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A giant lagoon with hundreds of giant tortoises- La Galapaguera, San Cristobal

Northwestern Islands II

Example 11 Day Cruise aboard Archipell I
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Explore all the northwestern islands have to offer on this amazing 11-day cruise. This is an adventure packed full of outstanding opportunities to snorkel, swim, and wander through the islands of this archipelago. The northwest islands are known for their striking volcanic features, pristine white sand beaches, and peaceful lagoons, and are an excellent way to get to know the Galapagos! Take pleasure in the wide variety of flora and fauna here as well as spectacular scenery on these islands.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : San Cristobal Airport | Embark | Cerro Colorado, San Cristobal
Day 2 : South Plaza | Santa Fe
Day 3 : Champion Islet | Peace Asylum | Loberia, Floreana
Day 4 : Charles Darwin Research Station | Twin Craters, Santa Cruz
Day 5 : Tintoreras Islet | Tortoise Breeding Center | Colorado Hill, Isabela
Day 6 : Moreno Point | Elizabeth Bay, Isabela
Day 7 : Tagus Cove, Isabela | Espinoza Point, Fernandina
Day 8 : Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz | North Seymour
Day 9 : Prince Philip's Steps | Darwin Bay, Genovesa
Day 10 : Bartolome Island | Sullivan Bay, Santiago
Day 11 : Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra Airport

Highlights

  • Swim in Santa Fe´s calm waters and snorkel with playful sea lions
  • Visit La Loberia, a small beach home to a colony of sea lions
  • Observe white tip sharks resting in the water near the shores of Tintoreras
  • Discover the marvelous Galapagos underwater world

Ship

Archipell I

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Bachas Beach
  • Baltra
  • Bartolome
  • Charles Darwin Center
  • Darwin Bay
  • Elizabeth Bay
  • Espinosa Point
  • Fernandina
  • Floreana
  • Genovesa
  • Haven of Peace
  • Isabela
  • La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado
  • La Loberia
  • Las Tintoreras
  • Los Gemelos (Twin Craters)
  • North Seymour
  • Prince Philip's Steps
  • Punta Moreno
  • San Cristobal
  • San Cristobal Airport
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santa Fe
  • Santiago
  • South Plaza Island
  • Sullivan Bay
  • Tagus Cove

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

A giant lagoon with hundreds of giant tortoises- La Galapaguera, San Cristobal Kayak and snorkel in clear blue waters A male frigatebird rests in the trees of the Galapagos (Floreana) Coastline Blue-footed booby mating dance

Day 1 San Cristobal Airport | Embark | Cerro Colorado, San Cristobal

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today your guide awaits for you at San Cristobal Airport and takes you to the Archipell Catamaran which anchors at Baquerizo Moreno harbor. After arrival on board, check in and receive general information. Enjoy your first lunch aboard and prepare yourself for your first excursion to Cerro Colorado Tortoises Protection and Growing Center. Located at 40 minutes approximately by bus to the south east of the island, this center was built to improve the status of the population of the island tortoises. It includes a large corral, a visitors center, breeding center and an interpretative trail. Along this trail, it is possible to see different species of native and endemic plants as well as birds like the San Cristobal mockingbird, yellow warblers, many species of finches and the Galapagos flycatcher.

Day 2 South Plaza | Santa Fe

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
South Plaza is located at the east of Santa Cruz Island, and forms part of two 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 its relatives found on other islands. There are several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a male marine iguana and a female land iguana; they are unique, recognizable at first glance by their black/gray color, with a land iguana's crest, but face and tail of the marine iguana. The big population of iguanas is due to the presence of tunas, their favorite food. Swallow tailed gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs are seen along with other sea birds such as Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds and brown pelicans.

In the afternoon visit Santa Fe. Located in the southeastern part of the Galapagos, this island was formed from an uplift instead than from a volcanic origin; this is why it is mostly flat. There are some theories that assure that this could be the oldest island in the Archipelago. Santa Fe is the home of a number of 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 disembarkation in the beautiful and clear waters, be in contact with one of the many sea lion colonies. Along the trail, many saltbushes can be seen, as well giant prickly pear cactus. There are great possibilities of snorkeling with playful sea lions and tropical fishes.

