10 days

Classic Galapagos - Central Southern Islands

Classic Galapagos - Central Southern Islands

Post Office Bay on Floreana

The tortoises of Charles Darwin Research Station

Puerto Ayora

Frigatebird spotting

Sombrero Chino

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial Quito

Trip rating
  • The Galapagos Islands were once home to Lonesome George, the only surviving giant Pinta tortoise. Unfortunately George, who was known as the rarest creature in the world, died in June 2012. Though there are no more Pintas, Galapagos giant tortoises can be found all over the islands. 

    Why we love it

    • As you board your vessel, M.C Queen Beatriz, and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, you will encounter nature at its finest.
    • Explore the islands from on deck, on foot and in the water, no doubt with your eyes open for your next unique sight.
    • You'll encounter giant Galapagos tortoises, blue-footed and masked boobies, pelicans and frigate birds, as well as land and marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals and perhaps dolphins, whales and sea turtles.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - (Sat) Arrive in Quito and transfer to hotel.

    • On arrival at Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure.
    • There is a pre-departure meeting in the evening at 6pm when you meet others travelling on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place.
    • If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
    • Note: Quito is located at 2850 metres above sea level. At this altitude you may experience some of the milder effects of altitude sickness, such as dizziness, insomnia and a shortness of breath. If so, we recommend you avoid any strenuous activity.

    Day 2 - Morning flight to Baltra, transfer to the M.C Queen Beatriz, Santa Cruz Highlands

    • This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Please note the pick-up time will usually be as early as 4am as the airport is a one hour drive and you must allow for delays and check-in times. (Your tour leader will confirm this time with you at the pre-departure meeting on Day 1.
    • On arrival at Baltra Airport in the Galapagos you must pay the US$110 arrival tax for entry to Galapagos National Park (which includes the US$10 transit fee). This is best done using cash, as using credit cards can be a time consuming process.
    • You will be met in the arrival hall of the airport by a National Park Guide, and transferred to the catamaran ‘M.C Queen Beatriz’. Lunch will be served on the boat.
    • This afternoon you will visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos, here you'll visit the highlands.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 3 - North Seymour and Mosquera Island.

    • Today you will take a morning excursion to North Seymour. The trail on North Seymour crosses the inland through the island and then explores the rocky coast. Along the way the trail passes colonies of blue footed boobies and frigate birds.
    • The magnificent frigate bird, a large black bird with a long wingspan, and a hooked beak, is extremely fast and has excellent vision. Frigate birds are known for the large red pouch on their necks. During mating season the males throw back their heads, inflate the pouch (sometimes to the size of a soccer ball), and shake trying to capture the attention of female frigates.
    • Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. Sharing the same nesting area on North Seymour, blue-footed boobies nest on the ground making their nests from the twigs of the palo santos trees, while the frigate birds nests just above them in the saltbushes.
    • After lunch you will visit the small sandy island of Mosquera, it’s a relaxing, picturesque stop. Along the rocks and in the tide pool, sally lightfoot crabs (red lava crabs) scamper back and forth, skipping across small pools of water in search of food. These crabs with their bright red shell tops and blue under shells are stunning against the black lava.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4 - Visit Black Turtle Cove and Cerro Dragón.

    • Today you will take a morning excursion to Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) - a red mangrove wetland on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. You will paddle among the cove’s peaceful waters, for your first taste of the underwater riches of this region – it’s a wonderful place to see green turtle and is a nursery for rays and Galapagos sharks.
    • There is also abundant birdlife, such as the yellow warbler and lava heron. This is also a breeding area for turtles, so it is not uncommon to see them mating. Go for a walk on Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) this afternoon, this is one of the best places to see land iguanas in the islands. You’ll walk along the trail from the beach, and along with the land iguanas, other sightings include marine iguanas, flamingos and Sally Lightfoot crabs.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Rabida Island and Sombrero Chino.

