Summary : Experience the unique wildlife wonders of the Galapagos Islands aboard an upscale expedition vessel. The volcanic archipelago of the Galapagos is considered one of the world's foremost destinations for wildlife viewing. From the bewildering dance of the blue-footed booby, to the slow motion saunter of the giant Galapagos tortoise, up close encounters with these approachable and friendly creatures promise to delight. Discover the southern islands of Espanola and Floreana on this all-inclusive itinerary, which also includes a pre-Galapagos visit to Ecuador's capital city of Quito, with a guided tour.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling
$5,299 to $6,749
On the first day of your cruise you will be greeted at the Quito Airport by a representative from the shipping company. Enjoy an included transfer to your hotel – the JW Marriott. When you arrive, you will have free time to rest and settle in.
Enjoy an included breakfast this morning at the hotel. After breakfast, you will have a guided tour of Quito. Highlights include standing on the equatorial line at the Middle of the World Park and Museum. Marvel at the monastery of San Fransisco and La Compañia Church. Your included lunch will be served from a viewpoint in the city. After your tour, you will have an included welcome dinner at a local gourmet restaurant.
After an included breakfast at the hotel this morning, you will join your included transfer to the airport for your included flight to the Galapagos Islands. Once you arrive on Baltra Island, you will join your included bus and Zodiac boat transfer to meet your ship prior to embarkation.
Your first excursion will be to North Seymour. North Seymour is a small island just north of Baltra. It is home to the largest colony of frigate birds in the Galapagos. While keeping an eye out for male frigates trying to impress potential mates with an inflated red neck pouch, you may also see blue-footed boobies dancing in a timeless courtship ritual. Sea lions and large land iguanas also roam about this rocky terrain. Excursion options include a guided long, rocky walk, Zodiac ride and short easy walk, or a scenic Zodiac tour along the coast to view wildlife and the geology of the area.
Start your first full day in the Galapagos at South Plaza Island, just off the northeast coast of Santa Cruz. The island’s low-lying landscape is covered with colorful saltbush, scrub, and giant prickly pear cactus. A subspecies of land iguanas are found on the island in plentiful abundance and sometimes can be seen munching on the cactus. The southern cliffs are steep and rocky, and home to numerous seabirds as well as a bachelor colony of sea lions. Looking down into the clear blue waters, schools of surgeon fish swim by as birds shoot in and out of the holes in the cliff. A short hike and Zodiac ride provide ample opportunity to observe the beauty and wildlife of the island.
In the afternoon, you will sail onward to Santa Fe Island. Southeast of Santa Cruz, this small uplifted island is dotted with cactus and home to some of the largest land iguanas in the islands. Lava lizards, sea lions, Galapagos hawks, finches, and the Galapagos Mockingbird may be seen. Excursion options include a short walk, and an optional deep water snorkel.
Start the day off at Punta Pitt, thought by many to be the most spectacular site in San Cristobal. Here you will have the rare opportunity to visit the only location in Galapagos where you can observe all three species of boobies, Blue, Red and Masked, and two species of frigates birds nesting in the same area. In addition, there is an opportunity to explore its volcanic terrain as well as beach swimming.
In the afternoon, visit Cerro Brujo. White sand juxtaposed with black volcanic rocks makes this beach another of the Galapagos's most spectacular. Along the shore are seabirds and sea lions. Excursion options include a Zodiac ride and beach walk with optional swimming. Afterwards, just in time for a sunset cocktail, the ship will navigate the steep, richly colored walls of Kicker Rock, the spectacular remnants of a satellite volcanic cone.
This morning you will visit Post Office Bay. Rich in history, this site is home to the post office barrel established in about 1793 where whalers and others could leave their mail to be picked up by outbound ships. Continue the tradition during your visit and post your very own letter or postcard at this early mail stop.
Sail onward to Floreana, the first capital of the Galapagos where Charles Darwin met the islands' Governor. Its small brackish lagoon is often home to flamingos, stilts, and white-cheeked pintail ducks, and one of its beaches is a highly used nesting site for sea turtles. Check out the green-hued sand where you land! Excursion options include a relatively short walk to the lagoon and sea turtle-nesting beach, and optional snorkeling and swimming at the landing beach. In addition, for experienced snorkelers only there will be a deep water snorkel at nearby Champion Island.
