Small ship polar adventures since 1999 +46 31 333 17 30 info@polar-quest.com
Search My
bookings

Galapagos ReQuest with the highlands of Ecuador 2021

The Galapagos Islands are located on the Equator, in the Pacific Ocean, nearly 600 miles off mainland Ecuador. Here we can play with sea lions, swim with penguins and photograph iguanas and giant tortoises. The animals are unafraid of humans and for anyone interested in wildlife, the Galapagos archipelago is a true oasis. Since 2003, we have taken adventurous travellers to this wildlife haven - now it's your turn!

  • Maximum 15 participants
  • 7 nights in the Galapagos
  • Experience 8 of the Galapagos Islands
  • Encounter giant tortoises, iguanas & sea lions
  • 5 nights on mainland Ecuador
  • Explore the Ingapirca Inca ruins
  • Visit Otavalo, Quito & Cuenca
  • Climate compensated trip
Accommodation: Hotels in Otavalo, Quito and Cuenca, cabin on board Coral II. Transport: Expedition yacht, Zodiacs, bus, plane. Ship: Coral II. Guides: One PolarQuest tour leader and two National Park guides in Galapagos. Local guides in Ecuador. Passengers: 11 - 15 participants. Languages: English and Swedish. Length: 14 days, 7 nights on ship. Price: From USD 10 490. Departures: 26 September 2021, 7 November 2021

Itinerary

This exciting trip starts on mainland Ecuador, where we explore the Indian village of Otavalo and the capital, Quito. We continue to the Galapagos Islands and spend seven nights on board the comfortable 15-passenger yacht Coral II. A PolarQuest guide will escort us throughout the trip and in Galapagos two knowledgeable National Park guides will join us. We will use  sturdy rubber boats (pangas) to make daily landfalls and explore the islands’ unique flora and fauna. There is snorkelling equipment on board and we will get several chances to explore the amazing underwater world of these enchanted islands. We swim with penguins, photograph tortoises and meet charming and playful sea lions on white sandy beaches. The animals of the Galapagos are curious and unafraid of humans and we will have many incredible and close wildlife encounters. After eight days in the Galapagos we return to mainland Ecuador and head to the Andean highlands. We stay in Cuenca, known for its beauty and impressive colonial architecture. We also explore the magnificent Cajas National Park and the famous Inca ruins of Ingapirca.

Day 1: London - Quito - Otavalo, Ecuador

We fly from London and arrive to Quito’s International Airport, situated at 9300 ft above sea level and flanked by the snow-capped peaks of the Andes. We transfer by bus to the Indian village of Otavalo, where we check in at the lovely Hacienda Cusin and enjoy a delicious dinner.

Day 2: Otavalo

Today we explore the colourful exotic market. Later we walk through one of the other picturesque villages in the area, Iluman or Pequche, where we visit some of the local craftsmen. We eat dinner and spend the night at Hacienda Cusin.

Day 3: Otavalo - Quito

On our way to Quito we pass the Equator and take a closer look at the monument that marks the centre of our planet. We visit El Panecillo, from where we have an excellent view of Quito. Afterwards we explore the old town and continue to the charming Cultura Manor for dinner and spend the night.

Day 4: Quito - Balto - Santa Cruz, Galapagos

We fly to Baltra in Galapagos and transfer to the island of Santa Cruz. Here, we head for the highland and the wild giant tortoises. In the afternoon we board our comfortable motor yacht Coral II and enjoy our first dinner on board.

Day 5: Isabela & Fernandina

Today we get familiar with Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago, formed by six young and still active volcanoes. As we cruise along the cliffs at Punta Vicente Roca we hope to spot the Nasca boobies, blue-footed boobies and the endemic flightless cormorant. Later, on our way to Fernandina, we cross the Bolívar Channel and keep a look out for whales and dolphins. Fernandina is the youngest island of the Galapagos and has no introduced animal or plant species. Punta Espinoza is famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas. It is also the habitat of Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions as well as several unique species such as the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin and Galapagos hawk - the king of the predators on the islands. The landscape is dominated by cactuses, mangrove areas and different types of lava flows.

Day 6: Isabela

We return to Isabela and go ashore at the black volcanic beach of Urbina Bay. During a walk we hope to encounter the colourful land iguanas. This is also one of Galapagos’ many great snorkelling sites and we have the chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and countless tropical fish. Close to Urbina Bay is Targus Cove, a natural harbour, where whalers and pirates from centuries ago painted and carved their ships’ names on the rocks. From here we make our way up to Darwin’s crater, which today is a salt-water lake, to enjoy the rewarding views of lava fields and volcanic formations. Afterwards, we enjoy a panga (rubber boat) ride along the shoreline to admire a variety of seabirds such as blue-footed boobies and flightless cormorants. If we are lucky, we may also encounter the little Galapagos penguin – the only penguin species in the world living in the tropics.

Day 7: Santiago

Egas Port is a black volcanic sand beach, visited by Darwin in 1835. The unique, truly striking layered terrain of Santiago shore is home to a variety of animals including the bizarre yellow-crowned night heron and marine wildlife including lobster, starfish and marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside Sally Lightfoot crabs. It is also common to see colonies of endemic fur seals swimming in cool water volcanic rock pools. On the South-eastern side of Santiago Island we find Sullivan Bay, named after Bartholomew James Sullivan - a lieutenant on Darwin’s vessel, the Beagle. Here we take a walk through a fascinating moon landscape, where the young pa-hoe-hoe lava flows were formed during the last quarter of the 19th century.

