Yacht Isabela II – Western Galapagos Islands Itinerary – 5D/4N
Western Galapagos Islands Itinerary
Our journey begins on Santa Cruz Island as we explore the lush vegetation of its highlands before venturing down to the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station. The next day, we’ll enjoy the panoramic views from Bartolome Island before exploring the white coral sand beach of Sullivan Bay, venturing through its dramatic lava field. The next morning takes us to Dragon Hill, home of dusty-yellow land iguanas! After this adventure, we head out to discover Punta Vicente Roca’s wildlife. Later, we’ll make our way to the youngest island in the archipelago, Fernandina, widely regarded as one of the most pristine environments on the planet.
- Santa Cruz Island
- Bartolome Island
- Santiago Island
- Isabela Island
- Fernandina Island
- Blue-footed booby
- Nazca booby
- Flightless cormorant
- American Flamingo
- Frigatebirds: Great and Magnificent
- Galapagos Hawk
- Galapagos Land Iguana
- Galapagos Marine Iguana
- Galapagos Penguin
- Galapagos Sea Lion
- Galapagos Fur Seal
- Galapagos Giant Tortoise
Day by Day
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Baltra Airport (Santa Cruz Island)
After landing at Baltra Airport, we drive to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. A 30-minute bus ride takes us to a restaurant in the fascinating, more humid Highlands of the island to enjoy lunch, and then continue south down to Puerto Ayora on the coast.
Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station
At the eastern end of Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the archipelago, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, the islands’ headquarters for scientific research and conservation. Later in the afternoon, we stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora before embarking. Captain’s welcome cocktail and dinner.
This morning, a Galapagos icon awaits Bartolome Island. A great way to start the day, with a steep climb up a wooden staircase: the panoramic view from the top is well worth the effort! Following the walk, we take a panga ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock in search of Galapagos penguins and other wildlife.
Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island)
After lunch, we board the pangas (inflatable dinghies) and land at Sullivan Bay on the east coast of Santiago, a white coral sand beach that is ideal for swimming. A trail runs along a lava field that flowed here around 100 years ago. This is the perfect place to see and understand the volcanic origin of the Galapagos.
Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz Island)
The north coast of Santa Cruz hosts the fascinating landscapes of Dragon Hill. After disembarking, the first part of our walk passes a brackish-water lagoon frequented by shorebirds, ducks, and American flamingos. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as the chance of observing land iguanas (for which the visitor site is named, following a concerted effort to conserve them by the Galapagos National Park). After our walk, we can snorkel from the shore, hoping to spot rays, green turtles, and sharks.
Salt Mine (James Bay, Santiago Island)
Our wet landing on James Bay follows in the footsteps of Charles Darwin. The young naturalist spent about six days exploring this island in 1835, enthralled not only by the species he encountered — finches, mockingbirds, lava lizards, and yellow warblers, as well as Galapagos doves, hawks, and flamingos — but also by the vegetation and the fascinating geological formations. Our hike takes us uphill to one of these for panoramic views: a crater filled with brackish water. The salt from this lagoon was mined in the 20th century, but the businesses didn’t prosper. More active explorers can hike all the way around the cone.
Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela Island)
Since there is no landing site at this location, we explore the captivating coast by dinghy, seeking out abundant wildlife including colonies of Galapagos fur seals, the nesting sites of Nazca boobies, not to mention flightless cormorants, penguins, and marine iguanas. Depending on the conditions of the ocean, we’ll be able to snorkel along the cliffs, hopefully in the company of green sea turtles. Back on board, we navigate along the Bolivar Channel, where nutrient-rich upwellings provide fertile fishing grounds for cetaceans.
Punta Espinoza (Fernandina Island)
We end our journey on a high note by visiting the island of Fernandina, the youngest island of the archipelago, and arguably one of the most pristine ecosystems on the planet. Our visitor site of Punta Espinoza boasts a fantastic combination of apparently barren landscapes and abundant wildlife, all dominated by the lofty volcano at the heart of the island. Highlights to spot include hawks, penguins, vast numbers of marine iguanas, and the famous flightless cormorant, with its beguiling blue eyes.
Our journey ends at Baltra Island where we transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.
|Cabin||Max. Guests Capacity||2021 Price per Person (US $)|
|Owner’s Cabin||2||$ 4,236|
|Classic Cabin||2||$ 4,052|
|Classic Family Cabin*||3||$ 4,052|
|Standard Cabin||2||$ 3,820|
*accommodates 2 adults + 1 child under 12 years old
- All meals
- Island sightseeing
- Naturalist guides and lecture services in English/Spanish only
- Snorkeling gear
- Internet / Wi-Fi *
- Luggage handling
- Medical care on board (not including the cost of medication)
- Transfers in the islands
- Shared transfers from main hotels in Quito (Casa Gangotena, Hilton Colon, Sheraton, Marriott, Dann Carlton) and in Guayaquil (Hilton Colon, Oro Verde, Sheraton, Wyndham) to airport for flights to/from Galapagos are included in these rates. To coordinate these transfers, we must have guests’ hotel contact information.
- Wet suits available for rent, NET rate US$ 30 + VAT per guest for 7-day expeditions
- Air transportation to / from Galapagos and airport taxes (subject to change without previous notice)
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee (US$ 100 subject to change without previous notice)**
- Migration Control Card (US$ 20 subject to change without previous notice)**
- Fuel surcharge
- Alcoholic **and non alcoholic beverages
- Gifts and additional items
- Travel insurance
* 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.
** 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 $25+taxes.
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.