Bring a valid passport that will not expire until at least six months after your departure date before you travel to Ecuador. Visas are not required for US or Canadian citizens.
Galapagos Islands: Darwin's Enchanted Isles
Galapagos Islands: Darwin's Enchanted Isles
During our intimate Galapagos Islands cruise, you’ll find yourself just inches away from giant tortoises, comical blue-footed boobies, sea lions, penguins, iguanas and many other animals, and you’ll gain an appreciation for how remarkable life on Earth can be. Voyage the famed waters of Galapagos amid the spectacular landscapes and distinct endemic wildlife that so intrigued Charles Darwin. From the spouting whales crossing the Bolivar Channel to the waved albatrosses nesting along the cliffs of Espanola, you'll experience the undeniable wonder of Darwin's Enchanted Isles.
Skip the Crowds on our Galapagos Islands Cruise
The Galapagos Islands are a treasure meant to be experienced with a small group of true nature enthusiasts – not 100 “tourists.” Our small group size of just 32 aboard the Evolution ensures you enjoy ample time and attention as you explore. Plus, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort and world-class service to discover the Galapagos. Each day during this Galapagos Islands tour, you “come home” to a comfortable, intimate expedition ship. The Evolution is the perfect haven for relaxing between daily hiking and snorkeling excursions, or for joining fellow travelers for a briefing by our knowledgeable naturalists.
Explore More with IE
IE’s in-depth Galapagos Islands tour offers more than a typical "tourist" overview – we expose you to the greatest variety of wildlife. Our Galapagos Islands cruise pass dormant volcanoes; lets you snorkel with sea lions; and even includes watching the giant tortoises graze. These are the moments of wonder you expect on this small-ship cruise.
The Highest Rated Galapagos Islands Travel Guides
Our highly qualified naturalist Galapagos Islands travel guides are authorities on the wildlife, history, geography and fauna of the Galapagos Islands. You’ll learn from an expedition leader and local naturalist who are passionate about the islands and licensed at the highest level — Level 3 — by Galapagos National Park.
Enjoy daily snorkeling
Guest with sea lion
Pinnacle Rock on Bartolome Island
Colorful Galapagos land iguana
Galapagos: Nesting waved albatrosses
Optional Pre-Trip Extensions
Before your intimate Galapagos Islands cruise, get to know the largest and most populous city in Ecuador on our Guayaquil tour. Enjoy a majestic view of the city, and stroll along the banks of the Guayas River, where you can enjoy art galleries, craft shops and quaint parks.
2017 Pricing: Double Occupancy: $248; Single Occupancy: $338
Arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where you are met and transferred to our hotel. (Meals Aloft)
Visit the city, seeing the Centennial Park, first fire station, Masonic temple and buildings from beginning of the 20th century. Continue through 9 de Octubre Avenue, the principal street in downtown area. Pass by the San Francisco Plaza and Civic Plaza before a walking tour which takes us from Government House and City Hall to the municipal museum. Stop at Seminario Park, well known as Ïguana's Park, in front of the Cathedral Church. Stop at Malecon 2000, visiting Integration Plaza and artisan's market, the Union Club and the first fort of Guayaquil where a statue of Jose Joaquin de Olmedo (first major of Guayaquil) stands in front of the Guayas River. Continue to the Moorish Tower and Rotonda Monument. Spend time in Las Peñas, the old neighborhood where the city was born, located at the foot of Santa Ana Hill. (B)
Darwin's Enchanted Isles Cruise Itinerary
Fly independently to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and transfer to the Hotel Oro Verde. (Meals Aloft)
Guayaquil / Baltra / Daphne Minor
Fly to Galapagos and board the Evolution. After a safety briefing, enjoy a circumnavigation of Daphne Major, a paradise for sea birds such as magnificent frigatebird. (B,L,D)
Isabela Island / Fernandina Island
Zodiacs take you on a dramatic ride into the heart of a sunken volcano at Punta Vicente Roca. Take to the water, where we swim and snorkel among sea turtles, penguins and possibly even sea horses. Explore the lava fields of Punta Espinosa, located on Fernandina, the youngest and most volcanically active island in the Galapagos. Here we spot flightless cormorants and marine iguanas. Whale watch from the Evolution’s open-air decks as we cross the Bolivar Channel. (B,L,D)
