Santa Cruz II 2018: Western tour 5 days
Our itinerary together begins at Baltra where we will board the ship and sail towards Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island for an interesting hike through palo santo forests full of Galapagos’ famed land iguanas. Overnight, we sail round the seahorse-shaped Isabela Island to two great visitor sites: Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island with the fascinating geology of collapsed Ecuador volcano, and then wild and pure Punta Espinoza on Fernandina, one of the most pristine islands in the world, with one of the islands’ densest colonies of marine iguanas and opportunities to see flightless cormorants. From there, we sail back round to Santa Cruz to visit the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station where scientists are involved with research and conservation efforts, the most well-known of which involves a captive breeding program for giant tortoises, and then spend the afternoon enjoying a range of active options. The following day finds us on Floreana Island, exploring its human history and stunning wildlife at both Post Office Bay and Punta Cormorant. The next day we say goodbye to the islands after an amazing journey! The entire crew aboard the Santa Cruz will do our utmost to ensure that your Galapagos experience is truly, deeply moving and memorable.
- Santa Cruz
- Post Office Bay
- Charles Darwin Research Station
- Punta Espinoza
- Nazca Boobies (BIG15)
- Flightless Cormorant (BIG15)
- American Flamingos (BIG15)
- Great & Magnificent Frigatebirds (BIG15)
- Galapagos Hawks (BIG15)
- Land Iguanas (BIG15)
- Marine Iguanas (BIG15)
- Galapagos Penguins (BIG15)
- Galapagos Sea Lion (BIG15)
- Galapagos Fur Seal (BIG15)
- Galapagos Giant Tortoises (BIG15)
- Galapagos Doves
- Darwin Finches
- Brown Pelicans
- Swallow-tailed Gulls
- Lava Gulls
- Lava (striated) Herons
- Galapagos Mockingbirds
- Florana Mockingbirds
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, boat drill and lunch.
Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) (Santa Cruz Island)
The north shore of Santa Cruz hosts the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill). The first part of our walk passes a brackish-water lagoon frequented by shorebirds, ducks and flamingos, while 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.
Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela Island)
After breakfast, we explore the coast by panga, while our naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area, a nesting place for several Galapagos highlights: flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, fur seals, boobies, etc. Depending on weather conditions, we can snorkel along the cliffs of this area rich in marine life, seasonally-visited by green sea turtles and oceanic sun fish (Mola mola)
Punta Espinoza (Fernandina Island)
The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina, which, having no introduced mammals, boasts a very unique environment with a very high density of marine iguanas, who share their space with sea lions, Sally light-foot crabs, hawks, penguins and the flightless cormorants.
Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)
In the morning, we disembark (dry landing followed by a brief bus ride) 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. Options include beach walks, kayaks, walks along the tortoise reserve, etc. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, we return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the Santa Cruz II.
Baroness Tower – Post Office Bay (Floreana Island)
After breakfast, panga ride along the maze of channels on Floreana’s north shore can be enjoyed. We follow this visit by continuing to Baroness Cove with its breathtaking views of Floreana. We land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries and where postcards are traditionally left for guests from other vessels to hand-deliver to their destinations. Snorkelling off the beach. We then head back on board for lunch.
Champion Islet – Punta Cormorant (Floreana Island)
Following lunch and a siesta, we take the pangas and glass-bottom boat to explore the underwater wonders around Champion Islet, an extinct shield volcano, regarded as one of the best snorkelling spots in the archipelago. From there, it’s on to Punta Cormorant, beginning with a wet landing on the olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish-water lagoon where bird species such as American flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers, and others gather. We continue our walk over to a white-sand beach, where sea turtles emerge from the sea at night to nest (from December to May).
We disembark at Baltra Island in order to transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.
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.