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Tip Top IV Yacht - 7 Nights Itinerary B

This “8-day B” Galapagos Islands cruise offers you an abundance of amazing natural highlights; whether it’s a close encounter with unique wildlife like the emblematic giant Galapagos tortoise, land and marine iguanas, flamingos, penguins, blue-footed boobies or the famous Darwin’s finches, you will come away having learned much more about the natural world. Sailing on board the 16-passenger Tip Top IV Motor Yacht, this Galapagos Islands tour will take you through the unforgettable central and eastern islands, as well as to scenic Española and Floreana islands in the southof the archipelago.

Testimonials

“My wife and I just completed a 5-day tour around the Cotopaxi volcano and the stunning Quilotoa loop – overall an excellent trip and wonderful experience.”Bernd Bassalleck

Tip Top IV Yacht: Highlights

Galapagos Islands, Española, San Cristobal (Kicker Rock), Bartolome & Charles Darwin Research Station.

Tip Top IV Yacht: Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Baltra Island: Airport // Santa Cruz Island: Puerto Ayora – Charles Darwin Research Station
Day 2: Española Island: Suarez Point – Gardner Bay – Osborn Islet – Gardner Islet
Day 3: San Cristobal Island: Punta Pitt – Kicker Rock – Cerro Brujo
Day 4: Mosquera Island // Santa Cruz Island: Black Turtle Cove
Day 5: Chinese Hat Islet // Rabida Island
Day 6: Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay // Bartolome Island
Day 7: Santa Fe Island // South Plazas Island
Day 8: Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach // Baltra Island: Airport
Galapagos Map

Tip Top IV Yacht: Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Friday
Baltra Island: Airport // Santa Cruz Island: Puerto Ayora – Charles Darwin Research Station

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 your ship's crew will then welcome you and accompany you to your vessel: the Tip Top IV M/V.

PM: This afternoon we will visit the charming port town of Puerto Ayora, which – with more than 20,000 inhabitants – is the most populous human settlement in the Galapagos Islands. It also has the best developed infrastructure in the archipelago – with schools, hotels, restaurants, stores and clubs – and is the best place to communicate with the outside world via a number of Internet cafés and telephone offices. Most travelers used to just pass through here on their way to see “Lonesome George,” the 150-year old tortoise who lived at Charles Darwin Research Center; but those who linger here for a moment longer will discover that Puerto Ayora has more to offer. The town has sports shops for diving equipment, mountain biking, and birdwatching, as well as day tours that include its nearby white-sand beaches.

Later we will head for one of the most visited spots in the islands. Located on Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station is primarily an international scientific research station situated on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. You will be taken to its visitor center to learn about the geology, climate, natural history and the conservation of the Galapagos Islands. However, the highlight of your visit here will undoubtedly be the research facility’s Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center, which breeds giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles can live up to 150 years and weigh between 250 and 300 kg. Approaching them in their humid and forested spaces is always an inspiring adventure. For decades, the Fausto Center was home to “Lonesome George,” who finally died in 2012 as the last of his particular species. The tortoises you will see here are accustomed to humans, so it’s an excellent spot for visitors to take photographs with them. Remember that looking at the animals is allowed, but touching is not; and it’s absolutely forbidden to jump over the walls or open the pen doors at any time.      

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Lunch - Dinner
Day 2 - Saturday
Española Island: Suarez Point – Gardner Bay – Osborn Islet – Gardner Islet

AM: Española is the southernmost, oldest and one of the most bio-diverse islands of the Galapagos archipelago. Its English name is “Hood Island,” in honor of the British admiral Samuel Hood.  Because of its isolated position, there is much endemic wildlife to be explored here – in addition to great snorkeling from Española’s remarkably beautiful beaches. After breakfast, we will go on an excursion to Suarez Point. One of the archipelago’s most outstanding wildlife areas, this site boasts a long list of species along its cliffs and its sand and pebble beaches. In addition to five species of nesting seabirds, the curious and bold Española Island mockingbirds are found here, as are other birding favorites that include Galapagos doves, Galapagos hawks, Swallow-tailed gulls and the world’s largest colony of Waved albatross – an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December).

Several types of reptiles are unique to this island, including the marine iguana and the oversized lava lizard. In fact, this is also the only site where you will be able to see “red” sea iguanas. In addition, when heavy swells are running, Suarez Point is the site of a spectacular blowhole whose thundering spray shoots 30 yards up into the air. The trek here is on a stony path about a mile long, though the duration of this excursion is about 3 hours.

PM: On Española Island’s eastern shore, Gardner Bay is noted for its turquoise-colored waters and its magnificent beach, which we will visit in the afternoon. Around the bay’s small nearby islets, snorkelers will find an abundance of fish, as well as the occasional sea turtle and benign sharks. The bay is also frequented by a transient colony of Galapagos sea lions who love to swim with people. Birds, like the endemic Española mockingbird and different species of Darwin finches, are omnipresent.

We will also ride around Osborn Islet, located close to Española Island. It is made of volcanic rock and is a popular fishing site among local small-scale fishers. On this Galapagos islet, you will have a chance to go snorkeling and see schools of tropical fish, Manta rays, Green turtles, Surgeon fish, Sea urchins and starfish.

