The Archipel I 4-night cruise southern and eastern itinerary explores the islands of Floreana and San Cristobal. Starting out in Santa Cruz, you will have the opportunity to visit the highlands and see the volcanoes covered in lush greenery as well as observing the Giant Tortoises before setting sail towards Tintoreras Islet. We will pass through a small archipelago where we can see white-tipped reef sharks and flamingos in Flamingo Lagoon.
On the island of Isabela we will visit Moreno Point to check out the plethora of bird species and venture up to Elizabeth bay which is rife with penguins. Last on the island we will visit Tagus Cove and see a lake saltier than the sea. Fernandina Island is our last stop before navigating back to Santa Cruz and disembarking where we can see a strategic defence point of the Panama Canal.
Please note that the itinerary below is dependent on the Galapagos National Park regulations, weather and sea conditions, wildlife behavior, and accessibility to locations, so may vary. All times indicated are approximate, and are also subject to change.
DAY 1: Thursday – Arrival to Baltra, Santa Cruz, Highlands
AM – Arrival at San Cristóbal airport (SCY)
Upon arrival at the Sin Cristóbal Airport, travellers pass through an airport inspection point to make sure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands, and to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless it has been prepaid). A guide will meet you, help you collect your luggage, and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbour.
PM – Highlands (Santa Cruz)
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, before going to the Fern and Sedge zone. With clear weather, this area offers 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 2: FRIDAY – Tintoreras Islet, Tortoise Breeding Center and Wetlands
AM – Tintoreras Islet
“Tintoreras” are small islands in front of the Puerto Villamil coast. There are herons on the lookout on mangrove branches, as well as Galapagos penguins and sea lions that often pop out on the shore. White-tipped reef sharks (in Spanish: Tintoreras) are common in the archipelago and are very commonly found resting in the shallow waters.
PM – Tortoise breeding centre & Wetlands
Isabela Island is the largest and one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos archipelago. We land in Puerto Villamil, which has the second smallest population in the Galapagos with approximately 3.000 habitants. First, we will visit the Flamingos Lagoon; the largest coastal lagoon found in the Galapagos and one of the main reproductive sites for the greater flamingos.
On your visit to Colorado Hill, you will discover the amazing and emblematic giant Galapagos tortoises in the tortoise breeding centre, and maybe even get to see one hatch (seasonally)! In addition, you will get to see how much hard work is put into saving the last local giants of San Cristóbal.
DAY 3: SATURDAY – Moreno Point and Elizabeth Bay
AM – Moreno Point (Isabela)
Moreno Point is located on the north coast of Isabela Island between the volcanos of 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.
PM – Elizabeth Bay (Isabela)
This is 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: SUNDAY – Tagus Cove and Espinoza Point
AM – Tagus Cove (Isabela)
Tagus Cove, a tour along the cliffs will give the visitors a good chance to see the Galapagos penguin, the flightless cormorant and other seabirds. From the landing dock, it is about a 30- minute hike along the trail up to the top of the cliff from where you can view Darwin Lake, an uplifted 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, done by pirates, whalers and buccaneers in past centuries!
PM – Espinoza Point (Fernandina)
Fernandina is the third largest island in the archipelago and has a 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, we can find the flightless cormorant.
DAY 5: MONDAY– Bachas Beach and Transfer to Airport
AM – Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz)
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 favourite 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 World War II, when USA used Baltra Island as a strategic point to protect the Panama Channel.
PM – Transfer out to Seymour Ecological Airport (GPS)
Assisted by the naturalist guide and some crewmembers, the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to the Seymour Ecological Airport, where we will take the shuttle back to the airport.
- Please note that all cruise itineraries are subject to change due to seasonal weather conditions (and resultant variations in ocean cruising conditions) affecting accessibility to locations. Thus navigation routes, times and excursions may need to be modified at the cruise captain’s discretion.
- Passengers should also be aware that animal sightings cannot be guaranteed due to the unpredictability of wildlife behavior.