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Galapagos Islands Cruise: 8-Day Cruise Aboard the 'Archipel II' - with unbiased reviews

Galapagos Islands Cruise: 8-Day Cruise Aboard the 'Archipel II'

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Experience an unmissable journey aboard the catamaran ‘Archipel II’, a comfortable motor yacht, as you sail around the UNESCO-listed Galapagos Islands on this 8-day cruise.  Accommodating no more than 16 passengers, this tour takes you to encounter land iguanas, giant tortoises and Darwin’s famous finches on nature walks, and listen to nightly briefings from a naturalist guide on-board. Sleep comfortably in your twin cabin equipped with sea-view windows. You will visit a variety of places from Santa Fe to Las Tintoreras, Elizabeth Bay to Punta Suarez and The Highlands to Tagus Cove. You will return home with stunning pictures and unforgettable lifelong memories!
Important Information
8 days
  • Lodging on-board in a cabin with private facilities.
  • Tea, coffee & water throughout the cruise.
  • Full board meals: Breakfast, buffet lunch & dinner (starts with lunch on day 1 and finishes with breakfast on the last day)
  • Afternoon snack after excursion.
  • Snorkelling gear (masks, flippers and snorkel) and use of kayaks at designated sites.
  • All excursions as mentioned in the itinerary (itinerary subject to change)
  • Certified English-speaking naturalist Galapagos guide.
  • Fuel surcharge
  • Landing and facility fees
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Bottled water
  • Coffee and/or Tea
  • Roundtrip flight to Galapagos Islands
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee (USD 100 pp, subject to change); Transit Control Card (USD 20 pp, subject to change)
  • Airport transfers in Galapagos
  • Soft & Alcoholic drinks (available to purchase)
  • Gratuities
  • Travel insurance and other items of personal nature.
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off (in Ecuador mainland)
  • Hotel drop-off (in Ecuador mainland)
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Additional Info
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Upon arrival at the airport, you will be transferred to the yacht, which will be waiting for you in the harbour.
  • After lunch, your first stop is Cerro Colorado, where the Tortoises Protection and Growing Centre is located. This centre was built to improve the status of the population of the island tortoises. The centre includes a large corral, a Visitors Centre, breeding centre and an interpretative trail. Along this trail it is possible to see different species of native and endemic plants as well as birds such as the San Cristobal Mockingbird, Yellow Warblers, many species of finches and the Galapagos flycatcher.
  • After breakfast you will make an unforgettable guided walk on South Plaza, the best place to encounter the endemic Galapagos land iguanas. Arriving at the upper rim, about 20m/75ft downwards, impressively droning waves splash against the foot of huge cliffs. Clouds of petrels, storm petrels, shearwaters and brown noddies make spectacular flights and sometimes appear to walk on the waves. Take your binoculars and don’t miss the red-billed tropicbird with its graceful long tail and spectacular mating fights. These cliffs are also a nesting place for the endemic swallow-tailed gull.
  • Before lunch we will sail to Santa Fe, escorted by bottlenose dolphins if we’re lucky. After lunch you will land right in the middle of a Galapagos sea lion colony on the beach, where you will have time for a refreshing swim or snorkel amongst tropical reef fish in the crystal-clear azure waters of Barrington Bay. At the end of the morning we have a wet landing on the beach of Santa Fe from where we will take a guided nature walk.
  • Chinese Hat is a 52m/170ft high volcanic cone, forming another islet right off the rocky coast of Santiago, where a small colony of Galapagos penguins has settled. Because its primordial fire has been extinguished recently, this is an excellent place to learn more about volcanism, lava bombs and lava tunnels. On the beach you can also find curious pillow-type lavas with coral heads on top! These spheres have a submarine origin before being lifted above sea level. Beaches of white coral sand grow, and holes in the eroding lava fields are filled up with lava sand, which enables rooting.
  • The Dragon Hill has been open to the public since 1993 and is located in the north-west of the island of Santa Cruz. A path leads to a salted water lagoon behind the beach, which is visited by flamingos, ducks and other bird species. This place was re-populated with land iguanas of Seymour, Isabela and Santa Cruz. From the top of the hill you have a beautiful view of the bay.
  • For the last stop, our dinghies will bring you to the touristic pier of Puerto Ayora; from where you will be brought to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here biological research and indispensable conservation management of this unique archipelago are carried out. The complex houses interpretation and information centres about the National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve around.
