Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO
Arrival at Quito
Today you reach the hilly capital of Ecuador. You will check into the beautiful 5 * Hotel Casa Gangotena, with its location right in the heart of the old town, the ideal place to explore the city.
Guided city tour, Quito
Your tour guide will take you through the colorful city today. Quito's colonial Old Town is the world's oldest UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make a pause for a delicious lunch, where you can reflect on the mornings sights. The special thing about this tour is that it also looks behind the scenes and you will experience Quito like a local. Your visit points are:
Museo Casa del Alabado
Casa del Alabado is a delightful boutique museum just off the edge of the famous San Francisco Plaza. It offers a privileged view of some of the most emblematic pieces of pre-Columbian art and the social developments of pre-Hispanic Ecuador, emphasising the aesthetics of the object rather than focusing on the chronological order of Ecuadorian archeology. All this is organised in one of the oldest buildings of the historic center, perfectly renovated. Duration of visit: approx. 50 minutes.
Iglesia La Compañia de Jesus
A golden shimmer hits visitors long before they have crossed the door of La Compañia church, also known as Solomon's South American temple. It is the crown jewel of the historical center of Quito and one of the most important manifestations of baroque architecture in the world. It also incorporates other architectural styles, since 160 years have passed since their inception in 1605. The church is the product of a European vision, combined with the work of the talented Ecuadorean workers, who brought their own understanding of art and spirituality. It is a masterpiece and one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city of Quito, the facade alone invites to enter. Duration of visit: approx. 35 minutes
Iglesia y Convento San Francisco
The San Francisco Church and Monastery was recognised as one of the largest architectural structures in the historic center of America and was nicknamed the "El Escorial of the New World". Despite the changing stylistic trends during the 150 years of construction, the talented architects and engineers managed to create a harmonious and impressive combination. The building serves as a repository for more than 3,500 colonial artworks, most of which are from the famous Quinto Art School. The legend of Cantuña, which tells the story of a clever indigenous worker who managed to deceive the devil, also originates here. Visiting time: about 40 minutes
Chocolateria Chez Tiff
The family business was born from the dream of an Ecuadorian Swiss couple. Located in La Ronda street, in the historic center, it smells of the delicious aroma of chocolate made from the finest Ecuadorian cocoa. Add to that the fact that the company is in an area full of art, culture and tradition and you have a fantastic setting to learn about the preparation of this delicacy and its history. Afterwards, guests can taste and buy these delicious treats made with only the finest Ecuadorian ingredients. Duration of visit: approx. 35 minutes
Calle La Ronda
La Ronda street, popular with the Quiteños and foreigners alike, shows the history and rich traditions that fill the city. Numerous historical, eccentric and emblematic figures have walked the streets of this iconic neighborhood in the historic center. These include sculptors, artists and bakers from the colonial era, political assassins, historians and forerunners of independence (like Eugenio Espejo), as well as the inevitable madmen, musicians and poets. Together, they have saturated this area with a bohemian atmosphere that still exists today. Visitors to this unique neighborhood can rediscover the tradition of ancient Quito through its cultural, artisanal and culinary spaces. Duration of visit: approx. 25 minutes
Plaza de la Independencia (Plaza Grande)
Located in the historic center, the Independence Square, also known as the Main Square, was the starting point for the planning and development of the city. It consists of four buildings that serve as corners of the society of Quito: the Presidential Palace (Carondelet), the Archbishop's Palace, the Quito Cathedral and the City Palace. In the middle of the square stands the monument erected in honor of the country's independence. It was built in 1906 in marble and bronze. This is one of the few places in Quito that allows you to fully experience and absorb the great diversity of people who inhabit this beautiful city. Duration of visit: approx. 20 minutes
Plaza de San Francisco
The San Francisco Plaza in the historic center of Quito is considered one of the most iconic urban scenes in the country's capital. It is believed to have been built on the formerly indigenous market known as Tianguiz. Even during the colonial period, the central fountain of the square supplied the surrounding neighborhoods with water. It is one of America's largest religious centers, dominated by the imposing façade of the San Francisco Church and Monastery with their grandiose steps that connect the square with the atrium, hiding a labyrinth of secret corridors to explore. Time spent: approx. 20 minutes
El Panecillo (Mirador)
In the pre-Inca era, this hill was the location of a sun temple known as Shungo loma or Yavirak, meaning "hill of the heart." During their conquest, the Spanish called it "Panecillo" (bread roll) because of its similarity to a small loaf of bread. It is located in the center of the colonial quarter of Quito and rises to an altitude of 3,035 meters above sea level. The view from up here is just breathtaking. Visitors to this picturesque vantage point will find the statue of the Virgin of Quito, created in 1976 by the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorral. It is 45 meters high and was assembled from around 7,000 pieces of aluminum. Duration of visit: approx. 25 minutes
Caminos de San Roque
This education and tourism project was awarded by the Casa América Catalunya in 2010 for the "Cultural Cooperation for Development" project for the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. The project is an exploration of the life, the faith, the gastronomy and the ancient traditions of Quito. The tour will take you on a journey through the shops and markets of the historic center, where guests will be able to meet medical healers, walk the streets of the old town and experience the craftsmanship and daily life of the people of San Roques. Duration of visit: 30 minutes
Journey to the Galapagos Islands
Today you reach the fabulous Galapagos Islands. You will be picked up at your hotel tomorrow and taken to the airport of Quito. After arrival and the immigration formalities, you will be taken directly to your exclusive ship, the Isabela II. After a welcome refreshment and a small introduction, you can also refer directly to your luxury cabin. Afterwards lunch will be served.
