The white yacht that hosts passengers on the Grace Galapagos cruise navigates through an inlet in the ocean, while a sea lion perched on a rock lifts its head.
A sea lion rests its head on the white sand of a beach at the Galapagos Islands
An aerial view of Bartolome Island in the Galapagos, where guests aboard the Grace cruise will see wildlife
A bird flies into the sky above the Galapagos islands and the sea, at the end of a day on the Grace cruises
Passengers in life jackets board a small boat to travel back to the Grace yacht, after a day of visiting wildlife and exploring the Galapagos islands
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South America Galapagos Islands Cruise

Grace Galapagos Cruises

The 16-passenger Galapagos Grace was a wedding gift from Aristotle Onassis to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, and it was on board this vessel where they spent their honeymoon getaway. Cruise back in time and lay back in luxury, enjoying one of the finest Galapagos luxury cruises available in the Galapagos Islands. The Grace boasts a high crew-to-passenger ratio, spacious cabins and stylish lines. The carefully selected professional and friendly naturalists aboard are the most knowledgeable in the region, with an average of 15 years of experience guiding on the islands. Travelers comment that the service on board this ship, coupled with the true feeling of a safari experience, is unlike anything that is currently offered in Galapagos. 

Grace operates two unique 8-day Galapagos cruise itineraries, which can be combined into an all-encompassing 15-day cruise. We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Call today to inquire about a specific Galapagos Grace itinerary or to learn more about Galapagos Grace cruises.

Experience the full spectrum of Galapagos wildlife that made the islands famous and inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Follow Darwin’s Trail along a West Galapagos Islands route, or go Beyond Darwin’s Footsteps along an East Galapagos Islands route; each itinerary has a bit of it all to visit a varied selection of islands. Both itineraries begin and end in Baltra. While landing sites are different, both trips also visit Santa Cruz, with opportunities to swim, snorkel, kayak, hike and enjoy panga rides. 

Beyond Darwin’s Footsteps itinerary highlights include: Take in views of Kicker Rock. Leave (and take) a postcard from the barrel at Post Office Bay before hiking into a lava tube that leads to a swimming opportunity in a subterranean grotto. Spend a morning at the Charles Darwin Research Station to view giant tortoises and an endemic scalesia forest before free time in the port city of Puerto Ayora. Experience Floreana Island’s Peace Asylum and Devil’s Crown; San Cristobal’s Punta Pitt, Lobos Island and Kicker Rock; Santa Cruz’s Dragon Hill and stops at the islands of Santa Fe and South Plaza. Cap this Galapagos small ship cruise with a visit to Black Turtle Cove.

Following Darwin’s Trail itinerary highlights include: Be surrounded by the bustle of great frigatebirds and their puffball chicks, yellow-crowned herons and lava herons at Genovesa, known as “Bird Island.” Snorkel the nutrient-rich waters of Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island. Take in the green algae of Tagus Cove and hike around Darwin Lake for spectacular views. See the Monk and Elephant Rock tuff formations of Espumilla Beach. Spend time in the capital port town of Puerto Ayora and visit the giant tortoises and lava caves nearby. Search for the tropics-exclusive waved albatross. Immerse in Bachas Beach and Los Gemelos on Santa Cruz Island, and Elizabeth Bay and Punta Moreno on Isabela Island. End the trip with a visit to the Galapagos National Park Visitor Center to learn about the islands’ natural history, human interaction, ecosystems, flora and fauna.

Choose between two excellent 8-day itineraries, combine them for the complete 15-day tour, or consider making your own itinerary. Live like Princess Grace and charter the whole boat; at only 16 guest, she’s one of our favorites for private Galapagos yacht charters.

Read on for details about this trip, or learn more about AdventureSmith’s Galapagos cruises.



Itinerary

Beyond Darwin's Footsteps Itinerary

The 8-day, Tuesday-Tuesday, Beyond Darwin’s Footsteps Cruise begins and end in Baltra. Delve deep into the history and evolution of the Galapagos eastern and southern islands with additional stops at Santa Cruz, Floreana, Espanola, San Cristobal, Santa Fe, South Plaza, North Seymour, Bartolome and Chinese Hat.

Route map of Beyond Darwin's Footsteps Galapagos small ship cruise aboard M/V Grace, with visits to Baltra, Santa Cruz, Floreana, Espanola, San Cristobal, Santa Fe, South Plaza, North Seymour & Bartolome islands.
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Day 1
TUE - Embark Baltra to Los Gemelos, Highlands & Charles Darwin Station (Santa Cruz)

Arrive to Baltra, take a short bus ride to the Itabaca channel and immediately visit Los Gemelos. The terrestrial world of the tortoise and underworld of the lava tubes meet at Los Gemelos (the twins), two large sinkholes craters formed by collapsed lava tubes. The contrast between the marine desert coast and verdant Lost World look of the highlands is most striking here and it may rain even when the sun is shining a half an hour away at the coast. Los Gemelos are surrounded by a Scalesia forest, endemic to Galapagos and home to many endemic and native species. This is an excellent place to view some of Darwin’s famous finches along with the elusive and dazzling vermillion flycatcher.

A highlight of any trip to the archipelago is a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands, where the sparse, dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. Visit the Wild Tortoise Reserve for a chance to track and view these friendly ancient creatures in their natural setting. This extends to the adjacent pasturelands, where farmers give tortoise safe quarter in exchange for allowing paying visitors to see them.

This afternoon, board the M/Y Grace and visit Puerto Ayora, home to both the Galapagos National Park Service Headquarters and Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of the great restorative efforts taking place in the park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding & Rearing Program run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 14 tortoises on the island of Española in 1970. This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today. This is where famed tortoise, Lonesome George, lived out his last days as the last of his particular race of tortoise.

Celebrate being aboard the M/Y Grace with a happy hour atop her sky lounge, where drinks are available daily along with hors d’oeuvres. Later, gather in the main salon for a presentation by the naturalist guide before sitting down to dinner.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

lunch, dinner

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Day 2
WED - Peace Asylum, Cormorant Point & Devil’s Crown (Floreana)

Floreana has a colorful history: pirates, whalers, convicts, and a small band of somewhat peculiar colonists—a self-proclaimed Baroness among them—who chose a Robinson Crusoe existence that ended in death and mystery. Today, roughly a hundred Ecuadorians inhabit the island. In 1793, British whalers set up a barrel as the island’s post office, to send letters home on passing ships. The tradition continues to this day. Simply drop a post card into the barrel without a stamp. And if you do, you must take a post card from the barrel and see that it gets to the right place. That is how the system began and continues to this day.

After breakfast, travel in an open-air bus into the highlands of Floreana, while the naturalist guide explains the history of this first settled island in the Galapagos. Walk to the Asilo de la Paz (Peace Asylum) where one of the islands’ few springs is located. This artesian spring attracted pirates, whalers and later settlers to Floreana as it was one of the very few year-round sources of fresh water in the Galapagos. The Cueva de los Piratas (Pirate’s Cave) is quite literally where pirates carved temporary shelter out of soft stone and is also where one of the original settlers, Margaret Wittmer, gave birth to a son, Rolf, who is still living. Some have almost jokingly referred to it as the ‘Stonehenge’ of Floreana due to its interesting shapes. Cerro Pajas (Bird Hill) truly lives up to its name with a multitude of Floreana Finches. It also offers spectacular views of the island and the sea below.

