- Available: April-December
- Activity: Level 2
- Accommodations: Comfortable Small Ship, Comfortable Hotels
Min Age: 6
Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin on this inspirational small-group adventure through the enchanted islands of the Galápagos. This classic Eastern Loop route takes in the natural wonders of the eastern islands of Genovesa, San Cristobal, Española, and Santa Fe; as well as one western island, Santiago; and the central islands of Floreana, Santa Cruz, and South Plaza. The eastern islands are geologically the oldest islands in the Galapagos, allowing more time for vegetation to take hold and flora to thrive in fertile volcanic soils. Hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking under the guidance of MT Sobek's dedicated naturalist guide gets you amazingly close to the wildlife both underwater and on land. After each action-filled day, return to your intimate 16-passenger private yacht to rest and re-energize.
Explore further on our range of exciting pre- or post-trip extensions in Ecuador. To learn more about the Galapagos Islands and what you can expect from MT Sobek boats and adventures, check out our Galapagos Islands Visitor Guide.
- Experience the fantastic diversity of endemic birdlife on Genovesa, San Cristobal and Española Islands, including red-footed boobies and waved albatross that are found only on these eastern islands
- Marvel at magnificent giant tortoises in various life stages at a breeding center on San Cristobal, where these ancient creatures roam in a semi-natural habitat
- Discover the fascinating human history of Floreana and leave your mail in the barrel at Post Office Bay, and capture one of the most photographed views in the Galapagos at Pinnacle Rock
Arrive in Quito
Welcome to the historic city of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. An MT Sobek representative will meet you outside customs at the airport and escort you to your hotel. After settling in at the hotel, the rest of the day is free unwind, take advantage of the pool's spa services or begin your exploration of this dynamic city. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Accommodation: Swissotel-Quito, Ecuador
Tour Quito's Old Town
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before setting out on half-day guided tour of colonial Quito. The city's UNESCO-listed old town contains the best examples of Colonial Baroque architecture in South America! After lunch, you are free to explore more of the old town, return to the hotel, or shop for handicrafts made by local artisans.
Gather in the hotel at 6:30pm for a briefing with your fellow travelers and MT Sobek representative, who will discuss tomorrow's flight to the Galápagos Islands and the adventure ahead. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Accommodation: Swissotel-Quito, Ecuador
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Fly to the Galápagos Islands
Rise for breakfast and an early transfer flight from Quito to Baltra Island in the Galápagos. After meeting your naturalist guide, board your private yacht in time for lunch. Make a first stop late this afternoon off of Mosquera Islet to see a large sea lion colony and several species of birds. Enjoy a welcome dinner onboard.
Activity: 1-1.5 hours/up to 0.5 miles walking
Transportation: 2-hour flight transfer & 1-hour private vehicle transfer
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hike & Snorkel on Santiago & Bartolomé Islands
Get a sense of the primordial beginnings of our planet as you walk across a recent lava flow at Santiago's Sullivan Bay and view its beautiful structural characteristics. Formed in the second half of the 19th century, the flow is too young for much plant or animal life. It is the lava itself and the contrasting black pahoehoe flow and the reddish-yellow tuff cones that are the stars of this visit. The colors and shapes of the lava are fantastic for photos. You will also have the option to swim or snorkel from a coral sand beach or from the dinghies. Getting underwater is like traveling to another world: if the land is almost lifeless, the sea is teaming with life, including large schools of fish, Galápagos penguins, reef sharks, turtles and rays.
After lunch, visit Bartolomé Island for another exceptional snorkeling opportunity. This area holds a well-deserved reputation of being one of the best snorkeling places in the Galápagos, not only because of its clear and calm waters, but also because of the presence of Galápagos penguins, which are relatively easy to find while snorkeling, along with an incredible diversity of fish, colorful invertebrates, sea lions, turtles, rays and reef sharks. End the day with a climb up to the pinnacle of this ancient cinder cone. At the top you will enjoy spectacular views of Pinnacle Rock, Santiago Island, and Daphne Major and Minor. Arguably, the most iconic landmark in Galápagos, Pinnacle Rock juts straight out of Bartolomé's northern bay.
