Summary : Explore the islands onboard an elegant motor yacht with a high quality education program, great 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 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
$5,600 to $9,250
Arrive on San Cristóbal Island, the easternmost of the Galapagos Islands and the first island which Charles Darwin stepped foot on in the Archipelago! Upon arrival board M/Y Grace where you will have lunch and a quick briefing en route to your first visitor sites: Isla Lobos.
The tiny island is separated from much larger San Cristobal by a narrow channel and little bay. This basalt island outcropping lives up to its name of Sea Lion Island, and is home to a noisy population of frolicking and barking beasts. It is also a nesting place for blue-footed boobies and an excellent spot for snorkeling with sea lions. Walk the trail for some baby sea lion and bird watching amidst the sands beneath the salt bushes. After the walk, change grab your snorkeling gear for some swimming with sea lions! The sea lions like to dart past, and then swim up to you to blow bubbles at your mask. On occasion they have been known to leap over, and then dive in front of unsuspecting snorkelers.
Your afternoon comes to a close as we head south back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Enjoy your first Pacific sunset aboard the M/Y Grace by celebrating happy hour atop her sky lounge.
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.
Floreana has had a colorful history of pirates, whalers, convicts, and a small band of somewhat peculiar colonists. A Baroness was among them and chose a Robinson Crusoe existence that ended in mystery and death. Visit Post Office Bay, where in 1793 British whalers set up a barrel as the island‘s Post Office, to send letters home on passing ships. The tradition continues to this day, simply by dropping a post card into the barrel without a stamp. You can also take a post card from the barrel and see that it gets to the right place.
Continuing a bit farther inland you will have the opportunity to enter the underworld of Floreana in the form of a lava tube. The lava tube descends fairly deep into the earth back toward the ocean, where you can swim in a subterranean grotto beneath the tide. Bring a good waterproof flashlight. Snorkeling in Post Office Bay offers choice encounters with waiting sea turtles and tropical fish.
Enjoy an afternoon at Punta Cormorant and visit Flour Beach formed by the erosion of coral skeletons. Walk along the trail and stop at a lagoon frequented by flamingoes, pintails, stilts and other wading birds.
Later in the day, swim with the sea lions in the waters off Champion Islet and be surrounded by an assortment of tropical fish including yellowtail grunts, amberjacks and schools of king angel. You may spot sleepy white-tipped reef sharks hugging the bottom. Sea turtles glide by, while torpedo-like Galapagos penguins may also be encountered.
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.
In the morning 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.
Tiny Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat) Island is named for the resemblance its shape has to a traditional Chinese Coolie’s hat. Your next visitor’s site is off limits to larger groups and day boats, making Sombrero Chino one of the least visited sites in the central islands. The landing site is a tiny crescent shaped cove with sandy white beach cradled between black lava rocks and the crystal turquoise waters of the channel. A sea lion colony likes to rest on the warm white sands, while the rockier sections of the coast are alive with fiery colored sally lightfoot crabs. Marine iguanas sun themselves atop the rocks after foraging for algae in the channel. A quarter mile (400 meter) trail sets off into the island’s volcanic interior to explore its rock formations, including excellent examples of pahoehoe lava resembling black rock ropes. Back at the cove you can snorkel with sea lions, and watch for Galapagos penguins to dart past unsuspecting snorkelers. You’ll also have a chance to see the penguins during a panga ride. Galapagos penguins are the only species of penguin you’ll find living north of the nearby equator.
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.
Afternoon visit to Sullivan Bay, 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 for a panga ride, swimming, or snorkeling with playful sea lions.
In the morning visit Bartolome Island, famous for Pinnacle Rock, where you will see Galapagos penguins and sea lions. Hike a trail to Bartolome’s summit where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Pinnacle Rock and the beach below, where the crystal blue waters of the bay cradle the yacht.
In the afternoon visit North Seymour, a good nesting site for frigate birds and Blue-footed boobies. The Island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. This island is teeming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana; blue-footed booby nests sit beside the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bring them into bloom.
The snorkeling site at North Seymour offers a chance to see many types of rays including marble rays, golden eagle rays, spotted eagle rays, sting rays and even manta rays. Schools of king angelfish and yellow tailed surgeonfish swarm the rocky shoreline and pass the occasional parrot and damselfish. Sea lions pay visits from both Seymour and nearby Mosquera Island as sea turtles and the occasional hammerhead shark can been seen down in the depths.
Today your Galapagos cruise comes to an end, but before you bid farewell to the Grace visit Black Turtle Cove, a mangrove estuary on the northern shores of Santa Cruz Island. Drift quietly via panga to observe many rays, sea turtles, pelicans and other wildlife live among the mangroves.
Afterwards, return to the Baltra 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 other beverages not 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).