Download Galapagos and Ecuador - Solo Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Quito
You will be met on arrival at Quito Airport and transfered to our Quito hotel. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Quito.
Day 2: Otavalo Market
Journey by vehicle for a day at Otavalo and its famous indigenous arts and crafts market, the largest in South America. Enjoy the marvelous indigenous market and various sites around Otavalo. Lunch is included today. In the afternoon visit the village of Peguche, famous for its tapestries, and its small local museum of Andean musical instruments. Visit the Condor Park Refuge to observe birds of prey, vultures and owls. Overnight at Hacienda.
Day 3: Explore Cotacachi, Cuicocha Crater Lake — Return to Quito
Today drive through the Ecuador landscape dotted with towering volcanoes and amazing opportunities for taking pictures. Stroll around the leather-making village of Cotacachi, and then explore the crater lake of Cuicocha. Overnight in Quito.
Day 4: Fly to Galapagos Islands, Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz)
This morning you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island where we are greeted by our Galapagos guides.
We begin with a wet landing on the north side of Santa Cruz; behind the beach lie two small flamingo ponds with iguanas, coastal birds, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and gulls, as well as interesting native and endemic vegetation, red and black mangroves, salt bushes, and much more. This beach is one of the main nesting sites of sea turtles in the Galapagos. A female can lay eggs 3 or 4 times with an average of 70 eggs each, but then spend 3 or 5 years without breeding.
At this paradisiacal site we will also find the remains of barges that sank long ago. Once the property of the United States Navy when they operated an airbase on Baltra Island during World War II, this beach is called “Bachas” because the word “barges” in English was hard to pronounce for the local people.
Day 5: South Plaza (Plazas Island) and Santa Fe
The walk on South Plaza begins with an impressive cactus forest surrounded by land and marine iguanas; as we reach its highest point, be on the lookout for tropicbirds and a bachelor sea lion colony.
In South Plaza there is a large colony of the smaller sized land iguanas. The population is approximately 300 individuals. They feed on all kinds of vegetation, but during the dry season survive on the fruits and flowers of Opuntia cacti. Due to their proximity with marine iguanas, this is the only place on Earth where we will find the Galapagos hybrid iguana.
We land on Sante Fe on a white sand beach surrounded by a sea lion colony; we continue walking through an endemic cactus forest as we search for the endemic Santa Fe land iguana, the largest in the islands and distinctively paler than other species of iguana. This island is home to a number of endemic species including Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Snake, rice rats, a variety of finches and one of the four species of Galapagos mockingbirds. Deep-water snorkeling.
Day 6: Pitt Point & Islet and Cerro Brujo (San Cristobal)
Today we begin with a wet landing followed by a high intensity hike on rocky terrain. The trail includes an olivine beach of 90 meters long and a path that climbs to the top of a volcanic tuff, through several magnificent viewpoints. This is probably the only site where the three booby species of the Galapagos can be seen together: Nazca, Blue-footed, and Red-footed; as well as two species of frigatebirds and a sea lion colony; it is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling, where a good range of sea birds can be observed.
Cerro Brujo is an eroding tuff cone that at several locations is composed of AA lava formations, and a beautiful white sand beach, great for snorkeling and sunbathing. We visit a lagoon where migratory bird species can be seen: Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, other sandpiper species and White-cheeked Pintails. Cerro Brujo offers beautiful views of Kicker Rock, the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast.
Day 7: Cerro Colorado Tortiose Reserve, Interpretation Center and Tijeretas (San Cristobal)
We have a dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Passengers will visit the San Cristóbal giant tortoise Breeding Center to learn about the National Park's conservation programs. You will also have the opportunity to visit the port village, have a drink or shop for arts and crafts and other souvenirs.
Dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, capital of the Galapagos Islands. Passengers visit the Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about Natural History in the Galapagos. The Museum of Natural History displays information on the volcanic origins of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, ocean currents, climate, the arrival of the different species and their colonization, among other points of interest. The Human history is also showcased, chronologically narrating the most significant events related to the discovery and colonization of the islands.
