Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise

Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise

Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise

Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise

Travel information 7 days MS Santa Cruz II
Departures
33 departures between Dec 2022 and Mar 2024
Price from
5444 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Join us on a journey of ecological discovery as we set out from Quito, Ecuador, to experience the natural wonders of the incomparable Galápagos Islands.    

Beautiful Quito and volcano adventure 

Begin your adventure with two nights at a hotel in Quito, one of South America’s most charming capitals. This World Heritage city of graceful Spanish-era architecture is packed with cosy restaurants and small artisanal shops. From here we’ll journey to an active volcano and go on a nature walk in stunning surroundings, stopping to pay a visit to a vibrant traditional open-air market.  

Darwin’s islands of evolution 

The Galápagos Islands are famed for their association with the naturalist Charles Darwin. Our northern itinerary calls at Santiago, the adjacent islands of Rábida and Bartolomé, isolated Genovesa, and the centrally-located Santa Cruz. The landings take in a wide array of ecosystems, picturesque landscapes, and give great opportunities for seeing wildlife such as sea lions, turtles, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, flamingos, Nazca and Red-footed Boobies, and iconic Darwin’s Finches. 

Your expedition ship – MS Santa Cruz II 

MS Santa Cruz II’s crafted itineraries give you some of the best island coverage and wildlife viewing opportunities in the Galápagos. Many excursions take place at exclusive visitor sites, meaning we’ll often have entire areas to ourselves. Having multiple naturalist guides aboard Santa Cruz II also means you’ll be able to choose from a wider range of activities each day.  

Your ship is also one of the few vessels operating in Galápagos that comes equipped with a full range of exploration tools, including dinghies, kayaks, snorkelling gear and paddleboards. There's even a glass-bottom boat. Of course, safety and sustainability are paramount throughout your cruise, and there’s a 24-hour Medical Officer onboard at all times.  

Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise Galápagos Islands - Nature and Wildlife Expedition Cruise
  • Day 1
    Quito, Ecuador

    Arrive in the city of eternal spring, get your bearings and relax after your journey.

    Your journey of discovery begins on the equator in the lush Andean foothills. At 9,350 ft, Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world, and its main draw is the exquisite Old Town which was founded on an ancient Inca settlement. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s packed with well-preserved colonial architecture, including colourful plazas, magnificent churches and handsome monuments. 

    If you have enough time in the evening, make sure to visit the Calle La Ronda, an ancient pedestrianised street with links to the poets and artists who’ve lived here. It’s lined with shops and cafes, and there are many handicrafts available to buy.

    Pre-Programme 

    Arrive in Quito a few days early and join us on a 4-day tour to Cloudforest Lodge in the Mashpi Reserve. The area is part of the Ecuadorian Choco rainforest, one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots. This optional extension is also available as a Post-Programme. 

    Day 1
    Quito, Ecuador

    Arrive in the city of eternal spring, get your bearings and relax after your journey.

  • Day 2
    Quito, Ecuador

    Get a taste for Ecuador with a visit to a traditional market and a trip to Cotopaxi Volcano.

    Today you’ll visit Cotopaxi National Park, home to one of South America's most active volcanoes. But first, you’ll stop at the photogenic Sangolqui open-air market, where you can browse colourful stalls with unique handicrafts, and sample different local specialities.  

    Afterwards, we’ll walk to Limpiopungo Lagoon, tucked in a high valley within the Cotopaxi National Park at 12,800 ft above sea level. Spot herds of llamas on the slopes and keep your eyes open for birds such as the Andean Gull, several species of hummingbird and – with luck – the majestic Andean Condor. You’ll enjoy a tasty lunch prepared by some of the region’s best chefs before returning to your hotel in the late afternoon.  

    Day 2
    Quito, Ecuador

    Get a taste for Ecuador with a visit to a traditional market and a trip to Cotopaxi Volcano.

  • Day 3
    Galápagos, Ecuador

    Fly away from the mainland to the Galápagos Islands and have your first wildlife encounter.

    After breakfast, a short flight will take you to Baltra Island in the spectacular Galápagos archipelago. A transfer brings you straight to the port where your comfortable expedition ship MS Santa Cruz II awaits. 

    In the afternoon, we’ll land at Las Bachas beach located on the northern shore of Santa Cruz Island. This glorious white beach with turquoise waters is a great first place to spot iconic Galápagos wildlife like flamingos and sea turtles, and it’s named after some sunken barges left after WWII. Enjoy some swimming or snorkelling before heading back to the ship for a welcome cocktail and an expedition briefing about the following day.  

    Day 3
    Galápagos, Ecuador

    Fly away from the mainland to the Galápagos Islands and have your first wildlife encounter.

  • Day 4
    Santiago Island, Galápagos

    Explore Santiago Island and see its wild residents and impressive rock formations.

    Today you’ll explore Santiago Island’s pristine beaches and picturesque landscapes. Take in the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove on the northwest coast, home to a large number of marine birds and sea lions. Immerse yourself in the scenery through a range of water activities and marvel at fantastic rock formations such as ‘Elephant Rock’ and ‘The Bishop.’  

    In the afternoon, we’ll head to Puerto Egas, one of the best visitor sites on the island. You’ll have the opportunity to see a colony of fur-sea lions and exotic birdlife on an excursion. Or you could just swim or snorkel along the rocky shorelines, typically, in the company of marine turtles.  

    Day 4
    Santiago Island, Galápagos

    Explore Santiago Island and see its wild residents and impressive rock formations.

  • Day 5
    Rábida Island and Bartolomé Island, Galápagos

    See some amazing wildlife and beautiful landscapes, and try out the glass bottom boat.

