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When it comes to creating the perfect tour for the perfect price, it is survival of the fittest — which makes this week's trip a natural selection: a nine-day tour for one guest of Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands with Classic Escapes, including lodging, meals and round-trip airfare from Miami with LAN Airlines.

Make your escape from 29 November to 7 December, 2011 ($2,600); 6 to 14 December, 2011 ($2,700); or 3 to 11 January, 2012 ($2,850).

This Darwinian dream trip offers a more highly evolved experience of Ecuador, starting with a three-night stay at the Hilton Colon Quito in the heart of bustling downtown. You'll tour Quito's colonial quarter, the largest and best-preserved in South America, with plenty of time to take in the sights and sounds of this Unesco World Heritage Site.

"Picturesque plazas, baroque 17th-century cathedrals and the snow-covered peaks beyond form a backdrop to a vibrant city in motion," begins BBC Travel. "Indigenous people in traditional garb and bowler hats mingle with mestizos amid the sing-song voices of street vendors, newspaper sellers and shoeshine boys, while the scent of Andean cooking spills out of open-sided restaurants and food stalls."

Begin the following day with a big bang — for an optional but additional fee — by touring the lively market at Otavalo, chock full of traditional Andean wares, exotic snacks and impromptu pipe performances.

On day four, you will begin your own investigation into the origin of species with a four-day, three-night cruise of the Galápagos Islands aboard an air-conditioned cruise liner. Adaptation is easy aboard this luxury vessel — built explicitly for touring the islands — with a well-stocked bar and delicious regional cuisine.

Each day the M/V Santa Cruz's knowledgeable naturalists await to ferry you between white coralline beaches, volcanic craters, salt lagoons and recent lava flows. You will walk the trails that Darwin himself once trod in search of marine iguanas, Galápagos penguins, blue-footed boobies and nesting sea turtles.

Take an optional tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island, where you can observe scientists from all over the world conducting biological research. On day eight, after awakening from your bed at the five-star The Hotel Oro Verde, you will have a full day in Guayaquil to explore at your leisure before departing for Miami in the evening.

Just do not experiment with delayed gratification — because once this escape disappears, it really is extinct.

Tour packages and airfare priced per person, but hotel stays based on double occupancy. For single-occupancy stays, add $895.

Escape kit

  • A nine-day, eight-night tour for one guest to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands from 29 November to 7 December, 2011 ($2,600); 6 to 14 December, 2011 ($2,700); and 3 to 11 January, 2012 ($2,850), including:
  • Round-trip airfare with LAN Airlines from Miami, Florida (MIA) to Quito, Ecuador (UIO) and from Guayaquil, Ecuador (GYE) to Miami, Florida (MIA)
  • All transportation to hotels, airports and sightseeing destinations
  • Daily breakfast
  • A three-night stay for two at the Hilton Colon Quito
  • A four-day, three-night cruise to the Galápagos Islands on the M/V Santa Cruz with a naturalist guide
  • A one-night stay for two at the Hotel Oro Verde in Guayaquil, Ecuador
  • Baggage tags and passport wallet
  • Book by 11 October

For details and to reserve your stay, visit LivingSocial Escapes.

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