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Galapagos Classic – Northern

Galapagos Cruise

Summary : Embark on an all-inclusive discovery tour of the enchanting Galapagos Islands aboard an intimate, luxurious motor yacht. Explore one of the world's most biodiverse wildlife sanctuaries– from the coastal tide pools of Egas Bay where sea lions lounge, to the lush mangroves of Darwin Bay where red-footed boobies nest. Your days in the Galapagos will be spent immersed in the natural environment – swimming, kayaking, snorkeling – before returning to your luxury motor yacht to relax and rejuvenate. This itinerary explores the Northern Galapagos Islands, including Genovesa Island. Start your journey with an included city tour of Quito. High in the Andes Mountains, Quito's traditional Ecuadorian Sierra culture will charm and welcome you on your city tour, where you will walk on the equatorial line at the Middle of the World Park and marvel at the monastery of San Francisco and La Compañia Church. Travel onward to the Galapagos Islands on included flights. Spend the next seven days

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling

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Itinerary
Day 1
Quito, Ecuador

Your Galapagos adventure starts in Ecuador's capital city – Quito. You will be greeted by a shipping company representative and transferred to the JW Marriott hotel. Enjoy free time to relax and settle in.

Day 2
Quito, Ecuador

Enjoy an included breakfast at the hotel this morning. Then set out on a guided tour of Quito, the magnificent capital of Ecuador. Situated at an altitude of 9,350 feet, you'll have the opportunity to stand on the equatorial line at the Middle of the World Park and Museum, and marvel at the monastery of San Francisco and La Compania Church. Your tour director will escort you throughout your Quito stay and serve as your personal concierge. Enjoy an included lunch with a spectacular view of the city, and a welcome dinner with your group at a local gourmet restaurant.

Day 3
Quito / Flight to Baltra Island / Embarkation

After an included breakfast at the hotel, you will transfer to the airport for your flight to Baltra, Galapagos. During World War II, Baltra served as a U.S. military base protecting the Panama Canal from enemy attack. Now the cactus-strewn landscapes of Baltra are home to the region's main airport. From the airport, it's just a short bus and Zodiac ride to the ship.

After embarkation, enjoy a short sail to Mosquera Islet. This flat, sandy islet sits in the channel between Baltra and North Seymour. It is almost devoid of vegetation, but has one of the largest populations of sea lions in the islands. Its sandy expanse offers visitors the perfect opportunity to observe sea lion behavior. It is also a beautiful site to observe lava gulls, coastal birds, and Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Keep your eyes peeled for occasional sightings of dolphins and Orca whales. Excursion option: Walk.

Day 4
Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island / Bartolome Island

Today starts in Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island. During a volcanic eruption in the early 1900s, this area of Santiago was covered with flowing lava. Today, the hardened fields of black rock create a geologic wonderland. Take advantage of the cool of the early morning for a walk to view strange twisting hardened lava flows, collapse craters, and everyone's favorite – the hornitos or lava ovens. Tall red scoria cones and pioneer plants also dot this unusual and very young landscape.

In the afternoon, head to Bartolomé Island, which hosts one of the region’s most often photographed views, and a spectacular geologic setting. Its barren moon-like volcanic landscapes, spatter cones, and pinnacle rock make for a unique stop. It is also home to the endemic Galapagos penguin and provides an excellent opportunity for snorkeling. Excursion options include a hike up some 368 stairs “to the Top” of the volcano, a Zodiac ride, and an optional beach swim or snorkel. Excursion options: Hike, swim, beach and snorkel.

Day 5
Isabela Island

Composed of five coalesced volcanoes, Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos and the most recently active, the latest eruption occurred in 2015. Here you will see large land iguanas, finches, and if lucky, a giant tortoise or two. In 1954, the intrusion of magma below one of the island’s volcanoes caused part of the bay to be uplifted some 20 feet, and today you can walk through the remains of what was once a thriving underwater reef. Excursion options: Walk, hike, snorkel, and swim.

Historically an anchorage for pirates and whalers, this site offers a breathtaking view of Isabela, its volcanoes, and spectacular Darwin Lake. Along the shore, seabirds, penguins, sea lions, sea turtles, and nesting flightless cormorants can often be found. Excursion options: Zodiac, walk, snorkel, and kayak.

Day 6
Fernandina Island / Isabela Island

Fernandina is the youngest island in the Galapagos and, as Darwin wrote, it is “covered with immense deluges of black naked lava.” Along with its extraordinary black lava rocks, this point of land hosts the largest colony of marine iguanas in the Archipelago, along with sea lions and a nesting site for flightless cormorants. Excursion options: Walk, deep-water snorkel, hike.

The half-collapsed remains of an ancient volcano make for a spectacular setting at this site. Awe-inspiring cliffs, blue waters, and wildlife create a Zodiac ride to remember as we search for sea turtles, penguins, fur seals, the flightless cormorant, marine iguanas, marine mammals, and the oddly shaped form of the elusive sunfish. Excursion options: Zodiac or deep water snorkel.

