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Silver Galápagos

Ecuador Train and Galápagos Voyage on Silversea

16-day fly, rail and cruise


Short description

Showcase Ecuador’s natural splendour with two unique experiences – a luxury Galápagos cruise and a mountain rail journey

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  • Island hopping through the Galápagos’ volcanic beauty on a luxury cruise
  • Snorkel, kayak and hike with everything from penguins to giant tortoises
  • Ride a steam train through the Andes
  • Travel in style with a butler-served suite and all-inclusive fine dining
  • Stay and tour Quito, Ecuador’s charming capital

In Brief

  • 3 Nights Quito
  • 1 Night Urbina
  • 1 Night Bucay
  • 1 Night Guayaquil
  • 7 Nights Aboard Silver Galápagos


Recommended for:
Expedition cruise | Rail journey

After a private tour and stay among Quito’s colonial charms, a four-day steam train journey will bring you into Andean peaks to discover mountain villages, tropical plantations and waterfall-lined cloud forests. An included flight will then see you to a luxury, island-hopping cruise in the Galápagos, showcasing its volcanic landscapes and unique wildlife. Along the way, you’ll travel in style, with all-inclusive fine dining, transfers throughout and included, expert-led touring. From historians to marine biologists, the expedition team will lead you on snorkelling, kayaking, hiking and Zodiac trips.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Depart UK

Begin your holiday in style with complimentary airport lounge access before your overnight flight to Quito.

Days 2-3

On arrival, you’ll be met by a private driver who’ll see you to central accommodation. To help you get your bearings, we’ve included a private city tour. You’ll start with Quito’s UNESCO-listed colonial quarter – the largest and best preserved of South America. Here, palaces, cathedrals and great plazas compete for your attention. Then, it’s on to the Monastery of San Francisco, a 16th-century complex whose stern whitewash opens into a truly spectacular gilded interior. End with citywide views from a specially chosen vantage point. You’ll also have time to explore on your own, perhaps easing into Ecuador’s Latin rhythms with the city’s picturesque churches and gourmet eateries.

Stay: Swissôtel Quito (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 4

Today, following a short drive, you’ll board the wonderfully named Train of Wonders, a steam locomotive that evokes all the adventure of the golden age of rail travel. Your route will be defined by Andean scenery, hidden mountain villages, stays in best-available hotels and the chance to sample traditional Ecuadorian cuisine on a range of included meals. Today, you’ll head north to Otavalo, a market town alive with colourful weavers, musicians and skilled woodcarvers. Stone bridge hops will also bring you to a pretty rose plantation before you return to spend the night in Quito.

Stay: Swissôtel Quito (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 5

Turning south along the Avenue of Volcanoes, your rail route sweeps through rolling foothills backdropped by snow-capped peaks. Here, the Andes split into two arms, forming a fertile valley trapped between great stone colossi. It’s scenery that you’ll take in from the comfort of your panoramic car, watching the landscape become increasingly severe as you climb through the Andean highlands to Urbina. At 11,800 feet above sea level, it’s the highest point in your itinerary. Then, in the outskirts of Mt. Chimborazo, you’ll even meet with the last surviving ice merchant and learn of his ancestral trade harvesting frozen blocks from the mountains.

Stay: Best-available accommodation (Superior)

Meals: L D

Day 6
The Devil’s Nose/Bucay

Continuing south, you’ll steam through brightly coloured quinoa fields, skirting indigenous settlements and archaeological sites alike to reach Colta. Here, you’ll learn how the Spanish conquerors built their first settlement in Ecuador before continuing to Guamote and its bustling market. You’ll then be treated to a true trip highlight – Devil’s Nose. This vertiginous pass zigzags some 450 metres down through the cragged Andean highlands towards the coastal plains below. A further descent through the narrow Chanchán river gorge will then see you cross a magnificent cloud forest to arrive into Bucay, a quiet town ringed by bright verdure.

Stay: Best-available accommodation (Superior)

Meals: L D

Day 7

Leaving the tropical forest behind, the landscapes level out into rice, sugar cane, pineapple and banana plantations. Along the way, you’ll stop for lunch at a traditional hacienda where you’ll learn the secrets of the local cocoa bean production. Then, continuing through those same green fields, you’ll arrive at the Pacific Ocean and Guayaquil. Your final stop, it’s the chance to combine big-city energy with a pretty riverside setting, beautified by green parks, café-lined squares and cobblestone streets lined with colourful colonial buildings.

