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Signature Galapagos: Island hopping

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Hop between islands on this innovative lodge-based holiday with guided explorations by motor yacht and by hiking, snorkelling and kayaking to observe wildlife and wild volcanic landscapes. 

For a while now you could visit the Galápagos by expedition cruise, or base yourself at a lodge or hotel on one of the islands. Now you can combine the experience with a few days staying at top quality lodges on two contrasting islands, but also make day visits to other sites by motor yacht.  

This way you get the best of both worlds.  Based at your lodges, you venture forth to explore an active volcano, and visit many other sites within the National Park and Marine Reserve in search of wildlife. These excursions offer you the opportunity for more active experiences (some included, others charged locally) such as snorkelling, paddling, kayaking, cycling and walking than you’d get on some cruise-only holidays.  

Finch Bay Eco Hotel (Santa Cruz Island) is in a tranquil location close to the Galápagos principal town Puerto Ayora and a lovely beach, while Scalesia Lodge has you glamping in luxury fixed tents in the highlands of Isabela Island. 

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Quito, capital of Ecuador.

Day 2

Guided walking tour of colonial Quito

Day 3

Fly to the Galapagos; light aircraft flight to Isabela Island.

Day 4

Excursion to explore the vast crater of Sierra Negra volcano.

Day 5

Wildlife watching and snorkelling in the National Park and Marine Reserve

Day 6

Visit North Seymour and continue to Finch Bay on Santa Cruz Island.

Day 7

Explore the highlands of Santa Cruz and spot giant tortoises.

Day 8

Cruise to Santa Fé Island, snorkelling opportunities.

Day 9

Visit Tortuga Bay, turtle beaches and snorkel or kayak off the shore.

Day 10

Fly to Guayquil and connect with international flight.

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What our experts say

This was an exciting holiday to put together as it brings out a burgeoning concept in Galápagos tourism. Traditionally, you would only visit the archipelago on an expedition cruise, but now there are plenty of high-quality, land-based options available. If you suffer from seasickness or simply would rather sleep on land, then this is a great alternative to a cruise. It’s also an ideal extension to a cruise itinerary – life ashore is very relaxing so it’s a great way to unwind at the end of your Galápagos trip.

Ben Line

Ben Line

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Signature Galapagos: Island hopping

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Quito

Quito has long been a city of two halves. Occupying a highland valley at 2,850m and flanked by volcanoes, the setting of its historic centre and adjoining modern quarters is breathtaking. The formerly dark and run-down colonial heart has been magnificently restored. Cobbled lanes and whitewashed façades, scrubbed up churches and renovated theatres now gleam and echo with the sounds of the everyday life of its traditional inhabitants. Beyond are the skyscrapers and broad avenues of the contemporary commercial city, La Mariscal, with flashy shops, offices and restaurants, where busy young workers flock to the many bars and nightclubs.

When to go

The capital is an all-year destination. Lying at 2,850m on the Equator, Quito has a year round spring-like climate.  Most days have a sunny morning but there may be rain in the afternoon. Feb-Mar are the wettest months, Jul the driest.

Language

Spanish

Getting local currency
Ecuador uses the US dollar. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. 
Time difference

GMT -5 hrs.

Combines with

A visit to Otavalo market in the northern highlands, 58km (1-2hrs by road); the bird-filled cloud forest in the Mindo region, 100km (1hr 40mins by road); the Avenue of the Volcanoes, 77km (2hrs by road); the Galápagos Islands, (2-3hrs by air).

Getting there

Average flight time is 15 hrs. There are no direct flights from the UK to Ecuador, popular routes to Quito involve a change of plane in Amsterdam, Paris or Madrid.

Key events

Dia de Quito: Quito, 6 Dec. The city’s own festival is actually celebrated from 1st Dec, with parades, street music and bullfights, right up until the fiesta’s climax on 6th. It can be quite boisterous.

