Imagine snorkeling in a clear blue sea with playful sea lions, giant marine turtles and neon rainbows of fish of all shapes and sizes....
Imagine walking across a portion of the earth so new that the boiling flowing forms of the basalt lava are so fresh the rock appears to still be liquid....
Imagine stepping around hundreds of seabirds and prehistoric-looking marine iguanas too unafraid of humans to move out of your way...
Imagine following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and experiencing first hand some of the wonders of nature that inspired his famous theory....
These experiences and much more need not be imagined... They are yours to live in an eight-day Galápagos cruise aboard a yacht with a small group of adventurous and equally fascinated fellow travelers.
Rutahsa Adventures can book a wide variety of eight day/seven night cruises of the Galápagos archipelago at favorable (i.e., discounted) prices. We use Enchanted Expleditions' yachts Cachalote I, Beluga, and Angelito. We also book The Beagle, Sea Cloud, Diamante, Sagitta, and Samba yachts offered by Andando Tours.
Cruise costs and airfare costs from the mainland vary according to seasonal demand. The "low season" includes two periods, approximately, the months of May-June and Sept.-Oct. For example, during the 2005 "low season", published cruise prices on the Cachalote I and Beluga are $1619 and $2259 ($2179 for cabins 6 & 7) per person. However, Rutahsa Adventures can book cruises on these fine yachts for you at 10% off these published prices.
During the 2005 "high season" (the rest of the year), cruises on the Cachalote I and Beluga are priced at $1799 and $2510 ($2420 for cabins 6 & 7) per person. Again, Rutahsa Adventures can book these cruises for you at a 10% savings.
Air fares from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos fluctuate with similar "low" and "high" seasons, though not in precise coordination with the cruise prices! So, the best thing to do is enquire for a price quote for the dates you wish to travel.
Complete cruise packages typically include: an 8 day/7 night cruise on a yacht, round trip air fare from the Ecuadoran mainland to the Galápagos Islands, all meals while on the cruise, the services of a bilingual national park naturalist-guide, two nights lodging in Quito or Guayaquil, and transportation between the Quito or Guayaquil airport and your hotel. Package costs vary, depending on yacht chosen, season and port of entry into Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil). Not included in the package prices: air fare US-Ecuador-US, meals in Quito or Guayaquil, bar service on the cruise, Ecuador exit tax ($25), and Galápagos National Park entry ($100), or tips for the guide and yacht crew.
For travelers with limited time five day/four night cruises are available. We strongly feel that a week-long cruise is the minimum time necessary to fully appreciate the wonders of the Galápagos, but if you just don't have that much time, let us know and we'll get you prices on 5-day cruises.
Day 1, Weds.: Fly Quito to Baltra Island, Galápagos Islands; board the Cachalote I; visit North Seymour Island for an introduction to Galápagos birds, sea lions and other wildlife, guided by an authorized Galápagos National Park guide/naturalist. Boobies, frigate birds, lava gulls, finches, an occasional whimbrel, and other birds can be seen here.
Day 2, Thurs.: Visit Santa Cruz Island, a major shield volcano and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The Cachalote I anchors at Puerto Ayora and you go ashore to visit the Darwin Research Station, seeing the captive tortoise and iguana breeding programs. There's also an opportunity to do a little souvenir shopping before boarding a bus to go up into the highlands to experience an entirely different climatic zone with dense tropical vegetation and birds not found in the shore zone. You may also see the great lumbering Galápagos tortoises in the highlands.
Day 3, Fri.: Today you experience one of the birding highlights of the trip: the famous seabird rookeries of Punta Suárez on Española Island, where blue-footed boobies are too numerous to count, masked boobies abound, and the waved albatrosses come home to rear their young. Galápagos hawks, red-billed tropic birds, frigate birds, swallowtail gulls, the bold Hood mockingbirds, sea lions, and, if you're really lucky, a Galápagos snake, can be seen here.
The afternoon stop is at Gardner Bay, another opportunity for some great snorkeling with sea lions and sometimes huge sea turtles.
Day 4, Sat.: During the night the Cachalote I has sailed from Española to the Island of Floreana where your morning visit is to Punta Cormorant. Here you'll see a green sand beach (containing the volcanic mineral olivine), the flamingo lagoon, and the beautiful white sand and clear waters of Sting-Ray Beach. Typically, this stop also includes fabulous snorkeling at the "Devils Crown", a ring of volcanic rock spires jutting from the sea.
Today's second stop is historic Post Office Bay, where you can mail a card from the famous barrel, originally set up by whalers more than a century ago.
Day 5, Sun.: Today the Cachalote I cruises up the west side of the largest of the Galápagos Islands, Isabela, with stops at Punta Moreno and Urbina Bay. At Punta Moreno you'll walk across a fascinating lava landscape, punctuated here and there with lagoons where flamingos and other exotic creatures find refuge. At Urbina Bay you'll walk amid giant coral heads, uplifted above the sea by an earthquake; Galápagos tortoises can be seen here too.
Day 6, Mon.: Continuing north along the west coast of Isabela the Cachalote I crosses the channel westward to Fernandina Island to stop at Punta Espinoza, where you are likely to find thousands of black marine iguanas sprawled along the rocky shores, and here you can also see the strange-looking flightless cormorants.
Back across the channel to Isabela, the second visitors' site today is Tagus Cove, once a shelter for pirate vessels. A panga ride along the coast here will reveal historic graffiti, and give you a chance to see Galápagos penguins and flightless cormorants.
Day 7, Tues.: This morning you visit Puerto Egas on Santiago Island. Here the remnants of a few buildings testify to a one-time salt mining operation, but these days the beach is taken over by lounging sea lions. Here too, in tidal coves, can be seen fur seals. Puerto Egas is especially picturesque due to the contrasting colors and erosional forms of the black lava and the lighter brown ashy sediments.
In the afternoon the Cachalote I anchors near spectacular Pinnacle Rock, and you take an easy climb to the peak of Bartolomé Island for one of the most dramatic scenic vistas in the islands; next, snorkeling around the Pinnacle Rock.
Day 8, Weds.: The final visitors' site for the cruise is Turtle Cove, which comes by its name legitimately. Mustard rays are sometimes seen here in abundance, too. After a morning visit here, the Cachalote I puts into harbor on Baltra Island, and you are taken by bus back to the Galápagos airport to catch your flight back to the mainland.
After overnighting in Quito (or Guayaquil), you can board your return flight to the U.S., or, if you like, stay on for an Andean/Amazonian Ecuador tour which Rutahsa Adventures can also arrange for you.
To select the yacht you wish to sail on visit the websites of Enchanted Expeditions and Andando Tours. Then to make a booking return to Rutahsa Adventures and let us know, we'll book the cruise you want and you pocket the savings.
To view Enchanted Expeditions yachts and their itineraries, click here: Enchanted Expeditions.
To view Andando Tours yachts and their itineraries, click here: Andando Tours.
For bookings and for additional information about the yachts, itineraries, costs, reading suggestions, etc., e-mail us at Rutahsa Adventures
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