For friendly, expert advice call: +44 (0) 1962 733051 Office open Mon to Fri 8:30am - 5:30pm and Sat 9am - 1pm

Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands

Tour Code: ECU10

A 20-day holiday incorporating a 2-week cruise around the 'Enchanted Isles' in our elegant two-masted Topsail Schooner, a visit to Antisana or Otavalo, plus an optional 4-day extension to the Amazon Jungle

20 days from £6895(inc flights) Land Only Price: £6295 SRS: £170 + an optional 3-day extension


The Galapagos Islands form a volcanic archipelago straddling the equator some 960 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador. They consist of volcanic peaks, strange lava fields, beautiful sandy bays, and clear seas. Their natural history is outstanding, and much of it is endemic. There are Giant Tortoises, prehistoric-looking Land and Marine Iguanas, and countless breeding seabirds; most appealing of all is the ‘tame’ and obliging nature of the islands’ extraordinary wildlife. Our unique 2-week cruise avoids the routine, large and luxury motor vessels. Instead we charter our own comfortable 2-masted Topsail Schooner (accommodates 16 passengers), which gives us the freedom to visit all of the major islands, and many of the smaller ones.

  • The most comprehensive Galapagos cruise on the market
  • 28 endemic bird species such as Small Ground Finch
  • Led by expert natural history guide, born & raised in Galapagos
  • Daily landings at wildlife-rich visitor sites for Giant Tortoise, Blue-footed Boobies & more 
  • Ample time & superb opportunities for photography
  • Snorkel in crystal-clear, fish-filled waters with inquisitive young Galapagos Sea Lions
  • Visits to Espanola, Genovesa & Fernandina
  • Waved Albatrosses nesting & courting during July/August
  • Look for seabirds & cetaceans as we cruise between islands
  • Exciting Amazon rainforest extension at Sacha Lodge

Food

Included in the price, except for main meals in Quito. Allow £30.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotel, Quito; two-masted Topsail Schooner, the Galápagos; and Sacha Lodge, Amazon extension. All with private facilities.

Magnificent Frigatebird (John Willsher)

Magnificent Frigatebird (John Willsher)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly London to Quito

Day 2 Quito

Day 3/16 Galápagos cruise

Day 17 Quito

Day 18 Antisana or Otavalo

Day 19 Depart Quito

Day 20 Arrive London

The Galapagos Islands, surely, need no introduction. Ancient seafarers called them the Enchanted Isles, recognising their unique landscape and extraordinary fauna, but it was Charles Darwin who drew them to the world’s attention. By observing the fascinating changes and adaptations made in the birds and reptiles through thousands of years of isolation on these predator-free islands, Darwin was able to formulate his theory of evolution.

The Galapagos Islands form a large archipelago straddling the equator some 960 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador. Of volcanic origin, they are beautiful islands with great variety and often bizarre form; each island with its own peculiar shape and charm. There are volcanic peaks, strange lava fields, beautiful sandy bays, and clear seas, perfect for snorkelling in the sheltered coves. Their natural history is outstanding — so much of it endemic. 28 bird species, from the Small Ground Finch to the magnificent Waved Albatross, occur nowhere else in the world. There are giant tortoises, prehistoric-looking Land and Marine Iguanas, colourful crabs such as the Sally Lightfoot, and even a Galapagos Snake. Most appealing of all is the tame and obliging nature of this extraordinary wildlife; it is a photographer’s paradise — a telephoto lens is usually unnecessary.

Our 2-week cruise is special. We avoid the routine, large and luxury motor vessels, and their noisy crowds, by chartering our own vessel — an elegant 2-masted Topsail Schooner that accommodates 16 passengers in characterful quarters. This provides a freedom, flexibility and group independence essential to the specialist nature of our holiday. Moving at our own pace, we will have a greater chance to enjoy these islands to the full, and to benefit from the knowledge of our expert naturalist-guide.

We will aim to visit all the major islands and many smaller ones, starting and ending our cruise on Baltra Island. At Academy Bay, on Santa Cruz Island, we will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise breeding station, and make a trip up to the highlands to look for the reptiles in the wild. We will walk amongst spectacular volcanic scenery on Bartolome Island, and we will swim amongst fur seals and Sea Lions from the beaches on James Island. With a mixture of night-time voyages (for the longer navigations) and shorter day-time sailings, we will explore each island for its own peculiar wildlife specialities. On Espanola we should see the magnificent Waved Albatross in December and January (and, in August, its remarkable courtship display) together with thousands of nesting seabirds and colourful Marine Iguanas. Genovesa, way to the north, hosts huge colonies of frigatebirds and Red-footed and Masked Boobies, plus a population of storm-petrel hunting diurnal Short-eared Owls. Fernandina, geologically the newest of the islands and volcanically active as recently as 2009, offers wonderful scenery with spectacular isolation. Endemic Flightless Cormorants breed here and we must keep an eye to sea for the chance of a passing pod of Killer or Bryde’s Whales.

