This 11 day tour includes a 5-day Galapagos cruise aboard the excellent 48-berth La Pinta yacht; visits Quito, the capital of Ecuador surrounded by volcanoes in the Andes, and Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city in the tropical lowlands.
Galapagos La Pinta + A Taste of Ecuador
Day 1 (Thursday) - Fly from the UK to Quito. Meal included on the transatlantic flight.
Fly from UK to Quito, the elegant capital of Ecuador situated high in the Andes at 2,800m, close to the famous ‘middle of the world’ equatorial line. You are met at the airport and escorted to your hotel. Day 2 (Friday) - Take the optional Colonial Quito excursion, or enjoy a free day in Quito. Breakfast at the hotel.
Spend the day getting to know Quito. See the best of this fascinating city on our half-day optional Colonial Quito excursion, which takes you from the iconic main square to the Plaza San Francisco, the church of La Compañia, and Panecillo hill for magnificent views of Quito. Day 3 (Saturday) - Take the optional Bellavista Cloud Forest excursion, or enjoy a free day in Quito. Breakfast at the hotel. Lunch is included on the Bellavista Cloud Forest excursion.
Spend a further day taking in the delights of Quito, or venture out into the beautiful countryside on our optional Bellavista Cloud Forest excursion. The full-day excursion begins with an early two-hour drive from Quito to the Bellavista Lodge, stunningly located high in the lush Ecuadorian cloud forest. Spend the day exploring the trails around the lodge, where you can see waterfalls and hummingbirds. Arrive back in Quito in the late afternoon. The Bellavista Cloud Forest excursion can be extended to two days, allowing you more time to explore the area. To do this you may need to extend the length of your holiday. Day 4 (Sunday) - Take the optional Otavalo excursion, or enjoy a free day in Quito. Breakfast at the hotel. Lunch is included if you take the Otavalo excursion.
Further explore Quito or leave the city behind on our optional full-day Otavalo excursion, which takes you two hours north of Quito, past volcanoes, lakes and mountains, to the old market town of Otavalo, where you can shop for crafts in the colourful market. The excursion also includes a visit to a bird sanctuary, where you can see condors and different species of birds of prey, and to a workshop in Peguche where traditional Andean instruments are made. Return to Quito in the late afternoon. Day 5 (Monday) - Fly to the Galapagos, and visit the Santa Cruz highlands before you board the La Pinta. Breakfast at the hotel. All meals are included during the Galapagos cruise.
Fly to the Galapagos Islands, famous as inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. This archipelago off Ecuador’s west coast is home to some of the most unique wildlife in the world, as your cruise will help you discover. You arrive at Baltra airport then travel to the highlands of Santa Cruz, where you can see giant tortoises in the wild and many highland birds. There are also several fascinating lava tunnels through the reserve. After lunch, you then continue to the town Puerto Ayora and board the La Pinta luxury yacht, your home for the next four nights. Day 6 (Tuesday) - Visit Eden and Chinese Hat Islets. All meals are included during the Galapagos cruise.
In the morning, take a panga ride to Eden Islet where you can see blue-footed boobies, reef sharks and frigate birds. Snorkelling is possible here. After lunch, visit Chinese Hat, a tiny island which is home to marine iguanas, lava lizards, Galapagos penguins and red Sally Lightfoot crabs. There is excellent snorkelling here, with white-tipped reef sharks and tropical fish. Day 7 (Wednesday) - Visit Bartolome and Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island. All meals are included during the Galapagos cruise.
In the morning, climb to the summit of Bartolome Island and enjoy panoramic views of the volcanic archipelago before visiting the small rookery of Galapagos penguins near the beach. You can swim and snorkel around the beach or walk to the other side of the island to see sea turtles nesting (from January to March) and sharks and turtles swimming close to shore. After lunch, visit Sullivan Bay where you can see lava lizards on the strange lava formations. Day 8 (Thursday) - Visit Darwin Bay and Prince Philip's Steps on Genovesa Island. All meals are included during the Galapagos cruise.
Explore Genovesa Island, where you can see all three types of boobies – the Blue Footed, the Red Footed and the Nazca or Masked booby. In the morning, make a wet landing on Darwin Bay, a beautiful white, sandy, coral beach where you can see boobies, tropic birds, frigate birds, storm petrels and marine iguanas. You can swim from the beach here. It is also possible to snorkel along the cliffs or paddle in sea kayaks. After lunch, visit Prince Philip’s Steps, a steep path that leads through a sea bird colony, up to cliffs that are 25 metres high. Take a scenic panga ride around the area, and walk amongst masked boobies, red boobies and short-eared owls. Day 9 (Friday) - Disembark the La Pinta, transfer to the airport and fly to Guayaquil. Breakfast on the La Pinta.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city located in tropical lowlands. Day 10 (Saturday) - Final day in Guayaquil. Fly overnight to the UK. Breakfast at the hotel. Meal included on the transatlantic flight.
Depending on your flight time, perhaps spend a pleasant morning strolling across the riverfront promenade or doing some last-minute souvenir shopping in the artisan markets. Then transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to the UK. Day 11 (Sunday) - Arrival in the UK.
Your flight arrives in the UK in the late morning or afternoon.