Wonders of the Galapagos

Join alumni and friends from February 11 – 19, 2019, to explore the Galápagos Islands.

GalapagosCharles Darwin keenly observed that, “The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable…the greater number of its inhabitants, both vegetable and animal, being found nowhere else.” Witness the natural biodiversity of this UNESCO World Heritage-designated archipelago, still intact much as it was when first encountered by happenstance in 1535. Home to the amazing exotic birds, plants, and animals that inspired Darwin, this “living laboratory of evolution” continues to offer the excitement of original discovery to every visitor.  

These islands, each with its own ecosystem, are teeming with vibrant flora and captivating fauna, including the flightless cormorant and the marine iguana—species unknown anywhere else in the world. With few natural predators on the islands, the abundant wildlife is uniquely receptive to up-close human company—only here can you almost touch spiny-backed iguanas and snorkel alongside playful seals and tropical penguins.

On mainland Ecuador, explore UNESCO World Heritage-designated Quito, known for magnificent colonial churches with opulent gold interiors; walk through the historic Old Town; and stand on the Equator with one foot in either hemisphere. Complement your “Islands of the Tortoises” cruise with the exclusive pre-program option to visit Cuenca, a historic colonial city, and a post-program option to tour the legendary “lost city” of Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the breathtaking Sacred Valley.

Cruise aboard the specially chartered, first-class exploration vessel Santa Cruz II, designed specifically to navigate remote archipelagos. The ship is fully equipped to enrich your Galápagos experience with complimentary snorkeling gear, a fleet of Zodiacs and a glass-bottom boat. Certified onboard naturalists share their expert insights during excursions, enhancing your understanding of this mysterious natural realm.

Shared with participants from cosponsoring associations, this travel program is an exceptional value. You’re encouraged to reserve now, as space is limited. Please contact the CAA Travel Study Program at 866-325-8664 or travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details and to confirm your place today.

Dates & Rates

Dates: February 11 - 19, 2019


Cruise tariff from $4,995  per person based upon double occupancy. Taxes are an additional $195 per person (subject to change). Internal airfare (Quito/Galapagos/Guayaquil) is an additional $600 per person.

A limited number of single occupancy cabins are offered in select stateroom categories for an additional premium. Please contact us to inquire about single rates and roommate/share requests.

Please see the program brochure for full details. All published rates are per person based upon double occupancy.


U.S./Quito, Ecuador - Monday, Day 1
Fly to Quito, the highest capital city in the world at 9350 feet, and transfer to the JW MArriott. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, yet only miles from the Equator, Quito is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its magnificent Spanish colonial architecture and lively street life.

Quito - Tuesday, Day 2
Quito is a city of startling contrasts, where thousands of years of South American traditions are interwoven with imported Catholicism, the Spanish language and European culture. Quaint family‑owned shops and open‑air markets are steps away from gleaming skyscrapers and ornate Spanish Baroque cathedrals favored by the conquistadores. On the panoramic tour through the heart of Quito, visit the noble, 16th‑century Iglesia de San Francisco, the Moorish‑influenced Catedral Metropolitana and Iglesia de La Compañía de Jesus, renowned for its lavish interiors decorated with an estimated seven tons of gold leaf. Tour Casa del Alabado, an impressive private museum of pre‑Columbian art and archaeological pieces housed in a 17th‑century colonial mansion. This evening, attend the private Welcome Reception in the hotel.

Quito - Wednesday, Day 3
Stand in the “middle of the world” with one foot in each hemisphere at the Equator and see the hundred‑foot‑tall  monument where an  18th‑century multinational Pacific Oceanexpedition located zero degrees latitude, accurately establishing the earth’s size for the first time. Admire spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and tour the Ethnographic Museum, illustrating the diversity of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples.The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore Quito.

Quito/Baltra, Galápagos Islands/Santa Cruz - Thursday, Day 4
Fly to the small island of Baltra and embark the Santa Cruz II in time for lunch. Attend your first briefing by the ship’s English‑speaking Ecuadorian naturalists while cruising to Santa Cruz Island, known for prehistoric‑looking iguanas, prickly pear cacti, vibrantly colored flamingos and pristine white beaches.Aboard Zodiacs, explore the shores of beautiful mangrove‑lined islets and seek out charming blue‑ and red‑footed boobies, brown pelicans and magnificent frigatebirds, whose males inflate their bright red throat pouches to impress potential mates. Land in a small lagoon favored by elegant pink flamingos, and ascend Dragon Hill for spectacular views of the western islands and the chance to observe land iguanas.Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception on board the ship this evening.

