Array ( [ActivityID] => 49 [Name] => Adventure Cruising [Primary] => 0 )
- Available: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
- Activity: Level 2
- Accommodations: Comfortable Small Ship, Comfortable Hotels
Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin on this inspirational small-group adventure through the enchanted islands of the Galapagos. This classic Western Loop route takes in the natural wonders of the western islands of Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, and Rabida, as well as the central islands of Santa Cruz, Floreana, and North Seymour. The western islands are younger and more volcanically active, studded with cones, craters, and a rippled lava landscape, as well as stunning beaches. 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 Visitors Guide.
MT Sobek is proud to support the Galapagos Conservancy by making an annual conservation investment to its Santiago Society program. Galapagos Conservancy is dedicated exclusively to the long-term protection of the Galapagos Islands, and collaborates closely with the Charles Darwin Foundation, the Galapagos National Park, and many other institutions that are committed to the conservation of the entire archipelago.
- Discover a range of dramatic volcanic landscapes and incredible diversity of species on Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos, with five active volcanoes and kaleidoscopic bird and marine life
- Experience one of the most pristine environments in the world on Fernandina, the youngest island, with black lava landscapes supporting marine iguanas, sea lions and penguins
- Look out for endemic flightless cormorants, found only on Fernandina and Isabela, frigate bird colonies on North Seymour, as well whales, dolphins and sea turtles that are especially abundant around Isabela
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 to unwind, take advantage of the hotel's pool and spa services or begin your exploration of this dynamic city. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Accommodation: Swissotel-Quito, Ecuador
Transportation: 1 hour private van transfer
Tour Quito's Old Town
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before setting out on a 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
Activity: 1-2 hours (1 mile) walk in Quito Historic Center
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Fly to the Galapagos Islands & Explore Bachas Beach
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. Arrive this afternoon for a wet landing at Bachas Beach on the north side of Santa Cruz Island. Encounter sea lions on the beautiful, white-sand beach, look for flamingos and great blue herons in the lagoon, and spot hatchlings' footprints leading from the nest to the water's edge (sea turtles nest here from November to May). Enjoy a welcome dinner onboard.
Activity: 1.5 hours easy walk (1 mile)
Transportation: 2-hour flight transfer and 1-hour private vehicle transfer
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hike, Snorkel, & Kayak at Santiago & Rabida Islands
Day 4Get 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 pangas. 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.
Arrive by wet landing this afternoon for a nature walk at Rabida. The volcanic "small red island" is located near the center of the archipelago, and its red-sand beach is home to sea lions and pups. Behind the beach is a brackish lagoon, home to flamingoes, migratory shorebirds, wading birds, and ducks. Two species of boobies nest along the cliffs. The sheltered coast of Rabida also offers great opportunities for kayaking, close to nesting pelicans, boobies and herons. The waters off Rabida are usually clear and very rich in fish, sea stars and other invertebrates - perfect for our afternoon snorkel. Also look for reef-sharks and sea lions as they are not uncommon in the area.
Activity: AM 2 hours easy walk (1.5 miles) plus snorkeling; PM 1.5 hours easy walk (1 mile) plus snorkeling & kayaking
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Discover Fernandina Island, the Archipelago's Youngest Island
Day 5Awake at your anchorage near Punta Espinosa on Fernandina Island - said to be the largest ecologically pristine island in the world and one of the highlights of the trip. As soon as you land in the volcanic landscape you will be amazed by hundreds of marine iguanas basking in the sun, as this is the largest colony of these unique reptiles. Sea lion pups often play in the tidal pools while flightless cormorants dry their miniaturized wings nearby. This is a great hunting ground for Galápagos hawks who often perch on the mangroves looking for lizards, baby iguanas, herons and doves. Snorkel amid sea turtles, and look out for marine iguanas feeding on the abundant seaweed underwater. You may even spot a cormorant underwater as it chases fish through the reef.
In the afternoon, navigate to look for whales and dolphins, then visit Tagus Cove, located to the west of Darwin Volcano on Isabela Island. First, snorkel in the sheltered waters of the cove, a great place to swim with penguins and plentiful fish. Then, on a guided walk, inspect the inscriptions left by whalers in the 1800's. From here, you can see Darwin Lake, perched above sea level, but full of saltwater. It contains no fish, but it is very common to see a variety of bird species. After the walk, cruise by panga along the coast of Isabela to look for penguins, cormorants, marine iguanas and a very unique species: the Galápagos martin, a small endemic bird which is one of the most endangered species on the island.
