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Trip Advisor 2019

Galapagos Elite 7-Night Itinerary A

This 8-day/7-night Galapagos luxury cruise will take you through this cluster of legendary islands some 600 miles off Ecuador’s Pacific coast. Made famous for having inspired Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution, you too will have the chance to walk over stunning volcanic formations and hike through rich forests teeming with endemic birdlife. During your Galapagos Island cruise on board the luxury Galapagos Elite catamaran, you will sail to the principal eastern, central and western islands of the archipelago. Here, you can walk alongside iguanas in the morning, swim with curious sea lions in the afternoon, and watch Blue-footed boobies fly overhead as you enjoy your alfresco dinner in the evening – experiences you will never forget.

Reviews

“We had an absolutely amazing trip! Surtrek coordinated a Galapagos Cruise on the Natural Paradise yacht and then a stay at the Napo Wildlife Center. Everything was beyond our expectations!! I highly recommend Surtrek.”Janda Terese Stevens

Galapagos Elite: Highlights

San Cristobal Island, Santa Cruz Island, Isabela Island, Rabida Island, San Cristobal Island

Galapagos Elite: Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Arrival at San Cristobal Island Airport – El Junco Lagoon (San Cristobal Island)
Day 2: North Seymour Island – Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz Island)
Day 3: Las Tintoreras – Sierra Negra Volcano – Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center – Los Humedales Wetlands (Isabela Island)
Day 4: Moreno Point – Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)
Day 5: Espinosa Point (Fernandina Island) – Vicente Roca Point (Isabela Island)
Day 6: Playa Roja (Rabida Island) – Bartolome Island
Day 7: Cerro Brujo “(Wizard Hill”) – Lobos Island (San Cristobal Island)
Day 8: Interpretation Center – San Cristobal Airport (San Cristobal Island)
Galapagos Map

Galapagos Elite: Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Saturday
Arrival at San Cristobal Island Airport – El Junco Lagoon (San Cristobal Island)

AM: In the morning, you will fly from either Quito or Guayaquil (on the Ecuadorian mainland) to the Galapagos Islands. At the airport on San Cristobal Island, after you will pay your entrance fee to the national park, a member of the Surtrek team will welcome you and accompany you to your ship: the Galapagos Elite Catamaran.

PM: After settling in and having lunch on board the Galapagos Elite, we will visit the highlands of San Cristobal Island. We will climb up wooden stairs to the freshwater “El Junco” lagoon, and during the approximately one-hour walk around this crater lagoon, you will be introduced to the typical plant life of the island, where ferns prevail. You will also notice Frigatebirds, Bahama ducks, and moorhens around the lagoon’s bank.

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Dinner
Day 2 - Sunday
North Seymour Island – Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz Island)

AM: Today, after a dry landing on North Seymour Island, we will take a short walk along its coast, where you will encounter Swallow-tailed gulls, sea lions, and Cliff crabs. This part of Seymour Island is also known for being a major nesting site for Blue-footed boobies and one of the largest colonies of Magnificent frigatebirds (a species different from the Great frigatebird). As you enjoy this relaxing hike around various nesting sites, you can also spot both of the endemic species of iguanas: marine iguanas and land iguanas.

PM: In the afternoon, we will explore the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island to visit Dragon Hill, which is an excellent spot for observing lava lizards, Darwin finches, and wading birds. On the way to Dragon Hill, we will rest at a small lagoon that’s a popular feeding place for colorful birds and flamingos.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 3 - Monday
Las Tintoreras – Sierra Negra Volcano – Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center – Los Humedales Wetlands (Isabela Island)

Today we will sail to the largest landmass in the Galapagos archipelago: Isabela Island. With a surface of 1,770 sq. miles (4,588 sq. km.), the island constitutes more than half of the land area of the entire Galapagos archipelago – which is why it has the most visitor points in the islands. Five volcanoes are found on Isabela, including the archipelago’s highest: Wolf Volcano, reaching 1,707 m (5,600 ft.). In addition, Isabela is the only island in the Galapagos that is actually crossed by the Equator.

AM: In the morning, we will take a short boat trip across the harbor of Isabela Island. After passing sea lions and pelicans that bathe in the sun on the fishing boats there, we will reach the small island of Tintoreras, where we will take an easy walk through the bizarre lava landscape with its huge colonies of marine iguanas. A colony of sea lions is also located here, and it’s common to see Whitetip reef sharks resting in the water near the shore. These sharks are called “tintoreras” in Spanish, giving the island its name.

From las Tintoreras, we will drive to the highlands of Isabela Island and start hiking up to the edge of the Sierra Negra Volcano’s crater. The volcano — reaching a height of around 1,500 meters and having an outer diameter of approximately nine kilometers (over 5 miles) — is the second largest caldera in the world. We will hike along the cone to a resting place in the northeast. From the Sierra Negra Volcano, you will be able to see the Chico Volcano, which is about 90 minutes away on foot and known for its moon-like volcanic lava landscape.

