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Trip Advisor 2019

Galapagos Elite 4-Night Itinerary D

On this 5-day/4-night Galapagos luxury cruise, you will swim and snorkel among some of the richest marine life on the planet. Similarly, on land you will find yourself transfixed by the wealth of prehistoric reptiles and birdlife that call the stunning forests home. As you cruise on board the Galapagos Elite, a 16-passenger luxury catamaran, you will travel from one spectacular Galapagos island to the next while reveling in all the creature comforts you could hope to find. This Galapagos Islands cruise will take you to the archipelago’s amazing central and northern islands, including scenic Genovesa Island in the north.

Reviews

“The trip was excellent from beginning to end. The Isabella II was a fine ship and the crew and guides were all of the highest quality. I would recommend them to others. For us, the ship was the perfect size – not too small and not too large.”Walter Squire

Galapagos Elite: Highlights

Santa Cruz Island, Genovesa Island, Santiago Island, Santa Cruz Island, San Cristobal Island

Galapagos Elite: Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Arrival in Baltra Airport (Baltra Island airport) – Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)
Day 2: Prince Phillip's Steps – El Barranco – Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island)
Day 3: Espumilla Beach – Buccaneer Cove – Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)
Day 4: Bachas Beach – Los Gemelos Twin Craters – Highlands (Santa Cruz Island)
Day 5: Kicker Rock – San Cristobal Island Airport (San Cristobal Island)
Galapagos Map

Galapagos Elite: Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Tuesday
Arrival in Baltra Airport (Baltra Island airport) – Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)

AM: In the morning, you will fly from Quito or Guayaquil (on the Ecuadorian mainland) to Baltra Island, which is 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 Galapagos Elite Catamaran.

PM: This afternoon 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- 200 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 - Wednesday
Prince Phillip's Steps – El Barranco – Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island)

Our destination for today is Genovesa Island, considered one of the wildest and most pristine islands in Galapagos National Park. Known as “Bird Island,” Genovesa is one of the few places in the islands where you can see Red-footed boobies.

AM: In the 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 tropicbirds, 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. After making our way up to the plateau to tour the El Barranco cliffs. Located on Genovesa Island, along the southern part of Darwin Bay, a one-mile (1.5 km) trail stretches out over volcanic rock that leads to this cliff (this hike takes about two hours to cover). The second half of the trail is very delicate, so please stay on the path. It can get very hot so make sure to bring water. Because of the natural erosion, this is the ideal place for the nesting of Storm petrels. Two other species of petrels that can be seen here are the Galapagos petrel and the Wooden petrel. Red-footed boobies and Nazca boobies can be seen here as well as fur seals and several species of seabirds.

PM: Later this afternoon, after a wet landing from Genovesa Island’s Darwin Bay, we will walk along a short path that leads to 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 3 - Thursday
Espumilla Beach – Buccaneer Cove – Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)

Today, 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.

AM: Following breakfast on board the Galapagos Elite, will visit Santiago Island’s Espumilla Beach, where marine iguanas relax and sea turtles nest. While snorkeling, you might come upon octopuses, morays and many types of tropical fish. There is also a Palo Santo forest close to this beach. 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.

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 4 - Friday
Bachas Beach – Los Gemelos Twin Craters – Highlands (Santa Cruz Island)

AM: This morning, we will arrive on the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island, where 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 explore the fascinating underwater by snorkeling.

After Bachas Beach, we will go to the Santa Cruz Highlands and see the twin “Los Gemelos” craters, which will be explained by your naturalist guide. These craters are surrounded by scalesia forest, where also live Ruby tyrants and small and large Tree finches.

PM: While on Santa Cruz Island, we will also 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. 

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5 - Saturday
Kicker Rock – San Cristobal Island Airport (San Cristobal Island)

AM: In the morning, 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 seabirds. 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.

PM: From the dock on San Cristobal Island, we will take a short bus ride to the San Cristobal airport for your flight back to the mainland. Enjoy the last view of the “enchanted islands,” a unique paradise with fascinating natural highlights.

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Breakfast

Galapagos Elite: Prices

2019 - Price per person
RoomGolden Suites
5 DaysUS$ 4,889
Price per person based upon double occupancy.
Included in the price:
  • Airport/yacht/airport transfers in the Galapagos Islands
  • Airport reception and assistance
  • Double or single accommodations
  • Guided excursions, according to the itinerary
  • Top-notch bilingual (English / Spanish) National Park guide(s)
  • Services of a cruise service officer
  • Daily activity briefings
  • All meals and snacks
  • Soft drinks and juices
  • Glass of house wine for dinners
  • Captain’s Welcome and farewell cocktails
  • Supplied expedition gear (transparent sea kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling equipment, [mask, snorkel & fins], wet suits, excursion bag, water container
Not included in the price:
  • Round trip to/from the Galapagos Islands
  • Galapagos National Park Entrance fee
  • Transit Control Card
  • Alcoholic and bottled beverages
  • Tips and gratuities for guide and crew
  • Travel and health insurance (highly recommended)
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8 UNFORGETTABLE DAYS IN QUITO & THE GALAPAGOS ISLA
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