Land Iguana back to the island.
Isla Seymour Norte
A beautiful, flat island, brushy Isla Seymour Norte is located near Isla Baltra, and like its neighbour, was created by the uplift of a submarine lava formation. Unique to Isla Seymour Norte, cliffs located only a few feet from the shoreline are a big attractant for the islands large populations of birds, as is its small forest of palo santo trees.
The dramatic geologic origins of this island can be easily seen—remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers are readily visible. There is abundant wildlife on and around Isabela. The cliffs that stretch deep into the water are prime habitat for green sea turtles and several species of whales ply the waters of Bolívar Channel.
Isla Fernandina was named in honour of King Ferdinand II who sponsored Columbus’s voyage. The landscape of the island has visibly changed since European discovery with the relatively frequent volcanic activity. Fernandina hosts hundreds of marine iguanas who sun themselves on black lava rocks and Galápagos hawks, pelicans, and sea lions are all abundant here. Isla Fernandina also sits in a unique position within the ocean.
Isla Rábida has a fantastic, intriguing volcanic landscape. Steep slopes of the craters reach down to a wide reaching beach colored a startling, unexpected maroon. Rich in iron, Rábida is distinctively red from its sand to its old lava flows. Along the beach, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, and yellow warblers and can be observed going about their daily business.
Isla Floreana’s prominent high-point is an extinct volcano that reaches to about 2,100’. In addition to turtles and birds, Isla Floreana’s islets and sunken craters are vital habitat for marine life including color fish, several species of shark, and eels.