Ultimate Galápagos

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Tour Description

Certainly one of the most iconic and memorable expeditions one can take, Galápagos adventure travel is exhilarating and humbling. You’ll find yourself in the company of species found nowhere else in the world, walking among abundant wildlife that has grown astonishingly fearless in the absence of humans and large predators. On your Galápagos tour, you might find yourself face to face with a pair of courting blue-footed boobies, sitting next to a marine iguana as it basks in the sun, or snorkeling amidst a family of playful sea lions. Journey in the company of a renowned Galápagos expert and Zegrahm cofounder, Jack Grove—this is truly the trip of a lifetime.

Galápagos and Ecuador Expedition Highlights:

  • Accommodations aboard the intimate, 40-passenger Isabela II; her small size enables easy navigation of the islands.
  • The waved albatross on Punta Suarez, one of the Islands’ largest birds; the walk over lava terrain is yet another hallmark of a Galápagos expedition.
  • Zodiac expedition to Prince Philip’s Steps to see resident red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, short-eared owls, and fur seals.
  • Charles Darwin Research Station, a special stop on this Galápagos tour, to learn about conservation efforts; meet giant tortoises and land iguanas.
  • Come face to face with sea lions, snorkel with Galápagos penguins, and meet the unique marine iguana.

With Zegrahm, virtually everything is included in the cost of your Galápagos expedition:

  • All gratuities, from guides to ship’s crew
  • All accommodations, including pre- and post-voyage hotel nights
  • Daily activity options, fromnature hikes to Zodiac cruises and snorkeling
  • World-class expedition leader and expertlocal guides
  • All meals onboard and with the group ashore
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and landing and port charges
  • All transfers on the group arrival and departure days
  • Snorkel equipment and wetsuits
  • Gift certificates for recommended expedition gear and reading materials
  • Comprehensive pre-departure packet to prepare you for your Galápagos tour, with everything from currency information and weather to shipboard amenities and a packing list
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance
  • Dedicated Zegrahm program manager and air coordinator to answer all your questions
  • Photographic journal upon returning home to relive your Galápagos and Ecuador adventure travels

Itinerary

Day 1

USA / Guayaquíl, Ecuador

Depart on your flight to Guayaquíl. Transfer to our hotel for the night.

Day 2

Guayaquíl / Baltra, Galápagos Islands / Santa Cruz / Embark Isabela II

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island, then transfer to nearby Santa Cruz Island. Here, we visit the highlands’ Tortoise Reserve, containing one of the largest giant tortoise populations in the Galápagos. After lunch we continue to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Learn about conservation efforts and view the tortoises and land iguanas being raised for reintroduction. This afternoon we embark the Isabela II.

Day 3

Floreana Island

This morning visit Post Office Bay and view one of the oldest working sea-mail drops. Zodiacs take us to nearby islets to observe rays, sea lions, and sea turtles, followed by a short walk to a lookout for panoramic views of Floreana. At Punta Cormorant we may see American flamingos, black-necked stilts, and white-cheeked pintail ducks in a brackish lagoon. Our hike takes us to a fine coral-sand beach where green sea turtles nest. A highlight of our day is the chance to swim and snorkel with friendly and frolicking sea lions.

Day 4

Española (Hood) Island

Today visit Punta Suárez to see the largest birds in the Galápagos Islands, the waved albatross. Virtually the entire population of 12,000 pairs of albatross nests here from April to December. Other wildlife includes red-billed tropicbirds, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and marine iguanas. We reposition to stroll along the beautiful white-sand beach of Gardner Bay where we hope to find Hood Island mockingbirds and lava lizards, Galápagos hawks, and three species of Darwin’s finches. We enjoy another opportunity to snorkel this afternoon.

Day 5

San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal was the first island Charles Darwin visited when he arrived in the Galápagos. First known as Chatham Island, it was later named in honor of Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón). Punta Pitt is the only place in the Galápagos where three species of boobies and two species of frigates can be found nesting in the same area—blue-footed, Nazca, and red-footed boobies as well as great and magnificent frigatebirds. In the afternoon walk along the beautiful beach of Cerro Brujo as we search for species endemic to this island, including San Cristóbal mockingbirds and lava lizards. The sheltered bay is frequented by sea lions and rays.

