Trip Inspiration

11 Days: Hacienda La Danesa + Galápagos

Andean Hacienda + The Enchanted Islands

Experience the culture of a true Ecuadorian hacienda before boarding the M/V Origin to explore the spectacular Galápagos Islands. Lounge with sea lions on the beach, snorkel with sea turtles, witness the giant tortoise in its only natural habitat, photograph the one-of-a-kind blue-footed booby and more in one of the world's top wildlife viewing destinations.

Trip Highlights

Locations

  • 3 nights at Hacienda La Danesa
  • 7 nights aboard the M/V Origin

Activities

  • Abundant wildlife viewing, on land and in water
  • Cultural visits and demonstrations
  • Biking
  • Snorkeling
  • Hiking
What does “Trip Inspiration” mean?

At Travel Beyond, we believe your trip should be designed just for you, not for the masses. Our travel consultants create a custom itinerary for each client, offering recommendations for places and experiences that best fit your style. The itinerary below was planned for a past client, but we’re sharing it for travel inspiration and as an example of what a trip to Ecuador and The Galápagos Islands might look like. Let us know when we can design a trip just for you!

Day 1

Guayaquil to Hacienda La Danesa

Upon arrival in Guayaquil, you will be met by a Travel Beyond representative for your private 1.5hr transfer to Hacienda La Danesa where you will stay for three nights. Tonight, Hacienda La Danesa will have a snack available to you upon your arrival.

Hacienda La Danesa Meals: Snack

Days 2-3

La Danesa

If you are a morning person, you may want to enjoy a short walk around the grounds prior to breakfast, after which you can take advantage of the activities on offer at the hacienda.

Many guests choose to bike or hike in the surrounding area, as both provide a great opportunity to look for wildlife and get exercise. There is also the option to inner tube down the river, a perfect activity on a warm day. For those looking to engage in more cultural activities, you can participate in a chocolate experience, as Ecuador is home to some of the best cacao varieties in the world. During the demonstration, you will learn about the process and sample some of the local product.

You can also experience a little taste of the hacienda lifestyle by participating in a milking lesson. Hacienda La Danesa, as a working farm, produces more than 2,000 liters of milk a day, some of which is turned into the fresh cheese you enjoy at breakfast. During a milking demonstration, you have the opportunity to experience the process and ask questions to those who partake in the activity daily.

Other activities (with extra costs) include horseback riding, a full chocolate workshop, cooking classes, bee keeping, and both  yoga and meditation. You also have the option to join in half or full day hikes which take you to stunning waterfalls, interesting local markets and through ancient ruins.

End the day with a nice hot bath and another delicious dinner!

Hacienda La Danesa Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 4

Hacienda La Danesa to Galápagos Islands

(Embark the M/V Origin)

This morning after breakfast and checkout, you will be met by a Travel Beyond representative for your 1.5 hour private road transfer to the Quayaquil Airport for your flight to the Galápagos.

Upon arrival at the San Cristóbal Airport in the Galápagos, you will be met by a Travel Beyond representative and transferred to the M/V Origin, where you will check into your cabin before an introductory briefing and safety drill.

After a delicious buffet lunch on board, the boat will travel to Cerro Colorado to visit Centro de Crianza Jacinto Gordillo (La Galápaguera) where the National Park has established a breeding program for giant tortoises in their natural habitat. At the visitor center, learn about the origin and evolution of tortoises, as well as threats from introduced animals. Along the trail, watch for the San Cristobal mockingbird and Calandrinia plant, both endemic to this island.

Return to the M/V Origin for a briefing, followed by the Captain’s welcome cocktail party and dinner.

M/V Origin Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 5

Genovesa Island

Today you will spend the entire day on Genovesa (Tower) Island, one of the most spectacular places in the islands for bird species. Land at Prince Philip’s Steps, where red-footed boobies nest in palo santo trees, Nazca boobies nest near the trail, and storm petrels gather in large numbers in an open lava field. With luck, you may see the elusive short-eared owl.

Return to the M/V Origin for a Bar-B-Que lunch on the sun deck. After, you may choose to paddle from a kayak or stand-up paddle board and explore the nearby cliffs. Look for the red-billed tropic bird hiding in the crevices or snorkel in deeper water off a panga.

Later, land at Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach where swallow-tailed and lava gulls gather near the tide pools. Enter a forest of Optuntia cactus and mangroves where colonies of great frigatebirds nest, the males inflating their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. Chose to relax on the beach or swim with sea lions in these northern warmer waters.

Return to the yacht for a briefing followed by dinner and an evening full of stars.

M/V Origin Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 6

Santa Cruz Island

This morning you will visit Las Bachas, (Spanish for ‘barges’) on the northern side of Santa Cruz. Explore the long stretch of white sand beach and the interior lagoons populated by greater flamingo, before taking the opportunity for some wonderful snorkeling from the beach. Return to the M/V Origin for lunch.

