Galapagos / Ecuador
Quito, Galapagos, Puerto Baqueirzo, San Cristobal Island, Santa Fe Island, South Plaza, Punta Suarez, Espanola Island, Baltra Island, North Seymour, Isabela Island,...
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
The highest rated Galapagos Islands tour on Zicasso will give you access to flamboyant memoirs to evolution that are found across the whole Galapagos archipelago, each of the 13 islands providing a unique theater of flora and fauna. From the endemic bird engulfed islands of the east to the marine delights of the West, a luxury 10-day cruise reveals all the iconic Galapagos sites, allowing you to indulge in all the remarkable wildlife that calls this place home. Cruise and create your personalized...
Quito - A Leisurely Welcome to Ecuador
An evening arrival in Quito and city lights fill the valley, the cascade of illuminations visible from your room at your luxury hotel. Flanked by volcanic mountains, Quito is a hilly stretched city and this hotel in the new part of town provides commanding views down onto the central suburbs. You'll be greeted at the airport and privately transferred to this hotel. Check in and relax in the hotel's spa, before choosing from any of the five onsite restaurants. It's a leisurely start that helps you reenergize for the cruise that starts tomorrow.
Galapagos Islands - Endemic Characters on San Cristobal Island
The red feet of boobies guard white eggs at nesting sites across San Cristobal Island. Blue-footed boobies provide the contrast to their strange relatives while the Nazca boobies prove you don't need flamboyant feet to provide impressive color. After flying to the Galapagos and boarding your ship, your first excursion is to this remarkable island. Boobies have come to symbolize the evolution and diversity of Galapagos wildlife and a walk along the island tip at Punta Pitt offers astonishing proximity with all three varieties. White fluffy babies gaze with curiosity as you wander past thousands of these unique birds. Males flutter their feathers and prepare nests, hoping to entice picky females. A dance, an extended tail feather and it seems the couple will mate...but no, there's lots of competition here and the female flies to another potential partner.
Return onboard for your first night on the water. This large and modern boat is ideal for cruising to distant parts of the archipelago. There's space for 90 passengers with seven naturalist guides leading small groups during the activities. Large social areas and a huge upper deck provide a choice of relaxation space while the dining room hums with excitement as three splendid meals a day are provided. At nearly 70-meters in length, the ship is also excellent at repelling the threat of seasickness. The en-suite cabins are spacious and well appointed, offering a comfortable base for the cruise. Read for yourself what other travelers are saying, and why they claim this itinerary as one of the best Galapagos tours.
Galapagos Islands - Getting Personal with Sea Lions and Unusual Iguanas
Sunrise tones glisten off the turquoise waves on your first morning on board. A dinghy takes you over to a slice of white sand that frolics with the antics of sea lions. Dozens of them flop on the sand, twisting their necks to inspect your arrival. Wander around the volcanic island and the endemic Santa Fe land iguana waits beneath prickly-pear cactus trees, waiting for a fruit to finally drop. Then there's ample time to swim and snorkel around the nearby reefs, with sea lions regularly joining you in the water. Most days on the yacht run to a similar program. You enjoy a morning excursion with land and often marine activities, before a leisurely lunch and some relaxed time as the boat cruises to a new site. Afternoon activities round off the wildlife action before you enjoy the sunset and dinner on board.
This afternoon you drop anchor beside South Plaza, where black lava and white sand contrast on the shore. This time, it's yellow-gray land iguanas covering the trail, clearly distinct from the iguanas on Santa Fe. Look carefully, because it's easy to step upon these camouflaged reptiles. Sea lions, white frigates, and swallow-tailed gulls are also a highlight this afternoon.
Galapagos Islands - Giant Tortoises and Kayaking around Santa Cruz
A new day and another iconic species to enjoy. There were once 15 distinct giant tortoise species in the Galapagos, with each island having its own particular endemic variety. That number has since dropped to ten, but there's been a re-emergence of the Santa Cruz giant tortoise. Hundreds of them mow the grass of Santa Cruz, their shells slowly ambling across the green. Move slowly and a tortoise's neck continues to poke out. Move too fast and they quickly disappear into their shells. After enjoying the cool highlands of the island, there's various options for the afternoon, including hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking. The great advantage of a large boat is the number of naturalist guides, meaning you can choose your own activity rather than have to do the activity chosen by the group.
