Santa Cruz II 2020-2021 – Northern Galapagos tour 5 days
Our itinerary together begins at Baltra airport, from where we’ll sail to the glorious white beach of Las Bachas with a pair of brackish water lagoons only a few steps from the sea. These lagoons serve as feeding grounds for various wading birds, including stilts, pintail ducks and flamingos. As we continue our voyage, we explore two fascinating visitor sites on Santiago Island: Buccaneer Cove, home to a large number of marine birds, sea lions, and inter-tidal organisms, and Puerto Egas, with its great walk-along pools full of life and good snorkeling and swimming possibilities. The next day we visit the red-sand beach of Rabida Island, a lovely trail around some cliffs and a popular spot for aquatic activities, with some of the best snorkeling in Galapagos! In the afternoon, we round out the day with a stop at Bartolome Island, which offers a volcanic viewpoint with room for hiking, swimming, and exploring the beach and the coast. This is our only chance to see Galapagos penguins. What a full and rich day! From here we sail northeast, crossing the equatorial line, to the sunken crater of Genovesa Island, home to thousands of marine birds. It feels like a world a million miles from our own. We finish with an incredible encounter with nature in which we respectfully sharing a wild habitat with giant Galapagos tortoises at a private reserve up in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island and then make our way to the airport at Baltra.
- Santa Cruz
- Buccaneer Cove
- Genovesa Island
- Pinnacle Rock
- Blue Footed Boobies (BIG15)
- Nazca Boobies (BIG15)
- Red Footed Boobies (BIG15)
- American Flamingos (BIG15)
- Great & Magnificent Frigatebirds (BIG15)
- Galapagos Hawks (BIG15)
- Marine Iguanas (BIG15)
- Galapagos Penguins (BIG15)
- Galapagos Sea Lion (BIG15)
- Galapagos Fur Seal (BIG15)
- Galapagos Giant Tortoises (BIG15)
- Galapagos Doves
- Galapagos Mockingbirds
- San Cristobal Mockingbirds
- Darwin Finches
- Short-eared Owls
- Brown Pelicans
- Swallow-tailed Gulls
- Lava Gulls
- Lava (striated) Heron
Day by day
Important Note: The Santa Cruz II operates on a 15-day cycle (to cover each separate region of the archipelago), meaning that not all Mondays of the year will serve as departure dates for this specific itinerary. Please refer to our Sailing Dates table for exact departure dates for Mondays of the year.
We land at Baltra Island by plane in the morning and transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II, where we receive a welcome introductory briefing, boat drill and lunch.
Las Bachas (Santa Cruz Island)
This beautiful visitor site is located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, a glorious white beach with a couple of brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. You may enjoy swimming and or snorkeling at this beach too. Welcome cocktail, expedition plan for Tuesday and dinner.
After breakfast, we explore the coastline along the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove, learning about the area’s distant and recent history. The cove is home to a large number of marine birds, sea lions, and inter-tidal organisms. Enjoy fantastic natural formations such as the “Elephant Rock”, “The Bishop” and an impressive natural cave. Opportunity for snorkeling, and a ride on the panga or glass-bottom boat.
Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)
Once we disembark at the beach, we can enjoy a swim or snorkel amid a rocky shoreline, usually in the company of marine turtles. From here, we head off to our walk, a great opportunity to see land and marine birds amid landscape of tuff-stone layers and lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds and we can also observe a colony of fur seals. After the visit, we had some time for swimming and snorkeling.
Some groups will go for a fascinating panga ride along the shores while others will disembark on Rabida Island’s red-coloured beach, caused by the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic material. Our walk brings us close to a colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. Very close to the beach, a salt pond occasionally hosts American flamingos. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach, both for beginners as well as for experienced snorkelers, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes. During navigation to our next island, we can sometimes spot dolphins!
Today’s afternoon activities begin with a wet landing on the golden beach of this famous island, dominated by the imposing Pinnacle Rock. There’s great snorkeling and swimming from the beach plus the chance to ride the glass bottom boat. After returning to the ship, we split into two group: the first lands for a hike to the summit of this diminutive island that boasts fantastic views of the archipelago. This is a moderately steep climb aided by a wooden staircase, resting platforms and handrails – the view from the top is worth the effort! The second takes to the pangas to explore the rugged and volcanic shoreline. The groups then swap so that each one experiences the full beauty of this island.