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Galapagos Islands
Sunset on the islands

The Galápagos Islands.  There’s something magical about the name - they are, of course, known as the Enchanted Isles  - and they sit adrift of mainland Ecuador in isolation in the Pacific Ocean, for centuries far removed from the influences of mankind. Up to the middle of the 20th century only a colourful array of pirates, whalers, convicts, eccentrics and fishermen dropped anchor on their shores.

Born from volcanoes thrusting their way through the surface of the waters, the clutch of alternately sun-baked and misty islands of twisted lava, jagged cliffs and scrubby forest seem an unlikely habitat for wildlife. But a phenomenal array of trusting bird and reptile species, not to mention undersea marine animals, have settled and evolved here, to the delight of visitors from Darwin onwards.

Watch the lumbering giant tortoises, nesting albatrosses, flirting frigate birds, comic boobies, wrinkly iguanas and frolicking sea-lions from a cruise or land-based adventure. Climb a volcano, kayak to a white sand beach or swim with hammerhead sharks:  so many unique experiences to get involved in are at your feet.   

When's the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands?

At any time of year some of the fauna species will be breeding, nesting or in some other way particularly active. The climate is not extreme and even in the wetter months the rain usually only comes in afternoon showers. Dec - May the weather is hot with warm, calm seas and more chance of showers. Jun - Nov it is cooler with morning mist and choppier, colder seas.

What's the official language of the Galapagos islands?

Spanish

What is the official currency in the Galapagos Islands?

Ecuador uses the US dollar. The bank in Puerto Ayora may offer advances on a UK credit or debit card but you are well advised to bring US dollars cash sufficient for your needs on the islands with you.

What is the time difference between GMT and the Galapagos Islands?

GMT -6 hours.

Which other countries combine well with the Galapagos islands?
A land tour on the Ecuadorian mainland; the Inca archaeological sites of Peru (daily flights Quito to Lima 2hrs 20mins).      
How long is the flight from Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands?

Flight time from Quito is 2-3 hours, 1.5hrs from Guayaquil. Quito flights normally touch down in Guayaquil.

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Santa Fe (Barrington)
Santa Fé

This is one of the most exquisite islands, with a lovely turquoise lagoon. Some of the giant cacti here grow up to 10m high. It is one of the oldest, with volcanic rocks about 4 million years old. The vegetation includes brush, palo santo trees and stands of prickly pear cactus.  The visitor site is at Barrington Bay where a couple of trails lead inland but your walk might be frustrated by the presence of vast numbers of sea-lions on the beach.

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Guayaquil
Until quite recently a scruffy Pacific port with a dubious reputation, Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city is a newly emergent commercial and cultural centre, showing off freshened up plazas and boulevards, a charming waterside malécon (promenade), good hotels and trendy restaurants. Always a flamboyant place in comparison with the upland cities, it has a vivacious atmosphere. The river Guayas is chock-a-bloc with boats jostling for space, some laden down with tropical fruits and sugar cane, others offering transport to distant villages. The historic quarter of Las Peñas nearby is an arty district with a tumble of toybox multicoloured houses, galleries and bars.
When to go

Guayaquil is a hot, humid place where the temperature seldom dips below 28°C all year round. Heavy rainfall can be expected from Jan-Apr but hardly any outside this period.

Language

Spanish

Getting local currency

Ecuador uses the US dollar. There are a number of banks in Guayaquil. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs using a UK credit or debit card, but the permitted withdrawal may be a lower amount than at home.

Time difference

GMT -5 hrs.

Combines with

The Galápagos Islands, 1.5hrs by air; the southern upland city of Cuenca, 175km (2hrs 40mins by road).

Getting there

Average flight time is 12 hrs. There are no direct flights from the UK to Ecuador, popular routes to Guayaquil involve a change of plane in Amsterdam, Paris or Madrid. The city is a 50min flight from Quito.

Key events

Fiestas Julianas:  Guayaquil, 24-5 Jul.  Parades, fireworks, beauty pageants and other events to celebrate the city’s foundation and Simon Bolivar’s birthday.
Dia de Independencia & Dia de Raza: Guayaquil 9-12 Oct.  Various cultural events.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.

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