WHY WE LOVE THIS ADVENTURE
The unique wildlife of the Galápagos Islands is abundant, and thanks to a lack of natural predators, visitors can get up close; an experience of harmony that is unforgettable.
LESS IS MORE
With a maximum of 48 guests, fewer passengers onboard means that expeditions are made up of a small group and your guides will be able to share with you the natural and cultural history of the area.
Visit the culturally rich city of Quito and spend time exploring Spanish historic sites and a Pre-Columbian Art Museum.
This trip visits seven different islands, giving you the opportunity to explore the different ecosystems of each island and view a variety of wildlife.
No hidden fees for excursions gives you the option to kayak, hike, snorkel, take a glass-bottom boat ride, or hang out onboard and enjoy the view.
Darwin’s Islands Inquiry Request
Day 1 – Quito – Arrival
Welcome to Ecuador! Begin your journey in this historic city rich in legends and culture. Your first stop is the grand Casa Gangotena, voted the #1 Hotel in Ecuador by TripAdvisor and where you will stay these first two nights. A gorgeous example of Spanish Colonial style, enjoy this restored boutique hotel just steps away from picturesque Plaza de San Francisco, built atop Incan temples and markets.
Day 2 – Quito
Once called the Northern Capital of the Inca Empire, the capital city of Quito has long been a center of commerce and culture. The city’s growth after the Spanish took over in 1534 included the building of many outstanding convents, monasteries and churches, earning Quito the title, “Capital of Art of Spanish America.” Discover why the city’s exquisitely preserved historic center is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site-departing from your hotel, a walking tour explores its past, present, and future. With time on your own in the afternoon, opt for a visit to the fascinating pre-Columbian, Museo Casa del Alabado or explore the cultural center at leisure. Your full day of exploration ends at a local restaurant with sunset views overlooking the city.
Day 3 – Quito / Isla Baltra – Embark / Isla Seymour Norte
On this morning, travel to the second UNESCO World Heritage Site on your itinerary: the legendary Galápagos Islands. From Quito, fly to Isla Baltra where your captain and crew welcome you aboard Yacht La Pinta. As Charles Darwin certainly was in 1835, you’ll be awed by the unique beauty of the islands as you take your first exploratory steps on Isla Seymour Norte-home to Blue-footed boobies and Magnificent Frigate birds. Formed by volcanic uplift, the small island of scruffy vegetation is ideal nesting terrain. Get an up-close view of these birds’ quirky characteristics by hike and panga ride.
Day 4 – Isla Isabela / Isla Fernandina
Explore Punta Vicente Roca, a marine site of impressive geological formations, by panga-your guide helps with decoding the visible clues of the islands’ fiery beginnings. Beyond the geology, spy winged residents including Blue-footed boobies and flightless cormorants. The wildly rocky coast with a partially sunken cave provides phenomenal conditions for a menagerie of fish and green sea turtles. If conditions allow, don your mask, fins, and snorkel for a dive with a close-up view! Later, stretch your legs on a guided walk experiencing one of the most pristine islands in the Galápagos, Isla Fernandina. The island’s active volcano erupted as recently as 2009. Thousands of bright land iguanas reside here, and it’s also a favorite haunt of Galápagos penguins.
Day 5 – Isla Isabela
Large in landmass and young at 1 million years old, Isla Isabela supports abundant wildlife and sea life. An Urbina Bay shore walk reveals large, colorful land iguanas and perhaps giant tortoises. Crossing from Urbina Bay to Tagus Cove, scan the water for whales and dolphins that frequent BolÌvar Channel from one of La Pinta’s spacious decks. At Tagus Cove-an otherworldly landscape of eroded tuff cones-there’s a chance to snorkel, kayak, or ride a panga before hiking the backside of Darwin Crater to a saltwater lake. There’ll be excellent opportunities for viewing penguins, Galápagos Hawks, cormorants, petrified rain (bits of lava that cooled quickly after contacting water), and old signatures from pirates and whalers etched into the rock.
Day 6 – Isla Rábida / Isla Santa Cruz
Isla Rábida’s unusual red beach is a favorite sunbathing spot for sea lions and marine iguanas. Go eye-to-eye with Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, Yellow Warblers, several species of Darwin’s Finches, and pelicans. The warm maroon-colored beach also makes a great jumping in spot for from-the-beach snorkeling. Or keep your eyes above the waterline, inspecting marine life from the glass-bottom boat. You’ll have a birds-eye view from Isla Santa Cruz hiking Cerro DragÛn-or, Dragon Hill-and enjoy a well-earned panorama of the western islands, the bay below you, and possibly even lounging land iguanas.
