Santa Cruz II 2018: Eastern tour 7 days
From Baltra, a quick jump by ship brings us to Mosquera Islet where we check out the sea lions before sailing towards San Cristobal. A stop at the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Breeding Centre will open our eyes to the beauty of the Galapagos giant tortoise and to the important scientific work that continues to be performed on the islands. In the afternoon, we travel to the most eastern tip of the archipelago, Punta Pitt, the only stop on this journey where we can see red-footed boobies. From here, it’s on to the central islands, starting with Santa Fe, with its beautiful tranquil bay, before continuing to the wild cliffs of South Plaza with their lofty cacti, land iguanas and stunning marine birds. The following day we visit the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island. Española Island, voted the #1 island by guides and expedition leaders, awaits us with its remarkable visitor site of Punta Suarez, home to hundreds of marine iguanas, sea lions, marine birds, and even albatross (between April and December) – a truly stunning site! In the afternoon, we enjoy the water in Gardner Bay. The following morning we will wake up at Eden Islet and finish the day at North Seymour, famous for its land iguanas and sea lions as well as bird colonies of blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and Nazca boobies. We finish at Baltra after a moving and memorable experience.
- San Cristobal
- Santa Fe
- South Plaza
- Santa Cruz
- North Seymour
- Charles Darwin Research Station
- Kicker Rock (sail-by)
- Punta Suarez
- Punta Pitt
- North Seymour
- Galapagos Albatrosses (From April to December) (BIG15)
- Blue Footed Boobies (BIG15)
- Nazca Boobies (BIG15)
- Red Footed Boobies (BIG15)
- Great & Magnificent Frigatebirds (BIG15)
- Galapagos Hawks (BIG15)
- Land Iguanas (BIG15)
- Marine Iguanas (BIG15)
- Santa Fe Land Iguana (BIG15)
- Galapagos Sea Lion (BIG15)
- Galapagos Giant Tortoises (BIG15)
- Galapagos Fur Seal (BIG15)
- American Flamingo (BIG15)
- Galapagos Doves
- Galapagos Mockingbirds
- San Cristobal Mockingbirds
- Española Mockingbirds
- Darwin Finches
- Brown Pelicans
- Swallow-Tailed Gulls
- Lava Gulls
- Lava (striated) Herons
Day by day
We arrive by plane at Baltra Island and transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II where we receive our welcome introductory briefing and lunch.
After lunch and your introductory briefing on board, Santa Cruz II will relocate only four nautical miles from Baltra, next to Mosquera Islet, a small volcanic uplift between Baltra and North Seymour. The island is a long and narrow sand bank surrounded by lava reefs. Our groups will approach the island from its western shore, a long shallow reef, the perfect rookery for young sea lions. After a wet landing, our guides will lead you past the sea lion colonies, where you will learn more about the fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Galapagos. The walk is easy as it is restricted to a few hundred metres of flat sandy dunes. This will also be a great opportunity for an introduction to snorkelling.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal Island)
After breakfast, we disembark (dry landing) at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the island’s capital, and drive 40 minutes to the island’s southern shore. At Cerro Colorado, we visit the breeding centre for highly endangered giant tortoises in the midst of a fantastic deciduous forest, home to dozens of bird species, including the San Cristobal mockingbird, and the San Cristobal lava lizard, both island endemics.
Punta Pitt (San Cristobal Island)
In the afternoon, we disembark (wet landing) on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, an eroded tuff cone, whose trail provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together. We can walk or enjoy a panga ride along the coast. Opportunity for snorkelling, swimming and kayaking.
Santa Fe Island
After breakfast, we take the dinghy over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by many sea lions (wet landing). The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Snorkelling and swimming from the panga rounds off our rewarding experience, or if guests prefer, the glass bottom boat is available for non-snorkelers. Opportunity for kayaking.
South Plaza Island
Following lunch and a rest, we disembark (dry landing) in this channel, whose turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Beyond, a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide, playing with the thermals.
Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)
In the morning, we disembark (dry landing) for our visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station’s giant tortoise Breeding Centre within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following our visit, we board our transport to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.
Santa Cruz Island
We have several options available for the afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, we return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the Santa Cruz II.
Punta Suarez (Española Island)
(Dry landing) – An exciting walk awaits at this site, where we enjoy its unique sea bird colonies, including Galapagos albatross (April-December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls as well as a view of the Galapagos’ famous “blow-hole”. Also, look out for red-green-black marine iguanas. Back on board for lunch.
Gardner Bay – Osborn Islet (Española Island)
(Wet landing) In the afternoon, the picture-postcard white coral beach of Gardner Bay and the nearby islet of Osborn provides a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches as we relax. We can expect great snorkelling in this area. Opportunity for swimming and kayaking as well.
Eden Islet (Santa Cruz Island)
After breakfast, a panga ride takes us to Eden Islet, a small islet located off the coast of Santa Cruz, where we can observe blue-footed boobies diving into the water, reef sharks and frigates. There’s a chance to snorkel and, if weather condition permits, ride in the glass-bottom boat and kayak.
North Seymour Island
North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a volcanic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stands just above the landing (dry landing), usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom. This is a great introductory site to the islands and their wildlife, full of bird colonies of blue footed boobies, two species of frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas.
On our last day, we disembark at Baltra Island and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the continent.
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
- Snorkelling 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
- Sun block & 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 snorkelling 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.