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Sea turtle swimming in the clear water

West-Central Islands

Example 6 Day Cruise aboard Aida Maria
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Immerse yourself on the breathtaking beauty of the world-famous Galapagos archipelago on this 6-day voyage aboard the Aida Maria. Observe Marine Turtles, Rays, Flightless Cormorants, Sea Lions, and, circling overhead, Galapagos Hawks and more. Visit the humedales, a mangrove area with small brackish water lagoons that create the perfect environment for a small type of shrimp that serves as the food for the island’s flamingos. Discover Punta Espinoza is a narrow ledge of lava and sand that extends from the base of the volcano to the sea. Navigation to the central part of the Galapagos and on the way see Punta Vicente Roca, a mostly eroded volcano which now is a great site for seeing Blue Footed Boobies, Frigate Birds and other marine birds from the boat.
Sea lions on beach in RabidaBeach on Isabela islandThis landscape was stunningwalking on another planet in the GalapagosSea turtle swimming in the clear water
Highlights
  • Admire Darwin’s Finches and Bright Red Vermillion Flycatchers in Santa Cruz
  • Discover Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul & La Cumbre, active volcanoes
  • Visit James Bay, a black sand beach located on the northwest of Santiago Island
  • Enjoy close encounter with Galapagos Penguins at Elizabeth Bay
Places Visited
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.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Baltra | Embark | Santa Cruz Island

Arrive at Baltra Island Airport and embark on the Aida Maria. Start the day on Santa Cruz Island, after lunch on the boat, explore the highlands or “parte alta” of the island, which is a moisture-rich area with fertile volcanic soils. Learn about the vegetation and animal life of this zone, often strikingly different than that found at lower elevations, and the best opportunity to find the famous giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Darwin’s Finches, Yellow Warblers, and other land birds will fly in and out of the moss-covered trees. From this high vantage point, you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the island.

In the late afternoon, return to town. For those who wish to check out the nightlife, this is your chance; the boat will be docked in port most of the night. Return to the boat. Dinner.

Day 2: Volcan Sierra Negra | Humedales, Isabela Island

Your first visit in the morning takes place to Volcan Sierra Negra, a walk around 30 minutes to the lap of this famous volcano at Isabela Island.
Volcan Sierra Negra is a large shield volcano at the South eastern end of Isabela Island in the Galapagos that rises to an altitude of 1124m. Also is considered one of the oldest Volcanoes in the Islands.

In the afternoon after lunch, visit the Humedales, which is a mangrove area with small brackish water lagoons that create the perfect environment for a small type of shrimp that serves as the food for the island’s flamingos.

Back on board and night navigation to your next site.

Day 3: Punta Moreno | Elizabeth Bay

After night navigation arrive to Punta Moreno on the west coast of Isabela, a dry landing on a lava field. The vegetation found in this area is sparse and concentrated mainly in the mangrove area and around the lakes. It should be noted that the three kinds of cacti are found here. The main attractions at Punta Moreno are the coastal lagoons amid black lava flows where there are several species of birds. Here you’ll have a panoramic view of three of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos, which are Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul of Isabela Island, and La Cumbre of Fernandina Island.

After lunch on board, continue on your way to Elizabeth Bay, located on Isabela Island`s west shore, which is an excellent spot for observing marine life. You'll motor past a few islands where you can usually see Galapagos Penguins; this is one of the best areas to take their photos. A colony of these magnificent birds inhabits a rocky islet at the entrance to Elizabeth Bay. Let the boat drift through a small passage lined with mangroves and eventually emerge into an enclosed cove. Turn the motor off and look in the sheltered waters for Marine Turtles, Rays, Flightless Cormorants, Sea Lions, and, circling overhead, Galapagos Hawks.