Day 7 – Isla Santa Cruz
Today, it’s all about the magnificent giant tortoise. Touring the Charles Darwin Research Station, you’ll witness the exceptional conservation program where baby tortoises, “galapaguitos,” are reared in protective captivity until they are old enough to safely repatriate back to their native areas. Embrace Galápagos conservation by learning about threats that still endanger this fragile ecosystem. After a lingering poolside lunch at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel (bring your swimsuit just in case), explore the misty, forested highlands and see the lumbering and charming tortoises in their natural habitat. You’ll also have a chance to walk inside the island’s famed lava tubes for a geological exploration of these remarkable volcanic channels.
Day 8 – Isla Floreana
Your day will be chock-full of adventure, with opportunities to snorkel, hike, kayak, skiff, ride the glass-bottom boat, or simply relax on the beach. Send a note home from Post Office Bay, dropping your postcard in Isla Floreana’s famous, historic barrel mailbox. Then take in the island’s geologic history with a panga ride or kayak investigation of its maze of volcanic channels. A stop at Baroness Viewpoint provides the perfect vantage for a photo-op. A tale of two beaches, walk along the green olivine beach of Punta Cormorant to a brackish lagoon known to be a flamingo hideout, then on to a white-sand beach where green sea turtles come ashore to rest at night.
Day 9 – Isla Baltra / Quito – Disembark
Your adventure of a lifetime aboard La Pinta concludes on Isla Baltra. From here, transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito and await your connecting flight home.
Flexible, Fun & Full!
Your days will be filled from the moment you wake until you retire to your cabin with opportunities for group meals, off-ship outings, and presentations in the evening. You can choose to participate in the activities and presentations each day or sit them out, but one thing is for sure, this cruise will keep you moving!
We’ve been connecting our clients to water adventures around the world since 1987. We partner with select outfitters who share our values and are pros at creating exceptional experiences. There is no fee for our service; we earn our commission from the outfitters we represent, and the cost of your expedition is the same as booking direct.
Your adventure will begin in historic Quito, Ecuador for your first two night’s lodging at Casa Gangotena. The following morning you will explore the Incan and Spanish cultural history of Quito.
On your final day, you will disembark on Isla Baltra for your connecting flight (included in the trip price) back to Quito, Ecuador and your flight home.
All onboard meals and Day 2 meals in Quito, Ecuador; onboard premium spirits, wine, and beer; non-alcoholic beverages; 2 nights’ deluxe hotel accommodations in Quito; airfare between Quito/Galápagos; exclusive transfers and baggage handling between airport/hotel/yacht on embark/disembark days; port taxes/fees; entry fees to national parks/preserves; all from-the-yacht adventure activities and equipment; wellness offerings including hot tub and fitness equipment.
Weather & Water Temperature
The Galápagos Islands are beautiful all year round due to their equatorial location with guaranteed excellent wildlife viewing, no matter when you visit. From June – October, temperatures are usually between 65ºF – 75ºF and the water is slightly cooler due to the southern trade winds bringing colder currents north to the Galápagos. This time of year, is also considered the “dry season” which is known for its blue skies and mid-day showers. From February – May, warmer waters head towards the Galápagos again with daytime temperatures between 70ºF – 80ºF. During this warmer season, the Galápagos climate is more tropical with daily rain and cloudier skies.
This is a small-scale cruise with a maximum number of 48 guests and a generous guest to guide ratio of 1.7 guests for each crew member. This means that you will have plenty of opportunities to learn about the local ecology and culture of the area, as well as have expert instruction for all your adventure activities.
Meet La Pinta, a spacious vessel with 24 guest cabins that offers ample vantage points for taking in the sights from one of three decks. The ship carries all the adventure equipment for guests including sea kayaks, snorkeling equipment, wetsuits, and a glass-bottom boat. All cabins are equipped with an iPod docking station, air conditioning, private bath with shower, and generous closet space. The interior spaces include a natural history library and an intimate, comfortable dining room, an ideal space for sharing stories with your fellow travelers. If you need a break from your adventure, enjoy the hot tub or fitness area.
You can look forward to a delicious daily menu filled with meals designed to include locally sourced ingredients when possible. For breakfast – you can choose from an early riser breakfast with fresh baked pastries and fruit or a full breakfast with hot, cold, and specialty dishes. For lunch – you will find a range of salads, sandwiches, and homemade soups. For happy hour – enjoy a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres in the lounge. For dinner -choose from several entrÈes including fresh, local seafood and meats or a vegetarian dish with a chef-selected wine pairing and be sure to leave room for an indulgent dessert, such as tiramisu.
Length: 8 nights
Price: $8,295 – $8,995 per person; save $500 for children
8-13 years old
Season: February – August; October
Min. Age: 8 years
Activity: Expedition Cruise
Adventure Level: Mild
Overview of Darwin’s Islands