Santa Cruz Cruise Tour Details
A dinghy ride among mangrove-lined islets allows the observation of the dramatic landscape and coastline, an area of amazing past volcanic activity. While exploring the nearby waters, various types of birds can be seen, such as boobies, frigates, pelicans. Quite commonly, the black lava will reveal the presence of marine iguanas. The navigation in shallow turquoise colored water gives the chance to see marine turtles, rays and sharks.
AM Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal [Chatham] Island)
Arrival by plane to San Cristóbal Island and transfer to the M/V Santa Cruz, anchored at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the provincial capital of the Galápagos Islands. Cabin assignment and lunch. After lunch, introductory talk.
PM Interpretation Centre and Cerro Tijeretas (San Cristóbal Island)
In the afternoon, disembark at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (dry landing) and visit the Interpretation Centre where visitors will acquire a greater understanding of Galápagos' uniqueness throughout informative visual aids. From the Interpretation Centre, we stroll along an easy boardwalk to the north shore of San Cristóbal, to the site considered as the spot where Darwin set foot for first time on Galápagos in 1835. A bust of the naturalist was placed there to commemorate this event. This area is teeming with life: Darwin finches, San Cristóbal mockingbirds, marine iguanas, sea lions, etc. Hills frame this turquoise bay, home to two species of frigates. A staircase leads to the top of Cerro Tijeretas, from where a good portion of northern San Cristóbal is visible: Wreck Bay, Lobos Islet, Punta Carola and the impressive Kicker Rock. Return on board. Welcome cocktail, expedition plan for Saturday and dinner.
AM Cerro Brujo (San Cristóbal Island)
A dinghy ride along the shores of tuff-stone layers takes guests to Cerro Brujo's white coralline beach (wet landing). The beach is a large expanse, great for walking, with rewarding bird watching with good views of seabirds like blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, herons, frigate birds, and more shore birds. Also, look out for Galápagos sea lions. Highlights ashore include the Chatham (San Cristóbal) mockingbird, Chatham lava lizard; both species are endemic to this island, and seen nowhere else in the Galápagos. These are the same shores that Charles Darwin walked upon, back in September 1835, as San Cristóbal was the first island where he set foot in the Galápagos. Cerro Brujo is an excellent site for acquainting oneself with snorkelling gear and techniques. Back on board for lunch.
PM Punta Pitt (San Cristóbal Island)
In the afternoon, disembark (wet landing) on the eastern tip of the island. Pitt Point is an eroded tuff cone; the trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galápagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, as well as the two frigate species, plus a colony of bachelor sea lions along the beach. After the walk, if conditions are favourable, there is a chance to swim from the beach or snorkel at the nearby islets. Expedition plan for Sunday and dinner.
AM Santa Fe Island
After breakfast, a wet landing on a sandy white beach with many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right to be "Beach Master", while smaller males masquerading as females make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name with tree-sized trunks! The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the afternoon walk. Snorkelling and swimming from the beach rounds off the rewarding experience, or if guests prefer, the glass bottom boat for non-snorkellers. Lunch on board.
PM South Plaza Island
Disembark (dry landing) in the channel between North and South Plaza Islands, where the island tilts toward the water, the approach makes for a lavishly colourful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange 'Sally Lightfoot' crabs. Further up the shore 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 that form along the cliffs of this small but amazing island. Expedition plan for Monday and dinner.
AM Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)
Morning disembarkation (dry landing) visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens, including tortoise celebrities like "Lonesome George" 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. Lunch at the poolside of the Finch Bay Eco Hotel.
PM Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
After lunch, visit the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, with their impressive Scalesia forest and the geological formation of the twin pit craters known as Los Gemelos. From December to mid-April a visit to see the giant tortoises in the wild may be included, if weather conditions are good. Return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the M/V Santa Cruz. Tuesday's expedition plan and dinner.
AM Punta Suárez (Española (Hood) Island)
Morning outing at Punta Suárez (dry landing) for an exciting walk on lava/boulder terrain to visit its unique sea bird colonies, including waved albatrosses (April - December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, swallow- tail gulls as well as a view of the Galápagos famous "blow-hole". Among its land birds, the Hood island mockingbird, Galápagos hawks, Galápagos doves and three species of Darwin's finches are common highlights. Also, look for red-green-black marine iguanas. Back on board for lunch.
PM Gardner Bay (Española Island)
In the afternoon, disembark (wet landing) at a white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches or enjoy the beach. There is great snorkelling in this area, or a ride aboard the glass- bottom boat. Departure briefing, Farewell Cocktail and dinner.
AM Baltra Island
Disembark at Baltra Island. Transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the continent.
The itineraries and programme are subject to change without prior notice, due mainly to adjustments in the policies and regulations of the Galápagos National Park, weather conditions, seasonal changes and safety reasons.
Dry landing: guests step from the dinghy onto rocks or a dock.
Wet landing: as the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
- All meals
- Island sightseeing
- All guide and lecture services
- Taxes and transfers in the island.
