Galapagos

Southern & Western 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

SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND: Colorado Hill, Tortoise Breeding Centre

FLOREANA ISLAND: Loberia & Asylum Of Peace

SANTA FE ISLAND

SOUTH PLAZA ISLAND: Champion Islet

FERNANDINA ISLAND: Punta Espinoza

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND: Isla Lobos, Highlands, C. Darwin Research Station, Bachas Beach

ISABELA ISLAND: Tintoreras Islet, Tortoise Breeding Centre & Wetlands, Moreno Point, Elizabeth Bay, Tagus Cove

Trip details

Itinerary

Day 1 ARRIVAL, SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND

Morning

San Cristobal Island

Arrival at San Cristobal Airport. Meet and greet your naturalist guide upon arrival at San Cristobal Airport. Before leaving the airport, you'll pass an inspection point where your Transit Control Card will be stamped. Be sure to store this with your travel documents as you'll need to show it again when you depart the Galapagos Islands. If you haven't already, you'll also pay the Galapagos National Park entrance fee of 100 USD here. You'll then be escorted onboard the Archipel I where your captain and crew will welcome you.

Afternoon

Cerro Colorado

On an unpaved road to reach the highlands of San Cristobal, you'll pass a sugarcane plantation and row of wind generators along a ridge. Officially, the breeding center on Colorado Hill is named Galapaguero Jacinto Gordillo, though locally, it has adopted the name of the red hill on which it's situated. With your naturalist guide, learn how these endangered species are cared for by the breeding center. Walk the botanical trail and discover the natural history of the Galapagos giant tortoises as you spot a colorful collection of songbirds - Chatham mockingbird, large-billed flycatchers, and Yellow Warblers.

Evening

Evening onboard Archipel M/C. 

MEALS
  • Lunch onboard
  • Dinner onboard

Day 2 SOUTH PLAZA, SANTA FE ISLANDS

Morning

South Plaza

Half a pair of Plazas Island off the eastern shores of Santa Cruz, South Plaza is recognized for its outstanding collection of wildlife species despite its small size. While the North Plaza Island is visited for research purposes only, you'll visit the South Plaza Island this morning to see one of the largest sea lion colonies in the Galapagos, which is estimated to be at about 1000. On a hike with your naturalist guide, you'll notice that the land iguanas on South Plaza Island are smaller, primarily due to overpopulation and heavy competition for food sources. You'll also have the opportunity to observe them as they feed on the fruit of the prickly pear cacti as you wind along a rugged cliff where seabirds nest.

Afternoon

Santa Fe

At an estimated four million years, Santa Fe Island is one of the oldest in the Galapagos archipelago. With a relatively small land area of 24 sq. km, this island situated between Santa Cruz and San Cristobal boasts a diversity of endemic species - the Santa Fe land iguana, Galapagos Mockingbird and rice rat. Its landscape is unique for its population of the large prickly pear cactus, Opuntia Echios, which feeds Santa Fe's land iguanas. Following a wet landing among a sea lion colony at Barrington Bay, enjoy a swim or snorkel in its shimmering waters as hawks fly overhead, keeping your eyes peeled for rays, tropical fish and marine tortoises.

Evening

Evening onboard Archipel M/C. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard
  • Lunch onboard
  • Dinner onboard

Day 3 FLOREANA ISLAND

Morning

Champion Islet

On a dinghy ride along the pristine shoreline of Champion Islet, witness species of endemic sea birds - blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds. Keep your eyes peeled for Galapagos penguins and playful sea lions in the water, and allow bottlenose dolphins to accompany you on your passage to Champion Islet.

Afternoon

Loberia & Asylum of Peace

A historical site, this island boasts a rewarding hike that leads to a cave and freshwater spring. Swim in the waters of La Loberia beach before boarding the Archipel I.

Evening

Evening onboard Archipel M/C. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard
  • Lunch onboard
  • Dinner onboard

Day 4 SANTA CRUZ ISLAND

Morning

Charles Darwin Research Station

Arrive at the Charles Darwin Research Station on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora, the premiere breeding site of the Galapagos archipelago. Featuring a number of interpretations and information centers about the National Park throughout, this facility is dedicated to marine life conservation and maintaining biodiversity in the region. Learn the story of Lonesome George, the fabled final survivor of the giant tortoise species who lived at the Charles Darwin Research Station for four decades. Enjoy some free time to stroll the quaint streets of Puerto Ayora before boarding the Archipel I.

Afternoon

Highlands

This afternoon, you'll visit the Highlands of Santa Cruz where you'll trek with your naturalist guide to see the Twin Craters and visit a local ranch to observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. If weather permits, you'll also be able to view the stunning scenery of extinct volcanic cones carpeted with lush greenery. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, long pants, a hat, and sunblock. Return to Puerto Ayora after your visit to the Highlands.

