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Mary Anne: 8-Day Cruise to Western & Central Islands

Galapagos – Superior

8-Day Galapagos Cruise to Western & Central Islands

The coffee-colored beach of Espumilla in the north will fulfill your wildest travel dreams, and you'll also have a chance to see the famous Galapagos flightless cormorants nesting among black lava rocks! 

Penguins, great blue herons, flamingos, marine iguanas, sea turtles, and other kinds of fantastic wildlife will be happy to greet you on this 8 day Mary Anne Cruise.

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.


Giant Galapagos Tortoise

DAY 1: SATURDAY

AM: Baltra Island, Embarkation

Arrival in Baltra airport and transfer to the boat. Welcome & briefing onboard about the boat and the island. NOTE: Please keep in mind that this itinerary starts right after you arrive to the islands. If possible, please wear clothes comfortable enough for a visit to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island: comfortable shoes, a hat for the sun, pants or shorts.

PM: Santa Cruz Island, Highlands – dry landing

Activities: hiking

After arriving at Baltra airport we will be greeted by a cruise representative to then board a bus which will take us to the highlands of Santa Cruz, the first visit on the islands: the Twin Craters. The Gemelos (twins) are two deep craters located to the side of the road that leads to Puerto Ayora from the other side of the island. These huge holes were probably created in a volcanic explosion or by magma chambers underneath the island´s surface. This is also a good place to see the Galapagos hawk and barn owl of this island and the surrounding forests are filled of birds such as the vermilion flycatcher or the yellow warbler. Something worth mentioning is the contrast of the vegetation of the highlands with the arid coastal zones. From here we will continue to El Manzanillo Ranch to have lunch and then a short hike to a small lagoon where it is usually possible to see the Vermillion flycatcher or some species of Darwin’s Finch. This place also offers excellent opportunities for viewing the giant Galapagos Tortoises in their natural habitat.

Panga Excursions

DAY 2: SUNDAY

AM: Floreana Island, Punta Cormorant, Devil’s Crown – wet landing

Activities: hiking, panga explorations

We spend the day on Floreana, legendary homestead of infamous Baroness Eloise Von Wagner de Bousquet. Wet landing onto the olivine beaches of Punta Cormorant; we will be seeking Greater Flamingos on our way to another special beach with the finest sand you’ll set your foot on, a sea turtle nesting ground where sharks and rays also visit regularly. We end the outing on a short panga ride to Devil’s Crown, a key snorkeling site.

PM: Floreana Island, Post Office Bay – wet landing

Activities: hiking, snorkeling

After lunch we will visit Post Office Bay where you can drop your postcards in the barrel as the whalers did centuries ago.

Cute Seal

DAY 3: MONDAY

AM: Santa Cruz Island, Charles Darwin Research Station – dry landing

Activities: hiking

We will visit the Fausto Llerena breeding station, located at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, we will see tortoises from different islands. The animals are found in large semi natural pens for their protection, but also to ensure an easy view for the tourists. The pens are divided according to four different stages: eggs, neonates, juveniles (held here until they are mature enough to be "repatriated"), and adults.

PM: Santa Cruz Island, Tortuga Bay – dry landing

Activities: hiking, snorkeling, swimming

From Puerto Ayora we will walk approximately 45 minutes along a stone paved road which is surrounded by Galapagos coastal vegetation and its most eminent representatives: the prickly pear cactus and the holy stick tree. This road, which also presents a very good opportunity to watch birds, especially Darwin finches, will take us to a beautiful, white sand beach known as Tortuga bay. From here it’s up to you to decide among the alternatives: swim or snorkel, watch the marine iguanas and other wildlife, explore the coves surrounded by mangrove trees or simply lay back and relax while enjoying the magical landscape.

