Origins Project Presents

Galapagos Adventure

January 7th – 16th, 2024

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Welcome to Ecuador
& the Galapagos Islands!

You will be sharing this Origins Project Galapagos Experience with only 35 other enthusiastic, curious, and adventurous travelers such as yourself. Don’t miss this rare opportunity.

Join Pulitzer Prizewinning author Elizabeth Kolbert; microbiologist and Darwin expert John Dahl, and Origins Project President, distinguished physicist and author, Lawrence Krauss on a 10-day adventure in Ecuador. Highlights include two significant global treasures – Quito’s historic district and the Galapagos Islands – each listed as keystone UNESCO World Heritage Areas.  Our trip begins with a peek into the rich history of Quito, baroque art and contemporary culture, and a visit to the Equator monument. Then we will fly to San Cristobal Island for an introduction to the unique features, history, and conservation of the Galapagos Islands. We will spend five enlightening days cruising, hiking, kayaking and snorkeling in the islands, and finish our journey with a tour of research and wildlife rehabilitation sites, including the Charles Darwin Research Centre, on Santa Cruz Island.  In addition to guest lectures from Origins speakers, experienced local guides and naturalists will provide daily briefings and personalized tours.

Meet Your Speakers

Elizabeth Kolbert

John Dahl

Lawrence Krauss

Travel Itinerary

Day 1

Arrival in Quito | January 7th

Quito was founded on Inca ruins in the 16th century and is the modern capital of Ecuador.  It was the first city ever to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1978) based on its well-preserved historic center, and pure examples of art and architecture known as the ‘Baroque school of Quito’, which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous styles. Quito is the second tallest capital in the world at 2850m, located on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano, and surrounded by spectacular mountain views. 

 

Our journey together begins here.  Arrive anytime today and enjoy a rest and a stroll after you check in to your beautiful hotel in the heart of the historic district, then get acquainted with guest speakers and fellow travelers at The Origins Project Welcome Reception this evening.

Day 2

Quito and Surrounds | January 8th

Wake up to one of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating capital cities and join your new friends for breakfast and an educational and picturesque walking tour through the historic district, including the grand plaza of San Francisco Church, the ornate La Compañía, culture centers and museums. This afternoon we will stand astride the equator at the Middle of the World Monument, enjoy views of Quito from the surrounding mountainside, and taste some of the best chocolate the world has to offer.  Day Two ends with a group welcome dinner featuring a showcase of Ecuador’s traditional dishes at the historic and gourmet restaurant, Casa Manuella.

Day 3

Introduction to San Cristobal Island, Galapagos | January 9th

This morning we fly from Quito to the world’s first UNESCO heritage site: The Galapagos Islands!  Welcome to the administrative and political capital of the Galapagos Islands, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and the site where Charles Darwin first landed on his visit to the islands in 1835. We will have lunch together at the fabulous Muyu Galapagos restaurant before checking into our wonderful beachfront hotel. There is time to rest and take in the views or wander the colorful main street, or both!. Later in the day, we will begin our series of fascinating lectures by Origins guest speakers.

Day 4

Tortoises and welcome aboard, San Cristobal Island, Galapagos | January 10th

Before boarding the cruise ship today, there will be an opportunity to visit a local breeding laboratory where we will meet Galapagos giant tortoises, and learn about their unique characteristics, their near collapse and the story of their recovery. Welcome aboard the Coral I! Enjoy your first lunch onboard and start to get to know the ship and its wonderful crew. Get ready for some delicious food, stunning scenery, unique photo ops, fun facts and great company. We will spend the early afternoon getting an overview of the natural and cultural history of the islands at the Interpretation Center, and go for an easy hike up to Frigatebird Hill (Cerro Tijeretas)

Day 5

Kicker Rock, Sorcerer’s Hill and Punta Pit on San Cristobal Island | January 11th

