Natural Habitat Adventures

Classic Galapagos: The Natural Habitat Experience

Nemo III 8-Day Itinerary

Itinerary Map
Day 1: Quito, Ecuador
Arrive in Ecuador's capital city, where our local host meets you at the airport and joins you on the drive to Quito's historic Old Town, about an hour away. Our boutique hotel is in the heart of the colonial quarter. This evening, relax and enjoy dinner on our own.

Day 2: Exploring Historic Quito
After breakfast, embark on a full day of discovery in Ecuador’s capital. Heralded as Latin America's best-preserved colonial city, Quito's Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with cobblestone lanes, elegant plazas and monuments, and ornate gilded churches. On a guided city tour, take in a panorama of the city and surrounding volcanic peaks from Panecillo Hill, visit the 16th-century Church and Convent of San Francisco, and wander through San Francisco Square. Marvel at the baroque splendor of La Compañia Church with its gleaming gold-leaf interior, and survey Independence Plaza, the original center of Quito from which we view the Archbishop's Palace, Cathedral and Presidential Palace.

We also visit an artisanal chocolate shop featuring products handmade from Ecuador's finest aromatic cacao. Ethically cultivated by a women's cooperative using traditional organic techniques, this rare cacao is prized by the great chocolatiers of the world for its heady aroma and unique flavor. We'll do a chocolate tasting, pairing different varieties with craft beer also made of cacao. Following lunch, the afternoon is at leisure to explore the city further on your own or visit the traditional workshops along La Ronda, one of Quito's oldest streets, where artisans craft everything from hats to wooden toys. This evening, we gather for a welcome dinner with one of our Expedition Leaders.

Day 3: Baltra, Galapagos Islands / Nat Hab's Tortoise Camp

Rise early for the transfer back to Quito airport where we board our flight to the Galapagos. Our second Expedition Leader meets us on the island of Baltra this morning. After lunch, travel to Santa Cruz Island and continue into the misty highlands to Los Gemelos—"the twins"—a pair of volcanic craters surrounded by lush Scalesia forest. Nearby is Nat Hab's private Tortoise Camp, providing a rare opportunity to spend a night in wild tortoise habitat. These ancient, gentle reptiles that are the archipelago's namesake often wander right through camp. Accommodations are in safari-style raised platform tents and treehouses with views of the ocean. While rustic, they offer comfortable amenities, including real beds and en suite facilities. But the highlight of our stay is the proximity to wild tortoises, which are attracted to the area by the lush vegetation. They are commonly seen in camp from July through February, and from March to June, we visit a nearby tortoise reserve for closer views, when the tortoises migrate seasonally to a lower elevation. We can also explore a network of subterranean lava tubes and caverns near the camp.

Day 4: Garrapatero Beach / Cerro Crocker

Head down to sea level from camp to begin the day with a short walk to Garrapatero Beach. The diverse flora is fascinating: 20-foot-tall cactus line the path, while near the beach we find poison apple trees and mangroves. A variety of wildlife resides here, including marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, pelicans and many other bird species. Returning to higher elevations, walk near Cerro Crocker this afternoon, where the trail overlooks extinct volcanoes and dense vegetation from Scalesia and Miconia to fern-sedge zones. Look for plentiful birds including the vermilion flycatcher, paint-billed crake and elusive Galapagos rail. Or, if conditions are favorable, we may choose to explore Cerro Mesa and Santa Cruz’s largest crater. Back at Tortoise Camp, dinner is served, followed by time to relax by the fire and survey the canopy of bright stars, if skies are clear. 

Day 5: Tortuga Bay / Puerto Ayora—Embark Nemo III

This morning, visit Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz, and the world-famous giant tortoise-rearing center at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, international scientists conduct research dedicated to conserving the unique habitats and species of the Galapagos. At the facility, visit the protection pens where hatchlings are bred to increase depleted tortoise populations, a central mission for both the research station and Galapagos National Park. To date, more than 5,000 tortoises bred at the station have been released into the wild. Afterward, embark the Nemo III, the deluxe motor-sailing catamaran will be our base for three nights as we explore the islands. After lunch on board, secluded Tortuga Bay is our destination this afternoon. The pristine beach is a sanctuary for many birds, iguanas and bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs that dot the black lava rocks. In a nearby cove, we often see schools of white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles and colorful fish in the aquamarine waters. A paddle in the mangrove lagoons on the bay’s edge offers frequent views of sea turtles. We return to our private catamaran for dinner, then sail toward South Plaza this evening.

Day 6: South Plaza / Santa Fe

On South Plaza, follow a rocky trail that circumnavigates the small island, which displays a combination of dry and coastal vegetation zones. South Plaza has one of the largest populations of land iguanas in the Galapagos, and we find these large yellow-brown reptiles everywhere. Marine iguanas are also abundant along the shoreline, plus an unusual hybrid, the fathers of which are marine iguanas and the mothers are land iguanas. Continuing along the sea cliffs, look for swallow-tailed gulls, frigatebirds, Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, brown pelicans, and blue-footed and masked boobies—plus a colony of noisy bachelor sea lions on the rocks below. This afternoon, we explore Santa Fe. On a short hike through a forest of prickly pear cactus, look for the endemic land iguanas that wait patiently underneath for the fruit to drop. Returning to our catamaran, we explore a small islet surrounded by great reef diversity, then continue along the north coast where large cliffs and sea caves are used by many species of marine birds for nesting and roosting. Look, too, for basking green sea turtles and sea lions.

