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Northeast and Southern Islands

Example 11 Day Cruise aboard Archipell I
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Experience the wildlife and landscape of the northeast and southern islands of the Galapagos on this 8-day cruise aboard the Archipell I. Enjoy snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking in the pristine crystalline waters of this incredible area. Tour the amazing black beaches of Santiago, explore Santa Fe's unique cactus forest, experience incredible close-up encounters with Galapagos giant tortoises, and much more! 

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Baltra Airport | Embark | North Seymour
Day 2 : Prince Philip's Steps | Darwin Bay, Genovesa
Day 3 : Bartolome | Sullivan Bay, Santiago
Day 4 : Charles Darwin Research Station | Twin Craters, Santa Cruz
Day 5 : Cormorant Point | Post Office Bay, Floreana
Day 6 : Gardner Bay | Suarez Point, Española
Day 7 : Pitt Point | Witch Hill, San Cristobal
Day 8 : Lobos Islet | Cerro Colorado, San Cristobal
Day 9 : South Plaza | Santa Fe
Day 10 : Champion Islet | Peace Asylum | Loberia, Floreana
Day 11 : Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra Airport

Highlights

  • Visit Darwin Bay, the only sandy beach in the crater of Genovesa Island
  • See the huge turtles of Santa Cruz Island in their natural habitat
  • Stop at Pitt Point, a site where all of the three types of boobies breed
  • Tour the highlands of Santa Fe, where land iguanas can be found

Ship

Archipell I

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Baltra
  • Bartolome
  • Charles Darwin Center
  • Darwin Bay
  • Espanola
  • Floreana
  • Gardner Bay
  • Genovesa
  • Haven of Peace
  • Isla Lobos
  • La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado
  • La Loberia
  • Los Gemelos (Twin Craters)
  • North Seymour
  • Post Office Bay
  • Prince Philip's Steps
  • Punta Cormorant
  • Punta Pitt
  • Punta Suarez
  • San Cristobal
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santa Fe
  • Santiago
  • South Plaza Island
  • Sullivan Bay
  • Witch Hill

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Playful sea lions Pinnacle rock in Bartolome Colorful kayaks on the beach White tipped shark Floreana Island

Day 1 Baltra Airport | Embark | North Seymour

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today your guide awaits for you at Baltra Airport, then be transfered to the Archipell Catamaran which is anchored in Baltra harbor. After arrival on board, check in, receive general information and enjoy your first lunch on board.

Afterwards, join an excursion to North Seymour, this islet is one of most visited sites, and it is overloaded with bird life. An easy circular path takes you through the archipelago’s most extensive colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. At the beginning of the breeding season, adult frigatebird-males blow up their vivid red pouches to impressive football-sized balloons. This is one of the few spots where you can compare the magnificent and the great frigatebird breeding next to each other.

Day 2 Prince Philip's Steps | Darwin Bay, Genovesa

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Before landing, make an inflatable dinghy-ride along the eastern arm of the caldera. While you approach, the massive 25 m / 80 ft high walls become overwhelming. Sometimes, a Galapagos fur seal is resting or a seabird is nesting on one of the ledges at the base. Then, you have to hike and overcome the steep stairs from the landing dock to a bush of palo santo shrubs on top. Red-footed boobies gratefully use these scarce nesting-places; so that they don’t have to nest on the rocky ground. On arriving at the seaside of the rim, the bushes open up and you can enjoy wide views, a strong sea breeze and the amazing flying skills of uncountable seabirds. Following the exposed seaside rim, pass the Nazca boobies and finally reach the extensive storm petrel nesting places, where you might be lucky to spot the well-camouflaged short-eared owl hunting for them on foot!

In the afternoon head to Darwin Bay. Inside the submerged caldera of Genovesa lies Darwin Bay, with a diameter of more than 1,5 km / 1 mi and it is almost 200 m / 650 ft deep. The small area surprise you repeatedly, walking along a coral sand beach, crossing barren lava formations and creeks, passing tidal pools, shrubs and further ahead following the top of some cliffs. With this peaceful surrounding, every single species has occupied its own ecological niche (or habitat) without disturbing others.

Day 3 Bartolome | Sullivan Bay, Santiago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The beautiful volcano islet of Bartolome is among the youngest of the islands, and on a geological scale was just recently born out of fire. Although at first sight lifeless, Bartolome offers some of the wildest landscapes and best panoramas in the entire archipelago. To enjoy the postcard view of the idyllic ‘Pinnacle Bay’ you have to climb the stairs to the viewpoint on top of the island (114m/375ft). Enter a dramatic world of threatening (though extinguished) nearby spatter cones, craters, and lightweight lava droplets that have been spewed out by fiery fountains. The Summit Trail is also ideal to witness how scanty pioneer vegetation such as lava cactus is struggling to take root in the bare virgin lava fields.

