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 at Baltra Airport and transfer to the Athala II, where there will be an introductory briefing. After lunch, travel by Zodiac to Sombrero Chino Islet. Sombrero Chino is a small islet near the southeastern coast of Santiago Island. Its name translated to English means “Chinese Hat,” a name that makes perfect sense as soon as you take a look at its unique shape. There are various interesting geological formations which make this island a great visit for scenic photos, but there are also various marine species to observe such as very colorful sally-lightfoot crabs and sea lions. Keep an eye out for different species of Darwin’s finches as well.
The name Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) stems from the fact that it was one of the few sites on Santa Cruz Island where a healthy population of land iguanas were found in 1975. After landing at a pier, a hike takes you to a salt water lagoon behind the beach, frequented by common stilts, pintail ducks and occasionally flamingos. A short walk up the hill leads you to a land iguana nesting site, with breathtaking views of the bay. You will have the chance to go swimming after the walk.
After enjoying lunch onboard, the next visit is to Rabida Island. Rabida is a small island with red volcanic rocks surrounding a beautiful red sand beach, where there is a colony of sea lions and a pelican nesting site. The trail leads to a salt water lagoon where shore birds can be seen. Rabida is considered to be one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos Islands, and you will also have the opportunity to go kayaking or on a Zodiac ride.
Elizabeth Bay is one of the furthest points of the Galapagos that will be visited 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.
Moreno Point is located just southwest of Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island and is known for large populations of sea birds. Moreno Point can be appreciated during a Zodiac 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.
Floreana is one of the Galapagos' most famous islands. There are many wonderful and diverse sites to visit, including Post Office Bay and the “Baroness’ Viewing Point.” Marine life also abounds in Floreana’s coastal regions making it a fantastic site for snorkeling. Flamingos populate the island and may be seen during your visit. The Baroness 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!
After lunch, explore Cormorant Point, which is a great site for birdwatching. See a large lagoon where everything from Flamingos to stilts and pintail ducks can be observed. The beach nearby is also quite special and is known as, "The “Green Beach,” due to its green color, which comes from a high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand.
Located on the north coast of San Cristobal Island, the eroding tough cone of Cerro Brujo offers a fantastic landscape, as well as wonderful swimming, snorkeling and Zodiac ride experiences. Cerro Brujo’s gorgeous beach is also home to many sea lions and it’s the first coast where Charles Darwin first stepped foot 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).
Isla Lobos is named after its large colony of sea lions (also called “lobos,” or wolves in Spanish). Usually visitors may have close encounters with sea lion pups, especially while snorkeling. However, this small islet offers much more including blue-footed boobies, frigates and even a glimpse at the second type of sea lion species found in Galapagos: the fur sea lion.
On your visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, gain insight into the huge efforts being made by scientists, guides, rangers, and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the famous Galapagos tortoises that are the islands’ namesake. After the visit, drive to the green highlands of Santa Cruz, where you will visit a tortoise reserve to search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings.
Punta Suarez 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 Espanola marine iguanas bask in the sun. Further inland, Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest near the trail, Galapagos doves peck around unaware of visitors, and finches go about their day-to-day business. 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, find waved albatrosses nesting. The 15,000 to 17,000 pairs of albatrosses on Espanola represent almost the entire population of this species on the planet. They perform one of the most spectacular courtship rituals of the animal world.
Make a wet landing at Gardner Bay after lunch. There are opportunities to enjoy a wonderful white sandy beach and swim, snorkel and kayak. Gardner Bay is home to one of the most important colonies of sea lions, and a nesting site for sea turtles. Return to the Athala II and enjoy a farewell cocktail this evening.
Daphne Major is located between Santa Cruz and Santiago Islands and is a spectacular birdwatching site, as well as scientific research site. A select handful of scientists have long studied bird life on these islands, especially Darwin’s finches. So important are these populations that this little island became famous after many publications made by well-known researchers, Peter and Rosemary Grant. Your guide will point out the bird life, as well as explain some of the important research carried out on the islands from the vantage point of the yacht’s decks as visitors are not allowed to walk on these islands due to their very fragile nature. Disembark the Athala II for return flights home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Ship Dry Dock Dates: Sep 29 - Oct 27, 2012
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; use of snorkeling gear and wetsuits; VIP lounge on inbound flights to the Galapagos at Quito or Guayaquil; VIP lounge on outbound flight from Galapagos; 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); 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 (2012: $200 per person; subject to change).
If you are booking a cruise only program, 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-$275 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).