Galapagos Islands - Hawks and Endemic Birds Soar Above the Idyllic Espanola Beach
Hundreds of sea lions cover the coralline beach of Gardner Bay, wading around beneath the wings of circling hawks. But as you're engrossed in their blubbery antics, large seabirds grab your attention. Waved albatross soar past, their mammoth wingspan providing new definitions of Galapagos scale. Nazca and blue-footed boobies are also spotted here, along with the rare red-green-black marine iguanas. The afternoon is a relaxed one, lazing away on the white coral beach beside the sea lions and heading out for snorkeling excursions. Mockingbirds and Darwin's finches provide the soundtrack to the slumber, along with the hefty yelps of male sea lions battling to control the harem.
Galapagos Islands - Marvelous Nesting Sights on North Seymour
An overnight cruise brings you to Baltra Island where many passengers will disembark. The boat has three routes that run continuously and you're staying on board to combine the eastern and western itineraries. So it's a leisurely morning on deck before you cruise over to North Seymour, perhaps the archipelago's most important island for birdlife. Large colonies of blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigates nest here, barely a footstep from the hiking trail. In an instant the frigates pump up their red chests, proudly presenting them to the circling females. The bigger and brighter the better in the Galapagos, but these males also have to prove their housework skills. They create hollowed mounds beneath the female's watchful eye, demonstrating their ability to provide a home.
These unique displays continue just a few meters from your camera lens, along with the flapping of hundreds of baby chicks. And then a squack, a grunt, and a flurry of noise from the nearby cliffs. Local sea lions are also looking to mate, again, barely meters away. Marine iguanas complete the iconic tick list on North Seymour before another relaxed evening on your yacht.
Galapagos Islands - Outstanding Snorkeling with Sea Turtles and Penguins around Fernandina
You will cruise through the night, allowing you to reach the far west of the archipelago by dawn. These western islands are much newer, and their volcanic cones are continuing to erupt, sending twists of lava down the slopes of Isabela. Two extremely unique highlights are the focus of the morning excursions at Punta Vicente Roca on the island. First cormorants. Except these have tiny wings and can't fly. Instead, they've evolved as specialist divers, their denser body mass capable of 80-meter deep dives for food. Watch them dive from the cliffs then snorkel around this abundant site to find sea turtles. These marine giants arrive here to be cleaned of parasites by small fish. And they're not alone. Reef sharks and rays are also regular visitors to these waters.
As whales and dolphins sporadically dot the ocean horizon, you take lunch on board before an afternoon exploring the youngest of the islands, Fernandina. Flightless cormorants are joined on the lava cones by sea lions, sally light-foot crabs, marine iguanas, and large numbers of tiny penguins. This Galapagos variety is the only one to live north of the equator and weighs just 2.5 kgs, something that seems to make them even more enchanting. Fernandina is an extremely protected island and only parts are made accessible to tourists; but these parts showcase what can evolve on an isolated island with no introduced species.
Galapagos Islands - Finches and Strange Reptiles on Isabela Island
Today showcases the dazzling marine world found in the Galapagos. Your ship heads down the west of Isabela Island, where your first activity is an uphill hike to a crater rim for the majestic volcanic panorama. A dinghy ride then coasts along cliffs dotted with all the unusual marine life found in the west of the Galapagos. There's also the chance for a morning snorkel that offers more personal encounters with turtles and rays. The ocean floor has uplifted at Urbina Bay, bringing coral and marine life to the surface. This afternoon, you snorkel around these deep ocean remnants and wander across the corals, taking in vivid land iguanas and the odd giant tortoise. On most days, your snorkel will include swimming flightless cormorants.
Galapagos Islands - A Relaxed Day on Santa Cruz
Another overnight journey and you are back in the central islands and Santa Cruz. Today is very relaxed and you'll be able to customize an itinerary including hiking, biking, and excursions into the lush highlands. It's also a good time to visit the Charles Darwin Research Center and learn more about the science that catapulted the Galapagos to world fame. As always on Santa Cruz, you're never far from a giant tortoise and an iconic postcard image of the ponderous favorite. Back on the boat you watch the sky dance with sunset's color before the constellations provide your evening accompaniment.
Galapagos Islands - Endemic Flora and Volcanic Cones on Floreana Island
History cascades across all the Galapagos Islands although this morning is a little different. Post Office Bay has seen countless pirates and settlers through its history, and there are some intriguing tales to tell, including a three-century-old barrel used for posting letters. A more natural realm is then explored as you wander along narrow channels on the north shore of Floreana. Rays and sharks flicker around Champion Islet, an ancient shield volcano that's become one of the snorkeling highlights of the archipelago. Turtles and huge schools of strange fish surround you in the water, sunbeams glinting off their redolent facades. Now a walk, along an olivine-crystal beach to a water lagoon where flamingos and herons gather in numbers. Keep looking for sea turtles nests in the white sand and open your ears to the tune of the Floreana Mockingbird, another in the long list of endemic species that have graced your Galapagos journey. Enjoy a farewell cocktail with the crew and the last dinner onboard.