This afternoon set foot at Sullivan Bay. The desolate, stretched-out fields seem mostly lifeless, but there is plenty to see on this highly popular site amongst photographers. Pacific green turtles seasonally burry eggs in the tiny white sand beach, where you may also encounter crabs, a strayed blue heron or an oystercatcher. On the lava flow, only sparse pioneer vegetation such as lava cacti and carpetweed are able to grow. You might encounter a lava lizard, locusts or a small snake-species (Galapagos racer).

Day 4 Charles Darwin Research Station | Twin Craters, Santa Cruz

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come to Charles Darwin Research Station to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are done. The main attractions are the National Park information center, the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises, and adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.

The road to the highlands leaves from Bellavista, a small village located at a 15-minute drive from Puerto Ayora and passes through the agricultural zone, near the National Park boundary, the Miconia Zone, and then goes to the Fern and Sedge zone. With clear weather, this area gives you beautiful scenes of rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round. Later visit the Twin Craters, which are two pit craters, as well as a local ranch where you can observe the Giant Tortoise specie of Santa Cruz Island in its natural habitat.

Day 5 Cormorant Point | Post Office Bay, Floreana

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today land at Cormorant Point´s green olivine sand beach. The peninsula of Cormorant Point forms the extreme north cape of Floreana, which formed by numbers of smaller volcanic cones, covered by tropical dry forest (palo santo). At the landing beach, be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion-colony. The green sand on this beach contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals that have been blown out by the surrounding tuff cones. The ‘flour sand’ beach on the southern side of the peninsula is formed of even finer white coral sand that feels very smooth to your feet. Parrotfishes have pulverized it, grinding the calcareous skeletons of living coral. You can recognize schools of stingrays that love the sandy bottom to hide themselves. During the first months of the year, Pacific green turtles come ashore to bury their eggs.

In the afternoon visit Post Office Bay, one out of three nearby visitor’s sites on Floreana’s northern coast. Bring your postcards and post them in the peculiar barrel on this historic site. The barrel commemorates an improvised mail service that was set-up for communication between British 16th century whalers and poachers.

Day 6 Gardner Bay | Suarez Point, Española

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The striking white beach at Gardner Bay is an important breeding site for Pacific green turtles. However, without doubt its main attraction is the Galapagos sea lion colony. Females stay year round in this nursery, suckling their pups up to an age of 3 years, although these start to fish after 5 months of their birth. During the breeding- and mating season, the colony becomes even bigger.

Afterwards visit Suarez Point, one of the most outstanding wildlife areas of the archipelago. Huge ocean waves bang onto the southern basaltic cliffs of Suarez Point, forming a spectacular blowhole, where the water sprays meters high into the air (depending on the season, the tide and how strong the sea breeze pushes the waves). Take your time for a meditative break in silence on this emblematic viewpoint, and convert this unforgettable moment in a lifetime experience.

Day 7 Pitt Point | Witch Hill, San Cristobal

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning stop at Pitt Point, one of the only two sites where all of the three types of boobies breed and it is also the site where great frigate birds and swallow tailed gulls are seen. Two wind sculptured tuff cones at Pitt Point make up the extreme eastern end of San Cristobal, and thus, the archipelago as well. These cliffs were the first sight of land when HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin arrived on September 15, 1835. On the small green sand beach, be welcomed by a group of barking Galapagos sea lions. This is a bachelor colony, where males usually relax and prepare themselves for fighting and mating.

From saltbush and spiny shrubs behind the beach, a trail leads up to an area of tropical dry forest vegetation: most of the year leafless palo santo trees, yellow cordia shrubs, tiny prickly pear cacti and carpetweed that turns red in the dry season. After the pretty steep climb through a gully to the cliff top, you can wander around the only colony in Galapagos that counts with all three species of boobies: bluefooted, red-footed and Nazca booby; as well as both species of frigate bird (great and magnificent), famous because of their scarlet balloon-sized pouches during mating season. Frigate birds would rather attack returning boobies and conduct aerial battles than fishing for themselves.

Afterwards visit Witch Hill, one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. The primary attraction of this site is the coral sand beach, an excellent place to swim and snorkel. Witch Hill is the remains of a tuff cone and one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. It has an impressive landscape, where it is often possible to see coastal and migratory birds, including pelicans, blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls; as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. At times, the lagoon is completely dry and deposits of salt may be found in the bottom. The people of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno used to use the lagoon as a salt mine.

