Explore the fascinating wildlife and incredible terrain of the Galapagos Islands

Explore the Galapagos and its native wildlife on a sailing trip around the central islands of the archipelago. Meet the green turtles that inhabit Isla Santa Cruz, watch blue-footed boobies dance the booby two-step and marvel in awe at the unfamiliar beauty that characterises these far-flung islands. Encounter the very same creatures that sparked Darwin’s imagination when he formulated his theories of evolution. There’s no spot on earth that is closer to the origins of the planet, where every step feels as though it’s through uncharted territory. Prepare to depart on the adventure of a lifetime and become a Galapagos Explorer.

Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
Quito, Ecuador
Countries
Ecuador
Themes
Sailing, Wildlife
Code
GLKI
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • As you board your vessel, M.C Queen Beatriz, and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, you will encounter nature at its finest.
  • Explore the islands from on deck, on foot and in the water, no doubt with your eyes open for your next unique sight.
  • This is indeed the Galapagos journey with something for everyone.

Itinerary

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador.
On arrival at Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport you are met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. There is a pre-departure meeting in the evening at 6pm when you meet others travelling on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands.

You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Sitting at an altitude of 2,850 m under the gaze of Volcan Pichincha, Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America. Long and incredibly thin, the city stretches along a central valley formed by the east and west ranges of the Andes. Although compact, Quito's Old Town is full of historic buildings - there are more than 30 churches to explore, not to mention the fascinating museums.
As this trip spends very little time in Quito, we recommend you spend a few extra days before or after your trip to experience all the city has to offer.
This morning we transfer to Quito Airport for our early morning flight to the Galapagos Islands. Be prepared for an early start as this could mean leaving the hotel as early as 4.30am. A US$20 per person transit card is payable on departure at Quito Airport and a US$100 per person national park entry fee is payable on arrival. Please have cash on hand for these transactions as using credit cards can be time consuming.
On arrival in the Galapagos we are met in the arrivals hall and then transferred to our catamaran, M.C. Queen Beatriz, anchored a short distance away. Once on board we'll be assigned our cabins, meet the crew members and get to know our naturalist guide and fellow travellers over a delicious lunch.
Today we visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos.

The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic hub of the archipelago and is also home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station's visitor centre and museum are essential stops for anyone interested in the archipelago's natural and human history, and keen to learn more about conservation efforts to preserve the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos. It also offers our best chance for close-up encounters with giant tortoises, and we can see many newborn and young giant turtles - part of the breeding program to reintroduce them to their natural habitat. Observe the giant opuntia and jasminocereus cactus trees. Leisure time to explore Puerto Ayora, check email or have a drink at a local bar and see the local’s way of life.
We take an active excursion to Isla North Seymour (North Seymour Island), probably one of the Galapagos’ most visited islands. On North Seymour the highlight will be seeing the blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, both species of frigate birds (great frigate birds and magnificent frigate birds), land iguanas, marine iguanas, Galapagos sea lions and endemic incense trees. The magnificent frigate bird, a large black bird with a long wingspan and a hooked beak, is extremely fast and has excellent vision. Frigate birds are known for the large red pouch on their necks. During mating season the males thrown back their heads, inflate the pouch (sometimes to the size of a soccer ball) and shake trying to capture the attention of female frigates. Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. They share the same nesting area on North Seymour with blue-footed boobies nesting on the ground while the frigate birds nests just above them in the saltbushes. A solid walk is followed by snorkelling, where we will find a great variety of fish, and possibly white-tipped reef sharks, rays and sea lions.
We sail to Isla Mosquera, an Islet situated between Baltra and North Seymour. This stretch of water is rich in sea life and is a popular spot for both sea lions and marine birds. Watch out for the boobies making their spectacularly quick headlong dives into the water. Isla Mosquera is a relaxing and picturesque spot with its uplifted coral reef with long stretches of white sand and rock pools. Along the rocks and in the tide pool, Sally Lightfoot crabs (red lava crabs) scamper back and forth, skipping across small pools of water in search of food. These crabs with their bright red shell tops and blue under shells are stunning against the black lava. The island also has a very large colony of sea lions as well as a sizeable resident brown pelican population. We also have the chance to go snorkelling.
We take a Panga ride to explore Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) - a red mangrove wetland on the north shore of Isla Santa Cruz. We paddle among the cove’s peaceful waters, for our first taste of the underwater riches of these waters – it’s a breeding area for green turtles, so it is not uncommon to see them mating. There is also abundant birdlife, such as the yellow warbler and lava heron. It is also a nursery for golden cow-nose rays, eagle rays and Galapagos sharks.
We then set sail for Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill), on Santa Cruz's north coast. From our dry landing we walk to a brackish lagoon frequented by lagoon birds including stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers, sanderlings and occasionally flamingos. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. This area is a nesting site for land iguanas, which is constantly monitored and assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The arid-zone vegetation makes for a rewarding location for birdwatching, with Darwin's finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, the endemic Galapagos flycatcher and yellow warblers all regulars here. The path can be challenging but we'll be well rewarded with a spectacular view of the bay!
We approach Sombrero Chino via a beautiful crescent-shaped, sandy beach that is home to sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. The island is a miniature volcano, shaped like a Chinese hat (hence its name) and, along its trails, we explore the island’s volcanic origin with its fascinating lava tubes. Opposite Sombrero Chino, on the rocky shoreline of nearby Santiago, Galapagos penguins are often seen. We follow a trail that circles the cove and passes through a sea lion colony and innumerable marine iguanas. The cove also offers some great snorkelling opportunities, hopefully with penguins and sharks.
Isla Rabida is known for its gorgeous red sandy beach (due to the rusting of iron) and is one of the most striking islands of the archipelago. From the shore, the trail leads through to what is one of the finest lagoons in the Galapagos for viewing flamingos. Rabida is also a wonderful place to spot nesting pelicans. Elsewhere, pintail ducks, marine iguanas and sea lions are all present. Here we will find great opuntia cactus forest which suggests previous existence of land iguanas as well as possibly Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds, doves, finches and lava lizards. There is also an opportunity for snorkelling in a place where sea stars, damsels, gobbies and surgeon fish are numerous.
As flights to the mainland from Galapagos depart mid-morning, it is an early start for our last morning on the islands. Depending on the time of our flight, our time spent on this final excursion could be limited.
The sandy, white beaches of Las Bachas on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island are a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle, and marine iguanas are also commonly seen. The sand here is particularly white and soft as it is made of decomposed coral. The rocks provide great snorkelling and are the perfect habitat for the Sally Lightfoot crabs, which are plentiful on the island. A saltwater lagoon near to the beach is home to flamingo and whimbrel, and also look out for great blue herons. Remnants of a floating pier can still be sighted, and it is a testimony to the US presence in the Galapagos during World War II.
Sadly all good things must come to an end and this is our final excursion. We say farewell to the Galapagos Islands and head to the airport for our flight back to Quito for the last night of the tour. Upon arrival in Quito Airport we are transferred back to our hotel for an overnight stay. Our local representative may stop by at your hotel this evening to get your feedback trip on your Galapagos experience.
There are no activities planned for the final day so we are able to depart our accommodation at any time. If you have not spent time here before, we recommend you stay on a few days as there are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito, such as the Cotopaxi volcano, the Cloud Forest, hot springs, the Equatorial Monument or perhaps city tour of the fascinating Old Town. Please speak to our customer service representative about any optional activities that might be of interest. They can also assist you in booking a departure transfer to the airport. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for check-out times and luggage storage possibilities.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners
Transport
Minibus, Boat, Plane, Zodiac
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (4 nights)
Included activities
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Station (1.5 hours)
  • Isla Mosquera - Beach Walk (1.5 hours)
  • Isla North Seymour - Walk (2 hours)
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Black Turtle Cove - Panga ride (1.5 hours)
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Cerro Dragon - Walk (1.5 hours)
  • Isla Rabida - Snorkelling (1 hour)
  • Sombrero Chino - Walk and Panga ride (2 hours)
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Bachas Beach Walk (1 hour)

