Situated west of South America in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the Galápagos Islands are renowned for their exquisite beauty and unique array of wildlife and fauna. Avalon cruises provide a rare and enthralling insight into the untouched landscapes and inhabitants of this unique volcanic archipelago – from the turquoise ocean views, lava formations and white beaches to giant tortoises, sea lions, penguins and bird life. It was here, in 1835, that the naturalist Charles Darwin, sailing on the Beagle, spent 19 days observing the islands’ ecology, flora and fauna, noting the adaptation of species like finches and tortoises to each island. Somewhere between open-air museums and living laboratories, these lava-sculpted gems are a utopia for all travellers, from wildlife and nature lovers to adventurers and history buffs. Before your cruise, there’s time in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito. Backed by the Andes Mountains, this absorbing city offers elegant colonial plazas, ornate churches and the nearby Equatorial Monument, which marks the end of the world!