Ecuador

Galapagos Islands Sea Voyage


Ecuador Galapagos sea lions on beachThe Galapagos Islands are truly a world treasure. The islands and their surrounding marine reserve are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and have been called a “living museum and showcase of evolution”. Many of the animals and plant species you will find in the Galapagos are seen nowhere else on the planet, and opportunities for adventure and exploration in this unique and beautiful archipelago abound.

You'll be right in the heart of the action on this boat-based Galapagos adventure! Daily shore excursions will engage you with the many moods, wildlife, and landscapes of the islands as you hike, snorkel, swim and explore. Cap off energetic days of discovery watching the sun dip down from the deck of the boat, and then enjoy the after-dark spectacle of creatures swimming just below.

 

For this itinerary, we have selected a very comfortable mid-sized boat which has a remarkable staff and knowledgeable, engaging guides, as well as a fantastic ecological ethos. It is comfortable and spacious, yet still intimate, and offers a range of air-conditioned cabin options. Ship amenities include: water bottle refill stations, onboard pool and jacuzzi, fitness center, meeting spaces, a library with 24-hour snacks, daily educational talks, delicious daily meals with an array of nutritional options, and 2 onboard bars. Special programming for kids, as well as a play area, make this an excellent choice for families. Depending on your particular needs and interest, we can explore additional options in both vessels and itineraries.

Please keep in mind the program price does not include: Airfare to/from Galapagos, Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100 USD), and Galapagos Transit Card ($20 USD).

Ecuador Galapagos boat route


Sample Itinerary

Our itineraries are designed to let the country and its people guide your experiences. Please be flexible and allow the program to unfold.

DAY 1

Baltra - Bartolome Island

Depart from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra Island on a 2 1⁄2-hour flight. Arriving in the Galapagos, you are picked up at the airport by your guides and taken to the pier to board the boat.

Our boat sets sail to Bartolome Island, where we'll make our first landing in the afternoon. Explore a fascinating landscape formed by volcanic parasitic cones —lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones — that resembles the moon. At the summit, you'll find impressive views of the surrounding islands, including Pinnacle Rock. We'll also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and blue-footed boobies.

Beach time is a great opportunity to snorkel and see the famous Galapagos Penguins, sea turtles and White-tipped Reef Sharks among a great variety of colorful fish in the crystal-clear water.

Due to its geographical location, the lack of vegetation is immediately noticeable; however, there are pioneer plants including the endemic Tiquilia nesiotica and Chamaesyce (known as sand mat or spurge in English), lava cactus, and Scalesia bushes.

Difficulty level: intermediate
Type of terrain: trail made of 372 steps
Duration: 1 1⁄2-hour walk / 1-hour snorkeling

MEALS:  L,D


DAY 2

South Plaza Islet - North Seymour Island

In the morning, we'll make a dry landing at South Plaza. There are two Plaza Islets (north and south) located east of Santa Cruz Island. On the northern part of the Islet, begin the journey along an impressive cactus forest were colorful yellow and red land iguanas live. The iguana population number is around 300 animals; during the dry season they survive on fruit and the flower of the opuntia cactus. A peculiar thing to see in South Plaza is the hybrid iguana (sea and land). On the islet's highest point, tropic birds can be seen. During the dry season (June – January) the usually greenish and yellowish vegetation change color, creating a bright red landscape.

Difficulty level: intermediate
Type of terrain: rocky
Duration: 2-hour walk

In the afternoon, we'll make a dry landing on North Seymour, located off of Baltra Island and not far from Santa Cruz. This landmass was formed by a series of underwater volcanic eruptions which deposited layers of lava on the ocean floor. We'll take an approximately two-hour walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds, and swallow-tailed gulls for an in-depth encounter with sea bird breeding cycles and sea lions. You will also encounter land iguanas, and if you are lucky, you might even come across the endemic Galapagos Snake.

