The incredible Galapagos Islands!
Join us on the trip of a lifetime to the famous and remarkable Galapagos Islands. Along the way, visit the Peruvian jewel of Machu Picchu; and Cusco, the old capital of the Inca Empire. Experience the beautiful Ecuadorean Andes.
This will be our 21st visit, and we're sure it'll be just as memorable as the rest! As veterans, we like to think we know a thing or two about this area, both above and below water. Every reef, every stone, every nook and cranny is familiar territory to us!
In 2021, only 7 boats in the world have been granted permission to dive Wolf and Darwin islands. There's talk of severely restricting access to the wonders of the beautiful Galapagos Islands. Its unique ecosystem is under pressure from tourists and commercial fishing, who on occasion 'inadvertently' venture into the protected waters of the marine reserve. Come with us; it may be your only chance!
We voyage over 570 nautical miles around this incredible archipelago in the comfort of our motor yacht — M/Y Galapagos Master. We'll dive at some of the most impressive sites in the basin and possibly the world — Wolf and Darwin islands!
120 years ago, this almost mythical place was explored by Charles Darwin. Its unique wildlife stirring his thoughts and cumulating in his now-famous "theory of evolution", one visit, and it's easy to see why. The islands' name is rooted in the Spanish word for a saddle whose shape closely resembles that of the giant elephant tortoises resident here. The Galapagos archipelago belongs to Ecuador and can be found 600 miles off the coast of South America. This remote location is the only place in the world where you'll find both polar and tropical species — penguins, anyone? Or perhaps a flamingo?
The ability to get up close with the local wildlife is truly unique. Share a beach with sea turtles or a family of sea lions, be amused by red and blue-footed gannets comically waddling about; see penguins diving, marine iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks, or flightless cormorants feeding.
But wait! That’s only the beginning of the adventure!
The Galapagos Islands are a paradise for divers. Thanks to the cool Humboldt current bringing nutrient-rich waters to this thriving ecosystem, marine life is spectacular. It could be your only opportunity to dive with such diverse species: turtles, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, eared seals, sea lions, and penguins! And, nowhere else will you get the chance to swim with marine iguanas!
Charming alleys, quaint narrow streets, beautiful churches seemingly rising from every corner — Quito, the mountain capital of Ecuador, certainly makes an impression. The city’s Old Town is a Unesco site packed with architectural wonders; the surrounding Andean mountains only add to the city’s wonderful ambience. The newer parts are full of great pubs, bars, and restaurants. Be sure to pop into Mama Clorinda and sample the potato, pork skin, and avocado soup — it can’t be beaten!!
It’s not all about the city though, how about a gallop at 4,000 metres above sea level? The nearby Cotopaxi National Park is where you need to head; ask for Don Antonio. He’ll set you up with a couple of horses from the local hacienda. As you head out on your ride, you can’t help but notice the parks magnificent snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano, the favourite postcard centrepiece. Novice riders are also catered for; everyone can have an unforgettable experience!
Adventure on a raging river!!! For those who can stay a little longer in South America, we suggest visiting the Amazon basin and rafting down the Upper Napo River — a blast!
Otavalo market is the perfect place for souvenirs. Beautiful coloured bedspreads, winter hats, and leather hats are all popular with visitors. A freshly fried guinea pig for lunch will keep you going (it might resemble a rat, but trust us, it’s certainly not!).
Now we couldn't come to this part of the globe without dropping into Peru. Machu Picchu is at, or near, the top of almost every traveller's "must-see" list. This UNESCO site was once the perpetual residence of the Inca King, and the ruins of what was once a magnificent estate stand boldly atop the Andean mountain ridge from which it derives its name. Abandoned in the 15th century, it was re-discovered by the outside world when 11-year-old Pablito Alvarez led American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham to the site in 1911; its fame grew from this point. Unlike Machu Picchu, the old Inca capital of Cusco was unfortunately extensively destroyed by Spanish conquistadors to make way for new construction. However, it retains the charm and character of a small indigenous village founded on many different cultures. We'll also visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas, locally known as the Urubamba Valley. Due to its climate, the valley was suitable for growing maize — an essential and prestigious crop for the Incas.
06:05 am flight from Warsaw to Amsterdam. Depart Amsterdam for Quito at noon and land the same day, late afternoon. Transfer to our hotel for dinner and rest.