As we cruise between the islands, there is time to read, relax and keep a tour diary. There will be time to sea-watch, enjoying our quiet companions the petrels, shearwaters, gulls and boobies, and to keep an eye out for dolphins playfully swimming in the bow-wave of our boat.

In Ecuador, after our cruise, we offer a choice between spending a day visiting and birdwatching on Antisana, a magnificent volcano permanently adorned with snow, and a day at Otavalo, an Indian town to the north of Quito with one of the best indigenous markets in South America. We also offer an extension to Sacha Lodge in the Amazon Jungle, enjoying the rich birdlife of the area and the various trails and dug-out canoe excursions that enable a thorough exploration of this area of the great Amazon rainforest.

Marine Iguanas (John Willsher)Blue-footed Boobies (Jane Hodgson)Returning to the Cachalote (John Willsher)Blue-footed Boobies (Jennifer Nisbet)Magnificent Frigatebird (John Willsher)Nasca Booby Chick (Jennifer Nisbet)Larva Heron (John Willsher)Sally Lightfoot Crab (John Willsher)Greater Flamingo (John Willsher)Galapagos Giant TortoiseSealion (John Willsher)Short-eared Owl (John Willsher)Magnificent Frigatebird (Jane Hodgson)Brown Pelican (John Willsher)Pinnacle Rock and Santiago (Geoff Carr)Volcan Sierra Negra (Andy Smith)Antisana volcano (Geoff Carr)Pond (John Willsher)Galapagos Hawk (S. W. Birch)Nazca Booby (John Willsher)Land Iguana (John Willsher)Marine Iguana (Jane Hodgson)The Cachalote and Pinnacle Rock (Jane Hodgson)CachaloteCachalote DeckCachalote DeckCachalote KitchenCachalote , CabinCachalote, CabinCachaloteCachaloteCachalote barCachalote deckCachaloteCachalote saloonCachalote
LC
Surrey
Our local guide Darwin Alvarez was excellent. A small boat meant we visited the sites the bigger boats were not allowed to visit so fewer people to share our time on each island; at several, we were the only boat at anchor.
BM
South Glamorgan
Darwin Alvarez's knowledge was amazing. The tour was fantastic anyway but his contribution added to the experience. The Cachalote was a great way to tour the islands - the crew were great.
Mr & Mrs B
Warwickshire
Darwin Alvarez was an excellent guide on the Galapagos, not just sharing his knowledge - which makes a huge difference to our appreciation of what we saw - but for his all round proffesionalism and commitment. We particularly appreciated his leadership and support in the snorkelling sessions, which comprised a major highlight. The guiding at Sacha Lodge was also very good too. This extension certainly added a whole new dimension to the overall experience and we would recommend anyone to take the option.
Mr & Mrs E.
Manchester
The Islands speak for themselves, wonderful to be able to experience so many of them. We trialled the staying at Guayaquil option and that worked extremely well. The meet and greet was extremely efficient. The Grand Hotel an excellent choice in itself and location, and the guided trips very enjoyable, particularly the canoe trip in the Churute Mangrove Forest on our return from the Islands. We had the good fortune to have Darwin Alvarez as our guide. He really contributed to the understanding and enjoyment of the Islands in his depth of knowledge of every aspect , and also his care of us.
Mr & Mrs H.
Surrey
Everything was planned very well and all transport arrangements worked like clockwork. This was our first Naturetrek experience and we were slightly taken aback by the pace of the activities, running one after the other. However, we embraced all the experiences as we knew it was the best way to see everything there was to see both above and below the water. The crew of the Cachalote were highly professional, efficient, polite and patient at all times. The Chef should be Michelin starred as he performed magic in the Galley. David our guide was brilliant. His knowledge on the subject of all life forms, geology, geography and history of the Galapagos Islands was vast. The captain and the crew worked hard to take us round the Islands and transport us to and from the Islands. Sacha Lodge was equally as good. Klinger and Walter our guides were knowledgeable about all subjects related to the Amazon. The accommodation was excellent.
W.A.
Surrey
Food was superb and fresh fruit juices of many flavours. As a confident swimmer I loved the snorkelling every day and swimming with Turtles, Sharks and Sea Lions. Our guide David Paez was extremely good. He explained the programme for each day and had a summary on a whiteboard for us to refer to all day. He is very knowledgeable but doesn't tell you too much. Walks were organised to avoid other groups as much as possible and at certain points we were given time to do our own thing, stand and stare, watch animal behaviour. We never felt rushed which was lovely. They were also cunningly arranged to avoid the heat of the day. Both hotels in Quito were good. We particularly liked the Garden Hotel, Puembo. Trips in Quito were good. Ours to Otovalo was flexible and we went to a leather goods village as well, which was wonderful. The restaurant on this trip was lovely and very characterful.
Mr & Mrs B.
Kent
The holiday was great value for money. How such good food can be cooked in a little galley is beyond us. The crew were just fantastic and nice people too. All the guides and drivers were good. We have no complaints at all about this trip.
J.W
January 2015
An amazing adventure. Any lover of nature should put these places at the top of their agenda. The Amazon basin is somewhere we have all seen on TV but to experience it gives a new perspective. Seeing giant otters, many species of monkey and the varied and magnificent bird life is something worth doing in its own right. However, to accompany such a visit with a tour of the Galapagos raises the experience to a whole new level. I have been to many wonderful places in Africa, America and Australia but I would put the Galapagos top of my list. The combination of islands in all their variety and the sea cruises in between, in waters teeming with marine life is exhilarating. The wildlife is so unafraid of humans that the main problem is to avoid accidentally stepping on sleeping sea lions or nesting birds as you walk along the paths and beaches. Snorkelling with sea lions, feeding turtles, penguins, flightless cormorants, sharks, rays and a variety of tropical fish is a wonderful thing to do. We used a small 16 berth schooner on our Naturetrek holiday and I am pleased that we did. It seemed to put us in touch with our surroundings in a way that the bigger boats we saw wouldn't have done. The group were brilliant and everyone got along, having a common interest in nature. The crew were marvellous, the food great and our guide, Darwin, couldn't have been better. His knowledge and ability to inspire were first class. We were looked after wonderfully and Naturetrek's organisation was impeccable. Every day involves wet and dry landings on the islands, walks to see the wildlife and geology, swimming and snorkelling or simply relaxing on the boat if that's what you felt like. This combination of activities and relaxation made the holiday into far more than a simple passive viewing experience.
