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
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Arrive at the Baltra airport and be greeted by a cruise representative and then board the Mary Anne in time for lunch. After lunch, navigate a short distance to Black Turtle Cove, a large mangrove lagoon on the north coast of Santa Cruz Island. Pelicans and herons roost on the branches, while marine dwellers such as Green Sea Turtles and Golden Rays may cruise right next to the zodiac as it makes its way through the mangroves.
We travel to Genovesa Island and reach Darwin Bay, a unique site lined with red mangroves and soft-haired prickly pear cacti where red-footed boobies and great frigatebirds perch.
At El Barranco, climb the edge of a cliff where frigatebirds, masked boobies, and red-footed boobies nest. Seek out the impressive red-billed tropicbird amidst Galapagos storm petrels.
Land at Bartolome Island and climb up the wooden steps to reach the summit of a spatter cone for a breath taking panoramic view of Pinnacle Rock and surrounding islands.
Next visit an island that gets its name from being shaped like a Chinese hat. The hat shape is best appreciated from the north side. Lava formations can be seen on the western side of the island, formed under the sea and raised upward and for this reason it is possible to observe coral heads on the lava. Be amazed by the landscapes covered by sea lions colonies, marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins.
Discover Rabida Island’s deep-red beaches and fascinating interior saltwater lagoon. Darwin’s finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, and yellow warblers feed off the vegetation and during certain times of year brown pelicans nest on salt bushes that fringe the beach.
Later, head across to Cerro Dragón on Santa Cruz’s northwest shore. Visit a saltwater lagoon that is home to flamingos, black-necked stilts, and white-cheeked pintails. Further inland, explore a land iguana nesting site.
Spend the day visiting Santa Cruz Island's most famous highlights. Land at the dock in Puerto Ayora and board transportation to the Islands highlands. In contrast to the coastal region, the vegetation is lush. Visit a local ranch to see giant tortoises where they have migrated freely up from the coast. Keep an eye out for the Galapagos hawk and barn owl, as well as the vermilion flycatcher and the yellow warbler.
Enjoy lunch at the ranch and then head back to Puerto Ayora to the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center. See tortoises from different islands divided according to four different stages: eggs, neonates, juveniles (held here until they are mature enough to be "repatriated"), and adults.
Land on one of the oldest docks of the Archipelago at South Plaza Island which is home to vibrant green prickly pears, deep red Sesuvium and coppery-orange land iguanas. Marvel at impressive seaward cliffs and a variety of coastal birds. This is also a great place to observe sea lions swimming along the shores.
Later, land on a white beach where sea lions are usually resting on Santa Fe Island. Look for the endemic species of land iguana, larger and yellower than land iguanas on other islands. The largest prickly pear cacti in the Galapagos are also found here.
In the morning, head to Punta Suarez. The trail is about 2 miles long and the walk takes about 2 hours. A geyser near the trail sprays water some 75 feet into the air. This is one of the most popular landing sites in Galapagos. The highlights include sea lions which can sometimes be seen bodysurfing in the large breakers, large marine iguanas with red-colored males in the breeding season, oystercatchers, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, Galapagos hawk, Galapagos dove, swallow-tailed gull, red-billed tropicbirds, and three species endemic to Española – waved albatross (present only from April to December), Española mockingbird, and Española lava lizard.
Spend the day in fantastic Española, starting with Gardner Bay, an outstanding beach with sea lions, marine iguanas, and the intrepid Española mockingbird. Close to Española there is a good spot for snorkeling called Gardner Islet. While snorkeling, there is a good chance playful sea lions will join you. Get ready for more snorkeling at Osborn islet, a great place to observe great quantities of marine life.
This is your last day in the islands. After breakfast, disembark in Puerto Ayora to take transport to the Baltra airport, making a short stop to visit the Twin Craters. The Gemelos (twins) are two deep craters located to the side of the road that leads to Puerto Ayora from the other side of the island. These huge holes were probably created in a volcanic explosion or by magma chambers underneath the island's surface.
This is also a good place to see the Galapagos hawk and barn owl of this island and the surrounding forests are filled of birds such as the vermilion flycatcher or the yellow warbler. Something worth mentioning is the contrast of the vegetation of the highlands with the arid coastal zones. After this visit, make your way to the Baltra airport for the flight to mainland Ecuador.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes. Read this itinerary as a guide only, as the exact route and the wildlife you encounter may vary.
Transfer from the Baltra Airport to ship; cabin accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; soft drinks, coffee, tea and water; visits to the islands with certified guide; use of snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel and fins); kayaking. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; hotel nights before/after cruise; transfers in Quito or Guayaquil; Galapagos National Park entrance fee; Galapagos Transit Card; items of a personal nature such as laundry, massage, and alcoholic and bottled beverages; gratuities to ship staff is left to the discretion of the passenger; traveler’s insurance; wetsuit rental; travel health insurance (required to enter Ecuador); fuel surcharge may apply.
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): $500-$700 per adult; $300-$450 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).