Activity: AM 2-2.5 hours moderate hike (1.5 miles) plus snorkeling; PM 1.5-2 hours moderate walk (2 miles) plus panga cruise or kayak, and snorkeling
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Explore Urbina Bay & Elizabeth Bay on Isabela Island
Day 6After breakfast, make a wet landing to explore Urbina Bay - famous for having uplifted 15 feet along 2 miles of coastline exposing corals and invertebrates in its strata. Follow your guide on the trail to look for Galápagos land iguanas, Galápagos hawks, finches, and (mostly between January and June) giant tortoises. Snorkel from the beach to see sea turtles, cormorants, penguins and an abundance of colorful fish.
In the afternoon, explore Elizabeth Bay, a beautiful sheltered bay surrounded by large mangroves and barren lava fields. Take a panga cruise to explore many channels, pools and coves teeming with life. This is one of the best locations in the islands to see Galápagos penguins. Flightless cormorants also nest in the area and blue-footed boobies and pelicans often fish in these shallow and rich waters. Rays and sea turtles are also very abundant. Return to the boat for cocktail hour and dinner.
Activity: AM 1.5-2 hours easy walk (1 mile) plus snorkeling; PM panga cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Isabela Island's Tintoreras Islet & Wetlands
Day 7This morning, head to Tintoreras islet, located very close to Puerto Villamil, the main town in Isabela, but accessible only by small boats. This small islet is surprisingly rich in wildlife. The walk on Tintoreras is easy and a great opportunity to observe marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins, boobies, and herons.
This afternoon, explore Isabela Island's wetlands, a large area of lagoons, channels, coves, and mangroves that is home to abundant bird life, including flamingos, stilts, whimbrels, gallinules, finches, Pintail Ducks, Brown Pelicans and more. Marine iguanas creep through the marshes as well. Part of the trail goes up Orchilla hill, which offers a nice view of the nearby town of Puerto Villamil.
Activity: AM 1.5 hours/1 mile walk; PM 1.5 hours/1 mile walk
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Floreana Island with Post Office Bay, Punta Cormorant, & Devil's Crown
Day 8After an early breakfast, make a wet landing 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 enjoy time to relax on the beach, or snorkel from the beach to look for fish and rays, and watch sea turtles feeding on algae.
After lunch on board, cruise to Devil's Crown, 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. Then, venture ashore at Punta Cormorant. After a wet landing at a green-tinged beach, set out on foot to observe the flamingos and other water birds that frequent the lagoon and see the white-sand Flour Beach where sea turtles come out at night to nest.
Activity: AM 30-minutes easy walk (0.5 miles) plus snorkeling; PM 2 hours easy walk (1 mile) plus snorkeling
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
See Giant Tortoises on Santa Cruz
Day 9Call back at Santa Cruz this morning and transfer by private vehicle to the lush highlands for a special opportunity to see giant tortoises in their wild and natural habitat. The Galápagos Islands are named after these magnificent, ancient creatures and the experience with them is magical.
This afternoon, visit 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. Back on the boat tonight, enjoy a festive farewell cocktail hour and final dinner on board.
Activity: AM 1.5 hours easy walk (1 mile); PM 1.5 hours easy walk (1 mile)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
North Seymour, Depart from the Galapagos in Baltra & Return to Quito
Wake up early for a last excursion in the islands: a walk at North Seymour, a very interesting island with lots of wildlife. Spy frigatebirds displaying their red pouch to attract their partners while blue-footed boobies nest in the ground. Other common species are the endemic Swallow-tailed and Lava gulls, sea lions, land and marine iguanas and more.
Return to the ship for breakfast and get ready to disembark at 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
Activity: AM 1 hour moderate walk (1 mile)
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!
MT Sobek was one of the first North American companies to bring visitors to the Galápagos Islands, with an inaugural charter for the Sierra Club in 1970.
Guests love our Galápagos adventures because we charter truly small (maximum 16-passenger) vessels for an exclusive experience with our own expert naturalist guide.
Our guide and crew work hard maximizing the amount of wildlife encounters both on land and sea, and the guide will always snorkel with you.
- Go Private
- Go Custom
The earlier you book, the more choice of available dates you’ll have and once you book, your price is guaranteed.
Gather your favorite travel companions to share an MT Sobek adventure on an easy-to-book Private departure.
Call or email us to get the ball rolling.
*Private trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit.
Looking for a private family adventure?
This trip can accommodate guests with a
minimum age of 6.
Call for Private Trip Pricing
Make Your Own Dates in These Months
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
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
- International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
- Alcoholic beverages (MT Sobek provides wine at select events)
- Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and yacht crew
- Travel Protection Program
- Personal expenses
- Galapagos Transit Control Card
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.