  • After lunch, your first stop will be Highlands in Santa Cruz. Here you will see wild Galapagos giant tortoises roaming on the woodlands in the populated agricultural zone of the island.
  • After the first breakfast, you will have the opportunity to spot White Tipped Reef Sharks in Las Tintoreras. These groups of islets are remnants of a lava stream that has ended up in the ocean, which marine life got trapped into. Here you can also observe rays, turtles and other types of smaller fish.
  • First, we will visit the Flamingos Lagoon, one of the main reproductive sites for the greater Flamingos.You will also get to discover the amazing and emblematic Giant Galapagos Tortoises in the Tortoise breeding centre, and maybe even get to see one hatch!
  • Punta Moreno is located between the volcanoes Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul, on the north coast of Isabela Island. The trail leads along the lava river Pahoehoe to a complex of several coastal lagoons. The main attraction are various bird species which can be found in lakes and mangrove forests.
  • After lunch, the inflatable dinghy will turn landwards, leaving the surf behind and entering the calm estuary of Elizabeth Bay through a narrow entrance. Graceful Pacific green turtles usually swim around here, and you may also see spotted eagle rays or sharks, besides brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies.
  • In the morning we will enter Bolivar Channel to Tagus Cove, meanwhile you can enjoy the delicious lunch buffet before snorkelling and visiting the island. During the hike along the inner crater ridge of Darwin Lake you can continue to a great viewpoint on the outer caldera rim, with views to the outstretched lava slopes of Darwin Volcano. During the hike you can spot different Darwin’s finches, flycatchers and Galapagos hawks.
  • On Isla Isabela, you will find the most particular natural selection. The figurehead is the emblematic flightless cormorant that lives exclusively in the remote west of the Galapagos, and could be considered as the ‘holy grail of evolution’. You will also love the almost unworldly views with the dominating cone of Volcán La Cumbre as a spectacular backdrop.
  • After breakfast, your last stop will be Las Bachas. Behind one of the beaches there are small water lagoons, where one can occasionally observe flamingos and other coastal birds; on the second beach you can explore the remains of two abandoned warships from the Second World War.
  • After the last visit, you will be transferred to Baltra Airport for your flight back to Quito or Guayaquil.
  • After your arrival at the airport, you will be transferred to the yacht, which will be waiting for you in the harbour.
  • The tabletop islet of North Seymour is an uplifted part of the seabed. Between the dry shrubs you might be lucky enough to see a Galapagos land iguana. You can spot numerous seabirds, such as brown pelicans, red-billed tropicbirds, endemic swallow-tailed gulls and even Nazca boobies (seasonally). Without doubt the main attraction is the archipelago’s most extensive breeding colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds. At the beginning of the breeding season adult frigatebird-males blow up their vivid red pouches to impressive football-sized balloons.
  • After breakfast, we will visit the island of Bartolomé, which rises 114m above Sullivan Bay. Climb the steps of the Bartolomé Peak Trail and you will be rewarded with panoramic views over volcanic peaks, lunar craters and lava fields. Afterwards you can be refreshed at the foot of the famous "Pinnacle Rock" and explore the underwater world with a snorkel. Although there is little vegetation on this island, it has two breathtaking beaches, where sea turtles live. At the foot of the mountain you can also discover a small colony of Galapagos penguins.
  • Espumilla Beach is a visitor’s site at the northern end of James Bay, on the western coast of Santiago. This beach has been revived as an important breeding site for turtles, as it is no longer suffering from digging wild pigs. The turtles return year after year to bury their eggs into the cinnamon coloured sand dunes. The beach ridge hides a mangle with two picturesque lagoons on the backside. The colony of American flamingos and aquatic birds used to be its main attraction, but after the climate phenomenon of El Niño, strong sedimentation altered the brackish water environment, and it no longer contains their food. Upon climbing a hill you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the transitions from sea into beach into mangrove into dry palo santo forest.
  • After breakfast we will navigate south to Puerto Egas with its famous
  • grottos, where you will make another, very different guided walk along the coastline. Its masterly sculptured coastline of black basalts and polished multi-coloured ash-layers forms a photogenic scene with collapsed lava tunnels, natural arches, caves and blowholes such as ‘Darwin’s toilet
  • In a grotto right below a spectacular rock arch at the end of the beach a colony of occupies the shade. Hundreds of
  • seem even brighter orange against the pitch-black rocks.