Stay: Best-available accommodation (Superior)

Meals: B L

Day 8
Guayaquil to San Cristobal

Your flight out to the Galápagos, bookended by included transfers, will see you to your luxury exploratory ship. Here, many of the butler-served suites – the largest expedition cabins at sea – come with a marbled bathroom and private balconies, while the all-inclusive dining is equally impressive. The fine-dining indulgences and included room service is washed down with complimentary wines and spirits; the Galápagos lobster is particularly good. There’s also the likes of a beauty salon, massage room, on-deck Jacuzzi, library, fitness centre and piano bar to return to after your included excursions. And, today, you’ll have some time to settle in as the ship navigates lava rock formations plied by gulls, Nazca boobies and frigate birds.

Stay: Silver Galápagos (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 9
Bartolomé/Playa Espumilla, Santiago

Today you’ll anchor Isla Bartolomé, with Zodiac boats bringing you ashore to walk the island’s volcanic moonscapes, spotting lava lizards, Galápagos hawks and blue-footed boobies as you go. The reward? A spectacular panorama over the black, volcanic peaks of the Galápagos Islands. Your next stop is Playa Espumilla on Santiago Island. You’ll make land here on a white-sand beach, a favourite among nesting green sea turtles, before setting off on a lazy walk through incense-fragranced lagoons. Fringed by mangroves, they’re ideal for spotting shorebirds work the mudflats for their dinner. 

Stay: Silver Galápagos (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 10
Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela/Punta Espinoza, Fernandina

At Isabela Island, your agile expedition ship will be able to anchor up against the cliffs at Punta Vicente Roca, allowing the Zodiacs to cruise right along the imposing volcanic coastline. As such, you’ll be able to get up close to everything from fur seals to marine iguanas. Snorkelers will even have the chance to swim with eagle rays, penguins and sea lions. It’s then on to the lava-forged coast of Fernandina Island, host to literally hundreds of nesting marine iguanas. They come here to rest and warm up on the black rock of recent lava flows as sally crabs stalk by and sea lion pups play in the shallow tide pools. 

Stay: Silver Galápagos (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 11
Caleta Tagus/Bahia Elizabeth, Isabela

Back on Isabela, you’ll anchor with the sea turtles and penguins in a sheltered cove that’s been used as a safe harbourage for centuries. You can even see hundred-year-old names of vessels carved on its walls. Explore with kayaks and snorkels or head ashore to hike through the treeline up, past Darwin finches, to a spectacular viewpoint. Staying on Isabela, a Zodiac cruise will then take you through the tranquil inlets of Elizabeth Bay, its bright verdure backdropped by giant volcanoes and desolate lava fields. Other than the usual blue-footed boobies and penguins, you’ll also dip into small coves to look for sea turtles, rays and even sharks.

Stay: Silver Galápagos (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 12
Islote Campéon/Post Office, Floreana/Punta Cormorant, Floreana

Today will begin with a stop at Islote Campéon, a rocky islet off Floreana. It’s one of the islands’ premier snorkelling destination, its crystal-clear waters ideal for spotting Pacific green turtles, playful sea lions and reef sharks. Then, on Floreana itself, you’ll uncover something of the region’s intriguing history with a visit to the Post Office Bay. Here, 19th-century ships would leave letters to be collected and pass home – a tradition you can continue today. There’s also the chance to kayak, snorkel swim or simply relax on the beach. Then, sailing to the island’s north, you’ll spot brilliantly pink flamingos in shallow lagoons and mammoth female sea turtles hauling themselves ashore.

Stay: Silver Galápagos (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 13
Cerro Dragón/Las Bachas, Santa Cruz

Moving on to Santa Cruz Island, you’ll pay a visit to the land iguanas of Cerro Dragón. Aptly translating as ‘Dragon Hill’, these fantastic alien lizards look positively prehistoric and are joined by yet more brilliant flamingos. You’ll then have some time this afternoon to relax, with the white sands and turquoise waters of Las Bachas. No wonder it’s a favourite among nesting sea turtles.

Stay: Silver Galápagos (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 14
Los Gemelos/Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz

Your penultimate port on Santa Cruz is Los Gemelos. Spanish for ‘The Twins’, it’s a pair of sinkholes of monumental scale, carpeted in bright greenery. The walk along their rims is truly spectacular, as are the giant tortoises at Rancho El Manzanillo. Here, you’ll don knee-high rubber boots to wade into the green fields to come face to face with these majestic creatures and woodpecker finches alike. Then, continue on to the famed Charles Darwin Research Station where you’ll learn about breeding and reintroduction programmes for land iguanas and giant tortoises. You’ll then have some free time to explore bohemian Puerto Ayora’s art galleries and corner cafés. 

Stay: Silver Galápagos (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Days 15-16

End in Baltra with a chance to say goodbye to its land iguanas before you board your overnight flight home, reached by an included transfer.

Meals: B


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