- Santa Cruz
- Expedition Ship
- 90 Capacity
- 10 Days
- Price from
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.
This trip may be booked as cruise only (10 days, departs Sat) or package (13 days, departs Thu). See end of page for package itinerary.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Snorkeling
Early Booking Discount: Book 6 months or more in advance and save 5% off the regular cruise rate. Please note this does not apply during peak season dates (2012: Apr 4-9; Dec 21-31).
$999,999,999 to $0
Arrival by plane to San Cristóbal Island and transfer to the Santa Cruz, anchored at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the provincial capital of the Galápagos Islands. Enjoy lunch on board and a welcome talk.
In the afternoon, disembark (wet landing) on the eastern tip of the island. Pitt Point is an eroded tuff cone; the trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galápagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, as well as the two frigate species, plus a colony of bachelor sea lions along the beach. After the walk, if conditions are favorable, there is a chance to swim from the beach or snorkel at the nearby islets. Nightly briefing and dinner.
After breakfast, make a wet landing on a sandy white beach with many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right of “Beach Master,” while smaller males masking as females make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name with tree-sized trunks! The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the afternoon walk. Enjoy snorkeling and swimming from the beach before returning to Santa Cruz for lunch on board.
Disembark (dry landing) in the channel between North and South Plaza Islands. The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange ‘Sally Lightfoot’ crabs. Further up the shore, a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide playing with the thermals that form along the cliffs of this small but amazing island. Nightly briefing and dinner.
Disembark this morning for a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens, where there is an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following the visit, enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.
There are several options available for the afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader:
1. Trek along trails amid miconia forest in the highlands, home to many elusive birds including the dark-rumped petrel.
2. Mountain bike (mostly downhill) to Garrapatero Beach.
3. Sea kayak and relax on a beautiful, sandy beach.
4. Experience sustainable agriculture in an organic coffee plantation.
5. Discover SCUBA diving day in Puerto Ayora. This is a day designed for people who wish to discover the marine wonders of the archipelago, but who are not ready to dive in the current-strong Galápagos open waters. A local diving outfitter is contacted on your behalf. This activity takes for most of the day and has a cost. Please ask for more information.
At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and embark the Santa Cruz.
Go on a morning outing at Punta Suárez (dry landing) for an exciting walk on lava/boulder terrain. Visit unique sea bird colonies, including waved albatrosses (April - December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tail gulls, as well as a view of the Galápagos famous “blow-hole.” Among its land birds, the Hood island mockingbird, and three species of Darwin’s finches are common highlights. Also, look for red-green-black marine iguanas. Back on board for lunch.
In the afternoon, disembark (wet landing) at a white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches or enjoy the beach. There is great snorkeling in this area, or one may ride aboard the glass-bottom boat. Nightly briefing and dinner.
Disembark (dry landing) for a walk along the coast and the interior of North Seymour Island. Observe blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. Enjoy an opportunity for snorkeling or coastal exploration.
Enjoy coastal exploration by Panga, while the naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area with remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. This is the nesting place for flightless cormorants, the only existing marine birds in the world other than penguins that have changed their condition of flying birds to diving birds. Wildlife here also includes sea lions, Galápagos fur seals, Galápagos penguins, blue-footed and Nazca boobies and noddy terns. Depending on the conditions of the ocean, it will be possible to schedule a snorkeling outing along the cliffs of partly-sunken Ecuador Volcano, near the northern tip of Isabela Island. This area has a very rich marine life, and is seasonally visited by green sea turtles and oceanic sun fish (Mola mola). Lunch on board.
Visit the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina, in the afternoon. Disembark (dry landing) for a one-mile walk over dark lava. Punta Espinoza has an amazing combination of barrenness and a lot of wildlife. Having no introduced mammals, Fernandina boasts a very unique environment with the highest density of marine iguanas, who share their space with sea lions, sally-light foot crabs, hawks, penguins and the flightless cormorant. Evening briefing and dinner.