We start the day with a circumnavigation of Kicker Rock. This ancient and eroded volcanic tuff lava is formed by two rocks rising above water level to approximately 148 m. Its local name, Leon Dormido, comes from its resemblance to a sleeping lion. This morning’s shore activity is a sandy beach landing and optional easy hike inland to get a closer look at the stunning cliffs of Cerro Brujo (Sorcerer’s Hill). We can enjoy simply sharing the beach with sea lions, snorkeling from shore or walk to a hidden lagoon where we might spot black-necked stilts, ruddy turnstones, whimbrels and white-cheeked pintails. Difficulty level: Easy Type of terrain: Sandy Duration: 1-hour walk / 1-hour snorkeling

In the afternoon, we will visit Punta Pit where sea lions will greet us as we land on the beach and prepare for our climb to a high point on the steep eroded tuff cone. This is the only place in the islands where we will enjoy the chance to see all three of the booby species in the same place. The red-foots will be perched on the Cordia lutea and small trees, the Nazcaís on the ground near the cliff edge while the blue-foots will be a little further inland. Frigatebirds will be all around and the views are breathtaking. Difficulty level: Difficult. Type of terrain: Rocky. Duration: 2½-hour walk or 40-minutes snorkeling or kayaking.

Day 6

Española Island | January 12th

Our day starts with Punta Suarez – a naturalist’s paradise. A mess of marine iguanas and sea lions greet us at the landing site.  On our walk from there, we will encounter boobies, endemic lizards, gulls and even a dramatic blow hole. We may even sight an endemic waved albatross departing late in their breeding season. 

Difficulty level: Difficult. Type of terrain: Rocky ground. Duration: 2 ½-hours walk. 

 

Gardner Bay is one of the most stunning beaches in all of Galapagos. The long, white, sandy beach, lapped by turquoise waters is home to a colony of Galapagos sea lions, indifferent to the visitors that walk amongst them. The endemic and innately curious Hood mockingbirds will however be eager to inspect us. Darwin’s finches and the reclusive warbler finch can also be found here.  We have the option of snorkeling from the beach here, in the shallows of the bay.  Difficulty level: Easy.  Type of terrain: Sandy.  Duration: 1-hour walk / 1-hour snorkel.

Day 7

Floreana Island | January 13th

The olivine sands of Punta Cormorant are a very rare delight. The first excursion of our day is a wet landing on this green sand beach. We will hike from the black mangrove beds to a brackish lagoon, which usually holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island features some endemic plants such as Scalesia villosa, white and black mangrove, and holy stick. The trail continues to a beautiful white coral-sand beach, one of the most important nesting sites of Green Pacific Sea Turtles. From the shore, watch for sting rays in the shallows here but don’t walk out to find them! We may also spot sea turtles gliding, blue-footed boobies plunging into the water, and small reef sharks cruising the shoreline in the search of food. This coral-sand beach marks the end of our trail, and we head back to the olivine beach where we started, to swim or snorkel amongst sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions and, on a good day, white-tipped reef sharks. A small colony of penguins resides on Floreana and can sometimes be seen here. Difficulty level: Easy. Type of terrain: Sandy & flat. Duration: 1-hour walk / 1-hour snorkel.

In the afternoon, to the post office! In 1793 Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel on the north side of Floreana Island, which served as an informal post office for sailors passing through. Today, visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel, hoping that some other traveler, heading that direction, will deliver it without charge. These letters may take a long time to arrive at their destination, but there have been speedy exceptions. We may also encounter Darwin’s finches, Yellow Warbler and Lava Lizards. Great snorkeling opportunities with Green Pacific Sea Turtles. As well, the island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus Pinnatifidus, and the Galapagos Milkwort. Snorkelers can swim off the main beach among playful sea lions.
Difficulty level: Easy. Type of terrain: Sandy. Duration: 30-minutes walk / 1-hour snorkel.

Day 8

Santa Cruz Island | January 14th

Today we arrive at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz and disembark, but our adventure is not over yet! There will be much to see along our tour of the highlands where we will pass through a variety of ecosystems along the road from coastal through the agricultural zone and up to dense humid forests. We will visit a wildlife reserve where giant tortoises have settled into their natural habitat. High areas of Santa Cruz also offer splendid bird watching opportunities. We may see tree and ground finches, vermilion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on a tortoise’s shell). Difficulty level: easy. Type of terrain: flat & muddy (depending on season). Duration: 45-minute drive / 1 ½-hour walk

Our morning ends with a visit to the Darwin Research Centre and then we can enjoy some free time to explore the town and surroundings before meeting up for dinner together. Tonight is Origins Gameshow night! Get ready for a clever and creative twist on some fun favorites.