Visit a tortoise reserve and watch many of the giant tortoises up close and personal. All the while, the naturalist guides points out the wildlife and explains colorful history of Floreana’s first inhabitants like the Baroness and re-telling the legend of the “Floreana Mystery.” Return to the Grace for lunch and a siesta. Land farther along the shore to the northeast and pass within view of Baroness Point in an area of mangrove lined lagoons. Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet, the self-proclaimed Baroness (of Floreana) frequented this overlook.

Punta Cormorant offers two highly contrasting beaches: one composed of volcanic olivine crystals, giving it a greenish tint that glitters in the sun, the other is a very fine white sand known as Flour Beach, formed by the erosion of coral skeletons. Between the two beaches in a basin formed by the surrounding volcanic cones is a hyper-saline lagoon frequented by flamingoes, pintails, stilts and other wading birds. Stop at the lagoon and then continue on the trail to Four Beach. Be careful not to wade into the tide with bare feet, as the silty surf is rife with rays. Look for sea turtles surfing the waves off the beach.

Return to the Grace and set out to today’s snorkeling destination, donning wetsuits while making our way around Punta Cormorant. Alternatively, perhaps snorkel at Devil’s Crown which is located some 700 feet north of Punta Cormorant. Devil’s Crown is an old submerged volcanic cone that has been worn down by waves and is home to a myriad of marine species including several species of corals, sea urchins, and a great number of fish species, making this place one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos. The eroded crater walls form a popular roosting site for seabirds including boobies and pelicans. The snorkeling begins outside the crater to the southeast, where a swift current will take you for a ride along the north side of the crown and right into the middle. Relax, enjoy the ride and let the current do the work. After the ride keep your eyes open for spotted eagle rays and golden rays that like to swim near the crown. Once back aboard the Grace, soak in the warm Jacuzzi and then retire for hors d’ouevres and drinks to enjoy the sunset.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 3
THU - Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay (Espanola)

Hood (also called Espanola) is the southernmost island of the archipelago and is one of the most popular due to the breathtaking variation and sheer number of fauna and Gardner Bay. The giant tortoise was reintroduced to Hood in the 1970s and counts as one of the park’s great success stories. They reside in an off-limits area, but don’t worry—the famous giant tortoise awaits you on other islands! The quantity and variety of wildlife at Punta Suarez is remarkable. Sea lions surf the waves beyond the breakwater landing, and tiny pups are known to greet your toes upon arrival. A few steps inland is a colorful variety of marine iguana in the Galapagos. They bear distinctive red and black markings, some with a flash of turquoise running down their spine. They nap in communal piles or cling to the rocks for warmth.

The trail leads beside the western edge of the island where masked boobies (also known as Nazca boobies) nest along the cliff’s edge. The trail descends to a rocky beach before rising to an open area where there is often a large gathering of nesting blue-foot boobies. Galapagos doves, cactus finch and mockingbirds forage nearby, unconcerned by human presence. Both lava and swallow-tailed gulls, with their red ringed eyes, sit atop the cliffs in company with marine iguanas. The trail continues to the high cliff edge of the southern shore. Below, a shelf of black lava reaches out into the surf where a blowhole shoots a periodic geyser of saltwater into the air.

Farther east along the cliff is the Albatross Airport where waved albatross line up to launch their great winged bodies from the cliffs, soaring out over the dramatic shoreline of crashing waves and driven spray. These are the largest birds in the Galapagos with wingspans up to 7.4 feet. They are the only species of albatross exclusive to the tropics. In the trees set back from the cliff is one of only two places in the world where the waved albatross nests. The 12,000 pairs that inhabit Hood Island comprise all but a tiny fraction of the world’s population of this species. Lucky visitors can watch courtship ‘fencing’ done with great yellow beaks. Large, fluffy, perfectly camouflaged chicks adorn nests on the ground nearby. The albatross lay their eggs from April through June though they can be seen fencing long after that. Eggs take two months to hatch. Hungry chicks can eat up to 4.4 pounds a day, which keeps their parents busy. By December the chicks are fully grown and ready to set out on their own in January. Pairs mate for life.

On the northeastern shore of Hood, Gardner Bay offers a magnificent long white sandy beach, where colonies of sea lions laze in the sun, sea turtles swim offshore and inquisitive mockingbirds boldly investigate new arrivals. Step off the powdery white sand into the turquoise water for a swim, but just a little further off-shore the snorkeling by Gardner Island offers peak encounters with playful young sea lions and schools of surprisingly large tropical fish, including yellow tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish and bump-head parrot fish. The young sea lions like to snack and play along Gardner Island’s sea cliff. They dart up from the depths, playfully show off their skills and then disappear. Sleepy white-tipped reef sharks can also be seen napping on the bottom. Gardner Bay and Islet also offer inviting waters for those interested.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
FRI - Punta Pitt, Lobos Island & Kicker Rock (San Cristobal)

Punta Pitt is located at the east end of San Cristobal Island. The trail includes an olivine beach approximately 300 feet and a trail that ascends to the top of a volcanic tuff hill passing through several natural viewpoints. Punta Pitt is composed of volcanic tuff substrate. This is the only site in the Galapagos Islands to watch all three species of boobies and two species of frigates nesting in the same area.  Due to its geographic location and abundance of food, there is hardly any competition between them. The blue footed boobies nest in the interior of Punta Pitt, red-footed boobies nest on bushes and masked boobies nest in the cliffs.  Sealions can also be found in the area. San Cristobal was the first island Darwin visited when he arrived in 1835. He reported encountering a pair of giant tortoises feeding on cactus during that outing.

To the southeast of Kicker Rock lies Isla Lobos. The tiny island is separated from much larger San Cristobal by a narrow channel and little bay. This basalt island outcropping lives up to its name of Sea Lion Island and is home to a noisy population of frolicking and barking beasts. It is also a nesting place for blue-footed boobies and an excellent spot for snorkeling with sea lions. After walking the trail for some baby sea lion and booby watching amidst the sands beneath the salt bushes, have a real treat: change into snorkeling gear for some swimming with sea lions! They may dart past, then swim up and blow bubbles at your mask. On occasion they have been known to leap over and then dive in front of unsuspecting snorkelers.