Day 6

San Cristóbal Island

Disembark on the southwest side of the island at the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to visit the Interpretive Center, which will give us a greater understanding of the Galápagos’ uniqueness. After lunch board coaches to Cerro Colorado to visit a Galápagos tortoise breeding center.

Day 7

Genovesa (Tower) Island

We cross the equator overnight, arriving at Genovesa Island. Entering Darwin Bay, formed by the caldera of a partially eroded volcano, a short Zodiac tour along the coastline takes us to Prince Philip’s Steps, where we may find red-footed boobies nesting in palo santo trees. Nazca boobies nest on the ground, along with wedge-rumped storm-petrels and short-eared owls. We also search for the four species of finches that live here.Afterward, we swim and snorkel along the cliffs of this colossal harbor. Later land on a sandy beach and pass swallow-tailed gulls as we walk by a forest of salt bush and mangrove where colonies of great frigatebirds and red-footed boobies nest.

Day 8

Santiago (James) Island

This morning we arrive at Espumilla Beach, a large coffee-colored sand beach located at the north end of the island. A short walk inland takes us through a mangrove forest to a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white-cheeked pintails can be seen. Once back on the beach we have a chance to swim or snorkel. After a short lunch cruise, we arrive at Puerto Egas and hike along a coastal trail to a nearby fur seal grotto. Along the shore we may spot great blue herons, striated herons, oystercatchers, and yellow-crowned night herons as they feed. At low tide it is possible to see colorful Sally lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas grazing on sea lettuce.

Day 9

Fernandina Island / Isabela Island

The cool waters of the Cromwell Current upwell around Isabela and Fernandina and these nutrient-rich waters provide great feeding sources for whales and dolphins. In the morning explore Punta Espinosa on Fernandina, the youngest island of the Galápagos. Here we observe the largest colony of marine iguanas in the Galápagos, flightless cormorants, and moonscape-like lava fields. This is one of the largest, most pristine islands in the world with no introduced species to date. On the western shore of Isabela, we stop at secluded Tagus Cove, which was once a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers. An uphill hike through the forest takes us to Darwin Lake, a crater filled with salt water.

Day 10

Isabela Island

South from Tagus Cove we find a gentle sloping beach on Urbina (Urvina) Bay. A short trail leads to a coral reef, evidence of uplift from the sea which occurred in 1954. Here we may find land and marine iguanas, giant Galápagos tortoises, flightless cormorants, and Galápagos penguins. We then cruise north along the Bolívar Channel, accompanied by impressive views of Isabela’s rugged coast, to Punta Vicente Roca. Be on the lookout here for more cormorants, penguins, blue-footed boobies, turtles, and perhaps, the amazing mola mola.

Day 11

Rábida & Santa Cruz Islands

Though small, Rábida contains a great variety of rock and lava types. Wildlife found here includes Galápagos hawks, pelicans, and sea lions. Our next stop is Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) on the northwest side of Santa Cruz Island. Aptly named, this site is one of the best places to see land iguanas. The trail continues through palo santo trees and cacti forests and ends at a saltwater lagoon, where we may see various species of birds—white-cheeked pintail ducks, Galápagos mockingbirds, flamingos, finches, Galápagos flycatchers, and more.

Day 12

Baltra Island / Disembark / Guayaquíl

This morning enjoy time at leisure before we disembark the Isabela II for your flight back to Guayaquíl. On arrival we transfer to our hotel. This afternoon there is free time to relax before our farewell dinner and overnight.

Day 13

Guayaquíl / USA

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for independent flights homeward.

Departures

Pricing Information

Isabela II

Reserved for our Galápagos expeditions, Isabela II is a 40-passenger yacht with 20 outside cabins and a casually elegant ambience. Aboard an Isabela II expedition, expect gracious staff, spacious passenger cabins with private bathrooms, air-conditioning, a bar, a dining room, and a sun deck. The deck itself offers ample outdoor seating, a gym and Jacuzzi, a solarium, and, perhaps most importantly, an observation area for whale and dolphin watching—one of the highlights of an Isabela II voyage. Sea kayaks and three Zodiacs are available on each Isabela II cruise, and as an alternative to snorkeling, her glass-bottom boat offers a superb look at the marine life from above the waves. To further immerse yourself in the destination, visit the onboard library, carrying the largest selection of books on Galápagos and Ecuador of any ship sailing these waters. Ship registry: Ecuador.

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.