Day 3 Champion Islet | Peace Asylum | Loberia, Floreana

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Bottlenose dolphins frequently escort your passage to Champion Islet and you can see them from nearby jumping the wakes! Underwater, Galapagos sea lions are playful acrobats that become the number one attraction. There are also lots of reef fish, and perhaps a green Pacific turtle. An inflatable dinghy ride along the shoreline of this islet offers sightings of lots of sea birds that are endemic to the archipelago, including Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds and red-billed tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls and lava herons. A bird watchers wish is to get a glimpse of the Charles mockingbird on top of prickly pear cacti. This mockingbird is a scientific and historic key species, because it put Darwin on track of his theory of ‘adaptive radiation’.

After lunch head to the Asylum of Peace Island, a historical interest for travelers. This hike goes past a mesmerizing cave and visits a fascinating freshwater spring. La Loberia beach is an ideal spot to enjoy the ocean, as well as the cute sea lions that habit there.

Day 4 Charles Darwin Research Station | Twin Craters, Santa Cruz

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come to Charles Darwin Research Station to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are done. The main attractions are the National Park information center, the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises, and adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.

The road to the highlands leaves from Bellavista, a small village located at a 15-minute drive from Puerto Ayora and passes through the agricultural zone, near the National Park boundary, the Miconia Zone, and then goes to the Fern and Sedge zone. With clear weather, this area gives you beautiful scenes of rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round. Here visit the Twin Craters, which are two pit craters, as well as a local ranch where you can observe the Giant Tortoise specie of Santa Cruz Island in its natural habitat.

Day 5 Tintoreras Islet | Tortoise Breeding Center | Colorado Hill, Isabela

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
“Tintoreras” are small islands in front of the Puerto Villamil coast. There are Herons on the lookout on mangrove branches, Galapagos penguins and sea lions that often pop out on shore. White-tipped reef sharks (in Spanish: Tintoreras) are common in the archipelago and are very commonly found resting in the shallow waters.

Isabela Island is the largest and one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos archipelago. Land in Puerto Villamil, which has the second smallest population in Galapagos with approximately 3.000 habitants. First, visit the Flamingos Lagoon; the largest coastal lagoon found in Galapagos and is one of the main reproductive sites for the greater Flamingos. On your visit to Colorado Hill, discover the amazing and emblematic Giant Galapagos Tortoises in the Tortoise breeding center, and maybe even get to see one hatch (seasonally)! In addition, see how much hard work is put into save the last local giants of San Cristobal.

Day 6 Moreno Point | Elizabeth Bay, Isabela

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning sail to Moreno Point, located on the north coast of Isabela Island between the volcanos Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. The trail runs along a solidified lava flow called “Pahohoe”, into a complex of coastal lagoons. Its main attraction are several species of birds, which are found around the lakes and mangroves.

In the afternoon head to Elizabeth Bay, a marine visitor site, so the excursion has no landing point. Your zodiac ride starts with a visit to the Marielas islets where the largest and most important penguin colony reside in the Galapagos Islands. The excursion continues into the cove that is surrounded by red mangroves where you can admire their red roots and green leafs. Here, you are able to observe sea turtles, flightless cormorants, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, brown pelicans and sea lions. Frequent visitors have been able to see Galapagos hawks soaring overhead whilst schools of pompano and dorado fish swimming down below.

Day 7 Tagus Cove, Isabela | Espinoza Point, Fernandina

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today take a tour along the cliffs of Tagus Cove in a zodiac to get a good chance at seeing the Galapagos penguin, the flightless cormorant and other sea birds. From the landing dock it is about a 30 minute hike along the trail up to the top of the cliff from where several volcanoes and the Darwin Lake can be viewed. This is an uplifted ultra saline lake saltier than the sea. You can also see several volcanoes from this location. Look carefully at the graffiti on the surrounding cliffs of the cove, it has been written by pirates, whalers and buccaneers in past centuries!

This afternoon sail to Fernandina, the third largest island in the archipelago. Stop at the island's single visitor site: Punta Espinoza located at the northeastern tip of the island. Here, marine iguanas conglomerate in larger groups than in 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, you can find the flightless cormorant.

Day 8 Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz | North Seymour

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
These two small beaches are found to the West of Turtle Cove. Their sand is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white and soft, and a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there is a small blackish water lagoon, where it is occasionally possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. The other beach is longer, but it has two old barges that were abandoned during the World War II, when USA used Baltra Island as a strategic point to protect the Panama Channel.

