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Private Charter - Western Islands I

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Archipel I
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This 8-day private south-western cruise onboard the catamaran Archipel I combines the circumnavigation of Isabela Island with excursions to the Galapagos' furthest southern points. Hike fresh-water pools and lagoons and snorkel in the most spectacular and wildlife-rich waters. Begin your adventure with a short hike to the summit of Frigatebird Hill, where a mixed breeding colony of superb and huge frigatebirds exists. The following day, head to South Plaza, a renowned tourist attraction famed for its land iguanas and gigantic prickly pear cactus species. Continue to North Seymour and Twin Craters before arriving at Mariela's Islets, home to the Galapagos' largest and most famous penguin colony. Finish your expedition at Bachas Beach, two small beaches found to the west of Turtle Cove, a favorite nesting site for sea turtles on the coast of Santa Cruz.




 
Enjoy a blissful snorkeling trip.Take a swim with sea turtles on your Galapagos adventure.Cruising in the zodiac in the warm watersCruise the Galapagos on the Archipell shipA Galapagos traveler sits still while a sea lion explores
Highlights
  • Meet Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat with your private group of up to 16 guests
  • Zodiac cruise to the most important penguin colony in the Galapagos
  • Swim in calm waters or snorkel with playful sea lions
  • Learn about conservation topics and protection of the environment
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: San Cristobal Airport | Embark | Interpretation Centre and Frigatebird Hill, San Cristobal

Upon arrival at San Cristobal airport, you will pass through an airport inspection point to insure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands, as well as to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless it has been prepaid). A guide will meet you, help you collect your luggage, and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbor.

The Interpretation Centre, just outside the provincial capital city of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, gives a perfect explanation of this unique archipelago. Its attractive exhibition is quite complete and helps you to get a clear overview and learn what makes this archipelago so unique. Information panels (in English and Spanish), pictures, documents, maquettes, and true-to-life dioramas tell various background and conservation stories about the islands in a different way. A short, though often hot, uphill trail with steps, leads from the Interpretation Centre to the summit of Frigatebird Hill. Four panoramic viewpoints show Puerto Baquerizo Moreno from above, as well as the bays on both sides of the headland. On clear days even the distant, offshore sculpture of Kicker Rock can be seen! These wooded hilltops are one of the rare places where some magnificent and great frigatebirds form a mixed breeding colony. A viewpoint with another Charles Darwin statue is a reminder that the HMS Beagle anchored in the exotic bay below.
Activities: Hiking and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Easy

Day 2: Santa Fe | South Plaza

Located in the southeastern part of the Galapagos, this island was formed from an uplift instead of a volcanic origin, which is why it is mostly flat. Some theories assure this could be the oldest island in the archipelago. Santa Fe is the home of several endemic species like the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, Galapagos mockingbird, rice rats and one of the two species of land iguanas of the islands. After disembarking in the beautiful and clear waters, you will be in contact with one of the many sea lion colonies. Along the trail, many salt bushes can be seen as well as giant prickly pear cactus, gigantism is a characteristic of oceanic islands.
Activities: Hiking, Kayaking, Dinghy ride, and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Easy

South Plaza is located to the east of Santa Cruz Island, and forms part of a pair of islands known as “Islas Plazas”. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the Galapagos are found here. The Plazas land iguanas are smaller than their relatives found on other islands. There are several hybrid iguanas throughout the island; a result of crossing a marine iguana with a land iguana. They are unique and recognizable at first glance by their black/grey color, with a land iguana’s crest, but the face and tail of the marine iguana. The big population of iguanas is due to the presence of prickly pears, their favorite food. Swallow-tailed gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs are seen along with other sea birds as Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds and brown pelicans.
Activities: Hiking
Difficulty: Easy

Day 3: North Seymour | Chinese Hat

Seymour is an uplifted (as opposed to volcanic) island and therefore is generally flat and strewn with boulders. There are good nesting sites here for a large population of magnificent frigate birds. Blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dance in the more open areas and swallow-tailed gulls perch on the cliff edges. Despite the tremendous surf that can pound the outer shore, sea lions haul out onto the beach and can be found bodysurfing.
Activities: Hiking, Dinghy ride, and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Easy

Chinese Hat is a 52 m/170 ft high volcanic cone, forming another islet right off the rocky coast of Santiago, where a small colony of Galapagos penguins have settled. Approaching Chinese Hat from the north, you will understand the meaning of the name. This is an excellent place to learn more about volcanoes, lava bombs and lava tunnels.
You will arrive just in time to witness how this barren islet is colonized by pioneer species that have begun to sprout! Beautiful beaches of white coral sand and holes in the eroding lava fields are filled up with lava sand, which enables rooting. Galapagos sea lions and countless marine iguanas contribute to fertilization and thus create many favorable options for newcomers, such as saltbush and the sesuvium carpet.
Activities: Hiking, Kayaking, Dinghy ride, and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Easy

Day 4: Twin Craters and El Chato Reserve | Fausto Llerena Breeding Centre, Santa Cruz