    • Rabida, also known as ‘Jervis’ is a tiny island sitting roughly five kilometres south of Santiago and is one of the most striking of the archipelago. Introduced species were eradicated in 1971, meaning that the indigenous wildlife has now been returned to a state of splendid isolation. Additionally, volcanic activity here has produced vivid, fantastical colours, not least the beaches of red sand and cliffs of scarlet.
    • From the shore, the trail leads through to what is one of the finest lagoons in the Galapagos for viewing flamingos. Rabida is also a wonderful place to spot nesting pelicans. Elsewhere, pintail ducks, marine iguanas and sea lions are all present. Sombrero Chino is a small islet located near the south-east coast of Santiago. It's shaped like a Chinese hat (Sombrero Chino) when seen from afar, and is geologically fascinating, with many lava tubes leading from the cone to the coast.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 6 - Punta Carrión/ Bachas Beach

    • Punta Carrion is located in north-eastern Santa Cruz. This is a shallow and protected cove, ideal for your first snorkel and swim in the Galapagos!
    • Wildlife is plentiful; keep your eyes peeled for blue-footed boobies, Galapagos herons, great blue herons and underwater swim among rays and white-tipped reef sharks.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Isabela Island, including Tintoreras, Giant Tortoise Breeding Center and the Wall of Tears.

    • Today you will wake up on the South Coast of Isabela Island, the largest of the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela was formed by five giant volcanic craters, all of which are still considered active. The island is located in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, having been formed less than 1 million years ago.
    • This southern coast of turquoise blue waters has the largest area of beaches in the Galapagos. You will visit Las Tintoreras, where from the viewing walkway you can look down into this narrow channel to see a colony of white-tipped reef sharks swimming and sleeping, and the occasional playful sea lion among them!
    • Blue-footed boobies and penguins, marine iguanas and crabs also make their home here, and the waters provide further opportunities to swim with turtles. Here you will also visit the Giant Tortoise breeding centre and the Wall of Tears, constructed from lava by prisoners of the penal colony here between 1946 and 1959 as punishment.
    • Please note there's a US$20 fee to be paid upon entering Isabela Island.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Cruise to Floreana Island, exploring Post Office Bay, Devil's Crown and Punta Cormorant.

    • The island of Floreana is a highlight of any Galapagos cruise, rich in natural wonders and wildlife. You will go ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystals, a glassy volcanic mineral, giving the beach an olive-green colour. It is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions.
    • Today is also one of your finest opportunities to see pink flamingos and other water birds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. Just offshore, the Devil’s Crown is an old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices.
    • The centre of the cone is an outstanding snorkelling spot, perhaps the most remarkable in the entire archipelago, full of sea lions and colourful fish. Floreana is also home to Post Office Bay, where 18th century whalers used a barrel as an unofficial mail drop. This custom continues to this day with visitors to the Galapagos – post one of your own, or see if there are any you could deliver back home!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9 - Charles Darwin Station/ Fly from Baltra to Quito

    • The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic centre of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. You will also observe baby tortoises and land iguanas.
    • This is your final excursion before you return to the airport in Baltra for your flight back to Quito. As you will be leaving the boat this morning, please remember that if you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them. As a guideline we recommend each passenger consider US$15 per day for the crew and US$10 per day for your guide.
    • You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on the last day of your journey.
    • Upon arrival in Quito Airport you will be transferred back to the hotel for an overnight stay.
    Breakfast

    Day 10 - End Quito

    • Your adventure will come to an end today after breakfast.
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of an expert English-speaking naturalist guide and a crew of eight onboard the Galapagos vessel.
    • Return flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands.
    • Accommodation onboard the Queen Beatriz.
    • All Zodiac and shore excursions during the voyage.
    • All meals aboard the M.C Queen Beatriz.
    • Use of snorkelling equipment, including a wetsuit, during the voyage.
    • Arrival transfer.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure tax
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Isabela Island port fee
    • Galapagos transit card and the entrance fee to Galapagos Islands National Park
    • Drinks purchased on board
    • Daily budget
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Classic Galapagos - Central Southern Islands

    Michelle - Australia, 30 Jan, 2014
    5
    Overall Rating

    Brilliant in every respect. The animals are full of life and are not bothered by us gawking at them. If you like nature above the sea and below then this is the trip for you! The chef was 5star too.

    Classic Galapagos - Central Southern Islands

    Ahmrt - United Kingdom, 16 Jan, 2014
    5
    Overall Rating

    Excellent trip i do recommend it.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSGCD
Start City: Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
End City: Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Style: Small Group

What to know

The National Park and Transit Card fee of US$110 is not included in the trip cost and must be paid in cash upon arrival at Baltra airport.

Please note there's a US$20 fee to be paid upon entering Isabela Island.

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