Warm up from your dip in Grace’s Jacuzzi, while the ship heads up the coast from Isla Lobos to Leon Dormido, also known as Kicker Rock, a spectacular formation that rises 500 feet out of the Pacific. It takes the form of a sleeping lion, hence it’s Spanish name. From another angle one can see that the rock is split forming a colossal table and, piercing the sea, a great chisel ready for etching. Circumnavigate the rock formation and, depending on weather, go snorkeling again for a chance to see hammerhead sharks.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
SAT - Santa Fe & South Plaza

Santa Fe features one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the islands. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies southeast of Santa Cruz Island within sight of Puerto Ayora. Geologically, it is one of the oldest islands in the archipelago and for many years was thought to be a product of an uplift event. Through satellite imagery it has been possible to determine the island’s volcanic origins. A wet landing on a sandy white beach brings offers contact with one of many sea lion colonies. Bulls contend for the right of being beach master, while smaller males mask as females to make stealthy mating moves. Galapagos hawks are sometimes easily approached, perched atop salt bushes.

Ascend a trail leading toward the cliffs, where a dense inland thicket stand, and the cliff side provides an expansive view of the ocean. The forest of giant prickly pear cactus live up to their name with tree-sized trunks—the largest of their kind in the Galapagos. At the top of the trail, hope to spot one of the large species of land iguana endemic to Santa Fe. Beige to chocolate brown in color with dragon-like spines, these big iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs. An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thicket, and lucky hikers may spot harmless Galapagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than snorkeling in the calm waters of the bay where sea lions play, sea turtles swim and tropical fish hide amidst the islets that form the natural reef. Santa Fe offers a more advanced kayaking route along its northern shore that ends at sea caves and is subject to conditions.

South Plaza Island lies just a few hundred meters off the east coast of Santa Cruz Island. South Plaza is one of the smallest yet richest islands in the archipelago. Just over 400 feet wide, it was formed by lava upwelling from the bottom of the ocean and is known for its lush and diverse flora. A grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cacti, a ground cover of red sesuvium, the turquoise waters of the channel and fiery Sally Lightfoot crabs combine to create a colorful palate of an island to explore. One of the big attractions here are the friendly yellow land iguanas waiting for lunch to drop from a cactus in the form of a prickly pear. Follow a trail up the tilt of the island to cliffs that look out over the ocean. Swallow-tailed gulls with red banded eyes nest atop the overlook, where its possible to spot marine life such as manta rays. South Plaza has a very healthy population of sea lions including a colony of bachelors that sit atop the cliff. They unintentionally polish the surrounding rocks with the oil from their fur. Look for red-billed tropic birds, Nazca and blue-footed boobies catching rides on the wind currents.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 6
SUN - North Seymour & Bartolome

North Seymour Island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form much of the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit perched in ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bring them into bloom. This island is teeming with life.

Give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana. Blue-footed boobies nest on either side of the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance or fluffy white chicks peel out from beneath their protective mothers. The trail follows the eastern shore along the beach, where flocks of brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies hunt schools of fish. The boobies are ideally adapted as dive bombers and easily pierce the water, zeroing in on their targeted prey. Frigatebirds with wingspans of up to 5 feet soar overhead and all around. They were named for the way that the trim of their wings in flight are reminiscent of the square rigged sailing warship. Not coincidentally frigatebirds are also called Man O’ War birds and they live up to that name when they target boobies, pelicans and other birds to steal their catch. Because the frigates are pelagic, they lack the ability to take off from the water, so they do better at snatching fish from the surface or simply stealing them. They also target marine iguanas and young baby sea turtles.

The trail turns east and inland to reveal the nesting stronghold of the frigates. Watch males with large, bright red, inflated throat sacks known as gular pouches, all done in an effort to attract females. The guide points out the difference between the magnificent, or Man O’ War frigates, and their great frigate bird cousins. Large puff-ball frigate bird chicks inhabit nests, waiting for their parents to return with a meal. Even at this young age they possess long hooked beaks and act defiant when they feel threatened. Take a closer look at the feathers of the proud parents and notice their iridescent quality and deep green tinge.

Another inhabitant along the trail is the yellow land iguana. The species was originally introduced to the North Seymour in 1932 by Captain Alan Hancock and his crew from Baltra with the aim of rescuing the creatures from the poor conditions left by goats and other feral animals. The iguanas colonized the island without problem. The original colony disappeared from Baltra when it became a US military base in WWII. In 1980, the Charles Darwin Station began a breeding program using some of the animals found on Seymour and successfully reintroduced their prodigy to both islands. Today the population on Seymour is roughly 600 and on Baltra 1,500.

The snorkeling site at North Seymour also attracts scuba divers, with a chance to see many types of rays including marble rays, golden eagle rays, spotted eagle rays, sting rays and even manta rays. Dormitories of white-tipped reef sharks sleep on the bottom while schools of king angelfish and yellow tailed surgeonfish swarm the rocky shoreline passing the occasional parrot and damselfish. Some of the rocks are actually well disguised scorpion fish. Large schools of tightly packed blue and gold snappers, grunts and jacks are usually found plying these waters. Sea lions pay visits from both Seymour and nearby Mosquera Island as sea turtles and the occasional hammerhead shark can been seen down in the depths. Creole fish, the color of red salsa; hieroglyphic hawkfish, with neon-like etchings on their flanks; and spotfin burrfish, which look a bit like a swimming shoe box with a cartoon face, also inhabit the region.

Bartolomé is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best known landmark in the Galapagos, which served as a back drop in the film Master & Commander. Galapagos penguins the only species of penguin found north of the equator walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. Below the surface, shoals of tropical fish dodge in and out of the rocks past urchins, sea stars and anemones.

A perfectly crescent sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle and across a narrow isthmus another beach mirrors this one to the south. Sea turtles use both beaches and another to the west of the Pinnacle as nesting sites and can sometimes be seen wading back out into the shallow water near the shore or resting in the sand recovering from the arduous task of digging nests, laying eggs and covering them over. Penguins like to rest atop the nearby rocks by our next landing site, about a quarter mile east along the shore. The submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a large fountain pool. The entrance to 2000-foot pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leads to Bartolome’s summit. The route is not difficult and presents an open textbook of the islands’ volcanic origins: a site left untouched after its last eruption, where small cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs down from the summit.

At the top, be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and Sullivan Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and the crystal turquoise waters of the bay cradling the Grace. The next landing site is a short distance away to the southeast. The view east toward the tiny twin table mountain islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor is particularly inviting with the sun setting behind them.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 7
MON - Chinese Hat & Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz)

Tiny Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat) Island is named for the resemblance its shape has to a traditional Chinese Coolie’s hat. Today’s visitor site is off limits to larger groups and day boats, making Sombrero Chino, along with Daphne Major, one of the least visited sites in the central islands. The island lies just off the southeastern tip of the large nearby island of Santiago, separated by a narrow channel which makes for very calm, protected waters. Step ashore on a tiny crescent shaped cove with sandy white beach cradled between black lava rocks and the crystal turquoise waters of the channel. A sea lion colony likes to rest on the warm white sands, while the rockier sections of the coast are alive with colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs. Marine iguanas sun themselves atop the rocks after foraging for algae in the channel. American oyster catchers stalk the tide pools stabbing at shellfish with their bright orange beaks.