Exploring Quito! A chance to see the impressive Iglesia de San Francisco, the oldest and largest church designed in the mixed styles of the "Quito School" artistic tradition. Walking around, you'll notice this is a place of old and new, almost like two different cities. We visit Palacio de Carondelet, the seat of Ecuador's government and also the president's home. This grand building sits on the northwest side of Plaza de la Independencia — the city's main square. Those who sit and enjoy coffee here may notice the palace's perfect symmetry. It's also difficult not to miss the Quito Cathedral on the southwest side of the plaza. Built in the first half of the 16th century and undergoing many renovations and reconstructions throughout its history, it truly is an eclectic mix of styles: a Baroque altar, Gothic stone arches, and elements of Mudejar style. As well as housing a museum, the cathedral's crypt is also the resting place of President Gabriel García. As we make our way around, you'll be sure to notice La Virgen de Quito (Virgin of Quito). She watches over the city high up on the hill El Panecillo (the Little Loaf of Bread) to the city's south.
Days 3 - 10
A morning transfer to Quito airport for our flight to the Galapagos Islands (San Cristóbal). On arrival, we head straight for our boat (you’ll find descriptions of our boat and the dive sites below).
Diving at North Seymour, cruise to Darwin Island, and three days of diving at the world's best diving sites — Darwin Island and Wolf Island. More diving at Cousin's and Gordon plus land excursions — Bartolome Island, Beach Island, and the Darwin Research Station.
* all shore trips and diving timetables are managed by the National Park authority and may be subject to change.
Return to Quito. Accommodation at the Rio Amazonas Hotel and fiesta at a local bar — snails in wine!
We set off at around 9:00 am, stopping at Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World, it’s on the equator and a clue to the name!) before moving to Otavalo and Ecuador’s most famous market. On entering, we’re hit by an explosion of colour, scent, and music as traditionally dressed vendors enthusiastically sell their wares; you’ll recognise the well-known hats on display. Renowned for its exceptional handicrafts, Otavalo market is the place for your souvenir shopping. If you’re interested in the animal market, get up early, it starts at 4:00 am! We’ll spend the night here in a fabulous hacienda.
The morning starts with one of the world’s highest active volcanos! Cotopaxi volcano is found in Cotopaxi National Park. We’ll go for a short walk to see the historic lava flows and have a chance to take some stunning photos of Limpiopungo Lake with Cotopaxi as a perfect backdrop. We spend the night in a hotel not far from the airport.
Today we fly to Peru’s capital, Lima, where we spend the rest of the day. Lima is a mix of colonial past and modern city. The beautiful historic centre and monuments reflect the city’s Spanish history; the rest of the city sees the old traditions of the Inquisition battling for priority with the needs of a modern global centre. This is seen in both the architecture and in the faces of Lima’s people — residents of one of South America’s largest cities. For those up to it, maybe sushi in Miraflores or a stroll around Barranco in the evening.
In the morning, a flight to Cusco. The Inca Empire's old capital sits high in the Andean mountains. Soon after touching down, we catch a bus to Ollantaytambo train station, connecting us with Aquas Calientes, where we arrive late afternoon. The scenic train journey is spectacular. A winding route takes us through the wild Andean mountain terrain. The panoramic train windows provide many opportunities for stunning photos. On reaching Aquas Calientes, we pass through the town (about 15 mins) and have supper at one of the many eateries before heading for bed (another early start tomorrow!)
Up early to catch the magical sunrise over Machu Picchu. A local guide will walk us through the ruins, after which there’ll be time for photos and to just soak up the historical atmosphere of the site. Around noon we return by train to Cusco. Accommodation is an interesting hotel right next to the market, a great location. A relaxed evening with mouthwatering alpaca steak finished off with incredible carrot cake!
Today we tour Cusco; Qurikancha, the Temple of the Sun, awaits us. In its day, this was an impressive building with gold-lined walls containing other solid-gold treasures (all plundered on the arrival of the first conquistadors). Its remnants are an important piece of surviving Inca religious architecture. The stonework is considered the finest Inca example in Peru and now forms the foundation of the Santo Domingo church and convent. The temple was dedicated to various gods, particularly Inti, the sun god. The remains of several Inca rulers also once rested here. The next must-see is the ruin of Saksywaman citadel. Inca oral history suggests Saksywaman formed a puma's head when Cusco was viewed from above. The tail is formed by the two rivers flowing through the city, and the body is the Great Square in the historic city centre. There's also a great panoramic view of Cusco from here.
After a busy day wandering mysterious Inca ruins, we can look forward to a well-earned rest!
A free morning for packing and any last-minute shopping before our flight home. We transfer to Lima airport in the afternoon and catch our flight to Warsaw via Paris.
Touchdown in Warsaw.
End of trip.
What makes the ecosystem of this place so unique is the presence of three currents bringing both warm and nutrient-rich cold waters to the islands. We observe both polar species such as penguins, and tropical species, such as iguanas.
