The Real Deal: Five nights' accommodations (two in Quito and three on a yacht in the Galápagos Islands), flights between Quito and the islands, most meals, and the services of a tour guide and a naturalist guide certified by the Galápagos National Park. While you're in the Galápagos, there are included nature walks, a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, and swimming and snorkeling. The package costs $2,109 per person — including all taxes and fees.
When: April 5, 12, 19, 26; May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; June 7, 14; Sept. 6, 9, 13, 20, 27; Oct. 4, 11, 18, 24, 2009.
The fine print: The trip price breaks down to $1,699 per person paid in advance, plus $400 due in cash at the time of arrival, which covers entrance to the Galápagos National Park ($100) and a local payment ($300). All taxes and fees (including a $10 tourist transit fee at the airport in Quito) are covered. Airfare to and from Quito is not included. Based on single or double occupancy; the tour operator will match single travelers up with someone of the same sex. There is a suggested $50 budget for meals not included. Minimum group size is 12; the maximum is 16. Use promo code EVO6Z. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: G.A.P Adventures, 800/708-7761, gapadventures.com.
Why it's a deal: This tour is less about rock-bottom prices and more about the experience — you'll take adventurous and scenic walks and hikes with your naturalist guide, who can give you perspective on the unusual wildlife you'll see.
Itinerary: You'll spend two nights in Quito (one before and one after being on the islands) at the Hotel Río Amazonas, in the center of the business and tourist district. You'll take an included two-hour flight from Quito to San Cristóbal in the Galápagos Islands on a local carrier. You'll meet your guide and then board the G.A.P Adventurer II, your base for the three-night cruise around the islands. The 16-passenger, 75-foot yacht has cabins with private bathrooms and windows, and an eight-person crew. You'll eat your meals on board, and you can swim and snorkel off the bow. During the voyage, you'll stop at the southernmost of the islands, Española Island (one home of the aforementioned boobies), Floreana Island (where you can see the islands' sea lions, iguanas, and 307 species of fish off the coast), Post Office Bay, and Santa Cruz Island, the location of the Charles Darwin Research Station.
More: Add nights in Quito from $43 per person per night. Want more time on the islands? There's a nine-night version of this tour for $1,200 more per person.
Before you go: The trip begins and ends in Quito. Transfers to and from the Quito airport aren't included, but a taxi costs as little as $5 each way. U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel; a visa is not required. For more on Galápagos National Park, see the official Web site, and for more on Ecuador, see the official tourism site and the U.S. State Department's travel fact sheet.