Dates: Friday weekly departures (cruise starts on Sunday).
The fleet of three identical first-class motor-yachts, M/Y Eric, Flamingo I, and Letty, were custom-designed for Galapagos excursions, offering tremendous value for superior comfort. Two experienced English-speaking naturalist guides attend to the details of your Galapagos cruise. Each naturalist takes a group of no more than 10 passengers on all shore excursions and shares extensive insights into the Islands’ diverse wildlife. Stable rubber boats, locally called pangas, ferry passengers to shore for Island visits. These week-long, comprehensive itineraries visit the islands’ most spectacular sites to witness the unique plants and animals that have made these islands famous.
Built in 1991 and refurbished every year, each 20-passenger yacht features ten double outside facing cabins located on three decks with polished teak wood interiors, window view or portholes. All of the yachts are fully air-conditioned and have private bath facilities. Picture windows surround the upper two decks and offer a spectacular panoramic view of the ocean and landscape. Enjoy sea breezes, sunshine, or a sky full of stars on lounge chairs and recliners located on the sun deck and observation points. Snorkeling equipment, custom wet suits, and sea kayaks are available at no additional cost.
Brief Tour Itinerary:
Day 1: Quito or Guayaquil
Day 2: Quito or Guayaquil
Day 3: San Cristobal/Playa Ochoa/Leon Dormido
Day 4: Darwin Bay/Tower
Day 5: Fernandina/Isabela
Day 6: Santiago and Sombrero China
Day 7: Bartolome/North Seymour
Day 8: Darwin Station/Santa Cruz Highlands
Day 9: Punta Suarez/Gardner Bay, Espanola
Day 10: Interpretation Center/San Cristobal/Quit
Day 11: Quito or Guayaquil/Onward.
Day 1: Quito or Guayaquil. Arrive in either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador, where you will be met and transferred to your local hotel*. Quito is located in a huge valley of the Andes Mountains at an altitude of 9,455 feet; it’s a great place to extend your stay to explore the city or the surrounding volcanic mountain range. Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city, and with its low elevation and more coastal location it is an ideal point from which to fly to Galapagos. Stay overnight at the Swissotel in Quito or the Hotel Oro Verde in Guayaquil, for two nights. (*Hotel/city tour package is not included in cruise rate.)
Day 2: Quito or Guayaquil. Quito city tour: Stroll down cobble stone streets and through flowering plazas. Visit the old colonial center of Independence Square, the elegant cathedrals of San Francisco, La Compañía and San Agustín, Quito’s oldest monastery. Drive through the residential section and past the Legislative Palace (Congress). Panecillo Hill overlooks the city and snow-capped mountains. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore or relax.
Guayaquil city tour: Our first stop is Malecon 2000, an 80-million-dollar riverside complex built along a twomile stretch of the Guayas River. The waterfront boardwalk features a myriad of restaurants, cafes and shops, and museums with art exhibitions as well as free weekend jazz and classical music concerts. Drive through the colorful streets of one of Ecuador’s most important port cities, Guayaquil. Visit the Public Market, the waterfront and the docks, and Simon Bolivar Park, which is famous for its tree iguanas. Also, admire the watchtower, La Rotonda, Old Santa Ana Fort, and Las Penas, a charming colonial section of town that is occupied by artists. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore or relax. Meals: Breakfast.
Day 3: San Cristobal/Playa Ochoa/Leon Dormido. You will be transferred to the airport where you will collect your tickets for your flight to the Galapagos. Upon arrival to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island, the crew is waiting at the airport to escort you to your anchored yacht. After the welcome briefing and safety drill, set sail for Playa Ochoa, where you have a chance to snorkel and at the same time swim with a small colony of sea lions. Behind the beach, there is a tidal lagoon where birds can be spotted, including the rare Chatham mockingbird. At sunset, cruise around Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), a vertical tuff cone formation that abruptly juts up almost 500 feet out of the ocean. On the cliffs, you will find blue-footed boobies, Nazca, or masked, boobies, and magnificent frigate birds.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Darwin Bay/Tower. Spend the entire day on Tower (Genovesa) Island, considered to be one of the most spectacular islands in Galapagos for bird species. This morning, there will be a dry landing at Prince Philip’s Steps. Red-footed boobies nest here in Palo Santo trees and Nazca (formerly masked) boobies nest near the trail. In an open lava field, you will find storm petrels in large numbers. If you are lucky, you will see the elusive short-eared owl.
After lunch, sea kayaks are available to paddle along the shoreline. Look for the beautiful red-billed tropic bird, which can usually be seen in a crevice. A snorkeling opportunity is offered along the inner rim of the volcanic crater. Later, land on Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach where swallow-tailed and lava gulls gather near the tide pools. Enter a forest of Optuntia cactus and mangroves where colonies of great frigate birds nest. The males inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. The trail leads through a rich intertidal zone where you will find a wide diversity of animal life. If you wish, enjoy another swim with sea lions. Once you are back on board, the ship sets sail for the western islands. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: Fernandina/Isabela. This morning, disembark at Punta Espinoza, Fernandina, the youngest and most pristine island found in the Galapagos. Hundreds of marine iguanas, the largest colony in Galapagos, bask in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory. Flightless cormorants build their nest on the point, and Galapagos hawks fly overhead. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast. After lunch, cross the Bolivar Canal, and be on the lookout for whales and dolphins riding the bow wave.
