Explore the best of the otherworldly Galapagos Islands on this tour

Travel to a place where the creatures and the landscapes exemplify the beauty and the diversity of life on our planet. This 10-day trip will have you hiking through prickly pear cactus forest on the rugged cliffs of Isla Santa Fe in the morning, then watching the sunset with a cocktail in hand just a few hours later. Exotic animals crowd these isolated islands, and you can expect to encounter giant tortoises, spiky marine iguanas, curious sea lions and all manner of colourful, rare birdlife. For the best the Galapagos Islands have to offer, look no further than this classic adventure.


Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
Quito, Ecuador
Destination
Ecuador
Style
Comfort
Theme
Adventure Cruising, Wildlife
Code
GMQC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Observe in the flesh animals that most people only see during Attenborough documentaries, from flamingos to Sally Lightfoot crabs.

  • Snorkel in the pass between the towers of Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), the remains of a crater now home to hammerhead sharks and sea turtles.

  • Explore Earth’s most delicate ecosystems with an island local and an onboard naturalist, so you can be sure you’re doing Galapagos travel in the most sustainable way.

  • Walk across the rumpled black lava flows of Bahia Sullivan, the remnants of an eruption that occurred over 100 years ago.

  • The Grand Queen Beatriz is the perfect vessel for those who want to follow in the footsteps of Darwin, but desire a few more creature comforts than the hardened 19th-century explorer.

Is this trip right for you?

  • The Galapagos Islands are a largely untouched natural paradise. In order to experience the splendour of the diverse landscapes and waters, the included activities on this trip often require a moderate level of fitness. We ask that you read the trip notes and itinerary carefully to ensure that you will be able to participate fully.

  • Our small ships make cruising from island to island a breeze, so you can spend more time exploring the gorgeous surrounds than stuck onboard. Compact size means that the steps between the decks are steep, and as they are designed to maximise living area space, sleeping quarters are cosy.

  • For getting to small islets, coves and prime snorkelling spots, it is sometimes necessary to use a Zodiac boat (panga). You will need to be comfortable climbing in and out of one during wet and dry landings.

  • The waters of the Galapagos are generally calm and serene. However, there is always the possibility of choppy water at sea. Steady sea legs (and a sturdy stomach) will be needed when walking around the boat during bad weather. Rain or shine, your trusty crew will always be on hand to assist you.

  • Things are never set in stone when you’re travelling on island time. A sense of humour and flexibility will ensure you have a fun, relaxing trip through this beautiful part of the world no matter what happens. While the crew will do their best to follow the itinerary, variations may occur due to weather or under direction from local authorities.

Boats

Grand Queen Beatriz

On this itinerary, you'll be travelling aboard the Grand Queen Beatriz

Itinerary

Welcome to Quito! On arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. A welcome meeting at either 5 pm or 6 pm is the only scheduled activity today, and the rest of your time is at your leisure. Lofty Quito sits under the towering Pichincha volcano, stretching along a valley and ringed by the Andes. If you have the time, this beautiful city has more than a few photo-worthy alleyways, colonial buildings and impressive vistas to take in.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Le Parc, Quito (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know.

We recommend not partaking in any strenuous activity until you have time to gauge your reaction to the city’s high altitude, as some people experience mild symptoms of attitude sickness such as dizziness, shortness of breath and sleeplessness.

As this trip spends very little time in Quito, we recommend you spend a few extra days before your trip if you want to experience all the city has to offer.

Please note that today may be your last chance to stock up on toiletries such as sunscreen before we venture into the remote Galapagos Islands.
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Please note that pick-up time can be as early as 4.30 am. This departure time allows for a 1-hour drive to the airport as well as potential check-in delays. Your tour leader will confirm this time with you at the welcome meeting on Day 1. You will be provided with a boxed breakfast today, as well as a small snack on board your 3.5-hour flight (including a brief pit stop in Guayaquil.