Hike along the uplifted section of sea floor in Urvina Bay at the base of the Alcedo Volcano. Our naturalists point out the tortoises, colorful land iguanas and other wildlife that feed on the vegetation. Board our Zodiacs for an excursion to Tagus Cove, where we look for penguins, flightless cormorants, pelicans along the cliffs before a chance to snorkel and swim. (B,L,D)
Bartolomé / Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay
Visit Bartolomé Island, hiking to the top of a dormant volcano for a dramatic panorama, including famed Pinnacle Rock. The island is dotted with craters, cinder cones, lava flows, spatter cones and broken lava tunnels which run down from the summit. Our Zodiac drivers will take “non-hikers” for a ride around the cliffs, observing a stunning volcanic landscape and Galapagos penguins. Swim and snorkel with sea lions and maybe even speedy penguins. This afternoon, hike across the panoehoe lava of Sullivan Bay, seeing some of the hearty flora colonizing the landscapes. Stroll along the coralline beach spotting black and white oystercatchers. (B,L,D)
Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach / Rabida Island
Walk along the white sands of Bachas Beach looking for Sally Lightfoot crabs, black necked stilts and whimbrels. Snorkel in the calm waters where sea turtles nest. Our afternoon is spent along the distinct red-sand beaches and cliffs of Rabida Island. While exploring this uninhabited island at the archipelago’s geologic center, watch for up to nine species of Darwin’s finches, doves, yellow warblers and mockingbirds. A small saltwater lagoon is home to white-cheeked pintail ducks and black-necked stilts. Snorkelers may take to the water with sea lions, sea turtles and reef fish such as damsels and pufferfish. During a guided kayaking excursion, watch for brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies while savoring views of the island’s sloping volcanic peak. (B,L,D)
Santa Cruz Island
Begin our day in the forested highlands, with ample opportunity to see and photograph giant tortoises in the wild. Stop at a family run farm before learning about the work being done to study and preserve wildlife at Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center at the Darwin Research Center. (B,L,D)
As the southernmost island in the archipelago, Española’s relative isolation has resulted in not only an abundance of unusual wildlife, but species and subspecies that are endemic to the island, such as Española (Hood) mockingbird, Española (Hood) racer snake, Española (Hood) lava lizard, waved albatross and brightly colored marine iguanas. Enjoy a Zodiac ride before wading ashore to Punta Suarez through a sea lion colony. Walk along the cliffs looking for waved albatrosses, Galapagos hawks, Hood mockingbirds and the red-colored race of marine iguana en route to Española’s blowhole, where waves spout 90 feet into the air. After a relaxing lunch, swim, snorkel and kayak in the waters off Gardner Bay, or simply bring along your book or a camera and relax on the white sands. (B,L,D)
San Cristóbal Island / Guayaquil
End your Galapagos Islands cruise by returning to San Cristóbal to visit the Interpretation Center, opened by the park in 1998. Fly to Guayaquil, with time to relax at the Hotel Oro Verde. (B,L Aloft)
Board independent flights home. (B, Meals Aloft)
Optional Post-Trip Extensions
Machu Picchu & Cusco Extension
Make the most of your travel to South America by combining a Galapagos and Machu Picchu tour! A visit to Machu Picchu, the grandest of all the Inca sites, must stand out as a highlight of anyone’s travels. It has the most dramatic of settings, atop an Andean mountain surrounded by other peaks. For all its extent — Machu Picchu has some 200 structures, along with brilliant stone masonry — it was almost forgotten until its rediscovery in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. But there is a great deal more to see, and this Machu Picchu tour includes a variety of experiences in the great city of Cusco and in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
2017 Pricing: Double Occupancy: $3,498; Single Occupancy: $4,488.
Please add $185 for park fees and $728 for flights Galapagos Islands/Lima and Lima/Cusco/Lima airfare.