Day 8 Lobos Islet | Cerro Colorado, San Cristobal

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The Lobos Islet beach harbors a colony of Galapagos sea lions. As in other colonies in the archipelago, you can approach nurturing females within a few meters. In the breeding season this colony is also visited by territorial males, defending and mating the harem on their part of the beach. This low islet houses more than just Galapagos sea lions. Two other emblematic species breed here. Male blue-footed boobies and great frigate birds that try to impress the females (and tourists) with clumsy dances heaving their striking blue feet or blow-up their balloon-sized scarlet pouches. During the breeding season, the fluffy and hungry chicks cry for food, and when their wings get strong enough they learn to fly.

Afterward, prepare yourself for an excursion to Cerro Colorado Tortoises Protection and Growing Center. Located at 40 minutes approximately by bus to the south east of the island, this center was built to improve the status of the population of the island tortoises. It includes a large corral, a visitors center, breeding center and an interpretative trail. Along this trail, it is possible to see different species of native and endemic plants as well as birds like the San Cristobal mockingbird, yellow warblers, many species of finches and the Galapagos flycatcher.

On your visit to Colorado Hill, discover the amazing and emblematic Giant Galapagos Tortoises in the Tortoise breeding center, and maybe even get to see one hatch (seasonally)! In addition, you get to see how much hard work is put into save the last local giants of San Cristobal.

Day 9 South Plaza | Santa Fe

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
South Plaza is located at the east of Santa Cruz Island, and forms part of two islands known as Islas Plazas. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the Galapagos are found here. The Plazas land iguanas are smaller than its relatives found on other islands. There are several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a male marine iguana and a female land iguana; they are unique, recognizable at first glance by their black/gray color, with a land iguana's crest, but face and tail of the marine iguana. The big population of iguanas is due to the presence of tunas, their favorite food. Swallow tailed gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs are seen along with other sea birds such as Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds and brown pelicans.

In the afternoon visit Santa Fe. Located in the southeastern part of the Galapagos, this island was formed from an uplift instead than from a volcanic origin; this is why it is mostly flat. There are some theories that assure that this could be the oldest island in the Archipelago. Santa Fe is the home of a number of endemic species like the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, Galapagos mockingbird, rice rats and one of the two species of land iguanas of the islands. After disembarkation in the beautiful and clear waters, be in contact with one of the many sea lion colonies. Along the trail, many saltbushes can be seen, as well giant prickly pear cactus. There are great possibilities of snorkeling with playful sea lions and tropical fishes.

Day 10 Champion Islet | Peace Asylum | Loberia, Floreana

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Bottlenose dolphins frequently escort your passage to Champion Islet and you can see them from nearby jumping the wakes! Underwater, Galapagos sea lions are playful acrobats that become the number one attraction. There are also lots of reef fish, and perhaps a green Pacific turtle. An inflatable dinghy ride along the shoreline of this islet offers sightings of lots of sea birds that are endemic to the archipelago, including Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds and red-billed tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls and lava herons. A bird watchers wish is to get a glimpse of the Charles mockingbird on top of prickly pear cacti. This mockingbird is a scientific and historic key species, because it put Darwin on track of his theory of ‘adaptive radiation’.

After lunch head to the Asylum of Peace Island, a historical interest for travelers. This hike goes past a mesmerizing cave and visits a fascinating freshwater spring. La Loberia beach is an ideal spot to enjoy the ocean, as well as the cute sea lions that habit there.

Day 11 Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra Airport

  • 1 Breakfast
Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come to Charles Darwin Research Station to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are done. The main attractions are the National Park information center, the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises, and adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.

After you visit disembark and transfer to Baltra Airport.

Archipell I

Per person starting at
$6,345
Standard Cabin on the Archipell I
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Standard Cabin
8 cabins with twin or double beds. Feature private facilities with hot & cold water, A/C.

Notes

Please reserve your kayak in advance prior to trip

Child Discount

20% discount for children under age 12 at time of Galapagos cruise

Children under 12 receive a discount of $135 off adult flight rates, and discounted Galapagos Entrance Fee of $50

Included

  • Accommodations on board Archipell I based on double occupancy
  • Meals while in the Galapagos
  • Bilingual Naturalist Guide
  • Shore Excursions
  • Swimming and Snorkeling
  • Adventure Life Pre-departure Services and In-Country Assistance (Quito Representative)
  • Transfers and Baggage Handling in the Galapagos
  • Snorkeling Equipment
  • Sea Kayaking

Excluded

  • Airfare (see Galapagos Flights)
  • Quito/Guayaquil Hotel and Transfers
  • $100 Galapagos Park Fee
  • Wetsuits available - $10/day per person
  • Gratuities and drinks aboard the ship
  • Travel Insurance

Galapagos Flights

  • Quito - Galapagos Roundtrip
    • $530 - $675
  • Guayaquil - Galapagos Roundtrip
    • $475 - $620

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