Depart to Quito. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito.
Quito and 5 Day Santa Cruz II Cruise – Western Galapagos Islands
Venture to Quito and the western Galapagos Islands on this fascinating Ecuador tour. In Quito, you will enjoy a city tour and visit to the Middle of the World complex. Highlights include observing blue-footed boobies and fur seals on Isabela Island, flightless cormorants on Fernandina Island, and viewing giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station and in the Highlands of Santa Cruz. Opportunities for snorkeling, sea kayaking, and glass bottom boating are also available.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 7 nights (3 nights in Quito and 4 nights aboard the Santa Cruz II), and 15 meals (7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners).
Best Time to Go: Year-Round.
Note: The route and program may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and wildlife encounters.
Dry Landing: Guests step from the dinghy directly onto rocks or a dock.
Wet Landing: As the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
This morning, you will visit to downtown Quito to relish in this urban jewel and its treasures of art and architecture. Quito’s colonial quarter, the largest and best preserved of South America, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stroll starts at the Independence Plaza, flanked by the Cathedral, the Presidential Palace, the Municipal Building and the Archbishop’s Palace. Visit the temple of La Compañía de Jesús and its awesome gilded interior. Continue on to the Monastery of San Francisco, one the of great religious buildings of the New World; its impressive façade and atrium that lead to its Baroque interior influenced by Moorish style, with the winged Virgin of Quito at its main altar.
Then continue to the Equatorial Monument, 16 miles north of Quito, which marks the exact Middle of the World, latitude 0º, where you can stand with a foot on each hemisphere. Visit the Ethnographic Museum inside the monument, which shows the different Native American groups living in Ecuador. Beside the monument there is a colonial-style town, complete with main square, church, post office, bullring, cafeterias, restaurants and many gift shops with postcards and souvenirs. You will get a certificate for having crossed the Equator. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Morning transfer to the airport in Quito for the flight to Galapagos. You land at Baltra Island in the morning and transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II, where you receive a welcome introductory briefing, and lunch.
Cerro Dragón. The north shore of Santa Cruz hosts the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill). The first part of the walk passes a brackish-water lagoon frequented by shorebirds, ducks and flamingos, while further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as the chance of observing land iguanas. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Punta Vicente Roca. After breakfast, you explore the coast by panga, while the naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area, a nesting place for several Galapagos highlights: flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, fur seals, boobies, etc. Depending on weather conditions, you can snorkel along the cliffs of this area rich in marine life, seasonally-visited by green sea turtles and oceanic sun fish (Mola mola).
Punta Espinoza. The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina, which, having no introduced mammals, boasts a very unique environment with a very high density of marine iguanas, who share their space with sea lions, Sally light-foot crabs, hawks, penguins and the flightless cormorants. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station. In the morning, you disembark (dry landing followed by a brief bus ride) for the visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station’s giant tortoise Breeding Centre within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest, home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following the visit, you board the bus to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.
Santa Cruz Island. There are several options available for the afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. Options include beach walks, kayaks, walks along the tortoise reserve, etc. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, you return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the Santa Cruz II. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Baroness Tower and Post Office Bay. After breakfast, a panga ride along the maze of channels on Floreana’s north shore can be enjoyed. Following this visit, you continue to Baroness Cove with its breathtaking views of Floreana Island. You land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries and where postcards are traditionally left for guests from other vessels to hand-deliver to their destinations. Snorkeling off the beach. You then head back on board for lunch.
Champion Islet and Punta Cormorant. Following lunch and a siesta, you take the pangas and glass-bottom boat to explore the underwater wonders around Champion Islet, an extinct shield volcano, regarded as one of the best snorkeling spots in the archipelago. From there, it’s on to Punta Cormorant, beginning with a wet landing on the olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish-water lagoon where bird species such as greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers, and others gather. You continue the walk over to a white-sand beach, where sea turtles emerge from the sea at night to nest (from December to May). Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
This morning, you disembark at Baltra Island and transfer to the airport for your return flight to Quito. Overnight in Quito. (B).
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
|Horizon Deck Explorer Cabin||$5,239||$4,309||n/a|
|Horizon Deck Explorer Family Cabin||n/a||$5,859||$4,029|
|Horizon Deck Voyager Cabin||$5,249||n/a||n/a|
|Expedition Deck Explorer Cabin||$5,419||$4,469||n/a|
|Panorama Deck Explorer Cabin||$5,549||$4,579||n/a|
|Panorama Deck Darwin Suite||$6,169||$5,119||$5,059|
- The above prices are valid until December 23, 2018.
- Triple rates are based on one child under 12 sharing a cabin with two adults paying full fare.
- There is a high season (Dec 24, 2018-Jan 03, 2019) surcharge of $167 per adult and $123 per child.
Every other Tuesday departures throughout the year.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Private airport/hotel transfers on the first and last day of the tour, and shared transfers out/in from select hotels in Quito and in/out in the Galapagos islands on the date of the cruise.
- Accommodations on board the M/V Santa Cruz II.
- All meals scheduled on board and others as indicated on the itinerary.
- Daily excursions to the islands conducted by English-speaking naturalist guides.
- Evening briefings and lectures.
- Use of snorkeling equipment.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic airfare ($500).
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
- Transit control card ($20).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Gratuities to ship crew and guides.
- Bar, gifts, and personal items.
- Travel insurance.
We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare and travel insurance, and to make these arrangements for you.
Group Private: All services included in this tour are operated on a group basis except for the airport transfers in and out of Quito on the first and last day of the tour.
Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level.
IGTOA’S Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund: South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association). In support of IGTOA’s Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, we contribute $20 for each passenger that we send to the Galapagos Islands. You’ll travel knowing that you support the lasting protection of Galapagos Islands.
Sixty percent of the funding of this program goes directly to the Charles Darwin Foundation for science, conservation, and education. Their work, carried out through the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park, is vital to the preservation of the islands. You can visit their web site to learn more www.darwinfoundation.org. The remainder goes toward IGTOA’s mission of creating a model of responsible and sustainable tourism.
Passport/Visa: U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Ecuadorian embassy in their country before traveling.
Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.
To Book This Trip: Call or email us to confirm the availability of a cabin on this ship for your desired dates of travel. The non-refundable deposits for single, double, and triple passengers are $1,000, $1,100, and $1,100 per person, plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you).