This afternoon, enjoy a visit to Tagus Cove, located on the western island of Isabela. Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos, was formed when six volcanoes flowed together. On your walk, discover a salt-water lagoon and enjoy a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields, and volcanic formations. Graffiti dating back to the 1800s is written on the rocky cliffs. Explore the cove in pangas, or sea kayaks, to find Galapagos penguins, boobies, pelicans, and other seabirds. This is an excellent snorkeling opportunity following the walk. After a briefing and dinner, be sure to view the night sky to see the southern hemisphere constellations and Milky Way galaxy. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 6: Santiago and Sombrero China. This morning, stroll along the shore at Puerto Egas, Santiago looking for octopus, starfish, and other sea life caught in the tide pools. At low tide, catch a glimpse of marine iguanas as they feed on exposed green algae. Watch for great blue herons, lava herons, American oyster catchers, and yellow-crowned night herons. Your walk ends at the grottoes, deep pools of clear water where you can encounter fur sea lions, which were once on the verge of extinction. Before returning to the yacht, there is a snorkeling opportunity to view a wide variety of tropical fish. During lunch the yacht motors to the other side of the island for more scenic landscapes.
Located off the Southern tip of Santiago , the Sombrero Chino or Chinese Hat owes its name to its shape. After a wet beach landing with sea lion colonies, the trail gives way to a primeval landscape of volcanic rubble with cracked lava formations and lava tubes. The lava tubes are fragile and one must be careful to stay on the trail. Here you will see marine iguanas and pairs of oyster catchers. There are wonderful photographic opportunities here on the very special place in the world. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 7: Bartolome/North Seymour. On Bartolome it seems like you are walking on the moon. This young island is inhospitable to most plants and animals. After landing, climb 30 minutes up stairs leading to the summeit of a once active volcano. Along the way, pause to marvel at lava bombs, spatter cones, and cinder cones. From the top of the wooden stairs, you can gaze out across the island for a panoramic view of the island and "Pinnacle Rock", and eroding tuff cone. Down below, crystal clear water is an invitation to snorkel with schools fo tropical fish and Galapagos penguins. On the other side of the island, encounter sea turtles and white tipped sharks. This afternoon, you will disembark on North Seymour, a small geological uplift. After a dry landing follow a trail that leads to swallow-tailed gulls, blue-footed boobies, and the endemic land iguanas. Visit the largest colony of magnificent frigate birds found in the Galapagos. As you stroll along the beach, sea liosns swim on the ocean swells. After the walk there is a snorkeling opportunity offered in deep water.
Day 8: Darwin Station/Santa Cruz Highlands. This morning, travel by bus to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. The scenery gradually changes as you wind your way through all seven vegetation zones found in the Galapagos. From June to January, you can find giant tortoises on a private farm in the highlands. Enjoy a visit to Los Gemelos, or "The Twins", a pair of large pit craters where you find the bright red male vermilion flycatcher. Stop at "the tunnels", the largest lava tubes found in the Galapagos.
After lunch on board, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Friday is feeding day at the tortoise corals. Visit all three tortoise corals and the breeding center with new hatchlings and miniature tortoises not yet ready to be repatriated. Scientists from all over the globe work at the station and conduct biological research, ranging from anatomy to zoology. Also, visit the Van Straelen Hall where there are exhibits and a short video presentation. Visitors can now see the pen of Lonesome George, the last surviving member of the Pinta Island subspecies. Stroll through the town of Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos with a population of 15,000. Buy souvenirs, mail postcards, or kick back at an Internet cafe in the social heart of the Galapagos Islands. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 9: Punta Suarez/Gardner Bay, Espanola. This morning, disembark at Punta Suarez, Espanola, where you will witness the highest rate of endemic species in the Galapagos while hiking a sometimes challenging trail over small boulders. Sea lions noisily greet you as you land on their beach, and curious Hood mockingbirds peck at your shoelaces. From April to November, the waved albatross, found only on Espanola, perform their wild mating ritual. See colonies of blue-footed boobies engage in "sky-pointing" to show off for potential mates, and watch Nazca, or masked boobies busily care for their young. Catch a glimpse of stunning swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world. Look for red-billed tropic birds taking shelter under the cliffs. Here, you can also find Darwin’s finches, Galapagos doves, and Galapagos hawks. Observe a unique species of marine iguana, which can be identified by its traces of red and green colorings. Colorful sally light-foot crabs crawl along the shoreline near to the famous "blow hole.” This is the scene most people envision when they decide to visit Galapagos, and it is a glorious finale to your Galapagos cruise. On your last afternoon in the Galapagos, land at Gardner Bay, Espanola (Hood). Walk along seemingly endless stretches of sandy beaches, where you will find large colonies of sea lions. There is no trail to follow, so this is a chance to explore. Here, you may find a Galapagos hawk, Darwin’s finches, or a Hood Mockingbird. Swim with sea lions or enjoy an excellent snorkeling site off Gardner Islet. Encounter a colorful diversity of sea life near Gardner Islet and Tortuga Rock and view caves covered with invertebrates. This evening, enjoy the Captain's Farewell cocktail, followed by dinner and a final briefing. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 10: Interpretation Center/San Cristobal/Quit. This morning, drop anchor in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal. Visit the Interpretation Center, which was opened in 1999. Here, you will gain a more complete understanding of the natural and human history of the Galapagos Islands. Afterward, head straight to the airport for your flight back to the mainland, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Meals: Breakfast.
Day 11: Quito or Guayaquil/Onward. You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. Meals: Breakfast.
Costs are for Cruise Only.
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