Arrive Quito, Ecuador
Arrive in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. The next day, begin your day with a wildlife photography workshop ahead of your Galápagos adventure. Then, transfer north to the edge of the city for an awesome ride on TeleferiQo, an aerial gondola offering breathtaking views over Quito. The gondola deposits you at the top of an active volcano, 12,950 feet above sea level, where you take in the marvelous vistas. Afterward, make your way to “La Mitad del Mundo Equatorial Line Monument,” dedicated to the 18th century French expedition that first established the position of the equator. Return to Quito to explore, walking its historic district with its beautiful churches and colorful plazas, and taking in firsthand views of local life and the city’s charming colonial architecture. Enjoy a top spinning demonstration before returning to your hotel. Tonight, gather for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
BALTRA, THE GALÁPAGOS | Aboard All-New ‘La Pinta’
Fly to Baltra in the Galápagos Islands, where you board ‘La Pinta.’ After a welcome briefing, enjoy lunch on board. This afternoon, begin exploring the Galápagos, starting at South Plaza Island. Observe the native flora, such as the prickly pear cactus, a favorite snack of the land iguanas that roam the island like real-life dragons. Scan the coastline for playful sea lions and colorful wild birds. Tonight, and each evening, back aboard ‘La Pinta,’ enjoy a variety of all-ages activities designed to capture the imaginations of young explorers, including fun quizzes, making handicrafts and learning some Spanish words.
Cruising the Galápagos | Life of Tortoises
Today, discover Santa Fe Island, boarding a panga for a brief ride to its idyllic sandy-white beaches. Walk the onshore terrain, keeping a lookout for wild residents: a curious sea lion coming to greet you, a Galápagos hawk perched atop salt bushes or a Santa Fe land iguana sunning itself on a rock. Then, snorkel and swim along a natural wave barrier or ride in a glass-bottom boat, for a cool glimpse into life beneath the waves. Break for lunch back on board, as you set a course toward San Cristobal Island. Disembark at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and drive to the breeding center for highly endangered giant tortoises at Cerro Colorado, set in a fantastic deciduous forest.
Cruising the Galápagos | Darwin’s Legacy
Land on San Cristobal Island and set out on a trail that ascends from the beach to a lookout offering you spectacular shoreline views. Observe frigate birds and a colony of sea lions, and, if conditions are favorable, swim from the beach. After lunch on board, take a panga to Cerro Brujo and walk the same sandy shore once trod by Charles Darwin, the 19th-century English naturalist whose theory of evolution began with the firsthand observations he made of life in the Galápagos.
Cruising the Galápagos | Punta Suárez
Begin at Punta Suárez, walking on lava terrain to visit the island’s seabird colonies. Depending on the time of year, you may spy soaring waved albatrosses, boobies or swallow-tail gulls; watch for marine iguanas, too. After lunch aboard, cruise Gardner Bay and go ashore to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds and finches. The bay has a magnificent beach; this is a great place to snorkel or kayak or ride the glass-bottomed boat.
Baltra & Quito | Darwin Research Center
Disembark on Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and learn about the captive rearing program for the giant tortoises. Afterward, ferry to Baltra and fly to Quito for a farewell dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to depart.
‘La Pinta’ is a stylish expedition vessel ideal for small-group exploration. The ship and its shore excursions are shared with other passengers.
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