Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin on this inspirational small-group adventure through the enchanted islands of the Galapagos. Splash with sea turtles and fur sea lions, walk among giant tortoises, flamingos and iguanas, and spot flightless cormorants and endemic wildlife found nowhere else on earth - all under the guidance of your MT Sobek naturalist guide. Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking offer you astonishing opportunities to get close to the wildlife underwater and on land. After each action-filled day, return to the luxury of your private yacht to rest and re-energize. This classic route takes in the natural wonders of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, Rábida and Sombrero Chino Islands. Please note that actual itinerary routes vary from departure to departure — for more information about the islands each departure will visit, call for details.
Welcome to the historic city of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. An MT Sobek representative will meet you outside customs at the airport and escort you to your hotel. After settling in at the hotel, the rest of the day is free unwind, take advantage of the pool's spa services or begin your exploration of this dynamic city. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before setting out on half-day guided tour of colonial Quito. The city's UNESCO-listed old town contains the best examples of Colonial Baroque architecture in South America! After lunch, you are free to explore more of the old town, return to the hotel, or shop for handicrafts made by local artisans.
Gather in the hotel at 6:30pm for a briefing with your fellow travelers and MT Sobek representative, who will discuss tomorrow's flight to the Galápagos Islands and the adventure ahead. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Rise for breakfast and an early transfer flight from Quito to Baltra Island in the Galápagos. After meeting your naturalist guide, take a short transfer from Baltra to Santa Cruz Island. Here a private vehicle awaits to take you to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz for a special opportunity to see giant tortoises in their wild and natural habitat. The Galapagos Islands are named after these magnificent, ancient creatures and the experience with them is magical. Next, transfer to Puerto Ayora for a stroll along the main street to the harbor, where you will board your private yacht. Enjoy a welcome dinner onboard.
Please note that Days 4 to 9 may slightly vary depending on your departure date. From your anchorage on the southern end of Isabela Island, board a Zodiac (a small, motorized inflatable boat) to explore Tintoreras - a group of volcanic islets. Follow a trail to observe marine iguanas, sea lions, and marine birds diving for fish. Return to the yacht and cruise to the western side of Isabela Island. Enjoy views of the island's pristine coastline, and keep lookout for dolphins and whales. After lunch, anchor at Punta Moreno for a walk across a pahoehoe lava flow, surrounded by giant shield volcanoes and a series of green lagoons - abundant with wildlife, including flamingos, blue-footed boobies, Darwin's finches, and flightless cormorants. If time allows, take your first snorkel this afternoon. Return to the boat for cocktail hour and dinner.
Start the day at Elizabeth Bay, where you will set off by Zodiac to explore tranquil coves and a red mangrove lagoon, home to green sea turtles, flightless cormorants, and Galápagos penguins! Get in the water for a snorkel and you may also spot rays and small sharks among tropical fish. After lunch, continue to Urbina Bay - famous for having uplifted 15 feet along 2 miles of coastline exposing corals and invertebrates in its strata. Follow your guide on the trail to look for Galápagos land iguanas, Galápagos hawks, finches, and giant tortoises (mostly seen between January and June.)
Awake at your anchorage near Punta Espinosa on Fernandina Island - said to be the largest ecologically pristine island in the world and one of the highlights of the trip. This island is an active shield volcano which had an eruption as recently as 2018. Upon landing, take a walk on black lava fields in search of marine iguanas, colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs and Galápagos sea lions lounging in its lagoons. In the afternoon, anchor at Tagus Cove on Isabela and embark on a snorkeling excursion. This is a good place to look for Galapagos penguins underwater! Later, go ashore to inspect the inscriptions left by pirates and hike to nearby Darwin Lake, perched above sea level, but full of saltwater.
Wake for a wet landing on Santiago's soft, sandy Espumilla Beach. Walk the island's lagoon and beach in search of raptors and finches before suiting up for cliff-side kayaking and snorkeling. Perhaps the finest snorkel of the trip, you will be amazed by the array of colorful marine life, from angelfish and rays to sea turtles and white-tipped reef sharks. After lunch, land on the dark, sandy volcanic beach of Puerto Egas. The trail follows the rocky coastline, where tide pools are home to sponges, hermit crabs, and fish including the world's only four-eyed blenny. Sea lions bask on the rocks, along with marine iguanas and shore birds. At the end of the trail, we'll visit the grottos for a chance to see a colony of Galápagos fur seals up close.
Rise to explore Santa Cruz Island's Cerro Dragón. Named after its large population of land iguanas, this area has one of the longest trails in the islands (2 miles). Spot flamingos in a salt-water lagoon before lunch and then head to Rábida. The volcanic "small red island" is located near the center of the archipelago, and its red-sand beach is home to sea lions and pups. Behind the beach is a brackish lagoon, home to migratory shorebirds, wading birds, and ducks. Two species of boobies nest along the cliffs. Snorkel with Galápagos penguins along the cliff face or swim with sea lion pups - another highlight of the trip!
Las Bachas is a beautiful, white-sand beach on the north side of Santa Cruz. Encounter sea lions on the beach, look for flamingos and great blue herons in the lagoon, and spot hatchlings' footprints leading from the nest to the water's edge (sea turtles nest here from December to April). After our last lunch onboard the yacht, disembark by Zodiac for a snorkeling excursion near North Seymour Island, known for its dense breeding colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds. Keep an eye out for shorebirds, sea lions, marine iguanas, and huge land iguanas as you walk North Seymour's loop trail in the afternoon. Back on the boat tonight, enjoy a festive farewell cocktail hour and a group dinner with the captain.
After breakfast aboard the yacht, disembark and transfer to the Baltra airport for the return flight to Quito. An MT Sobek representative will greet you at Quito airport and provide assistance to your nearby hotel.
Use the complimentary airport shuttle to transfer to the airport in time for your outbound flight, or opt to stay on in Quito to join us for one of our extensions in Ecuador or Peru!
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Island cruising by deluxe yacht with daily Zodiac excursions to explore hidden coves. Hike, snorkel, kayak, and swim among unique endemic wildlife.
Luxurious comfort aboard a sleek and modern yacht with a full crew to cater to your every need. Also includes an upscale hotel in Quito.
Mild climate year-round. Dec-May has daytime temperatures 76-86°F and water temperatures of 70-75°F. Jun-Nov has daytime temperatures of 67-77°F and water temperatures of 65-72°F.
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