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Santa Cruz II Vessel - 4 Nights Itinerary B

On board 90-passenger Santa Cruz II expedition vessel, this 5-day/4-night travel itinerary will take you through northern and central islands of the legendary Galapagos Islands archipelago. This itinerary begins at Baltra airport, from where we will first sail to the glorious white Las Bachas Beach and also discover a couple of brackish lagoons only a few steps from the ocean. These lagoons serve as feeding grounds for various wading birds, including stilts, pintail ducks and flamingos. As we continue our voyage, on Day 2 we will 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, great snorkeling and swimming. The following day we will 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 the Galapagos! In the afternoon, we will round out the day with a stop on Bartolome Island, which offers a volcanic viewpoint and time for hiking, swimming, and exploring the beach and the coast. This is our only chance to see Galapagos penguins, which will make this a full and rich day! From here we sail northeast, crossing the equatorial line, to arrive on Day 4 at the sunken crater of Genovesa Island, home to thousands of marine birds. It will undoubtedly feel like a world that’s a million miles from your own. We conclude this 5-day/4-night adventure with an incredible encounter with nature in which we respectfully share the natural habitat with giant Galapagos tortoises on a private reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island before making our way to the airport on Baltra Island for your return flight to the Ecuadoran mainland.

Testimonials

“We booked our Galapagos/Peru trip through Surtrek and are very glad that we did.”A. Arima

Santa Cruz II Vessel: Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Baltra Island – Las Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz Island)
Day 2: Buccaneer Cove – Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)
Day 3: Rabida Island // Bartolome Island
Day 4: Prince Philip’s Steps – Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island)
Day 5: Highlands & Tortoise Breeding Center (Santa Cruz Island) – Airport (Baltra Island)
Galapagos Map

Santa Cruz II Vessel: Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Monday
Baltra Island – Las Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz Island)

AM: In the morning, you will fly from Quito or Guayaquil (on the Ecuadorian mainland) to Baltra Island, in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago and the main point of entrance to this natural paradise. Upon your arrival at the airport, you will need to pay the national park entry fee, which goes to protecting both the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve.  A member of the Surtrek team will then welcome you and accompany you to your ship, the Santa Cruz II.

PM: This afternoon, on the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island, we will visit the long and sandy Las Bachas Beach, one of the most important nesting beaches for sea turtles. Here you can also find flamingos, Black-winged stilts, sea lions, herons, marine iguanas, and — with a little bit of luck — tiny Galapagos penguins. In addition, this beach is one of the main nesting sites of sea turtles in the Galapagos. A female can lay eggs 3 or 4 times with an average of 70 eggs each, but they then spend 3 to 5 years without breeding. At this paradisiacal site, we will also find the remains of barges that sank long ago; these were once the property of the United States Navy when they operated an airbase on Baltra Island during World War II. In fact, the beach got its name because the English word “barges” was hard to pronounce for the local people – hence “Bachas” Beach. You will also have the opportunity to swim on this soft white sand beach or, as this represents a great opportunity to get acquainted with snorkeling gear and techniques, you can explore the fascinating underwater by snorkeling. Welcome cocktail, expedition plan for Tuesday and dinner.

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Lunch - Dinner
Day 2 - Tuesday
Buccaneer Cove – Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)

AM: In the morning, we will land on the fourth largest island in the Galapagos: Santiago Island, also known as “James Island” or “San Salvador Island.” The old rusted machines and run-down buildings of former salt mine workers are still apparent on the island, though the last attempts to populate Santiago Island were given up on forty years ago. From there we will go to Buccaneer Cove, which in the 18th and 19th centuries was a shelter for pirates, whalers, and sailors. The bay is surrounded by high tuff cliffs where many sea-bird nests. In the cliffs, you can try to find two rock formations that look like a monkey and an elephant. This is also a great site for snorkeling or a panga ride along the coast.

PM: This afternoon we will make a wet landing on Santiago’s Puerto Egas beach. Its black volcanic sand was visited by Darwin in 1835 and still maintaining an abundance of marine iguanas. After a short walk of about 2 km along the coast, we will reach the rugged lava coastline of James Bay. The unique, truly striking layered terrain of Santiago’s shores is home to a variety of resident and migrant birds, including the bizarre Yellow-crowned Night-heron and an astounding array of marine wildlife – including lobsters, starfish and marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Colonies of endemic fur seals swimming in cool water pools formed by volcanic rocks are another highlight.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3 - Wednesday
Rabida Island // Bartolome Island

AM: In the morning we will take a trip to the dark-rust-colored beach of the small, volcanic Rabida Island. A short path leads to a small lagoon that is popular among flamingos. This beach is one of the most beautiful snorkeling places in the Galapagos Islands and it has a great abundance of tropical fish and sea lions. Rabida Island is also the only site where Batfish live. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach, both for beginners and experienced snorkelers, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes. Non-snorkelers will enjoy a ride on the glass bottom boat or a panga ride. During navigation to our next island, dolphins are often spotted!