Day 9

Renew on Santa Cruz | January 15th

Wake up when it feels right and enjoy that wonderful feeling of not being rushed this morning. Santa Cruz has much to offer and you have many choices for how you want to spend your time today. Relax poolside, tour a lava tunnel or a coffee farm, meditate at las ninfas lagoon, consult with seals on the beach, ponder innovations at the Center for Renewable Energy, people watch from a comfortable cafe while sampling Ecuadorian coffee or indulge in artisan chocolate, take in the entertainment at the vibrant fish market, buy some local art, hike the surrounding forest hills or kayak in the harbor. In the evening we gather for a group dinner one last time in this incredible destination to celebrate a memorable journey, to share stories and photos and contacts, to savor the company of dear new friends, and to brainstorm ideas for future travels together.

Day 10

Departures | January 16th

After breakfast, we have time to enjoy the local attractions of Puerto Ayora for a short while longer before we transfer to the airport on Baltra Island and fly back to mainland Ecuador for connections with onward flights, from either Guayaquil or Quito.

Your Accommodations

Your Expedition Yacht

The Coral 1

January 10 – 14

The Coral I is a gorgeous, comfortable, expedition yacht offering charming social areas distributed on three decks, with both outdoor and interior spaces allowing passengers to enjoy an intimate expedition experience in their own way. With a capacity for 36 guests, the vessel offers open deck areas with a Jacuzzi to make the best of relaxing time while cruising the islands. The interiors are thoughtfully designed with cozy ambiance. The restaurant serves delicious Ecuadorian and international cuisine and offers a BBQ dinner on the open-air Moon Deck.  

The Coral I offers three classes of cabins: eight junior suites (12 m2 with two picture windows, located on the upper decks), eight standard plus cabins (12 m2 with two port holes, located on the lower deck), and two standard cabins (7 m2 with two port holes, located forward on the lower deck).

Standard

Standard Plus

Junior Suite

Your Land Accommodations

Casa Gangotena

January 7-8

Welcome to one of Latin America’s most special boutique hotels – Casa Gangotena – where you will experience an authentic taste of Ecuadorian warmth and hospitality in the unique and intimate setting. The hotel is styled in neoclassical architecture and offers world-class guest services.  Casa Gangotena is not only a hotel in the heart of Quito’s Old Town, but a place to experience the city in your own way, with spaces to meet, read, dream and contemplate the astonishing surroundings.

Golden Bay Galapagos

January 9

The Golden Bay Galapagos brings the magic and the singularity of the Galapagos Archipelago to your door. This ecological boutique hotel offers top quality hotel and restaurant services. Golden Bay Galapagos is located beachfront in a privileged location with a spectacular view of the bay that surrounds Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Located less than a five-minute walk from the city center and its tourist pier, and less than ten minutes from the airport. One of the many attractions of the hotel is its direct access to Playa de Oro (Golden Beach), a beach frequented by sealions, endemic iguanas, and birds such as the blue-footed booby and the frigatebird.

Hotel Fiesta

January 15 – 16

Hotel Fiesta is ideally located in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, close to everything while tucked away in a quiet setting near the tranquil Las Ninfas lagoon. Boasting a large patio with beautiful swimming pool and the biggest jacuzzi in Galapagos, this is the perfect spot to relax and unwind.

