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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, you 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 you sail up to “Bird Island,” Genovesa, where you 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
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: Santa Cruz Island | Highlands | Embark

After landing at Baltra Airport, they drive you to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. A 30-minute bus ride takes you up to the fascinating, more humid Highlands of the island where you’ll learn about its unique ecosystems and biodiversity. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant. Note: Please dress in comfortable shoes and clothes, and bring a small backpack with any medicine you might be taking, sunblock, insect repellent, and anything you need during the excursion. You’ll go onboard Yacht Isabela II at the end of the day.

After lunch, they drive you 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 you to Puerto Ayora to board the Isabela II.

Day 2: Puerto Egas | Chinese Hat Islet

Following a wet landing on the black, sandy beach, your trail takes you to enjoy close-up encounters with recently reintroduced land iguanas, plus land and marine birds amid a landscape of tuff-stone layers, jagged rocks, and lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds. You can also observe a colony of fur seals, usually dozing in the shade of some rocks.
Aquatic activities: Snorkeling, Beach, Swimming

Chinese Hat Islet is formed only relatively recently and makes a wonderful afternoon visit as you 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.
Aquatic activities: Snorkeling, Panga Ride, Kayaking, Beach, Swimming

Day 3: Prince Phillip’s Steps | Darwin Bay

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 that connects you 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, you’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.
Aquatic activities: Snorkeling, Panga Ride, Kayaking, Glass-bottom boat, Swimming, Paddleboarding

You land after lunch at the beautiful white beach of Darwin Bay. Here you walk amid literally hundreds of birds, most of which are frigatebirds, red-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as gulls, herons, finches, and mockingbirds.
Aquatic activities: Snorkeling, Panga Ride, Beach, Swimming

Day 4: Santa Fe Island | South Plaza Island

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, you can snorkel and swim along a natural wave barrier or ride the glass-bottom boat.
Aquatic activities: Snorkeling, Panga Ride, Kayaking, Glass-bottom boat, Swimming, Paddleboarding

Following lunch and a rest, disembark (dry landing) in this channel, whose turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Beyond, a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as a groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline you find sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, and shearwaters glide, playing with the thermals.

Day 5: Baltra Island | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Your journey ends at Baltra Island where you 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
$4,256 2-3 travelers
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.

Notes

Please provide your wetsuite size in advance prior to trip

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, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • 4 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • 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
  • 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 - $22 for 5-day tours, and $41 for 7-day tours.
  • Fuel Surcharge - to be invoiced separately
  • Carbon Neutral Fee - To be invoiced separately

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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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