Galapagos Western Islands
One of the best Galapagos itineraries, aboard one of our favorite yachts
Days: 10 | From: $8,350/person
- Includes an 8 day cruise aboard the 16 passenger deluxe catamaran Ocean Spray
- Includes 2 nights prior to the cruise in Quito at a first class hotel, with a privately guided city tour and all airport transfers
- Ideal for couples, small private groups, and families
- Vessel charters available
Spend a full week exploring the Galapagos Islands, taking in the remarkable western islands and other highlights, while calling the beautiful Ocean Spray yacht your home. This is an itinerary/vessel combination that is tough to beat.Inquire about this trip
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We tailor itineraries to your dates and interests, adjusting hotels, excursions and length as desired.
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At a glance
2 nights: Arrive to Quito, the gateway to the Galapagos. Explore this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city with your private guide.
7 nights: Discover the Galapagos Islands. This itinerary includes some of the most exceptional spots in the archipelago, with chances to see many iconic species and abundant marine life: penguins, tortoises, flightless cormorants, whales, blue footed boobies and much more.
All itineraries are fully customizable. We will send you a personalized variation that reflects your interests and travel dates at no extra cost. Call to discuss your travel plans with one of our Specialists who know this region firsthand.
Welcome to Quito!
Arrive to Quito, where your private guide will welcome you to the country and take you to your hotel, located in the heart of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a great part of the city for walking around, with traditional squares and architecture and a variety of shops and restaurants.
Quito is the most popular gateway city to the Galapagos Islands, a fascinating destination in its own right and a pleasant start to your journey. By arriving two days before your cruise, you won’t have to worry about the risk of any flight delays or missed connections causing you to miss your cruise departure. Most flights arrive in the evening.
Accommodations: Patio Andaluz, 2 nights
Housed within a 16th-century colonial home arranged around a central courtyard, Patio Andaluz enjoys a prime location just off the Independence Plaza in historic Quito. The hotel is within walking distance of the iconic Plaza San Francisco, the La Compañia Church with its impressive gold leaf interior, and the Theater Sucre. As is common in traditional Ecuadorian architecture, the hotel's rooms and their windows face toward the covered inner courtyards rather than out to the streets (which reduces light, but also noise). The hotel restaurant, El Rincón de Cantuña, serves Ecuadorian and Spanish cuisine along with a variety of South American wines.Upgrades available: Casa Gangotena, Plaza Grande
Colonial Architecture and Exceptional Artwork
Set out with your private guide to explore Quito, a striking colonial city set in an Andean valley. Walk the narrow avenues lined with colonial mansions and monasteries; explore historic plazas and churches. You guide will tell you the fascinating history of this UNESCO World Cultural Heritage city.
Go up to the scenic Panecillo, where the Virgin of Quito watches over the Centro Historico from a lookout point. Afterward, head into the new town to visit the remarkable Fundación Guayasamin, which houses the art collection of Oswaldo Guayasamin, Ecuador’s most famous 20th century artist. His nearby La Capilla del Hombre (The Chapel of Man), a tribute to humankind, has been called one of the most important works of art in South America.
Seeing both parts of the city gives you a great overview of some of the different neighborhoods in this diverse Andean metropolis.
Accommodations: Patio Andaluz, 2 nights
Fly to the Galapagos Islands & Visit Sombrero Chino
Fly about 600 miles out over the Pacific Ocean to arrive at the Galapagos Islands, where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your vessel. Your first excursion in this unique archipelago is to Sombrero Chino (“Chinese Hat”). Located off the southern coast of Santiago, Sombrero Chino is a small, interesting islet named for the cone shape of its lava formations. The islet is home to a sea lion colony, as well as American Oystercatchers, Galapagos Penguins, and Sally-Lightfoot Crabs.
Accommodations: Ocean Spray, 7 nights
This elegant ship is among the leaders in performance and comfort in Galapagos. With spacious cabins, and private balconies off every cabin, the Ocean Spray provides the intimacy of a small yacht while maintaining amenities often only found on larger ships. Excursion options include hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and Stand Up Paddleboarding, and all excursions are led by a top-quality bilingual naturalist guide. This is one of the premier options in the Galapagos and has received outstanding feedback from our travelers.*Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Upgrades and alternatives: Passion, Petrel, Origin/Theory/Evolve, Cormorant, and more (Click here for full yacht list).
Epic wildlife viewing on an active volcano
Begin the day at Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island. This area is home to a colony of Galapagos fur seals, a species endemic to the islands. Other sitings may include sea turtles, Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions, Nasca boobies, blue footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, frigate birds, and flightless cormorants.
In the afternoon, head to Fernandina Island, disembarking at Punta Espinosa. One of the youngest islands in the Galapagos, Fernandina remains one of the most highly active volcanoes in Galapagos. The island offers a contrast between green mangroves, black lava flows, and turquoise waters, and is home to flightless cormorants, Galapagos sea lions, marine iguanas, and colorful Sally Lightfoot Crabs.