This afternoon, step shore on Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) for a majestic view of the bay and the island landscape covered in opuntia cactus, palo santo and muyuyo (Cordia letea). The trail here offers excellent opportunities to see Darwin’s finches, Galápagos flycatchers, yellow warblers, Audubon shearwater, as well as the endemic land iguanas, that were once part of the Charles Darwin Research Station’s breeding program. In the saltwater lagoon, pink flamingos feed alongside other birds such as stilts, pintail ducks and sandpipers.

After the evening briefing and dinner, M/V Origin sails toward the western islands and crosses the equator for the second time.

M/V Origin Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 7

Isabela Island

This morning you will visit Punta Vicente Roca on a panga ride. Enjoy an incredible view of the tuff walls and enter the wave-sculpted cave. There is an excellent chance to snorkel here and find the penguins and sea turtles that frequent this area.

During lunch, the M/V Origin sails through the Bolivar Chanel. Then, take a seat on deck to view the dramatic scenery and watch for whales and dolphins riding the bow wave, and occasionally, the Mola Mola, an odd looking giant sun fish. Disembark at Urbina Bay on Isabela Island, where four-miles of coastal seabed were exposed after a dramatic uplift occurred during a volcanic eruption in 1954. See the remnants of coral skeletons, some of them waist-high, and keep an eye out for the very large and colorful Galápagos land iguanas, as well as marine iguanas, Darwin’s finches, brown pelicans, flightless cormorants, and the occasional giant tortoise.

Return to the M/V Origin for your evening briefing and dinner. A sky full of stars beckons you to the deck to observe the galaxy.

M/V Origin Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 8

Fernandina Island & Isabel Island

This morning’s stop is at Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island, the youngest and most pristine Island in Galápagos, with no introduced animals. Recent lava flows, formed by an active volcano, stretch their way around the coast. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory, and hundreds of marine Iguanas, the largest colony in Galápagos, basking in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Out on the point, the Flightless Cormorants build their nests close to shore since they lost their ability to fly. There is a chance to snorkel with large sea turtles that frequent this area before returning to the M/V Origin for lunch.

Go ashore on Tagus Cove, a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. Sections of the rocky cliffs are covered with graffiti dating back to the 1800s. An uphill hike leads to a saltwater lagoon and a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields and volcanic formations. Take advantage of the secluded cove and explore the shoreline by kayak or stand up paddle board in search of Galápagos penguins, boobies, pelicans and other seabirds.

Return to the M/V Origin for briefing and dinner as you cross the equator for the last time.

M/V Origin Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 9

Rábida Island & Santa Cruz Island

This morning you will disembark on the small island of Rábida (Jervis). Rábida is considered the geographic center of the Galápagos because its volcanic rocks are the most diversified in the archipelago. The dark red color of the beach comes from the high iron content in these volcanic stones. On the island, follow a trail to a saltwater lagoon where greater flamingos migrate. Keep an eye out for marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and Darwin’s finches. Afterwards, do not miss the opportunity to snorkel with a colony of sea lions and rays. Return to the M/V Origin for lunch.

This afternoon, enjoy a panga ride at Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove), where you will navigate through a series of coves and inlets surrounded by mangroves. View pairs of mating sea turtles (Sept to Feb), white-tipped reef sharks and golden cow-nosed rays.

Return to the M/V Origin for the Captain’s Farwell cocktail party and dinner.

M/V Origin Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 10

Santa Cruz Island

Disembark at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, the social heart of the Galápagos. As you travel by bus to the highlands, you will pass through all seven of the vegetation zones found in the islands. Visit a tortoise reserve on a private farm that protects giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Stop at the Tunnels, the largest lava tubes in the archipelago, and visit Los Gemelos, (The Twins), a pair of large craters. Return to the M/V Origin for lunch on board.

This afternoon, you will visit the Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena (formerly known as the Charles Darwin Research Station). Scientists arrive here from all over the globe conduct biological research, from anatomy to zoology. Visit the tortoise corals and the breeding center with hatchlings and miniature tortoises that will be repatriated when grown. Visit the new exhibit honoring Lonesome George, the last surviving tortoise from Pinta Island and a worldwide icon of conservation, who died of natural causes in 2012.

Stroll through town to shop for souvenirs or stop at an internet café. Return to the M/V Origin for dinner or, if you wish, remain ashore for dinner on your own. Panga shuttles to and from the M/V Origin to the main dock will be offered throughout the evening.

M/V Origin Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 11

Disembark M/V Origin and Depart Ecuador

This morning after breakfast, you will travel by bus to the Interpretation Center on San Cristóbal to gain a more complete understanding of the natural and human history of the islands. Afterward, spend time in port before heading to the airport for your flight back to Quito.

Upon arrival in Quito, you will make your way to your connecting flights home.

Overnight Flight Meals: Breakfast