Return to the boat for cocktail hour and dinner.
Activity: AM wet landing, 2-hour walk (1.4 miles) and snorkeling; PM dry and wet landings, 1.5-hour walk (0.9 miles) and snorkeling
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Discover the Rich Birdlife of Genovesa Island
Genovesa Island is known as Bird Island and is one of the most interesting for visitors! Explore the cliffs by Zodiac before climbing Prince Phillip's Steps to the island's plateau. The landing sport is a rock fall that forms a natural staircase up the cliffs but the rest of the trail is quite easy and leveled. Walk through massive colonies of Red-footed and Nazca Boobies and an extraordinary Palo Santo forest on the way to a lava ridge where thousands of storm petrels dart about while Short-eared owls stalk them for prey. This is one of the trails in the entire Galápagos with the most abundance of fauna. Snorkelers can explore the cliffs, where there are many fish and great chances of seeing sharks, rays and sea lions.
After lunch, hike along Darwin Beach on the north side of Darwin Bay, formed by the rim of a sunken crater. Red mangroves along the trail provide habitat for yellow warblers, yellow-crowned night herons, and pintail ducks. The highlight of this site is the incredible abundance of Red-footed Boobies, Great Frigatebirds and Swallow-tailed Gulls. Despite being the most abundant species of booby in the islands, the red-footed is rarely seen unless you visit Genovesa. The bay also offers several places to snorkel; from deep waters along the cliffs across the bay, to shallow waters by the beach. In either case, there are many fish to see and great chances of seeing sharks, rays and sea lions.
Activity: AM dry landing, 3-hour (2 miles) hike and snorkeling; PM wet landing, 2-hour (0.6 miles) walk and snorkeling
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
See Giant Tortoises on San Cristóbal Island & Explore Isla Lobos
Step ashore in the main port of San Cristóbal Island where a private vehicle awaits to take you to the lush highlands for a special opportunity to visit the giant tortoise breeding center, La Galapaguera. The Galapagos Islands are named after these magnificent, ancient creatures and seeing and photographing them in a semi-natural habitat and in various life stages is magical. Also stop at the Interpretation Center of San Cristóbal, a modern and sophisticated architectural space that provides an excellent overview of the volcanic formation of the islands, the evolution of species, the history of human settlement, and conservation efforts and threats.
After lunch, stop at Isla Lobos, separated from San Cristóbal by a narrow channel, for opportunities to snorkel with sea lions, sea turtles, and tropical fish. There is also a short rocky trail great for viewing blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, marine iguanas, lava lizards and the endemic Galapagos snake. Also enjoy views of the picturesque León Dormido - a huge volcanic monolith located just offshore.
Activity: AM dry landing, 2-hour (1 mile) walk; PM panga cruise plus 2-3 hours hiking, swimming and snorkeling
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Birdwatch & Snorkel on Española Island
Wake to stroll along a magnificent coral sand beach at Gardner Bay - considered one of the best in the islands. Here, sea lions bask, marine turtles nest, and the curious Española mockingbirds follow your every footstep. Take a brief swim on the beach or snorkel in the company of schools of colorful fish (including Angelfish, Parrotfish, Damselfish, and Surgeonfish), turtles, sea lions, and possibly small sharks along the underwater cliffs of Gardner, a small satellite islet.
After lunch, experience incredible birdlife at Punta Suárez, one of the most famed visitor sites in the Galápagos. You'll be dazzled by spectacular cliff views of pounding surf and seemingly unlimited populations of an amazing variety of seabirds. Brightly-colored marine iguanas and the largest lava lizards in the Galápagos frequent the coastline and rest on the trail. From the cliff top, watch a blowhole spray water up to 100 feet in the air. Española is the only island where you can see waved albatrosses and possibly observe their fascinating mating dance (seasonally from April to December). Also visit large colonies of Nazca and Blue-footed boobies and Swallow-tailed Gulls. This is one of the best places to see the top raptor of these islands: the Galápagos Hawk.
