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Journey Snapshot

Activity level: Level 2 Requires moderate physical activity. You need to be able to participate in physical activities such as longer walking tours, walking over uneven terrain, climbing steps and be comfortable with some periods of standing. Not suitable if you have limited mobility or require a wheelchair/mobility scooter.
Destination: The Galapagos & Ecuador Adventure sailing aboard M/T Horizon
Duration: 13 Days / 12 Nights
Flight information: Economy flights depart London Heathrow Airport [LHR] to Quito International Airport [UIO] to arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 13
Pickup location: Quito International Airport [UIO], Ecuador

Overview

17 -29 Oct, 2023

Cruise on the only luxury trimaran in the Galapagos, including an exploration of the capital and cloud forests of Ecuador

Visit the cloud forests of Ecuador and Cruise the Galapagos Islands, soaking up the unique beauty of this region of the Earth. Our journey starts with a four-day stay on the Ecuador mainland, exploring the culture and cloud forests of Quito. Then we journey on a small and intimate cruise of the fascinating Galapagos Islands, lying some 1,000km out to sea aboard a motorized trimaran.

The Galapagos Horizon Trimaran is designed for comfort and stability and is outfitted with spacious cabins, a modern lounge and solarium with jacuzzi. www.galapagoshorizon-cruise.com  Horizon has only 8 guest cabins, guaranteeing an intimate exploration of this unique region and ensuring that you are able to make the most of what this environment has to offer.

this is an adventure through the archepelago which inspired Charles Darwin to write ‘On The Origin Of Species’ , a trip to leave you feeling invigorated and thinking differently about the world.

Itinerary

Itinerary summary: DAY 1 - Welcome to Quito, Capital of Ecuador!
DAY 2 - Quito City tour & Visit the Equator
DAY 3 - Otavalo Market, Quito
DAY 4 - Mindo Cloud Forest
DAY 5 - Fly to the Galapagos Islands, Embark & Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island
DAY 6 - Galapagos - Isabela and Fernandina Islands
DAY 7 - Galapagos - Isabela Island: Tagus Cove & Urbina Bay
DAY 8 - Galapagos - Isabela Island: Elizabeth Bay & Moreno Point
DAY 9 - Galapagos - Santa Crus Island: Fausto Llerena Breeding Center and Highlands
DAY 10 - Galapagos - Floreana Island: Post Office Bay & Devil's Crown
DAY 11 - Galapagos - Santa Fe & Lobos Island, San Cristobal Island
DAY 12 - Galapagos - San Cristobal Island. Disembark & Return Flight to Quito
DAY 13 - Goodbye Ecuador and Home - or see below for optional extension to Peru
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Full Itinerary

DAY 1 - Welcome to Quito, Capital of Ecuador!

Welcome to Ecuador! You will be met at Quito Airport and transferred to the hotel.

The rest of the day will be spent at leisure, allowing some time to acclimatise and soak up the atmosphere of Quito.

Included meals: none 
Accommodation: 5* Swissotel, Quito (or similar) 

DAY 2 - Quito City tour & Visit the Equator

After breakfast, we will enjoy an orientation tour of Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. We will walk down quaint cobbled streets, lined with beautiful brightly-coloured colonial houses, whose balconies are dressed in flowers. The town is watched over by the winged Virgin of Quito, sitting up on the Panecillo. We will walk down streets previously walked by the Incan people on their way to the Panecillo, which is thought to have been a centre of worship to the Sun and Moon Gods. When the Spanish arrived, they transformed this Incan avenue into a place heavily influenced by Christianity. Seven crosses were erected along the length of the avenue in an effort to make the indigenous people believe in their god. We will walk along this street to the Plaza de la Independencia. On the square’s southern side lies one of the oldest cathedrals in South America, and the modern sacred heart of the city – Quito Cathedral, an impressive white-walled building with green-glazed ceramic domes. The symmetrical Palacio de Carondelet, the Presidential Palace, runs along the western side of the square. Its balconies were a gift from the French Government and are originally from the Tuilleries Palace in Paris. We will also take a look in at the ancestral interior courtyard of the Centro Cultural Metropolitano, which has over the years been used as a tobacco factory, prison and university. Walking a little further, we come to the National Library and the incomparable Iglesia de la Compañia, a Jesuit church overflowing with Baroque art. The gold that covers its interior hides the church’s tragic history, of the fire that devastated it and the earthquake that shook it.