  • After lunch and a wet landing on the remarkable red beach of Rabida, two short guided hikes are programmed. Oxidised iron particles give rocks and sand their rusty colour. The beach wall holds a shallow green-fringed lagoon; this oasis is the most fertile place on the otherwise arid islet, which is overgrown with leaf-dropping
  • trees. The salty pool attracts all kinds of
  • like
  • and sometimes
  • Between the evergreen foliage of the surrounding
  • bushes many species of
  • hide and breed. An outstanding attraction is the major breeding colony of
  • pelicans, the only ones in the world that plunge-dive. Upon returning you will be picked up by the inflatable dinghies, to get ready for snorkelling.
  • For the last stop, our dinghies will bring you to the touristic pier of Puerto Ayora; from where you will be brought to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, biological research and indispensable conservation management of this unique archipelago are carried out. The complex houses interpretation and information centres about the National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
  • After lunch, your first stop will be Highlands in Santa Cruz. Here you will see wild Galapagos giant tortoises roaming on the woodlands in the populated agricultural zone of the island.
  • After your first breakfast aboard the yacht, you will visit Cormorant Point. At the landing beach, you will be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion-colony. The sand is green on this beach because it contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals, which have been blown out by the surrounding tuff cones.
  • While having lunch we will navigate back to Post Office Bay. Post your holiday greetings in the historical barrel, one of three nearby visitor’s sites on Floreana’s north coast! Besides Galapagos sea lions, Pacific green turtles and golden cownose rays, you might also spot Galapagos penguins.
  • On the north-eastern coast of the island of Española, the Gardner Bay offers a wonderful place to relax in the turquoise sea and to admire the large number of colourful reef fishe. You will also have the opportunity to snorkel alongside green sea turtles, or to enjoy the proximity of the playful Galapagos Sea Lion. In the crystal-clear ocean, sometimes whales can be sighted!
  • After lunch, we will visit another part of Isla Española. This rocky area is home to the most impressive and diverse seabirds of the archipelago. Here you will have the chance to meet the endangered Galapagos albatross, Blue-fronted and nazcat oil pipes, black-tailed gulls and also red-billed tropic birds, which are native to this island.
  • Two wind sculptured tuff cones at Pitt Point constitute the extreme eastern end of San Cristobal. On the green sand beach, you will be welcomed by a cacophony of barking Galapagos sea lions. From the saltbush and spiny shrubs behind the beach, a trail leads up to an area of tropical dry forest vegetation. After the pretty steep climb through a gully to the cliff top, you can wander around the only colony on the Galapagos that is home to all the species of booby.
  • After lunch, we will be directed to "Witch Hill". The primary attraction of this site is the coral sand beach, which hosts the remains of a tuff cone. It was one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. It has an impressive landscape; at times the lagoon is completely dry and deposits of salt can be found at the bottom. The people of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno used to use the lagoon as a salt mine.
  • Our last stop will be Isla Lobos. The island is named after the amount of sea lions that rest on the seaside. Though at first sight the barren rocks are overgrown with palo santo, this low islet is home to male blue footed boobies and great frigate birds who try to impress the females with clumsy dances heaving their striking blue feet or blowing up their balloon-sized scarlet pouches. You can also find a lot of life in the intertidal zone, including striking bright orange sally lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas on the boulders. On the horizon you can distinguish the contours of Kicker Rock. This impressive rock islet has become one of the landmarks of the Galapagos.
  • After Isla Lobos, you will be transferred to San Cristobal Airport for your flight to Quito or Guayaquil.
  • Near public transportation
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 16 travelers
Cancellation Policy
All sales are final and incur 100% cancellation penalties.
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657erwin wrote a review Jan 2020
24 contributions7 helpful votes
We have recently combined two 8-day tours aboard the Archipell II Catamaran in order to see the entire archipelago. If you have the chance and the means to do so: do it! The islands are incredibly beautiful and the privilege of seeing these islands and their animals is
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Date of experience: December 2019
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Key Details
  • Duration: 8 days
  • Mobile Ticket Accepted
  • Languages Offered: English, Spanish
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