• Duration
  • 8 Days
  • Activity Level
  • Moderate
  • Group Size
  • 40
The Galapagos Islands – Northern Itinerary

The Galapagos Islands – Northern ItineraryItinerary

Day 1: En Route from U.S. / Arrive in Quito, Ecuador
After an evening arrival in Quito, transfer to your award-winning hotel for a comfortable night's sleep.
Overnight: Casa Gangotena – Quito 

Day 2: Quito
Head out for a full-day, guided tour of historic Old Town. A local expert will take you through the Quito neighborhood called San Roque, where you'll visit with local artisans, including shopkeepers, hat makers, and sweet confectioners. Explore the San Francisco Market—one of the oldest in the capital. There, learn about unique Ecuadorian fruits and vegetables, as well as local culinary traditions.

Continue your journey to the cobbled street of La Ronda, featuring balconies festooned with colorful flags. Stop by a chocolatier to learn how cacao beans are processed, and taste the finest chocolates of Ecuador! 

Next, head north toward the political heart of the city. Following a brief narrative, stroll to the Jesuit church of la Compañía to admire its stunning gold-leaf interior. Relax and enjoy lunch that highlights the unique and diverse flavors of this culturally rich South American country. 

In the afternoon, head to the Casa del Alabado Archaeological Museum, inside a restored 17th-century colonial mansion, to view its collection of pre-Columbian art. This evening, meet your traveling companions for a welcome reception and prepare for your upcoming adventure.
Overnight: Casa Gangotena – Quito (B,L,R) 

Day 3: Quito / Flight to Baltra / Santa Cruz: Highlands | Puerto Ayora – Embarkation
Arrive by plane to Baltra Airport and transfer to the Itabaca Channel to ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. After a short, scenic drive across Santa Cruz Island, arrive in the Highlands to enjoy lunch and visit the iconic species for which the Galapagos Islands are named. Spot the saddle-backed shell of the lumbering Galapagos giant tortoise and walk among them. Your naturalist guide describes their habits and the conservation efforts surrounding this remarkable reptile. 

Take a late afternoon stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora before embarking on Isabela II

Join the captain this evening for a cocktail and briefing on the exciting activities to come. 
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D) 

Day 4: Santiago: Puerto Egas | Chinese Hat Islet
This morning offers a wonderful opportunity to see land and seabirds. Following a wet landing onto the black, sandy beach, take a trail that leads to close-up encounters with recently reintroduced land iguanas amid a landscape full of tuff-stone layers and lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas can be spotted grazing upon the algae beds and colonies of fur seals seen on Santiago Island at Puerto Egas. Enjoy snorkeling and swimming at this active location.

Santiago also has several satellite islands, including Bartolomé and Chinese Hat. The Chinese Hat Islet, formed only fairly recently, features a 1,312-foot long wildlife trail, which begins at a crescent-shaped, white sandy beach. The cove is ideal for swimming and snorkeling among white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos penguins.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D) 

Day 5: Genovesa: Prince Philip's Steps |  Darwin Bay   
After breakfast, embark on a panga ride along the cliffs of Genovesa Island (also known as Bird Island) before visiting Prince Philip’s Steps, a steep but short climb up a wooden staircase. Once at the top, the terrain is flat, which allows for a mesmerizing, mile-long walk to the other side of this small island. Along the way, watch for large colonies of Nazca boobies, great frigatebirds, and storm petrels, as well as the elusive short-eared owl. Those not wishing to hike on shore can enjoy a longer panga ride along the cliffs (depending on weather conditions). Snorkeling and kayaking activities are available here, too.

Following lunch, make a wet landing at the beach on Darwin Bay for a walk to observe hundreds of birds, such as frigatebirds, red-footed and Nazca boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D) 

Day 6: Santa Fe / South Plaza 
This morning, visit an idyllic sandy-white beach populated by colonies of sea lions. Galapagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The Santa Fe land iguana may also be spotted during our exploration. Enjoy a leisurely walk, followed by time to snorkel and swim along a natural wave barrier. Or, take a glass-bottom boat ride.

On the final afternoon, disembark with a dry landing in the South Plaza Island channel, just off the coast of Santa Cruz. South Plaza is full of life, color, and extraordinary creatures, including the hybrid iguana. Admire the contrast of turquoise waters with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Look along the coastline to find sea lion colonies, while frigates, and shearwaters glide and play with the thermals. Red-billed tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls are some of the many birds that can be found nesting along the cliffs. South Plaza is also home to the beautiful succulent Sesuvium, which changes from bright green in the rainy season to red, orange, and purple during the dry season. 

This evening, join fellow travelers and crew for a festive farewell toast followed by dinner.
Overnight: Isabela II (B,L,D) 

Day 7: Baltra – Disembarkation / Flight to Quito, Ecuador 
Bid a fond adiós to the Isabela II crew this morning prior to departing Baltra for Quito, where you will spend the final evening of the program.
Overnight: Hilton Colon – Quito (NOTE: post-tour guests may overnight at an alternate hotel near the airport) (B,L-aloft) 

Day 8: Quito / Depart for U.S.
After breakfast, guests departing during the suggested times will take a complimentary transfer to the airport for flights home. Guests continuing on the post-tour will depart Quito for flights to Cusco, Peru. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, R = Reception

(Itinerary subject to change.)

Activity Level:

Moderate

Guests should be sure-footed on stairs and able to walk at least one mile on rocky, volcanic, and uneven ground. Some nature hikes will be on irregular and steep terrain. Guests should also be comfortable managing wet beach landings and boarding small vessels, both from shore and the deck of the Isabela II. Also keep in mind that you will experience varying altitudes to which you may not be accustomed. 

Maximum elevation: 9,350 feet in Quito, Ecuador