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Sea lion on the beach of Espanola Island

Northern Islands

Example 5 Day Cruise aboard Isabela II
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This journey begins with giants, of the tortoise kind. After landing at Baltra airport, we will soon be among these lumbering creatures in their natural, highland habitat. Discover the beautiful coast of Santiago Island, home to sleepy fur seals, and where there’s a chance to snorkel alongside marine iguanas, before an afternoon visit to the sandy beach of Sombrero Chino. Overnight we sail up to “Bird Island,” Genovesa, where we spend the entire day enjoying its remote colonies of nesting birds, including the rarer red-footed booby, and explore its cliffs, shoreline, and beaches. Returning to the central islands, Santa Fe offers glimpses of the islands’ top avian predator, the Galapagos hawk, while in the afternoon, observe sea lions, rays, and sharks in the waters off Punta Carrion. 
Colorful land iguanaGalapagos beachMeeting giant tortoises in the GalapagosSea lion on the beach of Espanola Island
Highlights
  • Ride a zodiac in Tagus Cove and see pirate graffiti
  • Climb Prince Phillip's Steps and observe Nazca boobies
  • Explore the cliffs and coves of Isabela
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Santa Cruz Island | Highlands | Embark

Baltra Airport and Santa Cruz Island After landing at Baltra Airport, we drive to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. A 30-minute bus ride takes us up to the fascinating, more humid Highlands of the island where we’ll learn about its unique ecosystems and biodiversity. Lunch is served at a local restaurant. 

Highlands of Santa Cruz Island After lunch, drive to a nearby reserve that is one of the best places in the archipelago to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The tortoises are easy to spot, lumbering around, munching on grass and leaves, and wallowing in small pools. There are several lava tunnels to explore in the reserve, too. A short bus ride takes us down to Puerto Ayora to board the Isabela II.

Day 2: Puerto Egas | Chinese Hat Islet

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Following a wet landing on the black, sandy beach, our trail takes us to enjoy close-up encounters with recently-reintroduced land iguanas, plus land and marine birds amid a landscape of tuff-stone layers, craggy rocks, and lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds and we can also observe a colony of fur seals, usually dozing in the shade of some rocks.

Chinese Hat Islet. This islet, formed only fairly recently, makes a beautiful afternoon visit as we explore the wildlife along its 1,312 ft long (400 m long) trail, which begins at a crescent-shaped, white sandy beach. The cove offers excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities amid white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos penguins.

Day 3: Prince Phillip’s Steps | Darwin Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The day kicks off with a panga ride along the cliffs of “Bird Island”, as Genovesa is affectionately nicknamed, followed by a landing at a steep staircase which connects us with a flat plateau. From here the trail winds its way through large colonies of Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds, and storm petrels. With luck, we’ll be able to spot the short-eared owl. Those who do not wish to disembark can enjoy a longer panga (inflatable dinghy) ride along the cliffs, weather conditions permitting.
Other activities that may take place here include snorkeling and kayaking.

We land after lunch at the beautiful white beach of Darwin Bay. Here we walk amid literally hundreds of birds, most of which are frigatebirds, red-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as gulls, herons, finches, and mockingbirds.

Day 4: Santa Fe Island | Punta Carrion

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Take the dinghy over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by colonies of sea lions. Galapagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The Santa Fe land iguana may be spotted during our exploration. Following the walk, we can snorkel and swim along a natural wave barrier or ride the glass-bottom boat.

In the afternoon, we make our way around to the north coast of Santa Cruz Island, to the eastern mouth of the Itabaca Channel. Boarding our dinghies, we explore this rocky coastline’s interesting formations, plant life, and wildlife, before enjoying the marine world, either with a mask and snorkel or aboard our glass-bottom boat. If we are lucky, we will come across playful sea lions, dozens of reef fish — different types of puffers, surgeonfish, angelfish, groupers, hogfish, hawkfish, parrotfish, blenny, etc. — and hopefully catch a glimpse of white-tipped reef sharks.

Day 5: Baltra Island | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Your journey ends at Baltra Island where we transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.

Ship/Hotel

Isabela II

Enjoy a meal on the sun deck of the Isabela II.
Isabela II's fitness center.
Breakfast aboard the Isabela II.

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$3,973
Isabela II
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Standard Cabin
1 cabin with double bed. Located on the cabin deck.
Isabela II
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Classic Family Cabin
2 cabins on the Cabin Deck with one lower double bed. 128 sq. ft
Isabela II
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Classic Cabin
16 cabins on the Cabin Deck -- some with double beds and some with separate twins. Some cabins have an additional twin bed and can be used as a triple. Located on the cabin deck.
Isabela II
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Owner's Cabin
1 suite with double bed. Located on the main deck.

Child Discount

10% discount if sharing with two adults, for children under age 12 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, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • 4 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Gear Rental: Snorkeling Gear
  • 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: $100 per adult, $50 per child under 12
  • Internal Flights: Mainland Ecuador - Galapagos - Mainland Ecuador: $475-675
  • Wetsuits are not included but are available to rent on board - $22 for 5-day tours, and $41 for 7-day tours.

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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
Jack Charney
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