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
$999,999,999 to $0
Arrive in Baltra, your first stop in the Galapagos Islands. Transfer to the ship and continue on to North Seymour. North Seymour may very well be the perfect introduction to the Galapagos Islands. Although the island is characterized by arid vegetation, fauna abounds and you will soon find yourself surrounded by sea lions, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, frigates and more. With some luck, you may even get to see land iguanas as well. Enjoy a briefing on the next day’s program, welcome cocktail and dinner after your first day exploring North Seymour.
South Plaza Island, although quite small, is actually home to a large Opuntia cacti forest, land iguanas and one of the largest sea lion colonies in the central region of the archipelago. An endemic plant, Sesuvium, inhabits this island and is a great climate indicator as its color is greenish-yellowish during the rainy season and a bright red during the dry season. You will also be able to see Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, as well as different types of finches.
After lunch, make a wet landing for an excursion at Santa Fe Island. Formed by uplifting, rather than by a volcano, Santa Fe is known for having one of the most beautiful coves in all the Galapagos. Some of the island’s endemic species include the Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Snake, different types of finches, and the Galapagos mockingbird. The visit includes a hike on a trail past salt bushes where Galapagos hawks, as well as the Santa Fe land iguanas tend to roam. Playful sea lions will usually accompany swimmers and snorkelers during beach time.
Punta Pitt is composed of volcanic bluff substrate and is located on the eastern tip of San Cristóbal Island. This is the only site in Galapagos where one may have the opportunity to see all three species of boobies and both species of frigates. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled as the red-footed booby is not as easy to spot because they prefer to nest in areas of thick brush. You can also enjoy kayaking, snorkeling and panga rides at Punta Pitt.
After lunch aboard the Eclipse, disembark for activities at Cerro Brujo. Located on the north coast of San Cristóbal Island, this eroding tough cone offers a fantastic landscape, as well as wonderful swimming, snorkeling and panga ride experiences. Cerro Brujo’s gorgeous beach is home to many sea lions and it’s also the first coast where Charles Darwin first stepped foot on in the Archipelago! See a beautiful lagoon used by the locals of Baquerizo Moreno Port for salt mining, as well as two different species of halophytes (rare plants that grow in soils with a high salt content).
Floreana is one of the Galapagos most famous, or shall we say, “infamous” of islands due to many strange stories regarding past settlers. There are many wonderful and diverse sites to visit, including Post Office Bay and the “Baroness’s Viewing Point.” Marine life abounds in Floreana’s coastal regions making it a fantastic site for snorkeling. Flamingos also populate the island and may be seen during your visit.
The Baroness’s Viewing Point is the perfect place to take in the special environment that defines Floreana, and a great spot to talk and ponder regarding the intriguing history of the Baroness and her three lovers! In the 18th century whalers passing through the islands placed a wooden barrel on Floreana Island for use as an unofficial mail box. The tradition continues today as visitors leave addressed postcards in the barrel and sort through left mail to deliver at home. This is one of the archipelago’s most famous spots. Don’t forget to look in your logbook for your postcards! Also, visit a a great site for bird-watching, Cormorant Point, which has a large lagoon where everything from Flamingos to stilts and pintail ducks can be observed.
Elizabeth Bay is one of the furthest points of the Galapagos that to visit on your cruise. Enter a sheltered cove – a wonderful mangrove ecosystem that is a refuge for sea turtles, rays, blue-footed boobies, penguins, herons and more.
Land at Moreno Point after lunch, located just southwest of Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island and is known for large populations of sea birds, which can be appreciated during a panga ride along the striking rocky shores or a hike along a path through lava rock leading to tide pools and mangroves. In the tide pools, green sea turtles or white-tip sharks can be spotted.
The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic center of the archipelago. Stroll along the streets to see how Galapagueños live in this magical paradise. You may also visit the Charles Darwin Research Station where conservation is conducted by scientists, park rangers and park managers, among others, who make huge efforts to preserve this extraordinary place. The Station is a tortoise breeding and rearing center, where tortoises of different subspecies are prepared for reintroduction to their natural habitats.
After visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station, take a bus to the highlands. The lush greenery of the Santa Cruz Highlands is a welcome contrast with the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands. You can see giant tortoises and perhaps the famed lava tunnels.
Gardner Bay on Española Island offers the chance to enjoy a wonderful white sandy beach. It is home to one of the most important colonies of sea lions, and it is also a nesting site for sea turtles. Throughout the morning there are opportunities for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking.
Visit Punta Suárez in the afternoon, which is one of the most popular and attractive sites in the Galapagos. Due to its isolation from other islands, it has a high proportion of endemic fauna. A few steps inland from the landing site, groups of Española marine iguanas bask in the sun. The trail continues towards a blowhole, which is a fissure in the lava where water spurts high into the air like a geyser. The cracks in the cliffs are home to swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds. Further up the cliff in an area of low-lying trees you will find waved albatrosses nesting. The 15,000 to 17,000 pairs of albatrosses on Española represent almost the entire population of this species on the planet. Enjoy a departure briefing, farewell cocktail and dinner in the evening.
Mosquera Islet: This tiny islet is home to a huge population of sea lions and is also home to many shorebirds. While at Mosquera, keep your eyes peeled as there are occasional reports of dolphins and orcas. You will be transferred from the Eclipse to Baltra airport in time to catch your return flights.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Ship Dry Dock Dates: Aug 31 - Sep 28, 2013
Family Departures: 12/14/2013, 12/28/2013
Guides will organize separate activities such as faster but educational walks, beach games, onboard activities, special briefings for children, and special menus and mealtimes. Specialist guides can be assigned to educate and entertain your children throughout the day (group minimum of 10 children), while you enjoy the cruise at your own pace. However, if parents wish to take their children with them in their group, they may do so. Note: On family departures, minimum child age is 4 years. On non-family departures, minimum child age is 8 years.
Cabin accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; all shore activities and excursions; all soft drinks and juices on board; complimentary one-time fully stocked mini-bar in deluxe staterooms; naturalist guide service; onboard star gazing with a naturalist guide; use of snorkeling gear and wetsuits; VIP lounge on outbound flight from Galapagos; onboard complimentary refillable sports water bottle (purified water stations are available throughout vessel); complimentary use of robes in all cabins; sharing transfers between the airport in Baltra and the dock.
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); Puerto Villamil tax ($20 per person); international airfare; airfare to/from Galapagos Islands; alcoholic beverages onboard; gratuities to ship crew and naturalists are left to the discretion of the passenger; travel insurance; passport expenses; fuel surcharge $260 (subject to change).
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): $450-$550 per adult; $250-$325 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).