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Journey Snapshot

Activity level: Level 2 Requires moderate physical activity. You need to be able to participate in physical activities such as longer walking tours, walking over uneven terrain, climbing steps and be comfortable with some periods of standing. Not suitable if you have limited mobility or require a wheelchair/mobility scooter.
Destination: The Galapagos & Ecuador Adventure - Sailing on a Luxury Yacht M/Y Integrity
Duration: 13 Days, 12 Nights
Flight information: Please arrange your flights to arrive into Quito International Airport [UIO] on Day 1 and depart on Day 13
Pickup location: Quito International Airport [UIO], Ecuador

Overview

Oct 18 - 30, 2022

Cruise the Galapagos Islands on a luxury yacht, including an exploration of the capital and cloud forests of Ecuador

Visit the cloud forests of Ecuador and Cruise the Galapagos Islands, soaking up the unique beauty of this region of the Earth. Our journey starts with a four-day stay on the Ecuador mainland, exploring the culture and cloud forests of Quito. Then we journey on a small and intimate cruise of the fascinating Galapagos Islands, lying some 1,000km off the mainland sailing on luxury yacht "Integrity". M/Y Integrity is a 141-foot yacht, built in the USA to exacting standards with spacious cabins, a comfortable lounge, and jacuzzi spa www.integritygalapagos.com The Integrity has only 8 cabins for guests, guaranteeing you an intimate exploration and making the most of what this environment has to offer.

An adventure through the archepelago which inspired Charles Darwin to write ‘On The Origin Of Species’ is almost guaranteed to leave you feeling invigorated and make you think and feel differently about the world.

Itinerary

Itinerary summary: DAY 1 - Welcome to Quito, Capital of Ecuador!
DAY 2 - Quito City tour & Visit the Equator
DAY 3 - Otavalo Market, Quito
DAY 4 - Mindo Cloud Forest
DAY 5 - Fly to the Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz Highlands & Embark
DAY 6 - Galapagos - Española Island
DAY 7 - Galapagos - San Cristóbal Island
DAY 8 - Galapagos - Santa Fé and South Plaza Islands
DAY 9 - Galapagos - Genovesa Island
DAY 10 - Galapagos - Santiago and Bartolomé Islands
DAY 11 - Galapagos - Rábida and Sombrero Chino Islands
DAY 12 - Galapagos - Disembark on Baltra Island & Return Flight to Quito
DAY 13 - Goodbye Ecuador and Home - or see below for optional extension to Peru
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Full Itinerary

DAY 1 - Welcome to Quito, Capital of Ecuador!

Welcome to Ecuador! You will be met at Quito Airport and transferred to the hotel.

The rest of the day will be spent at leisure, allowing some time to acclimatise and soak up the atmosphere of Quito.

Included meals: none 
Accommodation: 5* Swissotel, Quito (or similar) 

DAY 2 - Quito City tour & Visit the Equator

After breakfast, we will enjoy an orientation tour of Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. We will walk down quaint cobbled streets, lined with beautiful brightly-coloured colonial houses, whose balconies are dressed in flowers. The town is watched over by the winged Virgin of Quito, sitting up on the Panecillo. We will walk down streets previously walked by the Incan people on their way to the Panecillo, which is thought to have been a centre of worship to the Sun and Moon Gods. When the Spanish arrived, they transformed this Incan avenue into a place heavily influenced by Christianity. Seven crosses were erected along the length of the avenue in an effort to make the indigenous people believe in their god. We will walk along this street to the Plaza de la Independencia. On the square’s southern side lies one of the oldest cathedrals in South America, and the modern sacred heart of the city – Quito Cathedral, an impressive white-walled building with green-glazed ceramic domes. The symmetrical Palacio de Carondelet, the Presidential Palace, runs along the western side of the square. Its balconies were a gift from the French Government and are originally from the Tuilleries Palace in Paris. We will also take a look in at the ancestral interior courtyard of the Centro Cultural Metropolitano, which has over the years been used as a tobacco factory, prison and university. Walking a little further, we come to the National Library and the incomparable Iglesia de la Compañia, a Jesuit church overflowing with Baroque art. The gold that covers its interior hides the church’s tragic history, of the fire that devastated it and the earthquake that shook it.

