Where to go

With a fine colonial heritage, Andean scenery and unspoiled Amazon rainforest a trip to Ecuador has all the ingredients to give you a flavour of South America, but a trip to the Galapagos Islands will bring you literally face to face with some of the planet’s most remarkable wildlife.

For information about the Galapagos Islands and the range of cruises we offer please scroll down.

Quito

The historic centre of Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you will find cobbled streets and restored colonial houses,  delightful squares and museums, churches and national monuments.

The Basilica is worth visiting to see the gargoyles. Calle Morales (also known as La Ronda) has some attractive local artisan shops as well as attractive bars and restaurants.

Otavalo Market

Otavalo is just an hour and a half from the capital and is famous for its traditional and colourful market. The artisans market in the Plaza de Ponchos runs daily but is at its biggest and busiest on Saturdays. Weavers and artisans work long hours to produce their textiles, handicrafts and Panama hats. Please haggle sensibly: what may amount to a few dollars to you may have a significant effect on their family income.

Avenue of the Volcanoes

The road south of the capital is lined by 20 volcanoes in the Cordillera Central on one side and 19 in the Cordillera Occidental. Ecuador’s highest active volcano is Cotopaxi at 5897m while Tungurahua at 5016m is the most active and has been continually erupting since 1999, for which the local authorities occasionally issue alerts and order evacuation.

Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi rises 5897m and is Ecuador’s highest active volcano. The popular Cotopaxi National Park is just 31 miles south of the capital and is home to Andean spectacled bears, condors, pumas, foxes,  llamas, hummingbirds and lapwings. It takes about 6-8 hours to climb Cotopaxi itself. Treks start at 1.00am as snow conditions turn to slippery slush in the sun.

Devil's Nose

The Devil’s Nose is most spectacular section of the railway line between Quito and Guayaquil. Trains descend 500m in a series of switchbacks over the course of 12km, a remarkable feat of engineering. In recent years the railway track has been restored, engines and trains refurbished. Tren Crucero is a 4 day/4 night journey from Quito to Guayaquil or vice versa by road and rail (including the Devil’s Nose) with all excursions and accommodation at hotels en route.

The Equator

A visit to the equator monument at Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World), just 26 miles from the capital, is a popular excursion although the equatorial line – determined by French expedition under Charles-Marie de la Condamine in 1736 – is actually about 150m out.

The interactive Inti Nan Museum is built on the true equator and is well worth a visit.

 

Amazon Rainforest

If you are planning a trip to the Amazon, you can choose whether to stay at a jungle lodge or to explore the rainforest on a riverboat cruise. Coca, Lago Agrio and Shell are the key gateways into the Ecuadorian jungle.

Our staff will advise you on the options, facilities and days of operation.

Mindo Cloudforest

The Mindo-Nambillo Cloudforest is about two and a half hours from Quito. The reserve varies in altitude from 4780m down to 1400m and is characterised by waterfalls and lush cloud forest, orchids and bromelias, butterflies and birds. We offer a number of lodges which are ideal for a two or three night stay.

Cuenca

Cuenca was founded in 1557 upon the Inca city of Tomebamba. It is an attractive and pleasant city with well-preserved colonial buildings. Cuenca is an excellent base from which to visit Ingapirca, Ecuador’s most important Inca ruin and Cajas National Park which covers 29,000 hectares (over 110 sq. miles) and has over 200 lakes and plenty of birdlife.

Ingapirca

Ingapirca is Ecuador’s most important Inca ruin on a  site formerly occupied by the Cañari people. The Incas were not here for very long before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century but characteristically left their mark with finely carved stone walls and trapezoidal doorways. It is thought that the central structure may have been a solar observatory.

Guayaquil

Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city with a population of 2.7m. It is the country’s most important commercial and industrial centre and is also its principal seaport.

The Malecon waterfront, which was once notoriously dangerous, has been refurbished since the beginning of the century and makes an attractive promenade with fountains, gardens, monuments and playgrounds for children.

The Coast

Ecuador has some attractive beaches from Atacames, Playa Escondida or Sua in the north, near Esmeraldas, to Playas  near Guayaquil and Salinas. There is whale-watching (humpbacks) off the coast of Puerto Lopez from mid-June to September.

