Summary : Experience Darwin's enchanted isles onboard a comfortable expedition ship with a quality education program, excellent service, Jacuzzi, kayaks, and sun deck. 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, Triple/Quad Cabins
$4,760 to $7,950
Arrive at Baltra Island. After passing through Galapagos National Park inspection your National Park Guide will be there to greet you. Your guide will accompany you on the short bus ride to the waterfront. During WWII the island of Baltra was a US Air Force base and one can still see the remnants of the old foundations left behind from that era. Transfer via panga (launch) to the waiting ship. The crew will see that your luggage is transferred to your cabin.
You’ll have time to settle into your new home for the week. While this is taking place the ship will start her engines and set off into the archipelago.
Daphne Minor, a tuff cone (giant pile of compressed volcanic ash shaped like a cone), sits off the north coast of Santa Cruz Island. While off limits to all but limited scientific parties going ashore, permission from the National Park has been obtained to navigate around the island. You will have a front row seat to witness bustling colonies of blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, magnificent frigate birds and more. You'll also have the opportunity to observe short-eared owls and red-billed tropicbirds.
As the sun sets on your first day in the Enchanted Archipelago, you'll toast to the voyage ahead with a welcome cocktail.
In the morning visit Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island. Snorkeling is incredible here as a result of the nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current surrounding the western side of the archipelago. Delight in seeing colorful fish, sea lions, penguins and sea turtles in the water.
In the afternoon, visit Fernandina Island, the youngest and westernmost island in the Galapagos. Punta Espinosa is a narrow stretch of land where some of the most unique Galapagos species can be seen. Keep an eye out for penguins, Sally-lightfoot crabs, herons and sandpipers. You may even spot marine iguanas feeding underwater!
Urbina Bay is directly west of Isabela's Volcano Alcedo, where you will make an easy, wet landing (a hop into a few inches of water). A highlight of this excursion are the giant land iguanas and giant tortoises, as well as the opportunity to go snorkeling among marine creatures, or just relax on shore.
Visit Tagus Cove on Isabela Island. A wooden stairway rises to the trail entrance and continues around Darwin Lake through a dry vegetation zone, and ends in a promontory formed by spatter cones. The site provides spectacular views of the ship anchored in the bay, as well as Darwin and Wolf Volcanoes. The cove offers the chance to snorkel with marine iguanas, sea turtles, penguins and you may even spot a sea horse.
Visit Bartolome Island, famous for Pinnacle Rock, where you will see Galapagos penguins and sea lions. You will also hike a trail to Bartolome's summit where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Pinnacle Rock and idyllic beach, where the crystal blue waters of the bay cradle the yacht.
Sullivan Bay is one of the most outstanding volcanic sites in the Galapagos. In the nearly 100 years since the Sullivan Bay Flow, only a few plants like Mollugo and Lava cacti have managed to take root in this harsh environment. Oystercatchers can be seen fishing for crabs and mollusks in the tide pools of Sullivan Bay. After exploring the lava flow, there is time to enjoy swimming and snorkeling with playful sea lions off two small coraline beaches.
Visit Las Bachas, a sandy white-coral beach that is a major egg-laying site for sea turtles. The name Bachas refers to the remains of landing craft left here at the end of WWII. Once ashore your greeted by patrolling blue-footed boobies. A brief walk inland takes you to a lagoon where pink flamingos are often found along with great blue herons, common stilts, brown noddys, white-cheek pintail ducks and migratory birds. Snorkeling today is from the beach and you can also enjoy a swim in these waters which are typically warmer than in other places in the Galapagos.
Rabida Island, commonly known by its English name of Jervis, is unique for the very red color of the beach and cliffs, beneath which one can find gliding sea turtles and perched blue footed boobies. A thick forest of Palo Santo trees sits back from the beach sheltering a yellow saltwater lagoon. Pelicans next in the thickets and brightly colored pink flamingos graze the lagoon. A sea lion colony likes to laze on the red sands of the beach. Hike up a tiny peninsula for a wonderful view of the beach and lagoon. Sea caves invite exploration further down the coast.
Rabida also offers a nice kayaking route starting on the eastern side of the peninsula, then around and along it. The route continues west past the beach, then beneath the island’s towering red cliffs. This is a great place to spot sea turtles from your kayak. Beneath the ocean surface Rabida offers excellent snorkeling along the shore of the little peninsula. The sea turtles are easier to see once you are in the water.
Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos and its capital, Puerto Ayora, is the economic center of the Islands. This morning visit Puerto Ayora, home to both the Galapagos National Park Service Headquarters and Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of the great restorative efforts taking place in the park, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you'll visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding & Rearing Program run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 14 tortoises on the island of Española in 1970. This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today.
In the afternoon discover the Highlands of Santa Cruz, where the dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. Your destination is the Tortoise Reserve, where you will have a chance to see these lumbering gentle giants up close, walk through lava tubes, and see the Gemelos twin collapsed craters.
Española is the southernmost island of the archipelago, and is one of the most popular due to the breathtaking variation and number of fauna that inhabit the island. In the morning visit Punta Suarez where you will witness the largest variety of marine iguanas in the Galapagos, masked boobies and blue footed boobies nesting along the cliff’s edge, as well as the famous waved albatross. Albatross are the largest birds you will see in the Galapagos with wingspans up to 2.25 m (7.4 ft). They are the only species of albatross exclusive to the tropics. In the trees set back from the cliff is one of only two places in the world where the waved albatross nests. The 12,000 pairs that inhabit the island comprise all but a tiny fraction of the world’s population of this species.
In the afternoon visit Gardner Bay, a magnificent long white sandy beach, where colonies of sea lions laze in the sun, sea turtles swim offshore, and inquisitive mockingbirds boldly investigate new arrivals. You will be lured from the powdery white sand into the turquoise water for a swim, but just a little further off-shore the snorkeling by Gardner Island offers peak encounters with playful young sea lions and schools of surprisingly large tropical fish, including yellow tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish and bump-head parrot fish. Gardner Bay and Islet also offer inviting waters for those interested in kayaking.
Today your Galapagos cruise comes to an end, but before you bid farewell to the Grace visit the Galapagos National Park Visitor Center that presents a comprehensive exhibit of the islands’ natural history, human interaction, ecosystems, flora and fauna.
Afterwards, return to the airport for the flight back to the Ecuadorian mainland.
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.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
Travelers are required to carry a minimum of $50,000 of emergency medical evacuation coverage for this trip, and all visitors to Ecuador arriving on or after February 1, 2018 must have public or private health insurance for the duration of travel within the country. You must be prepared to show proof of coverage to migration agents at the airport. Without proof of health insurance coverage, your entrance into Ecuador may be denied. Passengers must check with their medical insurance provider regarding extent of coverage when traveling abroad. (Note that Medicare typically does not cover passengers when they travel outside the US.) ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that you select a travel protection plan that also includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage, and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Cabin accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; soft drinks, juice, coffee and tea throughout the cruise; kayaking; use of snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuits). Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers in Quito or Guayaquil; Galapagos National Park entrance fee; Galapagos Transit Card; gratuities to ship crew and naturalists; alcohol drinks and beverages other than those mentioned as included; travel insurance; passport expenses; personal expenses; fuel surcharge may apply.
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): $500-$700 per adult; $350-$450 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).