Dates

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Important notes

GALAPAGOS PARK, TRANSIT CARD & ISABELA ISLANDS PORT FEES:
Before checking in for the flight from Quito to the Galapagos, there is a US$20 transit fee that needs to be paid. On arrival in the islands you must pay the US$100 national park fee to enter Galapagos National Park. If your voyage visits Isabela Island, there is also a US$5 fee to be paid on arrival at the island.

PASSPORT DETAILS:
When booking, please make sure that your name is spelt correctly, and that you book using the name in your passport (particularly if you are recently married). If you are issued a new passport with a different number between the time that you book and the time you travel, please take both the old and new passports with you.

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS:
Should you have a special diet requirement (for example vegetarian, celiac, vegan, severe food allergies) it's essential that you inform Peregrine of the specific details at least 10 days prior to departure, in order to make sure the chef on board the boat or on the island can request the necessary food supplies.

MINIMUM AGE:
The minimum age on this trip is 15. Please note that triple cabins are not available. If travelling with a child, the child will need to share with one of the adults, and the other adult will share with another adult passenger, or pay a single supplement.

SEA SICKNESS- GALAPAGOS:
Please note that from June to August the water is rougher than usual. Consequently travel times will be longer than usual. If you suffer from seasickness you may want to reconsider travelling during this period.

ELECTRICITY, WI-FI & PHONE COVERAGE IN THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS:
Electricity in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is 110 - 120V and requires US plugs so you may need to take an adapter.
Wi-Fi is not available on the boat at all whilst in the Galapagos Islands. There is limited access on the bigger islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela and there may also be internet cafes for you to use if there is time.
Like Wi-Fi, mobile phone coverage is pretty non-existent whilst travelling around the islands. Again, you may find that you have limited service when you are closer to the bigger islands.
There is a satellite phone on board, for the use of shipboard staff, in case of emergency.

DIVING IN THE GALAPAGOS:
We do not offer diving as a part of our Galapagos program and due to our internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Galapagos Explorer - Central Islands (Queen Beatriz) trips score an average of 4 out of 5 based on 1 reviews in the last year.

Galapagos Explorer - Central Islands (Queen Beatriz) Deluxe Double , March 2015

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