Darwin's Islands and Colonial Quito (9 Days)

Cruise Line: UnCruise Adventures
Ship: La Pinta  |  2 Reviews
Quito, Ecuador to Quito, Ecuador
Tour Segment  Cruise Segment
Quito, Ecuador

Welcome to Ecuador! Begin your journey in this historic city rich in legends and culture. Your first stop is the grand Casa Gangotena, voted the #1 Hotel in Ecuador by TripAdvisor and where you will stay these first two nights. A gorgeous example of Spanish Colonial style, enjoy this restored boutique hotel just steps away from picturesque Plaza de San Francisco, built atop Incan temples and markets.; Note: Hotel bedding will either be two double beds or one king bed.

Quito, Ecuador

Once called the Northern Capital of the Inca Empire, the capital city of Quito has long been a center of commerce and culture. The city's growth after Spanish took over in 1534 included the building of many outstanding convents, monasteries, and churches, earning Quito the title, "Capital of Art of Spanish America". Discover why the city's exquisitely preserved historic center is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site—departing from your hotel, a walking tour explores its past, present, and future. With time on your own in the afternoon, opt for a visit to the fascinating pre-Columbian Museo Casa del Alabado or explore the cultural center at leisure. Your full day of exploration ends at a local restaurant with sunset views overlooking the city.

Quito, Ecuador
Air travel
Baltra Island, Ecuador
Isla North Seymour, Ecuador

On this morning, travel to the second UNESCO World Heritage Site on your itinerary: the legendary Galápagos Islands. From Quito, fly to Isla Baltra where your captain and crew welcome you aboard Yacht La Pinta. As Charles Darwin certainly was in 1835, you'll be awed by the unique beauty of the islands as you take your first exploratory steps on Isla Seymour Norte—home to blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds. Formed by volcanic uplift, the small island of scruffy vegetation is ideal nesting terrain. Get an up-close view of these birds' quirky characteristics by hike and panga ride.

Vicente Roca Point, Ecuador
Isla Fernandina, Ecuador

Explore Punta Vicente Roca, a marine site of impressive geological formations, by panga—your guide helps with decoding the visible clues of the islands' fiery beginnings. Beyond the geology, spy winged residents including blue-footed boobies and flightless cormorants. The wildly rocky coast with a partially sunken cave provides phenomenal conditions for a menagerie of fish and green sea turtles. If conditions allow, don your mask, fins, and snorkel and dive in for a close-up view! Later, stretch your legs on a guided walk experiencing one of the most pristine islands in the Galápagos, Isla Fernandina. The island's active volcano erupted as recently as 2009. Thousands of bright land iguanas reside here, and it's also a favorite haunt of Galápagos penguins.

Urvina Bay, Ecuador
Caleta Tagus, Ecuador

Large in landmass and young at 1 million years old, Isla Isabela supports abundant wildlife and sea life. An Urbina Bay shore walk reveals large colorful land iguanas and perhaps giant tortoises. Crossing from Urbina Bay to Tagus Cove, scan the water for whales and dolphins that frequent Bolivar Channel from one of La Pinta's spacious decks. At Tagus Cove—an otherworldly landscape of eroded tuff cones—there's a chance to snorkel, kayak, or ride a panga before hiking the backside of Darwin Crater to a saltwater lake. There'll be excellent opportunities for viewing penguins, Galápagos hawks, cormorants, petrified rain (bits of lava that cooled quickly after contacting water), and old signatures from pirates and whalers etched into the rock.

Rabida Island, Ecuador
Cerro Dragón, Ecuador

Isla Rábida's unusual red beach is a favorite sunbathing spot for sea lions and marine iguanas. Go eye-to-eye with blue-footed and Nazca boobies, yellow warblers, several species of Darwin's finches, and pelicans. The warm maroon-colored beach also makes a great jumping-in spot for from-the-beach snorkeling. Or keep your eyes above the waterline, inspecting marine life from the glass-bottom boat. You'll have a bird's-eye view from hiking on Isla Santa Cruz to Cerro Dragón—or, Dragon Hill—and enjoy a well-earned panorama of the western islands, the bay below you, and possibly even lounging land iguanas.

Puerto Ayora, Ecuador

Today, it's all about the magnificent giant tortoise. Touring the Charles Darwin Research Station, you'll witness the exceptional conservation program where baby tortoises, "galapaguitos", are reared in protective captivity until they are old enough to safely repatriate back to their native areas. Embrace Galápagos conservation by learning about threats that still endanger this fragile ecosystem. After a lingering poolside lunch at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel (bring your swimsuit just in case), explore the misty forested highlands and see the lumbering and charming tortoises in their natural habitat. You'll also have a chance to walk inside the island's famed lava tubes for a geological exploration of these remarkable volcanic channels.

Isla Santa Maria, Ecuador

Your day will be chock-full of adventure, with opportunities to snorkel, hike, kayak, skiff, ride the glass-bottom boat, or simply relax on the beach. Send a note home from Post Office Bay, dropping your postcard in Isla Floreana's famous historic barrel mailbox. Then take in the island's geologic history with a panga ride or kayak investigation of its maze of volcanic channels. A stop at Baroness Viewpoint provides the perfect vantage for a photo-op. A tale of two beaches, walk along the green olivine beach of Punta Cormorant to a brackish lagoon known to be a flamingo hideout, then on to a white-sand beach where green sea turtles come ashore to rest at night.

Baltra Island, Ecuador
Air travel
Quito, Ecuador

Your adventure of a lifetime aboard La Pinta concludes on Isla Baltra. From here, transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito and await your connecting flight home. If you've opted for the Peru/Machu Picchu Extension, you'll disembark en route during a short stop in Guayaquil.

Darwin's Islands and Colonial Quito map

What's Included


  • All onboard meals and Day 2 meals in Quito

  • 2 nights deluxe hotel accommodations in Quito and a 6-night cruise

  • Ppremium spirits, wine, beer aboard La Pinta (uncommon for Galápagos) and non-alcoholic beverages

  • Airfare between Quito/Galápagos

  • Exclusive transfers and baggage handling between airport/hotelyacht on embark/disembark days

  • The port taxes & fees

  • Entry fees to national parks/preserves

  • All from-the-yacht adventure activities and equipment

  • Wellness program: hot tub and fitness equipment

Not Included

  • Airfare to and from your home city

  • Discretionary gratuities to vessel’s crew

  • Travel insurance

  • Optional excursions and land tours

About Us

Small Ships… BIG Experiences

A crew member shows you to your cabin. After a short time getting situated, gain your bearings with a spin around the ship before heading to the lounge for a glass of bubbly and to meet your shipmates. And then you’re off! Headed to where the big ships can’t go—in more ways than one. Be sure to pack a go-with-the-flow attitude. There are set itineraries, but in-the-moment decisions with Mother Nature leading the way will happen!. No matter how you travel—with a companion, family, solo, or in a group—connection, place, and adventure are at the heart of your exploration.

Insider Tip

You move through the world as distinctly and uniquely YOU—from day-to-day to grand adventures. Like our small ship adventure and river cruises. Define your Un-ness!

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