Signature Galapagos Islands

From Quito to Quito or Guayaquil
  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Small Ship Cruising
  • Wildlife and Nature
  • Signature Tours
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Tour Description

Expertly crafted by our destination specialists, this 11-day exploration of Quito and the incredible Galapagos Islands will leave you in awe.

Beginning with a three-night stay at the boutique five-star Illa Experience hotel in the old town of Quito, you'll explore the Ecuadorian capital's historic attractions such as the San Francisco Catholic Church, the Capilla del Hombre museum, and the El Panecillo monument to the Virgin of Quito. You’ll also take a day trip to nearby Cotopaxi National Park, home to numerous birds and varied plant life, and the highest active volcano in the world. This tour includes lunch at a restaurant at the base of the mountain and a visit to an indigenous market nearby.

Next, fly to the Galapagos Islands to begin your luxury cruise aboard the MC Seaman Journey, a catamaran with a maximum occupancy of 16 passengers, for an intimate and personalised travel experience. You’ll explore the Santa Cruz highlands and cruise the islands of Fernandina, Isabela, Santiago, Rabida and Bartolome, venturing to remote areas where lizards swim, birds walk and humans don’t take centre stage.

Observe Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat, snorkel at Punta Vicente Roca and Mangle Point, and explore the lava flows and sink holes of Santiago Island. Marvel at the red sands and pink flamingo colony at Rabida Island, and discover the fascinating pirate hideaway of Tagus Cove. Take dinghy rides, go swimming and kayaking and relax on stunning beaches and onboard the ship.

You’ll experience an array of marine and land wildlife on this journey, including sea lions, pelicans, rays, marine iguanas, and unique species like the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin and even blue-footed boobies! Visiting a favourite nesting site for sea turtles is an unforgettable highlight, and there are even abandoned barges from the Second World War to be found.

Want to explore further? This itinerary combines perfectly with our Signature Peru tour (including the iconic Machu Picchu), a stay in a stunning boutique lodge in Ecuador’s cloud forest, or a cruise on the Amazon!

Video Highlights

Viva's Best Bits...

Swim together and take photos of giant Galapagos tortoises, marine iguanas and other unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, Vicente Roca Point is one of the best places to snorkel and well known for its spectacular marine life.

"Booking our complete Signature package gives you an additional bonus of a stay 3 pay 2 special at the divine Ilha Experience boutique hotel, a beautifully restored house from the 17th century. Delightful rooms, staff and food!" Tara, Team Viva

Your home in the Galapagos will be onboard the Seaman Journey, a first-class catamaran with a maximum occupancy of 16 passengers. This small and luxurious catamaran will give you access to remote and hard to access areas.

Tour Itinerary

Customisable ? This tour can be customised to suit your tastes and timing. Enquire here for more information.
Day 1
Quito

On arrival into Quito you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Sitting at 2,850 metres above sea level high in the Andean foothills lies Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The city, a short distance from the Equator and with an amazing backdrop of snow-capped mountains, is known for its stunning colonial architecture and art-work. Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city, Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas. It was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978.

Overnight in Quito

Day 2
Quito Six Senses Tour

Today you will enjoy a tour of the charming city of Quito. The tour will tick off all of the main sites, including Independence Square, the Government Palace, the busy street of La Ronda and some of the beautiful baroque churches that the city is famous for.

You will also enjoy a range of experiences. These will vary depending on the day and the time of year, but can include things like market visits, empanada or ice cream making (and tasting), working with an artisan to make your own Panama hat or even helping to restore colonial art!

Your tour will end with a cocktail at a rooftop bar where you will have the perfect view over the old town and Panecillo hill.

Overnight in Quito

Day 3
Quito: Cotopaxi National Park

Depart south from Quito to visit Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi (5,943 m)is the highest active volcano in the world. Despite the altitude, the Park is home to numerous birds and varied plant life. Northeast lies Rumiñahui(4,557 m) and between the two mountains the plain and lagoon of Limpiopungo (3800m approx.). If weather permits, from the north face we may have spectacular views of the mountain. The surrounding scenery also includes volcanoes like Pasochoa, Ruminahui and Sincholagua, Lunch is included at a restaurant at the base of the mountain. The tour also includes a visit to an indigenous market nearby.
You will be returned to your hotel in Quito at the end of the tour.

Overnight in Quito

Day 4
Quito - fly to the Galapagos Islands Santa Cruz Highlands

Transfer to Quito airport
Take a morning flight to the Galapagos from Quito Airport. The flight from Quito to the Galapagos is 4 hours, stopping at Guayaquil on route. On arrival at Baltra Airport you will be met by your naturalist guides who will collect your luggage and transport you to Ranch Mazanillo. Here you will be able to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat.

