Galapagos: Archipel I I 8 days South West

From San Cristobal to Baltra
  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Small Ship Cruising
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

Join us onboard the Archipel I for a wonderful week in the Galapagos. This will give you a great overall taste of the Galapagos Island, from a  circumnavigation of the Isabela Island in the west, to visits  on Floreana Island in the south of the archipelago. Highlights include: the jurassic like landscapes of South Plaza, unique Santa Fe to look for Galapagos Hawks and the Santa Fe land iguana, and snorkelling with sea lions in Loberia.  Discover the Galapagos Giant Tortoise when you visit the Charles Darwin Research Station in Santa Cruz, explore volcanos on Isabela Island, and untouched ecosystems on Fernandina.

There will be an array of wildlife to discover, beaches to swim from and time to relax and enjoy nature from the comfort of the 16 passenger Archipel I.

Ask us for other exciting itineraries on the Archipel I. 

Viva's Best Bits...

Unique wildlife - Flightless cormorants, marine iguanas and penguins near the equator!

Witness Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat

"One of my highlights was snorkelling with curious sea lions, turtles and colourful reef fish - there will be great opportunities like at Champion Islet", Tara, Team Viva

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive San Cristobal

Fly from Quito or Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands. A guide will meet you, help you collect your luggage, and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbour.

PM: Cerro Colorado (San Cristobal)
Cerro Colorado Tortoises Protection and Growing Centre, is located at approximately 40 minutes by bus to the southeast of the island. This centre was built to improve the status of the population of the island tortoises. It includes a large corral, a visitor centre, breeding centre and an interpretive trail. Along this trail it is possible to see different species of native and endemic plants as well as birds including the San Cristobal Mockingbird, Yellow Warblers, and many species of finches and the Galapagos flycatcher.

Day 2
South Plaza & Santa Fe

AM: South Plaza
After breakfast, you will enjoy an unforgettable guided walk on South Plaza, the best place to encounter endemic Galapagos land iguanas, patient and photogenic models. You can also lookout for some of the unique hybrids between the male marine iguana and female land iguana. Arriving at the upper rim, about 20m/75ft downwards impressively droning waves splash against the foot of soaring cliffs. Clouds of petrels, storm petrels, shearwaters, and brown noddies make spectacular flights and sometimes look like they’re walking on the waves. Take your binoculars and don’t miss the red-billed tropicbird with its graceful long tail and spectacular mating fights. These cliffs are also a nesting place for the endemic swallow-tailed gull.


PM: Barrington Bay (Santa Fe)
After lunch, you will land right in the middle of a Galapagos sea lion colony on the beach, where you will have time for a refreshing swim or excellent snorkeling among tropical reef fish in the crystal-clear azure waters of Barrington Bay. You will also encounter bizarre giant prickly pear cactus (opuntia) forests. These are the largest cacti on the islands, with extremely thick trunks, and can grow over 10m/33ft tall! At the end of the morning, we have a wet landing at the beach of Santa Fe where we have a guided nature walk. This extraordinary island is a remnant of probably the most ancient volcano on the Galapagos. Your guide will decide whether the easy shorter circuit is followed, or a strenuous longer hike land inward (moderate level; about 3km/2mi).

Day 3
Florena

AM: Champion Islet (Floreana)
Bottlenose dolphins frequently escort our passage to Champion Islet and you can see them from nearby jumping the waves! Underwater, Galapagos sea lions are playful acrobats that become the number one attraction. There are also lots of reef fish, and perhaps a green Pacific turtle. An inflatable dinghy ride along the shoreline of this islet offers sightings of lots of seabirds that are endemic to the archipelago, including Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds and red-billed tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls and lava herons. A bird watcher’s wish is to get a glimpse of the Charles Mockingbird on top of prickly pear cacti. This mockingbird is a scientific and historic key species because it put Darwin on track of his theory of ‘adaptive radiation’.

PM: Loberia & Asylum of Peace (Floreana)
The Asylum of Peace Island is of historical interest for guests. This hike goes past a mesmerizing cave and visits a fascinating freshwater spring. La Loberia beach gets its name from the huge amount of sea lions that populate the island and rest on the sand. It’s an ideal spot to relax by the ocean, go snorkeling as well as enjoy the sea lions that live there.

Day 4
Santa Cruz

AM: Charles Darwin Station (Santa Cruz)
Our dinghies will bring you to the touristic pier of Puerto Ayora, from where you will be brought to the Charles Darwin Research Station. This is where biological research and indispensable conservation management of this unique archipelago are carried out. The complex houses interpretation and information centres about the National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The most memorable part of your visit will probably be the successful breeding centre and the enclosures with Galapagos giant tortoises. Afterwards, you will have some free time to stroll around.


PM: Highlands (Santa Cruz)
Because wild Galapagos giant tortoises don’t stop at official National Park boundaries, dozens of them also roam on the adjacent woodlands in the populated agricultural zone of Santa Cruz.
Thanks to their concentration around their favourite muddy pools, these semi-open pastures and moist scalesia-woodlands are the best place for a quick visit.

Day 5
Isabela

AM: Las Tintoreras (Isabela)
Just outside the harbour of Puerto Villamil a group of islets protrudes just above the ocean. The jagged black formations, dotted with mangrove and candelabra cactus, are the remnants of a lava stream that has ended up in the ocean.

