We owe our better understanding of our existence on Earth to the Cologne Islands. More specifically, we owe it to Charles Darwin and his theory of natural selection and evolution, who observed the natural diversity on these remarkable islands. Understandably, trips to the Colón Islands are very popular and a good balance must be struck between enhancing this special place and preserving it for future generations. Therefore, only certain islands are open to visitors.
All tours depart from Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and require return airfare and hotel reservations to limit defaults and stopovers. Most Galapagos tours simply include a return flight to Santa Cruz Island as part of the tour, followed by a hotel and/or sea transportation from there. There are many tour companies that operate tours to the Galapagos Islands, but the most important thing is to book a reputable and environmentally responsible operator, especially here. Trips of less than a week are possible, but the best option is to spend two weeks or longer so that there is ample opportunity to observe the wildlife in action. The following are the top four Galapagos Islands tours and cruises from Quito, which are the result of factors such as price, itinerary and ratings from previous guests.
Adventures in the Galapagos Islands
From: $1753 per person
The first stop is one of the few regular tour stops with daily departures. This week-long tour of the Galapagos includes four nights on the island, with five days devoted to exploring some real highlights, including a hike to the top of the active volcano Sierra Negra, one of the six volcanoes that form Isabela Island. This is the main base during the tour, where you can snorkel through lava tunnels and have the chance to see turtles, eagle rays, and even sharks. There is also a turtle breeding center and the Charles Darwin Station. Another highlight is a kayak trip to Las Tintorellas to meet Galapagos penguins and sea lions.
Galapagos Adventure: Diving and Sea Lions
From $1,862 per person
For a fascinating adventure that visits some of the other islands, this nine-day tour is a great option. In this crowded marine park, you can dive with curious sea lions, look for the endemic marine iguanas, and many other species. This is perhaps the best value Galapagos tour in Quito, but the tour operator is targeting mainly the under-40 crowd. Most of the accommodations are on a lodge or camping basis, with at least one night camping in the Isabela Highlands. Most meals are provided as part of the cost, although as with all the trips on this list, there are many additional costs to take into account. This trip is offered once or twice a week.
From $2,329 per person
Another highly rated nine-day trip spends a little more time on the less touristy Floreana Island, where local community-run services feel the full benefit of their hometown’s tourism industry. The black sand beaches and quiet highlands are great for bird watching, as tours to Santa Cruz and Isabela are not often interrupted. Take a boat to Isabela halfway through the trip to experience some of the top attractions in the Galapagos Islands, including the Giant Turtle Breeding Center and hike to Tortuga Bay where you may see marine iguanas and turtles. This trip is only available twice a month. Most of the accommodations for this trip are in hotels.
Complete Galapagos Islands
From $7,244 per person
Considering that a trip to the Colon Islands is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s not uncommon for people to want to push the boat out. In this case, it’s no exaggeration to say that this top-notch 17-day trip touches almost every island a visitor might visit. This is a true Galapagos cruise on the Yolita , a large ship carrying 16 passengers with plenty of cabins and ample deck space. During the excursion, 14 nights were spent on cribs between islands, and most meals were provided by the ship’s galley team. You name the famous species here for a chance to see them, including Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and more. This tour is offered once or twice a month and, despite its high price, tends to sell out months in advance, such is its status.