Flamingoes

DAY 4: TUESDAY

AM: Isabela Island, Punta Moreno – dry landing

Activities: hiking

We arrive at Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos. After breakfast, we step ashore at Punta Moreno onto a superb pahoehoe lava flow surrounded by giant shield volcanoes, some still active! From here we will do a short hike to a lagoon where flamingos are usually present.

PM: Isabela Island, Elizabeth Bay – no landing

Activities: panga explorations

Panga ride in and around Elizabeth Bay, a salt-water lagoon surrounded by the largest red mangroves of the Galapagos. Here, it is usual to see sea turtles come near our zodiac to greet us. Flightless cormorants and Galapagos penguins are also more abundant in this part of the archipelago.

Sally Lightfoot Crab

DAY 5: WEDNESDAY

AM: Isabela Island, Urbina Bay – wet landing

Activities: hiking, snorkeling

We disembark at Urbina Bay onto a black sand beach, nesting site for Green Sea Turtle. We take a brief hike inland in search of land iguanas and giant tortoises (seasonal) that migrate to and from the highlands. At the beach, we will admire the remains of a geological uplift exposing coral heads and marine fossils; and if the sea conditions and time are on our side, we will also snorkel in these waters.

PM: Fernandina Island, Punta Espinosa – dry landing

Activities: hiking, panga exploration, snorkeling

We cross Bolivar Channel to Fernandina Island, one of the world’s most unspoilt sites, and disembark at Punta Espinosa. Strolling along the shoreline, we will be on the lookout for Flightless Cormorants, Galapagos sea lions, Galapagos penguins and hawks, sooty-colored marine iguanas and bright red-orange Sally Lightfoot Crabs.

Snorkelling in the Galapagos

DAY 6: THURSDAY

AM: Isabela Island, Tagus Cove – dry landing

Activities: hiking, snorkeling

Dry landing near Tagus Cove, historic pirate hideaway where names of countless ships are recorded for posterity on the cliff face. Hike through beautiful Galapagos landscapes to Darwin Lake, a salt-water crater lagoon surrounded by tuff stone.

PM: Santa Fe Island – wet landing

Activities: panga explorations, snorkeling

At Punta Vicente Roca we will do a panga ride around the beautiful coast line before jumping into the water to enjoy one of the best snorkeling sites of the Galapagos. The underwater cliffs found here are filled with enough colors and life to amaze everyone looking at them for the first time.

Marine Iguana

DAY 7: FRIDAY

AM: Santiago Island, Espumilla Beach – wet landing

Activities: hiking, snorkeling, swimming

After three days exploring the fabulous western islands, we head to central Santiago to disembark at Espumilla onto a golden-colored sand Green Sea Turtle nesting site. A forest trail will take us through some of the largest specimens of Palo Santo on the islands to observe Yellow Warblers, the unbelievably tame Galapagos Flycatcher and the ever-intriguing Darwin’s finches.

PM: Santiago Island, Puerto Egas – wet landing

Activities: hiking, snorkeling

At Puerto Egas we disembark on a dark sand volcanic beach with an interesting history of human settlement. Sleepy Galapagos fur seals lounge under arches of lava carved by the ocean and occasionally dip into the crystalline pools, also known as “grottos”. Walk along the shore and observe the abundant marine life.

Blue-footed Boobies

DAY 8: SATURDAY

AM: North Seymour – dry landing

Activities: hiking

Disembark on North Seymour, a small uplifted island, where we will walk right up to bird nesting colonies of the two species of Frigatebirds, Blue-footed Boobies and Swallow-tailed Gulls, and experience, depending on season, spectacular displays. 

AM: Baltra Island, Transfer to the Airport

Be assisted to Baltra 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. 

About Rainforest Cruises

Rainforest Cruises is a boutique travel company specializing in Amazon river cruises and tours, providing you with the finest collection of cruises in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Panama. As South American travel experts we have all the advice you need to help you find and book your dream cruise and an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.

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We had an absolutely fabulous time on the cruise. Thank you again for the trip of a lifetime.
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