PM: This afternoon, we will visit the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center, which is home to about 330 of these creatures. As the center is located only about a mile (1.5 km) from Puerto Villamil, you can either walk or drive to it. There, you can find a number of tortoise species that have been reproduced in captivity, with a few of them being in danger of extinction. In addition to tortoises, there are also beautiful gardens in which you can stroll around. These hold native plants such as manzanillo, mesquite, prickly pears and Palo Santos. Since there are wasps in the area, make sure you don’t wear bright-colored clothes, as these attract those insects.

Afterwards, we will visit Los Humedales wetlands of Isabela Island. With some luck, you will be able to see pink flamingos in the lagoons. We will also enter lava tunnels, which are quite popular among the marine iguanas here.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 4 - Tuesday
Moreno Point – Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)

AM: Following breakfast on board the Galapagos Elite, we will explore Isabela Island’s Moreno Point, a young volcanic landscape with numerous fresh-water pools and lagoons. You will be able to see flamingos, Bahama ducks and other birds here.

PM: After lunch, we will make a wet landing in Urbina Bay. Coral reefs are visible here as a result of an especially violent eruption of the Alcedo Volcano in 1954, when large sections of Isabela Island’s coast were suddenly raised about four meters. These reefs are now covered with poison apple and muyuyo trees. You can also observe land iguanas and the rare Mangrove finch up close here. From January to June, land turtles occasionally visit the bay, descending from their higher mountain living environments. After a short walk inland, we will have some time for snorkeling, giving you yet another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions, and countless tropical fish.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 5 - Wednesday
Espinosa Point (Fernandina Island) – Vicente Roca Point (Isabela Island)

Fernandina Island is not only the westernmost island but also the youngest and most pristine island in the Galapagos. Huge fields of lava were created here by the La Cumbre Volcano’s 2005 eruption, which was followed on April 11, 2009, when the volcano flared up again, forming a cloud of ash and steam as hot lava flowed down the slopes of the volcano into the ocean. Nonetheless, an abundance of wildlife calls this island home, including the famous Flightless cormorants, penguins, pelicans, marine iguanas and sea lions. You can also find mangroves on Fernandina Island, in addition to a great diversity of wildlife – such as orcas and whale sharks (which can sometimes be seen while you snorkel and when they surface).

AM: Today on Fernandina, we will make a dry landing on Espinoza Point, one of Fernandina Island’s visitor points. It is filled with fascinating scenery, such as cactuses growing on the surface of lava. One gets a sense of how life fought to begin when seeing these plants emerging from crevices in this barren landscape. Within this unique scenery, you will encounter numerous animals – the highlights being sea lions, Galapagos penguins, Flightless cormorants (especially in the spring and summer), and one of the largest iguana colonies in the Galapagos Islands. In fact, on this small strip of land that constitutes Espinoza Point, you can find literally thousands of marine iguanas, which gather in large groups.

PM: After lunch, we will sail to the “mouth” of the head of the seahorse that forms the northern part of Isabela Island, where you’ll find Punta Vicente Roca, an interesting rock formation. Here, the remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves, with a bay that’s well protected from the ocean swells. With a bit of luck, you can see Galapagos penguins, while Masked- and Blue-footed boobies, as well as pelicans, sit perched along the point and its sheer cliffs, while flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline. The upwelling of currents of cool water in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life, which makes Vicente Roca Point a great area for deep-water snorkeling.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 6 - Thursday
Playa Roja (Rabida Island) – Bartolome Island

AM: This morning, we will visit Playa Roja (“Red Beach”), located on the east coast of Rabida Island. Dark rust-colored sand covers this unique beach, creating an incredible landscape. This reddish color is due to the very porous volcanic materials, which – with the help of environmental factors like rain, salt water, and sea breezes – have acted as oxidizing agents. Other attractions are the vegetation in this arid zone and the presence of native and endemic species of wildlife. The beach area is open, but don’t get too close when the pelicans are nesting, and try not to disturb the sea lions. Hidden behind bushes close to the beach is a salt-water lagoon where flamingoes can often be seen. It’s best to keep quiet and avoid any sudden or rapid movements since these flamingoes can be frightened off easily.

PM: This afternoon we will head for Bartolome Island, where 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 - Friday
Cerro Brujo “(Wizard Hill”) – Lobos Island (San Cristobal Island)

AM: This morning we will make a wet landing on San Cristobal Island to visit Cerro Brujo (“Wizard Hill”), 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, seagulls, 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.

PM: In the afternoon, we will visit Lobos Island, located across from San Cristobal Island. This is a seasonal nesting spot for Blue-footed boobies and Frigatebirds. You also can enjoy swimming and snorkeling with sea lions in the island’s calm bay.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 8 - Saturday
Interpretation Center – San Cristobal Airport (San Cristobal Island)

AM: At the port of Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of Ecuador’s Galapagos Province, we will visit San Cristobal Island’s Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about natural and settlement history of the archipelago. Here you will discover displays that provide information about the volcanic origins of the islands, the ocean’s currents, the archipelago’s climate, and facts concerning the arrival of different species. The islands’ human history is also showcased, chronologically narrating the most significant events related to the discovery and settlements of the Galapagos.

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 Suite
8 DaysUS$ 7,829
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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