Marine life gets trapped, including spectacular whitetip reef sharks (called “tintoreras” in Spanish, as is the site’s official name). This species of shark is fairly common in the archipelago, and generally spotted on the seabed when snorkelling, while they rest from their nocturnal hunts. At this unique location you can observe them comfortably from the bank in the crystal-clear turquoise waters. Sometimes turtles and elegant white-spotted eagle rays or golden rays glide back and forth through this calm channel, as well as smaller fish and Galapagos sea lions. Also, this is where the largest species of marine iguanas reproduce. The rocky shoreline with its intertidal life also attracts sally lightfoot crabs, lava herons and Galapagos penguins, which reside on the other (western) side of Isabela.

PM: Tortoise breeding centre & Wetlands
Isabela Island is the largest and one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos archipelago. We land in Puerto Villamil, which has the second smallest population in the Galapagos with approximately 3000 habitants. First, we will visit the Flamingos Lagoon; the largest coastal lagoon found in the Galapagos and one of the main reproductive sites for the greater flamingos. On your visit to Colorado Hill, you will get to discover the amazing and emblematic giant Galapagos tortoises in the Tortoise breeding centre, and maybe even get to see one hatch (seasonally)! In addition, you will get to see how much hard work is put into saving the last local giants of San Cristobal.

Day 6
Isabela

AM: Punta Moreno (Isabela)
Punta Moreno is located between the volcanoes Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul, on the north coast of Isabela Island. The trail leads along the lava river Pahoehoe to a complex of several coastal lagoons. The main attraction is various bird species which can be found in lakes and mangrove forests.


PM: Elizabeth Bay
The inflatable dinghy will turn landwards, leaving the surf behind and entering the calm estuary of Elizabeth Bay through a narrow entrance. Graceful Pacific green turtles swim gracefully around you, sometimes popping up their heads to take a breath. You might also see spotted eagle rays or sharks. Brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies show diverging plunge-diving techniques, while lava herons and great blue herons prefer to wait patiently for what comes along. You can also compare the huge red mangroves with black, white and button mangroves

Day 7
Isabela & Fernandina

AM: Tagus Cove (Isabela)
In the morning we will enter the Bolivar Channel to Tagus Cove (navigation time: 3h). Meanwhile, you can enjoy the delicious lunch buffet before snorkeling and visiting Tagus Cove.
Explosive eruptions have blown out a part of the outer rims of both tuff cones, and created their characteristic horseshoe shapes and Tagus Cove. The inner crater rim contains Darwin Lake. Traditionally sailors started to write the names of their vessels on the eastern cliffs of Tagus cove.
During the hike along the inner crater ridge of Darwin Lake you can continue to a great viewpoint on the outer caldera rim, with views to the outstretched lava slopes of Darwin Volcano.
This arid inland zone is overgrown with characteristic tropical dry forest vegetation including a special variety of palo santo, Galapagos cotton and yellow Cordia (muyuyu).
During the hike, you can spot different Darwin’s finches, flycatchers, and Galapagos hawks.

PM: Punta Espinoza (Fernandina)
Espinoza Point is Fernandina’s only terrestrial visitor's site, and one of the few locations where you will find some bizarre outgrowths of natural selection. The figurehead is the emblematic flightless cormorant that lives exclusively in the remote west of Galapagos, and could be considered as the ‘holy grail of evolution’. You will also love the almost unworldly views with the dominating cone of Volcán La Cumbre as a spectacular backdrop. The narrow headland that you walk along is the end of a lava tongue that has reached the coast and solidified upon contact with the cold seawater.

Day 8
Santa Cruz Depart Baltra

AM: Las Bachas (Santa Cruz)
These two small beaches are located in the west of the Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz. Their sand consists of decomposed corals, which makes it white and soft. This makes it the favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches, there are small water lagoons, where flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilt birds and rainbows, can occasionally be spotted. On the second beach, which is the wider one, you can explore the remains of two abandoned warships. In the Second World War, these were left by the US, as the island of Baltra was used as a strategic point for the protection of the Panama Canal. After this excursion, you will be escorted to the airport for your flight to Quito or Guayaquil.

PM: Transfer to Baltra Airport in time for your departing flight

Breakfast is included this morning.

NOTE: Archipel I offers various itineraries 4, 5 & 8 days, all of which can be combined for even longer cruises. Please ask for more details, dates & prices.


What’s Included

Accommodation
  • Included Copy 31 Solo travellers are able to book a twin cabin on a same sex sharing basis - No surcharge
  • Included Copy 20 Sea View Double or Twin Cabin, ensuite, onboard the Archipel I
Food
  • Included Copy 20 All Meals while on board, Filtered water, tea and coffee.
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Beach towels & snorkelling gear (snorkel, mask, flippers)
  • Included Copy 7 Ingala Tourist Card USD$20 (Payable locally)
  • Included Copy 31 Optional wetsuit hire
  • Included Copy 20 A National Park certified naturalist guide
  • Included Copy 20 All guided excursions & activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Included Copy 7 Galapagos Islands National Park Entrance Fee USD$100 (Payable locally)
  • Included Copy 7 Return flights Quito or Guayaquil / Galapagos Islands
  • Included Copy 20 Use of kayaks (at permitted sites) is included.
Transportation
Archipel I - Galapagos Catamaran

16 Passengers

Activities

  • Included Swimming and snorkelling
  • Included Excursions by dinghy and walks on land
  • Included See Galapagos tortoise at the Charles Darwin Research Centre
  • Included Kayaking in the Galapagos
  • Included Great photo opportunities - like South Plaza (land iguanas & giant cactus forest)
  • Included Visits to the pristine island of Fernandina & isolated west coast of Isabela
  • Included Great bird life watching - penguins, Flightless Cormorant, Galapagos Hawk and flamingos
Click here for dates & prices
Duration

8 days

Price from

$4,595 USD

Per person, twin share

Departs select Thursdays