The native scalesia forest of El Chato Tortoise Reserve is the best place to search for Galapagos giant tortoises in their most authentic setting! Despite the interesting breeding centers – where you are guaranteed to find tortoises in their corrals – there is nothing better than to observe them in their wild environment. Though it can be quite moist and muddy, your visit may turn into an adventurous quest when they have left their favorite pond silently.
The Twin Craters are found on either side of the road leading to Puerto Ayora. These impressive formations are not really volcanic craters and were formed by magma domes, which hardened on the outside while the lava continued flowing inside, leaving huge and empty magma chambers that eventually collapsed, leaving two large holes. The craters lie within a lush scalesia cloud forest, a high-altitude plant species that are endemic to the Galapagos. This area is also home to the carpenter finch, which uses tools to search for food. There may also be opportunities to see the vermillion flycatcher, a small red-breasted bird.
Activities: Hiking
Difficulty: Easy

At this site, you can observe tortoises that come from various islands of the archipelago. They comply with the captive breeding program and then return to repopulate the areas where their population has been affected. The land iguanas of Santa Cruz, Isabela and North Seymour are also in a captive breeding program, as the populations in these areas suffered from feral dogs. One of the main attractions is the famous embalmed Lonesome George. Estimated to have died between 93 and 109 years of age, it is recognized as the last of its kind and a symbol of the efforts invested to conserve endangered species. The captive tortoises are used to the presence of visitors, so it's a great place to take photos with them.
Activities: Hiking
​Difficulty: Easy

Day 5: Moreno Point | Urbina Bay, Isabela

Moreno Point is located on the north coast of Isabela Island, between the volcanos Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. The trail runs along a solidified pahoehoe lava flow into a complex of coastal lagoons. Its main attractions are several species of birds, which are found around the lakes and mangroves.
Activities: Hiking, Dinghy ride, and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Moderate

Urbina Bay is located along the west coast of Isabela, between Elizabeth Bay and Tagus Cove. It is close to the base of the Alcedo Volcano. The coastline has undergone a major uplift in 1954, which caused the shore to expand three quarters of a mile out. Here you will be able to find corals, shells, and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water. Urbina Bay is home to large and colorful land iguanas and giant tortoises of the Alcedo Volcano population. A lot of Darwin finches can be seen as well.
Activities: Hiking and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Easy

Day 6: Espinoza Point, Fernandina | Vicente Roca Point, Isabela

Fernandina is the third-largest island in the archipelago and has a single visitor site: Punta Espinoza, located at the northeastern tip of the island. Marine iguanas conglomerate in larger groups than on any other island. They bask around in the sand, swim near the shore and sometimes block the way at the landing dock. Among the unique species found here, is the flightless cormorant. This bird had to adjust its way of survival and perfection its skills of finding food in the ocean. Their wings, tails and feet progressively adapted for swimming. To see these birds is to witness evolution happening right in front of you.
Activities: Hiking and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

Whilst having lunch you will cross the Bolivar Channel for the last time to Vicente Roca Point, just at the mouth of Isabela’s seahorse-shape. While entering a dark cave below a spectacular arch, roaring echoes of the waves will accompany you. Just around the corner the collapsed amphitheater of Volcan Ecuador offers another impressive view. The calmer waters of the coves are well-protected against the ocean swell and are a fairly cold, but great place for snorkeling amongst various species of shark, penguins, puffer fish and even seahorses!
Activities: Dinghy ride and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

Day 7: Egas Port, Santiago | Rábida

Puerto Egas is a black beach located on the west side of Santiago Island. Volcanic tuff deposits have favored the formation of this special black sand beach and this is the main attraction of the Island. This site is called Puerto Egas because there was an attempt of Hector Egas to start the exploitation of salt, which failed. After all, the price of salt on the continent was very cheap and did not justify its exploitation in the Galapagos. The project was abandoned and they left their infrastructure.
Activities: Hiking and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Moderate

Rábida Island is unique because of the red color of the rocks and sand. The volcanic material in this island is very porous and external factors such as rain, saltwater and sea breeze have acted as an oxidizing agent. A short walk along a trail will lead you to a coastal lagoon behind the beach that allows for the observation of land birds as finches, doves, yellow warblers and mockingbirds. There is also a colony of flamingos at the lagoon.
Activities: Hiking, Kayaking, Dinghy ride, and Snorkeling
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

Day 8: Black Turtle Cove, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra Airport

  • 1 Breakfast
After breakfast, you will check out and disembark the cruise for the last time at 08:30 am. Your last adventure is brief but enchanting and will take place en route to the airport. You will explore onboard the dinghy green landscape of Black Turtle Cove, which is mostly composed of mangrove trees that host innumerable aerial and aquatic species. Observe how the quiet emerald lagoon and surrounding shallow bays enable the easy observation of sea turtles as well as groups of sharks.
Activities: Dinghy ride
Difficulty: Easy

The visit ends and you will disembark at 09:00 at Baltra Island, ultimately reaching Baltra airport at 09:30, where it's the official end of your cruise adventure. 

Ship/Hotel

Archipel I

Enjoy sightseeing on the deck with a delicious snack.
Dining area on the Archipell I
Sundeck on the Archipell I

Dates & Prices

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Crewed Charter Price starting at
$79,920
or $4,995 per person based on 16 max passengers
Standard Cabin on the Archipell I
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Standard Cabin
8 cabins with twin or double beds. Feature private facilities with hot & cold water, A/C.

Notes

Please reserve your kayak in advance prior to trip

Child Discount

20% discount 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
  • 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 7 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.
  • Glass bottom kayak
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.

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This was our first trip to South America and we were a little nervous. But Adventure Life made things so easy! All our questions were answered before we left, and our guide, Vidal, was amazing! He gave us enough space to explore without rushing us along. He also knew where the best picture taking opportunities were, which was great.
Lindsay Gompf
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