The Galapagos Islands – Southern Islands
In the extraordinary archipelago Charles Darwin called "a little world within itself," surround yourself with swimming-basking-flying examples of perfect adaptation.
Feel the thrill of encountering the flora and fauna that famously inspired Darwin—and in his footsteps, generations of nature lovers. Undiscovered by Europeans until the 16th century, the Galapagos Islands hold a central position in modern scientific and evolutionary history. In a place where human presence is relatively minimal, take the opportunity to observe and photograph these remarkable species up close—either sitting quietly to watch blue-footed boobies or snorkeling with inquisitive and playful sea lions.
- During a full day tour of Quito, marvel at the gold leaf interior of the Jesuit Church of la Compañía—a fine example of the mix of European influences and indigenous art called the Baroque school of Quito; enjoy a lunch of Ecuadorian specialties; and view a unique collection of pre-Columbian art.
- Observe with remarkable proximity the diversity of endemic species such as the Nazca, red- and blue-footed boobies; giant tortoises; marine iguanas; and the famous Darwin’s finches.
- Discover the myriad of aquatic wildlife in the clear waters of the world's second largest marine reserve.
- Snorkel with sea lions, colorful tropical fish, and sea turtles—or observe them through a glass bottom boat.
- Explore secluded inlets and stroll sweeping white sand beaches such as Gardner Bay, where sea lions lounge and Española mockingbirds sing.
- Visit dramatic and historic places, including the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island, the perfect habitat to see the Galapagos Giant Tortoise, and Cerro Brujo, one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin.
- What’s included: 2 nights at the 5-star Casa Gangotena hotel in Quito prior to embarkation; 4 nights aboard the Isabela II, with exploration by panga or glass-bottom boat, naturalist-led hikes and excursions, and evening lectures; 1 night at Wyndham Guayaquil after disembarkation; a welcome reception in Quito, 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 4 dinners (served with house wine) including a farewell dinner; all excursions and presentations; complimentary use of kayaks, paddle boards, shorty wetsuits, and snorkeling equipment; Galapagos National Park entrance fee and transit card; internal air travel (from Quito to the islands on day 3, and return to Guayaquil on day 7); gratuities to local guides, drivers in Quito and Guayaquil, and hotel porters; and airport transfers for guests arriving and departing during the suggested times.