On arrival in the Galapagos, you will be met in the arrival hall of the airport (look out for 'Grand Queen Beatriz' signs) by a transfer guide. The guide will assist you on a 5-minute public bus journey, followed by a 7-minute public ferry across Itabaca Channel to Isla Santa Cruz. Please note that public transport costs are included in the price of your trip.

Once you reach Isla Santa Cruz, board a private bus for a 45-minute drive to Puerto Ayora, where two dinghies await to transport you and your fellow travellers to the Grand Queen Beatriz.

Board the yacht, meet the crew and settle into your assigned cabin before a delicious lunch during which you can get to know your naturalist guide.

After lunch, get your first real taste of Galapagos life with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station offers the opportunity to see giant tortoises as well as baby tortoises and land iguanas.
Accommodation
  • M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Station (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
A USD 20 per person transit card is payable on departure at Quito Airport and a USD 100 per person national park entry fee is payable on arrival on the islands. Please have cash on hand for these transactions as credit cards are not accepted.

Please note snacks provided by the airline on the flight to the Galapagos Islands may not meet specialty dietary requirements. You will have time after check-in and before departure to purchase food to consume during the flight, though keep in mind the Galapagos has strict quarantine regulations on many fruits and vegetables.
This is a lovely place to take a dip, with one of the most attractive coves in the archipelago and jade-green waters that are ideal for snorkelling. Isla Santa Fe is also home to a large population of sea lions, and many are eager for swimming partners! You can also expect to see Galapagos hawks, land iguanas, a variety of finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, sea lions, marine turtles, frigatebirds, Galapagos doves and lava lizards. A trail follows the coast into the opuntia (prickly pear) forest, where you see incredible cacti and the unique sub-species of land iguana that darts between them. A member of the cactus family, the prickly pear is named for the pear-shaped fruit the plant produces.

Next up is the tiny island of Plaza Sur. A place of great beauty where you can see sea lions on land as well as one of the Galapagos’s largest land iguana populations, resting amid cacti and volcanic landscapes coloured bright red and green by sesuvium. The island’s rugged southern cliffs are an excellent place to spot tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as the 'Gentlemen’s Club’, a gathering of male sea lions either too young or too old to be beachmasters!

Sail overnight to Isla Espanola.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Isla Santa Fe to Plaza Sur: 2 hours (16 nautical miles)
Plaza Sur to Isla Espanola (Punta Suarez): 7 hours (60 nautical miles)
Accommodation
  • M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Plaza Sur - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Santa Fe - Panga ride (45 mins)
  • Isla Santa Fe - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After an overnight sail you will wake up on the island of Espanola – the southernmost island of the Galapagos and one of the most spectacular. Because of its remote location, this island has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses, and home to colonies of blue-footed and Nazca boobies.

Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, will lead you right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen.

You will also pay a visit to Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to large and varied wildlife population. A walk along its trails will take you to a cliff-top viewpoint, where you'll gain a magical panorama. Boobies line the rocky shoreline beneath you, while frigate birds may be seen overhead. Nearby, enormous male sea lions can be seen lounging and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, helping become airborne by the southeast winds that blow across this part of the island.

If you’re lucky, you’ll see the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate!

Stop at Bahia Gardner (Gardner Bay), which is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos Islands, full of sea lions and hood mockingbirds. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkelling opportunities, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish, often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks.

Cruise overnight to Isla San Cristobal.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Punta Suarez to Bahia Gardener: 1 hour (7 nautical miles)
Bahia Gardener to Punta Pitt (Isla San Cristobal): 7 hours (50 nautical miles)
Accommodation
  • M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Espanola - Punta Suarez - Walk (3 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Espanola - Bahia Gardener - Snorkel (1 hour)
  • Isla Espanola - Bahia Gardener - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning visit Punta Pitt on the eastern end of San Cristobal. Walk to the top of the volcanic hill for expansive views of this sparsely vegetated area. A variety of seabirds nest here, including blue-footed boobies and frigates.

On a Zodiac ride you can observe the three varieties of boobies nesting in the Galapagos and enjoy a snorkel from the beach.