A.A
January 2015
My recent trip to The Galapgaos/Sacha Lodge was everything I expected it to be - and more. Two nights in Quito included a comprehensive tour of that fascinating city. Our group(just 16 people)was met at Baltra by our guide, Darwin Alvarez, and our tour of the islands started immediately with a trip to see giant tortoises, followed by a lovely lunch, before boarding the Cachalote, our floating 'home' for the next two weeks. Darwin was just superb and his enthusiasm was infectious; his knowledge added even more to the experience of visiting so many of these very special islands. Nothing was too much trouble for the crew of the Cachalote either, with the captain willingly changing course if something interesting was spotted in the water. The chef catered for all/any special dietary requirements, even making me a glorious chocolate and nut cake for my birthday which occurred halfway through the cruise of the islands, and Richard's cocktails, to celebrate crossing the Equator, were something else! Sacha Lodge was a totally different experience but equally as outstanding. The long and varied journey to even reach it was an adventure in itself and again, nothing was too much trouble for either the staff or the guides who took us out two or three times a day, either on foot or by canoe, to experience this truly magical part of the world. Truly a holiday of a lifetime.
T.G.
Guernsey
An amazing experience - of a lifetime for people my age! Darwin Alvarez was outstanding! In many trips abroad with many leaders, I have never come across anyone with such a complete knowledge of his subject(s)! History, geology, meteorology, birds, fish, plants, insects - awesome! His self-taught English was also flawless - so were his diving/snorkelling abilities!
Mr & Mrs P.
Norfolk
Darwin was one of the best guides I have come across - very good with all the group and an enormous breadth of knowledge.
J.C.
Denmark
I loved the tour and will recommend it to everybody I meet who wants to visit Galapagos. The Cachalote was a perfect tour boat and the crew and all Enchanted Expeditions staff were extremely service-minded - I'm really impressed with the logistics and the organisation of the trip, from the meals on the boat, the pickups at the airport, transfers etc.
Mr & Mrs B
Essex
A wonderful trip, Darwin was a brilliant guide, he was very knowledgeable, enthusiastic, courteous and good humoured. The cruise of the islands on the Cachalote, was an unforgettable experience, the cook produced a wonderful variety of delicious meals from his little galley. The rainforest experience at Sacha Lodge was also tremendous.
Mr & Mrs Y
Worcestishire
The tour guide guide, Darwin, was exemplory and the crew, also excellent. We had our 40th Wedding Anniversary whilst on board and our fellow guests and crew gave us a surprise celebration, complete with decorated cake! The whole holiday exceeded expectations and will be unforgettable.
D.B.
Somerset
An excellent holiday that exceeded my expectations. The Naturetrek group was extremely good and we all hit it off! Darwin Alvarez was a brilliant guide, superlatives are not enough. He was easy going, very knowledgeable and patient, a credit to the Galapagos national park service.
A.A.
Surrey
Everything worked like clockwork. All the guides/transfer staff/local organisers were friendly, polite and very knowledgeable and always arrived exactly on time with correct documentation and clear instructions. We couldn’t fault anyone.
L.S.
Dorset
The Galapagos Islands are very special, this was an amazing trip. The birds, animals, ship, people and weather all combined to make it a truly enchanted journey.
Mr & Mrs B.
Lancashire
Thank you for the opportunity to experience the Galapagos islands and the rainforest. I can not praise the leader enough. I can not imagine a more knowledgeable guide. His approach to the group was professional but also friendly; a difficult compromise to achieve. All the drivers were very good and the flights were excellent. The organisation of the holiday was outstanding
T.E.
Berkshire
After 15 years of this type of travel we thought Darwin Alvarez and Vinicio Ortiz were the best guide and tour leader we have ever had.
R.I.
Kent
The advice/information from all guides was excellent. Marcel at Sacha Lodge (helped by Juan, the native guide) really made that part of the trip something very special.
D.H. & A.S.
Glasgow
We had a fantastic time with both Juan and Gustavo being excellent guides. Very informative and friendly.
J. & P.P,
Devon
William Perez was one of the best guides we have ever been with and a pleasure to be in his company.
C. & G. McC.
Argyll
The ship, crew and Naturetrek leader were all excellent.
C.B.
London
The holiday was fantastic - it was beyond my expectations and the two guides were both outstanding and contributed hugely to making it a very special trip. Xavier was extremely knowledgeable about Quito, Ecuador and South American history, birds and wildlife in general. Nothing was too much trouble form him, a very intelligent and supportive guide, very enthusiastic too - a treasure! Juan was wonderful, non-stop enthusiasm about all wildlife and extremely knowledgeable about everything. He made the whole trip fun and exciting. The hotel in Quito was excellent and a nice place to acclimatise. The museums in Quito were excellent. The snorkelling was brilliant. A wonderful trip and yes, we will be using you again!
I. & E.C.
Staffordshire
The team on board the Cachalote was exceptional. The food was magnificent throughout. Xavier, our tour leader was highly knowledgeable, cheerful and able to resolve minor problems without most people realising that they existed! He was always on hand with help and encouragement. Our National Park guide, Juan, was the star of the show...his evening briefings became eagerly awaited performances. His knowledge of plants and volcanic formations was encyclopaedic and his love of the islands and his respect for the wildlife was obvious. The expeditions to the various island sites were pitched at the right level for us and most of the group. The visit to the Santa Cruz highlands was one of the highlights, and the varying wildlife and landscapes of the islands provided an amazing experience which we will always remember. Both of us enjoyed the day in the Antisana region, and the Sacha extension provided another magical experience. The lodge was superb and the guides again excelled.
J.W.
Middlesex
We thought the trip was fantastic - thoroughly enjoyed it!
D.R.
Lancashire
Juan was exceptionally good - enthusiastic, personable, and extremely knowledgeable. An outstanding experience - non-stop enjoyment.
Show all details | Hide all details