Activity: AM wet landing, 1-hour walk (0.5 miles) and 1 hour snorkeling; PM dry landing, 2-3 hour walk (1.1 miles)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Floreana Island with Post Office Bay, Punta Cormorant, & Devil's Crown
After an early breakfast, call at historic Post Office Bay on the north side of Floreana Island, and walk a short distance along the beach to the wooden barrel that has served as an informal post office in the archipelago since the 18th century. If you wish, send postcards to your friends and relatives and/or pick up mail to deliver in your home town! Also snorkel from the beach to look for fish, rays and sea turtles.
After lunch on board, venture ashore a green-tinged beach to observe the flamingos and other water birds that frequent the lagoon at Punta Cormorant and see the white-sand Flour Beach where sea turtles come out at night to nest. Then cruise to Devil's Crown for a panga ride around a small satellite islet of Floreana, with a group of rocks that resemble a crown due to the constant erosion caused by the sea. Snorkelers will enjoy one of the top snorkeling sites in the islands, swimming in clear waters with schools of colorful fish, turtles, spotted eagle rays, and perhaps hammerhead sharks.
Activity: AM wet landing, 30-minute (0.5 miles) walk, PM wet landing, 2-hour (1 mile) walk and snorkeling
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Santa Fé and South Plaza Islands
Wake to explore the beautiful bay and turquoise waters of Santa Fé Island. After landing on a white beach usually covered with sea lions, walk into a giant Opuntia cactus grove in search of endemic land iguanas and possibly Galápagos Hawks. Afterwards, you can snorkel and/or kayak in the turquoise waters of the bay, full of sea lions, sea turtles, rays, urchins, eels, and very colorful fish, including large schools of surgeonfish and parrotfish.
Next it's on to South Plaza Island for an afternoon walk. Both North and South Plazas were formed by geological uplift and tilt to the north, with cliffs on their southern coasts. On small islands like this, terrestrial and marine species interact more than on the larger islands, and the occasional hybrid iguana (land and marine) with its "zebra-like" stripes can often be observed. The south facing cliffs swarm with a myriad of bird species, including tropicbirds, pelicans, boobies, Galápagos shearwaters, and swallow-tailed gulls. Bachelor sea lions climb steep cliffs in the late afternoon to spend nights away from the larger dominant bulls. Look for endemic land iguanas under the prickly-pear cactus.
Back on the boat tonight, enjoy a festive farewell cocktail hour and a group dinner with the captain.
Activity: AM wet landing, 1-hour walk (0.5 miles) and option to snorkel or kayak; PM 2-hour walk (0.8 miles)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Depart from the Galápagos in Baltra & Return to Quito
Wake up early to disembark in the port of Puerto Ayora for a last excursion in the islands: a visit to the Charles Darwin Station, located in the main port on Santa Cruz Island. See the breeding pens where tortoises and land iguanas are bred in captivity in an attempt to mitigate the danger of extinction on various islands. Thanks to the dedicated work of several institutions, some species are being saved. Transfer to Baltra for your flight back to Quito. An MT Sobek representative will greet you at Quito airport and provide assistance to your nearby hotel.
Accommodation: Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel-Quito
Transportation: 2-hour flight transfer and 5-minute transfer
Use the complimentary airport shuttle to transfer to the airport in time for your outbound flight, or opt to stay on in Quito to join us for one of our extensions in Ecuador or Peru!
- Go Custom
The earlier you book, the more choice of available dates you’ll have and once you book, your price is guaranteed.