Afterwards, we will head north-west out of Quito where the landscape becomes dry and sandy. In this desert-like place, we will pass the small towns of San Antonio de Pichincha and Calacalí. As we drive along you will notice that the vegetation becomes denser and the leaves of the plants and trees become larger until we reach the Mitad del Mundo - the middle of the earth - as calculated and measured by the French Geodesics Mission. Ecuador literally means Equator and was named after its famous feature.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: 5* Swissotel, Quito (or similar) 

DAY 3 - Otavalo Market, Quito

Today we will visit the Otovalo handcraft market, situated in the suburbs of Quito. The indigenous Otavaleños are famous for their weaving, usually with wool. You will also find stalls selling textiles, tagua nut jewellery, musical instruments, dream catchers, leather goods and much more, all traditional handicrafts of the local people. We will also visit a local rose farm before lunch in a local restaurant. On our way back to Quito we will stop at the Quitsato Sundial – the first and only Monument of the Middle of the world, that is exactly on the Equatorial Line or Zero Parallel.

Included meals: Breakfast & Lunch 
Accommodation: 5* Swissotel, Quito (or similar) 

DAY 4 - Mindo Cloud Forest

For chocolate lovers our first stop this morning will be one you’ll enjoy – a chocolate tour showing you the process from tree to tastebuds!

Then we’ll head on our big adventure for the day to the town of Mindo. The Mindo Cloud Forest has more than 400 species of bird and the second-highest number of endemic species of butterfly in the country. A team of professional and prepared guides will take us on an amazing journey above the cloud forest on a series of zip lines. Harness up and enjoy the forest from above and the adrenalin of flying through the air with the birds.

We will have lunch in at the butterfly farm, where we can see a spectacular variety of butterflies in different phases of their life cycle. From here we can take a short walk into the cloud forest, keeping an eye out for exotic birds and mammals amongst the lush vegetation and listening to the gentle background hum of life in this extremely diverse place. For great viewing of hummingbirds and other wildlife, we will stop at the Alambi Reserve on our way back to Quito.

Included meals: Breakfast & Lunch 
Accommodation: 5* Swissotel, Quito (or similar) 

DAY 5 - Fly to the Galapagos Islands, Embark & Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island

Today we fly from Quito on mainland Ecaudor to Baltra Airport, in the Galapagos Islands. Lying some 1,000km off the western coast, the islands are some of the most remote on the planet.

Upon arrival in the Galapagos Islands, after passing through immigration and baggage claim, we will be transferred to M/T Horizon where we will be met by our crew. After a briefing and safety meeting with the guide and crew, we'll start our Galapagos adventure.

Our first stop on the cruise this afternoon will be Sullivan Bay. You will visit Sullivan Bay located on the southeast part of Santiago. This place is interesting for its geology because the area is covered by lava flows. This place has elevations in the form of small volcanoes formed by the lava flows.

Activities: Hiking
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Lava flows, small volcanoes

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 6 - Galapagos - Isabela and Fernandina Islands

AM: Vicente Roca Point
Comprised of two separate coves, Vicente Roca Point is a large bay with spectacular sea life. Keep
an eye out for seahorses, sea turtles, and the strange yet fascinating Mola mola (or sun fish) while
you snorkel.

Activities: Snorkeling & Dinghy ride
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Type of Landing: No Landing
Highlights & Animals: Penguins, blue-footed boobies, terns, Nazca boobies, two types of sea lions. Sea turtles and puffer fish

PM: Espinoza Point
Crossing the Bolivar Channel that divides Isabela and Fernandina Islands, you will land at Espinoza Point, and after walking past a colony of marine iguanas and a group of sea lions, you will reach the island’s highlight: the flightless cormorant nesting site. This area also provides a great opportunity to see the Galapagos hawk.

Activities: Hike (approx 1.2miles/2km)
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry Landing
Highlights & Animals: Flightless cormorant, marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins, active volcano "La Cumbre"

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 7 - Galapagos - Isabela Island: Tagus Cove & Urbina Bay

AM: Tagus Cove

You will visit Tagus Cove on Isabela Island which is located across from Fernandina Island, near the Bolivar Channel dividing the two islands. This spot has been frequented by ships since the 1800s, using the area as an anchorage site. Trails winding by Lake Darwin up to a ridge display wonderful views.

Activities: Hike, snorkeling, panga ride, kayaking (weather dependent)
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
Type of Landing: Dry Landing
Highlights & Animals: Penguins, flightless cormorants, Darwin Volcano & Lake

PM: Urbina Bay
Urbina Bay is located at the base of Alcedo Volcano on the west coast between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay. This area experienced a major uplift in 1954 causing the land to rise over 16 feet. The coast expanded half a mile out leaving marine life stranded on the new shore. This area is also a great place for snorkeling.

