Ecuador – Quito & Galapagos Exploring

  • 10 Days , 6 Cities
  • From $6,846
Customizable Itinerary This sample itinerary was created by our destination specialist to inspire you. It can be customized to your exact preferences and budget.
The Galapagos Islands is situated in the Pacific Ocean some 600 miles from the South American continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique living museum and a showcase of evolution.
Countries Visited Ecuador
Places Visited Quito, Santa Cruz, Puerto Villamil, , Coyoctor
Suggested Duration 10 days
Travel Styles Cultural Tours, Adventure Tours
  • DAY 1

    Welcome to Quito, Ecuador

    After being picked up from the airport, you will arrive at Quito; the highest official capital in the world (2,850 m/9,350 ft; over 2.2 MM inhabitants).

    The historic center of Quito is one of the largest, least-altered, and best-preserved in the Americas. Together with Kraków, Poland, they were the first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO. It is also one of the places with the highest concentration of churches per square kilometer in the world. Your driver will take you to your hotel where you can rest from your long flight.

    What's included?

    • Accommodation Accommodation
    • Transfer Transfer
    View on map
  • DAY 2

    Quito City Tour & Middle of the World

    After a nice breakfast it is time to explore the historical center of Quito. You will start by visiting Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande), which is Quito’s main square. Admire the Metropolitan Cathedral with its striking sugar white tower, the former archbishop’s palace and the presidential palace. Colorful people from all over the country display Ecuador’s rich cultural melting pot of cultures. Next up is the Jesuit Church of La Compañía de Jesús, the first and best example of Latin American baroque architecture. Moving on you will visit the street of La Ronda, probably the most authentic of the historical centre. It breathes local flavor thanks to its many workshops and traditional artisans. Plaza San Francisco together with the colonial temple where you can spot the original antique masterpiece of Quito’s Madonna will be your last stop in the centre before you will make your way to Panecillo hill.

    The 3,016 m/9,895 ft high hill Panecillo offers panoramic views of Quito, its incredible location and surrounding volcanoes. The impressive statue on top is a replica of Quito’s Madonna (the smaller statue you have just visited in San Francisco church). Distinguish the tiny, century-old center with its tiled roofs at your feet, and farther north the downtown parks and high rises of the business district.

    Lastly, you will make your way over to Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, (in English, City in the Middle of the World). This is where the Earth’s circumference was first determined scientifically. Although modern survey techniques have become much more precise, this tourist complex and the neighboring private Inti Ñan museum (Inti Ñan means ‘’Path of the Sun’’ in Kichwa) are very interesting to visit. Optionally, you can get certificates or stamps to prove that you have been on latitude 0’00”.

    What's included?

    • Breakfast Breakfast
    • Accommodation Accommodation
    • Tour Tour
    • Transfer Transfer
    View on map
  • DAY 3

    Santa Cruz & Bachas Beach

    Today, after breakfast, you will be brought to Quito Airport to take your flight to the Galapagos.

    Upon arrival at Seymour Ecological Airport, a check-up is carried out first, to ensure that no foreign plant or animal species are introduced on the islands. Furthermore, your TCC (Transit Control Card) is stamped; this must be kept safe during your trip, as it has to be presented again on your return flight. Your guide will meet you at the airport, assist you with the luggage, and accompany you on the short bus ride to the harbor of Puerto Ayora. Here you will climb aboard the yacht Solaris. After greeting the crew and the captain, your cabins will be assigned to you and then you will enjoy your first lunch on-board.

    Next, you will visit two small beaches which are located in the west of the Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz. Their sand consists of decomposed corals, which makes it white and soft. This makes it the favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there are small water lagoons, where flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilt birds and rainbows, can occasionally be spotted. On the second beach, which is the wider one, you can explore the remains of two abandoned warships. In the Second World War these were left by the US, as the island of Baltra was used as a strategic point for the protection of the Panama Canal.

    What's included?

    • Breakfast Breakfast
    • Lunch Lunch
    • Dinner Dinner
    • Accommodation Accommodation
    • Tour Tour
    • Transfer Transfer
    • Cruise/Boat Cruise/Boat
    View on map
  • DAY 4

    Shark Channel & Isabela Wetlands

    Just outside the harbor of Puerto Villamil a group of islets protrude just above the ocean. The jagged black formations, dotted with mangrove and candelabra cactus, are the remnants of a lava stream that has ended up in the ocean. Marine life gets trapped, including spectacular whitetip reef sharks (called “tintoreras” in Spanish, as is the site’s official name). This species of shark is fairly common in the archipelago, and generally spotted on the seabed when snorkeling, while they rest from their nocturnal hunts. At this unique location you can observe them comfortably from the bank in the crystal-clear turquoise waters. Sometimes turtles and elegant white-spotted eagle rays or golden rays glide back and forth through this calm channel, as well as smaller fish and Galapagos sea lions. Also, this is where the largest species of marine iguanas reproduce. The rocky shoreline with its intertidal life also attracts sally light foot crabs, lava herons, and Galapagos penguins, which reside on the other (western) side of Isabela island. After lunch, you will visit the local tortoise breeding center, where you can see hundreds of giant Galapagos tortoises of all sizes. The vulnerable hatchlings are not gigantic at all, even smaller than the size of your hand! This project just outside Puerto Villamil was created to rescue the endangered populations of Isabela’s both southernmost volcanoes. In Puerto Villamil and the surrounding wetlands there is the historical ‘Wall of tears’ (national cultural heritage), where prisoners were punished and forced to build this long wall of lava rocks. Also, you might have the chance to see American flamingos. At the end of the afternoon you will have some free time to explore the village and/or its beach.

