Santa Cruz II 2019-2020: 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 snorkelling 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 snorkelling 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 snorkelling, 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*
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
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 programmes may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety and operational reasons, and wildlife viewing opportunities.
- Tickets & printed itineraries
- Travel insurance
- Health insurance information
- Credit/debit cards
- Cash (US Dollars)
- Personal medication
- Light-weight hiking shoes
- Water-resistant, closed-toe sport sandals
- Anti-slip sandals for onboard
- Hiking shorts
- Lightweight hiking pants
- Casual pants and shorts (men)
- Casual dress, skirt, shorts or pants (women)
- Short-sleeve T-shirts
- Long-sleeve shirts or rash guards for sun protection
- Socks (normal and for hiking)
- Bathing suits (minimum 2)
- Sunglasses (optional: neck strap)
- Wide-brimmed hat or cap
- Windbreaker jacket
- Warm sweater or fleece
- Toiletry kit
- Sunblock & lip balm (waterproof + SPF 50 or higher)
- Insect repellent
- Small backpack/daypack (preferably waterproof)
- Video camera
- Extra memory cards and batteries
- Tripod (optional)
- Appliance chargers & adaptors if necessary (plugs in Ecuador are US-style A & B, 2 flat pins, 110 V)
- Prescription snorkeling mask or specialized snorkel equipment*
- Sealable plastic bags of various sizes
* All normal snorkeling equipment is available onboard and at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. Some charges may apply.
- 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.