Take a quarter-mile trail into the island’s volcanic interior to explore its rock formations, including excellent examples of pahoehoe lava resembling black rock ropes. The area is inhabited by ground-hugging red sesuvim plants and curious lava lizards. Back at the cove, enjoy another opportunity to snorkel with sea lions as well as rockier sections of the coastline inhabited by Galapagos penguins that dart past unsuspecting snorkelers. Galapagos penguins are the only species of penguin you’ll find living north of the nearby equator. Paddlers will have the opportunity to kayak in areas not indicated as off limited by national park signs.

In the early afternoon, set out to Dragon Hill. Bright yellow land iguanas inhabit the northeastern shore of Santa Cruz Island, with large spines on their backs that make them look even more like their legendary cousins. All they lack are wings. In the 1900s their ancestors were once moved to nearby Venezia islet to protect them from the feral dogs that once roamed Santa Cruz. When the dogs were removed, the colony was returned and today they thrive around the hill that is named in their honor, Cerro Dragon. The lava flows that reach out from the shore from Cerro Dragon form black reefs that make for excellent snorkeling at high tide.

Make a dry landing and spot yellow warblers that stand out against the black lava. Walk up the beach to a trail that leads to a hyper saline lagoon, which is a seasonal haunt for pink flamingos. At the top of Dragon Hill, notice the transition from intertidal vegetation like mangroves to dry zone vegetation including palo santo cactus and the silvery leafed palo santo trees. Keep a look out for the famous Darwin’s finches. Also known as Galapagos finches, they were first collected by Charles Darwin and make a group of about 15 species that are found nowhere else. Ironically, they are not related to true finches.

While walking through the scalesia forests, look for dragons below and endemic cactus finch and woodpecker finch perched overhead. The loop trail heads inland and up the hill. The rough terrain makes this hike a bit challenging, but the view back toward the bay is rewarding. The real reward, of course, is the dragons hiding in the thicket.  Back at the beach, lucky observers may see one of Santa Cruz Island’s fearless Galapagos hawks perched atop the lava, surveying the surroundings.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
TUE - Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz) & Disembark Baltra

This last morning in the Galapagos includes a visit to Black Turtle Cove. Located on the northern shore of Santa Cruz, the cove is a living illustration of how mangroves alter the marine environment to create a rich and unique habitat. Four species of mangrove crowd the shore and lagoon, which stretches almost a mile inland. Drift through the quiet waters in the dinghy in search of spotted eagle rays and cow-nosed or golden rays, which swim in a diamond formation. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat and Pacific green sea turtles come to the surface for air and to mate. Sea birds, including brown pelicans, blue herons and lava herons, come to feed in the cove which has also been declared a “Turtle Sanctuary.”

Set sail for nearby Baltra Island, which was a US Air Force base during WWII and still has remnants of the old foundations from that era ashore. It doesn’t take long for the Grace to navigate north along Baltra’s western shore to the island’s port. The crew will see to transporting your luggage ashore. All you need to do is take along your carry-on luggage for the short crossing to shore, where a bus will drive the five minutes to the airport. This is one last chance to purchase souvenirs in the airport. Almost all flights to the mainland stop in Guayaquil and continue on to Quito so make sure you know where to get off the plane. Say farewell the to Galapagos and begin your journey home or to some other destination like the Ecuadorian Highlands, Amazon or nearby Peru.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations aboard Grace; all meals and snacks; all transfers; guides and activities throughout the cruise; soft drinks, juice, coffee and tea throughout the cruise; use of snorkeling equipment and wetsuits; and kayaks.

Exclusions

Roundtrip Galapagos airfare; accommodations in mainland Ecuador; transfers in mainland Ecuador; gratuities and tips to crew and staff; bar consumption on board; personal expenses; Galapagos National Park fee (US $100); TCT-Galapagos Transit Control Card (US $20); and insurance of any kind. Possible fuel surcharge may apply.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $500 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special group (5 more more travelers) and holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply, inquire for details. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 66 days – 100% of deposit
65 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations’ Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

Most flights to the Galapagos will depart Quito or Guayaquil between 6:00am and 11:00am on day 1 and return between 2:00pm and 6:00pm on the final day. We highly recommend travelers arrive Ecuador to two days prior to their Galapagos cruise.  If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Internal Flights

Flights from mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) to the Galapagos are not included in the cruise price, but are arranged for you by AdventureSmith Explorations through your ship. Your Adventure Specialist will book these flights for you on the scheduled Galapagos flight for your particular departure. Airfares vary by departure; your Adventure Specialist will detail these for you in their proposal and on your invoice. On flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands, baggage weight limits are currently 50 pounds for checked items, and 17 pounds for carry-on plus a small personal item. Subject to change.

Activities

There are numerous opportunities to swim and snorkel. The underwater experience is an integral part of any Galapagos cruise. We encourage all travelers to try snorkeling. Snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, fins, floating vest and net bag) are provided. Wetsuits are available, either free of charge or to rent for a fee, and are recommended from June to December.

Daily excursions from the boat to the islands will be made in pangas (inflatable skiffs). Trip members will hike from the landing point to specific areas for wildlife observation. Hiking time for most landings will be a couple of hours round-trip with lots of time to stop to study, photograph and enjoy the flora and fauna. Some landings are dry but many are “wet,” requiring cautious footing on slippery rocks. The boat staff will be on hand to assist.

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at a 50% supplement of the per-person listed rate in Staterooms, and a 75% supplement of the per-person listed rate in Suites. A 100% supplement of the per-person listed rate applies on holiday departures (Easter in 2020 only, and Christmas and New Year dates).

Families & Children

Children 15 years and younger receive a 15% discount off the cruise fare (not available for holiday departures). A maximum of three children discounts are allowed per family per booking. There is a minimum age of 8 years, but exceptions may be made for designated family departures and/or private charters.

Travel Insurance

Emergency medical evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum recommended coverage of $50,000 per person. In addition to the emergency evacuation insurance, we highly recommend our travelers protect their investment with travel insurance that includes trip cancellation and other benefits. Our partners at Travelex offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking(depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. Due to the active nature of volcanoes in the Western Galapagos, alternate excursions may be offered. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Following Darwin's Trail Itinerary

The 8-day, Tuesday-Tuesday, Following Darwin’s Trail Cruise begins and end in Baltra. Become enchanted by the history and lessons of the Galapagos’s additional western islands: Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Santiago, Isabela and Fernandina.

Route map of Following Darwin's Trail Galapagos small ship cruise aboard M/V Grace, with visits to Baltra, Genovesa, Santiago, Isabela and Santa Cruz islands.
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Day 1
TUE - Embark Baltra to Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz)

Arrive to the island of Baltra and be met by the guide, who will accompany you on the short bus ride to the waterfront. During WWII the island of Baltra was a US Air Force base and one can still see the remnants of the old foundations left behind from that era. Transfer via dinghy to the M/Y Grace and settle into your new home for the week before assembling to review safety procedures and the coming events.

Cruise to the north end of Santa Cruz Island to Las Bachas, comprised of two sandy white-coral beaches that are major egg-laying sites for sea turtles. The island got its name during WWII when the US military discarded two barges on the beaches. Following the war, when the first settlers arrived, they mispronounced barges as bachas, resulting in the name. There are other explanations of how the location got its name having to do with indentations left in the sand by both egg laying sea turtles and their departing hatchlings.

