Join an exciting 8-day cruise that showcases all the wilderness and unique landscapes of the Galapagos Islands aboard the M/Y Monserrat. This voyage takes you along the coast and up into the highlands to admire the diversity and amazing scenery of the archipelago of Galapagos. Enjoy your excursion to the highlands of Santa Cruz and see the Galápagos giant tortoise in its natural surroundings. Take the opportunity to swim and snorkel around Pinnacle Rock, one of the most iconic volcanic rock formations on the islands, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Explore the incredible underground lava tunnels of Santa Cruz.
Hike to Bartolomé's summit for a stronger perspective of the islands.
Transfer to the boat to meet the guide and get on board. In the afternoon, enjoy the highlands. Visit a tortoise ranch and see some of the amazing volcanic formations in Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz Highlands Excursion (PM)
Santa Cruz Island (2h-3h)
Visit the highlands of Santa Cruz and see the Galápagos giant tortoise in its natural surroundings. Explore the area and its incredible underground lava tunnels some are more than 1km (.6 mi) long! Wander along the volcanic tubes and keep an eye out for the (mainly) nocturnal barn owls that sometimes roost here.
This morning we will have an excursion to Rábida its unique reddish landscape, to see a lagoon and a sea lion colony. Continue to Bartolomé for a guided tour to see the dramatic volcanic features before hiking to a panoramic viewpoint.
Rabida Island Excursion (AM)
Arrive at a red sand beach at Rábida to explore its trails. A short trail leads to a saltwater lagoon; another trail goes past the lagoon to the interior, where the revered palo santo trees grow. (When burned, the branches of this tree give off a pleasing aroma and ward off mosquitoes.) Head back to the beach to see prehistoric-looking pelicans nesting among low-lying bushes – it's a rare treat to watch parent pelicans return with gullets full of fish for the squawking youngsters.
Snorkeling (Isla Rábida) (AM)
Rábida Island (45m-1h)
Take a panga ride from the beach to a cliff wall that drops off into the water to find one of the best deep-water snorkeling spots in the islands.
Bartolomé Island Landing (PM)
Hike to Bartolomé's summit for a stronger perspective of the islands' not-too-distant volcanic origins, and enjoy a panoramic view – it’s one of the best among the islands! See the other Galápagos Islands in the distance as well as Pinnacle Rock, the island’s famous towering landmark.
Snorkeling (Bartolomé Island) (PM)
Bartolomé Island (45m-1h)
Take the opportunity to swim and snorkel around Pinnacle Rock, one of the most iconic volcanic rock formations on the islands. Home to Galápagos penguins, friendly sea lions, sea turtles, and a huge variety of fish, Bartolomé and its surrounding waters are a fantastic place to explore the natural wonders of the Galápagos.
Land at South Plaza in the morning for wildlife spotting opportunities and a walk through the cactus forest. In the afternoon, take a guided walk around Santa Fé to observe wildlife and plentiful marine iguanas.
South Plaza Island Visit (AM)
Visit South Plaza, one of the smallest islands in the Galápagos, which has one of the largest populations of land iguanas. Walk along a path through a cactus forest and view a combination of dry and coastal vegetation on this lively island, home to a wide range of fauna, including incredible birdlife. Spot red-billed tropicbirds and indigenous swallow-tailed gulls resting on the cliffs, and sea lions playing in the waters.
Sante Fé Hiking (PM)
Santa Fé Island
Lace up your hiking boots to explore the island's flora and fauna. Trek toward the cliffs along the island's northern shore to see a forest of giant prickly pear
cacti (Opuntia). See endemic land iguanas lounging in their favorite forest, and feasting on Opuntia pads and fruit.
Morning landing at Punta Pitt on San Cristóbal Island to observe the marine iguanas and seabirds along the beach and enjoy a snorkeling excursion. In the afternoon, we land at Cerro Brujo to observe the sea lions, marine iguanas, and seabirds along the beach.
Punta Pitt Visit (AM)
Enjoy amazing wildlife watching and interesting geological formations on this fascinating expedition. Arrive at a quiet cove on the eastern tip of San Cristóbal to explore Punta Pitt. Made up of volcanic tuff substrate, it's the only site in the Galápagos where it's possible to see three species of boobies and two species of frigatebirds.
Snorkeling (Punta Pitt) (AM)
Snorkel around Punta Pitt Island and spot schools of fish swimming below. On the shore admire the nesting birds and sunbathing sea lions.
Cerro Brujo Visit (PM)
Cerro Brujo (1h-3h)
Visit Cerro Brujo to explore its coastline, and look for wildlife on the beach, in the water, and in the air. Learn about the human and natural history of the area from the Galápagos CEO. Take a refreshing dip in the turquoise water, and head out on a short walk to a freshwater lagoon – a great place to see flamingos.