Evening

Evening onboard Archipel M/C. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard
  • Lunch onboard
  • Dinner onboard

Day 5 ISABELA ISLAND

Morning

Las Tintoreras

A group of islets just off the shores of Puerto Villamil, Las Tintoreras is the Spanish name for white-tipped reef sharks, which can be commonly spotted resting in the calm and clear waters. As you walk along the nature trail with your guide, keep your eyes peeled for Galapagos penguins and sea lions along the mangrove-lined shoreline.

Afternoon

Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Centre

Visit the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center situated just outside Puerto Villamil, where endangered Galapagos giant tortoises live in captivity. See five different endemic subspecies and how they're cared for to ensure their survival in the wilderness on the Galapagos Islands. Walk the manicured botanical garden that surrounds this breeding center and observe the colorful Yellow Warblers, Darwin’s finches and Galapagos and vermilion flycatchers that make this garden their home. In an adjacent saltwater lagoon, watch for American flamingos as they hunt for shrimp and algae.

Evening

Evening onboard Archipel M/C. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard
  • Lunch onboard
  • Dinner onboard

Day 6 ISABELA ISLAND

Morning

Punta Moreno

Arrive at Isabela Island after breakfast this morning and visit Moreno Point on its western shores. Explore the tidal lagoons and extensive lava fields, keeping your eyes peeled for sightings of herons, frigatebirds and green turtles. Take in the shrub dotted landscape of Moreno Point, where candelabra cacti reach impressive heights of up to seven meters, towering above surrounding mangrove bushes and saltwater lagoons fringed with sea grass. On a guided walk along a trail, experience the solidified lava beneath your feet and keep your eyes peeled for marine iguanas, brown pelicans and a striking panoramic view of the Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul and La Cumbre - the three most active volcanoes in the Galapagos.

Afternoon

Elizabeth Bay

Made up of a collection of small islets, coastal mangrove forests and rocky reefs, Isabela Island is a sanctuary for wildlife and the premiere breeding site for Galapagos penguins. View a variety of wildlife on your visit to Red Mangrove Cove, ranging from brown pelicans to spotted eagle rays and sea lions.

Evening

Evening onboard Archipel M/C. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard
  • Lunch onboard
  • Dinner onboard

Day 7 ISABELA AND FERNANDINA ISLANDS

Morning

Tagus Cove

This morning, the Archipel I will cross the Bolivar Channel and reach Tagus Cove on the northwestern shores of Isabela Island. This site was historically frequented by pirates who left their mark by carving the names of their ships onto the cliff faces that surround the cove. Following a 3 km trail with your guide, reach Darwin Lake, a saltwater lagoon reaching nine meters in depth contained within a tuff cone. The cliff faces of Tagus Cove provide a number of nesting sites for sea and coastal birds, and from the inflatable dinghy, you'll have the opportunity to see flightless cormorants, storm petrels and flocks of blue-footed boobies and brown pelicans.

Afternoon

Punta Espinosa

As the third-largest island in the Galapagos, Fernandina is also the youngest. Visit Espinosa Point across from Tagus Cove, home to the flightless cormorant and recognized for its large colonies of marine iguanas that bask in the sun. Free of any introduced species, Fernandina is one of the world's most pristine islands, and despite its barren landscape, the lava cacti thrive here, against a dramatic backdrop of Volcán La Cumbre. Tread with care between January and June, during the nesting period of the marine iguana.

Evening

Evening onboard Archipel M/C. 

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard
  • Lunch included
  • Dinner onboard

Day 8 SANTA CRUZ ISLAND, DEPARTURE

Morning

Las Bachas

Arrive at Santa Cruz Island on the Archipel I this afternoon and traipse the white coral sands of Bachas Beach on its northern shores, just west of Black Turtle Cove. This beach earned its name after World War II when the American army abandoned their barges on the beach. Unable to pronounce "barge" in the English language, "bachas" is the result of a mispronunciation, resulting in the name of the beach. Stroll the pristine coastline where its sands meet the turquoise bay, and orange Sally Lightfoot crabs scurry between the rocks at your feet. Reach a brackish lagoon on your walk, where white-cheeked pintails and hunting herons wade in the water and catch a glimpse of the American flamingos that inhabit this island. From your naturalist guide, learn about the role Bachas Beach plays as one of the island's main sea turtle nesting sites.

Transfer to Seymour Airport on Baltra Island. Your visit to Bachas Beach concludes this eight-day Southern Western Galapagos Islands cruise on the Archipel I. Your guide and friendly crew members will transfer you to Seymour Airport on Baltra island for your onward journey and accompany you to the check-in counters and departure hall.

MEALS
  • Breakfast onboard

Map

Services

What's included

Accommodation

Nights
7 nights onboard Archipel M/C

Meals

Full board plan
7 breakfasts + 7 lunches + 7 dinners

Transportation

Bus
All transfers from/to Baltra Airport

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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