Galapagos & Costa Rica
A winning combination of two superb nature destinations, the Galapagos Islands with their unique species and Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity.
Galapagos and Costa Rica
Prices from: £5,350 pp for 17 nights
For lovers of nature this is a holiday made in heaven! Spend a week cruising in the Galapagos Islands, with twice daily excursions led by an expert naturalist guide, followed by 8 days in Costa Rica, a tiny country with a huge diversity of habitats and wildlife.
The adventure begins in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, where we’ve included a city tour to acquaint you with the main sites. The next day you’ll be heading out 1000kms across the Pacific Ocean to the famous Galapagos Islands. Here you encounter species that exist nowhere else on earth. Not only this, these creatures have no fear of man, so you get closer to them than you ever dreamed possible. Each meeting will be a revelation, and you’ll find it hard to wipe the smile off your face for days!
While this is hard to match, Costa Rica does not disappoint. National parks and reserves make up a quarter of the country’s area, and you’ll visit two of the best known. Arenal in the north is famous for its towering volcano, and is part of a national park with rich tracts of rainforest. You’ll have a breath-taking Sky Walk, crossing bridges suspended high above the forest canopy and following trails on the forest floor. Next stop is Manuel Antonio, a coastal park spanning land and water. Here you’ll have chances to explore with a guide. Capuchin monkeys, agoutis, two-toed sloth and rare squirrel monkeys dwell here, and you’ll delight at the birds which include parrots, pelicans and toucans. And when you feel you’ve earned a rest head down to one of the pristine beaches for some well-earned rest and relaxation.
- Quito 2 nights, return flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos
- Beluga 7 nights
- Guayaquil 1 night, flight Guayaquil-San Jose
- San Jose 1 night
- Arenal 3 nights
- Manuel Antonio 3 nights
DAY 1: WEDNESDAY
On landing in Quito, you’re welcomed to Ecuador by a local representative and transferred to your city hotel, where you have the rest if the day free to relax after the flight. If you are ready to explore the main sites of the old city are within walking distance, but if you’d rather take things easy there’s a pleasant lounge-bar and a courtyard restaurant.
DAY 2: THURSDAY
After breakfast you’ll join your guide for a morning tour of Quito. The city is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and there is much to see. The heart of the old town is the Plaza de la Independencia, flanked by impressive buildings including the 19th presidential palace, the cathedral and the archbishop’s palace. The tour usually ends at the top of El Panecillo hill, for a good view over the city. The afternoon is free. Breakfast
DAY 3: FRIDAY
Time to pack your bags! You’re booked on the morning flight to Baltra, which takes about 4 hours. You’ll be met on arrival and escorted to the harbour where your yacht and home for the next 7 nights, Beluga, awaits. This afternoon your first shore excursion is to the highlands of Santa Cruz, an excellent place to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. You also visit the Charles Darwin Station for some key background information about the islands and to see tortoise hatchlings and juveniles at the breeding centre. Full board
DAY 4: SATURDAY
Floreana has a long human association, having been used as a harbour by pirates and whalers and settled by early colonists. Landing at Punta Cormorant you’ll see a white coral beach and a beach coloured green by crystals. A short walk leads inland to a flamingo lagoon, and you’ll return to the beach to look for turtles. In the afternoon you’ll visit Post Office Bay, where since the 19th century sailors have left letters in the barrel, for others travelling homeward to deliver. Full board
DAY 5: SUNDAY
Isabela is by some way the largest of the islands and has many visitor sites. Today you’ll see Sierra Negra volcano, whose caldera has a diameter of 10km. Your guide will point out recent lava flows, cones and vegetation. Later you’ll visit Puerto Villamil, the island’s capital, and the highlands where there’s a tortoise breeding centre and lagoon which attracts marine birds. Full board
DAY 6: MONDAY
Punta Moreno is on the southwest coast of Isabela and from here there are superb views of 3 volcanoes, Sierra Negra, Alcedo and Cerro Azul. This is an arid location with varied plant life and impressive lava flows. In the afternoon you have a panga ride at Elizabeth Bay, looking out for penguins standing on the rocks. You also travel into the atmospheric mangroves, watching out for turtles and rays in the water. Full board
DAY 7: TUESDAY
Urbina Bay is on the central west coast, flanked by Alcedo and Darwin volcanoes. A walk with you guide should reveal giant tortoises and brightly coloured land iguanas. You’ll also see the exposed coral uplift created through a volcanic eruption in 1954. After lunch on board you’ll land at Tagus Cove. Look out for inscriptions on the rocks left by pirates and whalers in days gone by. Walk up the hill to Darwin Lake, pausing to admire the many birds, and on to a viewpoint where you can look down over the bay and ocean. Full board
