The Galapagos Islands
To give a bit of background, the Galapagos Islands were discovered when the Bishop of Panama was blown off course in 1535 and for the next few hundred years were simply a location for whalers and British pirates. The pirates would hide out on the islands then intercept Spanish galleons as they took gold from South America to Spain.
Another famous mark on the history was when Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos aboard the Beagle in 1835 and spent several weeks exploring the islands. It’s the animals and notes he made on the Galapagos that helped Darwin develop the theory of evolution by natural selection. The most famous of these are Darwin’s Finches, which you will see on your cruise. Darwin later noted that different finches had adaptations in beak size dependent on the islands where they were living. These examples are still used today to give students of Biology a clear example of the power of natural selection.
Darwin, the Bishop, whalers, and pirates have given the islands a fascinating human history from this period, but the overwhelming reason to visit this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is the incredible wildlife. There are some incredible animals and plants to see on the islands, which evolved due to the nutrient-rich ocean currents, extreme isolation, and unique geography of each bit of land.
Enjoy visiting the Charles Darwin Research Center to learn about their work in conservation and to see the giant tortoise breeding program. Walk the islands to see a diversity of birds, reptiles, and sea lions. For the marine areas, we can explore with snorkeling equipment to see many different colorful fish, sharks and rays.
Your Luxury Galapagos Islands Cruise
You will first visit the Galapagos Islands on a fantastic 3-night cruise to see the icons of this fascinating archipelago. Not just treated to the famous and exceptional wildlife, you will cruise the waters on a luxury-class mega-catamaran on your choice of the Ocean Spray or Cormorant Galapagos Cruises. Both of these luxury-class catamarans offer an elegant design, comfortable and spacious suites, jacuzzi, and private balconies. To make the most of exploring the Galapagos, both cruises are equipped with modern kayaks and snorkeling equipment.
As you travel around the islands in comfort, you will also have some of the best guides on the islands to show off the Galapagos and wildlife. We won’t be confined to the vessel and will head out on guided walks throughout the islands to see a diversity of iconic and rare animals and plants, as well as exploring the marine areas on kayaks and snorkeling adventures.
On your 3-night luxury Galapagos cruise, enjoy spotting manta rays, tropical fish, blue-footed boobies, hammerhead sharks, sea lions, flamingos, green turtles, and the iconic giant tortoises. In addition to the combination tour, you can simply book your Galapagos cruise separately or choose longer itineraries to explore more of the Galapagos and to see some of the other iconic species.
The Amazon Rainforest & Yasuni National Park
After your visit to the Galapagos, you will spend 4 days and 3 nights at the incredible La Selva Lodge, which is a luxury lodge & spa for the famous Yasuni National Park in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest. Enjoy very comfortable suites, including your own personal spa pool if you choose the family suite. You will then head out each day with your expert guide to find some incredible Amazonian animals and plants.
The highest diversity of animals and plants has been found in the western Amazon Rainforest and a lot of this research was from the Yasuni National Park. Yasuni is a 9,820 km2 protected area in the Ecuadorian Amazon near the Napo River. Home to a record-breaking diversity of species, this is a great place to visit for a fantastic experience of the Amazon Rainforest. In addition to the incredible diversity across mammals, birds, plants, and insects, you can find many different endemic species found nowhere else on Earth.
Your Visit to La Selva Lodge
One of our highly recommended luxury Amazon tours, at La Selva Lodge you will explore the Yasuni National Park on guided walks along many different wildlife trails to see impressive trees like giant kapoks and ficus, different monkeys, colorful birds and butterflies, and a visit to the Yasuni clay lick. We will also head out on canoes to explore the nearby wildlife-filled lagoon, which is also a great place to see squirrel monkeys and pygmy marmosets. In addition to the guided expeditions, you can climb 120 feet above the forest on the canopy tower for incredible views and to spot different parrots and toucans.
From the lodge itself, you have a fantastic view of Lake Garzacocha with three of the 19 suites having a lake view. The Scenic and the Superior Suites have rainforest showers, private balconies, and great panoramic views. The Family Suites have extra large bathrooms, hammocks, and a hot tub on the private balcony. Not only offering a luxurious and wildlife-filled experience of the rainforest, La Selva Lodge is also Rainforest Alliance verified and committed to sustainability. In the lodge spa, you can enjoy a range of treatments and massage options to relax surrounded by Amazonia.
You can see many different animals on La Selva Lodge excursions, including marmosets, squirrel monkeys, capuchins, tamarins, hoatzin birds, parrots, macaws, different treefrogs, and much more. In addition to the wildlife, you can enjoy community visits to see how the locals live in the rainforest, visit a school, and can even try your skills with an indigenous blowgun.
The Combination Program
On the combo program that combines both of these extraordinary experiences, you will explore the two most incredible areas in South America for wildlife. By combining the luxury-class Galapagos catamaran of the Ocean Spray or Cormorant Cruise and the La Selva Lodge, enjoy luxury suites, delicious food and drink, high-level service, and the best guides these areas can provide to create some incredible memories. The program includes 3-nights on the Galapagos Cruise, 3-nights at La Selva Lodge, and 3-nights at a hotel in Quito to explore the city.