Natural Habitat Adventures - vacations and travel

The Classic Galapagos Adventure

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

from $5,495* per person 11 Days October-August
Boutique accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Natural Habitat Adventures 20 people max
  • Quito, ecuador
  • Culture & Nature trips
    With the best guide-to-traveler ratio, our guests are ensured personal encounters with nature
    NHA’s renowned Expedition Leaders perform additional training to guarantee our guests a spectacular Galapagos experience
    Swim and snorkel with sea lions, sunbathe with iguanas, kayak among whales and dolphins, and spend a night in the highlands at our exclusive camp

Six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, surrounded by open ocean, a volcanic archipelago straddles the equator. The Galapagos Islands, forged of black lava and named for the giant tortoises that are among its most noted inhabitants, are like nowhere else in the world. Home to a profuse array of wildlife, the islands offer an immersion in nature that feels primeval, where lizards and penguins and blue-footed boobies share the beaches with us, unconcerned by our presence. Herman Melville called the Galapagos “Las Islas Encantadas,” or The Enchanted Isles, an apt moniker for a realm that remains otherworldly, even today.

Locations visited/nearby

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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Special information

  • May accommodate certain types of disabilities. Contact the operator for more information.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Quito
Upon your arrival in Quito, you will be met at the airport by our local representative and transferred to the Hilton Colon, located in Quito’s central district. Dinner is on your own this evening.

Day 2: Quito/Otavalo Market
Today we enjoy a visit to the famed Otavalo Marketplace, which is at its peak on Saturdays*. This fascinating excursion to South America's largest outdoor market is included on our scheduled departures on the M/Y Letty. For those who choose, a city tour of Quito is available as an alternative to the market. This evening, we will gather for an orientation and welcome dinner. We will overnight at the Hilton Colon.

*If you are not on a scheduled Letty departure please contact our office if you would like additional information on available Quito activities, or to make day tour arrangements.

Day 3: Quito / San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands
Fly to the Galapagos where we meet our Expedition Leader and board our yacht. We quickly discover the magic of the islands, with a chance to snorkel with sea lions at Playa Ochoa. A sunset cruise around Kicker Rock affords views of blue-footed boobies perched on its 500-foot high cliffs and frigate birds soaring overhead.

Day 4: Genovesa
Genovesa Island is a collapsed volcano that attracts vast numbers of seabirds that come here to nest. Inside the flooded crater we are surrounded by a cacophony of red-footed boobies, lava gulls, storm petrels and yellow-crowned night herons. At Darwin Bay, we swim again with sea lions.

Day 5: Bachas Beach/North Seymour
Snorkel and sunbathe at Las Bachas, a fabulous white sand beach on Santa Cruz. The powdered coral is a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs pepper the black lava at water’s edge. On North Seymour we find a large nesting colony of magnificent frigate birds and land iguanas that display an intense yellow color during mating season.

Day 6: Fernandina / Isabela
Fernandina is the youngest and most active volcano in the Galapagos. We land at Punta Espinoza, where flightless cormorants nest on barren lava while colonies of marine iguanas bask nearby. Cruising across Bolivar Channel, keep watch for whales and dolphins. On the largest island, Isabela, we explore Tagus Cove by panga (motorized rafts), finding penguins, pelicans and graffiti dating to the 1800s when the names of ships were carved into the rock above a historic anchorage for pirates and whalers.

Day 7: Isabela
Elizabeth Bay on Isabela’s west coast is a marine sanctuary – no landings are permitted. We explore the small islets in the bay by panga, where we’re likely to see penguins and blue-footed boobies perched on the rocks and diving for pompano and dorado. As we cruise through a giant red mangrove cove, look for brown pelicans, sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, golden rays and sea lions. At Urbina Bay, we step ashore on a white sand beach to witness one of the best examples of geological uplift in the Galapagos, a phenomenon that occurs when molten rock beneath the surface suddenly shifts. In 1954 the shoreline was uplifted nearly 15 feet (4 meters). The coastline was driven 3/4 of a mile further out to sea, exposing giant coral heads and stranding marine organisms on what was now on shore. Urbina is also home to a colony of some of the largest land iguanas in the islands.

Day 8: Santiago / Santa Cruz
At Puerto Egas on Santiago we search the tidepools for octopus, starfish and marine iguanas feeding on algae. This afternoon we continue to Santa Cruz, the highest island in the chain. Those who wish to participate in our unique camping opportunity will disembark and transfer to the remote highlands of Santa Cruz for the night. Our private camp, with views of the ocean, is tucked among lush vegetation that attracts giant tortoises. A bus returns us in the morning to rejoin our boat for the day's activities. Please note: At times, the camp may be closed due to poor weather conditions.

Day 9: Santa Cruz / Darwin Station / Santa Fe
In the misty craters of the Santa Cruz highlands, we search for giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Lava tubes lace the ground beneath the scalesia forest, and we may venture into one of the caverns. We also visit Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz, and tour the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station. At the tortoise-rearing facility, we’ll see tiny babies bred to help increase the depleted population as part of the station’s conservation mission. This afternoon we cruise to Santa Fe, where we find one of the most scenic turquoise lagoons in the Galapagos as well as a host of endemic species including the Galapagos hawk and mockingbird, a variety of Darwin’s finches, and land iguanas that feast on the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. We’ll have a chance to snorkel from the beach, perhaps enticing some of the resident sea lion colony to swim with us.

Day 10: San Cristobal / Quito
At Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, capital of the Galapagos, we visit the National Park Interpretation Center. Late this morning we fly back to Quito and transfer to our hotel.

Day 11: Depart Quito
Transfer to the airport for flights home or for extensions to the Amazon rainforest or Machu Picchu.

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