Cruising the Galapagos: Our Itinerary

| January 2, 2011 | 4 Comments
This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Exploring the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are famous for a variety of unusual animals, from marine iguanas to blue-footed boobies, and lava lizards. Because the Galapagos Archipelago lies isolated 600 miles off the coast of South America, its late discovery by humans, along with a historical lack of predators has set the stage for the greatest showcase for evolution to be witnessed anywhere in the world. And for the average tourist, you’ll get closer to the wildlife here than you would anywhere else.

The islands of the Galapagos are amazingly maintained. The laws regarding tourism are strict, eg ships may enter harbours only if they replace an outgoing vessel of the same passenger capacity and no more than 160,000 visitors may come to the islands per year. This all contributed to the feeling, when we visited each island, that we were pretty much alone in our small party of 16.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Itinerary

Length of cruise. The most common cruise lengths are seven nights/eight days (six full days at sea). Some ships offer a three night/four day tour or a four night/five day tour. We felt that the seven night cruise was prefferable, as it gave us the time to experience a wide range of things the islands have to offer.

Top sites. Every tourist and guide has their favourites—but ideally your itinerary should take you to at least one of the following: Bartolome, Punta Espinosa and Punta Suarez, which are considered to be the three top sites by many local guides.

Snorkeling. The Galapagos Marine Reserve was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in November 2001, because it contains a rich and diverse marine life. Make sure your cruise will provide you with as much snorkeling as possible—if that’s what you’d like!


galapagos itinerary gap adventures Cruising the Galapagos: Our Itinerary
Our week-long itinerary.

Our Itinerary

December 19: Baltra/Santa Cruz. Guayaquil to Baltra. Transfer to Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz). Afternoon to Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, scientists work constantly on research and projects for conservation of the Galapagos terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The Charles Darwin Research Station, established in 1964, has a Natural History Interpretation Centre and also carries out educational projects in support of conservation of the Galápagos Islands. Overnight to Chinese Hat.

December 20: Chinese Hat/Bartolome. Wet landing at Chinese Hat. The island is notable for its Galapagos penguins and here you may have a chance to see some mating eagle rays flopping in the water. There’s quite a large islands sea lion community, as well. Afternoon to Bartolome. Dry landing at Bartolome. One of the most spectacular views of the Archipelago—a must for anyone interested in geology. Penguins are common in the bay area, which is also a perfect place for snorkeling.

December 21: Santa Cruz/North Seymour. Wet landing at Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz). The sand at Las Bachas is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white and soft, and a favorite site for nesting sea turtles. Sally Lightfoot crabs are abundant on the lava rocks along the water’s edge. The brackish lagoons here are notable for abundant flamingoes, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black necked stilts and whimbrels. Refuel at Baltra. Dry landing at North Seymour, an island that is generally flat and strewn with boulders. Good nesting sites host one of the largest populations of frigate birds, with their magnificent red membranes. Blue-footed boobies perform courtship rituals  in the more open areas, and swallow-tailed gulls perch on the cliff edges. Despite the tremendous surf that can pound the outer shore, sea lions haul out onto the beach and can be found together with marine iguanas. Watch the beach for body-surfing sea lions.

December 22: South Plaza/Santa Fe. Dry landing at South Plaza. Home of land iguanas, sea lions, tropical birds, split trail seagulls and marine iguanas. Afternoon to Santa Fe Island. Wet landing at Santa Fe. Santa Fe, also called Barrington, is characterized by the presence of the largest species of the giant opuntia cactus. Animal species include the Santa Fe land iguana and the hard-to-spot Galapagos rice rat.

December 23: San Cristobal/Isla Lobos. Dry landing at San Cristobal. Morning visit at Interpretation Centre. Afternoon dry landing at Isla Lobos, a peaceful small Island separated by a channel from San Cristobal Island—a great place for snorkeling. Overnight to Espanola.

December 24: Espanola. Wet landing at Gardner Bay, home to a Coral white-sand beach with sea lions and mockingbirds. A good place for swimming and snorkeling, a beautiful beach is complemented by inviting turquoise waters. Home to Albatross. Afternoon to Punta Suarez . On this island, lava rocks dot the trails, along with nests of blue-footed boobies and Nazca-masked boobies. Here we’ll visit colonies of marine iguanas (endemic to the Island), waved albatrosses and a geologic blow hole carved out of the lava rock. Sea lions, Galapagos doves and three species of Darwin’s finches may be spotted here. The nearby small island of Champion offers great snorkelling with sea lions. Evening to Floreana.

December 25: Floreana. Wet landing at Point Cormorant (Floreana). Point Cormorant is home to an olive-crystal beach, a secluded lagoon sometimes inhabited by flamingos and a white-sand beach where sea turtles nest. Afternoon to Post Office Bay. Here, we’ll visit the famous barrel, a do-it-yourself postal service set up by 18th century whalers. Evening to Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz).

December 26: Santa Cruz. Dry landing at Puerto Ayora. Visit to Rancho Primicias. Just one of many spots in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island where you can observe free-ranging giant tortoises in their natural habitat.

Over the coming weeks, as we explore each part of the itinerary in greater detail, we’ll return to this page in order to link up the aforementioned days.

Disclosure: At Two Go Round-The-World, we value the conversation that exists between us and our readers—and the trust on which that relationship is based. Here we’re committed to creating an environment informed by that trust. In the interests of full disclosure, we travelled with Gap Adventures, with whom Daniel works. That being said, his opinions should not be construed as representing those of his employer. For more information on disclosures and relationships, please check our ‘About Us‘ page.


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About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. His latest book, The Physics of Flocking, gathers his favourite writing featured over the past two years on Two Go Round-The-World in columns like 'Looking Back' and 'The Whole Picture'—along with new reflections.

Comments (4)

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  1. You know, we weren’t planning to include Galapagos on our RTW trip due to the cost, but after reading posts about it, including yours – gotta say what we’re reconsidering it.

  2. Kieron says:

    Very jealous, sounds fantastic!

  3. Mike says:

    Sounds incredible. The Galapagos Islands are one of my dream destinations. Can’t wait to read the updates!

  4. Nomadic Matt says:

    i’m doing this tour in march!!!

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