Our journey begins with giants, of the tortoise kind. After landing at Baltra airport, we will soon be among these lumbering creatures in their natural, highland habitat. The next day takes us to the beautiful coast of Santiago Island, home to sleepy fur seals and where there’s a chance to snorkel alongside marine iguanas, before an afternoon visit to the sandy beach of Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat Islet). Overnight we sail up to “Bird Island”, Genovesa, where we spend the entire day enjoying its remote colonies of nesting birds, including the rare red-footed booby, and explore its cliffs, shoreline, and beaches. Returning to the central islands, Santa Fe offers glimpses of the islands’ top avian predator, the Galapagos hawk, while in the afternoon, we can hope to observe sea lions, rays, and sharks in the waters off Punta Carrion. From tortoises to boobies, hawks to sea lions, our northern itinerary makes for a truly memorable 5 days in the Galapagos.
Northern Galapagos Highlights
Northern Galapagos Wildlife
Northern Galapagos Itinerary Map
Day by Day
Day 1 - Santa Cruz Island
Baltra Airport and Santa Cruz Island
After landing at Baltra Airport, we drive to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. A 30-minute bus ride takes us up to the fascinating, more humid Highlands of the island where we’ll learn about its unique ecosystems and biodiversity. Lunch is served at a local restaurant.
Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
After lunch, we drive to a nearby reserve that is one of the best places in the archipelago to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The tortoises are easy to spot, lumbering around, munching on grass and leaves and wallowing in small pools. There are several lava tunnels to explore in the reserve, too. A short bus ride takes us down to Puerto Ayora to board Yacht Isabela II.
Day 2 - Santiago Island & Chinese Hat Islet
Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)
Following a wet landing on a black, sandy beach, our trail takes us to enjoy close-up encounters with recently-reintroduced land iguanas, plus land and marine birds amid a landscape of tuff-stone layers, craggy rocks, and lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds. We can also observe a colony of fur seals, usually dozing in the shade of some rocks.
Chinese Hat Islet
This islet, formed only fairly recently, makes a beautiful afternoon visit as we explore the wildlife along its 1,312 ft long (400 m long) trail, which begins at a crescent-shaped, white sandy beach. The cove offers excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities amid white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos penguins.
Day 3 - Genovesa Island
Prince Philip’s Steps (Genovesa Island)
The day kicks off with a panga ride along the cliffs of “Bird Island”, as Genovesa is affectionately nicknamed, followed by a landing at a steep staircase which connects us with a flat plateau. From here the trail winds its way through large colonies of Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds, and storm petrels. With luck, we’ll be able to spot the short-eared owl. Those who do not wish to disembark can enjoy a longer panga (inflatable dinghy) ride along the cliffs, weather conditions permitting. Snorkeling and kayaking activities are available.
Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island)
We land after lunch at the beautiful white beach of Darwin Bay. Here we walk amid literally hundreds of birds, most of which are frigatebirds, red-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as gulls, herons, finches, and mockingbirds.
Day 4 - Santa Fe & Santa Cruz Islands
Santa Fe Island
We take the dinghy over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by colonies of sea lions. Galapagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The Santa Fe land iguana may be spotted during our exploration. Following the walk, we can snorkel and swim along a natural wave barrier or ride the glass-bottom boat.
In the afternoon, we make our way around to the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island, to the eastern mouth of the Itabaca Channel. Boarding our dinghies, we explore this rocky coastline’s interesting formations, plant life, and wildlife, before enjoying the marine world, either with a mask and snorkel, or aboard our glass-bottom boat. If we are lucky, we will come across playful sea lions, dozens of reef fish — different types of puffers, surgeonfish, angelfish, groupers, hogfish, hawkfish, parrotfish, blenny, etc. — and hopefully catch a glimpse of white-tipped reef sharks.
Day 5 - Baltra Island
Our journey ends at Baltra Island where we transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.
Monday to Friday
Prices Per Person
- All meals
- Bilingual naturalist guides
- Conferences and lectures
- Visits to the islands mentioned in the itinerary
- Transportation to/from the airport in Galapagos on cruise arrival and departure dates
- Snorkeling equipment
- Internet (via Computer Station, low-bandwidth)
- Onboard Medical Assistance
- Luggage handling
- Airline tickets to/from Galapagos*
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee (US$100 USD per person)**
- Transit Control Card for Galapagos (US$20 USD per person)**
- Wetsuits (available for rent)
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages*** (you can also ask your destination expert to include a drinks package in your quote. Ask us about all the available options we have for you!)
- Gifts and additional items
- Fuel surcharge
- Wi-Fi internet (Intermittent and low-bandwidth. Available for an additional fee)
*Upon request, airline tickets can be included. Metropolitan Touring guarantees availability of these flights. Airfare is subject to change.
**Upon request, we can include the Galapagos National Park and INGALA Transit Control Card fees (US$100 and US$20 respectively and subject to change without prior notice). However, due to logistical reasons, these fees can only be included when guests travel on the operational departure date and not before.
***Guests may bring their own wine or spirits; however, there is a corkage fee of $25 USD + tax.
- During peak season dates, Metropolitan Touring reserves the right to prioritize reservations taking into account factors such as payment and confirmation dates. A peak season supplement also applies.
- We reserve the right to limit the number of twin/double cabins for single use dependent on availability.
- Twin/Double Cabins for single use incur a 100% surcharge of the price per person.
- Regardless the number of cabins occupied, the ship’s authorized maximum operating capacity cannot exceed 40 guests.
- Galapagos Itineraries are subject to change due to weather, logistical, or operational reasons.
- All rates are subject to change. If fuel prices increase, additional charges may apply.
- All credit card payments are exempt from additional fees.