Summary : Experience a truly intimate encounter with the Galapagos Islands. Mild or strenuous excursion options allow you to explore the islands at your own pace while discovering blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, and playful sea lions. Experienced naturalist guides certified by the Galapagos National Park will share their knowledge throughout the voyage. Operated by the only major cruise line sailing these waters, this trip offers familiar touches such as complimentary plush bathrobes, a hot tub, sauna, and fitness room.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling
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On the first day of your journey, you'll be greeted at the airport by a cruise representative who will assist with your transfer to the JW Marriott hotel. Enjoy free time in Quito and settle in.
Breakfast is served at the hotel. During your guided tour of the capital of Ecuador, situated at an altitude of 9,350 feet, you’ll stand on the equatorial line at the middle of the World Park and Museum, and marvel at the monastery of San Francisco and la Compañia Church. Your tour director will escort you throughout your Quito stay, and serve as your personal concierge. Lunch with a spectacular view of the city, and enjoy a welcome dinner at a local gourmet restaurant.
After breakfast, 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 and where you will meet the ship. From the airport, it is just a short bus and Zodiac ride to the ship for embarkation.
Spend the afternoon on Daphne Island. Daphne is a volcanic cone located north of Santa Cruz Island. The crater floor is an important breeding site for Blue-footed Boobies. Famous for the scientific investigation of the finch population that supports Charles Darwin’s theory, the island is also home to sea lions, pelicans and tropical birds.
Each voyage is unique. Listed below is a sample of the islands you may visit during your expedition:
With its sandy beach, black rocks, and blue-water grottos, Puerto Egas offers a taste of geology, great snorkeling, and an opportunity to see shorebirds and Galapagos fur seals. Excursion options include a long walk along the shore to the grottos to see fur seals, or a shorter coastal walk. Both options are followed by optional swimming and snorkeling.
Best known for its red sand and eroded volcanic landscape, Rábida is a small island south of Santiago. A nesting colony of pelicans make their home here along with sea lions and seabirds. Excursion options include a Zodiac ride and short walk, swimming and snorkeling from the beach, or a deep-water snorkel for the more experienced.
Bartolome Island hosts one of the region’s most photographed views in a spectacular geological setting. Its barren moon-like volcanic landscapes, spatter cones, and pinnacle rock make for a unique stop. Home to the endemic Galapagos penguin, it provides an excellent snorkeling experience. Excursion options include a hike up 350 stairs “to the top” of the volcano, a Zodiac ride, and an optional beach swim or snorkel.
A long, white sand beach and clear blue waters make Gardner Bay an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling, or relaxing on the beach. In the water, sea turtles, sea lions, rays, colorful tropical fish, and white-tip reef sharks may be seen. Sail to Suarez Point in the afternoon to observe sea lions, hawks, marine iguanas, and both blue-footed and Nazca boobies. Keep an eye out for Waved Albatrosses migrating through to mate and raise their young.
Floreana was the first capital of the Galapagos, and where Charles Darwin met the islands’ Governor. Its small brackish lagoon is often home to flamingos, stilts, and white-cheeked pintail ducks, and one of its beaches is a highly used nesting site for sea turtles. Check out the green-hued sand where you land! Visit Post Office Bay on Floreana Island in the afternoon. Rich in history, this site is home to the post office barrel established in about 1793, where pirates, buccaneers, whalers and others could leave their mail to be picked up by outbound ships. The tradition continues today, as visitors leave addressed postcards in the barrel and sort through left mail to deliver at home.
Along Moreno Point's beautiful rocky shore, a field of hardened black lava flow is dotted with shallow pools which are home to shorebirds and flamingos. The mangrove-lined shore provides a chance to see marine iguanas, sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, penguins, and Flightless Cormorants.
The youngest island in the Galapagos. With its extraordinary black lava rocks, Espinoza Point hosts the largest colony of marine iguanas in the archipelago, along with sea lions and a nesting site for Flightless Cormorants. Discover ancient volcanic remains at Vicente Roca Point.
San Cristóbal Island:
Visit the islands' capital, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, a serene waterfront town. Excursion options include a tour of the local interpretation center with time for shopping, or a brisk long walk to scenic vistas, followed by a visit to the interpretation center. In the afternoon, sail onward to Punta Pitt. Your visit to this location, thought by many to be the most spectacular site in San Cristobal, will offer you the rare opportunity to visit the only place in the Galapagos where you can observe all three species of boobies: blue, red, and masked, and two species of frigate birds nesting in the same area.
South Plaza Island:
One of two twin islands off Santa Cruz, South Plaza is home to land and marine iguanas, and a sea lion colony. Uplifted during a geological event, the rocky island is strewn with prickly pear cactus. Dragon Hill, or "Cerro Dragon," is named after its population of land iguanas. The site offers a beautiful view of the landscape and two small brackish lagoons where flamingos and other shore birds occasionally feed. Along the trail, you will cross a beautiful "white forest" of Palo Santo (incense) trees and Galapagos cotton plants.
Santa Cruz Island:
Puerto Ayora, the islands' most populous center, is home to the National Park Tortoise Breeding Center and the Charles Darwin Research Station. After learning about the islands' comprehensive conservation program, take a bus ride to the Highlands to observe giant tortoises in the wild and walk through a lava tunnel.
Return to Baltra Island and say farewell to the enchanted islands. Upon arrival in Quito, a representative will escort you to your hotel. Enjoy an optional afternoon excursion, time permitting, to the local craft market. Dinner is served at your hotel.
Enjoy an included breakfast at your hotel before transferring to the airport for your return flight home.
Please Note: If you wish to extend your stay in Quito, additional pre-/post-cruise hotel nights may be available. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
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.
Round-trip air transportation from Quito to Baltra; pre-cruise transfers between the Quito Airport and the JW Marriot Hotel; two pre-cruise nights in a shared double occupancy hotel room in Quito; meals during the land portion of the itinerary (excluding dinner on the day of arrival in Quito); a guided full-day tour of Quito; transfers between the Baltra Airport and the ship; one post-cruise night at hotel with dinner and breakfast; post-cruise transfers between the Quito Airport and the JW Marriott Hotel; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; select beverages; room service; onboard programs and lectures; Galapagos National Park fee; Galapagos Tourist Card fee; gratuities for hotel staff and Quito tour guides; gratuities while onboard for crew, lecturers, and guides; gear on loan (complimentary snorkeling equipment, short wetsuits, binoculars, and walking sticks); Wi-Fi. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation between home city and Quito; any food or beverages obtained off of the ship (except as noted); purchases of souvenirs, gifts and other personal items on board; personal services such as spa, laundry, and telecommunication charges; baggage, travel/cancellation and personal insurance; optional pre/post packages; certain premium beverages; fuel surcharge may apply.