Day 1: Your adventure begins in Guayaguil
Tauck's Galápagos cruise adventure begins at the Hilton Colón Guayaquil. A transfer is included from Guayaquil’s José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport to Hilton Colón Guayaquil, located in a pleasant area of the city not far from the airport. Most international flights arrive late in the day.
Day 2: Fly to the Galápagos Islands and embark your Galápagos cruise
From Guayaquil, fly to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island, 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast and home to wildlife found nowhere else in the world – the starting point of your 6-night Galápagos cruise aboard Tauck’s comfortable expeditionary-style yacht, Isabela II, topped by an observation deck. After boarding the ship, an orientation briefing and lunch begin the afternoon. Then head out for a dry landing at Puerto Baquierizo Moreno to board a bus that takes you to the Cerro Colorado reserve, where efforts are underway to save the endangered giant tortoise. Back aboard ship, relax with a welcome cocktail, be briefed on tomorrow’s activities and enjoy dinner aboard ship.
Day 3: Going for the views atop Genovesa Island
A morning panga* ride along the cliffs of Genovesa (Tower) Island stops for a dry landing on the rocks of Prince Philip’s Steps. It’s your choice: continue exploring by panga or join us for a climb of about 90 ft. up rock-hewn steps. Once at the top, a walk of across flat land brings remarkable views. Among the bird colonies that live here are Nazca and red-footed boobies, great frigate birds, storm petrels, lava-and-swallow-tailed gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. Snorkeling* or kayaking* are available. After lunch, a wet landing on the island leads to an easy stroll. You can continue walking with our naturalist over sharp lava and uneven terrain for the reward of dramatic views, or if you prefer, return to the beach for swimming or snorkeling.
Day 4: Intriguing wildlife & lava on Santiago Island
Climb aboard a panga this morning to explore Buccaneers’ Cove on Santiago Island; back in the 17th and 18th centuries, the cove was known as favored stashing grounds for pirated gold and other treasures. When you visit Buccaneers' Cove on your Galápagos cruise today, however, the treasures you’ll find are the natural kind: marine birds, anemones, barnacles and sea stars, marine iguanas and fur seals. This afternoon, join us for a wet landing at Puerto Egas, where a walk along the coastline lets you experience the porous texture of tuff stone and rocky lava flows, formed long ago by volcanic activity. Afterward, enjoy a refreshing swim on the beach.
Day 5: Meet the Galápagos young islands – Islas Isabela & Fernandina
Today Isabela II makes her way to Isabela and Fernandina, the youngest of the Galápagos Islands (they're only about 5 to 10 million years old). The day begins on Isabela Island with a guided mile-long walk from Punta Espinoza through lava flows. You can expect greetings along the way from the locals, who may include: blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants, penguins, martins, terns, marine iguanas and sea lions. Next head to Fernandina Island for an opportunity to go snorkeling from one of the Galápagos' most pristine islands; keep an eye out for Sally Lightfoot Crabs and flightless cormorants. This afternoon, it’s off to secluded Tagus Cove on Isabela, a favorite anchorage spot for pirates and whalers in the 19th century. Join us for a hike to view scenic Darwin Lake from above and then explore the volcanic cliffs along the cove on a panga ride. Swimming, snorkeling or kayaking are all options this afternoon.
Day 6: Checking out volcanic Urbina Bay on Isabela
In the 1950s, geological activity on Isabela Island caused a mass of land to lift up some 15 ft., leaving the coastline pushed further out to sea and the underwater marine life stranded ashore. At Urbina Bay, take a walk across terrain that was once the ocean floor – making sure to tread carefully around delicate coral and shells. Share the sunshine with sunbathing land iguanas, penguins, Noddy Terns, Nazca boobies and flocks of Darwin’s finches as you observe coral reef formations with our naturalist, who will point out all the unique wildlife you'll encounter. This afternoon on your Galápagos cruise, you'll explore by panga along the coast of Punta Vicente Roca on northern Isabela Island, an area known for abundant sea life. Depending on the conditions of the waters, snorkeling may be possible.
Day 7: Exploring Rabida & Santa Cruz Islands
Choose an early morning wake-up call this morning if you’d like to join us on the lookout for whales. After breakfast, it’s time to go exploring along the sandy beach of Rabida (Jervis) Island, where views may include sea lions, marine iguanas and yellow warblers. Snorkeling here is a pleasure, for beginners and the experienced, but another option is a ride by glass bottom boat or kayak. Later, a dry landing and on a trail walk on Cerro Dragon, named after the land iguanas that inhabit the area on northern Santa Cruz Island, you'll find lagoons that are home to stilts, pintail ducks and sandpipers. Savor spectacular views of the islands. This evening, join us for farewell cocktails aboard Isabela II and bid farewell to the crew before your final night of sailing on your Galápagos cruise.
Day 8: Back to Guayaquil as your Galápagos cruise ends
Disembark Isabela II in Baltra today for your return flight to Guayaquil for another night at the Hilton Colón Guayaquil; spend some free time at your hotel or perhaps strolling the city's waterfront promenade, El Malecón. Tonight, we invite you to share favorite experiences from your Galápagos cruise with your fellow travelers at our farewell cocktail party and dinner.
Day 9: Your Galápagos cruise ends
Your Galápagos cruise adventure ends in Guayaquil. A transfer is included from the Hilton Colón Guayaquil to Guayaquil’s José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport; allow 3 hours for flight check-in.