DAY 8: WEDNESDAY
Fernandina is the youngest and most volcanically active of the Galapagos Islands. At Punta Espinosa you’ll see large numbers of marine iguanas, the only marine lizard in the world, and less shy than their land cousins. Look out, too, for flightless cormorants, penguins and Galapagos hawks. A panga ride along the cliffs at Punta Vicente Roca this afternoon is an opportunity to watch blue-footed boobies and Nazca boobies. Full board
DAY 9: THURSDAY
Landing at the black sand beach of Puerto Egas you have a guided walk along the rocky shore where there are many tidal pools. The walk continues to an old salt mine which is now frequented by flamingos. You can also hope to see fur seals and marine iguanas. This afternoon you hike up the hill to the highest point on Bartolome for one of the best known views in the archipelago, down over Pinnacle Rock. Back down on the beach there may be time for swimming and snorkelling before returning to Beluga and tonight’s farewell dinner. Full board
DAY 10: FRIDAY
Your last Galapagos excursion is to North Seymour. The walk should provide sightings of sea lions, great frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies. You’ll be transferred back to the airport at Baltra for the flight to Guayaquil on the mainland, and will be taken to your hotel for the night, Oro Verde. Breakfast
DAY 11: SATURDAY
After breakfast you’ll travel back to the airport for the flight to San Jose in Costa Rica, and the second half of your holiday! You’ll be met for the 30 minute drive into the highlands to your hotel, Finca Rosa Blanca. The hotel is decorated with colourful artworks and there’s a lovely infinity pool and tropical gardens. In all this is a very restful setting. Breakfast
DAY 12: SUNDAY
Your journey continues north this morning, and before long the towering sight of Arenal volcano will come into view. As you get closer its symmetrical cone dominates the skyline. You’ll check into your hotel nearby, and in the afternoon you can walk the trails and canopy bridges that make up the Sky Walk. It’s a wonderful introduction to the richness of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna, and you’ll be accompanied by an expert guide throughout. Back at the hotel you can enjoy a soothing soak in the thermal springs. Breakfast
DAY 13: MONDAY
This morning is free for you to enjoy the facilities of the hotel. In the afternoon you’ll join a group hike following a trail at the base of the volcano, walking through lush forest and always looking out for animals and birds. The walk culminates at some thermal springs where you can relax and enjoy their health-bestowing properties. Later a tasty dinner is served, and afterwards you’ll be dropped off back at the hotel. Breakfast, dinner
DAY 14: TUESDAY
You have the entire day at your disposal to enjoy all that Arenal has to offer. From ziplines to hanging bridges, kayaking to birdwatching, there’s an activity to suit everyone. You also have the option to stay put at the hotel and take advantage of the thermal springs and spa services, take a bird spotting walk in the gardens and treat yourself to your choice of cuisines, all against the backdrop of Arenal volcano. Breakfast
DAY 15: WEDENSDAY
After breakfast your Costa Rican adventure continues, as you travel to Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific coast. The park combines rainforest, beach and reef and is one of the most popular in the country. Your hotel is on a hill above the coast. It has an outdoor pool and terrace, and a spa where you can spoil yourself with your choice of treatments. Settle in as you’ll be here for 3 nights. Breakfast
DAY 16: THURSDAY
This morning you’ll have a guided walk in the national park. This lasts about 3 hours and will open your eyes to the different habitats and wildlife. You can expect to see monkeys, iguanas, sloths and agoutis. Afterwards you can rest on one of the beautiful beaches, maybe going for a swim, before returning to the hotel for a sundowner drink on the terrace. Breakfast
DAY 17: FRIDAY
A free day for you to do as you please. You may want to take it easy at the hotel, sunbathing and cooling off with a swim, and strolling through the gardens. Alternatively there are plenty of activities available and hotel staff will help you plan your day. You can explore the mangroves, visit the butterfly gardens or have a specialist bird watching tour. Horse riding, zipling and bathing beneath waterfalls are popular too, and you could treat yourself to a catamaran cruise. Breakfast
DAY 18: SATURDAY
Having had breakfast, depending on the time of the your flight, there may be time for a walk in the gardens before the drive back to the airport in San Jose. Breakfast
Price from (pp sharing): £5,350 (ex. international flights)
Includes: Transfers as specified, twin share accommodation, meals as specified, private guided tour of Quito, flight from Quito to Baltra, Galapagos island excursions as specified with a bilingual naturalist guide, snorkelling equipment on cruise, flight from Baltra to Guayaquil, afternoon Sky Walk in Arenal, guided walk and thermal springs visit in Arenal, guided hike in Manual Antonio National Park.
