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Curious sea lion during a snorkeling outing

Western Islands I

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Archipell II
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Embark on this unique 8-day journey through the western islands of the Galapagos, incuding visits to San Cristobal, South Plaza, Santa Fe, Floreana, Santa Cruz, and Isabela. Teeming with wildlife, breathtaking landscapes and volcanic wonders, the western islands are an ideal place to spend your vacations. 

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : San Cristobal Airport | Embark | Lobos Island
Day 2 : South Plaza | Santa Fe
Day 3 : Chinese Hat | Dragon Hill
Day 4 : Charles Darwin Research Station | Highlands
Day 5 : Tintoreras Islet | Tortoise Breeding Center
Day 6 : Moreno Point | Elizabeth Bay, Isabela
Day 7 : Tagus Cove, Isabela | Espinoza Point, Fernandina
Day 8 : Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra Airport

Highlights

  • Visit San Cristobal and meet giant tortoises in their natural habitat
  • Take a zodiac ride along the cliffs of Tagus Cove
  • Snorkel with sea lions, rays, penguins, sea turtles and marine iguanas
  • Relax in the beautiful white-sand beach of Las Bachas

Ship

Archipell II

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Bachas Beach
  • Baltra
  • Charles Darwin Center
  • Chinese Hat
  • Dragon Hill
  • Elizabeth Bay
  • Espinosa Point
  • Fernandina
  • Highlands
  • Isabela
  • La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado
  • Las Tintoreras
  • Punta Moreno
  • San Cristobal
  • San Cristobal Airport
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santa Fe
  • Santiago
  • South Plaza Island
  • Tagus Cove

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Curious sea lion during a snorkeling outing Galapagos beach Galapagos penguin on a rock South Plaza Island Land iguana looking out over water
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Day 1 San Cristobal Airport | Embark | Lobos Island

  • 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 The Lobos Islets 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 is home to more than just Galapagos sea lions. Two other emblematic species breed here: male blue-footed boobies and great frigate birds who try to impress the females (and tourists) with clumsy dances, heaving their striking blue feet or blowing up their balloon-sized scarlet pouches

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 Chinese Hat | Dragon Hill

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Chinese Hat is a 52m/170ft high volcanic cone, forming another islet right off the rocky coast of Santiago, where a small colony of Galapagos penguins has 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 all together create many favorable options for newcomers, such as saltbush and the sesuvium carpet

The visitor site at Dragon Hill has been open to visitors since 1993. This site is located in northwestern Santa Cruz Island and consists of a trail that leads to a hyper-saline lagoon behind the beach, frequently visited by flamingos, pintail ducks and other species of birds. This site has been re-populated with land iguanas from Seymour, Isabela and Santa Cruz island. There is a short walk to the hill, which offers a beautiful view of the bay.

Day 4 Charles Darwin Research Station | Highlands

  • 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 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 boasts beautiful scenes of rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round. Here you will visit the Twin Craters, which are two pit craters, as well as a local ranch where we can observe the giant tortoise of Santa Cruz Island in its natural habitat.

Day 5 Tintoreras Islet | Tortoise Breeding Center

  • 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 | Disembark | Baltra Airport

  • 1 Breakfast
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.

After you visit to Bachas Beach disembark and transfer to Baltra Airport.
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Archipell II

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Per person starting at
$4,595
Archipell I & II's Twin Cabin.
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Twin Cabin
Cabins feature lower berths and private en-suite bath facilities with hot & cold water, A/C.
Cruise the Galapagos on the Archipell ship
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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
  • Meals as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Professional, bilingual guide service as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • 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.

Excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Internal Flights: Mainland Ecuador - Galapagos - Mainland Ecuador: $475-675
  • Wetsuits are not included but are available to rent on board - $10/day per person.
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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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.
Gale Cantor
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