 

Day 8: Santa Cruz

The inviting white paradise beach Bachas offers us yet another chance of swimming and snorkelling in the amazing waters of Galapagos. Here we also find the remains of barges that sank during World War II, when the United States Navy operated a base on the island of Baltra. Behind the beach lie two small ponds, surrounded by red and black mangrove and popular among iguanas, mockingbirds and Darwin finches. In the afternoon we visit the Charles Darwin Research Centre, where giant tortoises and land iguanas are bred. During our exciting tour we learn more about these fascinating pre-historic animals.

Day 9: Mosquera & North Seymour

Mosquera Island has one of the largest populations of sea lions in the Galapagos archipelago and is also home to many sea birds. On land we have a chance to spot marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and sally lightfoot crabs. Mosquera Islet is also good for snorkelling as the sea lions often join us in the water! The coral reef offers a rich marine life, where tropical fish, turtles, rays and reef sharks are common sightings. Later, we make a landing at North Seymour, one of few places in Galapagos where you can encounter the magnificent frigate bird with its red-coloured throat pouches. Here we also have the chance to see colonies of blue footed boobies, swallow tailed gulls and the endemic Palo Santo tree.

Day 10: Santa Fe & South Plaza

Santa Fe is the oldest island in the Galapagos (4.5 million years) and is one of the islands with the highest endemism. During a walk through an endemic cactus forest we search for the endemic Santa Fe land iguana, which is the largest of the iguanas and has a distinctively paler colour. We might also spot several endemic species including Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, a variety of finches and one of the four species of Galapagos mockingbirds. On South Plaza we have the chance to see countless birds soaring by the cliffs, sea lion colonies and a large colony of several hundred smaller sized iguanas. Due to their proximity with marine iguanas, this is the only place on Earth where you find the Galapagos hybrid iguana!

Day 11: San Cristobal – Cuenca

This morning, we explore Kicker Rock, also known as León Dormido because of its resemblance to a sleeping lion. This spectacular volcanic rock towers 150 meter above the Pacific Ocean and is a popular spot for blue-footed boobies, frigates and pelicans. If time allows, we will enjoy a last snorkelling with sea turtles, Galapagos sharks and eagle rays. It is time to say goodbye to this enchanting group of islands and fly to Guayaquil in Ecuador to explore the highlands. On our way towards the mountains we travel through a changing landscape. After a few hours’ bus drive, we reach Cuenca and check in at Mansion Alcázar, an impressive piece of architecture from colonial times. Before dinner we stroll along the cobblestone streets of Cuenca, considered by many the most beautiful city in Ecuador.

Day 12: Ingapirca Inca ruins

Today, we travel into the magnificent Highlands of the Andes to the Ingapirca ruins, built by the Inca Indians in the 1400s. Here, our local guide tells us about Inca’s fascinating history. After lunch, we return to Cuenca and explore the city’s market. Here we find Indian jewelry, textiles and exotic fruits. In the evening we enjoy our last dinner at our hotel Mansion Alcázar.

Day 13: Cajas National Park - Guayaquil

Travelling through high Andean mountain passes we reach Cajas National Park. Here we walk among the impressive paper bark trees, while our guide helps us identify some of the area’s many colourful bird species. In the afternoon we return to Guayaquil, leave Ecuador to fly back home. 

Day 14: London

Arrive in London.

Please note: Our exact route and port calls will depend on local authorities and might be subject to change.

The ship Coral II

  • Klein Tours
  • Klein Tours
  • Klein Tours
  • Klein Tours
  • Superior Cabin
    Klein Tours
  • Standard cabin
  • Sun deck
    Klein Tours

Our expedition yacht was last refurbished in 2019 and the comfortable cabins accommodate 15 passengers . The yacht has the latest navigation equipment and is decorated in classic maritime style with teak and brass. All cabins are air-conditioned, have private shower/WC and windows/portholes. Facilities on board include a comfortable lounge, a dining room, a well-stocked bar, three sun decks and a plunge pool. The bridge is open to visitors at all times.

Cabins & prices

Cabin category Price per person
Standard Cabin (2 separate beds or double bed) USD 10 490
Superior Cabin (2 separate beds or double bed) USD 11 390
Standard Cabin for single use USD 13 590

Please note: the 7 - 20 November departure is sold out. 

Price includes

  • Flights London - Quito, Quito - Galapagos, Galapagos - Guayaquil, Guayaquil - London
  • 7 nights on board the Coral II
  • 2 nights at Hacienda Cusin in Otavalo
  • 1 night at Cultura Manor in Quito
  • 2 nights at Mansion Alcázar in Cuenca
  • All transfers
  • All meals
  • 1 PolarQuest tour leader
  • 2 National Park guides in Galapagos and local guides in Ecuador
  • Lectures on board and guided walks ashore
  • Snorkeling equipment and wetsuit on board Coral II
  • Entrance Fee to the Galapagos National Park (USD 100)
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material and a post expedition logbook
  • The customary gratuity to all local guides and ship’s crew
  • The trip is climate compensated

Not included

  • Travel and cancellation insurance
  • Beverages
  • Airport taxes

Departures & booking

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or wish to make a reservation.

Booking request
We are glad that you are interested in travelling with PolarQuest! Please enter your details below, and let us know if you have any specific preferences such as cabin category. Your request is non-binding.

We respect your privacy. Please refer to our Privacy Policy for full detail.

Departure Return
26 September 2021 9 October 2021
7 November 2021 20 November 2021