The level of endemism in this isolated archipelago is genuinely mind-blowing. Around 80% of land birds, 97% of reptiles and land mammals, 30% of plants, and more than 20% of marine species are found nowhere else on the planet.
Large species in huge shoals are the main attraction when diving. Expect to be accompanied by hammerheads, tuna, jackfish, bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, and our favourite, the whale shark! However, it’s the underwater encounters with sea lions, iguanas, and penguins that will really leave you in awe!
An island, considered by some of the world's most renowned people to be the BEST island for diving in the world! The Rock Arch found on Darwin's Island seems entirely appropriate in light of this. The water here is a few degrees warmer than inside the Archipelago. We can meet hammerheads, pods of dolphins, Galapagos sharks, and manta rays in a single dive. If we're lucky, this is where we might come across orcas, whale sharks, tiger sharks and marlin.
If you can take your eyes off the large specimens, you'll spot octopuses, stingrays and squid.
Darwin Island is the prime jewel in the Galapagos crown!
This island is most famous for its vast herds of hammerhead sharks; they literally block out the sun! In addition, we'll see the endemic Galapagos shark and the whale shark. Of course, there'll be the usual encounters with dolphins, eagle rays, barracuda, sea lions and turtles!
Here we meet hunting sea lions, eared seals, and many sleeping turtles. It is one of the most popular diving sites, thanks to the 30 eagle rays in residence. We also come across seahorses, crabs, and frogfish (one of the rarest fish in the world, often found here). It's a perfect place for day and night diving.
We use this site for a test dive. However, it will be your most stunning test dive ever! Why? Because we'll be in the company of sea lions who love to imitate! Not to mention the eagle rays, turtles and moray eels. You may even see courting iguanas!
Easily the best dive site of the inner islands. Regularly visited by manta rays, eagle rays, hammerheads, and whitetip reef sharks.
CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION
A great place to explore the history of the Galapagos Islands, see native flora and fauna, and learn about the unique and fragile ecosystem.
Another great source of information includes the natural events surrounding the arrival of different species on the islands, human discovery and colonisation, and the challenges involved in protecting and preserving the Galapagos environment.
Our Boat — MY Galapagos Master
M/Y Evolution is part of a group of high-end boats sailing in the Galapagos Archipelago. She underwent a full refit in 2016 — completely refreshed and ready for action!
The yacht has a beautiful wood finish complete with elegant furniture. The boat is entirely air-conditioned!
The dining room is spacious and includes a buffet table and well-stocked bar. The kitchen prepares exceptional meals with a mix of South American and European cuisine. Fresh juices and snacks are served between meals.
The living area with its exceptionally comfortable sofas is the perfect place to relax indoors.
The diving deck is spacious and equipped with showers and containers of freshwater for rinsing cameras.
There are two sun decks for guests, one partially shaded with comfortable sofas. The other is uncovered on the highest deck for those looking to soak up the sun and enjoy great views.
M/Y Galapagos Master offers accommodation in 8 luxury twin cabins on the lower deck. Cabins have individually controlled air conditioning, private bathrooms with hot water and towels changed daily.
Speed: 12 knots
Generators: 2 x ONAN 75KW
Engines: 2 x CUMMINS 440hp
Crew: 8 people + 2 diving guides
2016 — complete refreshment of the boat.
PRICE per person: PLN 6940 + USD 8350.
Included in the Price:
flights listed in the itinerary.
all airport transfers.
7-day diving safari on the Galapagos Wolf and Darwin trail (full board).
excursion to Otavalo.
3 nights in Quito (twin rooms).
1 night in a Cotopaxi hacienda (twin rooms).
excursion to Cotopaxi National Park.
overnight hotel in downtown Lima (twin rooms).
transfer by VistaDome train to Aquas Calientes and back to Ollantaytambo.
all transfers by private bus both in Ecuador and Lima.
2 nights in Cuzco (twin rooms).
1 night in Aquas Calientes (twin rooms).
private excursion to Machu Picchu.
English speaking guide/PADI instructor/organiser 24x7.
insurance: medical expenses (EUR 30,000), personal accident (EUR 4,000), baggage (EUR 400).
Not included in the Price:
diving equipment hire.
meals other than those mentioned above.
visa fees, airport fees, excess baggage fees, etc.
entry to Galapagos National Park — USD 100/person
Fuel payment — USD 150/person.
local chamber support fee — USD 35/person.w
Cancellations and refunds may occur up to 120 days before the trip. All payments will be communicated throughout the process. We recommend cancellation insurance which may be purchased through our office, please contact us.