Upon arrival in Guayaquil, transfer to the Hotel Oro Verde Guayaquil.
2Guayaquil / Galápagos / Embark
This morning, fly to the Galápagos Islands and board National Geographic Endeavour II. After lunch, we begin our exploration of the islands and their remarkable wildlife.
Days 3-8 will be spent in the Galápagos Islands, and these are a sample of the islands you may visit on your expedition. Actual itinerary varies.
North Seymour: Follow coastal trails past playful Galápagos sea lions on this wildlife-rich central island. Continue inland through a silvery forest of endemic palo santo trees, where frigatebirds nest, blue-footed boobies dance, and where we may also encounter prehistoric-looking land iguanas feeding on cactus.
Isabela: Cross the Equator at Volcán Ecuador, northernmost of Isabela’s six great shield volcanoes. Keep an eye open for whales and dolphins, sea turtles and the elusive ocean sunfish. Over two days, land in the footsteps of Darwin and Melville, and look for wildlife along the wildly eroded volcanic shore.
Fernandina: One of the most active oceanic volcanoes in the world, Fernandina is the youngest and most pristine island in Galápagos—and home to the strange flightless cormorant, Galápagos penguins and the largest marine iguanas. Hikes ashore lead across impressive recent lava flows.
Española: See swallow-tailed gulls, Española mockingbirds, Nazca boobies and, seasonally, the world’s only population of waved albatross at this birdy paradise, also home to vividly colored marine iguanas. Watch sea lions on the wide sand beach, and snorkel offshore, at Gardner Bay.
Floreana: Follow a trail past a rose pink-tinted lagoon frequented by flamingos. Snorkel among sea lions and abundant fish, or cruise along Champion Islet by Zodiac. Visit the famous barrel at Post Office Bay.
Santiago: Explore tide pools and look for fur seals sheltered in quiet grottos of black basalt. Swim, snorkel, kayak and paddleboard along Santiago’s spectacular coast, and explore an enchanting coastal forest where Charles Darwin once walked.
Santa Cruz: Visit Puerto Ayora, the largest town and headquarters of both the Galápagos National Park and Charles Darwin Research Station. See the monument to Lonesome George, and tour the giant tortoise breeding corrals. See the giant tortoises roaming in the wild in the lush, green highlands.
Bartolomé: Climb the steps to the summit of this 300-foot volcanic wonderland for stunning views. Explore, swim and snorkel from the beach. You might even see Galápagos penguins, one of world’s rarest.
Genovesa: Sail across the Equator to the remote northern realm of the Galápagos, surrounded by warmer tropical waters.
San Cristobal: Search for red-footed boobies and the endemic mockingbird and lava lizard—found only on this easternmost island, and dig your toes into the powdery white sand at a gorgeous beach fronted by iconic Kicker Rock. Explore Baquerizo Moreno, where sea lions thrive in the middle of town.
9Galápagos / Disembark / Guayaquil
Return this morning to Guayaquil, where we transfer to our hotel. The late afternoon and evening are free to explore the city. Overnight Hotel Oro Verde Guayaquil.
10Guayaquil / Home
Transfer to the airport for flights home.
11Extend Your Stay!
If you'd like to make the most of your time here, we recommend adding the Peru Adventure to your post-cruise stay. Prices for cruise and land extension combo start at $13,760 per person.
Instead of transferring to the airport on day 10 you'd head to Cusco. Following is the itinerary for the Peru land extension.
DAY 10: Lima/Cusco/Sacred Valley of the Inca
This morning we board our flight over the Andes to Cusco. Upon arrival, drive through the fabled and fertile Urubamba Valley to Moray—a visually stunning Inca site known for its agricultural terraces. After lunch and an opportunity to experience a local market, check-in at Sol y Luna for two nights. This serene Relais & Chateaux hotel entices with individual adobe casitas set in a verdant garden.
DAY 11: Sacred Valley of the Inca
Spend the day exploring the archaeological sites and culture of the Sacred Valley in the company of National Geographic expert Peter Frost, who has lived and worked in Peru for decades. He (or occasionally a colleague, if he is in the field) joins us for a talk at the hotel and continues with us to Ollantaytambo, where massive stone walls stand sentry over a thriving Inca community. Lunch is nearby at a working, family-owned hacienda. Here we are also treated to a show of Peruvian Paso horses, and National Geographic grantee Nilda Callañaupa, founder of El Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco, joins us to demonstrate Inca weaving traditions. Dinner tonight it at the hotel.
DAY 12: Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu
This morning marvel at the tropical Andean scenery and life along the river from the panoramic windows on the train to Machu Picchu—the Inca royal retreat famously introduced to the world by Hiram Bingham in the April 1913 issue of National Geographic magazine. Set at less than 8,000 feet, the sanctuary is set in tropical mountain forest with diverse birds and orchids. Check-in at the historic 31-room Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, adjacent to the World Heritage site, with the leisure to explore over the two days in the company of our hand-picked tour director and local guides. We linger after day-visitors are long gone. Lunch and dinner is at the Hotel's private Tampu Restaurant.
DAY 13: Machu Picchu/Cusco
Awaken this morning at Machu Picchu, where our options include an early hike to the Sun Gate, the ancient final checkpoint to the Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. After lunch, return through the valley to Cusco, center of the Inca universe and a burgeoning Andean cultural capital. Check-in at the Belmond Hotel Monasterio for two nights in the ancient heart of Cusco. Like many colonial-era buildings, our hotel—founded as a monastery in 1592—stands atop a fountain in the Inca-carved stone.
DAY 14: Cusco
Explore the magnificently ornate 17th-century cathedral and Plaza de Armas, the sacred Inca Temple of the Sun and other treasures of Cusco this morning. Visit nearby Sacsayhuaman, where impressive terrace walls, some of the finest stonework we've seen yet, command views over the city. Relax, shop, or visit Cusco's many churches and museums this afternoon. Dinner is on your own tonight.
DAY 15: Cusco/Lima
Return to vibrant, coastal Lima this morning, where on a tour we stroll the Plaza Mayor and delight in a private farewell lunch with a special musical presentation at Casa Aliaga—in the same family for 17 generations. After a visit to the extraordinary Larco Museum, dedicated to pre-Columbian art, check-in at Belmond Miraflores Park, set along a fashionable seaside promenade. Dinner is on your own.
DAY 16: Lima/U.S.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home—or onto Iquitos or Amazon.