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Aida Maria

Private Charter - Island Circumnavigation Aboard Aida Maria

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard Aida Maria
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Take an epic private cruise around the Galapagos on the highly-rated yet affordable Aida Maria yacht. This trip includes stops to some of the most exciting places in the Galapagos like Rabida, Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Fe. Get a close up look at sea lions, rays, tortoises, blue footed boobies, frigatebirds, and turtles. Enjoy the adventure of snorkeling around Devil's Crown, visiting the Wall of Tears, and hiking to the Sierra Negra volcano your private group of up to 16 guests!
Beautiful Galapagos landscapeA pair of friendly sea lionsHiking at Punta Pitt, San CristobalSomeone take a picture of us together....The Aida MariaAida Maria
Highlights
  • Visit a flamingo lagoon in Punta Cormorant
  • Snorkel with white-tipped sharks during your private charter
  • Explore the red sand beaches of Rabida
  • Watch sea lions relax along the shore
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 | Bachas Beach

Fly from the Ecuadorian mainland to the islands on an early morning 90-minute flight. As you prepare to land in Baltra, peer out the window. The landscape below seems out of this world - and it is for you have come to a place like no other. The Galapagos Islands are unique to the world and you are about to see why. Your bilingual naturalist guide greets you at the airport and assists you through customs. During lunch, they introduce you to the islands and specifically the flora and fauna you encounter at the first destination, Las Bachas Beach.

On the sandy white beaches of Las Bachas, take a close look at a sea turtle nesting area and a lake frequented by leggy pink flamingos and other migratory birds. Afterward, cool off with your first dip in the deliciously blue Pacific Ocean (snorkeling). In the evening, the crew prepares a pre-dinner cocktail on the yacht before the welcome dinner. If the night is clear, as it usually is, the stars above bedazzle; look for the Southern Cross, the Big Dipper (turned upside down!), and Orion.

Day 2: Darwin Bay | El Barranco, Genovesa

After breakfast, visit Genovesa, or Tower Island, located in the northeastern part of the Galapagos (less than half a degree north of the equator). Anchor at Darwin Bay, which is located on the southern part of the island, is actually the caldera of an extinct, partially eroded volcano, with the surrounding cliffs forming the inner lining of the rim. While the origin of the name Tower Island is not known, one can imagine it had something to do with these towering cliffs. The tour is a long, fairly-easy walk, but it is usually hot and dry here, so you may want to carry some water. After a wet landing on a coral beach, the trail begins in an area where there are several swallow-tailed gulls. As you walk back from the beach, look at the variety of Opuntia cacti and mangroves. Following the walk, there is time for snorkeling.

Tower is an outpost for many sea birds (as Española is in the south). Interestingly, there are almost no land reptiles on Tower, only very small marine iguanas. This is attributed to the direction of the ocean currents, which wouldn’t have carried the terrestrial animals here. Visit El Barranco during the afternoon then return to the boat for dinner.

Day 3: Bartolome | Sullivan Bay

Bartolome Island, which at its highest point is 114 meters, is one of the most photographed vistas in the archipelago. This island is quite young and quite volcanic, therefore, it's relatively unpopulated; only a small handful of die-hard plant and animal species have survived long enough to call this lava-land home. Then snorkel on the island's golden sand beach where you swim with penguins.

In the afternoon, visit nearby Sullivan Bay. At the turn of the century a huge lava flow spilled right down to the sea and today you can stroll across this black volcanic expanse, admiring its time-frozen ripples, bubbles, and ropes.

Day 4: Black Turtle Cove | Cerro Dragon

Visit Black Turtle Cove, which is a red mangrove lagoon on Santa Cruz and is a nursery for many sharks and rays. It’s also a great location to observe mating sea turtles during nesting season. Here, you may find large groups of resting white-tip reef sharks, schools of golden rays and spotted eagle rays, and a few marine birds like blue-footed boobies and pelicans.

After lunch, the ship navigates for a couple of hours to Cerro Dragon, where there are opportunities for snorkeling. After some time in the water, the ship makes a dry landing on lava rocks. Cerro Dragon is a small bay on the west coast of Santa Cruz and got its name from the many land iguanas that live in the area. Land iguanas are endemic to the Galapagos Islands, where they have found good mating and nesting areas.

Day 5: Charles Darwin Station | Highlands of Santa Cruz

After breakfast, sail to Santa Cruz Island, and visit the world-famous Charles Darwin Station, a non-profit institution that dedicates itself to studying and protecting the flora and fauna of the Galapagos. This is one of the best places to see land tortoises, including the Lonesome George Museum.

Then visit the station’s Tortoise Rearing Center. Here you can find baby, hand-sized tortoises, between the ages of one and five, and marvel at how they achieve such large sizes as adults (500 lbs. or more!). Galapagos tortoises are believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years, so the young ones have a long life ahead of them as long as they receive the protection they need.

Aside from the Station headquarters, Santa Cruz Island is home to the largest town and economic center of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. In this portside town, you can buy souvenirs (postcards, t-shirts, books, etc.) from the islands. Check out the unique Galapagos ceramic shop near the entrance of the Charles Darwin Station. After shopping in Puerto Ayora and lunch on the boat (guests may dine in town if they desire), 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.

Day 6: Post office bay | Corona del Diablo | Cormorant Point, Floreana

Start your day on Floreana, one of the larger islands in the archipelago. Ask your guide to tell you about its mysterious history laden with rumors of murderous baronesses, blackmail, and dubious disappearances.

Your first stop is Post Office Bay, where the islands’ original post office (really only a wooden barrel) was established in 1793. The current system still functions as it did three centuries ago: Visitors drop off unstamped letters and postcards AND pick up whatever mail they can hand deliver themselves when they return home! (Try it, it actually works!).

