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 base for exploring the city.
Discover Quito during a guided city tour
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. In the morning, you will be collected from your hotel 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.
Charles Darwin Research Station
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.
Santa Fé Island
Morning: A stunning anchorage provides a jumping-off point for visits to this sandy white beach with a horde of resident sea lions. Galapagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the walk. Snorkelling and swimming from the beach, kayaking or a ride in a glass-bottom boat rounds off this rewarding experience.
Please Note: The Galapagos National Park has placed a temporary ban on swimming, snorkeling or diving in the waters around Santa Fé.
Plaza Sur Island
Afternoon: The turquoise waters of the channel here contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline, while a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents (sea purslane) serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus beyond, populated by golden land iguanas. The coastline is dotted with friendly sea lions, while sea birds play with the thermal drafts around the cliffs on this small, but amazing island.
North Seymour Island
Morning: The small island of North Seymour is one of the most diverse islands in the Galapagos archipelago. It is only about two square kilometers in size and above all known for of the intensive courtship rituals of many magnificent frigatebirds, taking place here during mating season. The island is also home to large colonies of land iguanas, marine iguanas and sea lions. The characteristic bush landscape features diverse species of animals amongst the aromatic endemic balsa trees.
Lunch will be served back on the Isabela II.
Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island
Afternoon: On the north side of Santa Cruz, you will land on Bachas beach - one of the most important nesting sites for the Galapagos Island's sea turtle population.
A hidden lagoon behind the bay reveals a treasure trove of animal sightings - sunbathing iguanas, curious shorebirds, and Darwin finches, mockingbirds and seagulls frolic here. Native plant life is also interesting in this area. Red and black mangroves and salt bushes line the edges of the pond.
In this heavenly place you will also find the remains of barges that sank long ago when the US Navy operated a base on the island of Baltra during the Second World War. Local people changed the word Barges to "Bachas".
Pinnacle Rock, Bartolomé Island
Morning: Bartolomé in the northern part of the archipelago was nominated for the World Travel Awards 2012 as the most beautiful beach of South America. Here, you will find a fascinating, lunar-like volcanic landscape. At its center, the famous landmark of Galapagos: Pinnacle Rock.
A climb to the highest point of the island offers a wonderful view of the landscape. Take a swim together with some of the penguins who play in the waters and on the shores of the bay here. It's alos possible to explore this incredible diverse area on the glass-bottom boat
Sullivan bay, Santiago Island
Afternoon: Although this beauiful beach deserves its place in the highlights list, the day will surprise you with another highlight: the special pahoehoe lava flows.
Almost 100 years ago, lava flowed across the island and left behind various forms of soil: braided and stringy lava fields alternate with sharp-edged jagged formations. Feel the warm stones of the black, unreal lava landscape under your hands and move back to the time of origin, when volcanoes raged here, ultimately creating a paradise.
Return to the harbor of Baltra
You will return to the harbor of Baltra. From there, transfer to Baltra Airport in time for your return flight to the mainland, or continue with your planned route through the Galapagos.