Afterwards, we will head north-west out of Quito where the landscape becomes dry and sandy. In this desert-like place, we will pass the small towns of San Antonio de Pichincha and Calacalí. As we drive along you will notice that the vegetation becomes denser and the leaves of the plants and trees become larger until we reach the Mitad del Mundo - the middle of the earth - as calculated and measured by the French Geodesics Mission. Ecuador literally means Equator and was named after its famous feature.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: 5* Swissotel, Quito (or similar) 

DAY 3 - Otavalo Market, Quito

Today we will visit the Otovalo handcraft market, situated in the suburbs of Quito. The indigenous Otavaleños are famous for their weaving, usually with wool. You will also find stalls selling textiles, tagua nut jewellery, musical instruments, dream catchers, leather goods and much more, all traditional handicrafts of the local people. We will also visit a local rose farm before lunch in a local restaurant. On our way back to Quito we will stop at the Quitsato Sundial – the first and only Monument of the Middle of the world, that is exactly on the Equatorial Line or Zero Parallel.

Included meals: Breakfast & Lunch 
Accommodation: 5* Swissotel, Quito (or similar) 

DAY 4 - Mindo Cloud Forest

For chocolate lovers our first stop this morning will be one you’ll enjoy – a chocolate tour showing you the process from tree to tastebuds!

Then we’ll head on our big adventure for the day to the town of Mindo. The Mindo Cloud Forest has more than 400 species of bird and the second-highest number of endemic species of butterfly in the country. A team of professional and prepared guides will take us on an amazing journey above the cloud forest on a series of zip lines. Harness up and enjoy the forest from above and the adrenalin of flying through the air with the birds.

We will have lunch in at the butterfly farm, where we can see a spectacular variety of butterflies in different phases of their life cycle. From here we can take a short walk into the cloud forest, keeping an eye out for exotic birds and mammals amongst the lush vegetation and listening to the gentle background hum of life in this extremely diverse place. For great viewing of hummingbirds and other wildlife, we will stop at the Alambi Reserve on our way back to Quito.

Included meals: Breakfast & Lunch 
Accommodation: 5* Swissotel, Quito (or similar) 

DAY 5 - Fly to the Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz Highlands & Embark

Today we fly from Quito on mainland Ecaudor to Santa Cruz, in the Galapagos Islands. Lying some 1,000km off the western coast, the islands are some of the most remote on the planet.

Upon arrival in the Galapagos Islands, after passing through immigration and baggage claim, we will head to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island for the opportunity to view the islands' most famous reptile - the giant tourtoises in their wild habitat. The vegetation of the area includes the Scalesia Forest (an endemic giant daisy tree) and birds such as the vermilion flycatcher will delight everyone with its scarlet feathers against an emerald green forest. Look for Darwin’s finches (most of them from the tree-finch group), particularly the famous Woodpecker Finch.

PM — Charles Darwin Research Station and boarding yacht

Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galápagos National Park headquarters and learn first hand of the conservation and research efforts in the islands. There, you’ll see several subspecies of adult tortoises, lots of hatchlings, and learn of the repatriation programs that are saving several subspecies of tortoises and iguanas from extinction.

Later in the afternoon, be transferred to M/Y Integrity where you will be met by the crew. After a briefing and safety meeting with the guide and crew, we'll start our Galapagos adventure. You will live aboard the yacht and spend as much time exploring the islands as park rules permit. Each night, you’ll travel on to the next destination.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 6 - Galapagos - Española Island

AM — Gardner Bay — Stroll along a magnificent white sand beach where sea lions lounge, marine turtles nest, and the curious Española mockingbirds follow our every footstep. You can take a brief swim on the beach or wait for an amazing snorkel in the company of schools of colorful fish, turtles, sea lions, and possibly small sharks along the underwater cliffs of Gardener-by-Española, a small satellite islet.

