Summary : The Galapagos Islands are considered one of the most spectacular and pristine National Parks in the world. Visitors delight in the abundant, unusual, and surprisingly approachable wildlife--from Galapagos giant tortoises to playful sea lions to the fascinating blue-footed boobies.
We strongly recommend two pre-cruise nights and one post-cruise night in Quito or Guayaquil. Please inquire about adding these or other services to your trip.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
Arrive in Baltra, your first stop in the Galapagos Islands. Transfer to the ship for an introductory briefing and lunch. Continue on to Santa Cruz, which is the second largest island in the Galapagos. Santa Cruz is known for being the home of the Charles Darwin Research Station, the lush greenery of the Santa Cruz Highlands, the famed lava tunnels and the Twin Craters.
Take a panga ride to Black Turtle Cove, one of the most beautiful marine sites in the Galapagos. It is a complex maze of tranquil salt-water inlets, surrounded by three different species of mangrove. Its waters are a nursery site for sea turtles, rays and sharks as well as a nesting site for sea birds. Return to the Eclipse for a briefing on the next day’s program, welcome cocktail and dinner.
Rábida is a small island with red volcanic rocks surrounding a beautiful red sand beach, where there is a colony of sea lions and a pelican nesting site. The trail leads to a salt water lagoon where shore birds can be seen. Rábida is considered to be one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos Islands, and you will also have the opportunity to go snorkel, kayak or panga ride.
On the northwestern side of Santiago Island is South James Bay (Puerto Egas). The landing is on a black beach with eroded rock formations in the background. Intertidal pools are home to a variety of invertebrate organisms. A trail leads to the Fur Seal Grottos, one of the only places in the islands where Fur Seals can be seen. After the walk, enjoy time to swim or snorkel off the beach, and perhaps see sea lions, fish, turtles, rays and maybe some reef sharks.
Make a dry landing at Tagus Cove, which was historically used as an anchoring place for pirates, buccaneers and whalers. Here you will see the names of hundreds of ships painted on the high ridges (a practice now forbidden). Embark on a hike along a trail that goes through an area of vegetation and the volcanic landscape of Darwin volcano. At the top of the trail, you will enjoy an incredible view of the whole cove and Darwin Lake. After hiking, go kayaking or on a panga ride, where you will have the opportunity to see a large number of blue-footed boobies perched on the ledges of the cliffs, as well as marine iguanas, penguins, brown pelicans, brown-noddy terns and swallow-tailed gulls. While exploring the channel between Fernandina and Isabela Islands, dolphins and whales are sometimes encountered.
After lunch, make a dry landing at Punta Espinoza, Fernandina Island. Here on Fernandina Island, you will see one of the most pristine ecosystems in the entire world and also one of the most dynamic. La Cumbre Volcano last erupted in April 2009, and dominates the landscape with lava fields stretching towards the ocean from its base. Punta Espinoza is a narrow piece of land where some of the most unique Galapagos species can be seen, including the flightless cormorant, Galapagos snakes, marine iguanas, penguins and the Galapagos hawk.
Urbina Bay is located in Western Isabela, at the foot of Alcedo volcano. After a wet landing on a beautiful black-sand beach, you may be able to observe sea turtle nesting sites. This area is also known for penguin and flightless cormorant sightings and is one of the best places to see Darwin’s finches as well as large land iguanas. Be on the lookout for Galapagos tortoises which like to feed within the site’s dense vegetation.
After lunch, enjoy a panga ride along Punta Vicente Roca or take advantage of the wonderful snorkeling here, where you can usually see turtles, as well as all kinds of fish. For those who do not snorkel, a panga ride will give you the opportunity to study some of the Galapagos’ spectacular geological rock formations. Nazca boobies, pelicans, swallow-tailed gulls, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants and penguins are often seen in the area.
The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic center of the archipelago. Stroll along the streets to see how Galapagueños live in this magical paradise. You may also visit the Charles Darwin Research Station where conservation is conducted by scientists, park rangers and park managers, among others, who make huge efforts to preserve this extraordinary place. The Station is also a tortoise breeding and rearing center, where tortoises of different subspecies are prepared for reintroduction to their natural habitats.
After visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station, take a bus to the highlands. The lush greenery of the Santa Cruz Highlands is a welcome contrast with the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands. You can see giant tortoises and perhaps the famed lava tunnels.
Genovesa, or Tower Island, is the northernmost island that is allowed to be visited by naturalist (non-diving) cruises. This island is extremely remote and home to literally millions of birds belonging to many different species, including the red-footed booby, as well as frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and even endemic owls!
There are two sites on Genovesa that are visited: El Barranco, also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, is a steep path with stairs carved into the rock which leads to a plateau full of bird life amongst a Palo Santo forest. You will see Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds and petrels. With some luck, you may spot a short-eared lava owl. After lunch, visit Darwin Bay’s and enjoy the soft, coralline white sand that marks the beginning of a spectacular excursion. A trail from the beach takes you into lush mangroves where red-footed boobies nest. Other locals include sea lions, swallow-tail gulls, frigates and more. Snorkeling is a must here as sharks, colorful reef fish, rays and tortoises are common.
Bartolome is a small island that has two visitor sites. At the first site, you can snorkel around Pinnacle Rock, where penguins are usually seen. Then, it’s back on board for a quick change of clothes followed by a short dinghy ride to a dry landing for a climb to the highest point on the island. On the way up, you will encounter different volcanic formations, including spatter and tuff cones, lava flow and lava tubes. From the summit you will have a wonderful view of Sullivan Bay. For those not interested in the hike, there is the option of a panga ride. Usual fauna and flora also includes sea lions, pioneer plants, reef sharks, rays and colorful reef fish.
After lunch, make a dry landing for an excursion at Cerro Dragon. The name Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) stems from the fact that it was one of the few sites on Santa Cruz Island where a healthy population of land iguanas were found in 1975. After landing at a pier, a hike takes to you to a salt water lagoon behind the beach, frequented by common stilts, pintail ducks and occasionally flamingos. A short walk up the hill leads you to a land iguana nesting site, with breathtaking views of the bay. You will have the chance to go swimming after the walk.
Las Bachas Beach is located in the north of Santa Cruz Island. Its soft, white sand is derived from decomposed coral, making it a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind the beach there is a small brackish lagoon, where it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels.You will be transferred from the Eclipse to Baltra airport in time to catch your return flights.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Ship Dry Dock Dates: Aug 31 - Sept 28, 2013
Family Departures: 3/16/2013, 3/30/2013, 6/22/2013, 7/6/2013, 7/20/2013, 8/3/2013, 8/17/2013, 12/7/2013, 12/21/2013
Since children are more active than adults, the guides will organize separate activities such as faster but educational walks, beach games, onboard activities, special briefings for children, and special menus and mealtimes. Specialist guides can be assigned to educate and entertain your children throughout the day (group minimum of 10 children), while you enjoy the cruise at your own pace. However, if parents wish to take their children with them in their group, they may do so. Note: On family departures, minimum child age is 4 years. On non-family departures, minimum child age is 8 years.
Cabin accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; all shore activities and excursions; all soft drinks and juices on board; complimentary one-time fully stocked mini-bar in deluxe staterooms; naturalist guide service; onboard star gazing with a naturalist guide; use of snorkeling gear and wetsuits; VIP lounge on outbound flight from Galapagos; onboard complimentary refillable sports water bottle (purified water stations are available throughout vessel); complimentary use of robes in all cabins; sharing transfers between the airport in Baltra and the dock.
Hotel nights before/after cruise; transfers in Quito or Guayaquil; Galapagos National Park entrance fee, USD$100 (children under 12 subtract $50), subject to change without notice; Galapagos Transit Card ($10 per person); international airfare; airfare to/from Galapagos Islands; alcoholic beverages onboard; gratuities to ship crew and naturalists are left to the discretion of the passenger; travel insurance; passport expenses; fuel surcharge $260 (subject to change).
We are happy to add hotels, air and land arrangements as requested, and you will be quoted for services.
Airfare between Quito/Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands:
The flights between mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) and the Galapagos Islands are an additional cost. To secure your seats on often overbooked flights, ExpeditionTrips must reserve these flights for you at the time of cruise booking. Approximate cost (including service fee): $450-$550 per adult; $250-$325 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).