Quito -Resting in the Heart of Old Quito
Wave farewell to the sea lions as you disembark your vessel on the airport island of Baltra. After the flight back to Quito you're greeted at the airport and transferred to a boutique hotel in the heart of the old city. The interior takes you back to the 17th-century opulence of the Spanish conquerors, all carved wood and decadent fittings. This heritage building provides an easy chance to discover old Quito without having to leave the hotel. But within a few minutes' walk you'll find various churches and squares that dance to the beat of 16 centuries of history. There are many dining options nearby and the area is a delightful place to explore in the early-evening.
Quito - Departure
An evening flight means the day is free to explore the city. Amble down lanes of turreted balconies and pastel color, shop in converted 16th courtyards, and enter churches that blend various imported styles. Luggage can be stored at the hotel until your departure and there's time for a hearty Ecuadorian lunch on the sublime San Francisco Plaza. In the late-afternoon you're transferred to the airport for your departing flight, and as the lights of Quito disappear beneath the plane's wings, you're recollecting the dozens of iconic species that lit up your Galapagos journey.
- Visit all of the iconic Galapagos sites and tick off the complete list of famous local wildlife
- Enjoy ten days cruising through the Galapagos on a modern ship with large luxury social areas and cabins
- Marvel at endemic birdlife like red and blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants, miniature penguins, the Galapagos albatross, and vivid flamingos
- Admire the theory of evolution by spotting unique reptiles on different islands, including giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and the Santa Fe iguana
- Explore vibrant marine worlds through snorkel and glass-bottom boat excursions, everything from reef sharks to rays and green turtles found along the reef
- Stand beside nesting sights and watch the antics of magnificent frigates, the males inflating their red chests to lure a mate
- Kayak alongside sea lions and swim with playful fur seals
The Galapagos Islands stand like sentinels to natural history, each fiery volcanic remains a testimony to evolution on our planet. They stand on the equator, lost in the Pacific, separated from the rest of the world for all eternity. Some flourish with beds of green, places where daisies rise to five meters high and carpets of grass are mowed by giant tortoises. Others are desolate, supporting only the most specialized of characters, like flightless cormorants or marine iguanas. Along coralline sand, you find huge sea lion harems while penguins escapade beside lava tubes. Every island is unique, home to its own collection of flora and fauna and resembling a snapshot of endemic life. Then below the turquoise waves you find much more, the vibrant finds including a turtle cleaning station, reef sharks, and rays. But with so much awaiting discovery which Galapagos Island do you visit?
A ten-day Galapagos Islands tour on a luxury cruise allows you to explore fully the archipelago, from the bird-covered islands of the east to the new volcanic cones of the west. You'll enjoy astonishing proximity with all of the islands' iconic species; three booby species, curious reptiles, sea lions, playful penguins, the nesting sites of majestic birds. And you'll admire how evolution has been idiosyncratically carved on each distinct island. For ten days, you're completely submerged in natural history, cruising between islands with whales and dolphins for company. Land excursions are accompanied by a continual choice of marine adventures, including kayaking, snorkeling, and glass-bottom boat rides.
The luxury yacht you will cruse on is one of the newest and largest vessels on the archipelago. Multiple social areas provide you with lots of space while the huge upper deck is ideal for watching the islands sail by. With a capacity of 90, this 70-meter boat negates the chances of seasickness and ensures you can always do your choice of activity. Seven naturalist guides take passengers on the excursions and groups are staggered to ensure sites don't become crowded. All meals are included and served in a sumptuous dining room while the large en-suite cabins provide the elegance and comfort required for ten days on board. If interested, consider perusing other tours and cruises around Galapagos Islands.
Completing the tour is two nights in the old city of Quito, the world's first World Heritage Site. It's a chance to switch from sea-legs to land-legs and explore Ecuador's cultural history. Giant tortoises are replaced by giant plazas, flamboyant frigates become ornate churches, and you'll also be impressed by the evolution of life and style in Quito. Yet it's the Galapagos that grabs the headlines and the memories. Ten days captures all the diversity and iconicity of this rare indelible archipelago.
$8,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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