- Glass - bottom boat outings
- Air transportation to/from Galapagos
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee (US $100 subject to change without notice)
- Transit Control Card for Galapagos (US$ 10 per person)
- Wet suits
- Alcoholic and non alcoholic beverage, gratuities, gifts and additional items
Please read this Expedition Itinerary as a guide only. The route and program vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and wildlife encounters. Our crew is trained to deal with all the elements of the nature of this expedition. Safety will be always part of the daily programming of activities. Kindly follow all suggestions. It is compulsory to wear a life vest during the rides in the dinghies between the ship and the shore. Flexibility is essential in order to cope with nature's outstanding features.
Given the islands' volcanic origin, and the fact that most walking is done over pristine and irregular volcanic terrain, guests must be in suitable physical conditions for these kind of outings. The ship also organizes activities like shorter walks, boat rides, glass-bottom boat trips, snorkeling, swimming, lectures, all complimenting everyone's experience.
The Expedition Staff will provide you with snorkeling gear (mask and snorkel, fins, floating vest and net bag). Please note that the operation does not carry prescription masks. A shortie wet suit is highly recommended from June to December. Cooperation of guests is a key point when complying with the rules of the National Park. This alone can guarantee a major success in the expedition.
Dry landing: guests step from the dinghy onto rocks or a dock.
Wet landing: as the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal [Chatham] Island)
Arrival by plane to San Cristobal Island and transfer to the MV SANTA CRUZ, which will be anchored at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the provincial capital of the Galápagos Islands. Cabin assignment and lunch. After lunch, introductory welcome talk and boat drill.
Cerro Brujo (San Cristobal Island)
A dinghy ride along the shores of tuff-stone layers will bring us to Cerro Brujo's white coraline beach . Wet landing. The area will show us good views of seabirds like blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, herons, frigate birds, and some shore birds . Also, look for Galapagos sea lions. The beach is a great open walking area, with rewarding birdwatching. Highlights ashore include the Chatham (San Cristobal) Mockingbird, Chatham Lava Lizard; both species are endemic to this island, and seen nowhere else in Galapagos. We may also spot Yellow Warblers, Galapagos flycatchers and with luck a Vermillion flycatcher (endemic subspecies to San Cristobal). These are the same shores that Charles Darwin walked upon, back in September 1835, as San Cristobal was the first island where he set foot in the Galapagos. Back on board for a briefing on the next day's activities, followed by a cocktail offered by the Captain and dinner.
Punta Suarez (Española (Hood) Island)
Morning outing at Punta Suarez (dry landing) for an exciting walk on lava/boulder terrain to visit its unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses (April - December), Nazca (masked boobies), blue-footed boobies, swallow-tail gulls, and the famous blowhole. Among its landbirds, the Hood island mockingbird, and three species of Darwin’s finches are common highlights. Also, look for red-green-black marine iguanas, and of course a rookery of sea lions right at the landing site. Back on board for lunch.
Punta Cormorant (Floreana Island)
Disembark at Punta Cormorant (wet landing) at an olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish water lagoon where bird species like Greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers, and others may be observed. This outing also includes a white-sand beach where sea turtles come out at night for nesting (from December to May). Possibility of snorkeling from the beach, or join our Glass Bottom Boat or advanced snorkeling panga if conditions permit. Briefing and dinner.
Punta Espinoza (Fernandina Island)
This morning brings us to the youngest island, Fernandina. Disembark (dry landing) for a one-mile walk. Punta Espinoza has an amazing combination of barrenness with lots of wildlife. Having no introduced mammals, Fernandina has a very unique environment with the highest density of marine iguanas, sharing their island habitat with sea lions, sally-light foot crabs, and hawks. Lava terrain calls for good walking shoes. Back on board for lunch. As we sail along the Bolívar Channel, astonishing views of the Galápagos’ youngest volcanoes can be seen. The nutrient-rich waters of the west can also bring surprises like encountering sea birds feeding, dolphins, and possibly whales.
Punta Vicente Roca (Isla Isabela)
In the afternoon, depending on the conditions of the ocean, we will schedule a snorkeling outing along the cliffs of partly-sunken Ecuador Volcano, in the northern tip of Isabela Island. Since there is no landing site at this location, we will include a coastal exploration by dinghy, where our naturalist guides will commit to explaining the dramatic geology of the area with remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. This is the nesting place for flightless cormorants, the only existing marine birds in the world other than penguins that have changed their condition of flying birds to diving birds. Wildlife here also includes Sea lions, Galápagos Fur seals, Galápagos Penguins, Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies and noddy terns. This area has a very rich marine life, and is seasonally visited by green sea turtles. Details about the next day’s activities before dinner.
Baltra (South Seymour) Island
Morning at Baltra Island. Our ship will briefly stop at this location, mainly for voyage-related purposes. As the plane brings in our new guests, it also provides us with fresh supplies. This morning can be a unique opportunity to grab your favorite book for an extended amount of time, write postcards, enjoy the Jacuzzi, plain rest, or worship the equatorial sun. If you prefer to get out and enjoy the island spirit, there is a beautiful coralline beach called Aeolian Beach (wet landing). This is a great place for swimming and snorkeling (plenty of sea turtles to be seen from December through March). From time to time flocks of plunging blue-footed boobies will delight beach combers. Other options at Baltra Island may be planned by the Expedition Staff; these will be announced accordingly. Lunch on board. Before and after lunch, we will brief our newly arrived guests on the Galápagos’ basics and perform our official boat drill. The landscapes of the central islands are worth photographing, as we gently sail towards the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island. Time to be up on deck, as we get ready for our afternoon adventure.
Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) (Santa Cruz Island)
The north shore of Santa Cruz hosts Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill). Dry landing and a walk that includes a brackish water lagoon frequented by lagoon birds, including stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers, sanderlings, and more. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. This area is a natural nesting site for land iguanas, which is constantly monitored and assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The arid-zone vegetation can be a rewarding location for bird watching, where Darwin’s finches, Galápagos mockingbirds, the endemic Galápagos flycatcher, and yellow warblers are regular sightings. Tonight our expedition plan will reveal the interesting sites of the day ahead.
Disembark at Bartolomé Island (dry landing) for a hike to the summit. Great way to start the day. This is a steep climb aided by a wooden staircase; the view from the top is worth the effort. Dinghy ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock, time to enjoy the beach (wet landing) and snorkeling. Chance to snorkel next to Galápagos Penguins. There is also the possibility to ride on the glass bottom boat for great views of the underwater world. Lunch on board.
Puerto Egas (Santiago (James) Island)
Afternoon outing at Puerto Egas (wet landing). This is a great location to see particularly shore birds, while land birds can be observed a little more inland. The pitch black shores are great places for watching sea birds and their foraging duties. The trail brings us to a colony of the endemic Galápagos fur seals. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon emerald green algae beds. Outstanding snorkeling and swimming from the beach before the walk. Briefing. Weather permitting, stargazing on deck.
Rabida Island (Jervis)
Disembark at Rabida Island (wet landing) on a red-colored beach, due to the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic material. A gratifying stroll along the beach of this small island (1.9 sq. mi.) allows the observation of a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s Finches. Very close to the beach, hidden behind a strip of green saltbush, is a salt pond where at times Greater Flamingos migrate to. 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 will keep our eyes open for dolphins.
North Seymour Island
Today's afternoon starts with a dry landing for a view of the coast and the interior of North Seymour Island, one of the few uplifted islands in Galápagos Archipelago. The trail leads guests to explore colonies of blue footed boobies, Magnificent frigate birds, and swallow-tail gulls. The sandy shore teems with Galápagos sea lions and marine iguanas. Vegetation is made up of cacti, Palo Santo trees and Salt Bushes. Expedition plan for tomorrow’s outings.
Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
A morning bus ride will take guests to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island for a special opportunity to view the islands’ most famous reptile: the giant tortoises in their wild habitat. What a privilege to see an endangered species roving in this lush environment! The vegetation of the area includes the Scalesia Forest (an endemic giant daisy tree) and birds such as the vermilion flycatcher, will delight everyone with its scarlet feathers against an emerald green forest. Look for Darwin’s finches (most of them from the tree-finch group), particularly the famous Woodpecker Finch. Lunch at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel in Puerto Ayora.
Charles Darwin Research Station
Charles Darwin Research Station and the rearing in captivity program for the giant tortoises. Here we witness the efforts and results of all the field work done in the name of science. Impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest and many land birds can be also seen. Then, a stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora will allow you to see how Galapagueños live in this magical paradise. Browse in the many handcraft shops. Return aboard the MV SANTA CRUZ for tonight’s expedition plan for next day’s adventure.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal (Chatham) Island)
Disembark at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. This small attractive port is the provincial capital of the Galápagos Islands (population 4,000), along a crescent-shaped bay. Visit the San Cristóbal Interpretation Center, located in a natural setting, where it allows visitors to obtain information that will help them understand more the natural history of the Galápagos, with a great emphasis on human history and conservation. Afterwards, you can stroll through Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, where souvenir shops and Internet cafés welcome world travelers who are willing to catch up with the world, and share the many wonders witnessed, before heading back to the mainland. Transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the continent.
The route and program may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and wildlife encounters. Safety will be always part of the daily programming of activities. Kindly follow all suggestions. It is compulsory to wear a life vest during all dinghy rides between the ship and the shore. Flexibility is essential in order to cope with nature's outstanding features. Given the islands’ volcanic origin, and the fact that most walking is done over pristine and irregular volcanic terrain, guests must be in suitable physical condition for this kind of outings. The ship also organizes activities like boat rides, glass-bottom boat trips, snorkeling, swimming, lectures, all complementing everyone’s experience.
The Expedition Staff will provide you with snorkeling gear (mask and snorkel, fins, floating vest and net bag). The operation does not carry prescription masks. A shortie wet suit is highly recommended from June to December. Cooperation of guests is a key point when complying with the rules of the National Park. This alone can guarantee a major success in the expedition.
For island visits, two types of landings are planned:
- Dry landing: guests step from the dinghy directly onto rocks or a dock.
- Wet landing: as the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.