Difficulty level: intermediate
Type of terrain: rocky
Duration: 2-hour walk, 30 minutes snorkeling

MEALS:  B,L,D


DAY 3

Pitt Point - Cerro Brujo (San Cristobal Island)

In the morning, we'll make a wet landing at Pitt Point on San Cristobal, followed by a high-intensity hike on rocky terrain. The trail includes a 90 meters long, olivine beach and a path that climbs to the top of a volcanic tuff, through several magnificent viewpoints. This is probably the only site where the three Galapagos booby species can be seen together, as well as two species of frigate birds and a sea lion colony. It is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling, where a good range of seabirds can be observed.

Difficulty level: difficult
Type of terrain: rocky
Duration: 21⁄2-hour walk/ 40-minutes snorkeling or kayaking

In the afternoon, we'll make a wet landing at Cerro Brujo, an eroding tuff cone that at several locations is composed of lava formations and a beautiful white sandy beach, great for snorkeling and sunbathing. We'll visit a lagoon where migratory bird species can be seen: Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, other sandpiper species and White-cheeked Pintails. Cerro Brujo offers beautiful views of Kicker Rock, the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast.

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: sandy
Duration: 1-hour walk / 1-hour snorkeling

MEALS:  B,L,D


DAY 4

Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve - Interpretation Center & Tijeretas (San Cristobal Island)

In the morning, we'll make a dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Here we will visit the San Cristobal Giant Tortoise Breeding Center to learn about the National Park’s conservation programs. Enjoy a beautiful landscape on the way to the Reserve. You will also have the opportunity to visit the village’s port, have a drink or shop for arts and crafts and other souvenirs.

Difficulty level: intermediate
Type of Terrain: sandy
Duration: 40-minute bus drive to the Reserve / 1-hour visit

In the afternoon, we'll make a dry landing in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos Islands. We'll visit the Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about islands’ history in The Museum of Natural History which displays information about the volcanic origins of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, ocean currents, climate, the arrival of the different species and their colonization, among other points of interest. The human history is also showcased, chronologically narrating the most significant events related to the discovery and the island’s colonization.

Difficulty level: easy /intermediate
Type of terrain: at/stairs
Duration: 1-hour visit / 1-hour walk

Tijeretas Hill involves a high-intensity walk amidst beautiful landscapes and a magnificent view at the foot of a frigate bird nesting colony.

Difficulty level: difficult
Type of terrain: Rocky
Duration: 1-hour visit

MEALS:  B,L,D


DAY 5

Gardner Bay, Osborn or Gardner Islets - Suarez Point (Española Island)

In the morning, we'll make a wet landing on a beautiful white coral sandy beach guarded by a colony of sea lions. There are no trails, so we stay along the shore where we can spot Galapagos hawks, American Oystercatchers, Galapagos Ground Doves, Hood mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and three species of Darwin’s finches: a subspecies of the Large Cactus Finch, which is similar to the large ground finch, the Small Ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) and the Warbler Finch (Certhidea Olivacea), another endemic subspecies. Swimming and snorkeling offer glimpses of a great variety of the Galapagos’ marine wildlife: king angel fish, Creole fish, damsel fish, parrot fish, manta rays, and white-tipped reef sharks.

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: sandy
Duration: 1-hour walk / 1-hour snorkeling

In the afternoon, we'll make a dry landing at Suarez Point. An island of geological interest, we explore volcanic formations and find riveting wildlife: large sea lion colonies and seabirds including the Española mockingbird, Nazca Boobies, and the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird. You will also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and the colorful Sally Lightfoot Crabs.

A somewhat lengthy hike will bring you among Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, right up to nesting grounds that sometimes overlap the trail. Other birding favorites include Galapagos Dove, Galapagos Hawk, Swallow-tailed Gulls and the world’s largest colony of Waved Albatross, an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December). Admire the island’s dramatic backdrop, featuring the famous “Soplador”, a seaward blowhole that shoots up water up to 23 m (75 ft) in the air.

Difficulty level: difficult
Type of terrain: rocky
Duration: 2 1⁄2-hour walk

MEALS:  B,L,D


DAY 6

Post Office - Cormorant Point, Devil ́s Crown or Champion (Floreana Island)

In the morning, we'll make a wet landing at the infamous Post Office. Located on the north side of Floreana, the bay was named because in 1793 Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel which served as an informal post office for sailors passing through, who would take letters with them back to their destinations. Today, visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel, hoping that some other traveler, going to the letter destination, will take it back for free. The chances are that the letter posted can take a long time to arrive at its destination. However, there have been cases where it has arrived before the sender.

