Wonders of the Galápagos Islands

Program Overview

This incredible nine-day journey features a four-night cruise in the Galápagos Islands—a nature lover’s dream destination and UNESCO World Heritage site—aboard the first-class small ship Santa Cruz II. This exploration vessel is equipped for the complete Galápagos experience, from a fleet of inflatable watercraft and a glass-bottom boat to certified naturalists and complimentary snorkeling gear. Visit six islands where the unique wildlife engages in up-close human interaction like nowhere else. On mainland Ecuador, enjoy three nights exploring the colonial treasures of UNESCO-inscribed Quito, one of South America’s most captivating cities. Six-night Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Sacred Valley and Lima Post-Program Option.

Program Details

February 9 to 17, 2022 (Santa Cruz II)
From $5995 plus air View Terms & Conditions
  • Extraordinary, uniquely designed nine-day Galápagos journey.
  • Four-night, exclusively chartered Galápagos cruise—visit six islands and enjoy up-close access to wildlife.
  • First-class accommodations aboard the Santa Cruz II, the best expedition-style ship in the Galápagos.
  • Designed to navigate the waters surrounding the islands of the archipelago, Santa Cruz II provides the smoothest cruise experience in the Galápagos.
  • Each island has its own distinctive ecosystem of vibrant flora and captivating fauna, such as the flightless cormorant, blue- and red-footed boobies, playful sea lions and tropical penguins.
  • Encounter the amazing wildlife that inspired Charles Darwin—quirky finches, primeval iguanas and giant tortoises.
  • Insightful lectures and small group walks led by expert naturalists with in-depth knowledge of the islands’ distinctive flora and fauna.
  • Three nights in colonial Quito, including the Old City—a UNESCO World Heritage site—and an excursion to the “Middle of the World,” the Equatorial Monument at zero degrees latitude.
  • All excursions included—best Galápagos value on the market!
  • Six-night Machu Picchu Post-Program Option, including Cuzco, Peru, the Sacred Valley and Lima.

Day 1 - Depart the U.S. or Canada / Arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Day 2 - Guayaquil / Fly to Baltra Island, Galápagos Islands / Embark Santa Cruz II / Santa Cruz Island for Dragon Hill

Day 3 - Punta Vicente, Isabela Island / Punta Espinosa, Fernandina Island

Day 4 - Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, for Charles Darwin Research Station

Day 5 - Post Office Bay, Floreana Island / Champion Islet / Cormorant Point

Day 6 - Baltra Island / Disembark ship / Fly to Quito

Day 7 - Quito

Day 8 - Quito / Equator

Day 9 - Quito / Depart for the U.S. or Canada

View detailed program itinerary >

Santa Cruz II

First-Class Expedition Vessel Santa Cruz II

The locally based, first-class Santa Cruz II is designed specifically to navigate the narrow channels, shallow bays and environmentally sensitive waters of the remote Galápagos Islands. The ship employs the latest in sustainable cruising technology in order to protect the archipelago’s delicate ecosystem and maintains the highest international safety standards.

Learn more about the Santa Cruz II >

Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley Post-Program Option

Explore Peru’s UNESCO-inscribed archaeological treasures and signature landscapes on this comprehensive opportunity featuring Machu Picchu, Cuzco and the captivating Sacred Valley.

Cradled by the soaring peaks of the Andes Mountains, the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu summons awe and wonder like few other places—nothing can diminish your first glimpse of this fabled “lost city.” Machu Picchu was unknown to the Western world for four centuries until American explorer Hiram Bingham III discovered the site in 1911. Research and excavation have revealed that Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century as a retreat for the Inca emperor Pachacuti.

Admire the spectacular archaeological sites of the Sacred Valley, where ancient engineering marvels, such as the fortress of Ollantaytambo, stand as lasting testimony to the powerful and far‑reaching Inca Empire. Here, village craftspeople employ age‑old techniques to spin, dye and weave intricate tapestries and sculpt pottery painted with ancient, artistic patterns.

In the historic Inca capital of Cuzco, a UNESCO World Heritage site, see the stone fortress of Sacsayhuamán and Baroque- and Renaissance‑style churches that provide a fascinating mix of pre-Columbian and colonial influences.

Enjoy deluxe, ideally located accommodations in Lima, Machu Picchu and Cuzco.

The Post-Program Option is available at additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.

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Program Itinerary

Day 1 U.S. / Guayaquil, Ecuador

Depart the U.S. and fly to Guayaquil. Upon arrival, transfer to the Hilton Colón Guayaquil Hotel.

