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Blue-footed boobies

Naturalist Cruise

Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Aqua
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Explore the unique landscapes of the Galapagos islands on this amazing 8-day naturalist cruise on the Aqua! Sail around the central Galapagos Islands, including Santa Fe, Chinese Hat, Rabida and more! Snorkel among amazing sea life, explore beautiful beaches, and hike along trails that allow you to admire the beauty of the Galapagos.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Baltra | Seymour
Day 2 : South Plaza | Santa Fe
Day 3 : Santa Cruz | Floreana
Day 4 : Santa Cruz | Chinese Hat
Day 5 : Cowley Islet | Albany Islet
Day 6 : Santiago | Sullivan Bay
Day 7 : Rabida | Bartolome
Day 8 : Mosquera | Baltra

Highlights

  • Visit North Seymour one of most visited sites, teeming with birdlife
  • Enjoy the opportunity to take amazing photographs of the tortoises at Espanola
  • Discover Santiago, where a small colony of Galapagos penguins has settled
  • Encounter a range of shark species & green sea turtles ay Cowley Islet

Ship

Aqua

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Albany Islet
  • Baltra
  • Bartolome
  • Chinese Hat
  • Cowley Islet
  • Dragon Hill
  • Floreana
  • Isabela
  • Mosquera
  • North Seymour
  • Puerto Ayora
  • Punta Cormorant
  • Rabida
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santa Fe
  • Santiago
  • South Plaza Island
  • Sullivan Bay

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Blue-footed boobies The Galapagos Scuba diving in the reefs Explore secluded shores of the Galapagos on your small ship cruise Tropical fish in the Galapagos
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Day 1 Baltra | Seymour

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Upon arrival at Seymour Ecological Airport, a check-up is carried out first, to ensure that no foreign plant or animal species are introduced on the islands.
Furthermore, your TCC (Transit Control Card) is stamped; this must be kept safe during your trip, as it has to be presented again on your return flight.

This islet is one of most visited sites, and it is teeming with birdlife. 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 frigate bird-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 frigate bird breeding next to each other.
 

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 their 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/grey color, with a land iguana's crest, but face and tail of the marine iguana.

The large population of iguanas is due to the presence of tuna, their favorite food.  Swallow-tailed gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs is seen along with other seabirds such as Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and brown pelicans.

Located in the south-eastern part of the Galapagos, this island was formed from an uplift rather than being of volcanic origin, which is why it is mostly flat. There are some theories which claim that this could be the oldest island in the Archipelago. Santa Fe is home to a number of endemic species like the Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos snake, Galapagos mockingbird, rice rats and one of the two species of lands iguanas of the islands.

After disembarking into the beautiful and clear waters you will be in contact with one of the many sea lion colonies. Along the trail, many salt bushes can be seen as well as the giant prickly pear cactus - gigantism is a characteristic of oceanic islands. There are many possibilities to snorkel with playful sea lions and tropical fish.

Day 3 Santa Cruz | Floreana

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After discovering and learning about the difference of Espanola Island tortoises with those from other islands, you will have the opportunity to take amazing photographs of the tortoises at the breeding center!

The tour starts at the information booth of the GNP.  The trail continues to the Van Straelen interpretation Center, the breeding center and from there will be a path- this is where you can see the tortoises of Española Island, ending in the tortoise exhibit corral. Tortoises of this corral are accustomed to humans; it is an excellent spot to be photographed with them!

The peninsula of Cormorant Point forms the extreme north cape of Floreana, which formed from smaller volcanic cones, covered by tropical dry forest (palo santo). At the landing beach, you will be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion colony. The green sand on this beach contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals which have been blown out by the surrounding tuff cones. The ‘flour sand’ beach on the southern side of the peninsula is made up of even finer white coral sand which feels very smooth on the feet. Parrotfish have pulverized it, grinding the calcareous skeletons of living coral. You can spot schools of stingrays who love the sandy bottom to hide themselves. During the first months of the year, Pacific green turtles come ashore to bury their eggs.
 

