Sails and Sea Turtles
Are you ready to discover a world of wonderful wildlife? First things first, it’s on to a private city tour of Quito. Over the course of a full day you’ll take in gorgeous hilltop views of the city from Panecillo Hill and San Juan Mirador, explore the historic city center and visit many of the churches and colonial-era buildings. After a stop for lunch, head to the Middle of the World monument to check out both sides of the earth’s equator. Finish up with a wander around the amazing landscapes of Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve.
You'll spend two nights at the boutique-style Hotel Patio Andaluz, located in the historical center of Quito.
Santa Cruz Island
On day three you’ll leave the city behind and head to the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island for your first stop in the Galapagos. Lush and green, the highland forests are a contrast to the arid coastal landscapes and home to many bird species including the short-eared owl. Tuck into lunch at a local ranch then head out in search of famous giant tortoises, which migrate from the highlands to the coast. Next up visit the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre where you’ll be able to view the tortoises in four different stages: eggs, neonates, juveniles and adults.
It’s all hands on deck as you set sail on board the S/S Mary Anne, a fully working tall ship. Cruising by wind power alone, the lack of engine noise will attract more marine mammals such as whales and dolphins; and you’ll have the maritime adventure of your life as you join your fellow sea mates aboard.
Today it’s off to Floreana, the legendary homestead of infamous Baroness Eloise Von Wagner de Bousquet. After a wet landing on the beach, look for Greater Flamingos as you make your way to another beach with fine sands and a sea turtle nesting ground. Here you might also spot sharks or rays in the water. Later take a short panga ride out to snorkel in the iconic Devil’s Crown – this volcanic crater is an epic snorkelling site. After lunch head to Post Office Bay where you can drop off your postcards in the barrel, once a historic site where whalers communicated.
The next day you’ll explore the island's Black Beach, where you’ll learn the fascinating human history of the island and its first inhabitants. Visit the freshwater source and the cave that served as a pirate hideout! Afterward, you'll head out on full afternoon navigation on board the Mary Anne in search of whales and dolphins. Wrap up your time on Floreana with the impressive landscapes of Isabela and the Cerro Azul volcano.
On Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos, you’ll see a superb pahoehoe lava flow surrounded by giant shield volcanoes, then it’s a short hike to a lagoon in search of flamingos. In the afternoon hop off at Urbina Bay and check out Black Sand Beach, another popular nesting site for green sea turtles. Hike the island in search of land iguanas and giant tortoises that migrate to and from the highland. Back on the beach take in the impressive landscape of coral heads and marine fossils. If the sea conditions permit, it’s also a great spot for a snorkel.
The next morning starts at Tagus Cove, a historical pirate hideaway where ship names have been inscribed on the cliff face. Hike to Darwin Lake, a salt-water crater lagoon surrounded by tuff stone, before crossing the Bolivar Channel to Fernandina. One of the most pristine sites, you’ll spend your time here strolling the shoreline in search of cormorants, Galapagos sea lions, Galapagos penguins and hawks, sooty-colored marine iguanas and bright red‐orange Sally Lightfoot crabs.
On day eight it’s off to Puerto Egas to explore the dark sand volcanic beach and discover more about the interesting human settlement. Watch sleepy fur seals lounge under arches of lava and swim in the crystalline pools, it’s quite an unforgettable sight! In the afternoon head on to Buccaneer Cove, which gets its name from the British Buccaneers who anchored here to collect supplies and clean their ships. Spend your time here checking out the two unusual rock formations known as the monk and elephant rock. Afterward, head to Espumilla on Santiago, and take a forest trail in search of yellow warblers, Galapagos flycatchers and Darwin finches.
North Seymour Island
In the morning cross over to Sullivan Bay and walk over recent lava flow where you’ll see lava bubbles containing crystallized minerals and pioneer plants. At the shoreline lookout for Galapagos penguins and herons hunting small fish. Later in the afternoon head to North Seymour, a small island where you’ll walk right up to nesting colonies of the two species of frigate birds, blue‐footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls. Depending on the season you might even catch a mating ritual!
Your cruise will wrap up with the small islet of Mosquera. Although it’s small (just 160m across!) it’s home to one of the largest sea lion colonies and is a real magnet for shorebirds. On occasion, it also attracts Orcas who come in search of sea lions. Afterward sail to Baltra, where the cruise ends. Wrap up your exciting trip with a private tour of Guayaquil, a vibrant coastal city, during which you’ll explore the Malecón, Las Peñas neighborhood, and the Historical Park. You'll spend the night at the Oro Verde Hotel and then it's time to head to the airport for your flight home.