Isabela/Fernandina - Friday, Day 5
Cruise through the Bolivar Channel, showcasing the stunning volcanic peaks of Isabela and Fernandina. Spend the morning at seahorse‑shaped Isabela, a younger island formed by six shield volcanoes. On the arid shore you may encounter the largest land iguanas in the Galápagos as well as giant tortoises and flightless cormorants. Snorkel off Punta Vicente Roca or search the northern shores for Nazca boobies, Darwin’s finches and penguins. Dominated by the sweeping slopes of La Cumbre Volcano, the moon‑like landscapes of Fernandina are the most untouched of all the Galápagos Islands, home to the famous flightless cormorant, sea lions, Galápagos penguins, marine iguanas and pelicans. Explore how recent volcanic activity has reshaped the island’s topography, creating an ever‑changing environment for the thriving species found nowhere else.

Santa Cruz - Saturday, Day 6
Learn more about efforts to protect the island’s rare giant tortoises in the Charles Darwin Research Station, then transfer to Santa Cruz’s cool, lush highlands for lunch amid an endemic Scalesia cloud forest.This afternoon, choose from a variety of leisure activities. Swim in clear blue Tortuga Bay, secluded home to black turtles, colorful reef fish, marine iguanas and lava gulls. Walk the island’s trails or stroll along serene sandy beaches.

Post Office Bay, Floreana/Champion Islet/Cormorant Point - Sunday, Day 7
Floreana was one of the first islands in the archipelago to be settled by European whalers and buccaneers. At Post Office Bay, peruse the mail in the wooden barrel “post office,” established by whalers to transport letters home on passing ships. Discover a piece of mail to hand‑deliver to its final destination, or leave your own message to be delivered by a future visitor. Cruise via Zodiac or snorkel in the clear waters surrounding pristine Champion Islet, encountering sea horses, sea turtles, sea lions, coral hawkfish and other aquatic wonders; scan the skies and shorelines for possible sightings of the endemic Floreana mockingbird, common to the islands when Darwin visited, but critically endangered today; and walk along the brackish lagoons and mangroves near Cormorant Point, famous for flamingos and pelicans. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception on board the ship this evening.

Baltra/Guayaquil, Ecuador - Monday, Day 8
Dock in Baltra to disembark and board your late‑morning flight to Guayaquil. Continue on the Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley Post‑Program Option or enjoy a day room in the Hilton Colón Hotel and  depart late this evening for the U.S.

U.S. - Tuesday, Day 9
Arrive in the U.S.
Tour Price Includes:

  • Three nights in the Five‑Star JW Marriott
  • Full American breakfast each morning.

  • Welcome Reception in the hotel.
  • Tour of Quito’s UNESCO World Heritage‑designated historic colonial district.

  • Visit to Casa del Alabado, a private museum of pre‑Columbian art.
  • Excursion to the Equator including a visit to the fascinating Ethnographic Museum.
  • Four‑night cruise of Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands round trip Baltra Island, with calls at the Galápagos’ most beautiful islands: Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina and Floreana.
  • Ocean‑view, air‑conditioned accommodations aboard the Santa Cruz II.
  • Three meals each day while cruising aboard the Santa Cruz II.
  • Complimentary wine and beer served with lunch and dinner aboard the Santa Cruz II.
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions aboard the Santa Cruz II.
  • Multilingual naturalists to share in‑depth insights and specialized expertise about the Galápagos’ distinctive ecosystem and wildlife.
  • Island excursions each day by Zodiac landing craft, sea conditions and weather permitting, focusing on the unique wildlife, natural history and conservation efforts in the Galápagos while cruising aboard the Santa Cruz II.
  • Complimentary snorkeling equipment for further exploration of the Galápagos’ diverse marine life while cruising aboard the Santa Cruz II.
  • Day room in the deluxe Hilton Colón Hotel before return flight to the U.S.
  • Galápagos National Park fee.
  • Services of professional tour directors; plus experienced naturalist guides while in the Galapagos
  • Hospitality desk in the hotel in Quito and aboard ship.
  • Private motor-coach transportation throughout your trip.
  • Complimentary bottled water in your Suite or Cabin aboard ship and on excursions.
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person

  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers.
  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad if your arrival(s)/departure(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfer(s).

What’s not included:
Airfare (internal program air and international air); Taxes; passport fees; visas and fees for obtaining visas; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship and hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; excess baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air taxes; airfare and associated local taxes*, airport facility taxes and federal inspection fees not listed int he "included features" section of the program brochure; transfers and baggage handling to/from airport/hotel on day(s) of arrival and/or departure if you are arriving earlier or later and/or departing earlier or later that scheduled group transfer(s); meals and and alcoholic beverages not listed in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure; and all other services not specifically mentioned in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure.

Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details.