PM — Punta Suárez — This is one of the Galapagos’ most famed visitor sites. You’ll be dazzled by spectacular cliff views of pounding surf and seemingly unlimited populations of an amazing variety of seabirds. Brightly colored marine iguanas and the largest lava lizards of Galapagos frequent the coastline and rest on the trail. From the cliff top you’ll watch a blowhole spray water 30 meters in the air. Española is the only island where you’ll see waved albatrosses and possibly observe their fascinating mating dance.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 7 - Galapagos - San Cristóbal Island

AM — Punta Pitt — Disembarking onto the small beach, visitors are confronted by the unmistakable stench and cacophony of barking sea lions. This is a bachelor colony, and most are exhausted from fighting and mating. A steep gully leads up the cliff to a breeding ground for Boobies of all three varieties: Red-footed, Blue-footed and Nazca. It’s the only place in the Galapagos where you can see all three species nesting together. Two species of frigatebirds are also present, as are Swallow-tailed Gulls and Storm Petrels. The view of sea lions from the top of the cliff over the beach is magnificent, as are the contours of the barren, wind-eroded peaks of the island. The trail across the Punta Pitt site offers a closer look at the hardy vegetation that manages to thrive in this volcanic wasteland. From Saltbush and spiny shrubs next to the beach the trail leads up to an area of Palo Santo trees, big yellow-green shrubs, tiny cacti and, in the dry season, carpets of red Vesuvius.

PM — Cerro Brujo — A short panga ride along the cliffs of Cerro Brujo will be followed by a visit to the lovely coral sand beach, frequented by waders and migrant birds. Guests will enjoy a leisurely evening sunset cruise as INTEGRITY navigates to the following day’s activities.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 8 - Galapagos - Santa Fé and South Plaza Islands

AM — Santa Fé — After landing on a white beach usually covered with sea lions, you’ll walk into a giant Opuntia cactus grove where you’ll have the opportunity to see the endemic land iguanas. The land visit will be followed by snorkeling and/or kayaking in the turquoise waters of the bay, full of sea lions, rays, urchins, eels, and fish of all colors.

PM — South Plaza — You will see another species of Galapagos land iguana as well as cactus finches. Both North and South Plazas were formed by geological uplift and tilt to the north, with cliffs on their southern coasts. On small islands like this, terrestrial and marine species interact more than on the larger islands, and the occasional hybrid iguana (land and marine) with its “zebra-like” stripes can often be observed. The south-facing cliffs swarm with a myriad of bird species. Bachelor sea lions climb steep cliffs in the late afternoon to spend nights away from the larger dominant bulls.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 9 - Galapagos - Genovesa Island

AM — Darwin Beach — At the north side of Darwin Bay, this beach was formed by the rim of a sunken crater. Red mangroves along the hiking trail provide habitat for yellow warblers, yellow-crowned night herons, and pintail ducks. The highlight of this site is the incredible abundance of Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls, and Yellow-crowned Night Herons. Although the most abundant booby in the islands, this is one of the few places visitors can observe Red-footed Boobies.

PM — Prince Phillip’s Steps — While riding in a panga along the base of the eastern cliffs of Darwin Bay, you’ll scour the cliff crevices for all kinds of animal life. You’ll come to a rockfall that forms a natural staircase up the cliffs, known as Prince Phillip’s Steps or the “Stairway to Seabird Heaven.” Walk through massive colonies of Red-footed and Nazca Boobies and an extraordinary Palo Santo forest on the way to a lava ridge where thousands of storm petrels dart about while shorteared owls stalk them for prey.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 10 - Galapagos - Santiago and Bartolomé Islands

AM — Sullivan Bay (Santiago) — Walk across a recent lava flow and view its beautiful structural characteristics. Formed in the second half of the 19th Century, the flow is too young for much plant or animal life. It is the lava itself and the contrasting black pahoehoe flow and the reddish-yellow tuff cones that are the stars of this visit. The colors and shapes of the lava are fantastic for photos.

PM — Bartolomé — Arguably the most recognized landmark in Galapagos, Pinnacle Rock juts straight out of Bartolomé’s northern bay. Snorkeling in the bay provides visitors with a chance to swim with Galapagos Penguins. Climbing up the 600-m trail to the top of the island provides spectacular views of Pinnacle Rock, Santiago Island, and Daphne Major and Minor.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 11 - Galapagos - Rábida and Sombrero Chino Islands

AM — Rábida — Land at Red Beach where wading birds and ghost crabs dot the sand. Behind the beach is a saltwater lagoon where Pintail ducks and Common Stilts are frequently seen along with a group of bachelor sea lions. Brown pelicans nest in the nearby salt brush. A short trail inland provides a chance to observe finches, Galapagos Doves, Yellow Warblers, and mockingbirds, as well as the occasional snake.