NOTE: Travellers pass through an airport inspection point to ensure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands and to pay the Galapagos Islands National Park Entrance Fee. This is currently US$100 per person but subject to change. The visit to Ranch Mazanillo includes a picnic lunch and a short walk before you board the Seaman Journey, where you will be welcomed by our crew.

PM: Santa Cruz Highlands
Journeying across Santa Cruz into the highlands, you will be delighted by the island's variety of life and geology. Beginning at the coast and travelling across Santa Cruz the road departs from Puerto Ayora climbing through the agricultural lands and into the mist covered forests. Santa Cruz possesses all the various life zones present in the archipelago. As you travel through these zones’ bird-watching enthusiast will be enchanted. Whether it's the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher or one of Darwin's finches, almost every bird present in the Galapagos can be found here.

Santa Cruz also offers excellent opportunities for viewing and tracking wild Galapagos tortoises. There are also plenty of lava tubes, sinkholes and craters to explore. Theses eerie formations offer a fascinating insight into the volcanic make-up of the island.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 5
Galapagos: Fernandina Island

AM: Mangle Point, Fernandina Island
Mangle Point lies off the eastern coast of Fernandina and is a superior snorkelling site and a beautiful location for riding in a panga or Zodiac through a forest of mangrove trees. You are likely to see penguins, sea lions, pelicans, rays, marine iguanas and numerous birds.

PM: Punta Moreno
Punta Moreno is located on the north coast of Isabela Island between Sierra Negra Volcano and Cerro Azul Volcano. A trail runs along a pahoehoe lava flow (solidified lava with a smooth, shiny or swirled surface), into a complex of coastal lagoons. The main attractions are several species of birds that can be found around the lakes and mangroves. Three species of cactus are also found here.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 6
Galapagos: Isabela Island

AM: Urbina Bay, Isabela Island
Urbina Bay is located at the base of Alcedo Volcano on the west coast of Isabela Island, between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay. The most unique feature at Urbina Bay resulted from a major uplift of the island in 1954, when a 6km stretch of coral reef rose up 5 metres, leaving marine life stranded on the new shore and coral exposed on the land. Urbina Bay has a path that starts at the beach where a wet landing is made, and takes you through the sand, pumice, lava, coral and vegetation. Flightless cormorants, pelicans, Darwin’s finches, giant tortoises and land and marine iguanas can be seen on land, whilst rays and turtles can be seen in the bay. It is an ideal place to see red and blue lobsters and a great place for snorkelling. There is also a large amount of interesting vegetation including chamomile and rosewood, as well as the beautiful flowers of the Galapagos or Darwin’s cotton, endemic to the Galapagos Islands.

PM: Tagus Cove
Tagus Cove is located west of Darwin Volcano on Isabela Island. Its name originated from a British warship that went through the islands in 1814 looking for the Galapagos tortoise for food. This was a favourite spot for pirates and whalers who etched their names into the cliffs and inside caves. Due to explosive eruptions that have occurred at the site, the substrate has a large amount of volcanic rocks of different sizes. Among the most common are small spherically shaped balls known as the "lapilli" or petrified rain.

A short, steep hike brings you past Darwin Lake, a deep saltwater lake and a great spot for viewing land birds such as ground and tree finches, hawks, large-billed flycatchers, yellow warblers and sometimes the woodpecker finch.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 7
Galapagos: Fernandina Island

AM: Espinoza Point, Fernandina Island
Espinoza Point is famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas and as the habitat of species such as the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin, Galapagos hawk and Galapagos snake. Other attractions include sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Espinoza Point is one of the best places to see the lava cactus. La Cumbre volcano dominates the landscape.

PM: Punta Vicente Roca
This is one of the most impressive and spectacular places in the enchanting Galapagos Islands, with high cliffs, tuff stone, ash and lava formations giving the area a majestic touch. Located on the north-western coast of the island, this large bay has a spectacular marine life with seahorses, sea turtles and the strange yet fascinating mola-mola or sunfish. It is a great place for snorkelling. It is common to see ‘’feeding frenzies” with groups of whales, dolphins, sea lions, tuna, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, pelicans and other marine birds all feeding simultaneously.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 8
Galapagos: Santiago Island

AM: Playa Espumilla, Santiago Island
Espumilla Beach is located on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay. The beach is an important site for nesting marine turtles. A walk through the mangrove forest leads to a lagoon usually inhabited by a group of flamingos as well as pintail ducks and common stilts.