Activities: Snorkelling, dinghy ride & hike, 2 trails possible: short (0.6-1km) longer (1.9mi/3km)
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
Type of Landing: Dry Landing
Highlights and Animals: Penguins, flightless cormorants, Darwin Volcano & Lake

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 8 - Galapagos - Isabela Island: Elizabeth Bay & Moreno Point

AM: Elizabeth Bay

Elizabeth Bay is located on the east coast of Isabela Island. The bay contains many islets, which can be visited by dinghy. Penguins and blue-footed boobies can be spotted on the rocky islets. With an abundance of marine life and clear water, the area is perfect for snorkeling and viewing schools of colorful fish, sea lions, and perhaps even sharks.

Activities: Hiking (1.5m/2km) and dinghy ride
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Type of Landing: Wet Landing
Highlights & Animals: Mangrove forest, sea turtles, penguins, rays, herons, and sea lions.

PM: Moreno Point

Moreno Point is located southwest of Elizabeth Bay. Here a dry landing onto what was once flowing lava is possible. The lava has left craters in its wake which formed crystal tide pools. By looking into the pools, you can peer into another world as the marine life drifts by your window. In the brackish pools of this area, you may see pink flamingos, white-cheeked pintails, and common gallinules. If you look carefully into the pools, you may see white-tip reef sharks and some sea turtles.

Activities: Snorkeling, panga ride & hike (1.2m/2km)
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
Type of Landing: Dry Landin
Highlights & Animals: Flamingos, gallinules, pintail ducks, turtles, white-tip reef sharks.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 9 - Galapagos - Santa Crus Island: Fausto Llerena Breeding Center and Highlands

AM: Fausto Llerena Breeding Center

You will visit “Fausto Llerena” Tortoise Breeding Center in Puerto Ayora, where giant tortoises are bred in captivity. This is home to tortoises ranging from 3-inches (new hatchlings) to 4-feet long adults. Subspecies of the giant tortoises interact with one another, and many of the older tortoises are accustomed to humans stretching out their heads for a photo opportunity. The babies are kept until they are about four years-old and strong enough to survive on their own.

Activities: Walking 
Difficulty: Easy
Landing: Dry landing
Highlights & Animals: Giant tortoises, finches, Galapagos rails

PM: Highlands
Accessible by bus from Puerto Ayora, the highlands of Santa Cruz are a deep green which contrast beautifully with the dry, lower part of the islands. The predominant vegetation in the highlands are Scalesia trees which create a lush green forest. The lava tunnels, over half a mile long, are underground and walking through them is a unique, surreal experience. At this place you’ll have lunch.

Activities: Hiking (1.5m/2.5km)
Difficulty: Easy
Landing: Dry landing
Possible Wildlife: Lava tunnels, Finches, wild tortoises, tortoise nesting site.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 10 - Galapagos - Floreana Island: Post Office Bay & Devil's Crown

AM: Post Office Bay
You will land on a beach and head to a spot where 18th century whalers placed a wooden barrel used as an unofficial mail box. The custom continues to this day with Galapagos visitors. So, don’t forget your postcards, and don’t be surprised if the post card arrives to its destination before you even get home!

Activities: (less than 0.6 miles / 1km) & snorkeling
Difficulty: Easy
Landing: Wet Landing
Highlights & Wildlife: Post office barrel, nice sandy beach

Devil's Crown
You will have a chance to snorkel around Devil’s Crown which is the rocky remains of an offshore volcano sticking out of the water. This is a great location to spot a wide range of marine creatures.

Activities: Snorkeling, panga ride
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
Landing: No Landing
Highlights & Wildlife: Large array or marine species

PM: Cormorant Point
Cormorant Point hosts a large flamingo lagoon where other birds such as common stilts and whitecheeked pintails can also be seen. The beaches on this island are distinct: The Green Beach is named so due to its green color, which comes from a high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand, and the Flour Sand Beach is composed of white coral.

Activities: Dinghy ride & hike (1.25 mi /2 km)
Difficulty:
Easy
Landing:
Wet Landing
Highlights & Wildlife: 
Flamingoes, green-colored beach

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 11 - Galapagos - Santa Fe & Lobos Island, San Cristobal Island

AM: Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe Island (Barrington) is home to the small picturesque bay and anchorage on the island’s northeast coast. The bay has two visitor trails: one leading to a scenic viewpoint atop a cliff, and the other spanning from a small beach to a tall prickly pear cactus forest.

