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 7 Day Santa Cruz II Cruise – Eastern Galapagos Islands
Venture to Quito and the eastern 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 all three species of boobies at Punta Pitt, sea lions on Santa Fe and Espaniola Islands, and giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz Island. You will also view the famous blowhole lava formation on Punta Suarez. Opportunities for snorkeling, sea kayaking, and glass bottom boating are also available.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 9 nights (3 nights in Quito and 6 nights aboard the Santa Cruz II), and 21 meals (9 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 6 dinners).
Best Time to Go: Year-Round.
Places Visited: Quito, the Galapagos Islands, Baltra Island, Bartolomé Island, Españiola Island, Mosquera Islet, North Seymour Island, San Cristóbal Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Fe Island, and South Plaza Island.
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.
Mosquera. After lunch and your introductory briefing on board, Santa Cruz II will relocate only four nautical miles from Baltra, next to Mosquera Islet, a small volcanic uplift between Baltra and North Seymour. The island is a long and narrow sand bank surrounded by lava reefs. Our groups will approach the island from its western shore, a long shallow reef, the perfect rookery for young sea lions. After a wet landing, our guides will lead you past the sea lion colonies, where you will learn more about the fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Galapagos. The walk is easy as it is restricted to a few hundred meters of flat sandy dunes. This will also be a great opportunity for an introduction to snorkeling. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, you disembark (dry landing) at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the island’s capital, and drive 40 minutes to the island’s southern shore. At Cerro Colorado, you visit the breeding centre for highly endangered giant tortoises in the midst of a fantastic deciduous forest, home to dozens of bird species, including the San Cristobal mockingbird, and the San Cristobal lava lizard, both island endemics.
Punta Pitt. In the afternoon, you disembark (wet landing) on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, an eroded tuff cone, whose trail provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together. You can walk or enjoy a panga ride along the coast. Opportunity for snorkeling, swimming and kayaking. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Santa Fe. After breakfast, you take the dinghy over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by many sea lions (wet landing). The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk amid the giant prickly pear cactus. Snorkeling, swimming from the panga, and riding in the glass bottom boat (for non-snorkelers) rounds off this rewarding experience. There is also an opportunity for kayaking.
South Plaza Island. Following lunch and a rest, you disembark (dry landing) in this channel, whose turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Beyond, a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline, one finds sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide, playing with the thermals. 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)
Punta Suarez (dry landing). An exciting walk awaits at this site, where you enjoy its unique sea bird colonies, including waved albatrosses (April-December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls as well as a view of the Galapagos’ famous “blow-hole”. Also, look out for red-green-black marine iguanas. Back on board for lunch.
Gardner Bay-Osborn Islet (wet landing). In the afternoon, the picture-postcard white coral beach of Gardner Bay and the nearby islet of Osborn provides a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches as you relax. You can expect great snorkeling in this area. Opportunity for swimming and kayaking as well. Overnight aboard the ship. (B,L,D)
Eden Islet. After breakfast, a panga ride takes you to Eden Islet, a small islet located off the coast of Santa Cruz, where you can observe blue-footed boobies diving into the water, reef sharks and frigates. There’s a chance to snorkel and, if weather condition permits, ride in the glass-bottom boat and kayak.
North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a volcanic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stands just above the landing (dry landing), usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom. This is a great introductory site to the islands and their wildlife, full of bird colonies of blue-footed boobies, two species of frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. 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||$7,419||$6,209||n/a|
|Horizon Deck Explorer Family Cabin||n/a||$8,529||$5,809|
|Horizon Deck Voyager Cabin||$7,439||n/a||n/a|
|Expedition Deck Explorer Cabin||$7,679||$6,429||n/a|
|Panorama Deck Explorer Cabin||$7,879||$6,609||n/a|
|Panorama Deck Darwin Suite||$8,809||$7,419||$7,399|
- 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 Wednesday 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 $1,250, $1,350, and $1,350 per person, plus the cost of the airfare (if we arrange it for you).