PM: Puerto Egas, Santiago Island
It's black beach is located on the west side of the island
and is the main attraction of the island. Their volcanic tuff deposits have favoured the formation of this special black sand beach. This site is called Puerto Egas, because there was an attempt to start the exploitation of salt, which failed because the price of salt in the continent was very cheap, and did not justify its exploitation in Galapagos. The project was abandoned and the infrastructure was left abandoned.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 9
Galapagos: Rabida & Chinese Hat

AM: Rabida Island
Rabida Island is unique because of the red colour of the rocks and sand. The volcanic material in this island is extremely porous and external factors such as rain, salt water and sea breeze have acted as an oxidizing agents.

A short walk along a trail leads you to a coastal lagoon behind the beach where you can observe land birds such as finches, doves, yellow warblers and mockingbirds. At the lagoon there is a colony of flamingos.

PM: Chinese Hat
Sombrero Chino is a small islet (1 sq km) located just off the south eastern tip of Santiago Island and composed of delicate lava and spatter cones. It is a recent volcanic cone, shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from the north side. It is an excellent site for interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows. The landscape is covered by sea lion colonies, marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 10
Galapagos: Santiago & Bartolome Island

AM: Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island
Santiago, also called James, or San Salvador Island, is located in the western central part of the Galapagos archipelago. It is the fourth largest island in the archipelago (following Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Cruz). Along with some of the large western volcanoes of Isabela and Fernandina, Santiago is also volcanically active, with many young flows and cones to be seen, particularly along the south, west and east coasts. A number of historic eruptions have been reported over the last 2 centuries. Lava is the main focus of the visit here with reddish-yellow tuff cones standing out in the middle of the lava flow and tiny Mollugo plants growing out of the fissures.

PM: Bartolome Island
Bartolome Island is situated across from Sullivan Bay. It has an altitude of 114 metres and is famous for its distinctive Pinnacle Rock. From the island’s summit there are spectacular views of Pinnacle Rock, the vast black lava flows at Sullivan Bay and the rest of Santiago Island. There are volcanic cones, lunar-like craters, lava fields and lava flows. There is very little vegetation on this island but the tequila plant grows here as does the lava cactus. Marine turtles are found here as well as a very small colony of Galapagos penguins.

Overnight onboard the Seaman Journey

Day 11
Galapagos: Santa Cruz Island Quito or Guayaquil

AM: Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz Island
Bachas Beach is found to the west of Turtle Cove. The sandy white-coral beach is a major nesting site for sea turtles. There is a small lagoon behind the beach where it is possible to observe flamingos and other birds such as black-necked stilts, white-cheeked pintail ducks and whimbrels. There are the remains of a floating dock and old abandoned barges used by the Americans during WWII to be found here.

After the morning excursion you will be taken to Baltra Airport for your flight back to the mainland.
This flight can be to either Guayaquil or Quito, on Ecuador's mainland, depending on what suits your onward arrangments.

**Please note Galapagos Island itineraries are subject to change

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 20 3 nights boutique hotel in Quito
  • Included Copy 20 7 night Galapagos Islands cruise in a double/twin cabin
Food
  • Included Copy 20 Breakfast daily, and other meals as outlined in the included sightseeing tours
  • Included Copy 20 All meals during the Galapagos cruise
  • Included Copy 20 Unlimited purified water, coffee and tea onboard
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 All transfers & airport assistance
  • Included Copy 20 All visits and excursions according to the itinerary
  • Included Copy 20 Round trip flight to/from Galapagos
  • Included Copy 20 Naturalist Bilingual Guide level III
  • Included Copy 7 Galapagos Islands National Park Entrance Fee & TCT USD$220 (Subject to change)
  • Included Copy 20 Snorkel Gear (mask, tube and fins)
  • Included Copy 20 Kayaks
  • Included Copy 7 International Flights, Visa and reciprocity fees (if applicable), tips, travel insurance
Transportation

Galapagos Seaman Journey

16 Passengers

Activities

  • Included Walk along lava fields and hike to the top of Bartolome Island
  • Included Bird watching - Blue footed booby, flightless cormorant, Galapagos hawk and many more
  • Included Chances to see and snorkel with Galapagos penguins
  • Included Visit Cotopaxi National Park, home to the highest active volcano in the world
  • Included Photography opportunities - Take shots of marine iguanas up close and personal at Espinoza Point
  • Included Snorkelling and swimming
  • Included Excursions by dinghy and kayak
  • Included Walks in the Galapagos
  • Included Small ship cruise in the Galapagos Islands
Tour on Special!
Click here for dates & prices
Tour on Special!
Free Return Domestic Economy Class Flight offer to and from the Galapagos Islands Book by 30 April
Duration

11 days

Price from

$7,905 USD

Per person, sharing

Selected Tuesdays