We may also encounter Darwin’s finches, Yellow Warbler and Lava Lizards. Great snorkeling opportunities with Green Pacific Sea Turtles. The island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus Pinnatifidus, and the Galapagos Milkwort. Snorkelers can practice on the main beach among playful sea lions.

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: sandy
Duration: 30-minutes walk / 1-hour snorkeling

In the afternoon, we'll make a wet landing on an olivine green, sanded beach. We hike from the black mangrove beds to a brackish lagoon, which usually holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island features some endemic plants such as Scalesia villosa, white and black mangrove, and holy stick. The trail continues to a beautiful white sandy beach, one of the most important nesting sites of Green Pacific Sea Turtles. It is important to avoid walking in the water due to the Sting Rays that may be hiding in the sand, which can be dangerous if accidentally stepped on. From the beach, one can spot sea turtles, blue-footed boobies plunging into the water, and small reef sharks floating along the shoreline in the search for food.

This coral-sand beach marks the end of our trail, and we head back to the olivine beach we landed on, to swim or snorkel amongst sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions and, on a good day, white-tipped reef sharks. A small colony of penguins resides on Floreana and can sometimes be observed as well.

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: sandy & flat
Duration: 1-hour walk / 1-hour snorkeling

MEALS:  B,L,D


DAY 7

Charles Darwin Research Station & Highlands Tortoise Reserve - Eden Islet or Ballena Bay (Santa Cruz Island)

In the morning, we'll make a dry landing on Santa Cruz Island to visit the research station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place in an effort to preserve the fragile Galapagos ecosystem. It is here that the famous Lonesome George (the last surviving specimen of his species) lived for decades. The Darwin Station also works to provide environmental education to the communities, schools, and tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands. You will have some free time to visit the town and shop for souvenirs.

Difficulty: intermediate
Type of terrain:flat
Duration: 1 1⁄2-hour visit

Next, we'll make another dry landing at the Highlands Tortoise Reserve. Here in the mountains, it's possible to admire different kinds of birds, such as tree and ground finches, vermillion fly-catchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on the tortoises' shell). The journey to the reserve offers a great opportunity to see the contrasts that the island offers in the variety of ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Galapagos Giant Tortoises are often seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is a birdwatchers’ haven, since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here.

Difficulty: easy
Type of terrain: flat & muddy (depending on season)
Duration: 45-minute drive / 1 1⁄2-hour walk

In the afternoon, we'll make a wet landing at Ballena (Whale) Bay, a beautiful green sand cove at the base of Dragon Hill on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. The beach contains a large number of olivine crystals of volcanic origin. The crystals were formed when the magma was still underground. The content is magnesium, iron, and silica. A small population of tortoises from Pinzón Island lived at the site but were probably taken by whalers or previous inhabitants. Opportunity to see marine iguanas and sea birds followed by snorkeling.

Difficulty level: intermediate
Type of terrain: rocky
Duration: 1 hour walk / 1 hour snorkeling

MEALS:  B,L,D


DAY 8

Carrion Point (Santa Cruz Island) - Baltra

Today we'll take a dinghy ride along the entry of the Itabaca Channel, entering a lagoon with turquoise water where we can observe sharks, blue-footed boobies, and different kinds of fish. Afterwards, we'll be transferred to the Baltra Airport for return flights to Quito or Guayaquil.

MEALS:  B


PRICE

From $3,755 based on dbl. occupancy

DURATION

8D / 7N

DEPARTURE DATES

Available year-round


ACTIVITY LEVEL

Easy-Moderate

ROUTE

Baltra - Bartolome - South Plaza - North Seymour - San Cristobal - Española - Floreana - Santa Cruz - Baltra

PROGRAM ELEMENTS

Customizable



APPLY FOR THIS PROGRAM

Share this Trip