Playa Los Frailes, near Puerto Lopez is one of the best while Isla de la Plata, 18 miles off the coast, can be visited as a day trip.

 

THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

A journey to the Galapagos Islands is an extraordinary adventure which will bring you literally face to face with some of the most remarkable wildlife on the planet. The Galapagos archipelago consists of six principal islands, twelve smaller islands and over 40 islets and many of the species of fish, plants and reptiles are found nowhere else in the world. Indeed, many species have evolved into different forms on different islands, making them endemic to particular islands, famously recognized by Charles Darwin during his visit in 1835.

You should note that the Galapagos National Park authorities do not allow boats with more than 100 passengers to operate in the archipelago. All boats have to file their itineraries with the authorities, who strictly control the numbers of people arriving at any one place at any time. There are usually two or three landings per day.

We book a variety of Galapagos cruises ranging from luxury ships with a large choice of cabins and decks and which have facilities catering for up to 100 passengers to smaller yachts, catamarans and sailing ships with capacity from just 7 cabins on the smallest boats (i.e. 14 passengers) up to 24 cabins (48 passengers).

These pages are designed to help you consider what it best for you, according to style of boat, size, cabin choice, facilities and, of course, your budget. Please remember that bigger ships are inevitably more spacious with better facilities on board (such as a choice of dining facilities, range of decks) and tend to be faster in the water, perhaps reaching some of the outlying islands that smaller boats don’t visit. But with a larger number of passengers it takes longer to disembark onto smaller boats and zodiacs for landing on islands, all of which takes time. Smaller cruises make for a more intimate experience.

We recommend a seven-night Galapagos itinerary over shorter stays as this will give you the chance to visit more islands and the opportunity to see a greater variety of wildlife.

Santa Cruz II

Capacity: 90 passengers

Category: Luxury Expedition Ship

Departures: Wednesdays/Saturdays

This fine ship undertook her maiden voyage on 10 October 2015. There is ample space on board with 50 good sized cabins over 5 decks. With an average of just 11 passengers per guide there is a highly-personal service. Facilities include kayaks, snorkelling equipment and a glass-bottomed boat.

The Santa Cruz II operates 5 night itineraries to the Western Galapagos and 10-day departures which combine the Eastern and Western islands.

 

Origin

Capacity: 20 passengers

Category: Luxury Small Ship

Departures: Sundays

New for 2016, the MV Origin is scheduled to be making her maiden voyage in  January as probably the most comfortable vessel of its type in the Galapagos, combining modern sophistication with understated luxury and fine attention to detail. There are ten spacious staterooms all on the main deck with ocean views and high-end amenities. There are two naturalist guides on board in addition to the concierge, captain and crew.

 

Silver Galapagos

Capacity: 100 passengers

Category: Luxury Expedition Ship

Departures: Saturdays

Formerly known as the Galapagos Explorer II this all-suite 100 passenger ship was relaunched in Sept 2013  under the prestigious Silversea brand to offer year-round expedition cruises in the Galapagos archipelago in a new level of comfort and luxury.

The Silver Galapagos offers a choice of suites, including some with your own veranda. Excellent guides and lectures, suberb facilities on board. Highly recommended.

Galapagos Legend

Capacity: 100 passengers

Category: Tourist Superior

Departures: Mondays/Thursdays

This 300-foot Galapagos cruise ship provides all the facilities and services of a large vessel to make your cruise around the islands enjoyable and comfortable. The Galapagos Legend has a capacity for 90 passengers over a range of decks.

The ship has spacious public areas including a lounge bar with panoramic windows, a  substantial dining room, a gym and library. There is also a medical room with a doctor on call 24 hours a day.

Mary Anne

Capacity: 16 passengers

Category:  Tourist Motor-Sailor

Departures: Saturdays

The Mary Anne is operated by a company whose family links to the Galapagos stretch back to the 1930s.

Although the Galapagos Islands are not noted for their winds, it is always a magnificent sight to see the sails hoisted.

Cormorant

Capacity:  16 passengers

Category:  Luxury Catamaran

Departures: Saturdays

The Cormorant offers two spacious suites on the main deck, together with two standard cabins on the main deck and four additional cabins on the upper deck. All cabins have a private balcony.

Special offers become available from time to time so please check with us.

