Nine of the Best Isles

Galapagos Islands, tourist photographer

Embark on an 11-day journey aboard the Santa Cruz II, exploring the captivating Galápagos Islands. Discover unique wildlife and stunning landscapes as you visit islands like Baltra, Santa Cruz, Floreana, Santiago, Bartolomé, Rábida, Genovesa, and more. Witness giant tortoises in their natural habitat, stroll along red and white sandy beaches, snorkel with marine life, and marvel at diverse bird species including blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and Galápagos penguins. Each day offers exciting excursions, from panga boat rides along rocky coastlines to hikes up volcanic formations for panoramic views. Conclude your adventure with unforgettable memories and a deeper understanding of the remarkable Galápagos ecosystem.

Day 1 : Quito

Your adventure starts at the Equator amidst the verdant Andean foothills. Quito, situated at an elevation of 9,350 feet, ranks as the world’s second-highest capital city. Its primary attraction is the enchanting Old Town, established on an ancient Inca settlement. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts impeccably preserved colonial buildings, vibrant squares, impressive churches, and grand monuments. After checking into your hotel, venture out to discover this historical area.

If you have the opportunity, we suggest arriving a few days in advance to partake in one of the optional Pre-Programs.

Day 2 : Quito

Today, partake in a guided exploration of Quito’s extraordinary Old Town, renowned as one of the most extensive and well-maintained colonial districts in South America. Stroll along cobblestone streets, marvel at the architecture, and indulge in delectable chocolate crafted from premium Ecuadorian cacao during the tour.

Following this, journey to the renowned ‘Middle of the World City,’ situated approximately 16 miles north of Quito. After a delightful lunch, visit the iconic monument marking the imaginary Equator line. Capture the memorable experience of straddling both hemispheres with your camera.

Middle of the world monument

Photo: jopstock

Day 3 : Galapagos

As your adventure across South America concludes, it’s time to transition to the next phase of your journey. After breakfast, a brief flight will transport you to Baltra Island, situated within the stunning Galápagos Archipelago. From there, a transfer will whisk you directly to the port, where you’ll board the comfortable expedition vessel MS Santa Cruz II.

Our exploration of the Galápagos Islands will commence in the afternoon as we sail along the north shore of Santa Cruz towards the captivating landscapes of Cerro Dragón, also known as Dragon Hill, where we will disembark. The initial part of the hike will take us past a brackish lagoon frequented by shorebirds and American flamingos. Further along the trail, you’ll enjoy a picturesque view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, along with your first opportunity to encounter land iguanas.

Dragon Hill | Galapagos Islands

Photo: sgoodwin4813

Day 4 : Isabela And Fernandina Islands

Your day will commence at Punta Vicente Roca, located on the northwestern tip of Isabela Island. Following breakfast, we’ll embark on a coastal exploration aboard a panga boat, guided by naturalists who will enlighten you about the striking geology of the area.

Punta Vicente Roca

Photo: Gerald Corsi

This site serves as a nesting ground for various bird species, so keep an eye out for flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, and boobies. If weather conditions permit, you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel alongside the cliffs, where you may encounter green sea turtles, oceanic sunfish, and fur seals.

In the afternoon, our journey will take us to Fernandina, an island characterized by its unique ecology and abundant population of marine iguanas. Keep watch along the coastline for sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hawks, and penguins.

Isla Fernandina | Galapagos marine iguanas

Photo: Maridav

Day 5 : Santa Cruz Island

Today’s adventure takes you to Santa Cruz Island. In the morning, we will disembark at Puerto Ayora to explore the Charles Darwin Research Station.

At this facility dedicated to giant tortoise conservation, you’ll have the opportunity to observe recently hatched tortoises and Darwin’s renowned finches – the birds pivotal to his theory of evolution by natural selection. Additionally, you’ll encounter an impressive forest of prickly pear cacti, which serves as a habitat for numerous land birds.

Enjoy a cooler climate during lunch in the lush highlands, where giant tortoises roam freely, grazing on grass and relaxing in pools.

You’ll also have time for another activity, such as mountain biking or visiting a sugar plantation.

Charles Darwin Research Station

© Latin Trails

Day 6 : Floreana Island

Following breakfast, embark on a panga boat excursion through the channels along Floreana’s northern shore, soaking in the breathtaking island vistas at Baroness Cove. Later, we’ll make a stop at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries.

Post Office Bay - Galapagos Islands

© Latin Trails

After lunch, venture into the marvels around Champion Islet aboard a panga boat or a glass-bottom boat, offering one of the premier snorkeling experiences in the archipelago.

Next, we’ll proceed to Cormorant Point, where we’ll stroll from an olivine-crystal beach to a brackish lagoon, where you can spot American flamingos, pintail ducks, and other fascinating wildlife along the way.

Day 7 : Baltra Island

Enjoy a leisurely day aboard as we anchor off Baltra Island. Following four days of exploring the unique natural wonders of the Galápagos, take this opportunity to unwind and recharge for the adventures ahead. Utilize the various onboard amenities, peruse books in the library, or engage in a workout session in the gym – the choice is yours.

In the afternoon, we’ll disembark at Las Bachas beach on the northern shore of Santa Cruz Island. This stunning white-sand beach with turquoise waters offers excellent opportunities to observe iconic Galápagos wildlife such as flamingos and sea turtles. Take a swim or snorkel before returning to the ship for an expedition briefing on the upcoming day.