Small Gardner Island, situated across from Espanola Island’s Gardner Bay, is lined with vertical cliffs that drop to sandy ledges and large boulders.  While snorkeling here, you are likely to encounter the smallest of the Galapagos garden eels, Snake eels, as well as Black-spotted morays, Galapagos puffer fish, Scorpion fish, Trumpet fish, cornetfish and Red-lipped batfish. You will be able to see plenty sea lions lying lazily on the beach.  On the north end of the island are twisting tunnels, and to the south are caves, which all make for a remarkable excursion. The area has an abundance of fish including schools of snappers, Creole fish, King angelfish, large Puffer fish, and a variety of sea urchins and sea stars.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3 - Sunday
San Cristobal Island: Punta Pitt – Kicker Rock – Cerro Brujo

AM: In the morning we will visit Punta Pitt, on the eastern side of San Cristobal Island. After a high-intensity hike on rocky terrain along a 1.4 km-long path and several magnificent lookout points, we will make our way through colonies of Frigatebirds and Fork-tailed seagulls. What’s more, this is probably the only site in the world where you can see all three species of boobies – Masked, Red- and Blue-footed ones. In addition to its great range of sea birds, Punta Pitt is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling.

PM: In the afternoon we will follow the route that Charles Darwin once took and sail around the massive tuff-rock called Kicker Rock, which is a nesting site for hosts of sea birds. Here, you will be able to find Blue-footed boobies, pelicans, and frigate birds.  This is a great site for scuba diving, and hammerhead sharks can be seen in the area.

Later in the afternoon we will make a wet landing on San Cristobal Island to visit Cerro Brujo, a fascinating lava hill located on the northeastern coast of San Cristobal Island. Here you will find exceptional views of Kicker Rock, as well as the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast. On this site’s rocks, you can observe Blue-footed boobies, sea gulls, Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, other sandpiper species, White-cheeked pintails and some pelicans. The protected bay is also popular among young sea turtles and rays, which makes swimming and snorkeling here particularly exciting.     

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4 - Monday
Mosquera Island // Santa Cruz Island: Black Turtle Cove

AM: Today we will anchor off Mosquera Island, which is located near Itabaca Channel and in between the Baltra and Seymour islands. The island consists of a long narrow stretch of white sand, rocks, and small lagoons with large populations of sea lions (in fact, this is one of the best places to take photos of these aquatic mammals). After a wet landing, a stroll down the beach will also permit views of Brown pelicans and Blue-footed boobies.

PM: This afternoon we will visit Santa Cruz Island, the second largest of the Galapagos Islands and located in the center of the archipelago. Located there is Black Turtle Cove, a nesting site for sea turtles, which peak their heads above the surface of the water while fish and other forms of marine life circle below.  With luck, the calm water will allow you to see different types of sharks (like the Whitetip reef shark) and schools of golden-colored Mustard rays. There are a number of mangrove forests here as well.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5 - Tuesday
Chinese Hat Islet // Rabida Island

AM: We will make a wet landing on Chinese Hat Island, located southeast of Santiago Island. Its name describes the shape of the island, which you will be able to discern from a distance.  This island’s landscapes are dominated by volcanic formations and fragile lava tubes.  Because of this, it’s very important to stay on the paths. You will encounter a small colony of sea lions and then proceed to hike through this dark, unyielding island of solid rock.

PM: In the afternoon 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.  

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 6 - Wednesday
Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay // Bartolome 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.

PM: 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 7 - Thursday
Santa Fe Island // South Plazas Island

AM: Today we will visit Santa Fe Island, a tiny rocky island covered in small Palo Santo trees and six-meter-high opuntia cactuses. The island is inhabited mainly by large yellow land iguanas, Galapagos buzzards, Blue-footed boobies and pelicans. While snorkeling in the wonderful blue-green bay in which the ship anchors, you can observe the many inhabitants of this underwater world, including countless tropical fish, rays, sea turtles and playful sea lions.

PM: Following lunch, we will explore South Plaza Island, located just east of Santa Cruz Island. After a dry landing on the northern part of this life-filled islet, you will encounter colonies of sea lions and land iguanas. While on the steep banks, you can see numbers of birds – like nesting Tropic birds and Fork-tailed seagulls – but most of all, you will enjoy the beautiful views from either atop the steep banks or while strolling along the base of the cliff. Opuntia cactuses grow on this island and the vegetation changes color throughout the year.   

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 8 - Friday
Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach // Baltra Island: Airport

AM: This afternoon we will arrive on the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island, where we will visit the long and sandy 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 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 explore the fascinating underwater by snorkeling.

Concluding this amazing experience in the Galapagos Islands, you will be transferred to the Baltra Island airport for your return flight to the Ecuadorian mainland. Enjoy your last look back at the “enchanted islands,” a unique paradise with inspiring natural wonders.   

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Breakfast

Tip Top IV Yacht: Prices

2018 - Price per person
Days
LOWER DECK / CABINS 1 - 6UPPER DECK / CABINS 7 - 10
DoubleDouble
8US$ 5,105US$ 5,750
Included in the price:
  • A cruise on board the Motor Yacht Tip Top IV
  • accommodations in a double cabin with private facilities
  • all meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • all transfers in the Galapagos Islands
  • services of an English/Spanish-speaking naturalist guide on daily excursions and during briefings
  • use of snorkeling equipment
  • free purified drinking water.
Not included in the price:
  • entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park ($100 USD per adult)
  • Flights to/from the Galapagos Islands
  • transit control card ($20 USD per person)
  • bottled soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • single cabin supplements
  • tips and gratuities
  • personal items
  • travel/medical insurance.
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