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 Itinerary Map
Day by Day
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, all passengers will partake in an emergency boat drill. Afterwards, you will be assigned to your cabin and then be invited to 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 will head back aboard for a welcome cocktail and an expedition briefing about the following day. Dinner is served shortly after this.
Day 2 - Santiago Island
After breakfast, we will get to 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 will also get to marvel at the fantastic geological formations such as “Elephant Rock” and “The Bishop” as well as an impressive natural cave. Here, you will have the chance to go snorkeling, take a ride on the dinghy or the 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 be lucky enough to 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. A chance to ride the glass-bottom boat is also offered. 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 will 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
You will begin your last morning on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. After breakfast, your luggage will be taken to the airport while guests themselves 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 will 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!
Monday to Friday*
Monday to Friday*
Prices (per person) & Conditions
- All meals
- Bilingual naturalist guides
- Conferences and lectures
- Visits to the islands mentioned in the itinerary
- Transportation to/from the airport in Galapagos on cruise arrival and departure dates
- Snorkeling equipment
- Glass-bottom boat
- 24/7 Onboard Medical Officer
- Luggage handling
- Shared transfers from main hotels in Quito (Casa Gangotena, Hilton Colon, Sheraton, Marriott, Dann Carlton) and in Guayaquil (Hilton Colon, Oro Verde, Wyndham, Sheraton) to airport for flights to/from Galapagos are included in these rates. To coordinate these transfers, we must have guests’ hotel contact information. Note: These transfer services are only available on the cruise departure and return dates.
- Airline tickets to/from Galapagos*
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee (US$100 per person)**
- Transit Control Card for Galapagos (US$20 per person)**
- Wetsuits (available for rent)
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages*** (you can also ask your destination expert to include a drinks package in your quote. Ask us about all the available options we have for you!)
- Gifts and additional items
- Fuel surcharge
- Wi-Fi internet (Intermittent and low-bandwidth. Available for an additional fee)
*Upon request, airline tickets can be included. Metropolitan Touring guarantees availability of these flights. Airfare is subject to change.
**Upon request, we can include the Galapagos National Park and INGALA Transit Control Card fees (US$100 and US$20 respectively and subject to change without prior notice). However, due to logistical reasons, these fees can only be included when guests travel on the operational departure date and not before.
***Guests may bring their own wine or spirits; however, there is a corkage fee of $25 USD + tax.
*This itinerary departs every second Monday. If a Monday does not appear in our list of sailing dates, it is either because we are fully booked for that Monday departure period or simply because we do not operate this specific itinerary on that Monday departure period due to our 15-day sailing cycle (to cover each separate region of the archipelago).
1) During peak season dates, Metropolitan Touring reserves the right to prioritize reservations taking into account factors such as payment and confirmation dates. A peak season supplement also applies.
2) Metropolitan Touring reserves the right to limit the number of twin/double cabins for single use dependent on availability.
3) Explorer Cabins for single use incur a surcharge of 15% of the price per person. Only 5 cabins are available for single use. Please check availability first.
4) If more cabins are needed for single use, twin/double cabins incur a 100% surcharge when used as singles. Please check availability first.
5) Explorer Family Cabins (2) for twin/double use incur a 50% surcharge per person.
6) Explorer Family Cabins accommodate 2 adults and 1 child under 12 years old, only in exceptional cases will 3 adults be allowed. Please check with your Destination Expert regarding limitations and requirements, prior to confirming.
7) Regardless of the number of cabins occupied, the ship’s authorized maximum operating capacity cannot exceed 90 guests.
(#) = number of cabins per category
2020 Rates Valid: January 01, 2020 through December 31, 2020 (except Peak Season)
2021 Rates Valid: January 01, 2021 through December 31, 2021 (except Peak Season)
All rates are subject to change. In the event of an increase in fuel prices, a fuel surcharge may apply.