Arrive at any time. Located 2850m (9348ft) above sea level, the Ecuadorian capital of Quito enjoys a wonderful spring-like climate, despite the fact that it is only 22km (14 mi) south of the Equator.
On a clear day, several snow-capped volcanoes, including nearby Pichincha, are visible from the centre of this city nestled in a mountain-flanked valley. Add a rich history and a well-preserved colonial district to its beautiful location, and you can begin to understand why Quito appeals to thousands of tourists every year.
Fly to Santa Cruz and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Fly to Santa Cruz. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Inaugurated in 1964 and based in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station is the one place where visitors can easily see the famous Galapagos tortoises, which can live up to two hundred years. This is a great opportunity to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity, brought back from the brink of extinction.
Visit the highlands of Santa Cruz to see the giant tortoise's natural habitat. In the afternoon, kayak the Itabaca Canal and explore the lively underwater world with a mask and snorkel. Visit the highlands of Santa Cruz to observe the Galapagos giant tortoise in its natural surroundings. The area is also famous for amazing lava tunnels. From this elevation, the panoramic views of the other islands are stunning.
Spend a free morning enjoying Santa Cruz, before crossing by speedboat to Floreana, where there are opportunities to swim and snorkel. In the afternoon enjoy an excursion to the highlands of Floreana. After a free morning, depart Santa Cruz and head to Floreana Island. Keep an eye out for dolphins and the magnificent albatross along the way. Enjoy an introduction to snorkelling directly off Black Beach on the island. After, head up to the seldom-visited highlands of Floreana. Hear tales about the pirates, whalers, seal hunters and bucaneers who once lived in this isolated and unique landscape.
Enjoy a visit to Loberia, where there are opportunities to swim and snorkel. Opt to explore the area around Black Beach. Walk along the black sand beach to Loberia to enjoy beach snorkelling or swimming. Please be sure you are a comfortable swimmer. The water here can be rough and the currents are strong.
Morning speedboat ride boat to Isabela Island. Enjoy a kayak excursion near Tintoreras and then jump in for a snorkel nearby. Take a morning speedboat journey to Isabela Island. Visit Tintoreras to kayak and observe the whitetip reef sharks found swimming in the channels between the rocks. Get a close-up view of pelicans, frigatebirds, and diving blue-footed boobies. Watch for manta rays and rare Galapagos penguins, of which only 800 pairs exist.
Hike to Sierra Negra Volcano to see the second-largest crater in the world and enjoy a downhill bike excursion. Visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre on the way back to town. Opt to take surfing lessons on the nearby beach. Take a full day tour on Isabela Island that includes a trek up the Sierra Negra Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Galapagos boasting the second largest crater in the world. Hike to the summit to experience a birds-eye view of the magical landscape.
Stop by the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre on the way back to town. In the evening, opt for a surfing lesson or relax at the bar or on the beach and enjoy a nice cold beer or cocktail.
Free day to enjoy Isabela Island, choose from snorkelling, surfing or a variety of other activities before returning to Santa Cruz by speedboat. Enjoy a day free for activities in Isabela Island, where how much activity is involved is up to you. In the afternoon, set sail for Santa Cruz Island and dock at the town of Puerto Ayora. After a late hotel check-in, enjoy free time to explore this bustling little town and sample some of the local restaurants and bars, or maybe do some souvenir shopping in one of the many shops.
Transfer across Santa Cruz Island to Baltra. Fly back to Quito. After a transfer over the island of Santa Cruz, arrive at Baltra Island for the return flight to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito, transfer to the hotel for one last night on the town. Our representative in Quito will be able to advise on and help with some of the many day tours available in and around Quito.