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, Photography, Snorkeling, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins
$999,999,999 to $0
Arrive Baltra Island this morning by plane and transfer to the dock to board. Enjoy a welcome introductory briefing and lunch.
North Seymour is a great introductory site to the islands and wildlife such as blue footed boobies, two species of frigate birds, swallow tailed gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas.
After breakfast, take the panga over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by many sea lions. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Snorkeling and swimming from the panga rounds off our rewarding experience, or if guests prefer, the glass-bottom boat provides an incredible view for non-snorkelers.
Visit the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina, in the afternoon. Punta Espinoza has an amazing combination of barrenness and a lot of wildlife. Having no introduced mammals, Fernandina boasts a very unique environment with the highest density of marine iguanas, who share their space with sea lions, Sally-light foot crabs, hawks, penguins and the flightless cormorant.
After breakfast, land on the northwest of Isabela to visit secluded Tagus Cove, a place that was a favorite anchorage of pirates and whalers over the centuries. Old messages are still found carved in its cliffs. An uphill hike takes guests to the back of Darwin Crater, which is filled with salt water. The view at the end of the trail is worth the climb. After the walk, take a panga ride to spot local wildlife, with the possibility of swimming or snorkeling too.
After lunch, disembark at Urbina Bay, the fascinating result of an uplifting of the ocean floor in 1954. Here you can find corals, shells, and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water. Enjoy a snorkel from the beach, with the chance of swimming with flightless cormorants. This area is also home to large colorful Galápagos land iguanas.
Disembark this morning for a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise enclosures, where there is an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following your visit, board our transport to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.
Enjoy one of several options available for the afternoon (hiking, mountain biking or kayaking in Tortuga Bay), which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and embark the vessel.
Visit Post Office Bay this morning. A short walk leads to the historic barrel where mail can be left and guests from other vessels will pick it up and hand-deliver it to its final destination. Explore the north shore of Floreana along narrow channels teeming with life. Rays, turtles and sea lions can be seen gently swimming next to pangas.
Take to the pangas and glass-bottom boat to explore the underwater wonders around Champion Islet, an extinct shield volcano, regarded as one of the best snorkeling spots in the archipelago. From there head to Punta Cormorant, a olivine-crystal beach, for an easy walk that includes a brackish lagoon where bird species like greater flamingos, herons, and sandpipers may be observed. Walk to a white-sand beach where sea turtles emerge from the sea at night to nest (December to May).
Arrive in Baltra Island. Some passengers may be ending their voyage today, and new passengers may be arriving for the remainder of the voyage.
Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, Las Bachas is a glorious white beach with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. This is a great opportunity to get acquainted with snorkeling gear and techniques.
After breakfast, enjoy a coastal exploration along the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer’s Cove. Learn about the history of Santiago Island, its relevance for the whalers, pirates and early researchers, including Darwin’s epic voyage in 1835, and the conservation projects aimed. Today the cove is home to a large number of marine birds, sea lions, and inter-tidal organisms. Enjoy fantastic natural formations such as the “Elephant Rock,” “The Bishop” and an impressive natural cave. This is a great site for snorkeling or a zodiac ride!
Disembark at Puerto Egas to enjoy a swim or snorkel amid a rocky shoreline, usually in the company of marine turtles. From here, take a walk as you watch for land and marine birds amid landscape of tuff-stone layers and hardened lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds and you can also observe a colony of fur-sea lions.
Land on a red-colored beach and take a gratifying stroll along this small island. Observe a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. Very close to the beach, hidden behind a strip of green saltbush, is a salt pond where greater flamingos flock during certain times of the year. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach, both for beginners, as well as for experienced snorkelers, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes. Of, enjoy a ride in the glass-bottom boat or a panga. During navigation to the next island, dolphins are often spotted.
Disembark at Bartolomé Island for a hike to the summit. This is a steep climb aided by a wooden staircase with handrails; the view from the top is worth the effort. Go on a dinghy ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, then enjoy the beach and some snorkeling, possibly with Galápagos penguins, or else a ride in the glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.
The morning starts with a very interesting panga ride along the cliffs before disembarking on rocks for a steep climb (90 feet) up stairs. Once at the top of the stairs, the land is flat, allowing for a stimulating walk of about a mile to the other side of this small island. Observe large colonies of masked boobies, frigate birds and storm petrels. Those not wishing to disembark can enjoy a longer panga ride along the cliffs (depending on weather conditions). After the walk, you can snorkel along the dramatic cliffs where there are chances of spotting many colorful fish.
In the afternoon, land at Darwin Bay to enjoy swimming and snorkeling at this beautiful natural harbor. Later, take an easy stroll observing frigate birds, red-footed and masked boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. There is an optional walk over uneven terrain for dramatic views, or you can return to the beach or enjoy a zodiac ride.
After breakfast, there is an optional departure to see the breeding program of giant tortoises at Cerro Colorado. Learn about his endangered species, and its promising recovery. Return to town and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the 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.
This trip is a combination of two shorter trips. Therefore you may have passengers who will embark/disembark part-way through the trip.
Photography Lectures: Included in cost
A professional photographer is part of the permanent expedition staff aboard the Santa Cruz II. The photographer will accompany you and the naturalist guides on both land and sea explorations in order to help you document the experience. On board, they will offer talks designed to help you improve your photography and video techniques and provide you with general tips on how to best capture the wonders of the Galapagos Islands.
Shared transfer from main hotels in Quito (Casa Gangotena, Hilton Colon, Mercure, Sheraton, Marriott, Dann Carlton) and in Guayaquil (Hilton Colon, Oro Verde, Hampton Inn, Sheraton) to airport for flights to/from Galapagos; cabin accommodations aboard ship; meals aboard ship; coffee, tea and water; shore activities and excursions; guide and lecture services; kayaking; glass-bottom boat outings; snorkeling gear (except wetsuits); luggage handling; medical care on board (but not the cost of medication); taxes and transfers in the islands; Internet/Wi-Fi for guests staying in Panorama Deck cabins; Darwin Suite passengers receive a take-home Galápagos coffee table book and complimentary soft drinks. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; hotel nights before/after cruise; Galapagos National Park entrance fee; Galapagos Transit Card; wetsuit rental; Internet and WiFi; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; gifts and personal items; passport expenses; traveler's insurance; laundry service; gratuities to ship staff and crew are left to the discretion of the passenger; travel health insurance (required to enter Ecuador); 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; $300-$450 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).