Pass through Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), the magnificent basalt remains of a crater in the middle of the sea, the shape resembles a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. Cruise through the channel with nesting seabirds on either side of the boat, tropic birds overhead, marine iguanas in the water and sea lions at rest in the rock. There will be an opportunity to snorkel here, offering the possibility of spotting hammerhead sharks among sea turtles and an incredible biodiversity of invertebrates on the rock wall.

You will also visit Isla Lobos, a tiny island off the coast of Isla San Cristobal. This is the perfect time to witness the always friendly sea lions as they play in the calm shallow waters here. Blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and marine iguanas are also easily seen.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Punta Pitt to Leon Dormido (Isla San Cristobal): 2.5 hours (27 nautical miles)
Leon Dormido to Isla Lobos: 1 hour (7 nautical miles)
Isla Lobos to Puerto Baquerizo (Isla San Cristobal): 1 hour (5 nautical miles)
Accommodation
  • M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla San Cristobal - Punta Pitt - Walk (2 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla San Cristobal - Isla Lobos - Walk (1 hour) - Dry Landing
  • Isla San Cristobal - Kicker Rock - Snorkelling (45 minutes)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Visit San Cristobal Interpretation Center in the morning. This information hub brings the history and geography of the archipelago to life, from its volcanic origins to the present day. The human history exhibit offers an insight into the discovery and colonisation of the Galapagos, and the reality of the problems the islands face today.

Enjoy some free time for shopping before going on board for lunch and to meet the new travellers who will be joining you today.

This afternoon you will travel into the interior of the island (approximately 45 mins) by bus to visit the highlands site of Galapaguera of Cerro Colorado (Red Hill), where you will find a breeding program for tortoises. Here, you will be able to see giant tortoises and learn all about their origins, evolution and future.

Sail overnight to Isla Bartolome.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Puerto Baquerizo (Isla San Cristobal) to Isla Bartolome: 8 hours (70 nautical miles)
Accommodation
  • M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla San Cristobal - Interpretation Center Visit (1 hour) - Dry Landing
  • Isla San Cristobal - Highlands Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today there will be some passengers leaving the tour and some new passengers joining.
Explore Bartolome, one of the most spectacular volcanic landscapes in the Galapagos, full of parasitic spatter cones, lava flows, Galapagos penguins and lava lizards.

It is a relatively new island in the archipelago and traces of its volcanic past can be seen everywhere, as evidenced by the amazing lunar-like landscape.

The Pinnacle Rock is one of the most photographed sites in the Galapagos – an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth, while nearby two golden bays back onto each other.

You can hike to the top of a once-active volcano here (360 wooden steps), and enjoy superb views across to Sullivan Bay, on nearby Isla Santiago. If you are in luck you might catch a glance of the Galapagos Hawk here. You also have the option of snorkelling with plenty of tropical fish, starfish, white-tipped reef sharks and rays and to keep you company.

Make the short cruise to Isla Santiago, where you can explore Bahia Sullivan. Take a walk on pahoehoe lava – left over from an eruption that occurred in 1897 -- and witness the plant species that have emerged since. Look out for marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions, finches, turtles, sharks and penguins. On a walk, your guide will explain the geological history of the islands.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Bartolome to Isla Santiago (Bahia Sullivan): 0.5 hours (1 nautical mile)
Isla Santiago (Bahia Sullivan) to Espumilla Beach: 3 hours (25 nautical miles)
Accommodation
  • M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Santiago - Sullivan Bay - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Bartolome - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Bartolome - Snorkelling (1.5 hours)
  • Isla Bartolome - Panga ride (30 mins)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Travel to Espumilla Beach. On the northern coast of Isla Santiago, Espumilla is an important nesting site for marine turtles. With large waves, it is often a favourite amongst beach lovers.

Keep an eye out for Galapagos hawks, ghost crabs, blue-footed boobies (often plunging for fish) and brown pelicans. The area is also well known for its palo santo forest and some extraordinary lava formations.

You will visit Caleta Bucanero (Buccaneer Cove), once used by pirates to careen their ships. It is also where Darwin camped for nine days while making his study of the islands and their wildlife. If conditions are favourable, you can enjoy some further snorkelling in the cove.

