Galapagos Islands

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    Destinations: Central and South America, Ecuador
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Tour Description

There’s no more intimate an experience with nature than International Expeditions’ Galapagos Islands cruise aboard the 32-guest Evolution. Accompanied by only the highest-rated native naturalist guides, you experience the unrivaled access and adventure offered by IE’s small-ship Galapagos Islands tour. Cruise to the greatest array of islands, where you enjoy a spectacular look at the islands’ diverse terrain — desert landscapes, lush highland forests, volcanic soils and nutrient-rich waters. During our intimate Galapagos Islands cruise, you’ll find yourself just inches away from giant tortoises, comical blue-footed boobies, sea lions, penguins, iguanas and many other animals, and you’ll gain an appreciation for how remarkable life on Earth can be.

Skip the Crowds on our Galapagos Islands Cruise

The Galapagos Islands are a treasure meant to be experienced with a small group of true nature enthusiasts – not 100 “tourists.” Our small group size of just 32 aboard the Evolution ensures you enjoy ample time and attention as you explore. Plus, You don’t have to sacrifice comfort and world-class service to discover the Galapagos. Each day during this Galapagos Islands tour, you “come home” to a comfortable, intimate expedition ship. The Evolution is the perfect haven for relaxing between daily hiking and snorkeling excursions, or for joining fellow travelers for a briefing by our knowledgeable naturalists.

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The Highest Rated Galapagos Islands Travel Guides

Our highly qualified naturalist Galapagos Islands travel guides are authorities on the wildlife, history, geography and fauna of the Galapagos Islands. You’ll learn from an expedition leader and local naturalist who are passionate about the islands and licensed at the highest level — Level 3 — by Galapagos National Park. Read more about our Galapagos Islands cruise on the IE Travel Blog.

Itinerary

Day 1 • Friday

U.S. / Guayaquil

Fly independently to Guayaquil, Ecuador, where you begin your Galapagos Islands adventure, and transfer to the Hotel Oro Verde. (Meals Aloft)

Day 2 • Saturday

Guayaquil / San Cristobal: Playa Ochoa & Kicker Rock

Board our flight 600 miles across the Pacific to the Galapagos Islands. Our crew meets us on San Cristóbal Island and escorts us on the short bus trip to the harbor, where we board the Evolution. After a briefing on water safety and what to expect during our Galapagos Islands expedition itinerary, enjoy a delicious lunch. Stroll along the white-sand beach at Playa Ochoa, home to a large colony of curious sea lions. Nearby is a tidal lagoon frequented by migratory and endemic bird species, such as flamingos, finches and Chatham (San Cristóbal) mockingbirds. At sunset, we cruise around Kicker Rock, remnants of an eroded tuft cone said to resemble a sleeping lion. Our naturalists point out blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, red-billed tropicbirds and frigatebirds along the cliffs. (B,L,D)

Day 3 • Sunday

South Plaza Island

At only 426 feet wide, South Plaza is one of the smallest islands in the archipelago. However, this tiny uplifted island features rich wildlife and the turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright Sally Lightfoot crabs. Our walk takes us to a grove of prickly-pear cactus, where we also see yellow land iguanas. Non-hikers can enjoy a Zodiac ride, watching for swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds, pelicans and blue-footed boobies. After lunch, gather your snorkeling gear for an excursion into the waters around Punta Carrion, where you are likely to see sea lions, sturgeon rays and white-tipped reef shark. The flat sands of the Mosquera Islet, between North Seymour and Baltra Islands, attract sea lions, herons and lava gulls. Since there is no true trail on the islands, you are able to stroll at your leisure. (B,L,D)

Day 4 • Monday

Sombrero Chino Island / Santiago Island: Puerto Egas

Today our Galapagos Islands cruise stops at the highly interesting Sombrero Chino. Just off the southern tip of Santiago, the tiny uplifted island of Sombrero Chino – or Chinese Hat – features a primeval landscape of volcanic rubble and lava tubes. The entire island is a cinder cone with a steep-sided crown like a Chinese hat, hence the name. This is a prime spot for snorkeling with Galapagos penguins! Enjoy a relaxing Zodiac ride watching for manta rays, penguins and white-tipped reef sharks before returning to the Evolution for lunch. This afternoon, search the tide pools of Puerto Egas for octopus, sea snails, moray eels and other sea life. Along with large marine iguanas, which can be seen feeding on algae at low tide, the bay is home to the remains of two failed salt mines. Explore the fur seal grottos. Our Galapagos Islands nature travel guides will point out the bountiful birdlife, including great blue herons, lava herons, oystercatchers and yellow-crowned night herons. (B,L,D)

