Ecuador & Galapagas Cruise Santa Cruz II

Walk the colonial streets of Quito, barter at the colourful Otavalo markets and spot wildlife on a cruise through the Galápagos Islands.

Explore the Galápagos Islands on this eight night tailor-made itinerary. Start your holiday in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, visiting cathedrals and colonial palaces before driving through mountain scenery to Otavalo; test your bargaining skills for ponchos, scarves and blankets at the indigenous market. Spend four nights on the Santa Cruz II cruising through the Galápagos Islands. See all three species of boobies on San Cristobal Island, get up close to marine iguanas on Española Island and go snorkelling in the Santa Fe and South Plaza Islands.

Tour highlights

    • Discover the UNESCO World Heritage site of old town Quito on a guided half day tour.
    • Day trip to the colourful market town of Otavalo a few hours north of Quito where the locals sell their traditional wares.
    • 4 night cruise on the modern Santa Cruz II around the Galapagos Islands.
    • Explore a variety of the Galapagos islands with a mix of hiking, panga rides and snorkelling trips included for you.
    • Flights are included from London Heathrow (regional departures are also available).
    • Itinerary can be tailor made to your requirements.

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrival into Quito

On arrival into Quito you are met and taken by private transfer to your hotel.

Quito, the capital of Ecuador has a setting that few cities in the world can match. During the 13th century it was the prosperous center of the Kingdom of Quitus. It later became the northern capital of the Inca Empire. In the 16th and 17th centuries, colonial architects built formidable temples, monasteries and mansions, creating an urban jewel designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. 

Overnight Hotel Casona de la Ronda. Standard room

INCLUDES : Breakfast

Day 2

Half day Quito city tour

The city tour starts at the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Visit the temple of La Compañía de Jesús and its awesome gilded interior. Continue on to the Monastery of San Francisco, one the of great religious buildings of the New World; its impressive façade and atrium that lead to its Baroque interior influenced by Moorish style, with the winged Virgin of Quito at its main altar. The tour ends at a lookout point with a great view of Quito.

Overnight Hotel Casona de la Ronda. Standard room

INCLUDES : Breakfast

Day 3

Full day Otavalo excursion

This excursion goes north, to the land of the Otavalos and South America’s most famous Indian fair. The Panamerican Highway pass through dramatic mountain scenery to the textile market of Otavalo, where guests will enjoy visiting the many stalls full of ponchos, scarves, blankets, wall hangings, woven belts (fajas), hats, handbags and much more. Here Otavaleños barter in silence, in marked contrast to the raucous noise of other markets; take your time to negotiate the best bargains. Then, proceed to Peguche, an Indian village very near Otavalo that is home to the artisans who do the weaving in their homes; guests can learn about their culture and everyday life. Lunch is at one of the charming country inns or haciendas of the area.

Overnight Hotel Casona de la Ronda. Standard room

INCLUDES : Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4

Quito - Galapagos Islands

Private transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos. The Galapagos national park fee of $120pp is included for you. 

Arrival by plane to San Cristobal Island and transfer to the Santa Cruz, anchored at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the provincial capital of the Galapagos Islands. Cabin assignment, introductory talk, boat drill and lunch. 

Punta Pitt (San Cristobal Island) - In the afternoon, we disembark on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, an eroded tuff cone, whose trail provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together. We can walk or enjoy a panga ride along the coast.

Overnight on Santa Cruz II. Explorer Cabin. 

INCLUDES : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Galapagos excursions

Santa Fe Island/South Plaza Island - After breakfast, we take the panga over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by many sea lions. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Snorkelling and swimming from the panga rounds off our rewarding experience, or if guests prefer, the glass-bottom boat provides an incredible view for non-snorkelers. 

South Plaza Island - Following lunch and a rest, we disembark in this channel, whose turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Beyond, a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as ground cover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for prickly-pears to drop. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls and shear waters glide.

Overnight on Santa Cruz II. Explorer Cabin. 

INCLUDES : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6

Galapagos excursions

Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island) - In the morning, we disembark (dry landing) for our visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station's giant tortoise Breeding Centre within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest home to many land birds. This station is the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park’s administration. Following our visit, we board our transport to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.  

Santa Cruz Island  - We have several options available for the midday and afternoon (hiking, mountain biking or kayaking in Tortuga Bay), which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon's activities, we return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the Santa Cruz II.

Overnight on Santa Cruz II. Explorer Cabin. 

INCLUDES : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7

Galapagos excursions

Punta Suarez/Gardner Bay (Española Island) - An exciting walk awaits at this site, where we enjoy its unique sea bird colonies, including waved albatrosses (April - December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tail gulls as well as a view of the Galapagos’ famous "blow-hole". Also, look out for red-green-black marine iguanas. Back on board for lunch.  

Gardner Bay (Española Island) - In the afternoon, the picture-postcard white coral beach of Gardner Bay provides a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, finches as we relax. We can expect great snorkelling in this area.

Overnight on Santa Cruz II. Explorer Cabin. 

INCLUDES : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8

Galapagos Islands - Guaqaquil

Baltra Island - On our last day, we disembark at Baltra Island and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the continent.

On arrival into Guayaquil you are met and taken by private transfer to your hotel.  

Overnight at Oro Verde. Standard room. 

INCLUDES : Breakfast

Day 9

Departure for the UK

Private transfer to the airport for your flight to the UK. 

If you wanted to extend your time in South America then why not consider adding on a few days in Peru and visiting Machu Picchu. 

INCLUDES : Breakfast

Hotels

Pricing

Package Price From 27th October 2016 - 30th November 2017

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