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Galapagos Islands: M/V Santa Cruz II

Destination(s): Galapagos Islands
Duration: 5 days / 4 nights
Frequency: Wednesday departures, year-round
Price: Starting at $3,604.00 per person
  *single supplement on reqest
Deadline to book: Open booking

Conceived for operations in remote areas, our state-of-the-art expedition vessel affords the perfect infrastructure for Galapagos exploration. At just over 70 metres long, the generous, 5-deck craft holds 50 cabins for 90 guests and features ample, luxury-sized social areas indoors and out. This infrastructure and the crew’s heritage of decades of experience working in the islands allow guests to make the most of their Galapagos cruise experience.

 Program includes: 

  • Four nights aboard the M/V Santa Cruz II in a Horizon Deck Explorer cabin
  • All daily meals, snacks and drinking water on board
  • Daily island excursions with an expert licensed English-speaking naturalist guide
  • Snorkeling equipment

   Not included:

  • Bar consumption, tips, extras and personal expense
  • Round-trip internal airfare to/from Galapagos  
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee
  • Galapagos Transit Control Card
  • Medical, travel & cancellation insurance

Day 1   Friday, Monday, Arrive in Quito

After clearing customs and retrieving your bags you’ll be met by a tour representative and transferred to the JW Marriott Quito, check-in and overnight. Meals: N/A

Day 2   Saturday, Quito Tour – Live Quito Like a Local

A day dedicated to exploring the lives, beliefs, cuisine and traditions of Old Town Quito, the first city named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978, and a revelation to many people. The tour is all about ‘living Quito like a local’, visiting shops, exploring markets, meeting local herbal healers, wandering the streets, learning skills from artisans, and enjoying a lunch of great Ecuadorian cooking at the sophisticated Casa Gangotena hotel.

We head out for a walking tour of the Old Town, intent on understanding more about the people who live in the largest and best-restored historical centre in the Americas. We begin by meeting our local resident guide, part of a grassroots NGO organization that has created a walking tour of its Quito neighborhood, called San Roque. The guide takes us through the nearby streets, stopping to meet artisans, shopkeepers, hat makers and sweet confectioners. Up the hill on Calle Rocafuerte, we explore the San Francisco Market, one of the oldest in the capital. Here, we learn all about the fruit and vegetables produced in Ecuador and some culinary traditions.

We also have the chance to meet and learn from one of the local herbal healers who have locales in the market.

From the market, we walk downhill to the emblematic street of La Ronda, considered one of the flagship regeneration projects in the city. It’s a quiet, cobbled street with typical balconies overflowing with geraniums. Here we visit the Manos en La Ronda project and meet artisans in the workshops. We then visit the chocolatier on the ground floor, where we enjoy a snack and have a chance to discover and taste the finest chocolate in the world – which, of course, comes from Ecuador..!

From La Ronda, we walk northwards through the handsome streets of the Old Town to the Plaza Grande, the political heart of the city. Following a brief explanation, we stroll to the Jesuit church of La Compañía with its stunning gold-leaf interior. Returning back to Plaza San Francisco, we visit the church, choir and pretty patios of the Franciscan order before arriving at Casa Gangotena, on the same square, for a lunch of Ecuadorian specialties prepared by the hotel’s talented chefs.

In the afternoon, we cross the street to the excellent Casa del Alabado Archaeological Museum. It houses a fantastic collection of pieces dating back some 5,000 years, arrayed beautifully within a restored 17th-century colonial mansion.

This tour also includes a visit to a panoramic viewpoint to appreciate Quito in all its Andean splendor. Meals: breakfast and lunch

Day 3   Sunday, Otavalo Handcraft Tour

This one-day private excursion has been designed to provide guests with an overall view of the dramatic Andean scenery, with an earlier departure to arrive in time to appreciate the activity of the Otavalo Market, visit the towns of Peguche to observe the weaving process and Cotacachi, for leather goods.

