Private Journeys

Signature Galapagos: Island hopping

10 days from £4,720pp

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands / Galapagos Islands

Itinerary

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Day 1

Arrive in Quito, capital of Ecuador.

Upon arrival at high altitude Quito airport in the Andes you will be met and escorted to your boutique hotel in the historic centre of the city. 

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Day 2

Guided walking tour of colonial Quito

Explore Latin America's largest and best preserved colonial quarter through the intimate lens of a guided walking tour. Quito was the first city ever to be listed as a World Heritage Site. Narrow cobblestone streets are lined with whitewashed walls and rising above are the steeples and cupolas of the city´s numerous spectacularly decorated historic churches.

Walk through the main plaza, where you will see the Government Palace, the Cathedral and churches built in the 16th and 17th centuries including the richly ornamented San Francisco Monastery, considered one of the most impressive religious buildings in Latin America and Basilica del Voto Nacional, most famous for its quirky gargoyles.  View the church of Compania de Jesus, bedecked entirely in gold.

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Day 3

Fly to the Galapagos; light aircraft flight to Isabela Island.

Transfer to the international airport and fly by commercial jet to Baltra in the Galapágos Islands (2-3hrs). Connect to your inter-island twin engine light aircraft – which accommodates 5-9 passengers – to continue to Isabela Island.This is a scenic, mind-blowing start to your adventure. (If the flight departure has to be cancelled the journey will be made by speedboat.)

Transfer by road to Scalesia Lodge – it’s just a 20 minute drive. In the afternoon, you begin to get to know this, the youngest side of the archipelago, exploring wetland lagoons and the giant tortoise-breeding centre.

Visit Sucre cave, in an area of farmland where there'll be a short guided walk to survey and learn about the endemic plants. Continue to Mango Gazevo with views over the cultivated landscapes of southern Isabela. You will be able to spot finches there too. Wrap up your day at the stunning white beach of Puerto Villamil before returning to the lodge for dinner. 

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Day 4

Excursion to explore the vast crater of Sierra Negra volcano.

Enjoy an early breakfast before setting out to explore Isabela Island and its most stunning feature: Sierra Negra volcano. Walk along the rim of the world’s second largest caldera (its diameter is a staggering 10km) to observe recent volcanic activity and the resulting fascinating formations.  The rim is smothered in vegetation which clambers down the sides of the rim until it reaches the floor of the caldera.

You'll also visit Volcán Chico, which too is active: sulphur vents can be observed steaming in its vicinity. This volcano is bald of foliage, the rust-red lava tubes with across the barren lunar landscape. You’ll have a guided walk across the lava fields and volcano slopes

Back at the lodge, stroll along the beach at Puerto Villamil, explore the little port or just take it easy in the afternoon. Enjoy an evening drink while catching the sunset – a veritable artist’s palette of pinks, lilacs and golds. 

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Day 5

Wildlife watching and snorkelling in the National Park and Marine Reserve

Today will feature exploration of both the Galápagos National Park and the Marine Reserve. From Puerto Villamil it's just a short boat ride to the islets of Tintoreras, ringed by coves and hidden beaches. You take a guided walk to observe marine iguanas, various species of sea birds and sea-lions, and basking white-tipped reef sharks.

There will also be a boat ride where you can look out for penguins. Your guide will then take you to the aquamarine waters of La Calera or Loberia Chica for some snorkelling among marine turtles, rays, reef fish, starfish and octopus.  There's also a visit to the turtle breeding centre.

In the afternoon you can discover a melancholy bit of the history of Isabela Island at the Wall of Tears, constructed between 1945 and 1959 by prisoners in the now defunct penal colony on the island. 

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Day 6

Visit North Seymour and continue to Finch Bay on Santa Cruz Island.

After breakfast, you’ll be escorted back to Puerto Villamil’s airport. A short flight will take you back to Baltra, where you board the motor yacht Sea Lion for a short cruise to North Seymour Island. Marvel at the sight of Galápagos sea lions and fur seals, blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. Torchwood trees and prickly pears, pillow lava boulders and white sand add to an unforgettable landscape.

In the afternoon cruise to Itabaca Channel and drive across the island Santa Cruz to reach Puerto Ayora, the islands’ largest settlement, a lively town with many shops, bars and restaurants. Just a short dinghy ride away, set in a peaceful beachfront location among mangroves is the top-of-the-range Finch Bay Eco Hotel. Your choice for dinner is up to you: choose the hotel´s high class, signature cuisine or one of the many options in town. 

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Day 7

Explore the highlands of Santa Cruz and spot giant tortoises.

After breakfast, you set off for El Manzanillo. Situated in Santa Cruz’s rugged highlands, which are blanketed in grassland dotted with palms, Manzanillo is within the natural path of one of the species of giant tortoise. A short walk will lead you to the grazing areas and water ponds where these giant reptiles roam at liberty and wallow in pools. The cooler uplands are also home to many interesting land birds, plants and trees exclusive to the archipelago.

You will stop briefly at the volcanic ‘Gemelos’, or Twin Craters (actually collapsed magma chambers surrounded by Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids, where there is a good opportunity to observe Darwin's finches). In the afternoon, you will stop briefly at a farm where tropical crops such as sugar and cocoa are cultivated before returning to enjoy the hotel facilities. 

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Day 8

Cruise to Santa Fé Island, snorkelling opportunities.

After breakfast, board the yacht Sea Lion and cruise to Santa Fé, an impressive volcanic island 16nm from Puerto Ayora. After a wet landing on a pure white sandy beach among basking sea lions, you take as guided walk along a rocky terrain in search of the endemic Santa Fe land iguana patiently waiting under the enormous giant cacti for falling fruits and pads.

Other species to be spotted are pelicans, boobies and the archipelago´s top predator, the Galápagos hawk. Return to the yacht and enjoy one of Galápagos best snorkelling sites. Cruise back to Puerto Ayora, scanning the sea’s surface for marine birds and whales. Enjoy cocktails around the pool and stay for dinner or make it a night out in town. 

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Day 9

Visit Tortuga Bay, turtle beaches and snorkel or kayak off the shore.

After breakfast you’ll leave for Tortuga Bay, voted Ecuador´s best beach. Take a guided walk from Puerto Ayora for 2Km along a paved path to discover more about the arid zone´s deciduous forest and its wildlife inhabitants.

You reach Playa Brava, a stunning 1km long snow-white beach, a seasonal nesting site for the green sea turtles. A few minutes further on Playa Mansa, a secluded natural mangrove cove, has clear and tranquil waters ideal for swimming, snorkelling, paddling on tandem kayaks or stand-up paddle boards.  Or simply enjoy the landscape in the shade of mangroves.

Sail back to The Hotel´s dock at Academy Bay. In the afternoon, you can stroll around the Charles Darwin Research Station where the conservation programme for the giant tortoises was founded.

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Day 10

Fly to Guayquil and connect with international flight.

Transfer to Baltra Island airport and fly to Guayaquil to connect with your international flight or continue with an extension in Ecuador.   

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Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

Papagaio

Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration

Real Latin America Experts

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant

    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

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