Day 2, Morning Baltra, Galápagos Islands

Fly to the small island of Baltra and embark the expedition vessel Santa Cruz II in time for lunch. Attend an orientation by the ship’s English‑speaking Ecuadorian naturalists while cruising to Santa Cruz Island, known for endemic marine iguanas, prickly pear cacti, giant land tortoises and pristine white beaches.

Day 2, Afternoon Santa Cruz Island

Aboard Zodiacs, explore the shores of mangrove-lined islets and observe emblematic blue‑ and red-footed boobies, brown pelicans and magnificent frigatebirds. Visit a small lagoon frequented by pink flamingos and shorebirds before a short ascent of Dragon Hill, which provides sanctuary to a large population of land iguanas and affords spectacular views.

Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board the ship this evening.

Please note that the itinerary and cruise pattern are dependent on weather, ocean conditions and Galápagos National Park Service regulations.

Day 3, Morning Isabela Island

Cruise through the ecologically rich Bolivar Channel, framed by the dramatic volcanic peaks of Isabela and Fernandina. Spend the morning at seahorse‑shaped Isabela, a younger island formed by six shield volcanoes, notably Volcán Sierra Negra—the world’s second largest caldera. Enjoy opportunities to snorkel off Punta Vicente Roca or search the northern shores for Nazca boobies, Darwin’s finches and Galápagos hawks.

Day 3, Afternoon Fernandina Island

The rocky landscapes of Fernandina are the most untouched of all the Galápagos Islands. Look for Galápagos penguins and sea lions competing for fish, marine iguanas basking in the sun and flightless cormorants drying their wings amid scuttling Sally Lightfoot crabs. Discover how recent volcanic activity has reshaped the island’s topography, creating an ever-changing environment for thriving species found nowhere else.

Day 4 Santa Cruz Island

Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station—established in 1965—where over 200 scientists collaborate in conservation efforts, including a breeding program for rare giant tortoises. Transfer to Santa Cruz’s cool, lush highlands for lunch amid an endemic Scalesia cloud forest.

This afternoon, choose from a variety of leisure activities at Tortuga Bay. Stroll along an immaculate sweep of white sand that shelters nesting sea turtles, marine iguanas and lava gulls. Snorkel in the clear blue waters of a secluded cove amid colorful reef fish or walk the island’s trails and keep watch for warblers, finches, mockingbirds and lava lizards.

Day 5 Floreana Island

Floreana was one of the first islands in the archipelago to be settled by European whalers and buccaneers. At Post Office Bay, peruse the mail in the wooden barrel “post office,” established by whalers to transport letters home on passing ships. Select a piece of mail to hand deliver to its final destination or leave your own message to be delivered by a future visitor.

Cruise via Zodiac or snorkel in the sparkling waters surrounding pristine Champion Islet—one of the best areas to snorkel in the archipelago. Encounter sea horses, sea turtles, sea lions, coral hawkfish and other aquatic wonders. Scan the skies and shorelines for a rare sighting of the endemic Floreana mockingbird, common to the islands when Darwin visited but endangered today. Walk along the brackish lagoons and mangroves near Cormorant Point, a haven for flamingos and pelicans.

Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception on board the ship this evening.

Day 6 Quito

Dock in Baltra and disembark the ship. Board your late-morning flight to Quito, one of the highest capital cities in the world at 9,350 feet. Transfer to the ideally located JW Marriott Quito. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, yet only miles from the equator, Quito is arguably South America’s most attractive and beguiling capital city.

Day 7 Quito

Quito is a city of startling contrasts, where thousands of years of South American traditions are interwoven with Catholicism, the Spanish language and Western European culture. Experience the architectural splendor, rich indigenous traditions and contemporary verve of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Visit the noble, 16th‑century Iglesia de San Francisco—the continent’s most feted religious structure—Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, renowned for its lavish interior adorned with an estimated seven tons of gold leaf, and see the Moorish‑influenced Catedral Metropolitana. Tour Casa del Alabado, an impressive private museum of pre‑Columbian art and archaeological artifacts housed in a 17th‑century colonial mansion.

Day 8 Quito / Equator

Stand in the “middle of the world” with one foot in each hemisphere at the equator. See the hundred‑foot‑tall Equatorial Monument, which commemorates the 18th‑century multinational expedition that located zero degrees latitude, accurately establishing the Earth’s size for the first time. In the Ethnographic Museum, see exhibits that celebrate Ecuador’s renowned cultural diversity.

Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore Quito.

Day 9 Quito / U.S. or Canada

Continue on the Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley Post‑Program Option or enjoy a day room in the Hilton Colón Guayaquil Hotel and depart late this evening for the U.S. or Canada.