Fernando is an Ecuadorian marine biologist who has worked and lived in Galapagos for over 25 years. An accomplished diver, he has enjoyed more than 5,000 dives in the Galapagos, Ecuador, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Baja California, Palau, Malaysia, and Costa Rica. He joined Conservation International in 2005 after working for the Galapagos National Park as Head of the Department of Control and Conservation of Marine Ecosystems. Fernando returned to guiding to re-encounter the environment that he is so passionate about and loves inspiring MT Sobek travelers on their adventures in the Galapagos.
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.
1-2 hours (1 mile) walk in Quito Historic Center
1.5 hours easy walk (1 mile)
AM 2 hours easy walk (1.5 miles) plus snorkeling; PM 1.5 hours easy walk (1 mile) plus snorkeling & kayaking
AM 2-2.5 hours moderate hike (1.5 miles) plus snorkeling; PM 1.5-2 hours moderate walk (2 miles) plus panga cruise or kayak, and snorkeling
AM 1.5-2 hours easy walk (1 mile) plus snorkeling; PM panga cruise
AM 1.5 hours/1 mile walk; PM 1.5 hours/1 mile walk
AM 30-minutes easy walk (0.5 miles) plus snorkeling; PM 2 hours easy walk (1 mile) plus snorkeling
AM 1.5 hours easy walk (1 mile); PM 1.5 hours easy walk (1 mile)
AM 1 hour moderate walk (1 mile)
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.
What is the difference between the ship types?
MT Sobek offers three motorized yachts and catamarans, ranging from comfortable to deluxe, 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 comfortable 115-foot motor yacht built in 2006, with 8 cabins.
-The EcoGalaxy is a comfortable 88-foot catamaran built in 2013 and designed to minimize environmental impact, with 8 cabins.
-The Alya is a deluxe new 103-foot catamaran built in 2016, with 8 cabins each featuring a private balcony plus one dedicated single cabin.
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.
When is the best time to go to the Galápagos?
The Galápagos 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 and nesting season for frigate birds and blue-footed boobies!
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.
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 6-day extension in Peru, or explore the Mindo Cloud Forest on a 2 or 3 days extension.
What is the difference between Eastern and Western Loop Routes?
Our Western Loop route on Galaxy takes in the natural wonders of the western islands of Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, and Rabida, as well as the central islands of Santa Cruz, Floreana, 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.
Our Eastern Loop route on Galaxy (available only through March 2024) 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.
Highlights of each island we visit on our Western Loop Route include:
Santiago: 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, with photogenic contrasting black pahoehoe lava and reddish-yellow tuff cones. Also swim or snorkel from a coral sand beach or from the pangas. Getting underwater is like traveling to another world: the sea is teaming with life, including large schools of fish, Galápagos penguins, reef sharks, turtles and rays.
Rábida: This volcanic "red island" is located near the center of the archipelago and its red-sand beach is home to sea lions, wading birds and ghost crabs. Pelicans and boobies nest along the shore and its sheltered clear waters usually offer fantastic snorkel experiences, with many fish to see, along with reef sharks and possibly sea lion pups!
Fernandina: Discover one of the world's most impressive (and active!) volcanoes on the youngest of the Galápagos Islands; experience the black lava landscape of Punta Espinoza, which supports sea lions, marine iguanas and small colonies of penguins; also nesting sites for flightless cormorants and Galápagos hawks.
Isabela: The largest and one of the youngest islands in the Galápagos, consisting of a chain of five active volcanoes - including Sierra Negra; see two species of giant tortoise, kaleidoscopic marine life, and incredible bird life such as penguins, hawks, flamingoes, and boobies; the waters around Isabela are especially productive, making it the best to see whales, dolphins, and many sea turtles.
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 Cruz: The second largest and the most populated island, Santa Cruz is the center of tourism in the Galápagos. But it is also the best place to see giant tortoises in their natural environment and to explore the highlands evergreen endemic forest which are home to a large diversity of finches and other birds not found in the dryer lowlands.
North Seymour: Witness the courtship dance of the blue-footed booby and see amazing frigate bird colonies; plus great for spotting sea lions and land iguanas.
How Does MT Sobek Support Conservation in the Galápagos?
MT Sobek is a proud supporting travel partner of the Galápagos Conservancy. All of our highly-experienced naturalist guides are also active in conservation and work closely with the Galápagos National Park.
Are there both wet and dry landings during the cruise?
nOn this itinerary, there are wet landings the morning and afternoon of Day 4 (at Santiago and Rabida islands), the morning of Day 6 (at Isabela Island's Urbina Bay), and both the morning and afternoon on Day 8 (in two locations on Floreana Island).
nAll other excursions usually involve either a dry landing or (in the case of Isabela Island's Elizabeth Bay), the touring is all done aboard pangas.
What is the minimum age for this trip?
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