Day 4 Santa Cruz | Chinese Hat

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Dragon Hill boasts two key-species which are very likely to be seen during every visit to the Galapagos, though not too commonly distributed throughout the islands: Galapagos land iguanas and American flamingos. You will climb a hill with giant opuntia cacti where these ‘dragons’ feed and breed. Although they are quite shy and elusive, you stand a fair chance of seeing the success of this project with your own eyes.
The short walk crosses the coastal vegetation zone, as well as the somewhat higher arid zone with vulnerable tropical dry forest. In the warm and wet season in the first half of the year, everything turns green.

Evergreen giant prickly pear cacti with internal reservoirs used a different survival tactic in this dry climate to the leaf dropping palo santo trees; in the end, both were successful. Moreover, this is a very photogenic spot as well, with breathtaking panoramas over the bay and towards an intriguing steep volcanic spout of red lava that overlooks the area. Dragon Hill has become popular because of its saline lagoons behind the beach; these contain algae and shrimp and attract seasonally foraging American flamingos. Dragon Hill is the best location on Santa Cruz to observe them.

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

Day 5 Cowley Islet | Albany Islet

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This islet, located coast of Isabela, is a popular snorkeling site due to the many incredible species located in the waters here. You will encounter a range of shark species, Galapagos sea lions, stingrays, green sea turtles, cormorants, penguins, manta rays, and more! And if you’re lucky, you can encounter seahorses!

Albany Islet is an amazing sloping rock located off the Northwest Point of Santiago. This is a great site to observe tiger nudibranchs, sea turtles, Galapagos black coral, barnacles, Galapagos sharks, and golden eagle rays.

 

Day 6 Santiago | Sullivan Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Have a “wet-landing” and take an easy walk along trails and on the beautiful shoreline of the black-sand beach, where you can see birds, sea lions, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, marine iguanas and Galapagos Fur Seal. During the walk, you will be able to see some of Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers and many other beautiful and unique animals!

The arrival in Sullivan Bay is like a moon landing. The desolate, sprawling fields seem to be mostly lifeless, but this island, which is particularly popular among photographers, still offers a lot to see. There is even some life! Green sea turtles burrow in the small white sand beach, where you can also find crabs, blue herons, and oystercatchers.
 

Day 7 Rabida | Bartolome

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After a ‘wet landing’ on the remarkable red beach of Rabida, there are two short guided hikes. Oxidized iron particles give the rocks and sand their rusty color. The beach wall holds a shallow green-fringed lagoon; this oasis is the most fertile place on the otherwise arid islet, which is overgrown with leaf-dropping palo santo trees. The salty pool attracts all kind of aquatic birds, like pintails and sometimes American flamingos.
Between the evergreen foliage of the surrounding mangrove bushes many species of songbirds hide and breed. One of the most outstanding attractions is the major breeding colony of brown pelicans, the only ones in the world that plunge-dive.

The beautiful volcano islet of Bartolomé is among the youngest of the islands, and on a geological scale was just recently born out of fire. Although at first sight lifeless, Bartolomé offers some of the wildest landscapes and best panoramas of 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 for witnessing how scanty pioneer vegetation such as lava cactus struggles to take root in the bare virgin lava fields.

Day 8 Mosquera | Baltra

  • 1 Breakfast
Though close neighbors, Mosquera and North Seymour offer a very different experience; diverging habitats attract different residents. While North Seymour contains large breeding colonies of boobies and frigate birds, Mosquera stands out as one of the largest concentrations of Galapagos sea lions in the entire archipelago. It’s also one of the few spots inside the National Park where you can stroll around freely, without being restricted to a trail.

Galapagos sea lions are real beach lovers and Mosquera offers beautiful white coral sand beaches contrasting with the azure colored water. This islet is just a few meters higher than a sandbank and doesn’t complicate their landing, and they can roll relaxed in the surf. For fishing, they just have to enter the Itabaca Channel, which is a sort of natural place in which lots of marine life and schools of fish are concentrated.

After this excursion, you will be escorted to the airport for your flight to Quito or Guayaquil.
 
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Aqua

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Per person starting at
$3,695
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Upper Deck
3 upper deck cabins with a double lower bed and single upper bed (double or triple use)
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Lower Deck
5 lower deck cabins with single lower and a single upper bed
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Main Deck
1 main deck cabin with a double lower bed

Child Discount

20% discount for children under age of 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, 7 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
  • Gear Rental: Snorkeling Gear
  • 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

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 for rent on board and paid in cash - $8/day per person.
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