Day 5 • Tuesday

Genovesa Island

Exploring outlying Genovesa feels like exploring a private wildlife sanctuary! Genovesa Island harbors one of the largest and most diverse bird populations in the Galapagos. Climb Prince Philip’s Steps to an area with colonies of great frigatebirds, red-footed boobies and Galapagos doves. Search for well-camouflaged short-eared owls as they hunt tiny storm petrels. Explore Darwin Bay, home to yellow-crowned night herons, the nocturnal swallow-tailed gull and the rare lava gull. While anchored at Genovesa, enjoy an opportunity to swim, kayak and snorkel in the calm caldera of this partially eroded volcano. (B,L,D)

Day 6 • Wednesday

North Seymour Island / Santa Fe Island

North Seymour is the nesting site for a large population of magnificent frigatebirds and the only place where we can always find males showing their red pouches to attract females. Plus, we are sure to see blue-footed boobies perform their comical courtship dance in the open areas. Hike to a scenic turquoise lagoon, where we may observe Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds, a variety of Darwin’s finches and land iguanas that feast on the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. We’ll have a chance to kayak and snorkel from the beach. (B,L,D)

Day 7 • Thursday

Floreana Island

Take a leisurely hike to Post Office Bay, once used by British navigators to send mail and messages for homebound messengers. Swim and snorkel in the bay before a walk along the olivine beaches of Punta Cormorant among the sea lions. After hiking to a flamingo lagoon, spot fish and sea turtles during a relaxing stroll along a powder-white coral beach. There’s even a soccer field for those who want to challenge our guides to a quick game! Enjoy superb snorkeling at Devil’s Crown, where sea water has filled the sunken cinder cone of an extinct volcano. (B,L,D)

Day 8 • Friday

Santa Cruz Island

Begin at the Charles Darwin Research Station, learning about vital work being done to study and preserve Galapagos wildlife, and also meet the famed Lonesome George. Head into the forested highlands, with ample opportunity to see and photograph giant tortoises in their verdant habitat. Stop at a locally owned sugar cane and coffee farm, El Trapiche. Enjoy a peaceful afternoon strolling around Puerto Ayora, with time to relax in a local restaurant or shop. (B,L,D)

Day 9 • Saturday

Galapagos / Guayaquil

Cap off the last morning of our Galapagos Islands cruise with a Zodiac ride through Black Turtle Cove, drifting silently through this area of mangroves. Fly to Guayaquil, with time to relax at the Hotel Oro Verde. (B,L Aloft)

Day 10 • Sunday

Guayaquil / U.S.

Sunday we fly to the U.S. and connect with flights home. (B, Meals Aloft)

Please Note: Galapagos Islands cruise itinerary subject to change based on Galapagos National Park regulations.

Please Note: Galapagos Islands tour itinerary may vary due to changes in air schedules, weather, Galapagos National Park regulations or other local conditions.

Read more about Galapagos Islands cruises on the IE Travel Blog.

Departures

Pricing Information

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

What's included in the price of IE’s Galapagos Island travel packages?

  • Visits to nine islands
  • Daily shore excursions, interpretive walks, swimming, snorkeling, hiking & panga rides
  • Seven nights on the Evolution
  • Hotel accommodations pre- and post-voyage
  • 23 meals (and lots of snacks)
  • Two Level 3 naturalists
  • Snorkeling gear & shorty wetsuits
  • Kayaks
  • All bottled water
  • Onboard doctor
  • Full educational program, including lectures on history, ecology & marine life and field interpretation
  • Arrival & departure transfers
  • Tips to porters & to waiters for included meals

What kind of visas are required for travel to Ecuador?

Bring a valid passport that will not expire until at least six months after your departure date before you travel to Ecuador. Visas are not required for US or Canadian citizens.

What vaccinations are required for Galapagos Islands travel?

No inoculations are required to enter Ecuador or to return to the US. The CDC recommends malaria pills and the yellow fever shot if you are visiting the Ecuadorian rainforest (not part of our Galapagos islands travel package); however, you should consult with your personal physician.