Galapagos

Northern & Eastern Galapagos Islands Cruise - ARCHIPEL I M/C

8 days | 7 nights
Shared tour
From 3595USD4595USD per person
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Archipel I

Mid Range

Cruise Description

This 8-day Southern Western Galapagos Islands cruise on the Archipel I catamaran brings you the most stunning landscapes and exciting attractions of the region with a carefully curated itinerary.

Begin by meeting your expert naturalist guide at San Cristobal Airport on San Cristobal Island, and after a warm welcome on the stylish catamaran, set sail to your first anchor point of Colorado Hill. A breeding center nestled in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, Colorado Hill is dedicated to preserving the endangered Galapagos giant tortoises. A tour of the site allows you to grasp the efforts behind their mission.

Sail onward to South Plaza Island, half a pair of the Plazas Island off the eastern shores of Santa Cruz. Here, you'll embark on a hike with your knowledgeable naturalist guide and observe one of the largest sea lion colonies of the Galapagos archipelago.

Then visit one of the oldest islands in the Galapagos - Santa Fe. Despite its tiny land area of 24 sq. km, it's estimated to be some four million years old.

Discover Floreana Island and see blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigatebirds, and red-billed tropicbirds on a dinghy ride along the unspoiled shorelines of Champion Islet. Then go for a swim in the enticing waters of La Loberia beach before leaving Floreana Island.

Explore the highlights of Santa Cruz on the fourth day of this Southern Western Galapagos Islands cruise, and begin with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. A facility dedicated to marine life conservation and maintaining biodiversity in the region, witness giant tortoises live in captivity here. Then tour the Highlands of Santa Cruz where you'll see the Twin Craters and observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat for a contrasting experience.

Sail through the islets of Las Tintoreras and observe white-tipped reef sharks resting in the calm turquoise waters, then land on the Galapagos archipelago's largest island of Isabela Island, which boasts an extensive land area of 4640 sq. km. Tour the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center situated just outside Puerto Villamil, where you'll learn the efforts behind ensuring the survival of giant tortoises in the wilderness on the Galapagos Islands.

Journey onward to Moreno Point and walk its lava fields and explore its tidal lagoons, keeping your eyes peeled for sightings of herons, frigatebirds, and green turtles. Then the Archipel I sails toward Elizabeth Bay where you'll have the opportunity to visit the breeding grounds of the Galapagos penguins.

Uncover pirate history at Tagus Cove, your final stop on Isabela Island, a site on its northwestern shores that was historically frequented by pirates who left their mark by carving the names of the vessels they commanded into the surrounding cliff faces.

Reach Fernandina Island, the third-largest in the Galapagos archipelago, and walk the barren landscape of Punta Espinosa, observing the large colonies of marine iguana that bask in the sun. You'll be surprised to discover that despite its barren landscape, lava cacti thrive here, against a dramatic backdrop of Volcán La Cumbre.

This comprehensive eight-day Southern Western Galapagos Islands cruise ends with a visit to Las Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz Island, where you'll learn the origin of its name and discover the role it played in World War II.

Built for comfort while cruising the islands of the Galapagos archipelago, the Archipel I boasts 8 modern cabins with cushy twin and double beds, furnished with sea view windows so you have easy access to the region's spellbinding beauty at any time. The catamaran is serviced by a dedicated crew of nine to deliver an unparalleled experience at sea.

Destinations

Galapagos

Trip at a glance

Visits

NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND

GENOVESA ISLAND: Darwin Bay, Prince Phillip's Steps

SANTIAGO ISLAND: Sullivan Bay

BARTOLOME ISLAND

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: Highlands, Charles Darwin Research Station

FLOREANA ISLAND: Cormorant Point, Post Office Bay

ESPAÑOLA ISLAND: Gardner Bay, Suarez Point

SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND: Pitt Point, Witch Hill

Trip details

Itinerary

Day 1 Baltra Airport - North Seymour

Morning

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 - USD $20) is stamped; this must be kept safe during your trip, as it has to be presented again on your return flight. In addition, entrance to the Galapagos National Park is due for entry (US $ 100 for adults, US$ 50 for children under 12), if this has not yet been paid.
Your guide will meet you at the airport, assist you with the luggage and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbour.