    What's included?

    • Breakfast Breakfast
    • Lunch Lunch
    • Dinner Dinner
    • Accommodation Accommodation
    • Cruise/Boat Cruise/Boat
    View on map
  • DAY 5

    Moreno Point & Tagus Cove

    After breakfast, you will visit Punta Moreno which is located between the volcanoes Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul, on the north coast of Isabela Island. The trail leads along the lava river Pahoehoe to a complex of several coastal lagoons. The main attraction are various bird species which can be found in the lakes and mangrove forests.

    In the afternoon, you will enter the Bolivar Channel to make your way over to Tagus Cove. Meanwhile you can enjoy the delicious lunch buffet before snorkeling at this beautiful location. Explosive eruptions have blown out a part of the outer rims of both tuff cones, and created their characteristic horseshoe shapes and Tagus Cove. The inner crater rim contains Darwin Lake. Traditionally sailors started to write the names of their vessels on the eastern cliffs of Tagus cove. During the hike along the inner crater ridge of Darwin Lake you can continue to a great viewpoint on the outer caldera rim, with views to the outstretched lava slopes of Darwin Volcano. This arid inland zone is overgrown with characteristic tropical dry forest vegetation including a special variety of palo santo, Galapagos cotton, and yellow cordia (muyuyu). During the hike you can spot different Darwin’s finches, flycatchers and Galapagos hawks.

    What's included?

    • Breakfast Breakfast
    • Lunch Lunch
    • Dinner Dinner
    • Accommodation Accommodation
    • Cruise/Boat Cruise/Boat
    View on map
  • DAY 6

    Espinoza & Vicente Roca Point

    After breakfast, you will visit Espinoza Point which is Fernandina’s only terrestrial visitors site, and one of the few locations where you will find some bizarre outgrowths of natural selection. The figurehead is the emblematic flightless cormorant that lives exclusively in the remote west of Galapagos, and could be considered as the ‘holy grail of evolution’. You will also love the almost unworldly views with the dominating cone of Volcán La Cumbre as a spectacular backdrop. The narrow headland that you walk along is the end of a lava tongue that has reached the coast and solidified upon contact with the cold seawater.

    Whilst having lunch you will cross the Bolivar Channel for the last time to Vicente Roca Point, just at the mouth of Isabela’s seahorse-shape. While entering a dark cave below a spectacular arch, roaring echoes of the waves will accompany you. Just around the corner the collapsed amphitheater of Volcan Ecuador offers another impressive view. The calmer waters of the coves are well-protected against the ocean swell and are a fairly cold, but a great place for snorkeling amongst various species of shark, penguins, puffer fish and even seahorses!

    What's included?

    • Breakfast Breakfast
    • Lunch Lunch
    • Dinner Dinner
    • Accommodation Accommodation
    • Cruise/Boat Cruise/Boat
    View on map
  • DAY 7

    Espumilla Beach & Puerto Egas

    In the morning, you will visit Espumilla Beach; a visitor’s site at the northern end of James Bay, on the western coast of Santiago. This beach has been revived as an important breeding site for turtles, as it is no longer suffering from digging wild pigs. The turtles return year after year to bury their eggs into the cinnamon colored sand dunes. The beach ridge hides a mangle with two picturesque lagoons. The colony of American flamingos and aquatic birds used to be its main attraction, but after the climate phenomenon of El Niño, strong sedimentation altered the brackish water environment, and it no longer contains their food. During the climb of a hill you will be rewarded with a beautiful overview of the transitions from sea into beach into mangrove into dry palo santo forest.

    At lunchtime you will navigate south to Puerto Egas with its famous fur seal grottos, where you will enjoy another, very different guided walk along the coastline. Its masterly sculptured coastline of black basalts and polished multi-colored ash-layers forms a photogenic scene with collapsed lava tunnels, natural arches, caves and blowholes such as ‘Darwin’s toilet’. In a grotto directly below a spectacular rock arch at the end of the beach, a colony of sea lions occupies the shade. Hundreds of sally lightfoot crabs seem even brighter orange against the black rocks.

    What's included?