Inclusions

  • Locally certified English-speaking guides in Quito and in the Galapagos Islands
  • Welcome reception in Quito on Day 1
  • Two nights accommodation at Casa Gangotena in Quito, including breakfasts
  • Guided City tour of historical Quito on Day 2
  • Transportation and guided tour of the Equator Monument on Day 2
  • Lunch at El Crater restaurant on Day 2
  • Welcome dinner at Casa Manuella in Quito on Day 2
  • All group transfers in Quito and Galapagos Islands
  • Return airfare Quito (or Guayaquil) – Galapagos Islands 
  • One piece of checked luggage
  • Transit control card (The governing council of Galapagos uses this system to monitor tourist activities in the Islands. It is mandatory for boarding flights to Galapagos ~ USD20)
  • Entry fee for Galapagos National Park (mandatory on arrival in Galapagos ~ USD100)
  • Lunch at Muyu Galapagos restaurant on Day 3 
  • One night accomodation at Golden Bay Galapagos in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island, including breakfast
  • Guided tour of Cerro Colorado wildlife reserve in the morning of Day 4
  • Lunch onboard Coral I on Day 4
  • Guided tour of interpretation center and Frigatebird Hill in afternoon of Day 4
  • 5 days / 4 nights all-inclusive Expedition Cruise on MV Coral I Yacht (private exclusive charter)  
    • Transfers and baggage handling services
    • Cabins with air-conditioning & private facilities
    • All meals, welcome and farewell cocktails, 24-hour coffee station
    • Two daily excursions guided by park-certified multilingual naturalist guides
    • Snorkeling equipment and opportunities
    • Access to observation decks
    • Informative briefings by expedition guides onboard
    • Lectures by Origins guest speakers
    • Fuel surcharges
  • Two nights accommodation at Fiesta Hotel in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, including breakfast
  • Dinner on Day 8, Santa Cruz Island
  • Farewell dinner at El Muelle deDarwin on Day 9, Santa Cruz Island
  • Tax receipt for your charitable contribution to The Origins Project Foundation 

Exclusions

  • Travel expenses to hotel in Quito for arrival on Day 1
  • Travel expenses from either Guayaquil or Quito airport on Day 10
  • Entry and exit taxes for land or air travel to Ecuador (check to see if these are included in the price of your international airfare) 
  • Tips & gratuities (Suggested for Galapagos cruise portion of the trip: $20 for crew and $10 for guides, per passenger per day) 
  • Travel insurance and health insurance
  • Alcoholic beverages and sodas other than welcome reception in Quito 
  • Costs of optional wetsuit rental ($25/person for entire cruise), and/or kayaking excursions ($40/person each use) while aboard Coral I
  • Excess baggage charges.

Need More Information?

If you’d like to talk with one of our Origins Travel Experts before your reserve your spot, please reach out to us with the form below.

Robert Sapolsky

Robert Sapolsky is a professor of biology, neurology, neurological sciences and neurosurgery at Stanford University. He was dedicated to primatology from a young age and was in Africa studying baboons by his early twenties. His research interests include neurochemistry of stress and neuron degeneration and impairment. He has written extensively about stress and compulsive behaviors, and has received numerous awards for his research, writing and popularizing of behavioral science. His unique perspective on the human condition comes from his thirty plus years as both a field primatologist and a laboratory neuroscientist. He is the author of Stress: the aging brain and the mechanisms of neuron death (1992), and best-sellers Behave: the biology of humans at our best and worst (2017), and Determined: a science of life without free will (2023).

Peter Singer

Peter Singer is one of the world’s most influential philosophers. Born in Melbourne in 1946, he has been professor of bioethics at Princeton University since 1999. His many books include Animal Liberation (1975) – often credited for triggering the modern animal rights movement – Practical Ethics, The Life You Can Save, The Most Good You Can Do, and Ethics in the Real World. In 2023, he published Animal Liberation Now, a fully revised and updated version of the 1975 original, and in 2024, Consider the Turkey. Singer’s writings have also inspired the movement known as effective altruism, and he is the founder of the charity The Life You Can Save. In 2021 he was awarded the $1 million Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture, which he donated to nonprofit organizations working for the causes he supports. In 2023 he received the Frontiers of Knowledge Prize for the Humanities, from the Spanish BBVA Foundation.

Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss is a theoretical physicist, President of The Origins Project Foundation, and host of The Origins Podcast. He is a prolific researcher, and author of over 600 scientific and popular articles, and 12 bestselling books. His research spans the smallest to the largest scales in the universe. He has been an active advocate of rigorous science and reasoned decision-making on issues related to education, public policy, climate change, nuclear arms; and a persistent combatant against superstition and misinformation. He was Chair of the Board of Sponsors for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which sets the Doomsday Clock, from 2008-2018. In his latest book The Edge of Knowledge (2023), he explores remaining mysteries of science on space, time, matter, life and consciousness.