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Ray swimming in the Galapagos

Northwestern Islands I

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Archipell II
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Meet the unique wildlife and landscapes of the Galapagos northwestern islands on this 8-day voyage aboard the Archipell II. Spend 8 days exploring the rich shores of Santa Cruz, Fernandina, Genovesa, Bartolome, Rabida and Santiago, and become really immersed in the unique splendor of these islands. Wander across island trails, relax in white coral sand beaches, learn about giant tortoises reintroduction programs, and enjoy excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities. 

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 : Bartolome | Espumilla Beach | Buccaneer Cove, Santiago
Day 7 : Puerto Egas, Santiago | Rabida
Day 8 : Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra Airport

Highlights

  • Meet the huge sea lizard and sea lion colonies of Tintoreras
  • Travel to Elizabeth Bay's mangrove area to see schools of manta rays
  • Relax and swim at Las Bachas beautiful white-sand beach
  • Visit Santiago's east coast to learn about the origin of the Galapagos

Ship

Archipell II

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Bachas Beach
  • Baltra
  • Bartolome
  • Buccaneer Cove
  • Charles Darwin Center
  • Elizabeth Bay
  • Espinosa Point
  • Espumilla Beach
  • Fernandina
  • Isabela
  • Las Tintoreras
  • Los Gemelos (Twin Craters)
  • North Seymour
  • Puerto Egas
  • Punta Moreno
  • Rabida
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santiago
  • Tagus Cove

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Ray swimming in the Galapagos Taking a detailed tour with a very experienced guide. A pair of friendly sea lions Travelers take a zodiac through the waters of the Galapagos. Giant Tortoise

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 Bartolome | Espumilla Beach | Buccaneer Cove, 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.

In the afternoon visit Espumilla Beach, an important breeding site for turtles, as it is no longer suffering from digging wild pigs. The turtles return year after year to bury their eggs into the cinnamon colored sand dunes. About two months later (roughly from February to August) the eggs hatch. The beach ridge hides a mangle with two lagoons on the backside. A colony of American flamingos and aquatic birds used to be its main attraction, but after the climate phenomenon of El Niño, strong sedimentation altered the water environment, and now no longer contains their food. Vegetation zones are very close by, providing great scenic contrasts. During the climb up a hill, be rewarded with a beautiful overview of the transitions from sea to beach and from mangrove to a dry palo santo forest. At the nearby Buccaneers Cove, you have a great snorkeling opportunity.

Day 7 Puerto Egas, Santiago | Rabida

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning stop at Puerto Egas, a black beach located at the west side of Santiago Island. Volcanic tuff deposits formed this special black sand beach and made it the main attraction of the Island. This site is called Puerto Egas because Hector Egas attempted to exploit the salt, which failed because the price of salt on the continent was very cheap.

After lunch head to Rábida, a unique island because of the red color of the rocks and sand. The volcanic material in this island is very porous and external factors as rain, salt water and sea breeze have acted as an oxidizing agent. A short walk along a trail leads us to a coastal lagoon behind the beach that allows the observation of land birds as finches, doves, yellow warblers and mocking birds. Meanwhile, at the lagoon there is a colony of flamingos.

Day 8 Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra Airport

  • 1 Breakfast
Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come here 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.

In the afternoon be transfered to Baltra’s airport to take the flight back to the continent.

Archipell II

Per person starting at
$4,962
Archipell I & II's Twin Cabin.
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Twin Cabin
Cabins feature lower berths and private en-suite bath facilities
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

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

Included

  • Accommodations on board Archipell II 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 my first experience with Adventure Life - and I couldn't have been more pleased with the trip. The guides and local staff in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay were terrific - extremely helpful and accommodating. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly staff in Buenos Aires in person (I left my bags with them for the afternoon).
Karen Snider

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