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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 Dates & prices will be available in August.


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 9 300 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 - San Cristobal, Galapagos

We fly from Quito to San Cristobal in Galapagos, where we board our motor yacht Coral II. After settled into our comfortable cabins we explore Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos Islands. Here we visit the Museum of Natural History to learn more about the remote volcanic islands. A trek up to Tijeretas Hill gives us rewarding views as well as the opportunity to watch a colony of frigate birds. In the evening we enjoy our first dinner on board.

Day 5: San Cristobal

Today we visit the beautiful white beach Cerro Brujo, offering wonderful swimming and snorkelling opportunities. This is one of the first places that Charles Darwin visited. If you haven’t tried snorkelling before, our guides will help you!  In a small lagoon we can see birds such as the ruddy turnstone, whimbrel, and white-cheeked pintail. Cerro Brujo also offers beautiful views of Kicker Rock, the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast. In the afternoon we head out on a hike on a rocky terrain. It takes us past a long beach up to a volcanic tuff, offering 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 boobies. We also hope to see two species of frigate birds and a sea lion colony.

Day 6: Española

Española has a high percentage of endemic species due to its isolation from the rest of the islands. At Punta Suarez we hope to meet sea lions, lava lizards, marine iguanas and seabirds such as the Española mockingbird, Nazca boobies and the spectacular red-billed tropicbirds. This is also the world’s only nesting place for the majestic waved albatross. Enjoy the dramatic landscapes and the of the island’s dramatic backdrop, featuring the famous Soplador - a seaward blowhole that shoots water up to 23 meter into the air. During the afternoon we go ashore at Gardner Bay to swim and snorkel together with the playful sea lions or relax on the beautiful coral beach. The water is home to tropical fish, rays and reef sharks and along the shore we have the chance to spot lava lizards, marine iguanas, Galapagos hawks, American oystercatchers, Galapagos ground doves, and three species of Darwin’s finches.

Day 7: Floreana

Floreana is not only known for its interesting history of buccaneers, whalers, convicts and early colonists but also for its wildlife. At Punta Cormorant we land on a greenish beach, coloured by a large amount of olivine crystals. We hike from black mangrove beds to a large inland lagoon, frequently visited by pink flamingos. Close by we find a beautiful white sandy beach. Here we may see sting rays hiding in sand, sea turtles swimming, blue-footed boobies plunging into the water and small reef sharks floating along the shoreline in the search for food. Just off Punta Cormorant lies Devil Crown, one of Galapagos’ many wonderful snorkelling sites. Here we have a chance to swim with different species of tropical fish, sea turtles, reef sharks and sea lions. The reef is a completely submerged volcano that eroded and created the appearance of a crown. We will also visit Post Office Bay with its unique post barrel from 1793. The postal service still works in the same way today!


Day 8: Santa Cruz

We head for the highlands to hopefully encounter the wild giant tortoises, weighting 250 kg on average! The mountains also offer rich birdlife and we keep our eyes open for species such as tree finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers and cattle egrets. Here we also find the Charles Darwin Research Centre, where giant tortoises bred. Once home to the famous Lonesome George, the last tortoise of the Pinca race, the breeding and relocation centre is named in honour of his long-time guardian. Afterwards we explore the picturesque fishing village, Puerto Ayora.

Day 9: Santa Cruz & Bartolomé

Today we hike up to Dragon Hill to enjoy the magnificent views of the neighbouring islands. It also an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas. On our way we pass by a blackish lagoon, where we hope to meet flamingos. The forest is a home to mockingbirds, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers and Galapagos doves. On Bartolomé we hike across a moon-like landscape of lava fields and volcanic craters and marvel at the incredible sceneries. At the beach we have chance to encounter the marine iguanas, lava lizards and the charming blue-footed booby. For some visitors, this might turn out to be the best snorkelling experience in the Galapagos. In the crystal clear water we hope to see sea turtles, reef sharks and the famous Galapagos penguin among a great variety of colourful fish.

Day 10: Rabida - Santiago

We land on the red beach of Rabida, an island that is home to sea lion colonies and nine species of the Darwin’s finch. We also head out on a panga cruise along the marine cliffs to observe nesting seabirds. The eroded shoreline of nearby Santiago is home to Galapagos fur seals and playful sea lions. A hike through a small palo santo forest leads us to saltwater lagoons that are home to wader birds such as flamingos. This is also an excellent spot for snorkelling with great chances of seeing rays.

Day 11: Santa Cruz – Baltra - Cuenca

On the north shore of Santa Cruz lies Black Turtle Cove. With our pangas, we explore this enchanted internal lagoon surrounded by mangroves. The cove has been declared as a turtle sanctuary and hopefully we will meet some of these amazing creatures.  Turtles visit the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface while fish, rays and reef sharks circle below. In the afternoon it is time to say goodbye to this enchanting group of islands. On the island of Baltra we disembark Coral II and fly to Guayaquil in Ecuador to explore the highlands. On our way towards the mountains we travel through a changing landscape 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

Dates, prices and itinerary will be available in August

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.

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