Afternoon

North Seymour
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 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.

Evening

Return on board Archipel I.

MEALS
  • Lunch onboard Archipel I
  • Dinner onboard Archipel I

Day 2 Genovesa Island

Morning

Prince Philip’s Steps
Before landing, you will take an inflatable dinghy-ride along the eastern arm of the caldera. As we approach, the soaring 25m / 80ft high walls become overwhelming. Sometimes, a Galapagos fur seal is resting or a seabird is nesting on one of the ledges at the base.
You will then have to hike and overcome the steep stairs from the landing dock to a bush of palo santo shrubs on top. Red-footed boobies gratefully use these scarce nesting places; so that they don’t have to nest on the rocky ground.
Upon arriving at the edge of the rim, the bushes open up and you can enjoy panoramic views, a strong sea breeze and the amazing flying skills of countless seabirds. Following the exposed rim, you will first pass the Nazca boobies and finally reach the extensive storm petrel nesting places, where if you’re lucky you can spot the well-camouflaged short-eared owl hunting for them on foot!

Afternoon

Darwin Bay
Inside the submerged caldera of Genovesa lies Darwin Bay, with a diameter of more than 1.5km / 1mi and it is almost 200 m / 650 ft. deep. The small area will surprise you repeatedly, walking along a coral sand beach, crossing barren lava formations and creeks, passing tidal pools, shrubs and further ahead following the top of some cliffs. With this peaceful surrounding, every single species has occupied its own ecological niche (or habitat) without disturbing others.

Evening

Dinner and night onboard.

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard Archipel I
  • Lunch onboard Archipel I
  • Dinner onboard Archipel I

Day 3 Bartolome & Santiago Island

Morning

Pinnacle Bay

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 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.

Afternoon

Sullivan Bay

Setting foot at the lava stream covering Sullivan Bay is like landing on the moon. The desolate, stretched-out fields seem mostly lifeless, but there is plenty to see on this highly popular site amongst photographers. Pacific green turtles seasonally bury eggs in the tiny white sand beach, where you might also encounter crabs, a strayed blue heron or an oystercatcher. On the lava flow, only sparse pioneer vegetation such as lava cacti and carpetweed are able to grow. You might encounter a lava lizard, locusts or a small snake-species (Galapagos racer).

Evening

Dinner and night onboard.

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard Archipel I
  • Lunch onboard Archipel I
  • Dinner onboard Archipel I

Day 4 Santa Cruz Island

Morning

Charles Darwin Research Station
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 carried out. The main attractions are the National Park information center, the Van Staelens Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Centre for young tortoises, and adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.

Afternoon

Highlands
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, and then goes to the Fern and Sedge zone. With clear weather, this area boasts 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.

Evening

Dinner and night onboard.

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard Archipel I
  • Lunch onboard Archipel I
  • Dinner onboard Archipel I

Day 5 Floreana Island

Morning

Cormorant Point
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.

Afternoon

Post Office Bay
Post Office Bay is one out of three nearby visitor’s sites on Floreana’s northern coast. Bring your postcards and post them in the peculiar barrel on this historic site. The barrel commemorates an improvised mail service that was set up for communication between British 16th-century whalers and poachers.

Evening

Dinner and night onboard.

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard Archipel I
  • Lunch onboard Archipel I
  • Dinner onboard Archipel I

Day 6 Española Island

Morning

Gardner Bay
The striking white beach at Gardner Bay is an important breeding site for Pacific green turtles. However, without doubt, its main attraction is the Galapagos sea lion colony. Females stay year-round in this nursery, suckling their pups up to the age of 3 years, although they start to fish after 5 months of their birth. During the breeding and mating season, the colony becomes even bigger.

Afternoon

Suarez Point
Huge ocean waves crash onto the southern basaltic cliffs of Suarez Point, forming a spectacular blowhole, where the water sprays meters high into the air (depending on the season, the tide and how strongly the sea breeze pushes the waves). Take your time for a meditative break in silence at this emblematic viewpoint, and convert this unforgettable moment in a lifetime experience.

