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The ultimate ‘Best of Both Worlds’ is back to back dive and naturalist cruises. We are not going to list all 50+ naturalist cruises, but we would be happy to present you with options that work for you.
Your cruises need to blend together logistically. That means ideally, you would be able to disembark from one and embark the same day from the same port on the other. If you find your ideal naturalist cruise, but logistically it doesn’t match, we will let you know your options. It may be as simple as disembark on your final full day, spend the night in Santa Cruz and then embark the next morning. We are logistical pros, so you’ll be in good hands.
We always recommend the western itineraries. You get the land-before-time vistas and wildlife not so common in the eastern islands. A western itinerary includes Isla Fernandina and sites on the western side of Isabela. You could even get lucky and watch a volcano erupt! Whales and orcas visit the Bolivar Channel, the body of water that separates Fernandina and Isabela. Because of our preference, the example we have included is an affordable option with a short 5 Day / 4 Night western itinerary aboard the Archipel Catamaran.
GPS Airport, Galapagos
|21 -25 July
|29 Sept – 3 Oct
Individual Payment Terms:
Individual Cancellation Terms:
The Archipel 5 Day / 4 Night western Naturalist Itinerary can work with liveaboards as follow:
Aggressor: Works perfectly as a pre or post cruise itinerary. Aggressor also departs on Thursday. Disembark Aggressor at Baltra Airport. Join group for Archival at Baltra. Or vice versa.
Aqua: This works as a pre-cruise extension only. Archipel disembarks on Monday You would need to overnight in Santa Cruz and then embark Aqua on Tuesday.
Calipso: This works as a post cruise extension only. You would need to disembark Calipso after your final full day, overnight in Santa Cruz and join Archipel the next day.
This does not work easily with the Humboldt Explorer, Galapagos Master, Galapagos Sky or the Tiburon Explorer.
As this departure departs from Baltra and has an afternoon tour in Santa Cruz, you could join them for the afternoon and be taken to the yacht afterwards.
PM – Fausto Llerena Breeding Centre (Santa Cruz)
At this site, you can observe tortoises that come from various islands of the archipelago. They comply with the captive breeding programme and then return to repopulate the areas where their population has been affected. The land iguanas of Santa Cruz, Isabela and North Seymour are also in a captive breeding programme, as the populations in these areas suffered from feral dogs.
One of the main attractions is the famous embalmed Lonesome George. Estimated to have died between 93 and 109 years of age, it is recognised as the last of its kind and a symbol of the efforts invested to conserve endangered species. The captive tortoises are used to the presence of visitors, so it’s a great place to take photos with them.
AM: Moreno Point (Isabela)
Moreno Point is located on the north coast of Isabela Island, between the volcanos Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. The trail runs along a solidified pahoehoe lava flow into a complex of coastal lagoons. Its main attractions are several species of birds, which are found around the lakes and mangroves.
Fresh, promising greens of pioneer vegetation contrast strongly with the dead, pitch-black lava flow that once reached the ocean at Moreno Point.
Activities: Panga ride, hiking, snorkeling
PM: Urbina Bay
On Isabela nature seems to hunt for the largest. The exceptional coastal plain at Urbina Bay attracts prehistoric giants in the wild, such as the largest land iguanas.
Activities: Hiking, snorkeling
AM: Espinoza Point (Fernandina)
Fernandina is the third-largest island in the archipelago and has a single visitor site: Punta Espinoza, located at the northeastern tip of the island. Marine iguanas conglomerate in larger groups than on any other island. They bask around in the sand, swim near the shore and sometimes block the way at the landing dock.
Among the unique species found here, is the flightless cormorant. This bird had to adjust its way of survival and perfect its skills of finding food in the ocean. Their wings, tails and feet progressively adapted for swimming over a millennia. To see these birds is to witness evolution.
Activities: Hiking, snorkeling
PM: Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela)
Whilst having lunch we will cross the Bolivar Channel to Vicente Roca Point, just at the mouth of Isabela’s seahorse-shape. While entering a dark cave below a spectacular arch, roaring echoes of the waves will accompany you. Just around the corner the collapsed amphitheatre of Volcan Ecuador offers another impressive view. The calmer waters of the coves are well-protected against the ocean swell and are a fairly cold, but great place for snorkeling amongst turtles, penguins, puffer fish and maybe even seahorses!
Activities: Panga Ride, snorkeling
AM: Puerto Egas (Santiago)
Egas Port is a black beach located on the west side of Santiago Island. Volcanic tuff deposits have favoured the formation of this special black sand beach and this is the main attraction of the Island. This site is called Puerto Egas because there was an attempt of Hector Egas to start the exploitation of salt, which failed. After all, the price of salt on the continent was very cheap and did not justify its exploitation in the Galapagos. The project was abandoned and they left their infrastructure.
Activities: Hiking, snorkeling
Rabida Island is unique because of the red colour of the rocks and sand. The volcanic material in this island is very porous and external factors such as rain, saltwater and sea breeze have acted as an oxidizing agent. A short walk along a trail will lead you to a coastal lagoon behind the beach that allows for the observation of land birds as finches, doves, yellow warblers and mockingbirds. There is also a colony of flamingos at the lagoon.
Activities: Hiking, kayaking, panga ride, snorkeling
AM: Black Turtle Cove
Black Turtle Cove: At 08:30 AM your last adventure takes place en route to the airport, exploring Black Turtle Cove from the dinghy. The quiet lagoon and surrounding mangrove forest enable the observation of sea turtles, sharks, rays, pelicans and more. The visit ends at 09:00 with the disembarking at Baltra airport.
Activities: Panga Ride