Back on the yacht, skirt the island’s coast until you arrive at La Corona del Diablo or the Devil’s Crown, a sub-marine crater that offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the Galapagos. This is a great spot for seeing the wide array of tropical fish, many endemic to the islands, including purple sea stars and spiky sea urchins. The crater’s most thrilling undersea creatures, however, are the white-tipped sharks. As with most of the creatures in the Galapagos, they are unperturbed by your presence, so you can swim in their company freely and fearlessly.

After returning to the boat you, visit Punta Cormorant, where you’ll follow a footpath to a lagoon inhabited by flaming-pink flamingos. You will also pass by a white sand beach, a Sea Turtle nesting area, and a great spot for watching sea birds and sea rays.

Day 7: Suarez Point | Gardner Bay, EspaƱola

Espanola is one of the most magical of all the islands. It is a place where the animals reign supreme and we humans are merely guests. As your dingy brings you to shore you’ll see Sea Lion pups sunbathing with Marine Iguanas and Blue Footed Boobies nesting in between, and nearby may be a Galapagos Hawk. If it is Booby mating season watch the bonded pairs do the infamous Booby dance (if it’s not mating season, ask your guide to demonstrate - after all, it’s their job to teach you about the local fauna!).

As you follow the footpath around the island, you will pass hundreds of Blue Footed Booby nesting sites including one colony of masked boobies.
There is a good chance you’ll see the thief-like Frigate Bird (which has the habit of stealing other birds’ food), as well as the stunning Red-Billed Tropicbird and the nocturnal Swallow-Tailed Gull. If it is the right time of the year (mid-April to December) you’ll also encounter the giant Waved Albatross. Apart from a few pairs that breed on Isla de Plata, off the Ecuadorian mainland, all of the world’s 12,000 Waved Albatross breed on Espanola Island. At the end of the breeding season, the entire population leaves the island and heads out to sea, where they spend years without touching land; four or five years may pass before the fledglings return to Espanola.

As you make your way around the island you’ll pass by El Soplador, a giant blowhole that explodes to heights reaching 25 feet. In the nearby tide pools, you can often find lounging sea lions enjoying the blowhole’s misty spray. Following lunch on board the yacht, you’ll visit Garner Bay, a great place for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. Lionfish, Flycatchers, and Galapagos Hawks will keep you company as you relax under the rays of the evening sun. Dinner on the yacht completes your day.

Day 8: Isla Lobos | Interpretation Center, San Cristobal

Arrive early in the morning in San Cristobal, the capital of the Galapagos. Isla Lobos is a very small islet made of volcanic rocks that gets its name from the colony of Sea Lions (Lobo de Mar in Spanish) that live there. Here you can observe the behavior and interaction of Sea Lions living in a small community.

In the afternoon, visit the Interpretation Center in Puerto Baquerizo, the local branch of the Galapagos National Park Service, where your guide explains the formation of the islands, how the flora and fauna arrived and were established in the Galapagos, as well as visit the corrals where there are several species of giant tortoises under the care of the National Park Service. Then, continue to visit Cerro Tijeretas located 2 km from Puerto Ayora, which is the only site where you can see 2 different kinds of Fragatas living in the same colony.

Return to the boat, dinner.

Day 9: Sante Fe | South Plaza Island

After breakfast on the yacht, continue to Santa Fe Island. Upon arrival on the island, you are treated to a noisy welcome from the local Sea Lion colony. Following your naturalist guide on the island paths you’ll reach Santa Fe's main attraction, a towering forest of giant cacti. Scattered around the cacti trees see a number of the island's indigenous sun-seekers: marine and land iguanas, the rainbow-streaked lava lizards, and if you’re lucky, land tortoises - the namesakes of the islands. After the walk, you’ll dive into the salty sea and snorkel in the company of Sea Lions, Lion Fish, and Sea Turtles. Finally, return to the yacht for lunch.

After lunch navigate to Plazas Island, where a large colony of Sea Lions lounge daily in the equatorial sun. Plaza also boasts excellent examples of typical Galapagos native flora such as the towering cacti "trees" that form the principal diet for both the Land Iguanas and the Cactus Finch. Other birds that may flutter by include Lava Gulls, Yellow Warblers, and Red-Billed Tropicbirds.

Day 10: Santa Cruz | Charles Darwin Station | Highlands, Santa Cruz

After breakfast, sail to Santa Cruz Island, and visit the world-famous Charles Darwin Station, a non-profit institution that dedicates itself to studying and protecting the flora and fauna of the Galapagos. This is one of the best places to see land tortoises, including the Lonesome George Museum.
Then, visit the station’s Tortoise Rearing Center. Here you can find baby, hand-sized tortoises, between the ages of one and five, and marvel at how they achieve such large sizes as adults (500 lbs. or more!). Galapagos tortoises are believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years, so the young ones have a long life ahead of them as long as they receive the protection they need. Aside from the Station headquarters, Santa Cruz Island is home to the largest town and economic center of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. In this portside town, you can buy souvenirs (postcards, t-shirts, books, etc.) from the islands. Check out the unique Galapagos ceramic shop near the entrance of the Charles Darwin Station.

After shopping in Puerto Ayora and lunch on the boat (guests may dine in town if they desire), 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 are to be treated to beautiful views of the island. In the late afternoon, you’ll return to town. For those who wish to check out the nightlife, this is your chance; the boat docks in port most of the night.

Return to the boat. Dinner.

Day 11: 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 12: 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. 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 13: 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 1820’s 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 14: 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 15: North Seymour | Baltra | Disembark

  • 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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Crewed Charter Price starting at
$106,958
or $6,685 per person based on 16 max passengers
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
  • 14 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners
  • 14 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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Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.
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