The Galapagos Islands is a truly wondrous place. Every Island has something unique to offer despite them being adjacent to one another and it is this diversity that makes this journey such a pleasure. Travel in luxury aboard La Pinta and experience a world where fearless wildlife roam and swim about with you.
Every Island shows something despite them being adjacent to one another and, in most cases, within a mile or two of each other. It is this diversity that struck Darwin and enabled him to formulate his theory on the Origin of Species. It is been a pleasure and a privilege to follow his footsteps.
There are 2 distinct seasons in the Galapagos Islands – the rainy season and the dry season – but both have advantages as there is no right or wrong time to visit. Our visit was in April which is an ideal time as the rains begin to cease, flowers begin to blossom on the islands, making for some colourful landscapes. Visibility for snorkelling is good and the warm water temperatures allow you to stay in the water for long periods. March and April feature the appearance of newborn wildlife all over the islands. Sea turtles and land iguanas are hatching, and playful young sea lions are easy to spot on the beaches.
Thanks to a lack of natural predators the islands are renowned for the fearless wildlife that roam and swim about but no amount of knowledge can prepare you for the endless encounters with the wildlife here. You are very definitely guests in their home – it's very humbling and a magical destination to visit.
‘At-a-Glance’ Illustrative Itinerary
DAY 1: Upon arrival at Quito airport you will be welcomed to Ecuador by your guide, and transferred to your hotel in a private chauffeur driven car. Once checked in you have the rest of the day at leisure to relax after your flight. On the way you will be given a short briefing on Quito and the country in general.
DAY 2: Today you can explore the delights of Quito's Old Quarter, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll around Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Visit the temple of *La Compañia de Jesús and its awesome gilded interior. Continue on to the Monastery of San Francisco, and end at a lookout point, at the statue of the 'Virgin of Quito.' with a great view of Quito.
DAY 3: Departing Quito you head south to the the charming town of Sangolqui to explore the traditional Andean market, a great introduction to the Andean way of life. The journey enters Cotopaxi National Park, an ecological sanctuary of 88,920 acres that harbours the magnificent cone of the Cotopaxi Volcano, rising 5,897 meters (19,347 feet) above sea level.
Throughout the day you will continue along the Pan American Highway, the evergreen landscape and the Andean páramo or one of the highlights of the days journey. Traversing up and down the slopes of the famous Avenue of the Volcanoes your nightstop is in Riobamba.
DAY 4: After an early breakfast, you will depart by road (about 2 hours) towards the small town of Alausí, where you will embark on the Devil's Nose Train for a trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes through breathtaking scenery. After the ride you will continue by road to the south, passing through stunning landscapes before arriving at Cuenca at dusk, for dinner and overnight.
DAY 5: Cuenca is Ecuador's third largest city; yet it still retains its pleasant provincial air. Its red tiled roofs, cobblestone streets, flowery plazas and museums make it very special. This comprehensive visit includes the Plaza of San Sebastian, a colorful artisans' market, the Museum of Modern Art, featuring an excellent collection of contemporary fine art, the flower market, and the imposing Cathedral. Lunch will be at one of the excellent restaurants in Cuenca, before arriving at the airport to take your onward flight to Guayaquil, the gateway to the Galapagos Islands.
DAY 6: Embark La Pinta or Yacht Isabella for this unparalleled 5-day journey of discovery to some of Galapagos’ most beautiful islands. You will begins on Santa Cruz Island, the most populous in the archipelago, where you explore the lush vegetation of the highlands before venturing down to the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station to meet giant tortoises face to face.
After a day exploring you will set sail to a stunning anchorage at Santa Fe Island
DAY 7: On Santa Fe Island your visit is to a sandy white beach with many sea lion harems, a wonderful spot for your first snorkel, kayak or ride aboard our glass-bottom boat. In the afternoon, disembark amid the waters of South Plaza Island, with its yellow-gray land iguanas munching cactus fruits, and a coastline where you will find sea lion colonies and dozens of sea birds.
DAY 8: A favourite among many visitors, North Seymour Island offers an enjoyable walk along the coast and the interior of this island, observing numerous bird colonies as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. Later, you will disembark on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island at the glorious white beach of Las Bachas, great for a swim or snorkel.
DAY 9: Today’s expedition starts at Bartolome Island, with its unbeatable volcanic viewpoint, golden-sandy beach and excellent wildlife exploration for snorkelers or glass-bottom boat passengers. Then, you will land at the white coral sand beach of Sullivan Bay, ideal for swimming or snorkelling, and walk across a dramatic lava field.
DAY 10: Today your journey ends at Baltra Island, where you will disembark and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland. Baltra’s flat substrate (due to its uplifted origin) is the reason why the island was chosen back in the 1940s as the location to building an airport.