Galapagos / Lima
Fly to Lima and transfer to Costa del Sol Wyndham. (B, Meals Aloft)
Lima / Cusco / Urubamba Valley
Fly to Cusco — the heart of the Inca Empire. Drive into the historic Urubamba Valley, stopping in Chinchero to browse and shop for Andean handicrafts and alpaca sweaters. Visit the Urubamba Market and spend tonight at the Aranwa Hotel. (B,L,D)
Board the train to Machu Picchu, where we spend the afternoon exploring the ruins with our guide. Our home for the next two nights is the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. (B,L,D)
Today is yours to explore Machu Picchu or simply relax! Wake up early and hike to the Sun Gate or enjoy some early morning birding in the abundant gardens surrounding our hotel, home to 16 species of hummingbirds. (B,L,D)
Ollantaytambo / Sacsayhuamán / Cusco
Catch the morning train back to the Sacred Valley. Explore the mighty archaeological wonder of Ollantaytambo, where ancient temples and fortresses were built to protect the Sacred Valley. After a Paso Fino horse show at Wayra Ranch, continue across the valley toward Cusco. We stop at Sacsayhuamán — a huge fortress of massive stones which zigzags across the side of the mountain. Spend tonight at the Aranwa Hotel. (B,L,D)
Stroll the streets of Cusco, exploring the Koricancha — also known as Santo Domingo, Santa Catalina Convent and the Cathedral. After lunch, the afternoon is free to explore on your own before a farewell dinner featuring Andean fare. Return to the Aranwa Hotel for the night. (B,L,D)
Lima / Arrive Home
After lunch in Cuzco, return to Lima for check in at the Costa Del Sol Wyndham. Enjoy dinner and the evening at your leisure. Late evening you will transfer to the airport for your overnight flight home. Arrive home Saturday. (Day 15: L,D; Day 16: Meals Aloft)
Quito & Andean Highlands Extension
Make the most of your travel to South America by combining your Galapagos Islands vacation with our Quito & Andean Highlands travel package. Ecuador’s mainland provides a great contrast of environments — ice-capped volcanoes, Andean sierras and blackwater rivers winding through rainforests.
2017 Pricing: Double Occupancy: $1,498; Single Occupancy: $1,898
San Cristóbal / Quito
After disembarking the Evolution, we fly to Quito. Spend tonight at the Hotel Patio Andaluz. (B,L Aloft)
Quito / Peguche / Otavalo
Drive backroads through the colorful Zuleta region, meeting the craftsmen who live here. Stop in the town of Peguche for a weaving demonstration and hike a trail following old railroad tracks to the Cascada de Peguche waterfall. Visit the Condor Park on the slopes of the Imbabura Volcano. After a day spent in the countryside of the Andean highlands, we check into the distinctive Hacienda Pinsaquí. (B,L,D)
Otavalo / Quito
Before breakfast, we stroll through the gardens of the hacienda, which attract many birds. Depart for the Otavalo Market, orchestrated by one of the most prosperous Indian communities in South America. This evening we return to Quito. Tour the city, visiting Independence Square, the renowned Baroque/Moorish Church of San Francisco and Panecillo Hill, where the winged Virgin of Quito watches over her city. (B,L,D)
Transfer to the airport for flights home. (B, Meals Aloft)
Ecuador Amazon Extension
Combine your Galapagos cruise with a riverboat cruise into the Ecuadorian Amazon along the Napo River aboard the 40-guest Anakonda. Enjoy naturalist-guided exploration of this verdant wilderness, home to legendary pink river dolphin, river turtle, monkeys and diverse birdlife. Concierge service allows you to request special activities, including night camping in luxury tents, complete with gourmet meals, Champagne and hot showers.
Standard Suite: Double Occupancy $2,798; Single Occupancy $4,198; Triple Occupancy $2,598. $700 child's discount available.
Deluxe Suite: Double Occupancy $3,348; Single Occupancy $5,248; Triple Occupancy $3,048. $850 child's discount available.
Please add $260 for in-country air and $70 community fee.
Galapagos / Quito
Disembark and fly to Quito, where we spend tonight at Hotel Patio Andaluz. (B)
Quito / Coca / Embark
Fly to the frontier city of Coca, and board excursion boats that take us along the Napo River to the M/V Anakonda, home for three nights. Enjoy an exciting night hike in the rainforest. (B,L,D)
Ecuadorian Amazon Cruise
Continue downstream to the Pañayacu River Delta, boarding excursion boats for an in-depth look at this fascinating reserve. Our naturalists help us search for pink river dolphin, squirrel monkey and much more. Pañacocha — Piranha Lake in the native Quechua language — is an ecosystem flooded by white waters. The rivers and lakes are the perfect habitat for piranha, water monkey fish (arawana) and white caiman. After a refreshing swim, enjoy a delicious Amazon-style barbecue meal and refreshing beverages at a nearby camp. In the afternoon, we head out on rainforest trails. (B,L,D)
Ecuadorian Amazon Cruise
After breakfast, visit the parrot licks, unique pools of mud rich in minerals. Each day, the mud attracts hundreds of parrots, parakeets and amazons. Stop at the Sani Warmi Kichwa Interpretation Center, where a group of Kichwa women will speak of their customs, cuisine and everyday life. They have created the center in order to showcase their culture, and it is a unique opportunity to learn about Amazonian lifestyles along the Napo River. After lunch, we head to the Yakukawsay Kichwa Interpretation Centre. After dark, enjoy an interesting evening walk through the forest (depending on water levels and weather conditions). (B,L,D)
Disembark / Quito / Depart
Disembark and travel by boat to Coca, continuing to Quito. (B)
Things to Know
What kind of visas are required for travel to Ecuador?
