Ecuador & The Galapagos Islands - In the Footsteps of Evolution

Experience landscapes sculpted throughout the centuries by tumultuous volcanic upheaval and get upclose views of unique wildlife. Become enveloped by the spectacular countryside of extinct volcanoes, indigenous villages and patchwork fields as you drive to Otavalo. Follow in Charles Darwin’s footsteps as you investigate his ‘living laboratory’ and decide whether his theory of Natural Selection holds true today. Swim and snorkel among fur seals and penguins, watch Sally Lightfoot Crabs and iguanas scamper across the sand and witness colonies of Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies and Frigatebirds. End with a few days on land at a luxury tented camp in the highlands in the company of Darwin’s finches, giant tortoises, and tranquility.

Degree of Difficulty - Four Paws

Very Active. May involve strenuous hikes, severe stair climbing, arduous activities, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.

Weather Reports - When To Go

This is truly a destination that is great to travel to year-round. In the Galapagos, the climate is generally pleasant. Due to mist, cloud cover and cool Pacific breezes, conditions are rarely hot. In Quito, over 9,000 feet above sea level, the temperature ranges from 55ºF at night to 78ºF at noon. The Coast’s climate (Guayaquil) is generally warm and can be quite humid.

Days 1/2/3 MIAMI/QUITE/OTAVALO

Fly to Quito, where you are escorted to your historic boutique hotel in the heart of ‘Quito Antiguo.’ Next day, tour this vibrant colonial city with its churches and Spanish goldglittering altars, including the colonial quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. The last day, depart for South America’s most famous Indian fair – the Otavalo Market. As you stroll the streets, immerse yourself in the colorful and vibrant culture listening to Andean pipe music and Quechua, the native tongue from Incan times, drifting across the marketplace. Enjoy a traditional Andean lunch at a local hacienda and continue your shopping adventure in Cotacachi, the center of Ecuador’s leather industry, and Calderon for bread-dough handicrafts. PATIO ANDALUZ. (B,D; B,L)

Day 4 GALAPAGOS ISLANDS ~ EL CHATO TORTOISE RESERVE (SANTA CRUZ ISLAND)/LA PINTA

Fly to Baltra and transfer across the Itabaca Channel by small ferry to Santa Cruz Island. Board your bus to the highlands in time for lunch before heading to El Chato Reserve, one of the best places in the archipelago to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. End at Puerto Ayora to board your luxurious yacht. In 1835, Charles Darwin spent five weeks aboard the HMS Beagle exploring the Galapagos Islands. How he would envy your nights aboard the M/Y LA PINTA, a 48-passenger luxury vessel. Enjoy exceptional food and daily lectures by naturalists, as well as a beautiful and spacious sun deck offering a great view of the passing landscapes. (B,L,D)

Day 5 BAHIA BALLENA – WHALE BAY/SOMBRENO CHINO ISLET

A wet landing takes you to a beautiful olivine beach (a volcanic crystal that forms in fast-cooling lava) to see boobies, land birds and enjoy the views. In the afternoon, have a wet landing at Sombrero Chino or Chinese Hat (named for its shape). The trail gives way to a primeval landscape of volcanic rubble including cracked lava formations and lava tubes. See marine iguanas and pairs of oystercatchers and have some superb opportunities for picture taking. (B,L,D)

Day 6 BARTOLOMÉ ISLAND/SULLIVAN BAY (SANTIAGO ISLAND)

A small satellite island of the neighboring Santiago Island, Bartolome is a landmark of Galápagos, that of the Pinnacle Rock. After a dry landing, the short, yet somewhat steep trail will unfold virtually every volcanic feature expected to be found in Galápagos: lava flows, tuff, cinder and spatter cones. To reach the summit a wooden staircase was built to minimize erosion on the island´s slopes. The vista is the prize! Following the walk, enjoy a dinghy ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, enjoy the beach and some snorkeling with possible Galápagos penguin sightings, or ride on the glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world. In the afternoon, land at Sullivan Bay on the east coast of Santiago on a white coral sand beach and walk over lava that flowed here less than 100 years ago. (B,L,D)