This excursion goes north, to the land of the Otavalos and South America’s most famous Indian fair along the Panamerican Highway through dramatic mountain scenery to the textile market of Otavalo, where guests will enjoy visiting the many stalls full of ponchos, scarves, blankets, wall hangings, woven belts (fajas), hats, handbags and much more. Here Otavaleños barter in silence, in marked contrast to the raucous noise of other markets; take your time to negotiate the best bargains. Then, proceed to Peguche, an Indian village very near Otavalo that is home to the artisans who do the weaving in their homes; guests can learn about their culture and everyday life and on to Cotacachi, where the whole town is dedicated to the production and sale of leather goods: coats, belts and all kinds of handbags. Lunch is at the charming Hacienda Pinsaqui. Meals: breakfast and lunch

Day 4   Monday, Northern Islands Galápagos Itinerary (Monday to Friday)

After a morning transfer to the airport board a flight to the island of Baltra and the Galapagos Islands.

Baltra Island

We land at Baltra Island by plane in the morning and transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II, where we receive a welcome introductory briefing and lunch.

Las Bachas (Santa Cruz Island)

This beautiful visitor site is located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, a glorious white beach with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. This is a great opportunity to get acquainted with snorkeling gear and techniques. Welcome cocktail, expedition plan for Tuesday and dinner. Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 5   Tuesday, Galápagos

Buccaneer Cove (Santiago Island)

After breakfast, we explore the coastline along the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove, learning about the area's distant and recent history. The cove is home to a large number of marine birds, sea lions, and inter-tidal organisms. Enjoy fantastic natural formations such as the "Elephant Rock", "The Bishop" and an impressive natural cave. This is a great site for snorkeling or panga ride.

Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)

Once we disembark at the beach, we can enjoy a swim or snorkel amid a rocky shoreline, usually in the company of marine turtles. From here, we head off to our walk, a great opportunity to see land and marine birds amid landscape of tuff-stone layers and lava flows.  At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds and we can also observe a colony of fur-sea lions.  Non-snorkelers can enjoy a longer walk.

Day 6   Wednesday, Galápagos

Rábida Island

After breakfast, we land on Rábida Island's red-coloured beach, caused by the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic material. Our walk brings us close to a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin's finches. Very close to the beach, a salt pond hosts migrating greater flamingos at certain times of year. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach, both for beginners as well as for experienced snorkelers, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes. Non-snorkelers will enjoy a ride on the glass bottom boat or a panga ride. During navigation to our next island, dolphins are often spotted!

Bartolomé Island

We land at Bartolomé for a hike to the summit of this diminutive island that boasts fantastic views of the archipelago. This is a moderately steep climb aided by a wooden staircase, resting platforms and handrails – the view from the top is worth the effort! Following our walk, we take to the pangas and the glass bottom boat for a ride around the colossal Pinnacle Rock, and then land at the beach to enjoy some swimming, snorkeling or just relaxing (possibly with Galápagos penguins in attendance).

Day 7   Thursday, Galápagos

Prince Philip Steps (Genovesa Island)

The morning starts with a panga ride along the cliffs of this dramatic island, followed by landing with a steep climb (90 feet) up some stairs to reach a flat plateau. Along our walk, we can observe large colonies of Nazca boobies, red footed boobies, great frigate birds and storm petrels. Those not wishing to disembark can enjoy a longer panga ride along the cliffs (depending on weather conditions). After the walk, we can snorkel along the dramatic cliffs where there are chances of spotting lots of fish, including hammerhead sharks.

Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island)

In the afternoon, we land at this beautiful beach to enjoy some swimming and/or snorkelling.  Following our dip, we take an easy stroll to observe hundreds of birds, mainly frigate birds, red footed and Nazca boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. There's an optional walk over sharp lava and uneven terrain for dramatic views, or else we can return to the beach or enjoy a panga ride.

Day 8   Friday, Galápagos / Return home

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno & Tortoise Breeding Centre (San Cristóbal Island)

After breakfast, there's optional departure to see the breeding program of giant tortoises at Cerro Colorado. Here, we learn about this endangered species and its promising recovery. Following the visit, we return to town and transfer to the airport to take the flight back to  mainland Ecuador. End of services

Note: All itineraries are subject to change, due to weather and other conditions. All times indicated are approximate, and are also subject to change.

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