Day 5: Lobos Island | Tijeretas Hill | Interpretation Center
In the morning, visit Isla Lobos and be greeted by sea lions frolicking in the waves and a small colony of blue-footed boobies. In the afternoon, visit Tijeretas, a great viewpoint, and our first wildlife encounter. Learn about the origins of the Galapagos at the Interpretation Center.
Isla Lobos Visit (AM)
Explore this tiny island by foot and boat for some great wildlife encounters. Take a panga ride to view the sea and shore birds nesting and feeding. Spot a small
colony of blue-footed boobies as well as two species of sea lions.
Snorkeling (Isla Lobos) (AM)
Snorkel right off the beach at peaceful Isla Lobos, amid the families of sea lions and their inquisitive pups looking to play. Spot nesting frigate birds and the famous blue-footed boobies resting on the shore. Be sure to bring your camera to catch some snaps at this prime wildlife watching haven.
Interpretation Center Visit (PM)
San Cristóbal Island (1h-2h)
Learn about the history of the Galápagos Islands from the very beginning of their volcanic origins through to today’s conservation efforts. Tour the Human History exhibit to learn about the islands’ discovery and colonization, and discover the natural history and variety of flora and fauna that make the Galápagos so fascinating.
Tijeretas Hill (PM)
This hill bears its name thanks to the frigate birds as “Tijeretas” is how people locally call them. Here we will enjoy a great view of beautiful landscapes at the foot of a frigate bird nesting colony.
Enjoy the day on Española Island, one of the oldest in the archipelago. Visit the white sandy beach of Gardner Bay and the bird colonies of Punta Suárez. Arriving at Gardner Bay in the morning, spend the day exploring onshore and snorkeling at Gardner Island in the bay. After lunch, sail to the western side of the islands to Punta Suárez, known for its amazing bird colonies and home to the waved albatross (April and December). Gardner Bay Visit (AM)
Bahía Gardner (1h-3h)
Visit Gardner Bay's magnificent white sandy beach, home to sea lions and sea birds. Be sure to explore the beautiful turquoise water and its incredible sea life. Spot young sea lions and large schools of surprisingly big tropical fish, including yellow-tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish, and bump-head parrotfish.
Snorkeling (Gardner Bay) (AM)
Bahía Gardner (45m-1h)
Head to Tortuga Rock and Gardner Bay for a spectacular snorkeling experience. Spot playful young sea lions and large schools of tropical fish, including yellow-tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish, and bump-head parrotfish. Look for white-tipped reef sharks napping on the bottom.
Punta Suárez Visit (PM)
Visit Punta Suárez, one of the richest wildlife landing sites in the Galápagos. Be greeted by surfing young sea lions on arrival. Head to the trail to find many species of nesting sea birds, and, if lucky, see the waved albatross. Follow the path up to a cliff for great views over the ocean, and watch sea birds gliding in the wind.
Land at Punta Cormorant on Floreana. Guided walks to observe the bird and wildlife and learn about the natural history. Snorkeling excursion at Champion Islet. Visit Post Office Bay.
Punta Cormorant Visit (AM)
Visit Punta Cormorant, the only landing site on Floreana Island, and discover two amazingly different beaches: one with green sand, colored by olivine crystals, and another with white sand particles known as 'Flour Beach'. Spend the afternoon observing flamingos and other shorebirds feeding in the lagoon. Spot penguins and marine iguanas at the water’s edge, and explore the lava tubes with the Galápagos CEO.
Snorkeling (Champion Islet) (AM)
Jump on in and get up close and personal with the playful sea lion colony that resides in the waters off this tiny island. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, rays, and
colorful fish swimming by. There can be currents in this area, this activity should be done by strong swimmers only.
Post Office Bay Visit (PM)
Visit Post Office Bay and learn about its unique history. In the late 18th century, English whaling vessels placed a barrel here to be used as a post office. Today, the box is used mainly by tourists, who may drop off and pick up unstamped letters to be carried to far destinations. Continue the tradition – leave a letter and take one to deliver (be sure it makes it to the correct location)
Day 8: Charles Darwin Station | Baltra Airport
Disembark in Puerto Ayora and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the giant Galápagos tortoises. Fly back to the mainland from Baltra airport.
Charles Darwin Research Station Visit (AM) (45 m)
Visit Fausto Llerena Breeding Center a great place to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity. Brought back from the brink of extinction, see the famous Galápagos tortoise up close – a corral houses adult tortoises, and a nursery cares for the young until around age three when their shells have hardened.
This area also houses the Charles Darwin Research Station, a scientific organization initiated in 1964, which works to preserve the Galápagos' ecosystem through the conservation efforts of scientists, researchers, and volunteers. While the offices themselves are not open to visitors, the research station provides a study location for international scientists and environmental education for the local community.
The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.