Bienvenidos! Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 5 or 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where and when it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America, sitting at an altitude of 2,850 metres with a view of Volcan Pichincha on the horizon. On day 1 there is a city tour to show the beautiful Colonial style buildings and help you explore the nooks and crannies of cosy Old Town. We'll be back in Quito at the end of the trip, giving you a chance to further experience the city. Please Note: Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer altitude sickness, regardless of age, gender or fitness. Please see the 'Is This Trip Right For You?' and 'Health' sections in the trip notes for more information.
2 Isla San Cristobal
Early this morning transfer to Quito airport for your flight to San Cristobal. This afternoon take an included visit to the Interpretation Centre and learn about the human and natural history of the Galapagos islands. Afterwards perhaps hike up to Frigatebird Hill or head to Mann beach and chill.
3 Isla San Cristobal
Enjoy a free day on Isla San Cristobal. You may also like to take an optional boat ride to Kicker Rock or Isla Lobos. This is one of your leader's favourite optional activities. You'll be able to observe the famous Galapagos marine life along the way, and have the opportunity to go snorkelling with sea turtles, eagle rays and the harmless Galapagos shark, just to name a few.
4 Isla San Cristobal
Early in the morning, take a two-and-a-half hour public speed boat ride to Isla Santa Cruz. Once in Santa Cruz have breakfast and Settle into the hotel. Mid-morning visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station's visitor centre and museums contain information about the islands and the conservation efforts being made to preserve the unique ecosystem here. It's also a great place to have close encounters with giant tortoises. In the afternoon, head to the higher part of the islands to observe these giants roaming in their natural habitat.
5 Isla Isabela
Travel to Isabela Island. Check-in to the hotel and enjoy breakfast. The island is the largest in the Galapagos and one of the most volcanically active places on earth. A worthwhile optional activity today is an excursion to Tintoreras Island, home to the rare Galapagos penguin. The excursion will then take you to "shark alley", where white-tipped sharks rest during the day. This is also a popular nesting site for the endemic marine iguanas.
6 Isla Isabela
Start the day with a visit to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre for a close encounter with these placid giants. Here you can see tortoises in different stages of development as well learn about the preservation program of this unique species. Take a bus to the highest part of Isabela Island where Sierra Negra Volcano is located. Weather permitting, go for a hike up to the crater to enjoy spectacular views and the possibility of sighting the rare vermillion flycatcher. The challenging 17-kilometre hike takes between five and six hours both ways, but at the top you'll be able to enjoy spectacular views. Please ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes that offer good support for the rocky climb. During the rainy season it can get quite muddy. There is an option to hire gumboots locally, should you wish to do so. During the hike it can get quite hot, there isn't much shade along the way so be sure to come prepared with your hat and sunscreen etc. After the hike, make your way back to town in the late afternoon for some free time to curl up with a book or venture down to the water for a relaxing swim before dinner. Unfortunately, recycling isn't available on Isabela, so please take your plastic rubbish with you.
7 Santa Cruz
Travel back to Santa Cruz in the morning. We'll enjoy breakfast back in Santa Cruz. Consider taking part in some of the optional activities available, such as an excursion to Tortuga Bay, an immaculate natural paradise where you can go kayaking, observe marine iguanas and birds or swim with harmless sharks in an alcove. You may also like to rent some snorkelling gear while you're here.
Say goodbye to these enchanting islands. The flight back to Quito leaves at midday, we get back to Quito in the late afternoon. A representative from Intrepid will take you from the airport to your hotel, then you'll be free to explore more of Quito. You may like to get out and enjoy the nightlife of this vibrant Latin city.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you're able to depart our accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities. As there's little time spent in Quito, we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of your time in here. Ecuador has some of the most beautiful churches in the Americas, including the lavish La Compania de Jesus which is decorated with seven tonnes of gold and the pale art filled La Merced. Not far from the capital, there are volcanoes, hot springs and Incan ruins to explore. Consider doing our one-day sightseeing tours of Quito, including tours of the town, markets and culinary delights (see urbanadventures.com).