DeparturesAvailableCost

Mon 15th January 2018 - Sat 3rd February 2018

1

£6895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6295 More info

Room sharing options: Female sharing is available More info

Tour extension: Sacha LodgeMore info

Mon 29th January 2018 - Sat 17th February 2018

3

£6895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6295 More info

Room sharing options: Male sharing is available More info

Tour extension: Sacha LodgeMore info

Mon 10th December 2018 - Sat 29th December 2018

YES

£6995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Sacha LodgeMore info

Mon 7th January 2019 - Sat 26th January 2019

YES

£6995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Sacha LodgeMore info

Mon 21st January 2019 - Sat 9th February 2019

YES

£6995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Sacha LodgeMore info

Mon 11th February 2019 - Sat 2nd March 2019

YES

£6995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6395 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Sacha LodgeMore info

Mon 4th November 2019 - Sat 23rd November 2019

YES

£7295

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £6695 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tour extension: Sacha LodgeMore info

Visiting: Ecuador

Detailed tour map

Tour Extensions

If you wish to prolong your holiday we offer the following extensions.

Sacha Lodge

Can I help You?

Andy Tucker
Operations Manager

Email Andy

01962 733051

Tour Focus

Cruising

Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

Our local guide Darwin Alvarez was excellent. A small boat meant we visited the sites the bigger boats were not allowed to visit so fewer people to share our time on each island; at several, we were the only boat at anchor.
LC, Surrey