- Apr 06 - 16, 2023$7,595 price per person dbl occ+$600 internal airfare+$350 single supplement (hotels only)+$3,800 single supplement (hotel & yacht)+$20 transit control cardAvailableConfirmed
- Nov 16 - 26, 2023$7,595 price per person dbl occ+$600 internal airfare+$350 single supplement (hotels only)+$3,800 single supplement (hotel & yacht)+$20 transit control cardAvailable
- Dec 14 - 24, 2023$7,595 price per person dbl occ+$600 internal airfare+$350 single supplement (hotels only)+$3,800 single supplement (hotel & yacht)+$20 transit control cardAvailable
Create Your Very Own Adventure
Dreaming of an adventure designed exclusively for you? With insider access and decades of experience, our travel experts create custom tailored adventures that are perfect for families, couples, and large groups. MT Sobek's custom adventures are designed to our exacting standards and led by our award-winning adventure guides.
When to start planning? Earlier is always better when designing a custom trip. More time allows for better availability of preferred accommodations, guides and your desired activities. Ideally, start the conversation with us at least 6 months before you want to travel. If you are looking for a custom trip that departs within three months, chances are greatly diminished in securing requested accommodations and the best guides.
*Custom trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit once an itinerary is agreed upon.Start Planning
- Expertise and services of our experienced adventure guides
- All accommodations as noted in the itinerary
- All breakfasts, almost all lunches and dinners as noted in the itinerary
- Snacks and water between meals
- Additional regional guides and experts on many trips
- Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
- Private guided tours at historic sites, museums, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
- Special events and other select attractions as mentioned in the itinerary
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
- Equipment and experienced guides for activities as described in the itinerary
- Park and other entry fees (unless otherwise noted)
- Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the itinerary
- Select transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
- Baggage transfers and porterage
Price Does Not Include
- Galápagos National Park fee, collected upon arrival (Age 12 and older: $100 / Age 11 and younger: $50)
- Wetsuit rentals
- Galapagos Transit Control Card
- International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
- Alcoholic beverages (MT Sobek provides wine at select events)
- Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and guide-drivers
- Travel Protection Program
- Personal expenses
Contact An Expert
Need help picking your next adventure? Call us to answer your questions.
Luis was born in Seville, Spain, and graduated from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid with a degree in Environmental Biology. He is fluent in Spanish, English, and French and has guided in Galapagos since 1999. In addition to being a professional nature photographer, Luis has a Master's Degree in Geographic Ecology and is active with conservation groups. A born teacher, he enthusiastically shares his knowledge of Galapagos with people of all ages. He lives in Quito with his wife, twin sons, and daughter and is MT Sobek's head naturalist guide.
Greg arrived in the Galapagos in 1982 leading the Cambridge Darwin Centenary Galapagos Expedition to conduct research on the feeding ecology of marine iguanas. After graduating from the University of London with an honors degree in Biology, Greg's research in Galapagos has encompassed a wide range of ecological projects, including studies on sperm whales and the endangered Galapagos petrel. Greg and his wife have retraced Darwin's footsteps through Galapagos using information from his original notebooks and manuscripts of the famous voyage.
Patricia has been guiding diving trips in Galapagos since 1999. A native of Switzerland and originally a journalist for the Swiss News Agency, Patricia started her career in guiding as a divemaster in Honduras in 1995 and as a naturalist guide in Costa Rica. She is fascinated by wildlife, is a passionate teacher, and an active conservationist in the islands. As a resident of Galapagos, she will be able to give you an insider's viewpoint of life in the islands. Patricia is fluent in English, German, and French.