Go ashore the white sandy beach and be greeted by patrolling blue-footed boobies. A brief walk inland leads to a lagoon where pink flamingos are often found along with great blue herons, common stilts, brown noddys, white-cheek pintail ducks and migratory birds. Snorkel from the beach and enjoy a swim in waters that are typically warmer than in other places in the Galapagos.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

lunch, dinner

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Day 2
WED - Prince Phillip’s Steps & Darwin Bay (Genovesa)

Tower Island (Genovesa) could serve as a film set for a remote secret submarine base. The southwestern part of the island is an ocean-filled caldera ringed by the outer edges of a sizeable and mostly submerged volcano. The island sits to the northwest, slightly removed from the rest of the archipelago. It is also known as Bird Island, a name it lives up to in a spectacular way.

First land on Prince Phillip’s Steps, named for a visit by the British Monarch in 1964. The dry landing begins at the base of an 81-foot stairway leading up to a narrow stretch of land that opens out onto a small plateau. This is actually a small peninsula that forms the southeastern section of the island. Red-footed boobies wrap their webbed feet around branches to precariously perch in the bushes where they nest. In contrast, their masked-booby cousins dot the surface of the scrublands beyond. Crossing through the sparse vegetation, come to a broad lava field that extends toward sea cliffs that form the island’s southern edge. The cavities and holes that have been eroded into the fragile lava are an ideal nesting ground for storm petrels. There are two species, the Galapagos petrel, who is active by day, and the wooden petrel, who feeds at night. The petrels flutter out over the ocean in swarms then return to nest in the cracks and tunnels of the lava field but not without hazard. Short-eared owls lay in camouflaged wait and make their living feeding off the returning petrels. After completing the two-hour hike, return to the vessel to change into wetsuits for some snorkeling at one of the best sites in the islands.

Near Phillip’s Steps, along the cliffs that form the protected southern bay of the Tower’s caldera, enter the water and into another world. Notice the warm-water fish feeding off cold water nutrients. There’s a full assortment here, including oversized parrot, unicorn, angel and hogfish along with schools of perch, surgeon fish and various types of butterfly fish. Hiding in and around the rocky shoreline that drops off into the caldera are a rainbow assortment of wrasse, basslet, anthias and tang. This is the place to bring your underwater tropical fish identification chart. There are some special treats to be found here including occasional visits by fur sea lions. This area of the bay is also excellent for kayaking in the calm waters close to the shore to observe nesting birds. Take a paddle after lunch, before the next landing across the bay to the north.

This afternoon, land on the white coral sands of Darwin Bay and walk up the beach to be surrounded by the bustling activity of great frigate birds. Puffball chicks and their proud papas—who sport bulging scarlet throat-sacks—crowd the surrounding branches, while yellow-crowned herons and lava herons feed by the shore. Farther along, discover a stunning series of sheltered pools set into a rocky outcrop. Watch out for marine iguanas, lava lizards and Galapagos doves underfoot, as they blend well with the trail. The trail beside the pools leads up to a cliff overlooking the ocean-filled caldera, where pairs of swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world, can be seen nesting at the cliff’s edge. Lava gulls and pintail ducks ride the sea breezes nearby.

Take brief panga ride to the base of those same cliffs to reveal the full variety of bird species sheltering in the ledges and crevices created by the weathered basalt. Among them, red–billed tropic birds enter and leave their nests trailing exotic kite-like tails. This is also an intriguing place to go deep-water snorkeling. The center of the caldera is very deep and attracts hammerheads and large manta rays which sometimes patrol the western edge of the caldera that is more open to the sea. While snorkeling, gaze down into the depths to spot these large animals if you are fortunate. But don’t worry, if you don’t really want to see them there is the equally amazing and far more sheltered snorkeling experience across the bay. At sunset, leave Tower Islands to set out across the archipelago to the far western islands. Remember to watch the inner bay at sunset to spot a giant manta ray.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 3
THU - James Bay & Espumilla Beach (Santiago)

In the morning, sail along the northwestern shore of Santiago Island to South James Bay (Puerto Egas), which offers access to three unique sites. One landing is on a black beach with intriguing eroded rock formations inland. A trail crosses the dry interior eastward and rises to the rim of an extinct volcanic crater; cracks within it allow sea water to seep in, which then dries to form salt deposits that have been mined in the past. Darwin describes his visit to South James Bay in Voyage of the Beagle.

Another path leads south, where hikers are treated to a series of crystal-clear grottos formed of broken lava tubes. These are home to sea lions and tropical fish and is the best place in the islands to see fur sea lions lazing on the rocks by the grottos. Farther to the north, another landing and path lead to a series of inland lagoons, home to flamingos. Birders coming to James Bay will be excited to spot vermillion flycatchers, Galapagos hawks and the tool-wielding woodpecker finch. Puerto Egas is a good spot for taking pictures—the light for photography is perfect at either dawn or sunset. The lava and the black sand seem to catch fire and the animals acquire a surreal and lovely quality. The marine iguanas that inhabit the area resemble Samurai warriors and can easily be seen grazing on seaweed in the shallower pools of the grotto.

James Bay is a snorkeling site that is accessed from the shore instead of a dinghy. The sandy beach slopes off into a rocky bottom where a multitude of sea turtles like to hide by blending in with the rocks. But these rocks move and swim right up to you. At certain times of the year large schools of golden rays and spotted eagle rays also glide by.  Both fur sea lions and California sea lions occasionally pass through as well.

In the afternoon, visit Espumilla Beach in search of birds rather than fresh water. The short walk up the beach leads inland to a mangrove typically inhabited by the common stilts. Beyond the mangroves is a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink clamingos and white cheeked pintails wade in search of mollusks. The trail passes over a tiny hilltop through a sparse Palo Santo forest before looping back to beach. Galapagos finches and Vermilion fly catchers inhabit the area.

The tuff formations that form the cliffs that surround the cove have created a natural sculptor gallery rising from the sea with formations including the Monk and Elephant Rock. An audience of hundreds of seabirds looks down upon the gallery from surrounding cliffs. Buccaneer Cove and Espumilla Beach offers one of the more dramatic kayaking routes in the Galapagos for paddlers looking for a challenge.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 4
FRI - Punta Vicenta Roca & Tagus Cove (Isabela)

Located at the mouth of the sea horse, which forms the northern part of the Isabela Island, is Punta Vicente Roca. Here the remnants of an ancient volcano forms two turquoise coves with a bay well protected from the ocean swells. The spot is a popular anchorage from which to take panga rides along the cliff where a partially sunken cave beckons explorers. Masked and blue-footed boobies sit perched along the point and the sheer cliffs, while flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline. The upwelling of coldwater currents in combination with the protection of the coves make Punta Vicente Roca one of the archipelago’s most sought after dive spots.

