Set sail around the north-central region of the Galápagos, spotting exotic wildlife, from lava lizards to giant tortoises, and gazing upon Pinnacle Rock as Darwin once did. Take a Zodiac boat along the picturesque coast, discover natural lava tunnels and snorkel in a stunning underwater world. Enjoy world-class dining, free-flowing drinks, and personal butler service in your suite accommodation. With only 100 guests and 86 crew onboard, and the highest Zodiac-to-guest ration in the region, your experience will be second to none. You'll also have the chance to learn more about the incredible ecosystem that supports the region's wildlife, with enrichment lectures and the help of expert Ecuadorian guides - theres one guide for every 10 guests on board. All of this and more awaits, onboard one of the world's most exclusive vessels – Silver Origin.
Begin your journey in style with a private chauffeur transfer to the airport, courtesy of Silversea, and then premium airport lounge access before boarding your flight to Ecuador's capital, Quito. Check in to your luxury accommodation for a relaxing night ahead of your Galápagos adventure.
Stay: JW Marriott Quito
From your base in Quito you'll have time to explore this ancient Incan city. Set high in the foothills of the Andes, its colonial centre features a blend of architectural styles, including the 16th-century cathedral, magnificent against the backdrop of the Pichincha volcano. Take a stroll through the many cobblestone streets, and sample a quesadilla quiteña, a local delicacy filled with queso dulce and dipped in hot chocolate. This evening, you'll take in a fascinating Quito By Night tour, featuring a guided drive by the San Francisco Church, the Independence Plaza and the Presidential Palace, made even more special by the twinkling city lights. Return to the comfort of your hotel for a well-earned night's rest.
Stay: JW Marriott Quito
Today you'll be whisked to the airport to board your flight to San Cristóbal Island, the most populous of the archipelago and one of the oldest in the region. In the harbour of Puerto Baquerizo, a statue of Charles Darwin marks the spot where he most likely first stepped foot in Galápagos around 1830.
The day will be at leisure aboard the Silver Origin, with time to explore the many amenities available on board. Head to the observation deck to learn about the region and diverse islands, soak in the jacuzzi to unwind or relax at the explorer lounge with a cocktail before a delicious dinner in the evening.
At Genovesa Island the ship tucks into Darwin Bay, an ancient volcanic crater now flooded by the sea. Your Zodiac boat will land on a picturesque sandy beach where Galápagos sea lions and marine iguanas are often found, and by heading inland a short distance you might encounter seabirds of all shapes and sizes nesting in the vegetation. From the bay you can also access an area known as El Barranco, where a brief scramble up the stone steps brings you to the plateau of the island and past more incredible birdlife, including Galápagos Mockingbirds, Nazca Boobies, and Galápagos finches. The highlight however, is arriving on the windward side of the island to see hundreds of Wedge-Rumped Storm Petrels and the predatory Short-eared Owl flying above the lava field where they nest.
After a refreshing lunch, you'll remain in Darwin Bay to explore the marine and bird life in more depth. Head ashore for a short nature walk along the the white sandy beach, where scores of immature Red-footed Boobies perch on branches within arm's reach. What your step, as marine iguanas and sea lions bask in the sun and will be reluctant to move in your presence. And, to wrap up your first full day in the Galápagos, head to the turquoise waters for a refreshing post walk snorkel, keeping an eye out for parrotfish, rays, reef sharks and green turtles who frequent the bay.
This morning you'll land at Seymour Island onto spectacular black lava rock. After a short climb, you'll arrive on the island’s flat plateau where a number of sea lions nurse their pups and frigatebirds nest, alongside native yellow Conolophus land iguanas who live here in large numbers. The undulating terrain is littered with red-brown volcanic boulders and large male Magnificent Frigatebirds can be seen inflating their vivid red gular sacs in hopes of impressing females flying overhead. By lunchtime you'll head to the lava fields of Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island, an alien lunar landscape peppered with brilliant red Sally Lightfoot crabs. After walking the exposed rocky terrain, you'll return to the sandy beach and get ready for a swim or a snorkel in the turquoise waters.
Today after catching the sun rise over the island of Fernandina, you'll board a zodiac with the expedition team to discover a cove hidden by mangroves, which are unique to the archipelago. Red, white and black mangrove species have formed a root system in the shallow waters and is an ideal nursery for many species of fish, including juvenile sharks and green sea turtles. Head to the deep waters for a short snorkel, spotting flightless cormorants diving for their prey and Marine Iguanas feeding on algae.
Nestled between two active volcanoes, the Pahoehoe lava fields on the south coast of Isabela Island feature small salty lagoons teaming with biodiversity. With the tidal changes, different organisms and fish enter the small tidal pools where shorebirds wait to prey. And, if you are lucky, you may even catch sight of flamingos who have been known to feed in lagoons. Return to the Silver Origin as the sun begins to set, a magical day full of adventure.
After breakfast, you'll embark on a guided walk through the highlands of Santa Cruz, a biorich ecosystem with flora and fauna not found elsewhere in the Galápagos. Rising to an altitude of 864 metres, this elevated topography creates a unique microclimate, and as a result, an abundance of freshwater. The islands' rich vegetations is an ideal habitat for the iconic giant tortoises who roam the island. However, despite their slow paced lifestyle, the giant tortoise can be an elusive creature and difficult to spot.
Enjoy a cup of Santa Cruz java and set sail for the island of Santa Fé where a host of activities await. The rocky terrain and sea lion covered beaches are best seen by kayak, where close encounters with the wildlife are expected. For those who wish to stretch their legs once more, hike in search of the rare Santa Fe rat, endemic to island.
This morning you'll cruise by Isla Champion, revealing a bare, rocky island surrounded by infinitely blue waters. The underwater visibility is generally very clear and snorkelers often spot reef sharks, Pacific green turtles, and playful Galápagos sea lions below the surface. By lunchtime you'll arrive in Punta Suárez at the western point of Española, the oldest island in the Galápagos. Sheer cliffs provide superb thermals for seabirds and you may spot Swallow-tailed Gulls, Nazca Boobies and Blue-footed Boobies on the breeze. The largest seabird to nest in the Galápagos Islands is the Waved Albatross. These ocean wanderers can be seen seasonally here from April through December, and mockingbirds, doves, and occasional Galápagos Hawks can also be seen on the point.
Giant tortoises are emblematic of the Galápagos Islands. To experience these ancient animals firsthand, Silver Origin anchors off San Cristobal Island and a Zodiac will take you ashore to the picturesque town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. From here you will set out by bus for the Galapaguera Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve and come face to face with this incredible species. By lunchtime, you'll head to the western shore of San Cristobal Island to a peninsula known as Cerro Brujo. From a sandy beach Zodiac landing you'll take a long walk along the pristine beach, admiring the volcanic formations and views of the iconic Kicker Rock. If the long walk is not your cup of tea, beachcomb at the landing beach looking for tiny sea urchin skeletons and limpet shells washed up by the tide.
After a final breakfast onboard, you'll return to San Cristobal and disembark before flying onwards to Guayaquil. Those with flights after 10pm will have use of a day room at Oro Verde Hotel before heading to the airport to catch your flight back to the UK. End your journey in style with private chauffeur transfer from the airport to your home.
"The Galápagos Islands are famous for their fascinating volcanic landforms and beautiful wildlife. This luxury cruise brings you amongst all of that, with expert guides from the Silver Origin Expedition Team leading the way. This is without a doubt the best way to experience the Galápagos."
Low Season from: £9,100 pp
Regular departures, year round. Price varies by departure date and suite availability - please call for details.