What vaccinations are required for Galapagos Islands travel?
No inoculations are required to enter Ecuador or to return to the US. The CDC recommends malaria pills and the yellow fever shot if you are visiting the Ecuadorian rainforest (not part of our Galapagos islands travel package); however, you should consult with your personal physician.
How long are the flights to the Galapagos Islands?
Atlanta to Guayaquil: 6 hours and 13 minutes (typically stopover in Quito)
Miami to Guayaquil: 4 hours and 8 minutes
Guayaquil to Galapagos Islands: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Quito to Galapagos Islands: 2 hours and 45 minutes (stopover in Guayaquil)
What's included in the price of IE’s Galapagos Island travel packages?
- Daily shore excursions, interpretive walks, swimming, snorkeling, hiking & panga rides
- Seven nights on the Evolution
- Hotel accommodations pre- and post-voyage
- 23 meals (and lots of snacks)
- Two Level 3 naturalists; Three naturalist guides for groups of 26-32
- Snorkeling gear & shorty wetsuits
- All bottled water
- Onboard doctor
- Full educational program, including lectures on history, ecology & marine life and field interpretation
- Arrival & departure transfers
- Tips to porters & to waiters for included meals
For our Galapagos Islands cruise ship we have selected the M/V Evolution, accommodating just 32 guests. This intimate ship features a great deal of public space, including an observation deck and a canopied bar on the roof deck, perfect for enjoying a snack and drink on the canopied roof deck while whale watching or chatting with fellow passengers. Two-person kayaks also are available and a doctor is aboard on every voyage and even accompanies your small group off-ship.
Because there is an "open bridge" policy aboard the M/V Evolution, you are welcome to visit the captain and crew and learn all about the ship’s operation and navigation. Each day our naturalist guides will give talks and briefings on the day’s events and about the natural and human history of the Galapagos. They will help you understand the context of what you’ve seen and help prepare you for the next day’s activities. A convenient boarding platform makes it easy and safe to board our excursion boats.
Meals are served in one seating in the dining room, and each meal boasts international and traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, fresh fruit and sumptuous desserts.
Your air-conditioned cabin is the perfect haven between excursions, featuring private facilities and ample storage space. During every excursion, cabin stewards will service your spacious cabin.Read More
A true native Galapagos Naturalist, guide Bolivar Sanchez is an expert in Earth science. He developed a strong interest in wildlife and the outdoors as a small boy, and has been learning as much as possible ever since. For the past 18 years he has worked as a certified naturalist and Galapagos travel guide in Galapagos National Park, sharing his knowledge of the flora and fauna with guests of his beautiful homeland. His great personality and wonderful sense of humor make him a joy to travel with. Boli's other interests include swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and hiking.
Level 3-certified guide Alex Cox developed a strong interest in wildlife and the outdoors as a small boy on the island of San Cristóbal before studying at the Central University of Ecuador, where he honed his passion for Earth science. Alex has spent the past 20 years as a Galapagos naturalist guide in the islands. When not leading our Galapagos Islands tour, look for Alex swimming, hiking or spending time with his two children.
At age 11, Quito, Ecuador-native Cristina Rivadeneira took her first Galapagos Islands tour, and realized that this was where she wanted to be! After high school, she studied business and applied languages. Because of her fluency in English, German and French, Cristina worked for a travel agency as a translator, allowing her to visit all of Ecuador's national parks. Cristina began studying to be a Galapagos naturalist in 1996. When not working as a Galapagos Islands travel guide, she enjoys scuba diving, bird watching, hiking, sea kayaking and reading.
A Note About Field Staff
This is just a selection of the Expedition Leaders and Naturalists who may lead your ecotour. A particular departure may be escorted by any one of them. If you would like to find out which leaders are scheduled to lead each departure, please contact our office.