Day 7 DARWIN BAY/PRINCE PHILLIP’S STEPS (GENOVESA ISLAND)

Enjoy an easy stroll this morning observing thousands of birds, mainly frigatebirds, Red-footed and Nazca Boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. The more adventurous can snorkel along the cliffs or paddle sea kayaks. The afternoon starts with a very interesting panga ride along the cliffs and then disembark (dry landing) on rocks for a steep climb (90 feet) up some stairs. Once at the top of the stairs, the land is flat, allowing for a stimulating walk of about a mile to the other side of this small island, observing large colonies of Nazca Boobies, frigatebirds and Storm Petrels. (B,L,D)

Days 8/9 GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: BALTRA ISLAND/GALAPAGOS SAFARI CAMP

Disembark your cruise onto Baltra Island and transfer across the Itabaca Channel once again to Santa Cruz Island. From there, it is a 40 minute transfer to your home for the next two nights. This eco-friendly, luxury tented camp is situated in a 165-acre farm in the highlands, bordering the National Park and is built on a ridge which affords magnificent views. The stylish central lodge is perched on a hill with panoramic views from its spacious verandah. The camp’s nine luxury tents are located below the central lodge and are spacious, attractively decorated, with en suite facilities and hot shower. Enjoy the tranquility of the infinity pool with fabulous ocean scenery while cooling down on hot days.

On the farm you can spend time walking, bird watching and spotting visiting tortoises. The farm has an abundance of birdlife with finches, warblers, mockingbirds, Galapagos Doves, egrets and owls. As a result of the conservation work, many local species of trees, such as scalesia, guayabillo, and palo santo, are rapidly regaining a foothold after years of cattle farming. Optional activities (at additional cost) are offered to Tortuga Bay for a walking tour and to Cerro Mesa for dramatic views of the largest crater on the island. Or travel to Puerto Ayora and stroll along Charles Darwin Avenue for a chance to shop and experience the local color. GALAPAGOS SAFARI CAMP. (B,D Daily)

Days 10/11 SANTA CRUZ ISLAND/GUAYAQUIL/MIAMI

Fly to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s port city, and transfer to your dayroom at the ORO VERDE HOTEL. Later in the evening, return to the airport for your overnight flight to the USA, bringing with you memories of the unique wildlife you experienced on the Galapagos Islands!

OPTIONAL POST EXTENSION TO PERU

Fly to Guayaquil and connect to Lima, where you’ll be introduced to the heart of urban Peru. Fly to Cusco and drive to Yucay in the sacred valley of the Incas, a place of adventure, natural beauty, and rich history. Explore remarkable ruins, lively markets, and the beautiful rivers and forests before heading on by rail to Machu Picchu, through some of the most breathtaking landscapes imaginable. Get a taste of the legendary Inka Trail with a short morning trek, and explore Cusco itself, the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the Western hemisphere, before returning to Lima and your flight home.

YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES:

  • Superior and best available accommodations at hotels and cruise ship in Ecuador.
  • American breakfast in Quito and Guayaquil. All meals while on the Galapagos cruise. All other meals as specified.
  • 5-Days/4-Nights Cruise to the Galapagos Islands aboard the M/Y LA PINTA with all meals included. Naturalist guide provided aboard the ship.
  • 2-nights under canvas at the luxurious Galapagos Safari Camp on Santa Cruz Island with breakfast and dinner included daily.
  • Expert local guides throughout.
  • Gratuities for baggage handling, hotel tips and taxes.
  • All entrance fees to places of interest visited and on sightseeing tours indicated in the itinerary, excluding the Galapagos Islands entry fees (currently $100) and Ingala Card (currently $20.)
  • Complimentary passport wallet and baggage tags.
Prices starting at $7,995. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.