After breakfast, make a dry landing on the northwest of Isabela to visit secluded Tagus Cove, a place that provided a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. Old graffiti is still found on its walls. The vegetation in the area includes the fragrant palo santo trees. An uphill hike takes guests to the back of Darwin Crater, which is filled with salt water. The view at the end of the trail is worth the climb. Darwin is one of Isabela’s six volcanoes, a remarkable contrast to the lower islands to the east of the archipelago. Enjoy time to swim or snorkel. There is no beach in the area, so these activities are done from the Pangas. Lunch on board.
After lunch, disembark at Urbina Bay, located at the foot of the volcanoes, Alcedo and Darwin. Here you can find corals, shells, and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water. This area is also home to large and very colorful Galápagos land iguanas, giant tortoises (occasionally). Along the shoreline, after the hike, guests may encounter flightless cormorants and see penguins while snorkeling in this beautiful cove. Evening briefing and dinner.
In the morning, disembark (dry landing) to visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens, including tortoise celebrities like “Lonesome George.” These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Enjoy lunch at the poolside of the Finch Bay Eco Hotel.
After lunch, visit the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, with their impressive Scalesia forest and the geological formation of the twin pit craters known as Los Gemelos. From December to mid-April, a visit to see the giant tortoises in the wild may be included, if weather conditions are good. Enjoy an evening briefing about the next day’s expedition plan and dinner.
Visit Post Office Bay this morning. A short walk leads to the historic barrel site, where mail can be left for guests from other vessels to be hand-delivered. Near Post Office Bay, explore the north shore of Floreana along narrow channels teeming with life. Rays, turtles and sea lions can be seen gently swimming next to pangas. After a wet landing and a short walk up to a volcanic cone, reach the Baroness’s Tower, from where the entire northern shore of the island can be seen. Learn more about the fascinating past of this island. Lunch on board.
Disembark at Punta Cormorant (wet landing) at an olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish water lagoon where bird species like greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers, and others may be observed. This outing also includes a white-sand beach where sea turtles come out at night to nest (from December to May). There is a possibility to go snorkeling or ride the glass-bottom boat ride to Devil’s Crown. Farewell cocktail, evening briefing and dinner.
Disembark at Baltra Island. Transfer to the airport for the flight back to the mainland.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Cruise Only Included:
Cabin accommodations aboard ship; all meals aboard ship; all shore activities and excursions; guide and lecture services; glass-bottom boat outings; snorkeling gear; taxes and transfers on the island; fuel surcharge.
Cruise Only Not Included:
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; wetsuit rental; bar purchases; gifts and personal items; passport expenses; traveler's insurance; laundry service; gratuities to ship staff and crew are left to the discretion of the passenger; Internet.
Package Itinerary: We highly recommend two pre-cruise nights and one post-cruise night in Quito or Guayaquil. See below for our package itinerary:
Day 1: Arrive Quito or Guayaquil
Day 2: Quito or Guayaquil
Day 3: San Cristóbal Island - Cruise Only Starts
Day 4: Santa Fe Island / South Plaza Island
Day 5: Santa Cruz Island
Day 6: Española Island
Day 7: North Seymour Island
Day 8: Isabela Island / Fernandina Island
Day 9: Isabela Island
Day 10: Santa Cruz Island
Day 11: Floreana Island
Day 12: Baltra Island - Cruise Only Ends
Day 13: Quito or Guayaquil / Home
Two pre-cruise nights and one post-cruise night in Quito or Guayaquil in either a Deluxe Hotel or Premium Upgrade hotel [2012: Premium Upgrade hotel for an additional $125 per person/double room; or Premium Upgrade hotel for an additional $225 per person/single] (hotel based on availability)]; four private airport 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); cabin accommodations aboard ship; all meals aboard ship; all shore activities and excursions; guide and lecture services; glass-bottom boat outings; snorkeling gear; taxes and transfers on the island; fuel surcharge.
Package Not Included:
International airfare; airfare to/from Galapagos Islands; wetsuit rental; bar purchases; gifts and personal items; passport expenses; traveler's insurance; laundry service; gratuities to ship staff and crew are left to the discretion of the passenger; Internet.
If you are booking a cruise only program, 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): $420-$460 per adult; $250-$275 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).