Afterwards, join an excursion to North Seymour, this islet is one of most visited sites, and it is overloaded with bird life. An easy circular path takes you through the archipelago’s most extensive colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. At the beginning of the breeding season, adult frigatebird-males blow up their vivid red pouches to impressive football-sized balloons. This is one of the few spots where you can compare the magnificent and the great frigatebird breeding next to each other.

Day 9 Prince Philip's Steps | Darwin Bay, Genovesa

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Before landing, make an inflatable dinghy-ride along the eastern arm of the caldera. While you approach, the massive 25 m / 80 ft high walls become overwhelming. Sometimes, a Galapagos fur seal is resting or a seabird is nesting on one of the ledges at the base. Then, you have to hike and overcome the steep stairs from the landing dock to a bush of palo santo shrubs on top. Red-footed boobies gratefully use these scarce nesting-places; so that they don’t have to nest on the rocky ground. On arriving at the seaside of the rim, the bushes open up and you can enjoy wide views, a strong sea breeze and the amazing flying skills of uncountable seabirds. Following the exposed seaside rim, pass the Nazca boobies and finally reach the extensive storm petrel nesting places, where you might be lucky to spot the well-camouflaged short-eared owl hunting for them on foot!

In the afternoon head to Darwin Bay. Inside the submerged caldera of Genovesa lies Darwin Bay, with a diameter of more than 1,5 km / 1 mi and it is almost 200 m / 650 ft deep. The small area surprise you repeatedly, walking along a coral sand beach, crossing barren lava formations and creeks, passing tidal pools, shrubs and further ahead following the top of some cliffs. With this peaceful surrounding, every single species has occupied its own ecological niche (or habitat) without disturbing others.

Day 10 Bartolome Island | Sullivan Bay, Santiago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The beautiful volcano islet of Bartolome is among the youngest of the islands, and on a geological scale was just recently born out of fire. Although at first sight lifeless, Bartolome offers some of the wildest landscapes and best panoramas in the entire archipelago. To enjoy the postcard view of the idyllic ‘Pinnacle Bay’ you have to climb the stairs to the viewpoint on top of the island (114m/375ft). Enter a dramatic world of threatening (though extinguished) nearby spatter cones, craters, and lightweight lava droplets that have been spewed out by fiery fountains. The Summit Trail is also ideal to witness how scanty pioneer vegetation such as lava cactus is struggling to take root in the bare virgin lava fields.

This afternoon set foot at Sullivan Bay. The desolate, stretched-out fields seem mostly lifeless, but there is plenty to see on this highly popular site amongst photographers. Pacific green turtles seasonally burry eggs in the tiny white sand beach, where you may also encounter crabs, a strayed blue heron or an oystercatcher. On the lava flow, only sparse pioneer vegetation such as lava cacti and carpetweed are able to grow. You might encounter a lava lizard, locusts or a small snake-species (Galapagos racer).

Day 11 Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra Airport

  • 1 Breakfast
Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come to Charles Darwin Research Station to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are done. The main attractions are the National Park information center, the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises, and adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.

After you visit disembark and transfer to Baltra Airport.

Archipell I

Per person starting at
$6,823
Archipell I & II's Twin Cabin.
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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

Children under 12 receive a discount of $135 off adult flight rates, and discounted Galapagos Entrance Fee of $50

Included

  • Accommodations on board Archipell I based on double occupancy
  • Meals while in the Galapagos
  • Bilingual Naturalist Guide
  • Shore Excursions
  • Swimming and Snorkeling
  • Adventure Life Pre-departure Services and In-Country Assistance (Quito Representative)
  • Transfers and Baggage Handling in the Galapagos
  • Snorkeling Equipment
  • Sea Kayaking

Excluded

  • Airfare (see Galapagos Flights)
  • Quito/Guayaquil Hotel and Transfers
  • $100 Galapagos Park Fee
  • $80 Galapagos Transit Card and Airport Assistance
  • $45 International Departure Tax
  • Wetsuits available - $10/day per person
  • Gratuities and drinks aboard the ship
  • Travel Insurance

Galapagos Flights

  • Quito - Galapagos Roundtrip
    • $530 - $595
  • Guayaquil - Galapagos Roundtrip
    • $475 - $540

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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.
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