The morning starts with a steep climb (only 90 feet) up some stairs to reach a flat rocky plateau. Along our walk, we can observe large colonies of Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, great frigate birds and storm petrels. Those not wishing to disembark can enjoy a longer panga ride along the cliffs (depending on weather conditions). Kayaking is optional.
Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island)
In the afternoon, we land at this beautiful beach to enjoy some swimming and/or snorkeling. Following our dip, we take an easy stroll to observe hundreds of birds, mainly frigate birds, red-footed and Nazca boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. Opportunity for snorkeling, kayaking and swimming.
We start our last morning at the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. After breakfast, your luggage will be taken to the airport, while you visit the Tortoise Reserve. A dry landing at a passenger’s wharf and a bus ride to the loftier region of the island will provide the last highlight of the cruise: giant tortoises in the wild. The windward slopes of the island are home to two species of giant tortoises. These lush highlands include dense forests of Galapagos daisies, orchids and bromeliads, and several endemic land birds. After this visit we will transfer directly to Baltra airport. Farewell to Galapagos
Sailing Dates & Prices
*This itinerary departs every second Monday. If a Monday does not appear in the list below, it is either because we are fully booked for that Monday departure period or simply because we do not operate this specific itinerary on that Monday departure period due to our 15-day sailing cycle (to cover each separate region of the archipelago).
Northern - 5 Days
Monday to Friday*
Monday to Friday*
Jan 06 to 10
Jan 20 to 24
Feb 03 to 07
Feb 17 to 21
Mar 02 to 06
Mar 16 to 20
Mar 30 to Apr 03
Apr 13 to 17
Apr 27 to May 01
May 11 to 15
May 25 to 29
Jun 08 to 12
Jun 22 to 26
Jul 06 to 10
Jul 20 to 24
Aug 03 to 07
Aug 17 to 21
Aug 31 to Sep 04
Sep 14 to 18
Sep 28 to Oct 02
Oct 12 to 16
Oct 26 to 30
Nov 09 to 13
Dec 21 to 25
Northern - 5 Days
Monday to Friday*
Jan 04 to 08
Jan 18 to 22
Feb 01 to 05
Feb 15 to 19
Mar 01 to 05
Mar 15 to 19
Mar 29 to Apr 02
Apr 12 to 16
Apr 26 to 30
May 10 to 14
May 24 to 28
Jun 07 to 11
Jun 21 to 25
Jul 05 to 09
Jul 19 to 23
Aug 02 to 06
Aug 16 to 20
Aug 30 to Sep 03
Sep 13 to 17
Sep 27 to Oct 01
Oct 11 to 15
Oct 25 to 29
Nov 08 to 12
Nov 22 to 26
Dec 06 to 10
Dec 20 to 24
Activities & Highlights
- Transportation to/from the airport in Galapagos*
- All meals while on board
- Bilingual naturalist guides
- Conferences and lectures
- Island excursions and activities + optional activities on Santa Cruz Island
- Snorkeling equipment
- Glass bottom boat
* Restrictions apply
- Airfare to /from Galapagos
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee and immigration control card
- Beverages and tips
- Wetsuit rental
- Internet service*
*Due to the remote location, Internet connections are intermittent and low-bandwidth.
Itineraries for reference only. Our routes and programs may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety and operational reasons, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
The Ultimate Galapagos Packing List
(As recommended by our seasoned Galapagos Experts)
Our very own Destination Experts have worked hard to prepare this Ultimate Galapagos Packing List. These folks have an intimate knowledge and understanding of the Galapagos Islands and our ships. They have combed through the advice of several travelers and come up with the only Galapagos Packing List you’ll need. Make sure you check off our Top 5 Essential and Top 5 Wearable Items and check out the Additional Recommended Items to bring. Pack light, pack smart, and don’t worry if you forget something because those items below that are marked with an asterisk (*) are available in our onboard boutique shop.