PM — Sombrero Chino — The turquoise waters near Sombrero Chino provide one of your best opportunities to see Galapagos Penguins. A panga ride in search of wildlife is followed by a snorkel that often includes sharks, sea lions, penguins, and rays. You will land at a beautiful white sand beach for a short walk along a trail that meanders over varying types of lava.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 12 - Galapagos - Disembark on Baltra Island & Return Flight to Quito

AM — You’ll have breakfast on board Integrity, then disembark at Baltra Island for our flights back to Quito on the mainland.

We'll enjoy our farewell dinner together this evening.

Included meals: Breakfast & Dinner 
Accommodation: Wyndham Quito Airport 

DAY 13 - Goodbye Ecuador and Home - or see below for optional extension to Peru

After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred from the hotel to meet your departure flights home.

Or why not extend your stay in South America with a few days in Peru to see Machu Picchu? Our short post-tour extension takes in the best of Peru and is a great way to top off your time discovering South America. 

Included meals: Breakfast  
Accommodation: none 

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More information

What's includedWhat's not includedImportant information

What's included

  • Return Economy flights to/from Quito International Airport [UIO] and Baltra Airport, [GPS]
  • Meet & Greet at Quito Airport on arrival
  • Transfers as detailed in the itinerary
  • Accommodation as detailed in the itinerary.
  • All meals detailed as detailed in the itinerary
  • Excursions as detailed in the itinerary
  • Transport in an air-conditioned deluxe vehicle
  • A qualified and experienced English speaking guide
  • Transit Control Card
  • Use of snorkelling equipment

What's not included

  • International flights to & from Quito International Airport, Ecuador (UIO)
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee (currently $100pp to be paid in cash at the airport on check-in for flights to Galapagos)
  • Transfers on arrival or departure, to/from the airport(s), outside of the tour dates
  • Drinks
  • Gratuities
  • Visas, travel and medical insurance
  • Any personal items and anything not mentioned under included in price above
  • Any meals not mentioned in itinerary
  • Any optional activities offered
  • Any COVID tests or related entry & exit requirements

Important information

  • Whilst itineraries while cruising are unlikely to change significantly, they are subject to change. Weather, wildlife breeding, safety concerns, instructions from the Galapagos National Park, specific abilities and interests of passengers as well as operational matters may cause your guide or captain to change the time or nature of visits. Your guide and captain will always endeavor to select the best itinerary within these limits.
  • Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant tour.
  • Check in is after 2-3pm and check out is before 10am unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
  • Cancellation 90 – 0 days prior to departure cancellation fee is 100%. It is your responsibility to ensure the correct travel insurance in place to protect you against the need to cancel your holiday. Deposits are non-refundable. Final payments are due 14 days prior to departure. Further terms and conditions apply and will be provided upon request or at the time of booking.
  • The Big Journey Company reserves the right to withdraw any offer prior to accepting a reservation request. This does not affect your statutory rights. This offer is subject to availability and space is limited.
  • Please consult your doctor for advice on vaccinations and innoculations before travel

More time away?

Choose a tour extension to extend your trip.

We have found the following tours that are perfectly placed to add on before or after your trip. Tours shown here will be available to add at the time of booking.

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The big journey promise

The big journey company was set up with one goal in mind, to share our passion for inspirational cultures, destinations and experiences. Over the last 10 years we have had the privilege to escort thousands of travellers on awe inspiring and sometimes life changing journeys. Our promise to every guest who joins us is that we will do everything possible to make sure your journey not only exceeds expectations but delivers at least one moment of true amazement.

talk toll free to our well travelled team of experts

Call us on:Toll Free US and Canada: 1.855.624.4386

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Holiday tours are operated by The Big Journey Company Limited. Registered in England. Registered office: Marron Bank, Branthwaite, Cumbria, CA14 4SZ. Registered number: 6532140. The Big Journey Company Limited is a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and holds an Air Travel Organiser’s License number T7282.

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