DAY 1: Arrival in Quito
Welcome to Ecuador
Meet your Kuoda host upon arrival and head to the chic San Francisco de Quito hotel in the heart of the colonial center. Your guide will talk you through your itinerary and answer any questions you may have regarding our exclusive tours of Ecuador.
DAY 2: Otavalo
Visit to the Otavalo Market
Leave Quito in early morning for a visit to Otavalo Market, which has been running since pre-Inca times. Search the stalls for unique leather goods, textiles, crafts and carvings. After sifting through the offerings, return to your charming hotel in Quito.
DAY 3: Quito
Quito City Tour
Get to know your new surrounds with a private personalized tour of Ecuador’s capital. You’ll be driven through the northern residential section to see the modern part of Quito, before continuing on foot in the UNESCO-listed colonial core, where ornate churches and elegant houses complete with arched doorways and wrought-iron balconies dominate the scene.
The religious influence brought to Ecuador by Spanish missionaries and colonizers is particularly evident in Quito’s historic center, which contains more than 40 churches and chapels as well as 16 convents and monasteries. After strolling around the picturesque streets, your exclusive city tour will take you to two landmark sites: Parque Alameda, which houses the oldest astronomical observatory in South America, and the central plaza, Independence Square, which is home to the Church of San Francisco, the oldest, largest and most impressive religious building in the city.
DAY 4: Quito to the Galapagos Island
Begin Your Cruise
Today you’ll begin your four-day cruise to what is probably the most famous wildlife-watching spot on Earth. Many visitors to this remote archipelago opt for daytrips, but luxury travel in the Galapagos Islands merits a longer stay – and no better way to do it than on a Galapagos luxury cruise.
Upon arrival in the Galapagos, you’ll board your cruiser and enjoy an introductory welcome speech over lunch. Glide along the mangrove-lined islets to Santa Cruz, the second-largest island in the chain. Here you might see birds including boobies, frigates and pelicans, as well as creatures such as marine turtles, marine iguanas, rays and sharks.
After a dry landing, explore this mythical wonderland during a short hike, where you might just find yourself face-to-face with vibrant pink greater flamingos, common stilts and pintail ducks. Trek up Dragon Hill (Cerro Dragon) for views of the bay and the western archipelago. You may even be treated to a land iguana sighting; these huge creatures are known to nest in this area.
DAY 5: Cruising the Galapagos Islands
In the morning, luxury tours of the Galapagos Islands continue. Disembark at Bartolomé Island – one of the youngest islands in the chain – and ascend the steep wooden staircase up to the island’s summit. Your exertion will be rewarded with the fabulous views of the gnarled volcanic island terrain and the turquoise waters surrounding it. Take a panga (fishing boat) ride around the volcanic cone of Pinnacle Rock, before going snorkeling. The curious Galapagos penguins are frequently known to join swimmers in the seas.
After lunch aboard the cruiser, you will travel to Puerto Egas, a mecca for all kinds of land and shore birds. Stroll along the pitch black volcanic shore and you may encounter a colony of sea lions sunning themselves or even marine iguanas grazing on green algae beds.
DAY 6: Cruising the Galapagos Islands
Darwin Bay (Tower Island)
Following breakfast on board, come ashore for a stroll along a small white coralline sand beach. Here you’ll find all kinds of birds, including great frigates, red-footed and Nazca boobies, and a variety of finches. Most of the Galapagos birds are unfazed by human presence allowing for up-close observation. You may also wish to snorkel along the cliffs and look for hammerhead sharks.
Head back to the boat for lunch on-board followed by a whale- and dolphin-spotting session.
Later in the day, take a walk around North Seymour Island. Glimpse frigates strutting about and blue-footed boobies diving for fish and look out for sea lions and marine iguanas simply hanging about.
DAY 7: Cruising the Galapagos Islands
Santa Fe (Barrington Island)
In early morning, disembark at Santa Fe (Barrington) Island, one of the oldest in the archipelago – some rocks here date back almost four million years. Follow a trail that leads to large dragon-like Sante Fe land iguanas, which are endemic to this island.
Come afternoon, sail over to Santa Cruz Island to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Learn about the conservation work and research done by the scientists stationed here. Stop by the tortoise breeding center to see the gentle giants and marvel at the impressive prickly pear cactus forest.
Next, you’ll be driven up to the lush highlands to a giant daisy tree forest and the twin pit craters of “Los Gemelos.” If you’re lucky, this is where you’ll see the endangered giant tortoises ambling around in their wild natural habitat.
DAY 8: Return to Quito
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno / Flight to Quito
Visit Baquerizo Moreno Island in the morning. This small port is the provincial capital of the Galapagos, but don’t expect hustle and bustle – this laid-back capital operates on island time. Here, trace the natural history of the islands through the enlightening exhibits of the Cristobal Interpretation Center. After, get a feel for the colorful little town as you stroll around its cafes and souvenir shops.
In the afternoon, return to the mainland and check in for your return flight at Quito airport.
Interested in designing your own Galapagos Island private tour? Give Kuoda a call or email to discuss your dream wildlife-watching vacation.
There are many cruise options for exploring the Galapagos Islands and each has their own itinerary taking in different islands and wildlife.