La Pinta

Capacity:  48 passengers

Category:  First – Superior

Departures: Fridays

La Pinta has some of the largest cabins of any Galapagos ship with floor-to-ceiling windows in all cabins. Public areas are spacious with an obserservation lounge and bar, sun deck with outside bar and jacuzzi, a library,  exercise room and conference room. The dining room is on the main deck.

La Pinta also has a glass-bottomed boat which is ideal for those who do not wish to snorkel or for non-swimmers.

Eric and Letty

Capacity: 20 passengers

Category: First class superior

Departures: Sundays

These sister ships are owned and operated by an award-winning family firm recognized as leaders in sustainable travel to the Galapagos Islands.  Passengers disembark into smaller groups of ten per naturalist guide on shore visits to ensure a highly-personalised service.

The four twin cabins on the Iguana Deck have portholes, other cabins have picture windows. The four cabins on the Dolphin Deck are more spacious than the two cabins on the Booby Deck.

Grace

Capacity: 16 passengers

Category:  First class superior Motor Yacht

Departures: Saturdays

This yacht was a wedding gift from Aristotle Onassis to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.

With just 4 suites and 5 premium staterooms plus 11 crew members and 1 naturalist guide, the yacht excudes the beauty, prestige and elegance befitting of her name.

Coral I and II

Coral I:  36 passengers   Coral II: 20 passengers

Category: First class Motor Yachts

Departures: Wednesdays/Sundays

These sister ships are surprisingly spacious and has comfortable public areas with picture windows. Junior suites on the Earth and Sky Decks have panoramic windows. Cabins on other decks have panoramic skylights. The jacuzzi, sun and shadow decks allow plenty of space to relax as you travel between the islands.

Aida Maria

Capacity:  16 passengers

Category:  Economy Motor Yacht

Departures: Sundays

The Aida Maria represents good value for those on a tight budget.

She has eight small cabins with upper and lower berths, each with private facilities, manned by a crew of eight plus your Galapagos guide.

Tip Top IV

Capacity: 16 passengers,

Category: Tourist Superior, Motor Yacht

Departures: Fridays

The Tip Top IV  has 4 twin cabins on the Lower Deck and 4 on the Upper Deck. She has a crew of eight including the captain and naturalist guide.

With flights to/from the Galapagos Islands included the Tip Top IV provides excellent value.

Beagle

Capacity: 14 passengers

Category: First Class Motor-Sailor

Departures: Tuesdays

The Beagle is a classic among sailing yachts in the Galapagos, a magnificent 105-foot twin screw steel-hulled brigantine with teak decks and beautifully designed interiors. She was built in London and has six double cabins and a smaller seventh cabin with an upper and lower berth. The Beagle has a crew of six including the captain and your naturalist guide.

Celebrity Xploration

Capacity:  16 passengers

Category:  First Class catamaran

Departures: Saturdays

This is an outstanding catamaran that combines adventure with comfort.

She can accommodate 16 passengers in 8 spacious fully air-conditioned cabins. There are four cabins on the upper deck and four cabins on the main deck with private balconies.

Excellent facilities and services.

Galaven

Capacity: 20 passengers

Category:  Tourist Class Motor Yacht

Departures: Tuesdays

The Galaven is an 88 ft. expedition vessel with 10 double cabins, all with private bathrooms, air-conditioning and ocean views.

Samba

Capacity: 14 passengers

Category:  Tourist Superior Motor-Sailor

Departures: Tuesdays

The Samba is a steel-hulled motor yacht with sails and accommodates 14 passengers.  Six cabins have upper/lower berths and there is just one double cabin. The Samba has a crew of 6 in addition to your naturalist guide, who aim to go the extra mile to ensure you have the trip of a lifetime.

Early booking is essential.

Ocean Spray

Capacity:  16 passengers

Category:  First-superior Catamaran

Departures: Saturdays

The Ocean Spray is one of the newest boats operating in the Galapagos. There are four double cabins on the main deck and four on the upper deck, each with its own private balcony.

There is a crew of 9 under the command of the captain together with a naturalist guide.

Cormorant

Capacity:  16 passengers

Category:  Luxury Catamaran

Departures: Saturdays

The Cormorant offers two spacious suites on the main deck, together with two standard cabins on the main deck and four additional cabins on the upper deck. All cabins have a private balcony.

Special offers become available from time to time so please check with us.