Start your day on Isabela Island. The largest island in the Galapagos Archipelago, Isabela is composed of five volcanoes, with the latest eruption in October 2005. The cold, nutrient-rich waters of Elizabeth Bay and the small Mariela Islands provide the perfect home for the Galapagos penguin. This morning, you may opt for a scenic Zodiac ride to view the Mariela Islands and Galapagos penguins. Then back on board the ship, you'll spend some time cruising along the scenic Isabela and Fernandina islands to search for whales and dolphins.
Punta Moreno will almost give you the feeling of time travel into a prehistoric era. Located on the extreme north coast of Isabela Island, between volcanoes Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul, Punta Moreno is dominated by jet-black pahoehoe lava that seems to extend as far as the eye can see. This has created numerous tidal pools, some surrounded by mangroves, that are a magnet for wildlife, including flamingo, great blue herons, moorhens and pintails. You can walk to the edge of the lava to look straight down at the inhabitants of the crystal clear pools, including the occasional green sea turtle, white-tipped reef sharks, and puffer fish. You may also have a chance to see huge marine iguanas, Galapagos Penguins and the rare flightless cormorant.
Today you will visit Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island. This is the main population center of the islands and home to the National Park Service tortoise breeding center and the Charles Darwin Research Station. You will be able to visit the tortoise-breeding center and hopefully say hello to one of the island's most famous residents, Lonesome George, and walk through the Charles Darwin Station. You will also have the opportunity to take a bus ride to the Highlands to observe giant tortoises in the wild and walk through a lava tunnel. There will be free time available for shopping.
Begin your morning at Gardner Bay, on Espanola Island. The long white sand beach and clear blue waters make this an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling or just relaxing on the beach. In the water, sea turtles, rays, colorful tropical fish, and maybe even a white-tip reef shark may be seen. It is also home to a colony of sea lions. Excursion options include beach walking, swimming or a deep water snorkel for experienced snorkelers.
Espanola is the oldest island in the Galapagos and is home to an abundance of wildlife. At this site, visitors can expect to see sea lions, Galapagos hawks, marine iguanas, and both blue-footed and Nazca boobies. And between late March to the following January, the waved albatross come here to mate and raise their young. Excursion options include a long, rocky walk to look for albatross and observe an impressive blowhole that spews water like a towering geyser. A short, easier walk to observe much of this island's amazing wildlife is also offered.
It's sea lion time! This morning you will visit Mosquera Islet. This small, flat, sandy islet sits in the channel between Baltra and North Seymour. It is almost devoid of vegetation, but has one of the largest populations of sea lions in the islands. Its sandy expanse offers visitors the perfect opportunity to observe sea lion behavior. It is also a beautiful site to observe lava gulls, coastal birds, and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Keep your eyes peeled for occasional sightings of dolphins and orca whales. Excursion options: Walk.
In the afternoon, you will transfer by Zodiac and bus back to the Baltra Airport. Catch your included flight to Quito. From Quito, you will be met by your included transfer and return to the JW Marriott Hotel. An included dinner will be served a the hotel this evening.
Enjoy an included breakfast at the JW Marriott Hotel in the morning before you meet your included transfer to Quito Airport for your return flight home.
Please Note: If you wish to extend your stay in Quito, additional pre-/post-cruise hotel nights may be available. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes. Read this itinerary as a guide only, as the exact route and the wildlife you encounter may vary.
If you wish to extend your stay in Quito, additional pre-/post-cruise hotel nights may be available. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Round-trip air transportation from Quito to Baltra; pre-cruise transfers between the Quito Airport and the JW Marriot Hotel; two pre-cruise nights in a shared double occupancy hotel room in Quito; meals during the land portion of the itinerary (excluding dinner on the day of arrival in Quito); a guided full-day tour of Quito; transfers between the Baltra Airport and the ship; one post-cruise night at hotel with dinner and breakfast; post-cruise transfers between the Quito Airport and the JW Marriott Hotel; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; select beverages; room service; onboard programs and lectures; Galapagos National Park fee; Galapagos Tourist Card fee; gratuities for hotel staff and Quito tour guides; gratuities while onboard for crew, lecturers, and guides; kayaking; snorkeling; gear on loan (complimentary snorkeling equipment, short wetsuits, binoculars, and walking sticks); Wi-Fi. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation between home city and Quito; any food or beverages obtained off of the ship (except as noted); purchases of souvenirs, gifts and other personal items on board; personal services such as spa, laundry, and telecommunication charges; baggage, travel/cancellation and personal insurance; optional pre/post packages; certain premium beverages; fuel surcharge may apply.