Transfer to Puerto Ayora and excursion Charles Darwin Station
You will arrive at Baltra airport and drive to Itabaca Canal, where you can take a ferry to the island of Santa Cruz. A 30 minute bus ride will take you to the highlands of Santa Cruz. There you will have lunch and then continue to the harbor town of Puerto Ayora.
All your luggage will be brought directly to your cabin on board.
Afternoon: At Charles Darwin Station, you will get a chance to learn more about the friendly giants that you met in the highlands this morning!
Here, scientists from around the world research the many special tortoise subspecies that are endemic to the Galapagos islands. The highlight of the research center is the breeding station, Fausto Llerena, where baby turtles take a training course over rocks, branches and sandy stairs in prepareation for their upcoming release in to the wilderness.
Visitors leave the station with a stronger understanding of the tortoises, iguanas and much of the flora native to the islands. You'll be impressed by the tiny tortoises, often only the size of your hand, who will grow over the next 100 years to become as large as the adults you'll also meet!
In the late afternoon, you stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora before embarking on Isabela II. You review the expedition plan for the next day and enjoy the Captain's welcome cocktail and dinner.
Post Office Bay, Floreana Island
Morning: Here at Post Office Bay, you can learn about the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries. Lonely sailors, away from home for years at a time, would stop at Floreana to restock their supplies of food and water. The homesick sailors devised a clever solution - they left letters in a makeshift 'post box' on Floreana, and when passing ships stopped on the way back to their home port, they would pick up all the letters destined for that place and deliver them. To this day, the system is alive and well - each year thousands of visitors continue to leave letters for loved ones, and search for letters to bring home and deliver. To keep the tradition alive, hunt for a letter destined for a town near you and hand deliver it.
You return to the Isabela II for lunch.
Punta Cormorant, Floreana Island
Afternoon: Punta Cormorant is home to two stunning natural beaches. You'll make a wet landing in the first bay, where you'll find a special black sand beach that twinkles green in the sunlight. The shimmering sand is made of olivine crystals, remnants of a long-gone violent volcanic eruption. Following the short trail along the beach, you'll come to a second little bay. Visitors will be delighted by the soft, white powdery sand that feels like walking in fine baking flour. This gorgeous beach certainly earned the name "Flour Beach". In the bay you will likely spot green sea turtles, and if you wander back from the sandy stretch, you can find a salt water lagoon that attracts vibrant flamingos and the adorable white cheeked pintails.
Dinner is served back on board the Isabela II.
Punta Suárez, Española Island
Morning: Española is a geologically interesting island where you can explore the volcanic formations and spot a lot more of the Galapagos's unique fauna. Regular sightings include large sea lion colonies and flocks of seabirds, such as the Española mockingbird, the nazca booby and the spectacular red-beaked tropicbird. There are also marine iguanas, lizards and Sally lightfoot crabs.
A long hike will take you past the world's largest colony of Galapagos albatrosses! During mating season (May to December) you will have the opportunity to see the nesting area of the albatrosses and if you're lucky, you'll even get to witness their courting dance. The courting dance of the albatross is extra special as it is the start of a life-long bond for these birds who mate for life. Other interesting birds include Galapagos doves, Galapagos hawks, whip-tailed gulls. Make a final stop to admire the dramatic topography of the famous Blow Hole, catapulting seawater an impressive 23 meters into the air.
Lunch will be served on the Isabela II.
Gardner Bay, Española Island
Afternoon: Join the colony of sea lions on the beautiful white coral beach. From the shoreline, you can observe the Galapagos hawks, American oystercatchers, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, gold-warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas and three different types of Darwin finch! When snorkeling or diving, you have the opportunity to see the diverse underwater world of Gardner Island. Californian angelfish, neon fish, parrotfish, manta rays and white-tip reef sharks all call these waters home. Also in this bay, it is possible to kayak, or take a ride in the dinghy or glass bottom boat.
Back aboard the Isabela II you will get an idea of the plan for the coming day and have dinner.
Punta Pitt, San Cristóbal
Morning: In the morning you will land at the eastern tip of San Cristóbal Island. The trail from the beach offers a breathtaking view of the coast and the only place where all three species of boobies live, as well as frigate birds and a colony of young sea lions. After the walk there is the opportunity to swim, snorkel, kayak or dinghy, weather permitting.
Lunch on board the Isabela II.
Cerro Brujo on the island of San Cristóbal
Afternoon: In the afternoon, after lunch, you take a boat tour along the tuff coast to Cerro Brujo. On land, white coral beaches invite for a walk and there are countless opportunities to observe sea birds and shorebirds in their natural habitat. Look out for the numerous sea lions. Charles Darwin walked along this coastline during the evenings of September 1835. Afterwards you have time for swimming and snorkeling.
Board for a final dinner on the Isabela II.
Transfer to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno Airport
After breakfast, depart for the pier and transfer to San Cristóbal airport or continue your travels at Galapagos Islands.