1-1.5 hours/up to 0.5 miles walking
AM wet landing, 2-hour walk (1.4 miles) and snorkeling; PM dry and wet landings, 1.5-hour walk (0.9 miles) and snorkeling
AM dry landing, 3-hour (2 miles) hike and snorkeling; PM wet landing, 2-hour (0.6 miles) walk and snorkeling
AM dry landing, 2-hour (1 mile) walk; PM panga cruise plus 2-3 hours hiking, swimming and snorkeling
AM wet landing, 1-hour walk (0.5 miles) and 1 hour snorkeling; PM dry landing, 2-3 hour walk (1.1 miles)
AM wet landing, 30-minute (0.5 miles) walk, PM wet landing, 2-hour (1 mile) walk and snorkeling
AM wet landing, 1-hour walk (0.5 miles) and option to snorkel or kayak; PM 2-hour walk (0.8 miles)
Cruise the Galapagos in style aboard the 115-foot Galaxy motor yacht. Her eight beautiful double cabins, with a capacity for 16 adventurers, come equipped with en-suite bathrooms and A/C for maximum comfort. The Galaxy features an attractive dining room, bar and lounge, and open sundeck for relaxing while aboard - plus inflatable pangas, kayaks, and snorkeling equipment.
The upscale Swissôtel offers five-star comfort in Quito's Floresta neighborhood, close to great shopping, interesting museums, and the city's architectural gems. Elegant and comfortable rooms feature city or mountain views, flat-screen TVs with premium channels, complimentary Wi-Fi, and more. There are four restaurants onsite offering a variety of international cuisine. Other perks include a fitness center and an indoor pool.
Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel-Quito
The Wyndham Quito Airport is a convenient and comfortable stopover after your journey back from the Galápagos chosen for its location right next to the airport. Both international and Ecuadorian food options are available at the onsite restaurant and for room service. Rooms have large TVs and free WiFi. There is a 24-hour complimentary airport shuttle.
When and where should I arrive?
Arrive in Quito any time on Day 1. An MT Sobek representative will meet you and transfer you to the hotel. Most flights from the US arrive late at night.
How qualified are your guides in the Galápagos?
Our Galápagos Naturalist Guides are all rated Level 3 by the Galápagos National Park, which is the highest level of qualification, and means each guide has passed the Naturalist Level II course certifying that he/she has expert knowledge of the Galápagos Islands. This level guide will also hold a university degree in biology, biology related fields, and/or tourism, and must be fluent in 3 languages.
Can I charter a yacht for a private adventure?
Yes, you can! Private charters are a great option for families and large groups. For more details, please call our Regional Galápagos Specialists at 1-888-831-7526.
When is the best time to go to the Galapagos?
The Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination, with something to see and do every month. The warmer season is the best time for warmer, calmer seas and good underwater visibility. The water is choppiest in September. Late spring brings the mating season for frigate birds and blue-footed boobies!
What is the difference between the ship types?
MT Sobek offers four motorized yachts and catamarans, ranging from deluxe to luxury, and each carrying a maximum of just 16 guests, ensuring a personalized experience and on-going small-group discussion with our dedicated Naturalist Guide.
-The Galaxy is a deluxe 115-foot motor yacht built in 2006, with 9 cabins.
-The EcoGalaxy is a deluxe 88-foot catamaran built in 2013 and designed to minimize environmental impact, with 8 cabins.
-The Integrity is a luxury 141-foot motor yacht built in 2005, with 9 cabins including an Owner\'s Suite and a dedicated single cabin.
-The Endemic is a new luxury 115-foot catamaran built in 2018, with 9 spacious suite cabins (including one dedicated single cabin) each with floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies.
Each of the ships is fully air-conditioned, comes with the highest safety standards and a highly experienced and professional crew, and can boast excellent cuisine.
Am I able to extend my stay before or after my Galápagos cruise?
Absolutely! There are several ways to extend your stay in Ecuador and Peru before and after the trip. We recommend a 4 or 5 day excursion to the Sacha Jungle Lodge in the Upper Amazon Rainforest, where we see toucans and monkeys among many other creatures. Or visit the Hacienda Zuleta and Otavalo Market on our 2 or 3 day extension. Many people choose to explore Cusco and Machu Picchu on our 5-day extension in Peru, or explore the Mindo Cloud Forest on a 2 or 3 days extension.
How Does MT Sobek Support Conservation in the Galapagos?