One cove is only accessible from the sea by way of an underwater passage. The passage opens to calm waters of the hidden cove where sea lions laze on the beach having traveled along the underwater route. The entire area of Punta Vicente Roca lies on the flank of 2,600-foot Volcano Ecuador. This is the island’s sixth largest volcano. Half of Volcano Ecuador slid into the ocean leaving a spectacular cutaway view of its caldera. The site offers deep water snorkeling where sea lions turtles, spotted eagle rays and even manta rays are the attraction. Next, set off south and west across the Bolivar channel, with eyes open in this best place in the islands for spotting whales.

Isabela is the largest island in the archipelago, accounting for half of the total landmass of the Galapagos at 4,588 square kilometers. Though narrow in places, the island runs 132 km from north to south, or 82 miles. Isabella is formed from six shield volcanoes that merged into a single landmass. It is also home to the highest point in the Galápagos, Wolf Volcano at 5,547 feet, and calderas of up to 12.5 miles across.

Head north along the western coast of Isabela Island to Tagus Cove, named for a British warship that moored here in 1814. Historically the cove was used as an anchorage for pirates and whalers. The names of their ships are still carved into the rock above our landing, a practice now prohibited. The cove’s quiet waters make for an ideal panga ride beneath its sheltered cliffs, where blue-footed boobies, brown noddies, pelicans and noddy terns make their nests, and flightless cormorants and penguins inhabit the lava ledges.

From the landing site, a wooden stairway rises to the trail entrance for a view of Darwin Lake, a perfectly round saltwater crater barely separated from the ocean but above sea level. Tagus Cove and Darwin Lake were formed from one, partially flooded tuff cone on the eastern edge of giant Darwin volcano.

The cove is formed by a breached and flooded section of the crater with Darwin Lake forming the very center of the same cone. The trail continues around the lake through a dry vegetation zone, and then climbs inland to a promontory formed by spatter cones. The site provides spectacular views back toward our anchorage, as well as to Darwin Volcano and Wolf Volcano to the north.

In Tagus Cove, the carpet of green algae that covers the floor gives the impression of a submerged pasture, and really that is just what it is. Marine iguanas graze the algae along with numerous sea turtles gliding and munching their way along. Because the cove opens to the rich waters of the Bolivar Channel, it is one of the best snorkeling sites in the island. There’s a good chance of snorkeling with underwater feathered friends including Galapagos penguins and rare flightless cormorants.  For those who want to dive deeper, there are special rewards waiting under 3 meters, where camouflaged creatures await, including scorpion fish nestled against the outcrops and sea horses masquerading as twigs of the seaweed waving in the currents. The rare Port Jackson shark can also be found here. Kayakers enjoy a paddle around the cove, offering excellent views of nesting birds on the cliff walls above.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 5
SAT - Espinosa Point & Urbina Bay (Fernandina)

Fernandina is the youngest and westernmost island in the Galapagos. It sits across the Bolivar Channel opposite Isabela. Today’s destination is Punta Espinosa, a narrow spit of land in the northeast corner of the island, where a number of unique Galapagos species can be seen in close proximity. As the panga skillfully navigates the reef, penguins show off by throwing themselves from the rocks into the water. Red and turquoise-blue zayapas crabs disperse across the lava shoreline, while great blue and lava herons forage through the mangrove roots. The landing is a dry one, set in a quiet inlet beneath the branches of a small mangrove forest. A short walk through the vegetation leads to a large colony of marine iguanas—a schoolyard of Godzilla’s children—resting atop one another in friendly heaps along the rocky shoreline, spitting water to clear their bodies of salt. Nearby, sea lions frolic in a sheltered lagoon.

Dominating this landscape from high overhead looms the summit of La Cumbre at 4,858 feet, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Farther down this stretch of shore, the world’s only species of flightless cormorants have established a colony near an inviting inlet frequented by sea turtles. Because these birds evolved without land predators—it was easier to feed on the squid, octopus, eel and fish found in the ocean—the cormorants progressively took to the sea. They developed heavier, more powerful legs and feet for kicking, serpent-like necks and fur-like plumage. Their wings are now mere vestiges. Back toward the landing and farther inland, the island’s black lava flows become more evident, forming a quiet, inner mangrove lagoon where rays and sea turtles glide just below the surface. Galapagos hawks survey the entire scene from overhead.

The snorkeling off Punta Espinoza offers some real treats, as many of the creatures on land, including the Godzilla-like marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins and sea lions bask the waters off the point (which was used as a set during the making of Master & Commander). A key feature of the ocean bottom here are the troughs formed by volcanic rock and ocean currents. Because these waters reach out into the Bolivar Channel they can be quite cold. Sea turtles like to hang out in the warm water of the troughs. Marine iguanas ferry back and forth between underwater grazing areas and their colonies on shore. This is an excellent place to see underwater iguanas munching on algae. The fortunate may catch a glimpse of a flightless cormorant demonstrating their swimming abilities or Galapagos penguin zipping by. Feel the difference in ocean temperature and watch the water get clearer as you move from the more protected shallow areas out into the cold rich waters of the channel. The Bolivar Channel is the very best place in the Galapagos to see dolphins and whales. On rare occasion, some may even swim with dolphins, kayak with melon headed whales and even spot the elusive sperm whale.

Make an easy wet landing at Urbina Bay, directly west of Isabela’s Volcano Alcedo. In 1954, a Disney film crew caught sight of this gleaming white strip, and went to investigate. To their astonishment, three miles of the marine reef had been uplifted by as much as 13 feet prior to their arrival. They discovered schools of stranded fish and other creatures in newly formed tidal pools along with the skeletons of sea turtles and sharks unable to make it to the ocean as a result of the uplift event. Alcedo erupted a few weeks later.

Now visitors walk amongst the boulder sized dried coral heads, mollusks and other organisms that once formed the ocean floor. A highlight of this excursion is the giant land iguanas, whose vivid and gaudy yellow skin suggests that dinosaurs may have been very colorful indeed. Giant tortoises inhabit this coastal plain during the wet season, before migrating to the highlands when it turns dry. The landing beach provides a nesting site for sea turtles and also provides opportunities to snorkel amongst marine creatures, or just relax on shore. Take care not to step on the sea turtle nests dug carefully into the sand. For those looking for snorkeling from a beach this is the place, with tropical fish hiding amongst the rocks to the north side of the bay.

This evening the Grace sits at anchor in the Bolivar Channel, spectacularly surrounded by the towering shield volcanoes that form Fernandina and Isabela. Sunset in the channel is also an excellent time to spot whales and dolphins that feed in these productive waters created by the upwelling of the Cromwell Current, while you enjoy a happy hour at the Sky lounge on the upper rear deck.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 6
SUN - Elizabeth Bay & Punta Moreno (Isabela)

Continue south along the west coast of Isabela and enter the outer part of Elizabeth Bay, a tall rocky islet is home to a colony of Galapagos penguins. Looming to the south is Sierra Negra volcano that forms the southern part of Isabela Island. In 2018, glowing rivers of lava lit up the night as they flowed down the flank of Sierra Negra toward Elizabeth Bay, where some of lucky passengers had a front row seat on one of the archipelagos most spectacular performances.