Day 7
Santiago Island

With its black sand beach, coastal tide pools, and blue-water grottos, this stop offers a wonderful taste of the Galapagos and the opportunity to see shore birds, Galapagos Hawks, sea lions, marine iguanas, and Galapagos fur seals. Sea lions, colorful tropical fish, and sea turtles are often seen while snorkeling (conditions permitting). Excursion options: Walk, swim, or snorkel.

Espumilla Beach, Santiago Island - Located on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay, this beach is a sea turtle nesting site. The favored attractions here are the Palo Santo forest, beach, and the lovely landscape. The trail passes a small seasonal lagoon where flamingos and white-cheeked pintail ducks are sometimes seen. Continuing on, the trail loops through the arid zone, where some of the tallest Palo Santo trees of the entire archipelago are found. Also, look out for the Galapagos Hawk as well as Darwin’s finches. Excursion options: Walk.

Buccaneer Cove, Santiago Island - Buccaneer Cove is a testament to the fact that Santiago Island was once a refuge for British buccaneers. These pirates would anchor in the protected bay to make repairs and stock up on tortoise meat among other things. The steep cliffs, where hundreds of seabirds perch in front of the dark red sand beach, are a magnificent site. Excursion options: Kayak, snorkel, or Zodiac.

Day 8
Santa Cruz Island

This is the main population center of the islands, and home to the National Park Service tortoise-breeding center and the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here you will have the opportunity to visit the tortoise-breeding center and walk through the Charles Darwin Research Station. In addition, you can also take a bus ride to the highlands to observe giant tortoises in the wild and walk through a lava tunnel. Optional time for shopping will be available. Excursion options: Tortoise-breeding Center/Charles Darwin Center, Highlands.

Day 9
Genovesa Island

El Barranco, also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, named for Prince Philip who visited the Galapagos in 1965 and again in 1981, is a steep stairway that leads up through a seabird colony full of Nazca and Red-footed Boobies. Once visitors reach the plateau, the trail continues inland and passes more nesting booby colonies in the thin Palo Santo forest. You will see Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, and storm petrels. Lucky visitors with keen eyes may catch a glimpse of a short-eared lava owl stalking petrel along the island’s eastern cliffs. Excursion options: Hike, Zodiac, and deep water snorkel.

Darwin Bay’s soft white sand is only the beginning of a spectacular excursion. A trail from the beach takes you into lush mangroves where red-footed boobies nest. Other local wildlife includes sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls, frigate birds and more. Snorkeling is a must here, as the nutrient-rich water attracts all types of marine life, including sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, and the occasional manta ray. Excursion options: Walk, swim, snorkel and kayak.

Day 10
North Seymour Island / Baltra Island / Disembarkation

North Seymour is a small island just north of Baltra. It is home to the largest colony of frigate birds in the Galapagos. While keeping an eye out for male frigates trying to impress potential mates with an inflated red neck pouch, you may see blue-footed boobies dancing in a timeless courtship ritual. Sea lions and large land iguanas also roam about this rocky terrain. Excursion options: Walk.

Baltra is home to the region’s main airport and where you will fly out. You will have a Zodiac and bus ride to the airport.

Upon your arrival in Quito, a shipping company representative will escort you to the JW Marriott hotel. Dinner is served at the hotel.

Day 11
Quito, Ecuador / Departure

After an included breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home.

Notes

This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes. Read this itinerary as a guide only, as the exact route and the wildlife you encounter may vary.

Included:

Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; pre-cruise transfers between the Quito Airport and the JW Marriott Hotel (or equivalent); two night pre-cruise in a shared double occupancy room at the JW Marriott Hotel (or equivalent) in Quito; meals in Quito during the pre-land portion of the package in Quito, including all meals on Saturday and Sunday breakfast pre-cruise; a guided tour of Quito (full-day); air transportation (coach class on either scheduled or charter services) from Quito, Ecuador, to Baltra Island; transfers from the airport in Baltra to the ship; 7-night Galapagos cruise as indicated in the itinerary; complimentary beverages on the ship including select wines, sparkling wines, spirits, soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, and teas; room service; Internet access; onboard entertainment, including programs or lectures onboard by Galapagos National Park-certified naturalists or crew; snorkeling equipment, short wetsuits, binoculars, and walking sticks to borrow for the duration of the cruise; the Galapagos National Park admission fee; the Galapagos Tourist Card fee; gratuities; transfers from the ship to the airport post-cruise on Baltra Island; air transportation (coach class on either scheduled or charter services) from Baltra Island to Quito; transfers from the Quito Airport to the JW Marriott Hotel (or equivalent). Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Air transportation to/from Quito, Ecuador and to Quito/from Peru; any additional food or beverages obtained outside of the package specifications; personal services such as spa, laundry, and telecommunication charges; alcoholic beverages. Fuel surcharges may apply.

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