MT Sobek is a proud supporting travel partner of the Galapagos Conservancy. All of our highly-experienced naturalist guides are also active in conservation and work closely with the Galapagos National Park.
What is the difference between Eastern and Western Loop Routes?
Our Eastern Loop route on Galaxy takes in the natural wonders of the eastern islands of Genovesa, San Cristobal, Española, and Santa Fe; as well as one western island, Santiago; and the central islands of Floreana, Santa Cruz, and South Plaza. The eastern islands are geologically the oldest islands in the Galapagos, allowing more time for vegetation to take hold and flora to thrive in fertile volcanic soils.
Our Western Loop route on Galaxy takes in the natural wonders of the western islands of Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, Sombrero Chino, and Rábida, as well as the central islands of Santa Cruz and North Seymour. The western islands are younger and more volcanically active, studded with cones, craters, and a rippled lava landscape. Here you\'ll be amazed by the bounty of life that thrives in this volcanic landscape.
Highlights of each island we visit on our Eastern Loop Route include:
Santiago: See photogenic contrasting black pahoehoe lava and reddish-yellow tuff cones at Sullivan Bay, and enjoy some of the archipelago\'s best snorkeling in the waters off of Santiago\'s satellite islet of Bartolomé Island, with clear, calm waters teaming with Galápagos penguins and an incredible diversity of fish. Also hike up to the pinnacle of an ancient cinder cone for a picture-perfect view of Pinnacle Rock, one of the most iconic views in Galápagos.
Genovesa: Visit an arid, rocky island with gentle slopes and a volcanic caldera; it\'s a bird paradise with massive colonies of red-footed and Nazca boobies, frigate birds, and storm petrels; it\'s also one of the few places to see short-eared owls during the day. Stretch your legs on a short hike up Prince Phillip\'s Steps.
San Cristobal: Explore the highlands of this easternmost Galápagos island with its giant tortoise breeding center, La Galapaguera, and snorkel and hike at wildlife-rich Isla Lobos.
Española: See an age-old lava landscape on this southernmost island of the Galápagos, home to brightly colored marine iguana, lava lizards, sea lions, finches, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, Galapagos hawks; plus home to the only nesting site of the waved albatross.
Floreana: Experience a mix of the gently sloping verdant hills and barren lava flows of volcano-studded Floreana; be wowed by the flamingo lagoon at Punta Cormorant, explore interesting rock formations, learn about human history in the Galapagos, and leave your mail in the barrel at Post Office Bay; also enjoy great snorkeling at Devil\'s Crown.
Santa Fe: Discover a small island of uplifted lava topped with Giant Opuntia cacti and Palo Santo trees, rich in wildlife, with plentiful sea lions and endemic land iguanas basking in the sun; enjoy excellent snorkeling opportunities with sea turtles and manta rays.
South Plaza: Home to a colony of sea lions and a large population of Galápagos land iguanas, as well as the occasional hybrid iguana (land and marine) with its "zebra-like" stripes. A Cliffside trail affords eye-level views of sea birds nesting or flying past, including frigatebirds, boobies, and shearwaters.
Santa Cruz: The second largest and the most populated island, Santa Cruz is the center of tourism in the Galápagos. It is also home to the Charles Darwin Station with breeding pens where giant tortoises and land iguanas are bred in captivity in an attempt to mitigate the danger of extinction on various islands.
Costa Rica Rainforest to Sea Multi-Adventure Tour
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- 7 days
- from $3,995
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- Level 2
- 4 days
- from $1,495
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"I have been on adventure travel trips to many places and with many companies, and this trip was the best ever-a wonderful, knowledgeable guide, a great boat and, of course, The Galápagos!"
MT Sobek Guest, Galápagos Wildlife Adventure Cruise
"Simply put, it was the trip of a lifetime. Epic in every sense of the world."
William G. and Rebecca N.
MT Sobek Guests, Galápagos Wildlife Adventure Cruise