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Pinnacle rock in Bartolome

Islands Circumnavigation I

Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Archipell I
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Circumnavigate the Galapagos islands on this 12-day Archipell I voyage. Take in the best the archipelago has to offer, visiting Isabela, Fernandina, Genovesa, Santa Cruz, Floreana, and many more! Wildlife viewing opportunities abound as you traverse the islands, snorkel in the crystal clear waters, or take a relaxing swim off the pristine shores.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Baltra Airport | Embark | Twin Craters, Santa Cruz
Day 2 : Tintoreras Islet | Tortoise Breeding Center | Colorado Hill, Isabela
Day 3 : Moreno Point | Elizabeth Bay, Isabela
Day 4 : Tagus Cove, Isabela | Espinoza Point, Fernandina
Day 5 : Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz | North Seymour
Day 6 : Prince Philip's Steps | Darwin Bay, Genovesa
Day 7 : Bartolome Island | Sullivan Bay, Santiago
Day 8 : Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz
Day 9 : Cormorant Point | Post Office Bay, Floreana
Day 10 : Gardner Bay | Suarez Point, Española
Day 11 : Pitt Point | Witch Hill, San Cristobal
Day 12 : Lobos Islet | Disembark | San Cristobal Airport

Highlights

  • Learn about local conservation during a visit to Charles Darwin Station
  • Observe sea turtles, flightless cormorants, spotted eagle rays & sea lions
  • Zodiac cruise along the cliffs of Tagus Cove looking for Galapagos penguins
  • Join an excursion to North Seymour and observe mating blue-footed boobies

Ship

Archipell I

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Bachas Beach
  • Baltra
  • Bartolome
  • Charles Darwin Center
  • Darwin Bay
  • Elizabeth Bay
  • Espanola
  • Espinosa Point
  • Fernandina
  • Floreana
  • Gardner Bay
  • Genovesa
  • Isabela
  • Isla Lobos
  • Las Tintoreras
  • Los Gemelos (Twin Craters)
  • Mirador de la Baronesa
  • North Seymour
  • Post Office Bay
  • Prince Philip's Steps
  • Punta Cormorant
  • Punta Moreno
  • Punta Pitt
  • Punta Suarez
  • San Cristobal
  • San Cristobal Airport
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santiago
  • Sullivan Bay
  • Tagus Cove
  • Witch Hill

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Pinnacle rock in Bartolome Swimming sea turtle Cruise the Galapagos on the Archipell ship Adventures in the Galapagos! Beach on Isabela island

Day 1 Baltra Airport | Embark | Twin Craters, Santa Cruz

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today your guide awaits for you at Baltra Airport and takes you to the Archipell Catamaran which anchors in Puerto Ayora harbor. After arrival on board, check in and receive general information, then enjoy your first lunch on board.

Afterwards get ready for your first excursion visit to the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island, and see incredible areas of vegetation. 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 Charles Darwin Research Station, 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.

Day 9 Cormorant Point | Post Office Bay, Floreana

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today land at Cormorant Point´s green olivine sand beach. The peninsula of Cormorant Point forms the extreme north cape of Floreana, which formed by numbers of smaller volcanic cones, covered by tropical dry forest (palo santo). At the landing beach, be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion-colony. The green sand on this beach contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals that have been blown out by the surrounding tuff cones. The ‘flour sand’ beach on the southern side of the peninsula is formed of even finer white coral sand that feels very smooth to your feet. Parrotfishes have pulverized it, grinding the calcareous skeletons of living coral. You can recognize schools of stingrays that love the sandy bottom to hide themselves. During the first months of the year, Pacific green turtles come ashore to bury their eggs.

In the afternoon visit Post Office Bay, one out of three nearby visitor’s sites on Floreana’s northern coast. Bring your postcards and post them in the peculiar barrel on this historic site. The barrel commemorates an improvised mail service that was set-up for communication between British 16th century whalers and poachers.

Day 10 Gardner Bay | Suarez Point, Española

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The striking white beach at Gardner Bay is an important breeding site for Pacific green turtles. However, without doubt its main attraction is the Galapagos sea lion colony. Females stay year round in this nursery, suckling their pups up to an age of 3 years, although these start to fish after 5 months of their birth. During the breeding- and mating season, the colony becomes even bigger.

Afterwards visit Suarez Point, one of the most outstanding wildlife areas of the archipelago. Huge ocean waves bang onto the southern basaltic cliffs of Suarez Point, forming a spectacular blowhole, where the water sprays meters high into the air (depending on the season, the tide and how strong the sea breeze pushes the waves). Take your time for a meditative break in silence on this emblematic viewpoint, and convert this unforgettable moment in a lifetime experience.

Day 11 Pitt Point | Witch Hill, San Cristobal

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning stop at Pitt Point, one of the only two sites where all of the three types of boobies breed and it is also the site where great frigate birds and swallow tailed gulls are seen. Two wind sculptured tuff cones at Pitt Point make up the extreme eastern end of San Cristobal, and thus, the archipelago as well. These cliffs were the first sight of land when HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin arrived on September 15, 1835. On the small green sand beach, be welcomed by a group of barking Galapagos sea lions. This is a bachelor colony, where males usually relax and prepare themselves for fighting and mating.

From saltbush and spiny shrubs behind the beach, a trail leads up to an area of tropical dry forest vegetation: most of the year leafless palo santo trees, yellow cordia shrubs, tiny prickly pear cacti and carpetweed that turns red in the dry season. After the pretty steep climb through a gully to the cliff top, you can wander around the only colony in Galapagos that counts with all three species of boobies: bluefooted, red-footed and Nazca booby; as well as both species of frigate bird (great and magnificent), famous because of their scarlet balloon-sized pouches during mating season. Frigate birds would rather attack returning boobies and conduct aerial battles than fishing for themselves.

Afterwards visit Witch Hill, one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. The primary attraction of this site is the coral sand beach, an excellent place to swim and snorkel. Witch Hill is the remains of a tuff cone and one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. It has an impressive landscape, where it is often possible to see coastal and migratory birds, including pelicans, blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls; as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. At times, the lagoon is completely dry and deposits of salt may be found in the bottom. The people of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno used to use the lagoon as a salt mine.

Day 12 Lobos Islet | Disembark | San Cristobal Airport

  • 1 Breakfast
The Lobos Islet beach harbors a colony of Galapagos sea lions. As in other colonies in the archipelago, you can approach nurturing females within a few meters. In the breeding season this colony is also visited by territorial males, defending and mating the harem on their part of the beach. This low islet houses more than just Galapagos sea lions. Two other emblematic species breed here. Male blue-footed boobies and great frigate birds that try to impress the females (and tourists) with clumsy dances heaving their striking blue feet or blow-up their balloon-sized scarlet pouches. During the breeding season, the fluffy and hungry chicks cry for food, and when their wings get strong enough they learn to fly.

Assisted by the naturalist guide and some crewmembers disembark and transfer to San Cristobal Airport.

Archipell I

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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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