Day 4: Punta Espinoza, Fernandina | Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela

Punta Espinoza is a narrow ledge of lava and sand that extends from the base of the volcano to the sea. There is a vivid description from Captain Benjamin Morrell who witnessed and recorded an eruption of Fernandina in the 1820s that probably gave rise to the Point. In 1975, there was an uprising, about 90 cm, which is why the pier built for landing can only be used during high tide. Punta Espinoza is a place famous for its large colonies of Marine Iguanas as well as being the habitat of unique species like the Flightless Cormorant, the Galapagos Penguin, the Galapagos Hawk, and the Galapagos Snake, among others. It’s an ideal place to observe the lava cactus (Brachycerus Nesioticus), which grows on young lava and survives with little water.

Back on board for lunch and a short navigation to Punta Vicente Roca.

During lunchtime, start to navigate to Punta Vicente Roca on the northern tip of Isabela island, after a couple of hours arrive at this visitors' place, the activity for the afternoon is snorkeling, Punta Vicente Roca is home to sea lions, fur seals, penguins, turtles, flightless cormorants, so there is always the opportunity to find any of this animal in the water. The snorkel takes place along a wall of volcanic ash called tuff stone featuring amazing underwater volcanic formations including a small cave where in season it is possible to see sea turtles.

After snorkeling come back on board and continue on the way to James Island.

Day 5: Puerto Egas | Rabida Island

James Bay is a black sand beach located on the west side of James Bay and northwest of Santiago Island. South of the beach is Sugarloaf Volcano, which has deposits of volcanic tuff, the same that helped the formation of the black sand beach. El Cráter is just north of this site, it has a saltwater lagoon, which during the summer dry season becomes a salt mine. Between 1928 and 1930 was the first exploitation of salt; but the efforts did not last long. Then again in 1964, a new attempt was made that lasted for some time. After lunch on board, navigate to the next destination, Rabida.

Rábida Island consists of a red sand beach, a coastal lagoon behind the beach, and a loop trail. The approximate distance of the trail is 1.1 kilometers. The color of the rocks and sand on the beach is due to the very porous volcanic material, which with the help of environmental factors (rain, salt water, and sea breeze), has acted as an oxidizing agent. The main attraction of this spot is the red sand beach and scenery, aside from the vegetation of the arid zone and the presence of native and endemic species.

Day 6: North Seymour Island | Disembark | Baltra Airport

  • 1 Breakfast
After an early breakfast, disembark at North Seymour Island. See Frigate Birds, the clownish Blue-Footed Booby, and of course the ubiquitous Sea Lions. With luck, you may witness the striking courtship display of the male Frigate Bird, in which he inflates a red balloon-like sac below his throat and struts his stuff for all of the young females. Seymour North, Plaza Sur, Plaza Norte, Baltra, northeastern Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, and part of Española, were all formed by uprisings of underwater volcanic lavas. They were part of a volcanic lava table deposited in sheet form along cracks located on the ocean floor. The uprisings occurred sporadically and lasted more than a million years to reach its current level. All marine fossils found in the archipelago are found in these islands and the best example is the North Channel side of Baltra. The fossils date from the Pleistocene, and specifically in the case of Baltra, one can say that these volcanic tables were close to the surface about a million years ago.

Return to the boat & sail to Baltra Island to catch your plane back to the mainland.

Ship/Hotel

Aida Maria

Aida Maria
Enjoy local and international cuisine in the dining area
Bar on board

Dates & Prices

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$2,937 2-3 travelers
Aida Maria's Upper Deck Cabin.
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Standard
Standard cabins have upper and lower bunks.

Child Discount

20% discount for children under age 10 at time of Galapagos cruise. Child discounts are conditional and may not apply on certain departures. Please contact us for more information.

Children under 12 may receive discounts on Galapagos flight fares and entrance fees. Contact us for details.
Included
  • 4 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
  • 5 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
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • 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.
  • Internal Flights: Mainland Ecuador - Galapagos - Mainland Ecuador: $475-675
  • Wetsuits are not included but are available to rent on board - $10/day per person.
  • Gear Rental: Snorkeling Gear - $5-$10/day per person.

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen
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