Continue to Puerto Egas, a black-sand beach located on the west side of Bahia Sullivan and northwest of Isla Santiago. South of the beach is Sugarloaf Volcano, which has deposits of volcanic tuff. A walk along the beach offers vistas of hundreds of marine iguanas and Galapagos sea lions in repose. You will also see amazing tidal pools formed from ancient lava flow, home to sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish. Snorkelling with the seals always offers the possibility of thrilling encounters.

Sail overnight to Puerto Ayora.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Espumilla Beach to Buccaneer Cove: 0.5 hours (1 nautical mile)
Buccaneer Cove to Puerto Egas: 0.5 hours (1 nautical mile)
Puerto Egas to Puerto Ayora: 7 hours (60 nautical miles)
Accommodation
  • M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Santiago - Puerto Egas - Walk (1.45 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Santiago - Puerto Egas - Snorkelling (1 hour)
  • Isla Sanitago - Espumilla Beach - Snorkelling (45 mins)
  • Isla Sanitago - Espumilla Beach - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Sanitago - Buccaneer's Cove - Sail (15 mins)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Flights to mainland Ecuador from the Galapagos Islands depart mid-morning, so an early start is necessary to make the most of today’s visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands. Travel through the agricultural region and into the mists of the unique scalesia cloud forest. See dome-shaped giant tortoises in the wild, as well as different species of Darwin finches and (if you’re lucky) the world-famous woodpecker and warbler finches.

Bid farewell to the islands and fly to Quito.

Upon arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport, enjoy an included transfer to your hotel. Choose whether to join your fellow travellers for an optional dinner this evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Le Parc, Quito (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (3 hours) - Dry Landing
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Time spent in the Santa Cruz Highlands this morning is variable and depends on flight time.

As you will be leaving the boat this morning, please remember that if you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip is considered appropriate. For logistical and cultural reasons, we treat this as an optional expense and do not incorporate it into your trip price.

As a guideline we recommend each passenger considers USD 15 per day for the crew (collectively) and USD 10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin before you disembark.

There are no activities planned for today, but if you plan to stay in Quito you may want to check out an Urban Adventure tour. From a Market Discovery to a Sweet & Culinary Experience, there is more than one way to explore the city. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Quito-tours.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
All travel times/distances and activity durations are approximate only and subject to change.

Meals

9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners

Transport

Minibus, Boat, Plane, Zodiac

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (7 nights)

Included activities

  • Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Station (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Plaza Sur - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Santa Fe - Panga ride (45 mins)
  • Isla Santa Fe - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Espanola - Punta Suarez - Walk (3 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Espanola - Bahia Gardener - Snorkel (1 hour)
  • Isla Espanola - Bahia Gardener - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla San Cristobal - Punta Pitt - Walk (2 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla San Cristobal - Isla Lobos - Walk (1 hour) - Dry Landing
  • Isla San Cristobal - Kicker Rock - Snorkelling (45 minutes)
  • Isla San Cristobal - Interpretation Center Visit (1 hour) - Dry Landing
  • Isla San Cristobal - Highlands Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Santiago - Sullivan Bay - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Bartolome - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Bartolome - Snorkelling (1.5 hours)
  • Isla Bartolome - Panga ride (30 mins)
  • Isla Santiago - Puerto Egas - Walk (1.45 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Santiago - Puerto Egas - Snorkelling (1 hour)
  • Isla Sanitago - Espumilla Beach - Snorkelling (45 mins)
  • Isla Sanitago - Espumilla Beach - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Sanitago - Buccaneer's Cove - Sail (15 mins)
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (3 hours) - Dry Landing

Dates & availability

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Important notes

FELLOW TRAVELLERS:
This trip is a package tour and is therefore made up of a combination of shorter trips. This may mean you will travel with a different guide and passengers on each section.

This trip is run by our sister company, Peregrine Adventures. Your group will be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers from Peregrine.

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$10 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.

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.

Essential trip information

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