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Sea lions bask in the sun on the beach

Galápagos Islands Expedition Cruise – In Darwin’s Footsteps

Example 9 Day Cruise aboard Santa Cruz II
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Start this incredible Galapagos adventure in Baltra. Stop at the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Breeding Centre and be introduced to the beauty of the famous Galapagos giant tortoise and to the important scientific work that continues to be performed on the islands. Visit the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island. Discover Española Island, voted the #1 island by guides and expedition leaders, which awaits you with its remarkable visitor site of Punta Suarez, home to hundreds of marine iguanas, sea lions, marine birds, and even albatross – a truly stunning site! Explore North Seymour, famous for its land iguanas and sea lions as well as bird colonies of blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and Nazca boobies. Finish at Baltra after a moving and memorable experience.
South Plaza IslandColorful kayaks on the beachHiking through cacti in the GalapagosSnorkeling at San CristobalSea lions bask in the sun on the beach
  • Visit beautiful Cerro Colorado, home to dozens of endemic bird species
  • Discover idyllic sandy-white beaches populated by friendly sea lions
  • See the waters contrast with the sand and black lava of South Plaza Island
  • Snorkel & kayak at the picture-postcard white coral beach of Gardner Bay
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Quito

Your journey begins on the Equator in the lush Andean foothills. At 9,350 feet, Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, and its main draw is the exquisite Old Town, which was founded on an ancient Inca settlement. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is packed with well-preserved colonial architecture, including colorful plazas, magnificent churches, and stately monuments. Settle into your hotel, then head out to explore.

Note: If you have time, it is recommended to come a few days earlier and join one of the optional pre-programs.

Day 2: Quito

Today, enjoy a guided tour of Quito’s remarkable Old Town, one of the largest and best-preserved colonial-era quarters in South America. Wander through cobblestone streets as you admire the architecture and sample delicious chocolate made from the finest Ecuadorian cacao along the way.

Next, you’ll head to the iconic ‘Middle of the World City’, located around 16 miles north of Quito. After lunch, you’ll visit the famous monument that delineates the imaginary line that is the Equator. Have your camera ready to capture the moment you stand with one foot in each hemisphere.

Day 3: Baltra Island | Embark | Mosquera

After breakfast, a short flight will take you to Baltra Island, a part of the spectacular Galápagos Archipelago. A transfer will take you straight to the port, where your comfortable expedition ship MS Santa Cruz II awaits you. Get your first glimpse of the island’s incredible wildlife on Mosquera Islet, home to one of the largest sea lion colonies in the archipelago. Take the small panga boats ashore for a closer look. As you stroll across the flat, sandy dunes, look out for blue-footed boobies and Sally Lightfoot crabs, and learn about the marine and terrestrial ecosystems from your naturalist guides.

Day 4: Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve | Punta Pitt

Your first stop today is the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve, a breeding center for the endangered giant tortoise. It’s also home to other endemic species, including the San Cristóbal mockingbird and the lava lizard. The giant tortoise is probably the most iconic of all Galápagos wildlife, with a lifespan of over 100 years. They thrive here, ambling around forests similar to their natural habitat. The small panga boats will then take you to Punta Pitt, the only site in the Galápagos Islands where you might see three species of boobies. Enjoy a nature walk, explore the coastline by boat, or snorkel and swim in crystal-clear water.

Day 5: Santa Fe Island | South Plaza Island

Start the day with a scenic nature walk on the blissful beaches of Santa Fe, home to the endemic Barrington land iguana and a colony of sea lions. You can swim or snorkel from small panga boats, take a kayak for a paddle around the island, or join a trip in a glass-bottomed boat to observe the marine life below.

After a delicious lunch prepared by onboard chefs, head to South Plaza Island. Keep an eye out for frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls, and Galápagos shearwaters gliding on the breeze. Here, among a dazzling array of flora, land iguanas laze by the shore while marine iguanas slip in and out of the water.

Day 6: Charles Darwin Station, Santa Cruz Island

Today, pay a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora. At this giant tortoise breeding center, you can see recently hatched tortoises and Darwin’s famous finches – the birds he used as a basis for his theory of evolution by natural selection. There’s also an impressive forest of prickly pear cacti that is home to many land birds. Enjoy a cooler climate over lunch in the lush highlands, where giant tortoises shuffle about munching on grass and wallowing in pools.
You’ll also have time for another activity, such as mountain biking or visiting a sugar plantation.