Top 5 Essential Items
|1||Small backpack/daypack||We recommend you bring one that is waterproof.|
|2||Water bottle *||By the way, you’ll receive a reusable water bottle when you arrive on board any one of our ships or when you get to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.|
|3||Ziploc-style baggie with your medication||Even though our Galapagos cruises feature an onboard medical officer, available 24/7, please remember to pack any specific and essential prescription medication.|
|4||Drybag||This item keeps your valuables dry at all times as you hop on and off the dinghy, or panga, on your way to and from aquatic and land activities.)|
|5||Waterproof, see-through phone pouch||This item is useful for taking photos underwater or aboard a panga, as it keeps your phone dry and protected, guaranteeing that you’ll be able to share your memories with friends, family, and followers. (P.S. Feel free to tag us on your social media!|
Top 5 Wearable Items
|1||Wide-brimmed hat or cap with strap *||A strap keeps your hat from flying off as you travel along in the dinghy.|
|2||Short-sleeve cotton T-shirts||These keep you fresh during activities. By the way, we have a dryer on board!|
|3||Long-sleeve expedition-style shirts *||Long sleeves will protect you from the strong and direct sunlight along the equator. As an extra layer, being able to roll your sleeves up or down gives you the ability to adjust to the elements and remain comfortable.|
|4||Convertible cargo pants *||Similar to long-sleeve expedition-style shirts, these lightweight pants with removable lower legs allow you to remain comfortable and cool or warm and dry, whether hiking along the coast or hanging out on one of the ship’s outdoor decks.|
|5||Water-resistant, closed-toe sport sandals with non-slippery soles||Hop on and hop off without changing shoes! Don’t worry about getting wet, or slipping. Use these on expeditions and aboard the ship.|
Additional Recommended Items
Head to Toe: We also recommend bringing the following:
|1||Sunglasses||It’s a good idea to use these with a neck strap so you won’t misplace them.|
|2||Bandana *||This is a great item for protecting your neck when it gets too sunny or while traveling aboard the dinghy.|
|3||Windbreaker jacket||It can get a little windy out at sea, particularly during the Galapagos dry season.|
|4||Warm sweater or fleece||It can get a little chilly at night; an extra layer can provide you with just the right amount of comfort and warmth.|
|5||Casual pants, shorts, dress, or skirt||Back on board the ship, you may want to change into something a little more comfortable.|
|6||Bathing suits||It’s a good idea to bring two (2), in case you want to change suits between aquatic activities|
|7||Socks||You’ll be using your feet quite a bit so we recommend treating them right. Bring comfortable socks: some for hiking and some for lounging.|
|8||Anti-slip sandals and/or comfortable shoes||When your sandals are still drying, you’ll be glad you brought some extra footwear.|
Portables and Gear
|1||Toiletry kit||Keep in mind that we provide eco-friendly amenities in every cabin.|
|2||Waterproof sunblock * and lip balm (SPF 50+)||If you’re planning to take part in aquatic activities, make sure your sunblock and lip balm are eco-friendly and not harmful to ocean life.|
|3||Insect repellent *||You won’t encounter many mosquitos in the Galapagos, but it never hurts to have some on hand.|
|4||Binoculars||Our Naturalist Guides will be happy to lend you theirs, but you’re welcome to bring you own if you’d like.|
|5||Camera, plus extra memory cards and batteries||If you have a nice camera you want to use on this trip, bring it!|
|6||Device chargers and adaptors if necessary||Electrical outlets in Ecuador are 110-120V, 60Hz, types A & B.|
|7||Prescription snorkeling mask or specialized snorkel equipment||All regular snorkeling equipment is available aboard each of our ships, as well as at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. Some charges may apply. Consult your Destination Expert.|
If you want to make sure you don’t leave anything behind, print our downloadable packing checklist (better if you do so on a recycled paper, we designed it in such a way so that you use the less amount of ink possible.)
Our Onboard Boutique
Visit our onboard boutique and find items ranging from handicrafts to everyday necessities. Find the perfect gift for your friends and family, and purchase any of the items suggested in our packing list. Item availability and prices are subject to change.
- Dry landing: guests step from the panga (dinghy) onto rocks or a dock.
- Wet landing: as the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into around 20 cm (8 inches) of water and wade ashore.
**At your request, we can include the Galapagos National Park entrance fee of US$ 100 and migration control card fee of US$ 20 (subject to change). However, please note that, due to administrative and operational reasons, these fees can only be included when guests travel on the operation departure date. This service does not apply for guests who travel before a departure date (even if the departure is with us).
*** Please note, we charge guests who wish to bring bottles of wine and/or spirits aboard our vessels a corkage fee of US$ 25+taxes.
**** Internet connections onboard consist in computer stations and wifi in the vessel’s social areas; due to the Galapagos’ remote location, internet connections are intermittent and low-bandwidth.
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