Summary : Encounter the island chain that has enchanted explorers since Darwin first weighed anchor off its shores. Enjoy your days exploring the incredible wildlife of the Galapagos archipelago in the company of an expert Naturalist Guide. In the evenings, return to the comfortable G8 to reflect on the day’s adventure under a canopy of stars. Retire to air-conditioned cabins with exclusive lower berths and private bathrooms.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Snorkeling
AARP Discount: Members of AARP save $100 per person. Not combinable with other discounts.
$5,499 to $6,199
Arrive in Quito and check into your hotel. A representative will greet you and brief you on various aspects of the tour. The day is free for you to enjoy the city. The Ecuadorian capital of Quito enjoys a wonderful spring-like climate, despite the fact that it is only 14 miles south of the Equator. Nestled in a valley flanked by mountains, on a clear day several snow-capped volcanoes, including nearby Pichincha, are visible from the city center. Add to its beautiful location a rich history and well-preserved colonial district, and you begin to understand Quito’s appeal to thousands of visitors every year. The city is home to several excellent museums, historical buildings, landmarks, and a vibrant nightlife.
Transfer early to the airport for your flights to the Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival in San Cristobal, meet your naturalist guide who will assist you in transferring to your vessel. In the afternoon, visit Isla Lobos to see the sea lions and walk on the beach.
This morning, explore South Plaza Island. Though one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, South Plaza has one of the largest populations of land iguanas. Walk along a path through a cactus forest and view a combination of dry and coastal vegetation.
Set sail in the afternoon for North Seymour, just north of Baltra, home to sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. Seymour Island is one of the most exciting islands, photographically. Bird life abounds, and close to the trail you will find many nesting pairs and young chicks. Seymour is also home to the Galapagos’s largest colony of Magnificent Frigate Birds. Their mating ritual is an ostentatious display: males expand the red sack at the base of their throat and perch atop a bush with wings fully extended, flapping furiously. Interested females circle overhead, and if so inclined, may join the male on terra firma. Further along the trail you can observe a colony of sea lions.
In the morning, the boat arrives to a little island off the southern tip of Santiago called Chinese Hat, for its unique shape. Here, it is often possible to see Galapagos penguins and the marine life makes for fantastic snorkeling. There is a large sea lion colony, as well as many marine iguanas that can be seen on your guided walk amongst the volcanic scenery, with good views to the cone of the island's volcano.
Visit Bachas Beach in the afternoon, located on the northeastern tip of Santa Cruz Island. A great beach to stroll at the edge of crystalline waters perfect for swimming, Bachas Beach also gives you the opportunity to see frigate birds, Blue-footed Boobies and sea lions.
In the morning, arrive in Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz is the second largest in the island group, and has the largest population, with Puerto Ayora as its main town. Santa Cruz boasts the most varied of the islands’ vegetation zones: coastal, transition, scalesia, miconia and pampa. The Charles Darwin Research Station is a 10 minute walk from the center of the town. The station is the site of an exhibition center that displays photos of recent volcanic eruptions, charts outlining geological formations, and drawings of the evolutionary development of endemic species. A corral houses adult Galapagos Tortoises, which may live up to 200 years, and a nursery cares for young tortoises until they are about three years old, when their shells have hardened enough provide protection. This is the training center for the naturalist guides that accompany visitors to the islands’ landing sites. In the afternoon, you may have the opportunity to visit the highlands and see giant land tortoises in the wild.
Make your way to Floreana Island, an island rich in beauty and history. Post Office Bay is the site of a barrel placed here in the late 18th century by English whaling vessels to be used as a post office. Passing ships would stop to leave mail for loved ones, collecting at the same time any mail destined for ports on their itineraries. Today, the box is used mainly by tourists, who may drop off and pick up unstamped letters to be carried to far destinations. The remains of a Norwegian canning factory are the only evidence of the Island’s history prior to its designation as a protected area. A short hike up past the post barrel takes you to an interesting lava cave. With the aid of a flashlight, descend 262 feet to the point where the sea enters the cave.
Later in the afternoon, make your way towards Punta Cormorant on the northern part of Floreana. The landing is on a beach of green sand, colored by olivine crystals, volcanic-derived silicates of magnesium and iron. The trail leads to a lake normally inhabited by flamingos and other shore birds, and continues to a beach of fine white sand known as “Flour Beach”, an important nesting site for turtles. Around the point, Devil's Crown derives its name from the broken remains of a partially submerged volcanic cone. This is a perfect spot for snorkeling from the boat, as the waters are home to a multitude of colorful fish and sea lions.
Head to Punta Suarez on Española Island, the southernmost island in the Galapagos archipelago. The island is home to several wildlife species, including Masked and Blue-footed Boobies. A hike to the top of the cliff makes for spectacular photo opportunities.
Punta Suarez, on the western side of Española Island (also called Hood), is spectacular: gargantuan waves break on jagged cliffs and large bird colonies thickly populate the interior of the island; there is a distinct feel of desolate wilderness here. The Waved Albatross is seen here from April to December during its mating and nesting season. This bird leaves land between January and March each year to make its annual odyssey far out to sea. Amazingly, Española is the nesting site to virtually the entire world population of this species, with more than 12,000 pairs residing here. Large numbers of Masked and Blue-footed Boobies are found here, Red-billed Tropic Birds dash madly through the air, and both Marine Iguanas and sea lions are common. A huge blowhole, where the surf is forced through a natural rock formation spouting seawater close to 70 feet into the air, adds to the island’s impression of untamed beauty.
Follow the trail through a rookery and learn the geological history of the island from your naturalist, including its dramatic volcanic features, climate, flora and fauna. Sail in the afternoon to Gardner Bay, an excellent swimming and snorkeling site.
Your first landing for the day is at Cerro Brujo, where there is a chance to go hiking, swimming and snorkeling. The sandy beach is home to Sally Lightfoot crabs, Brown Pelicans, Blue-footed Boobies and California sea lions.
In the afternoon, pass through the dramatic Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), a magnificent rock in the middle of the sea, set in a shape resembling a sleeping lion. The rock rises over 450 feet above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel navigable by small vessels.
Arrive at San Cristóbal in the morning. San Cristóbal is the easternmost island of Galapagos and one of the oldest. Its principal town is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos. Disembark after breakfast, visit the interpretation center and transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito. Transfer to your hotel upon arrival, and enjoy one last night on the town.
Depart at any time or continue on to other adventures.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Round-trip Galapagos flights; arrival transfers; local transfers by motorized catamaran, van, Zodiac, and public bus; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; shore excursions; daily opportunities for swimming and snorkeling; local naturalist guide (certified by the Galapagos National Park) while in the Islands; local representative in Quito; and gear on loan (snorkeling equipment and wetsuits). Subject to change without notice.
International airfare; travel insurance (required); passport and visa fees; departure taxes; Tourist Transit card fee ($20 cash, subject to change); Galapagos park entry fee payable immediately upon arrival to the Islands ($100 cash, subject to increase); meals not expressly outlined in itinerary; beverages on board; gratuities are at your discretion; items of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; optional activities; fuel surcharge may apply.