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Get up-close to native wildlife
Informative, friendly and professional guide
Perfect introduction for first-time visitors
This 4-day cruise takes you into the eastern section of the Galapagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site of 19 islands located off the Ecuadorian coast. Cruise around the islands aboard the San Jose, a spacious motor yacht that speeds up to 10 knots (12 mph/19 kph) — see Itinerary below for details. (Note: The tour begins with pickup from Baltra Airport and ends with drop-off at San Cristobal Airport.) The yacht accommodates 16 passengers only, and features four decks (uncovered and shaded) to unwind in and observe wildlife. Take your meals from the buffet bar into the living/dining room; all meals starting with lunch on the first day until breakfast on the day of departure are provided. Fix yourself coffee or tea any time you like at the coffee station. Pick up a cocktail or other beverage (own expense) from the bar on board, and listen to nightly briefings from your Galapagos National Park–certified naturalist guide. Before turning in for the night, browse the cozy library for reading on the Galapagos Islands. All eight twin cabins stretch from port to starboard, and measure about 8 by 19 feet (2.5 by 5.8 meters). Enjoy a private bathroom, privately controlled air conditioning and space to put away your luggage. Plus, the twin-size beds can be changed into a double configuration. Since all the cabins face outward, every cabin comes with a fabulous view. Open the windows to let in the sunshine and breezy air. A top-notch crew makes sure you receive great service throughout your journey. To reach the islands, you’ll typically leave your yacht at the anchorage-site and board a dinghy for the final stretch to land. Your crew is trained and ready to assist you as needed.
Day 1: Baltra Aiport – Mosquera (L, D) Make your own way to Baltra Airport (flights leave from Quito and Guayaquil in Ecuador and typically arrive at Baltra island in the morning). At Baltra Airport, pay the Galapagos National Park entrance fee in cash, retrieve your baggage after inspection and then meet your guide, who escorts you to the San Jose. Aboard the yacht, get settled into your cabin, receive a safety briefing and enjoy lunch.
Kick off your Galapagos exploration at Mosquera islet, located between Baltra and North Seymour. Watch sea lions sunbathe as you stroll along a great stretch of white sand, and spot red lava and Sally Lightfoot crabs along the rocky shore.
Back aboard your yacht, enjoy dinner, and while you sleep, your captain sets voyage north to Genovesa, crossing the equator during the passage.
Day 2: Darwin Bay – Prince Philip’s Steps (Genovesa) (B, L, D) After breakfast, step barefoot onto shore, aka a ‘wet landing,’ onto Genovesa's Darwin Bay Beach. Follow your guide on a moderate-level hike that takes you from the shore up to a cliff. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for whimbrels, tattlers, lava gulls, yellow- and black-crowned herons, and yellow warblers. Make out the nests of red-footed boobies in the mangroves below, and spot sharp-beaked and ground finches, some of the famous birds that inspired Charles Darwin’s 1835 evolution theory.
After lunch head to El Barranco, aka Prince Philip’s Steps, located at the southern end of Darwin Bay, a submerged crater. Your moderate-level hike (2 miles/3 km) takes you up steep stairs to a plateau surrounding the eastern side of Darwin Bay. Look for Nazca and red-footed boobies in the trees, and storm petrels and short-eared owls nesting in dry lava beds. That night, your yacht heads back toward South Plaza.
Day 3: South Plaza – Barrington Bay (Sante Fe) (B, L, D) In the morning, explore South Plaza, one half of a pair of islets located off the eastern coast of Santa Cruz island. The channel between the two islands is home to a large colony of California sea lions; watch bulls defending their harems in the bright blue waters. On land, discover various iguanas, including the plaza land iguana, smaller than its relatives on other islands. Your guide also points out hybrid iguanas, the result of crossing male marine iguanas with female land iguanas. Look up along the rugged bluff top, and see swallow-tailed gulls, Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigatebirds and brown pelicans.
Enjoy lunch on board while your boat heads south to Santa Fe, an island formed from a geological uplift, and possibly the oldest island in the archipelago. See native species like Galapagos hawks, snakes and mockingbirds; rice rats and land iguanas; and learn about local plants, including salt bushes and giant prickly pear cacti. Afterward, snorkel in the same waters as sea lions and tropical fish.
Day 4: Kicker Rock – San Cristobal Airport (B) Pack your bags, enjoy breakfast and spend your final morning at Kicker Rock, aka Leon Dormido (Sleeping Lion), just off the western coast of San Cristobal. An old lava cone split in two, Kicker Rock is dotted with frigatebirds, as well as blue-footed and Nazca boobies. Then, slip on your snorkel fins one last time and swim alongside sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, colorful fish and Galapagos sharks. Your journey wraps up with a boat ride to San Cristobal, where a shuttle awaits to transfer you to the airport.
3 nights accommodation (twin cabin with private facilities and panoramic windows in main or upper deck)
All meals, snacks and beverages (water, coffee and tea)
All excursions/activities as mentioned in the itinerary
Professional naturalist guide
Round-trip transfers (specific flight arrival/departure times only)
Transit Control Card ($USD 20, paid at the airport in cash)
Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($USD 100, paid in cash)
Soft drinks (soda, juices) and alcoholic drinks
Round-trip transfers (if flight is outside arrival/departure flight time window)
Optional wet suit rental (paid in cash aboard the cruise)
Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
A current valid passport is required on the day of travel
Not wheelchair accessible
Children must be accompanied by an adult
Please note that the entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park and Transit Card are subject to change
Please advise any specific dietary requirements at time of booking
A current valid passport is required on the day of travel
Important: Please bring cash in order to pay for additional fees/equipment rental/personal expenses
Note: If your flight into Galapagos arrives outside the pickup time window at the airport, you must arrange your own transfer to the landing dock in Baltra. Flights must arrive before or at 9:30am if you wish to take the included transfer. If your flight arrives before this, you will need to wait at the airport for the group to arrive. To take the transfer back to the airport, your flight should depart at or before 1:20pm
Note: Single travelers can book a twin cabin on a sharing basis.The cabin will be shared with another traveler of the same sex. A single supplement fee applies if you wish to book a cabin on a private basis. Please advise at time of booking
Note: Single passengers that are willing to share their cabin with another person of the same gender do not pay an additional single supplement fee in case no roommate has booked
Small-group tour limited to 16 people
Note: airlines allow you to check in 20kg (44lbs) of luggage per person for your flight to the Galapagos. Your cruise will be able to handle this amount of luggage
Baltra Airport or Baltra Harbor (if flight arrives outside pickup time at the airport)
Program finishes with your departure transfer to Baltra Airport