In contrast to the rugged lava fields of Sierra Negra, Elizabeth Bay is one of the most sensitive habitats in the Galapagos. This outing is entirely aboard pangas through the tangle of mangroves roots that line the Bay, which tend to still the waters and give the area a green forested look. Spotted eagle rays, golden rays and sea turtle glide just below the surface with the latter coming up occasionally to breath. Search for a Galapagos hawk circling high overhead while approaching the back of the Bay. Sealions use the horizontal trunks of the mangroves as resting areas earning them the nickname tree lions.

Return to the Grace for lunch as she cruises farther along the coast of Isabela to Punta Moreno. Don’t be surprised at just how much life is found in and around a pahoehoe lava field. In 2018, Sierra Negra Volcano, which looms over the entire southern part of the island (and really is the southern part of the island) gave the area a fresh coat of glowing lava that reached within 3 miles of this landing site. This is one of the least visited sites in the Galapagos.

Along the shore, look for Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants and a colony of marine iguanas with a reddish tinge that sport the usual mohawk from head to tail. Sally Lightfooted crabs dot the coast and are the color of molten lava. Wear sneakers or hiking shoes today because the trail leads over fields of broken lava (not because of hot lava) and there’s more here than lava lizards and cactus. Crossing the lava sometimes sounds like clinking glass, then come upon little oasis formed by natural pools surrounded by green grasses. These have become home and resting place for a variety of birds including gallinules, pink flamingos, pintail ducks and more.

Continue along the trail to a series of coastal lagoons that provide a surprising oasis of green, including mangrove forests where pelicans nest. Look toward the bottom of the lagoons for resting white-tipped reef sharks, while green sea turtles ply the surface and great blue herons wade the shoreline. The snorkeling off Punta Moreno above a rocky bottom offers a similar assortment including sea turtles, sting ray and sea lions mixed in with bumped head parrot fish, king angel fish and schools of yellow tailed and surgeon Pacific creole fish and much more.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 7
MON - Darwin Station, Puerto Ayora & Highlands (Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos and something of a hub for the archipelago. Baltra, where one of the archipelago’s two airports is found, is on the far north end of the island. Puerto Ayora, located in the south of this large, round volcanic island is the seaside economic center of the Galapagos, focused on fishing and tourism. The little port town offers restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, internet cafés and a place to get your laundry done.

This morning, visit Puerto Ayora, home to both the Galapagos National Park Service Headquarters and Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of the great restorative efforts taking place in the park, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding & Rearing Program run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 14 tortoises on the island of Española in 1970. This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today. This is where famed tortoise, Lonesome George, lived out his last days as the last of his particular race of tortoise.

A highlight of any trip to the archipelago is a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands, where the sparse, dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. Arrive at the Wild Tortoise Reserve for a chance to track and view these friendly ancient creatures in their natural setting. This extends to the adjacent pasturelands, where farmers give tortoise safe quarter in exchange for allowing paying visitors to see them.

In the Santa Cruz Highlands, lava tubes were formed when the outer surface of a lava flow cooled, insulating the interior lava, which continued to flow, leaving a hollow tube as the result. The tubes became covered with earth over time and the result was a perfectly formed underground tunnel courtesy of Mother Nature. A wooden stairway descends to the mouth of the arched entrance to one of these underground passages and continues to the narrow opening that marks its exit. There are lights to show the way but it’s also a good idea to bring a flashlight.

Return to Puerto Ayora with time for shopping, visiting an internet café or simply enjoying this little port town near the edge of the world.

Accommodations

Grace

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
TUE - Los Gemelos (Santa Cruz) & Disembark Baltra

The terrestrial world of the tortoise and underworld of the lava tubes meet at Los Gemelos (the twins).  These two large sinkholes craters were formed by collapsed lava tubes. The contrast between the marine desert coast and verdant Lost World look of the highlands is most striking here and it’s likely to rain even when sun is shining a half an hour away at the coast. Los Gemelos are surrounded by a scalesia forest, endemic to Galapagos and home to many endemic and native species. This is an excellent place to view some of Darwin’s famous finches along with the elusive and dazzling vermillion flycatcher.

After visiting Los Gemelos, continue by bus for another 20 mins to the Itabaca channel. Cross the channel and take a short bus ride to Baltra’s airport. Almost all flights to the mainland stop in Guayaquil and continue on to Quito so make sure you know where to get off the plane. Say farewell the to Galapagos and begin your journey home or to some other destination like the Ecuadorian Highlands, Amazon or nearby Peru.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Accommodations aboard Grace; all meals and snacks; all transfers; guides and activities throughout the cruise; soft drinks, juice, coffee and tea throughout the cruise; use of snorkeling equipment and wetsuits; and kayaks.

Exclusions

Roundtrip Galapagos airfare; accommodations in mainland Ecuador; transfers in mainland Ecuador; gratuities and tips to crew and staff; bar consumption on board; personal expenses; Galapagos National Park fee (US $100); TCT-Galapagos Transit Control Card (US $20); and insurance of any kind. Possible fuel surcharge may apply.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $500 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special group (5 more more travelers) and holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply, inquire for details. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 66 days – 100% of deposit
65 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations’ Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

Most flights to the Galapagos will depart Quito or Guayaquil between 6:00am and 11:00am on day 1 and return between 2:00pm and 6:00pm on the final day. We highly recommend travelers arrive Ecuador to two days prior to their Galapagos cruise.  If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Internal Flights

Flights from mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) to the Galapagos are not included in the cruise price, but are arranged for you by AdventureSmith Explorations through your ship. Your Adventure Specialist will book these flights for you on the scheduled Galapagos flight for your particular departure. Airfares vary by departure; your Adventure Specialist will detail these for you in their proposal and on your invoice. On flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands, baggage weight limits are currently 50 pounds for checked items, and 17 pounds for carry-on plus a small personal item. Subject to change.

Activities

There are numerous opportunities to swim and snorkel. The underwater experience is an integral part of any Galapagos cruise. We encourage all travelers to try snorkeling. Snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, fins, floating vest and net bag) are provided. Wetsuits are available, either free of charge or to rent for a fee, and are recommended from June to December.

Daily excursions from the boat to the islands will be made in pangas (inflatable skiffs). Trip members will hike from the landing point to specific areas for wildlife observation. Hiking time for most landings will be a couple of hours round-trip with lots of time to stop to study, photograph and enjoy the flora and fauna. Some landings are dry but many are “wet,” requiring cautious footing on slippery rocks. The boat staff will be on hand to assist.

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy cabin may do so at a 50% supplement of the per-person listed rate in Staterooms, and a 75% supplement of the per-person listed rate in Suites. A 100% supplement of the per-person listed rate applies on holiday departures (Easter in 2020 only, and Christmas and New Year dates).

Families & Children

Children 15 years and younger receive a 15% discount off the cruise fare (not available for holiday departures). A maximum of three children discounts are allowed per family per booking. There is a minimum age of 8 years, but exceptions may be made for designated family departures and/or private charters.

