The Galapagos Islands
November 4-12, 2021
This is a budget trip and may not be suitable for everyone.
While many of you have expressed an interest in going to the Galapagos Islands, nearly all cruises we've found are north of $7,000 per person, plus airfare. The Ecuadoran government has severely restricted the number of visitors to the Galapagos Islands. So most tour companies squeeze every penny out of each spot by packaging the visit with expensive cruises and tours of Ecuador. This makes the Galapagos Islands out of reach for many.
However, we have just found a tour operator that can give us a 5-day tour for the unbelievable price of $1,899, including air from Miami. At this price, you'll have to get to Miami on your own. $350 single upgrade. There is also an optional tour of Quito that I highly recommend.
There are several concessions you must accept to get this price.
While our hotels in Guayaquil (first night) and Quito (last night) are four and 5 star hotels, our hotel in Galapagos, is rated 2 1/2 stars. As you can see in the photos below, the rooms at the Mainao Hotel (in the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, Galagos) are typical of a fine local hotel, but may not come up to expected American standards.
We'll be getting to each of the islands on a standard tour boat instead of a luxury yacht. But hey.
Note: remaining spots are limited and could sell out at any point.
All airfare - Miami to Guayaquil, Ecuador (overnight), Guayaquil to Baltra (on the Galapagos Islands), Baltra to Quito, Quito to Miami. Air to Miami is not included.
8 meals: 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches
Services of English-speaking local guides
Services of English-speaking naturalist guides in the Galapagos
Galapagos National Park fee of $100
Galapagos Transit Control Card fee of $20
DAY 1, Sunday - Depart for Ecuador Depart for Ecuador. Arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador's sprawling and vivacious port city; transfer to your hotel Please note flights may arrive in the very early morning of Day 2 Overnight: Guayaquil
DAY 2, Monday - Galapagos Islands, Baltra, Charles Darwin Research Station Embark this morning on a journey to the "beginning of time" as you transfer to the airport for the flight to the astonishing Galapagos Archipelago of volcanic islands, five million years in the making. Arrive at Baltra Airport, meet your naturalist guides and transfer by ferry to Santa Cruz. Continue by bus to El Chato Tortoise Reserve and see their natural habitat - a once in a lifetime experience! Tortoises can be seen grazing on the vegetation, wallowing in muddy banks or in the small red ponds. The area is teeming with wildlife - woodpecker finches, mockingbirds, flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons, and gallinules. After a stop for lunch, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Fausto Llerena Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre. Gain insight into the huge efforts being made by scientists, guides, rangers and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue to your hotel for an evening at leisure Overnight: Galapagos Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
DAY 3, Tuesday - North Seymour Island Head by boat to North Seymour Island, that was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event. Cliffs that are only a few feet high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit perched on ledges and a tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing. This island is teeming with life! You might have to give the right-of-way to a passing sea lion or a marine iguana. Along the way, perhaps you may see the famous Galapagos blue-footed booby nesting beside the trail or, spot flocks of pelicans in a feeding frenzy. Keep on the lookout for the magnificent frigate bird, with its puffed-up scarlet throat sack, perched in low bushes watching over their chicks. Enjoy a visit to an isolated beach for a refreshing swim or, snorkel along the coast Overnight: Galapagos Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
DAY 4, Wednesday - Bartolomé Island Travel by boat to the golden beaches of Bartolomé Island, dominated by the iconic Pinnacle Rock, an impressive towering lava structure that rises from the ocean's edge. View an astonishing array of wildlife including Galapagos penguins, sea lions, turtles and a huge variety of fish. After snorkeling and swimming, option for a steep hike to the summit of this diminutive island with fantastic panoramic views of the archipelago Overnight: Galapagos Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
DAY 5, Thursday - Flight to Quito This morning, on your way to Baltra, stop at Los Gemelos (twin sinkholes) to view the great depressions of volcanic material formed by a long process of the sinking ground, and the exceptional view of Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids. Then, proceed to the airport for your flight to Quito. Afternoon arrival in this city considered to be the economic capital of Ecuador. Transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure Overnight: Quito Meals: Breakfast
DAY 6, Friday - Depart Ecuador Enjoy the morning at leisure or join an optional Full Day Quito City Tour & Middle of the World with Lunch. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for your departure flight Optional: Full Day Quito City Tour & Middle of the World with Lunch Meals: Breakfast
Exterior of the Mainao Hotel in the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. The ocean is only 100 meters away, and the Charles Darwin Research Station is within a mile of the hotel.
Double Room at Mainao
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You'll see plenty of seals, sunning themselves, playing, and fishing.
Seeing the famous Galapagos Island giant tortoises are always a thrill.
Darwin Tree Finch
Darwin's finches are see nowhere else on earth.
Beautiul Galapagos Islands
The views are stunning whichever way you turn.