Explore Isabela's Mysterious Coves & Bays
Visit Tagus Cove, with pirate graffiti dating back to the 1800s. Explore the cove, enjoying views of a saltwater lagoon called Darwin Lake. From the summit of this hike, take in a sweeping view encompassing Darwin Volcano and Wolf Volcano.
Sail on to Urbina Bay, at the foot of the Alcedo Volcano. Urbina Bay was uplifted from the seabed in the 1950s, leaving striking formations of coral heads sitting out of the water. Stingrays and sea turtles swim near the surface of the water here, and on land you may see flightless cormorants, pelicans, and marine iguanas.
Lagoons & Lava Flows on Isabela
Set out by Zodiac boat to discover Elizabeth Bay, a salt-water lagoon surrounded by the largest red mangroves of the Galapagos. Navigate into the mangrove cove, home to sea turtles, flightless cormorants, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, brown pelicans, and sea lions.
In the afternoon, visit Moreno Point, disembarking onto a pahoehoe lava flow surrounded by giant shield volcanoes, some of which are still active. The flowing lava of this striking site left craters in its wake, forming tide pools that attract birds and marine wildlife.
Accommodations: Ocean Spray, 7 nights
Meet the Majestic Galapagos Tortoise
This morning you sail to Santa Cruz Island, the main inhabited island in the archipelago. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, where a series of walkways takes you among juvenile and adult tortoises from different islands. Witness the work being done by the foundation to preserve the fragile ecosystems of the Galapagos.
In the afternoon, head to the Santa Cruz Highlands, journeying up in elevation through all seven vegetation zones of the Galapagos. Watch the vegetation grow ever more lush as you move into the higher altitudes, where humidity sustains a much greater variety of plant life. This area is home to giant tortoises, the Galapagos rail, the paint-billed crane, and many other species.
The colorful islands of South Plaza & Santa Fe
Your day starts at South Plaza, a small island with steep cliffs formed by rising lava. The island is covered by Opuntia cacti and the characteristic Sesuvium, which changes its colors from season to season. South Plaza is home to one of the largest sea lion colonies in Galapagos, as well as colorful yellow and red land iguanas.
In the afternoon, disembark on Santa Fe, at a small, picturesque bay that attracts large numbers of sea lions. The trails lead you to a scenic viewpoint atop a cliff and a prickly pear cactus forest, where the opuntia cacti grow to heights of over 30 feet.
Accommodations: Ocean Spray
Head South to Remarkable Española
Visit Española, the southernmost island in the Galapagos. Your first visit is to Punta Suarez, where colonies of Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest along the trails. See the famous Galapagos blowhole, where the seawater spouts up to 80 feet high. Later, head to Gardner Bay, whose white-sand beaches are home to sea lions, or to Osborn Islet, a small island where you can enjoy fantastic snorkeling and swimming.
Return to mainland Ecuador & Depart for Home or Your Next Destination
Enjoy a final morning in the islands at the San Cristóbal Interpretation Center before flying back to Quito, where you can connect with your international flight home or continue your trip in mainland Ecuador.
If you have a long layover before your flight, we can set up a visit to nearby hot springs or transfer you to a hotel to relax and have dinner before transferring back to the airport.
More Photos From This Trip
Popular Ways to Customize This Itinerary
Add a few nights in the Ecuadorian Amazon, a 30 minute flight from Quito. Our top choice is the Napo Wildlife Center, one of the top lodges anywhere in the Amazon.
Add extra days in Quito: Quito is worth exploring on your own, and we can arrange a variety of activities, including city tours, culinary excursions, visits to ruins and historical sites, and active options such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Visit some of the highlights of mainland Ecuador, including local markets, volcanoes, the cloud forest, and historic haciendas, such as Hacienda Zuleta or Hacienda San Agustin de Callo, built on top of an Incan palace.
Include some downtime for rest and relaxation! Some free time to unwind or have a massage will allow you to feel refreshed and ready for the remainder of your trip. Many of our properties include excellent spas or wellness centers. We can help arrange these services or include properties that offer health & wellness amenities.
For a look at some of our top vessels, check out our post on the Top 10 Galapagos Cruises and Tours.
Contact us to learn about more options for designing and customizing your trip.
Reviews From This Trip
Great attention to detail. Our leaders were amazing very knowledgeable and helpful. The trip was well planned and executed to perfection.Deb and Rick Greenswag
This was the most stress free trip we've ever taken. We normally do all our planning ourselves which can bring some anxious moments in foreign destinations. However, with Vaya we were always with experienced, thoughtful guides who took all the guesswork and uncertainty away.John and Penny Stanger
The trip was fabulous. Every detail went according to plan. Loved it!!Diane Bosek
All or our guides were fantastic. We enjoyed talking and listening to all of them.Steve Lammens
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