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Galapagos Legend: 4-Day Cruise to the North-Central Islands

Galapagos – Luxury

Galapagos Legend 4-Day Cruise Itinerary Map

4-Day Galapagos Cruise to the North-Central Islands

This 4-day Galapagos cruise itinerary takes you on a trip to the seabird sanctuary of Genovesa in the north and the central islands of the archipelago on and around Santa Cruz Island.

There are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with endemic wildlife during daily morning and afternoon excursions that will leave you tired yet wanting more by nightfall.

Note:

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.


Galapagos Legend vessel

Day 1: MONDAY
AM: Santa Cruz Island, Embarkation

Passengers are picked up at the airport by our naturalist guides and taken on a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend. 

PM: Santa Cruz Island– Highlands Tortoise Reserve - Dry landing. 

In the mountains of Galapagos is possible to admire different kinds of birds, such as tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on the tortoises’ shell). The journey to the reserve offers great opportunities to see the contrasts that the island offers in reference to the variety of ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Often, Galapagos Giant Tortoises are also seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is a bird watchers’ haven since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here.

Difficulty Level: Easy
Type of Terrain: Flat & muddy sometimes (depending on season)
Duration: 45 minutes drive / 1h30 walk

 

Please note that if doing this itinerary as part of an 8-day cruise, the activity will be as follows:

 

PM:  Santa Cruz Island– Black Turtle Cove - no landing

On the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, accessible only by sea, four species of mangrove crowd and form an internal lagoon, turtles visit the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface while fish, rays circle below. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat, plus sea birds, including pelicans, herons and egrets. This cove has been declared as a “turtle sanctuary”.

Difficulty level: easy
Type of terrain: none
Duration: 1-hour dinghy ride

Galapagos hiking

Day 2: TUESDAY
AM: Genovesa, El Barranco/Prince Philip’s Steps – Dry landing

Be marveled at the variety of sea life that uses the crevices of the lava cliffs for shelter. Red-billed Tropicbirds fly overhead, switching between their nests and the bay, and a small colony of fur seals may be found near the landing site. You will be dropped off at a steep stairway that begins on rocks at the foot of a path that leads through a seabird colony full of Nazca and Red-footed Boobies. At the plateau, the trail continues inland allowing you to see more nesting booby colonies in the thin Palo Santo forest. Near the end of the trail, over a rocky lava plain, Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrels can be observed flying in all directions. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a Short-eared Owl.

Difficulty Level: moderate
Type of Terrain: rocky - lava
Duration: 45-minute walk


PM: Genovesa, Darwin Bay – Wet landing

Disembark onto a small sand and coral beach. A short trail heads west along a tidal lagoon and then up a rocky hill that leads to a point overlooking the cliffs and Darwin Bay. Along the trail near the tidal lagoon, visitors will see pairs of Swallow-tailed Gulls, Lava Gulls, Yellow-crowned and Lava Herons. The trail continues through Palo Santo trees, Opuntia cacti, and Saltbushes inhabited by Great Frigate birds and Red-footed Boobies. This is one of the few places in the islands where visitors are guaranteed to see Red-footed Boobies. It is estimated that more than 200,000 Red-footed Boobies live in the trees and bushes of Genovesa.

Difficulty Level: moderate
Type of Terrain: sand & lava
Duration: 2h30 walk

Giant Galapagos tortoises

DAY 3: WEDNESDAY
AM: Santa Cruz Island, Dragon Hill– Dry landing.

We walk by a brackish lagoon where feeding flamingoes can be occasionally found. The trail leads across typical dry zone vegetation up to Dragon Hill, an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas, offering lovely views of the anchorage and neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin’s finches, Yellow Warblers and Galapagos Doves.
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Type of terrain: Rocky
Duration: 2 hours walk

 

PM: Santa Fe Island – Wet landing

Santa Fe shows white sand beaches surrounded by sea lion colonies; through the island path, an endemic cactus forest is passed, home the Santa Fe land iguanas (the largest in the islands). This island is the habitat for a number of species, including the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snakes, rice rats (one of the few endemic Galapagos rodents), a variety of finches and one of the four mockingbird species of the archipelago.

Difficulty level: Intermediate
Type of terrain: Rocky
Duration: 1 ½-hour walk / 1-hour deep-water snorkeling

 

Galapagos birdwatching

Day 4: THURSDAY
AM: Santa Cruz Island, Bachas Beach – Wet landing.

On the north side of Santa Cruz; behind the beach lies two small flamingo ponds were iguanas sunbathe, see coastal birds, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and gulls, as well as interesting native vegetation like red and black mangrove, salt bushes. This beach is one of the main sea turtles nesting sites in the Galapagos. A turtle can lay eggs 3 or 4 times per season with an average of 70 eggs each time. At this paradisiacal site, we will also find the remains of barges that sank a long time ago, when the United States Navy operated a base during World War II on Baltra Island. Local people modified the word barges to “Bachas”.


Difficulty level: Easy
Type of terrain: Sandy
Duration:  1-hour walk / 1-hour snorkeling/ beach time

PM: Santa Cruz Island, Transfer to the Airport

Be assisted to Balta airport for your flight to the Ecuador mainland.


  • 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. 

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