    Your day starts on tiny Rábida Island, located off the southern shore of Santiago. You can go for a thrilling dinghy ride along the coast or join an excursion exploring the island’s mesmerising, red-coloured beach. Soak up the sights and sounds made by a colony of sea lions, and spot marine iguanas, mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers and several species of Darwin’s Finches.  

    In the afternoon, we’ll sail to the golden sands of Bartolomé Island, dominated by the imposing Pinnacle Rock. You can swim or snorkel off the beach here or discover colourful marine life from our glass-bottom boat, and spot Galápagos Penguins on the shore. Hike up to the summit of the island for fantastic views.

    Day 5
    Rábida Island and Bartolomé Island, Galápagos

    See some amazing wildlife and beautiful landscapes, and try out the glass bottom boat.

  • Day 6
    Genovesa Island, Galápagos

    Start the morning with a climb to really see this paradise for birdlife.

    Today you’ll explore Genovesa Island. The morning starts with a steep but short climb – only 90 ft – up a flight of steps to reach a flat and rocky plateau. Once there, you can walk along comfortably and check out large colonies of Nazca Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds and Storm Petrels. Afterwards or instead, hop into a kayak for some aquatic adventuring! 

    In the afternoon, we’ll land at the beautiful beach that fringes Darwin Bay for a swim. Following this refreshing dip, take a stroll and observe hundreds of island birds, or alternatively just take it easy on the beach, swimming, snorkelling or kayaking.  

    Day 6
    Genovesa Island, Galápagos

    Start the morning with a climb to really see this paradise for birdlife.

  • Day 7
    Santa Cruz & Baltra Island, Ecuador

    It’s the end of your cruise, so enjoy a slow goodbye at the giant tortoise sanctuary.

    We start our last morning on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. After breakfast, your luggage will be taken to the airport while you visit the Tortoise Reserve. A dry landing at a passenger’s wharf and a bus ride to the loftier region of the island will provide the last highlight of the cruise: giant tortoises in the wild.  

    The windward slopes of the island are home to two species of giant tortoise. These lush highlands include dense forests of Galápagos daisies, orchids and bromeliads, and several endemic land birds. After this visit we’ll transfer directly to Baltra Airport. Farewell to Galápagos. 

    Post-Programmes   

    Explore more of Ecuador with one of our optional Post-Programmes. Join us as we travel to Napo River, in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Fly to Coca and spend three nights in a lodge surrounded by the beautiful rainforest and observe and learn about the flora and fauna on selected activities.    

    Or instead, travel from Quito to the Mashpi Reserve, a unique habitat and ecosystem. Here you’ll enjoy a 3-night stay in luxurious Cloudforest Lodge and discover this breathtaking area (also available as a Pre-Programme).   

    Both post-programmes have two nights in Quito included. 

    Day 7
    Santa Cruz & Baltra Island, Ecuador

    It’s the end of your cruise, so enjoy a slow goodbye at the giant tortoise sanctuary.

Departures

2022

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
December:
31.

2023

January:
14.
28.
February:
11.
25.
March:
11.
25.
April:
8.
22.
May:
6.
20.
June:
3.
17.
July:
1.
15.
29.
August:
12.
26.
September:
9.
23.
October:
7.
21.
November:
4.
18.
December:
2.
16.
30.

2024

  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
January:
13.
27.
February:
10.
24.
March:
9.
23.

Current offers on this cruise:

  • Solo Traveller Offer

    Solo travellers who prefer their own space while still travelling with others, have the opportunity to save on select voyages departing in 2022. For a limited time, pay no single supplement if you book one of the below expedition cruises.
    This offer applies to a selection of departures that you can find on each voyage page.
    See Special Offer

What's included

Included in your voyage

Hotel   

  • Two hotel nights in Quito before the expedition cruise, including breakfast and dinner on day 2. 

Flights 

  • Return flights in economy class between Quito andBaltra, andBaltra and Guayaquil  

Transfers   

  • Transfer from the hotel inQuito to QuitoAirport before the expedition cruise, transfers between Baltra Airport and ship 

Excursion 

  • Full day Nature Tour to Cotopaxi National Park, including lunch

Extras 

  • Galápagos Islands National Park admission fee 
  • Transit Control Card for Galápagos Islands
  • Access to airport lounge at Guayaquil or QuitoAirport upon return from Galápagos Islands 

Expedition Cruise   

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice  
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) 
  • Complimentary tea and coffee 
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board  
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who guide activities and provide educational information on board and ashore  
  • Welcome and farewell cocktails 

Onboard Activities  

  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has a library, microscopes and samples 
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research 
  • Professional onboard photographer gives tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos 
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs and gym  

Landing Activities  

  • Landings, hikes, coastal exploration, and activities including kayaking, snorkeling, and our glass-bottom boat   
  • Complimentary wetsuit rental

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights  
  • Travel insurance 
  • Luggage handling 

Notes

2 people kayaking in front of the ship Santa Cruz II.
Your ship

MS Santa Cruz II

Year built 2002
Year of refurbishment 2021
Shipyard ASENAV Shipyard (CHL)
Passenger capacity 90
Gross tonnage 2664 T
Length 71,8 m
Beam 13,4 m
Speed 10.5 knots
2 people kayaking in front of the ship Santa Cruz II.

When you are exploring the Galápagos islands with us onboard the MS Santa Cruz II, you will enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in high quality surroundings. The small size - with a guest capacity of maximum of 90 allows for a cozy yet classy environment. You´ll easily feel at home on board.

Read more about MS Santa Cruz II

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