    • Breakfast Breakfast
    • Lunch Lunch
    • Dinner Dinner
    • Accommodation Accommodation
    • Cruise/Boat Cruise/Boat
    View on map
  • DAY 8

    Rabida Red Beach & Chinese Hat

    In the morning, you will navigate to Rabida Island. After lunch, you will have a ‘wet landing’ on the remarkable red beach of this island where you will enjoy two short guided hikes. Oxidised iron particles give the rocks and sand their rusty color. The beach wall holds a shallow green-fringed lagoon; this oasis is the most fertile place on the otherwise arid islet, which is overgrown with leaf-dropping palo santo trees. The salty pool attracts all kind of aquatic birds, like pintails and sometimes American flamingos. Between the evergreen foliage of the surrounding mangrove bushes many species of songbirds hide and breed. One of the most outstanding attractions is the major breeding colony of brown pelicans, the only ones in the world that plunge-dive. On return you will be picked up by the inflatable dinghies, to get ready for snorkeling.

    Chinese Hat is a 52m/170ft high volcanic cone, forming another islet off the rocky coast of Santiago, where a small colony of Galapagos penguins has settled. Because its primordial fire has been extinguished recently, this is an excellent place to learn more about volcanoes, lava bombs and lava tunnels. On the beach you can also find curious pillow-type lavas with coral heads on top! These spheres have a submarine origin before being lifted above sea level. Beaches of white coral sand grow, and holes in the eroding lava fields are filled up with lava sand, which enables rooting. Galapagos sea lions and countless marine iguanas contribute to fertilization. This all together creates more favorable options for newcomers, like saltbush and the discoloring sesuvium carpet. Colonisation of Chinese Hat can occur in a much higher pace than elsewhere, hence Santiago is just a stone’s throw away.

    What's included?

    • Breakfast Breakfast
    • Lunch Lunch
    • Dinner Dinner
    • Accommodation Accommodation
    • Cruise/Boat Cruise/Boat
    View on map
  • DAY 9

    Charles Darwin Research Station & Highlands

    The dinghies will bring you to the touristic pier of Puerto Ayora, from where you will be brought to the Charles Darwin Research Station. This is where biological research and indispensable conservation management of this unique archipelago are carried out. The complex houses interpretation and information centers about the National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The most memorable part of your visit will probably be the successful breeding center and the enclosures with Galapagos giant tortoises. Afterwards you usually can spend some free time in the cozy town, before having lunch aboard.

    Because wild Galapagos giant tortoises don’t stop at official National Park boundaries, dozens of them also roam on the adjacent woodlands in the populated agricultural zone of Santa Cruz. Thanks to their concentration around their favorite muddy pools, these semi-open pastures and moist scalesia-woodlands are the best place for a quick visit.

    What's included?

    • Breakfast Breakfast
    • Lunch Lunch
    • Dinner Dinner
    • Accommodation Accommodation
    • Cruise/Boat Cruise/Boat
    View on map
  • DAY 10

    Back to Home from Baltra Airport

    After breakfast, you will have your last excursion before returning back to the mainland of Ecuador.

    The tabletop islet of North Seymour is an uplifted part of the seabed. Between the dry shrubs you might perceive a Galapagos land iguana. You can spot lots of seabirds, such as brown pelicans, red-billed tropicbirds, endemic swallow-tailed gulls and seasonally even Nazca boobies. But the main attraction are the archipelago’s most extensive breeding colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. At the start of the breeding season adult frigate bird-males blow up their vivid red pouches to impressive football-sized balloons.

    Assisted by the naturalist guide and some crew members, the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to Baltra Airport where you will take your flight back to the mainland of Ecuador.

    What's included?

    • Breakfast Breakfast
    • Transfer Transfer
    • Cruise/Boat Cruise/Boat
    View on map

Starting from $6,846 per person

Price per person in double occupancy
The rate is based on Superior accommodation
Galapagos cruise pricing is based on Solaris yacht Ocean View cabin
Price excluding international and domestic flights
This trip is customizable for your private travel.


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What’s Included?

  • Accommodation specified
  • Meals as specified in the program
  • Excursions & entrances as specified in the program
  • The services mentioned in the program
  • Transportation as specified
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee is not included. Ask our travel expert to include the fee on the tour price

Sightseeing Highlights Included

  • Visit the Middle of the World
  • Bachas – Flamingo Lagoon
  • Snorkeling with sea lions and colorful reef fish
  • Whitetip reef shark channel
  • Isabela Wetlands – Wall of Tears & Tortoise Breeding Centre
  • Moreno Point – Bird Watching
  • Mangle Point & Tagus Cove – Hike & Snorkel
  • Vicente Roca Point – Cave Snorkeling
  • Encounter unique wildlife endemic to the Galapagos Islands
  • Walk over spectacular volcanic landscapes
  • Puerto Egas – Fur Seal Grottos
  • Rabida – Red Beach
  • Chinese Hat – Galapagos penguins
  • Santa Cruz – Highlands
  • Charles Darwin Research Station
  • Set up-close to Galapagos Giant Tortoises
  • Walk over the Equator Line
  • Visit North Seymour