Our Northern Galapagos cruise itinerary together begins at Baltra airport, from which we’ll sail to the glorious white beach of Las Bachas with a pair of brackish water lagoons only a few steps from the sea. These lagoons serve as feeding grounds for various wading birds, including stilts, pintail ducks, and flamingos. As we continue our voyage, we explore two fascinating visitor sites on Santiago Island: Buccaneer Cove, home to a large number of marine birds, sea lions, and inter-tidal organisms; and Puerto Egas, with its fantastic tidal pools that are full of life and good snorkeling and swimming opportunities. The next day we visit the red-sand beach of Rabida Island along with a lovely trail around some cliffs and a popular spot for aquatic activities, with some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands! In the afternoon, we round out the day with a stop at Bartolome Island, which offers a volcanic viewpoint with room for hiking, swimming, and exploring the beach and the coast. Bartolome is one of the few spots in the Galapagos that will give you the chance to see Galapagos penguins. From here we sail northeast, crossing the equatorial line, to the sunken crater of Genovesa Island, home to thousands of marine birds. It feels like a world a million miles from our own. We finish with an incredible encounter with nature through which we respectfully share a wild habitat with giant Galapagos tortoises at a private reserve up in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island and then make our way to the airport at Baltra.
Northern Galapagos Highlights
Northern Galapagos Wildlife
Northern Galapagos Travel Itinerary Map
Day 1 - Baltra & Santa Cruz Islands
You will land in Baltra Island by plane in the morning and then take a guided transfer to the dock to board the Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise. After an introductory briefing onboard, passengers partake in an emergency boat drill. Afterwards, they receive their cabin assignments, and enjoy a hardy and delicious lunch.
Las Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz Island)
This beautiful visitor site is located on the northern shore of Santa Cruz Island, where a glorious white beach awaits along with a couple of brackish lagoons that are just a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons actually serve as the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. You are more than welcome to enjoy swimming and snorkeling activities at this beach, too. Afterwards, we head back aboard for a welcome cocktail and an expedition briefing about the next day. Dinner follows.
Day 2 - Santiago Island
After breakfast, we explore the coastline along the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove, all while learning about the area’s history. This cove is home to a large number of marine birds, sea lions, and inter-tidal organisms. We also get to marvel at the fantastic geological formations, such as “Elephant Rock” and “The Bishop” as well as an impressive natural cave. Here, we have the chance to go snorkeling, take a ride on a dinghy or glass-bottom boat.
After disembarking at the beach here, you will get to enjoy a swim or snorkel along the rocky shorelines, typically in the company of marine turtles. From here, the excursion will head off on a walk that gives you a great opportunity to see some of the Galapagos iconic species as they skitter about a landscape that consists of tuff-stone layers and lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas can oftentimes be found grazing upon the algae beds nearby. We can also observe a colony of fur-sea lions. After the visit, the whole group will have some additional time for swimming and/or snorkeling.
Day 3 - Rabida & Bartolome Islands
Some groups here will opt to go for a fascinating dinghy ride along the shores while others may choose to disembark on Rabida Island’s mesmerizing, red-colored beach. The color of this beach is the result of the unusually high levels of iron that are found within its sand. The walk here will bring guests close to a colony of Galapagos sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. Not far from the beach here, a saltwater pond is occasionally seen hosting American flamingos. This is also a great place to take a dip and snorkel along the beach, thanks in large part to the unique combination of underwater species and aquatic terrain. As the Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise sails to the next island from Rabida, we might even spot dolphins!
Today’s afternoon activities begin with a wet landing on the golden beach of this famous island, dominated by the imposing Pinnacle Rock. This is another great place for all of us to go for a swim and snorkel from the beach. Guests also have the opportunity to ride the glass-bottom boat. After returning to the ship, guests will be split into two groups: the first group will go for a hike to the summit of this relatively small island, the viewpoint of which boasts fantastic views of the archipelago. This “climb” consists of a moderately steep incline that’s made even easier thanks to the presence of a wooden staircase, complete with resting platforms and handrails. The view from the top is well worth the effort! The second group, in the meantime, will get to explore the rugged and volcanic shoreline aboard the dinghies. The groups will then swap spots so that each one experiences the full beauty of this iconic island.
Day 4 - Genovesa Island
Prince Philip’s Steps
The morning starts with a steep climb (only 90 feet/28 meters) up a flight of stairs to reach a flat and rocky plateau. Once there, you can walk along comfortably and check out large colonies of Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds and storm petrels. Otherwise, you can opt for enjoying a longer dinghy ride along the cliffs, weather permitting. Kayaking here is optional.
In the afternoon, we land at the beautiful beach that lines this bay to enjoy some swimming and/or snorkeling. Following this refreshing dip, the excursion will head out to take a stroll and observe hundreds of birds, mainly: frigatebirds, red-footed and Nazca boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. Opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking and swimming are available here.
Day 5 - Baltra & Santa Cruz Island
We begin our last morning on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. After breakfast, guests’ luggage is taken to the airport while they head out for one last visit over at the Giant Tortoise Reserve. Following a dry landing at a passenger’s wharf and a bus ride to the higher region of the island, guests get to experience the final highlight of this itinerary: giant tortoises roaming around in the wild. These lush highlands include dense forests consisting of Galapagos daisies, orchids and bromeliads as well as several endemic land birds.
After this final visit, you will take your transfer vehicle to Baltra airport and say farewell to Galapagos Islands!