See Galápagos’ Biodiversity and Historic Ecuadorian Plazas
In 1835, as the HMS Beagle circled the Galápagos Islands to chart their volcanic coastlines, one passenger was more interested in the local wildlife than in cartography. Charles Darwin filled sheaves of paper with notes on the archipelago's unusual mockingbirds, finches, and giant tortoises—findings that formed the backbone of his landmark book On the Origin of Species. With Pacific Holidays’ 8-day, 7-night adventure to Ecuador, you’ll take a three-night Galápagos Islands cruise aboard a 300-foot ship, which brings you face-to-face with the islands' rare and remarkably diverse fauna, from blue-footed boobies to black marine iguanas. Luxury hotel lodgings and tours of Quito, Ecuador's capital city, round out the trip. Click to view the full itinerary.
Days 1–3: After flying from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) in Quito (airfare included), you'll meet up with bilingual tour guides and transfer to the Hotel Quito. The resort overlooks snowcapped Andean peaks as well as a metropolis with more than two million inhabitants.
The next morning, guides lead a half-day tour of Quito, which the UNESCO World Heritage List calls "the best-preserved, least-altered historic center in Latin America." Stucco-covered Spanish houses and 17th-century baroque churches fill Quito's Old Town—all built atop ancient Incan ruins. Keep an eye out for the varying artistic styles in the cathedrals, where Moorish geometric patterns and Incan sun symbols show up side by side.
Days 4–6: Following some free time in Quito, you'll fly to Baltra Airport in the Galápagos Islands to board the Legend, a four-story luxury cruise ship. A top-deck swimming pool, hammock terrace, and all-inclusive meals create an indulgent setting. However, the trips to the shore are the highlight, as naturalists will point out the colorful wildlife that helped inspire Darwin's theories.
Hike on the islands of North Seymour and Genovesa, where you may spot massive colonies of sea lions and seabirds, especially in Darwin Bay. Hikers should also look out for the frigatebird, known for its red throat that can puff out like a balloon, and the blue-footed booby, which is named after the Spanish word bobo, or clown, because of its clumsy waddle. Suarez Point is famous for its blowhole that squirts water dozens of feet into the air as well as its albatrosses with wingspans up to 7.5 feet. Finally, a stop at the San Cristóbal Interpretation Center showcases natural-history exhibits just steps from Darwin's first landing.
Days 7-8: The tour group flies back to Quito for a final night, staying again in the Hotel Quito. Then it's off to the airport the next morning.
This itinerary for the November 3 trip differs slightly from this description; you spend two of your four total nights in Quito before your trip on the Legend rather than three, as with the other options.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.