PM: After lunch, upon arriving on Bartolome Island, you will discover a fascinating moonscape formed by various volcanic formations — including lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones — as we hike to the island’s summit for striking views of the surrounding islands, Sullivan Bay and the towering Pinnacle Rock. As the beaches at the foot of the Pinnacle Rock boast some of the finest snorkeling in the islands, you can discover a marvelous underwater world here and have a good chance of finding sea turtles gliding gently alongside you. On the rocks beneath Pinnacle Rock, it’s quite possible to spot some of the quick-as-an-arrow Galapagos penguins; at around 25 centimeters tall, these are members of the second smallest species of penguin in the world.  Likewise, you’re likely to see harmless Whitetip reef sharks sunning in these waters. For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best of snorkeling experiences, as the water here is generally clear, without too much surf and full of marine life.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4 - Thursday
Prince Philip’s Steps – Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island)

AM: Our destination for today is Genovesa Island, considered to be one of the wildest and most pristine islands in Galapagos National Park. Known as “Bird Island,” Genovesa is the only place where you can see Red-footed boobies. This morning, we will go ashore at a crater wall where Prince Phillip’s Steps are located. These stairs were carved in the stone wall and lead up to a wide plateau where you will find nesting places of Great frigatebirds, Red-billed tropic birds, Bahama ducks, Lava seagulls and Fork-tailed seagulls. During this easy stroll, we will cut through a small scalesia forest where you might observe short-eared owls.  With a little bit of luck, you will also be able to observe the unique courtship rituals carried out by the various booby species (Red- and Blue-footed as well as Masked boobies). It truly is a show.

PM: Following lunch, and after a wet landing in Genovesa Island’s Darwin Bay, we will walk along a short path that leads past the nesting sites of booby and frigatebird colonies. On the beach, you can observe the interesting spectacle of how frigate birds try to rob the prey of different species of boobies.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5 - Friday
Highlands & Tortoise Breeding Center (Santa Cruz Island) – Airport (Baltra Island)

AM: We will then visit the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island, where the lush landscape is a welcome contrast to the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands. On the way, we will cross through different vegetation zones – from the dry lower region full of cactuses to the scalesia woods in the Highlands.  There one can find two small agricultural communities that grow the famous organic Galapagos coffee. While in the Highlands you will have the option of visiting one of two tortoise breeding centers: El Chato or Rancho Las Primicias. At either site, approaching these enormous and slow-moving reptiles is always an inspiring adventure. The El Chato tortoise reserve was founded in 1964 to allow visitors to observe the island’s huge Galapagos turtles and White herons in their natural habitat. You will also be able to walk through nearby underground lava tunnels formed during volcanic eruptions. As the outside of the lava hardened, the inside continued to flow to the ocean, creating these tunnels. Alternatively, Rancho Primicias is a great place to see about ten to fifteen Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild. In addition to being able to view the ocean from this location in the Highlands, you can walk through a lava cave that was formed by a volcanic eruption. Following the visit, we will drive you to the Baltra Island airport for your flight back to the Ecuadorian mainland.

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Breakfast

Santa Cruz II Vessel: Prices

2018 - Price per person
RoomExpedition Deck Explorer CabinHorizon Deck Explorer CabinHorizon Deck Explorer Family CabinHorizon Deck Voyager Cabin Panorama Deck Darwin SuitePanorama Deck Explorer Cabin
5 DaysUS$ 3,936US$ 3,784US$ 3,556US$ 4,364US$ 4,592US$ 4,052
Included in the price:
  • Accommodations
  • All meals
  • Island sightseeing
  • Naturalist guides and lecture services in English/Spanish (guiding in other languages – French, Italian – is available upon request for groups larger than 10 guests and for German groups is a minimum of 4 guests)
  • Use of snorkeling gear
  • Luggage handling
  • Medical care on board (not including the cost of medication)
  • Taxes
  • 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, Hampton Inn, Sheraton, Unipark) to airport for flights to/from Galapagos are included in these rates. To coordinate these transfers, we must have guests’ hotel contact information.
Not included in the price:
  • Wet Suits: Available for rent, NET rate US$ 15 + VAT per guest for 5- or 6-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 beverage
  • Internet / Wi-Fi ****
  • Gratuities
  • Gifts and additional items
  • Travel insurance
  • Special Notes
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