Day 8: Gardner Bay, Osborn Islets and Suarez Point, Espanola
Today we land on a beautiful white coral sand beach guarded by a colony of sea lions. There are no trails, so we stay along the shore where we can spot Galapagos hawks, American Oystercatchers, Galapagos Ground Doves, Hood mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and three species of Darwin's finches: a subspecies (Geospiza fuliginosa) of the Large Cactus Finch, which is similar to the large ground finch, the Small Ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) and the Warbler Finch (Certhidea Olivacea), along with other endemic subspecies. Swimming and snorkeling offer a great variety of Galapagos marine wildlife: king angelfish, Creole fish, damsel fish, parrotfish, manta rays, and white-tipped reef sharks.
An island of geological interest, on Suarez Point we explore volcanic formations and a riveting wildlife: large sea lion colonies and seabirds including Española mockingbird, Nazca Boobies and the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird. You will also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and the colorful Sally Lightfoot Crabs.
A somewhat lengthy hike will bring you among Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, right up to nesting grounds that sometimes overlap the trail. Other birding favorites include Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Hawk, Swallow-tailed Gulls and the world's largest colony of Waved Albatross, an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December).
Admire the island's dramatic backdrop, featuring the famous Soplador, a seaward blowhole that shoots water some 23 m. (75 ft.) in the air.
Day 9: Post Office and Cormorant Point (Floreana)
This morning we have a wet landing. Located on the north side of Floreana, the bay is so-named because in 1793 Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel which served as an informal post office for sailors passing through, and who would take letters with them to their destinations. Today, our visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel that should reach their destinations for free. It can take weeks, months, even years, not arrive at all, or even arrive before you!
We may also encounter Darwin's finches, Yellow Warbler and lava lizards. There are great snorkeling opportunities with Green Pacific Sea Turtles and on the main beach, among playful sea lions.. This island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus pinnatifidus, and Galapagos milkwort.
At Cormorant Point we hike from the black mangrove beds to a brackish lagoon, which usually holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island features some endemic plants such as Scalesia villosa, white and black mangrove, and holy stick. The trail continues to a beautiful white-sand beach, one of the most important nesting sites of Green Pacific Sea Turtles. It is important to avoid walking in the water due to the Sting Rays that may be hiding in the sand, and which can be dangerous if accidentally stepped on. From the beach one can spot sea turtles, Blue-footed Boobies plunging into the water, and small reef sharks floating along the shoreline in search of food.
This coral-sand beach marks the end of our trail, and we head back to the olivine beach we landed on to swim or snorkel amongst sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions and, on a good day, white-tipped reef sharks. A small colony of penguins resides on Floreana and can sometimes be observed as well.
Day 10: Cerro Mesa Reserve and Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz)
Cerro Mesa is the first ecological reserve of the region, and where it's possible to observe numerous endemic plants, 7 subspecies of Darwin's finches and the Vermillion Flycatcher. From there you will also be able to see Baltra, Santiago, Isabela, Santa Fé, Daphne Islands.
The Charles Darwin Research Station is where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place and you will have the opportunity to meet Lonesome George, the last surviving specimen of his species and symbol of our efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment. It is an excellent place for visitors to be photographed with them. Admire a prickly-pear cactus forest and a variety Darwin's finches and other land birds. The Darwin Station also works providing environmental education to communities and schools within the islands, and to tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands. You will also have some free time to visit the town and shop for souvenirs.
Day 11: Daphne
We circumnavigate the islet of Daphne, an eroded tuff cone formation that was created by successive volcanic activity, for an opportunity to see Darwin's finches, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Brown Noddies.
In the afternoon, we will return to Baltra for our flight to Quito and a free evening. Overnight in Quito.
Day 12: Depart Quito
Transfer to the airport.