Summary : Discover Darwin's enchanted islands aboard a comfortable, stabilized motor yacht with superb guides, high-quality 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.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Dedicated Solo Cabins
$8,010 to $9,810
Arrive in Quito and transfer to your hotel.
Transfer to the Quito airport and fly Baltra Island. Transfer to Santa Cruz Island and visit the highlands and hike through the tall grass to observe the islands' most famous reptile: the giant tortoise. Walk among the Scalesia Forest (an endemic giant daisy tree) and observe birds such as the vermilion flycatcher, and Darwin's finches.
Visit impressive lava tunnels near Bella Vista and walk in underground channels where lava once flowed. Enjoy a welcome dinner and overnight in your Santa Cruz hotel.
Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galápagos National Park headquarters to learn first-hand of the conservation and research efforts in the islands. You'll see several subspecies of adult tortoises, hatchlings, and learn of the repatriation programs that are saving several subspecies of tortoises and iguanas from extinction.
Later in the afternoon, board the yacht for dinner and set sail on your voyage.
Admire flamingos wading in a large lagoon by a green olivine sand beach, and take a short hike to Flour Beach where sea turtles nest and rays frolic off shore. Snorkel at Champion Island with curious, playful sea lions and hope for a glimpse of the rare Floreana Mockingbird.
Visit the wooden barrel that has served as a "Post Office" since the 18th Century. Learn of its amazing history and enjoy the opportunity to continue the tradition. Head into the Floreana Highlands to visit tortoises and hear intriguing stories of the Wittmer Caves.
Walk over a young hardened lava flow at the base of Cero Azul past cacti and other early colonizing plants. Dotted with numerous lagoons, observe a wide variety of life, including flamingos, Paint-billed Crakes, White-cheeked Pintails, and Common Gallinules.
At Elizabeth Bay, float by skiff silently into narrow channels of a mangrove lagoon to see rays, Flightless Cormorants, penguins, pelicans, lava herons, sea turtles, sea lions, Blue-footed Boobies, many fish and other species that inhabit this vital zone. The Marielas Islets, just outside the bay, are home to penguins, and visitors can usually observe them both on shore and swimming nearby.
At this site in 1954, volcanic activity caused a stretch of coastline to be uplifted stranding coral and other sea life that couldn't escape, more than a km away from the new shore. Walk among the skeletal coral garden, now home to lizards and mockingbirds. Urbina Bay is also home to large, colorful land iguanas. During certain times of the year, you may encounter Alcedo tortoises which come down from the highlands to nest in the warm sand.
Upon landing at Punta Espinosa, notice the abundance of small, dark marine iguanas and brightly colored Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Walk out on a pahoehoe lava flow—younger than the one at Punta Moreno—past a few pioneering plants. Along the sandy shore you may see Flightless Cormorants, pelicans, and numerous, lounging sea lions, and the sunsets are often quite stunning.
Pirates and whalers in the 19th Century used Tagus Cove for anchorage and you can see their markings on the cliffs of this sunken caldera. A short, steep hike passes Darwin Lake, which sits within a tuff cone and is filled with salt water. This site is an excellent place for viewing land birds, including Ground and Tree Finches, Galapagos Hawks, Yellow Warblers, Large-billed Flycatchers and even sometimes the Woodpecker Finch. A rare sighting of land iguanas is a real treat. Enjoy a scenic zodiac ride or kayak along the cliffs for views of geologic features, penguins and other bird species.
The large cave and cleaved tuft cone and caldera wall of Punta Vicente Roca are impressive geological formations and provide a beautiful backdrop for nesting birds, including Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, gulls, storm petrels, and Brown Noddy Terns. It also forms a calm gathering area for sea turtles. Snorkelers can also see many species of colorful fish, penguins, sea lions, sea anemones, small jellyfish, and other sea life.
Meander along a coastal trail to the fur seal grotto at Puerto Egas, a safe haven for the shy Galapagos Fur Seal. Amongst the crags and swimming inlets, you can see American Oystercatchers, marine iguanas and ubiquitous sea lions. Another less-used trail heads inland to a lagoon at the Salt Mine Volcano where flamingos and other birds are found.
Espumilla Beach’s red-sand is home to a sea turtle nesting site, with an inland trail that passes a small lagoon into the arid zone where it is possible to view many land birds including Galapagos Hawks. While snorkeling at Buccaneer Cove, you may see sea lions, fur seals, sea turtles, rays, sharks, pelagic fishes, and interesting underwater geologic formations.
Enjoy a quiet and peaceful ending to your adventure at Bachas Beach's beautiful white sand beach. Two small lagoons just over the dunes sometimes host flamingos. "Bachas" comes from the remains of a barge that ran aground decades ago, leaving just a few rusty spines visible today. In Caleta Tortuga Negra, enjoy a silent skiff ride to watch for sea turtles feeding in the calm waters, as well as sharks, spotted rays, egrets, and lava herons.
The trail at North Seymour heads inland to observe the largest colony of Magnificent Frigatebirds in Galapagos, as well as the occasional Blue-footed Boobies, and land iguanas.
After breakfast, disembark at Baltra Island and adjourn to the Baltra airport to await your mid-morning flight to the Ecuador mainland. On arrival, you'll transfer to the Wyndham Quito Airport hotel and enjoy a dayroom with extended check-out for a chance to freshen up and relax before returning to the airport terminal for your late departing flight. Or if you have an early morning flight the following morning (Day 11), you can overnight at the hotel for no extra charge.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes. Read this itinerary as a guide only, as the exact route and the wildlife you encounter may vary.
Roundtrip airport transfers; one pre-cruise and one post-cruise hotel night in Quito; one pre-cruise hotel night in Santa Cruz; meals and accommodations onboard vessel; naturalist guide; soft drinks, juice, water, coffee, tea, and draft beer while on board the yacht; kayaking and snorkeling; MedEvac200 Insurance*; fuel surcharge. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; single supplement for hotel accommodations; travel insurance; Galapagos National Park fee; airport taxes and fees; Galapagos Transit Card; gratuities for yacht crew, guides and naturalists; items of a personal nature including, but not limited to: laundry, any bottled or alcoholic beverages that are not specifically included, excess baggage charges, wetsuit rental, phone/fax charges; travel health insurance (required to enter Ecuador).
Minimum Passenger Requirement/Small Group Yacht Exceptions:
Please understand that the yacht will not be operated if there are less than four guests. If the minimum is not met for your preferred departure date, the shipping company will offer to transfer you to another departure of your choice on the same itinerary at no additional charge. In the event you agree to move to another date, the shipping company agrees to provide, based on airline ticketing receipts showing airfare change costs, an allowance of up to $250 per person for airfare change fees incurred. If you are unable to travel on another date, the shipping company will issue a full refund of all monies paid to them. However, we are not responsible for any fees or cancellation penalties that you may incur elsewhere due to a trip cancellation.
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).
Photos by INCA
*MedEvac200 Insurance is factored into the cost of your trip at a charge of $15 per person for 0-11 day trips (if your trip is longer please inquire for the rate for longer coverage). Coverage is for up $5,000 in basic medical expenses and $200,000 evacuation expenses. Please contact us for a detailed brochure for terms and conditions. Please note that this insurance does NOT provide any coverage for losses caused by other reasons such as trip cancellation, trip interruption, delay en route, lost baggage, loss of life or for items that would be covered by trip cancellation insurance. Please let us know if you do NOT wish to purchase this coverage, and we can have it removed from the cost of your trip.