Evening

Dinner and night onboard.

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard Archipel I
  • Lunch onboard Archipel I
  • Dinner onboard Archipel I

Day 7 San Cristobal Island

Morning

Pitt Point
Two wind sculptured tuff cones at Pitt Point make up the extreme eastern end of San Cristobal, and thus, the archipelago as well. These cliffs were the fi¬rst sight of land when HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin arrived on the 15th of September 1835. On the small green sand beach, you will be welcomed by a group of barking Galapagos sea lions. This is a bachelor colony, where males usually relax and prepare themselves for fighting and mating.
From the saltbush and spiny shrubs behind the beach, a trail leads up to an area of tropical dry forest vegetation: most of the year you will -find leafless palo santo trees, yellow cordia shrubs, tiny prickly pear cacti and carpetweed that turns red in the dry season. After the somewhat steep climb through a gully to the clifftop, you can wander around the only colony on the Galapagos that is home to all three species of boobies: blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca booby; as well as both species of frigate bird (great and magnificent), famous because of their scarlet balloon-sized pouches during mating season. Frigate birds prefer to attack returning boobies and conduct aerial battles rather than fishing for themselves.

Afternoon

Witch Hill
The primary attraction of this site is the coral sand beach, an excellent place to swim and snorkel. Witch Hill is the remains of a tuff cone and one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. It has an impressive landscape, where it is often possible to see coastal and migratory birds, including pelicans, blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls; as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. At times, the lagoon is completely dry and deposits of salt can be found at the bottom. The people of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno used to use the lagoon as a salt mine.

Evening

Dinner and night onboard.

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard Archipel I
  • Lunch onboard Archipel I
  • Dinner onboard Archipel I

Day 8 Departure Day - San Cristobal Airport

Morning

Lobos Islet
The Lobos Islets beach harbors a colony of Galapagos sea lions. As in other colonies in the archipelago, you can approach nurturing females within a few meters. In the breeding season, this colony is also visited by territorial males, defending and mating the harem on their part of the beach. This low islet is home to more than just Galapagos sea lions. Two other emblematic species breed here: male blue-footed boobies and great frigate birds who try to impress the females (and tourists) with clumsy dances, heaving their striking blue feet or blowing up their balloon-sized scarlet pouches. During the breeding season, the fluffy and hungry chicks cry for food, and when their wings get strong enough, they will learn to fly.

Transfer out to San Cristobal Airport (SCY)
Assisted by the naturalist guide and some crewmembers, the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to the San Cristobal Airport, where we will take the shuttle back to the airport

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard Archipel I

Map

Services

What's included

Accommodation

Nights
7 nights onboard Archipel M/C

Meals

Full board plan
7 breakfasts + 7 lunches + 7 dinners

Orientation

Guide
Shared English-speaking naturalist guide

What's not included

  • Entrance Fee to Galapagos National Park (100 USD/Person)
  • TCT Ingala Migration Card (20 USD/Person)
  • Domestic Flights
  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Wetsuit Rental
  • Extra Meals
  • Drinks
  • Tips

Dates and Prices

Arrival date

Important notes

Each guest must strictly follow the Galapagos National Park Rules: 

  • Remain on marked trails at visitor sites and respect signs at all times for the protection of wildlife
  • Maintain a distance of at least six feet (two meters) from wildlife to avoid disturbing them, even if they approach you
  • Never feed wildlife, as this can cause health problems
  • Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of wildlife
  • Professional photography and videos recorded for commercial purposes must be authorized by the Galapagos National Park Department
  • It is your responsibility not to introduce food, animals, or plants into the Archipelago. Cooperate fully with all environmental inspection and quarantine officials during your visit.
  • Do not take or buy any products or souvenirs made from banned substances, including black coral, shells, lava rock, animal parts, or any native wood or vegetation prior to leaving Galapagos. This is illegal and must be reported
  • Practice “leave-no-trace” principles in order to maintain the beauty of the environment
  • Pack out all trash and dispose of or recycle it in the populated areas or on your tour boat
  • Smoking and/or campfires are strictly prohibited within the Galapagos National Park
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