Activities: Hiking (5 miles / 8 km)
Difficulty: Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry Landing
Highlights & Possible Wildlife: Land iguanas, giant Opuntia cacti

PM: Lobos Island
You will take an excursion to Lobos Island which means “Sea Lion Island.” This appropriately named island is ripe with noisy, playful, jolly sea lions who will welcome you to their home. This island also offers great snorkeling opportunities as well as the chance to see blue-footed and Nazca boobies

Activities: Short hike (less that 0,6 miles / 1 km), dinhy ride
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Type of Landing: Dry Landing
Possible Wildlife: Sea lions, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Onboard 

DAY 12 - Galapagos - San Cristobal Island. Disembark & Return Flight to Quito

AM: David Rodriguez Breeding Center “La Galapaguera”
Breeding Center David Rodriguez - “La Galapaguera”, in Cerro Colorado, is a new visitor site in the southeast part of San Cristobal Island and can now be reached in roughly one hour by road from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. On the trees and shrubs surrounding the site, you may see land birds like
warblers, finches and mockingbirds. Giant tortoises can be observed on the trails. They live there wild but in a protected area to ensure their survival by sealing them off from introduced predators like pigs and goats.

Activities: Short hike (0,6 mi / 1 Km)
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Landing: Dry landing
Possible Wildlife: Giant tortoises, finches, warblers, mockingbirds

Afterwards: San Cristobal airport departure

After this final visit, you will be transferred to the San Cristobal airport in time for your flight back to the mainland.

Included meals: Breakfast & Dinner 
Accommodation: Wyndham Quito Airport 

DAY 13 - Goodbye Ecuador and Home - or see below for optional extension to Peru

After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred from the hotel to meet your departure flights home.

Or why not extend your stay in South America with a few days in Peru to see Machu Picchu? Our short post-tour extension takes in the best of Peru and is a great way to top off your time discovering South America. 

Included meals: Breakfast  
Accommodation: none 

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More information

What's includedWhat's not includedImportant information

What's included

  • ATOL Protection
  • International economy return flights from London Heathrow Airport [LHR] to Quito International Airport (UIO). Departures from regional airports available - supplement charge will apply
  • Economy flights from Quito International Airport [UIO] to San Cristobal Airport Galapagos Islands [SCY] and returning from Baltra Airport, [GPS] to Quite Airport [UIO]
  • Meet & Greet at Quito Airport on arrival
  • Transfers as detailed in the itinerary
  • Accommodation as detailed in the itinerary.
  • All meals detailed as detailed in the itinerary
  • Excursions as detailed in the itinerary
  • Transport in an air-conditioned deluxe vehicle
  • A qualified and experienced English speaking guide
  • Transit Control Card
  • Use of snorkelling equipment

What's not included

  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee (currently $100pp to be paid in cash at the airport on check-in for flights to Galapagos)
  • Transfers on arrival or departure, to/from the airport(s), outside of the tour dates
  • Drinks
  • Gratuities
  • Visas, travel and medical insurance
  • Any personal items and anything not mentioned under included in price above
  • Any meals not mentioned in itinerary
  • Any optional activities offered
  • Any COVID tests or related entry & exit requirements

Important information

  • Whilst itineraries while cruising are unlikely to change significantly, they are subject to change. Weather, wildlife breeding, safety concerns, instructions from the Galapagos National Park, specific abilities and interests of passengers as well as operational matters may cause your guide or captain to change the time or nature of visits. Your guide and captain will always endeavor to select the best itinerary within these limits.
  • Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant tour.
  • Check in is after 2-3pm and check out is before 10am unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
  • Cancellation 90 – 0 days prior to departure cancellation fee is 100%. It is your responsibility to ensure the correct travel insurance in place to protect you against the need to cancel your holiday. Deposits are non-refundable. Final payments are due 14 weeks prior to departure. Further terms and conditions apply and will be provided upon request or at the time of booking.
  • The Big Journey Company reserves the right to withdraw any offer prior to accepting a reservation request. This does not affect your statutory rights. This offer is subject to availability and space is limited.
  • Please consult your doctor for advice on vaccinations and innoculations before travel

The big journey promise

The big journey company was set up with one goal in mind, to share our passion for inspirational cultures, destinations and experiences. Over the last 10 years we have had the privilege to escort thousands of travellers on awe inspiring and sometimes life changing journeys. Our promise to every guest who joins us is that we will do everything possible to make sure your journey not only exceeds expectations but delivers at least one moment of true amazement.

talk toll free to our well travelled team of experts

Call us on:0844 3350 197

Monday to Thursday 09:00am - 8:00pm. Friday 09:00am - 17:30pm. (London time)

or Send us a message

Anytime, day or night

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Holiday tours are operated by The Big Journey Company Limited. Registered in England. Registered office: Marron Bank, Branthwaite, Cumbria, CA14 4SZ. Registered number: 6532140. The Big Journey Company Limited is a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and holds an Air Travel Organiser’s License number T7282.

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