Galapagos experiences

Day 8 : Santiago Island

Today’s itinerary includes exploring the pristine beaches and picturesque landscapes of Santiago Island. Begin by admiring the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove on the northwest coast, which host a diverse population of marine birds and sea lions. Engage in various water activities while marveling at unique rock formations like ‘Elephant Rock’ and ‘The Bishop’.

In the afternoon, we’ll venture to Puerto Egas, considered one of the top visitor sites on the island. Here, you’ll have the chance to encounter a colony of Galápagos fur seals and observe exotic birdlife during a guided excursion. Alternatively, you can enjoy swimming or snorkeling along the rocky shorelines, often accompanied by marine turtles.

travel to galapagos

Day 9 : Rábida And Bartolomé Islands

Begin your day on the quaint Rábida Island, situated off the southern coast of Santiago Island. Embark on an exhilarating panga boat ride along the coastline to discover the island’s captivating red-colored beach. Witness a sea lion colony and be on the lookout for marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers, and various species of Darwin’s finches.

In the afternoon, we’ll sail to Bartolomé Island, renowned for its golden sands and the imposing Pinnacle Rock. Enjoy swimming or snorkeling along the beach, or opt for a glass-bottom boat ride to admire colorful marine life. Keep an eye out for Galápagos penguins on the shore. Additionally, hike to the summit of the island for breathtaking panoramic views.

Bartolome island

© Latin Trails

Day 10 : Genovesa Island

Today’s exploration takes place on Genovesa Island. The morning begins with a moderate ascent up Prince Philip’s Steps, also known as El Barranco, which climbs only 90 feet to reach a flat and rocky plateau. Once there, you can leisurely walk along and observe large colonies of Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds, and storm petrels. Alternatively, you can opt for a kayak excursion for a unique aquatic adventure.

Nazca booby

© Latin Trails

In the afternoon, we’ll disembark at the beautiful beach that borders Darwin Bay for a refreshing swim. Following this dip, take a leisurely stroll and observe the diverse birdlife inhabiting the island. You can also engage in swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, or simply relax on the beach.

Darwin Bay | Galapagos Islands

Photo: Donyanedomam

Day 11 : Santa Cruz And Baltra Island To Quito

We start the last morning on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. A dry landing at a passenger wharf and a bus ride to the loftier region of the island will provide a final highlight of your expedition cruise: giant tortoises in the wild.

The windward slopes of the island are set aside as a reserve that’s home to two species of giant tortoise. These lush highlands also feature dense forests of Galápagos daisies, orchids and bromeliads.

After this visit we’ll transfer directly to the airport in Baltra for your flight to Quito to connect to your international flight, or if you prefer, continue to Guayaquil for another adventure.

To explore more of Ecuador, why not extend your stay and join one of the optional Post-Programmes.


Highlights

  • Witness the majestic frigatebirds soaring overhead.
  • Explore underwater and swim with sea turtles, Galápagos penguins, and playful sea lions.
  • Observe marine iguanas sunning themselves on the shores.
  • Enjoy birdwatching opportunities with Nazca and red-footed boobies, as well as great frigatebirds.
  • Discover colorful marine life while snorkeling, including a chance to see Galápagos penguins along the shore.
Duration
11 Days
Difficulty
Easy
Age
All ages

Included

Hotel

  • Two nights at a hotel in Quito before the expedition cruise, including breakfast and dinner on Day 2

Flights

  • Flights in economy class between Quito and Baltra, all taxes included

Transfers

  • Transfer from the hotel to the airport in Quito before the expedition cruise

  • Transfers between the airport and the ship in Baltra

Excursion

  • Full-day excursion: Historic Quito and Middle of the World, including lunch, before the expedition cruise

Extras

  • Galápagos Islands National Park admission fee

  • Transit Control Card for the Galápagos Islands

  • Access to the airport lounge at the Quito (or Guayaquil) airport upon return from the Galápagos Islands for guests flying internationally on the day of disembarkation

Expedition Cruise

  • Stay in a cabin of your choice

  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages*

  • Complimentary tea and coffee

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board†

  • Complimentary reusable water bottle

  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore

  • Range of included activities

  • Complimentary wetsuit rental

  • Welcome and farewell cocktails

*House beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water

†Please note that Wi-Fi and phone reception are very limited in the remote areas where we travel, and streaming is not supported.

Onboard activities

  • In-depth lectures and discussions hosted by experts on the Expedition Team

  • Use of our Science Center, which features a small library and microscope

  • The Citizen Science Program allows guests to contribute to ongoing scientific research projects.

  • Our onboard professional photographer will give photography tips and teach techniques for capturing landscape and wildlife photos.

  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs and gym

  • Join informal gatherings with the crew for daily briefings.

Landing activities

  • Escorted landings with panga boats

  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and all equipment needed for the activities

  • Expedition photographers will be on hand to assist you.

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather conditions

  • Your flight from Baltra will go to Quito. If you wish to end your expedition in Guayaquil, please advise your booking agent.

  • Quito’s altitude is approximately 9,350 feet above sea level. You may experience mild altitude sickness during your stay.

  • Excursions and activities are subject to change

  • Please ensure you meet all entry and boarding requirements

  • No gratuities are expected

Not Included

  • International flights

  • Travel insurance

  • Luggage handling

  • Additional overnight(s) if required due to international flight timings