Excludes: International flights and taxes, flight from Guayaquil to San Jose (we can book this for you with your international flights), visas, meals not shown, drinks, Galapagos National Park Fee, currently US$100 but liable to change and to be paid locally in US$, optional excursions in Arenal and Manuel Antonio National Park, tips, items of a personal nature.
Getting there: This holiday starts in Quito and ends at San Jose. International flights from the UK, including the flight from Guayaquil to San Jose, will cost in the region of £1,250. We are happy to book these for you.
Departure dates: This is a tailor-made holiday that can begin on the day of your choice, though the Galapagos cruise departs on a specific day of the week, so this precise itinerary, using Beluga’s Fernandina itinerary, begins in Quito on a Wednesday. Beluga offers an alternative itinerary, Tower, which can be used for this holiday. Click here for information.
NOTE: You can use a different yacht if you prefer, in which case a different departure day might be required and the price will alter according to the yacht chosen. Please click here for the full collection of Galapagos yachts.
Patio Andaluz is an attractive colonial building dating back to the 16th century and has been beautifully converted to provide elegant guest accommodation. The architecture features arches, alcoves, balconies and patios and the hotel is filled with antique furniture and has beautiful polished wooden floors. The en-suite guest rooms are tastefully decorated in keeping with the colonial style of the building. After a busy day sightseeing in Quito, return to Patio Andaluz and wind down with a glass of cava in the cosy bar, browse through a book in the library or enjoy some tasty tapas. Later you can have a delicious dinner in the El Rincon de Cantuna restaurant in the main courtyard, which specialises in Ecuadorian and Spanish food and has an extensive wine list.
The Beluga is an elegant, comfortable motor yacht recently fully refurbished. She accommodates a maximum of 16 guests in 8 double cabins. All have a private bathroom with hot water shower. The yacht is fully air-conditioned. Beluga has lots of inside and outside space and different deck areas for relaxing, including a sundeck and a shaded seating area on the upper deck. There is a pleasant lounge, with large panoramic windows and a separate dining room. The food is excellent, and the yacht crew offer a great service.
Hotel Oro Verde is in central Guayaquil, handy for the main city sights including the Malecon 2000 complex with its shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. The hotel offers a choice of restaurants and a bar, 2 gift shops and a business centre. Recreational facilities include a spa, gym and, a real bonus for a city hotel, an outdoor swimming pool. Guest accommodation is en-suite and air conditioned, and all rooms and suites have minibar, coffee maker, TV, IDD phone, safe, bathrobes and slippers. Add to this 24 hour room service and free Wi-Fi and you have all you need for a comfy and convenient stay.
Finca Rosa Blanca
A country inn on a working coffee plantation, the finca has fine views over the central valley and the capital, San Jose, whose twinkling lights can be seen at night. You’ll be extremely comfortable in your spacious suite, with facilities including a coffee maker, minibar and free Wi-Fi. Outside you’ll have a private terrace where you can unwind and enjoy the views. The hotel has a well-regarded restaurant, library full of reference books and a cosy lounge-bar. Recreational facilities include a spa offering a range of treatments, an infinity pool fed by a natural spring, Jacuzzi, sun terrace and gardens perfect for gentle strolls.
Hotel Arenal Springs
Set in lovely gardens this hotel offers excellent value accommodation and a good range of amenities including its own thermal springs. The impressive Arenal Volcano can be seen on a clear day. You’ll stay in an air conditioned junior suite, with a TV, minibar, hot drinks facilities, private bathroom, picture windows and balcony.
After a busy morning exploring the national park you can relax at the hotel, enjoy a swim in the pool, indulge in a spa treatment, and chill with a yoga session. While here you should make time to visit the hot springs, exclusively reserved for hotel guests. There are 3 restaurants, one specialising in meat and seafood, one offering Italian dishes and a poolside sushi bar.
Si Como No
Located high on a hill above the Pacific Ocean and the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park, this hotel has two restaurants, one specialising in fresh seafood, and the other offers relaxed dining beneath a canopy in the gardens. The pool terrace features a swim-up bar, pool, waterfall and jacuzzi.
The hotel has 10 acres of gardens you can explore. The Cala Spa offers beauty and health-promoting treatments using many ingredients grown in the hotel’s grounds. Each guest room has a telephone, minibar and private bathroom. Air conditioning and ceiling fans keep interiors cool. Your balcony is a lovely place to sit and relax in quiet seclusion.
Take the next step...
We know and love the Galapagos Islands, and would delighted to help you plan your perfect Galapagos holiday. Call 01473 599082 and speak to one of our Galapagos travel specialists today.