Day 7: Punta Suarez | Gardner Bay and Osborn Islet, Española Island

Your Galápagos Islands cruise reaches Española, the archipelago’s southernmost island. The birdlife here is truly extraordinary. On cruises from April through December, look for Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and the mighty waved albatross. This is also a great chance to spot red Española lava lizards and marine iguanas, as well as see El Soplador, the famous blowhole that blasts water 75 feet into the air.

After lunch on board the ship, head to the picturesque coral beach of Gardner Bay and nearby Osborn Islet to seek out sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches. If you’re feeling active, you can go snorkeling or kayaking.

Day 8: Eden Islet | North Seymour Island

The abundant wildlife-watching opportunities continue at Eden Islet and hope to see Galápagos green turtles, rays, and friendly reef sharks. On shore, look for distinctive frigatebirds with their rubbery, red throats. You can swim or snorkel to explore the reefs. You can also see the reefs from a glass-bottomed boat or by kayak.

After lunch, sail to North Seymour. The island is a great site for spotting colonies of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. Sea lions and marine iguanas also congregate here, attracted by the bountiful sea life in its waters.

Day 9: Baltra Island | Disembark | Quito

  • 1 Breakfast
Your expedition cruise draws to a close as you disembark at Baltra Island. A transfer will take you to the airport in Baltra for your flight to Quito to connect to your international flight. Flight to Quito must be requested at the time of booking. 

As you leave this fascinating region, you’ll take with you incredible memories of amazing wildlife and wonderful experiences few have the privilege of enjoying. To explore more of Ecuador, it is recommended to extend your stay and join one of the optional post-programs.


Santa Cruz II

Evolution Hall Santa Cruz II

Quito - Hotels

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$8,244 2-3 travelers
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Explorer Cabin - Horizon deck (EH)
With comfortable spaces and large picture windows to illuminate the interior spaces and allow guests to take in the views, these cabins offer elegant areas to relax after a day of active exploring. There are 23 Explorer cabins located on the Horizon deck. Beds convert from double to twin upon request. Cabin code: EH
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Explorer Cabin - Expedition deck (EE)
With comfortable spaces and large picture windows to illuminate the interior spaces and allow guests to take in the views, these cabins offer elegant areas to relax after a day of active exploring. There are 17 Explorer cabins located as on the Expedition deck. Beds convert from double to twin upon request. Cabin code: EE
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Explorer Cabin - Panorama deck (EP)
With comfortable spaces and large picture windows to illuminate the interior spaces and allow guests to take in the views, these cabins offer elegant areas to relax after a day of active exploring. There are 3 Explorer cabins located on the Panorama deck. Beds convert from double to twin upon request. Cabin code: EP
Select a Date
Explorer Family Cabin - Horizon deck (FH)
With comfortable spaces and large picture windows to illuminate the interior spaces and allow guests to take in the views, these cabins offer elegant areas to relax after a day of active exploring. There are 2 Explorer family cabins located on the Horizon deck. Cabins are equipped with twin beds and a sofa bed (ideal for children under 12). Cabin code: FH
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Darwin Suite - Panorama deck (DS)
Our three Darwin suites on the Panorama deck feature double picture windows, and offers superb comfort and deluxe amenities. Available with a twin or double bed, and if more space is desired, these suites can be interconnected with an Explorer cabin. Cabin code: DS


Please provide your wetsuite size in advance prior to trip

Rates and availability subject to change without notice until a firm booking has been made.

Child Discount

Children under 12 may receive discounts on Galapagos flight fares and entrance fees. Contact us for details.
  • 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 8 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Bilingual Naturalist Guide 
  • Adventure Life Pre-departure Services and In-Country Assistance (Quito Representative)
  • Shore Excursions, Swimming and Snorkeling 
  • Transfers and Baggage Handling in the Galapagos
  • Snorkeling and kayaking equipment is included in the cruise cost and available for your use on board.
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Galapagos Park Entrance Fee: $200 per adult, $100 per child under 12 (fees of $100 per adult and $50 per child valid on arrivals through Aug 1, 2024). Payable upon arrival to the Galapagos, only in cash dollars. Subject to increase by Galapagos Park Service.
  • Wetsuits are not included but are available to rent on board - $22 for 5-day tours, and $41 for 7-day tours.
  • Fuel Surcharge - to be invoiced separately



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Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.
Lisa Bridge
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