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. This trip is a wonderful option for those wanting a quality cruise on a slightly larger ship offering a glass-bottom boat, kayaks, two hot tubs, and fantastic guides.
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
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Arrive by plane at Baltra Island and transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II where you receive a welcome introductory briefing and lunch.
After lunch and your introductory briefing on board, Santa Cruz II will relocate only four nautical miles from Baltra, next to Mosquera Islet, a small volcanic uplift between Baltra and North Seymour. The island is a long and narrow sand bank surrounded by lava reefs. Approach the island from its western shore, a long shallow reef, the perfect rookery for young sea lions. After a wet landing, your guides will lead you past the sea lion colonies, where you will learn more about the fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Galapagos. The walk is easy as it is restricted to a few hundred meters of flat sandy dunes. This will also be a great opportunity for an introduction to snorkeling.
After breakfast, disembark (dry landing) at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the island's capital, and drive 40 minutes to the island’s southern shore. At Cerro Colorado, visit the breeding center for highly endangered giant tortoises in the midst of a fantastic deciduous forest, home to dozens of bird species, including the San Cristobal mockingbird, and the San Cristobal lava lizard, both island endemics.
In the afternoon, disembark (wet landing) on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, an eroded tuff cone, whose trail provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together. Walk or enjoy a panga ride along the coast. Opportunities will be available for snorkeling, swimming and kayaking.
After breakfast, take the dinghy over to an idyllic sandy-white beach populated by many sea lions (wet landing). The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus.
Following lunch and a rest, disembark (dry landing) in this channel, whose turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Beyond, a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide, playing with the thermals.
In the morning, disembark (dry landing) for a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station’s giant tortoise Breeding Center within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following your visit, board transport to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.
You have several options available for the afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the Santa Cruz II.
An exciting walk awaits at this site, where you can enjoy its unique sea bird colonies, including waved albatrosses (April-December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls as well as a view of the Galapagos’ famous “blow-hole”. Also, look out for red-green-black marine iguanas.
In the afternoon, the picture-postcard white coral beach of Gardner Bay and the nearby islet of Osborn provides a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches as you relax. Expect great snorkeling in this area with opportunities for swimming and kayaking as well.
After breakfast, a panga ride takes you to Eden Islet, a small islet located off the coast of Santa Cruz, where you can observe blue-footed boobies diving into the water, reef sharks and frigates. There’s a chance to snorkel and, if weather condition permits, ride in the glass-bottom boat and kayak.
North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a volcanic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stands just above the landing (dry landing), usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom. This is a great introductory site to the islands and their wildlife, full of bird colonies of blue footed boobies, two species of frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas.
On your last day, disembark at Baltra Island and transfer to the airport.
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.
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 in Quito or Guayaquil to airport from select hotels for flights to/from Galapagos; airport/ship transfers in Galapagos; shipboard accommodations; kayaking, glass-bottom boat excursions; use of snorkeling gear (excludes wetsuits); all meals onboard the ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; hotel nights before/after cruise; Galapagos National Park entrance fee; Galapagos Transit Card; wetsuit rental; Internet/Wi-Fi; alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; gifts and personal items; passport expenses; travel insurance; laundry service; gratuities to ship staff and crew are left to the discretion of the passenger; 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).