Day 7: Bartolome / Sombrero Chino
Sail on to Bartolome and climb to the island's highest point for 360-degree views, passing intriguing geological formations along the path including spatter cones, tuff cones and lava tubes. From the summit, a panorama unfolds of the surrounding islands and Pinnacle Rock, famously shown in the 2003 film Master and Commander. Some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos awaits around the base of this ancient submerged volcano. It's an underwater playground that's home to huge schools of fish permanently under attack by Galapagos penguins. Gentle white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles and stingrays are also common sightings. Over lunch, cruise to nearby Sombrero Chino, which really does look like a Chinese hat! A panga ride through the Bainbridge Rocks, shaped like a string of floating mushroom tops, reveals more of the Galapagos' fascinating marine life. Members of the resident penguin colony may join us on a final snorkel in the channel. Back on board, it's time for cocktails and our farewell dinner.

Day 8: Mosquera or North Seymour / Baltra / Quito / Depart
This morning's adventure will depend upon sea conditions. If tides permit, we may opt to land on Mosquera, a tiny islet that's home to a huge population of sea lions, as well as many shorebirds. Or we may venture out on the panga in search of fur seals lounging on the rocks along North Seymour. All too soon, our time in the Enchanted Isles comes to a close as we say goodbye to the Nemo III, her crew and our Expedition Leaders. Transferring to Baltra, we board our flight back to the mainland. Upon arrival at the Quito airport, travelers departing on overnight flights may choose to transfer to a hotel located just minutes away, for a relaxed layover in a comfortable day room. A complimentary shuttle will return you to the airport in time for your evening flight.

Learn more about the seasonal variations of Galapagos weather and wildlife viewing.
Interested in extending your trip? Link it up with another adventure!
Repeater Layout : vertical-2up
Machu Picchu Extension
New Itinerary!

Machu Picchu Extension

Journey through Peru's Sacred Valley to the Lost City of the Incas, where our expert guide unveils this remarkable archaeological phenomenon.
6 Days / Year-Round
From $4995 (+air)
New Itinerary!
Amazon Lodge Extension

Amazon Lodge Extension

Explore Ecuador's Amazon Basin from a secluded jungle lodge and plumb the rich biodiversity of the rain forest on foot and by traditional dugout canoe.
4 or 5 Days / Year-Round / From $1795 (+air)
Questions?
We've Got Answers!
Talk with an Adventure Specialist
Call Our Boulder Office at 800-543-8917 or contact your travel advisor.
We're Proud of the Reputation We’ve Earned
Outside
Voted "World's Best Travel
Company"
by Outside Magazine
Outside
Natural Habitat Adventures Ranked
“Best Outfitter”
NatGeo
Voted Best Winter Trip: Natural Habitat Adventures' Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico
VIEW MORE AWARDS
Physical Requirements
WWF Logo

Download Trip Details

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Get our downloadable trip details in PDF format, a handy resource for your travel planning. Inside, you'll find all the info from our website—highlights of the trip, itinerary, accommodations, and full details on dates, prices and logistics—plus a few extras!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Download Trip Details
| Privacy Policy
Your download awaits…

Thank you for your request! Click here to see your trip details PDF now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Ask a Question

Ask a Question

Fill out our form to receive additional information about our ${tripName}, or give us a call at 800-543-8917.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Classic Galapagos: The Natural Habitat Experience
Ask a Question
| Privacy Policy
Thank you for your note!

We’ll be in touch soon with more details.

Send Me Travel Emails

Get the Inside Scoop on the

World of Nature Travel

Our weekly eNewsletters highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Natural Habitat & WWF Discovering Our Planet Together
WWF Logo

Request Your 2022 Catalog

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Nathab 2022 Catalog

Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the planet, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Request Your 2022 Catalog
| Privacy Policy
Continued - Page 2 of 2
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:
Thank you for requesting a catalog
Success! We’ve received your request. If you have any questions about our trips, please feel free to contact an Adventure Specialist today by calling 800-543-8917.

Get Weekly Updatess

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list!

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Send Us a Message

Send Us a Message

Have a question or comment? Use the form to the right to get in touch with us.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Us a Message
| Privacy Policy
Thank you for your message

We’ll be in touch soon with a response.

Refer a Friend

Refer a Friend
Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab gift card you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Refer a Friend
Thank you for the referral!

We've received your friend's information.

View Our 2022 Digital Catalog

View Our 2022

Digital Catalog

Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info in the form to the right.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
View Digital Catalog
| Privacy Policy
Happy browsing!

Thanks for requesting access to our digital catalog. Click here to view it now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Our Trips

Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bear Tours

African Safaris

African Safaris

U.S. National Parks Tours

U.S. National Parks Tours

Alaska Adventures

Alaska Adventures

Canada & the North

Canada & the North

Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

South America Adventures

South America Adventures

Europe Adventures

Europe Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Adventure Cruises

Adventure Cruises

Photography Adventures

Photography Adventures

Family Adventures

Family Adventures

New Adventures

New Adventures

Questions? Call 800-543-8917

/galapagos/galapagos-islands-adventure/itinerary/8-day-itinerary/