Travel Insurance

Emergency medical evacuation insurance is mandatory for this trip, with a minimum recommended coverage of $50,000 per person. In addition to the emergency evacuation insurance, we highly recommend our travelers protect their investment with travel insurance that includes trip cancellation and other benefits. Our partners at Travelex offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking(depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the captain’s discretion. Due to the active nature of volcanoes in the Western Galapagos, alternate excursions may be offered. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.

Rates & Dates

Galapagos Cruise Rates & Dates

In addition to the rates and dates listed below, a 15-day Galapagos Grace itinerary is available by combining the ship’s 8-day itineraries. Receive a 10% discount on the second week of cruising. If the 15-day cruise is taken during Christmas, New Year or Easter, full cruise prices will apply. Contact AdventureSmith Explorations for more information.

This ship is an AdventureSmith favorite for private charter. Contact us for charter pricing and details.

Sep 22 - Sep 29, 2020
Grace • 8 days
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Sep 29 - Oct 06, 2020
Grace • 8 days
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Oct 06 - Oct 13, 2020
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Oct 13 - Oct 20, 2020
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Oct 20 - Oct 27, 2020
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Oct 27 - Nov 03, 2020
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Nov 03 - Nov 10, 2020
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Nov 10 - Nov 17, 2020
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Nov 17 - Nov 24, 2020
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Nov 24 - Dec 01, 2020
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Dec 01 - Dec 08, 2020
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Dec 08 - Dec 15, 2020
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Dec 15 - Dec 22, 2020
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Dec 22 - Dec 29, 2020
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Dec 29 - Jan 05, 2021
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Jan 05 - Jan 12, 2021
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Jan 12 - Jan 19, 2021
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Jan 19 - Jan 26, 2021
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Jan 26 - Feb 02, 2021
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Feb 02 - Feb 09, 2021
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Feb 09 - Feb 16, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Feb 16 - Feb 23, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Feb 23 - Mar 02, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Mar 02 - Mar 09, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Mar 09 - Mar 16, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Mar 16 - Mar 23, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Mar 23 - Mar 30, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Mar 30 - Apr 06, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Apr 06 - Apr 13, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Apr 13 - Apr 20, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Apr 20 - Apr 27, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Apr 27 - May 04, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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May 04 - May 11, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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May 11 - May 18, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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May 18 - May 25, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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May 25 - Jun 01, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Jun 01 - Jun 08, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Jun 08 - Jun 15, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Jun 15 - Jun 22, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Jun 22 - Jun 29, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Jun 29 - Jul 06, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Jul 06 - Jul 13, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Jul 13 - Jul 20, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Jul 20 - Jul 27, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Jul 27 - Aug 03, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Aug 03 - Aug 10, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Aug 10 - Aug 17, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Aug 17 - Aug 24, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Aug 24 - Aug 31, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Aug 31 - Sep 07, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Sep 07 - Sep 14, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Sep 14 - Sep 21, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Sep 21 - Sep 28, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Sep 28 - Oct 05, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Oct 05 - Oct 12, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Oct 12 - Oct 19, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Oct 19 - Oct 26, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Oct 26 - Nov 02, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Nov 02 - Nov 09, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Nov 09 - Nov 16, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Nov 16 - Nov 23, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Nov 23 - Nov 30, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Nov 30 - Dec 07, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Dec 07 - Dec 14, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Dec 14 - Dec 21, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Dec 21 - Dec 28, 2021
Grace • 8 days
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Dec 28 - Jan 04, 2022
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green western galapagos islands directional icon West Galapagos Islands
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Accommodation

Learn About the Galapagos Small Ship on Your Itinerary

Yacht
Grace

The 16-guest motor yacht Grace's stellar past includes ownership of royalty, millionaire tycoons and a stint in the British Navy. She now cruises the Galapagos Islands in luxury.

Deals

Current Deals on This Trip

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Offer expires November 30th, 2020
Risk-Free Booking Policy On 2020 & 2021 Evolution and Grace Galapagos Cruises

Book or re-book 2020 and 2021 Galapagos cruises with confidence using these risk-free, flexible policy details.

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Offer expires November 30th, 2020
Save 25% & Complimentary Local Flights on Select 2020 & 2021 Grace Galapagos Cruises

Save up to 25% and receive complimentary flights from mainland Ecuador to Galapagos when you book your select September 2020 through February 2021 cruise.

Testimonials

Hear It from Travelers Who Have Explored with Us

" Wonderful - Guide, Staff & Crew, Food, Outings"

Everything on the Grace was wonderful - guide, staff & crew, food, outings, etc.

Overall
5 /5 Star Created with Sketch.
Accommodations
5 /5 Star Created with Sketch.
Meals
5 /5 Star Created with Sketch.
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"Everything One Could Hope For"

The Grace and her crew were everything one could hope for. Both the Grace and Napo Wildlife Center were wonderfully comfortable.

Overall
5 /5 Star Created with Sketch.
Accommodations
5 /5 Star Created with Sketch.
Meals
4 /5 Star Created with Sketch.
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Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

Extend Your Trip

Additional Travel Options Before or After Your Galapagos Cruise

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5 Day Land Tour
Quito & Guayaquil Galapagos Travel Package

Most Galapagos cruises require travelers to find pre- and post-cruise Guayaquil or Quito hotels. This travel package offers an easy, cost-effective way to get to the Galapagos with a comprehensive land package.

From $385USD
Year Round
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5 - 6 Day Land Tour
Machu Picchu Explorer

Travel to Peru's most spectacular archaeological monument in South America: the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu. This 5- or 6-day Machu Picchu Explorer adventure includes Cusco, the Urubamba Valley and upscale accommodations.

From $1575USD
Year Round
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4 - 5 Day Land Tour
Ecuador Amazon Adventure - Napo Wildlife Center

Spend 4, 5 or 8 days at the Napo Wildlife Center, a luxury eco-hotel and ecotourism project that includes the conservation of approximately over 82 square miles of Ecuador's most pristine Amazon rainforest within Yasunì National Park.

From $1332USD
Year Round
More to Explore

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8 Day Cruise
Evolution Galapagos Cruises

A trip aboard the 32-guest Evolution offers one of the finest Galapagos cruise experiences available. A roomy yacht with a high crew-to-passenger ratio, she has modern amenities, including adventure gear, yet retains the charm of a Roaring Twenties small ship.

Special Offer
From $6450USD
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8 Day Cruise
Mary Anne Galapagos Cruises

The 16-passenger Mary Anne is a spacious and truly romantic 3-masted barquentine, perfect for cruising the Galapagos by sail. Ample deck space encourages guests to relax and take in the sights while experienced naturalists reveal all the treasures of the islands.

Special Offer
From $4500USD
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7 - 10 Day Cruise
National Geographic Islander Galapagos Cruises

The perfect blend of activity and education the 48-guest National Geographic Islander offers snorkeling, hiking and expert guides and naturalists on this 7- or 10-day cruise in the Galapagos Islands.

Special Offer
From $5800USD
Year Round
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Grace Galapagos Cruises

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