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 Baltra Airport and transfer to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. Take a 30-minute scenic bus ride to the Highlands to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, and then continue to Puerto Ayora.
In the afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise enclosures within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora before embarking the vessel later in the afternoon. Please Note: Charles Darwin Research Station is undergoing refurbishment. Therefore, trips during the refurbishment may instead alternate visits to the highlands to see giant tortoises.
A stunning anchorage provides you a jumping-off point for your visit to this sandy white beach with many sea lion harems. Galapagos hawks are often observed perched atop salt bushes. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the walk. Snorkeling and swimming from the beach, kayaking or a ride in the glass-bottom boat rounds off the rewarding experience.
The turquoise waters of the channel here contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline, while a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of prickly-pear cactus as you watch for yellow-gray land iguanas. Along the coastline, sea lions gather while seabirds play in the thermals that form along the cliffs of this small but amazing island.
The morning starts with an enjoyable walk along the coast and the interior of this island, a favorite of many visitors. Observe numerous bird colonies as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. There are opportunities for snorkeling, coastal exploration, or ride in the glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.
After WWII, US military barges were beached and abandoned here. Locals referred to the beach as the barges beach, a name that morphed to "bachas". Today it is an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, it is a glorious white beach, with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. You can swim and/or snorkel from the beach.
Start the day with a steep climb up a wooden staircase. The view from the top is worth the effort! Following the walk, take the zodiacs for a ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, followed by time for beach relaxation and snorkeling, or you can also ride in the glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.
After lunch, get on board a zodiac to land at Sullivan Bay on the east coast of Santiago, a white coral sand beach with great swimming. Follow the trail over a lava field that flowed here less than 100 years ago. This is the perfect place to see and feel the volcanic origin of Galapagos while observing its wildlife.
Enjoy breakfast and return to Santa Cruz Island. Go on a 30-minute bus ride to the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Lunch at a local restaurant, and then continue to Puerto Ayora.
In the afternoon, have an opportunity to spend more time at the Charles Darwin Research Station and the ‘rearing in captivity’ program for the giant tortoises. Here, guests witness the efforts and results of all the field work done in the name of science. An impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest. Then, explore Puerto Ayora and get a feel for local Galapagueño life while browsing the many handicraft and souvenir shops.
After breakfast, land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has been serving as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries. Enjoy time for snorkeling from the beach.
Visit Punta Cormorant to take in an olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk by a brackish water lagoon where greater flamingos may be observed. On the other side of the island, discover a white-sand beach where sea turtles come out at night to nest. Snorkel, if time, at Champion Islet or ride in the glass-bottom boat.
Enjoy a morning outing at Punta Suárez with an exciting walk over lava/boulder terrain to visit the “blowhole” and unique sea bird colonies which may include the waved albatrosses (April - January), boobies and swallow-tail gulls. Keep an eye out for red-green-black marine iguanas.
In the afternoon, set foot on a beautiful, white coral beach of Gardner Bay for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches. There area is great for snorkeling. You have a chance to kayak, or ride in the glass-bottom boat.
In the morning, land on the eastern tip of the island. The trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline and is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, as well as the two frigate species, plus a colony of bachelor sea lions. After the walk, if conditions are favorable, there is a chance to swim, kayak or snorkel from the beach or take a zodiac ride.
In the afternoon, following lunch on board, zodiac along the shores to Cerro Brujo's expansive, white beach. Enjoy a walk with rewarding views of seabirds and shore birds, and perhaps sea lions. These are the same shores that Charles Darwin walked upon, back in September 1835. After the walk, there is a chance to swim and snorkel.
After breakfast, disembark and head to the airport for the flight back to the mainland.
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.
Shared transfer from main hotels in Quito (Casa Gangotena, Hilton Colon, Sheraton, Marriott, Dann Carlton) and in Guayaquil (Hilton Colon, Oro Verde, Hampton Inn, Sheraton) to airport for flights to/from Galapagos; cabin accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; guide and lecture services; kayaks; glass-bottom boat; snorkeling gear; Internet access and Wi-Fi; luggage handling; medical care on board (but not the cost of medication); taxes and transfers in the islands. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare and airport taxes; hotel nights before/after cruise; transfers in Quito or Guayaquil unless noted as included; Galapagos National Park entrance fee; Galapagos Transit Card; wetsuit rental; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; gifts and personal items; passport and visa expenses; traveler's insurance; laundry service; gratuities to ship staff and crew are left to the discretion of the passenger; 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): $450-$600 per adult; $250-$325 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).