6* Silversea Galapagos – North Central Itinerary

This north central Galapagos journey boasts features of the ideal island getaway: cool breezes, colorful sands and crystal-clear waters that are a veritable snorkeler’s paradise. Yet these isles were also the inspiration for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Get thrillingly close to unique wildlife species here, including blue- and red-footed boobies, marine iguanas giant tortoises and more.

This stunning 6* seven-night cruise of the Galapagos includes 3 nights in a 4-star hotel pre-cruise in Quito, Ecuador.

Also available – Galapagos Western Isles

DESTINATION Galapagos, Ecuador
FROM Dublin / Ecuador
DATE January – September 2018
DURATION 10 Nights
PRICE From €7,349 pp
Take a luxury Galapagos cruise and discover what inspired Darwin: watch sea lions play, birds dance and giant tortoises trudge along completely unafraid of humans. Wander through fragrant forests, on colourful sands and dive the crystal-clear waters that are a veritable snorkeler’s paradise.

Flight Times:

OUTBOUND TBA
RETURN TBA

Map

Day to Day Itinerary:

Day 1-3: Quito, Ecuador:   4* Hotel Overnight. 

After your flight to Ecuador, you will be transferred to the 4* hotel for your three-night stay before your cruise.

A capital city high in the Andes, Quito is dramatically situated, hemmed in by mountain peaks whose greenery is concealed by grey afternoon mist. Modern apartment buildings and modest concrete homes creep partway up their slopes and busy commercial thoroughfares lined with shops and choked with traffic turn into subdued neighbourhoods on Sundays. Warm and relaxed, traditional Ecuadorian Sierra culture – overflowing market stands, shamanistic healers, fourth-generation hatmakers – mix with a vibrant and sophisticated culinary and nightlife scene.

The city’s crown jewel is its ‘Old Town,’ a Unesco World Heritage Site packed with colonial monuments and architectural treasures. No sterile museum mile, everyday life pulses along its handsomely restored blocks with 17th-century facades, picturesque plazas and magnificent art-filled churches. Travellers, and many locals too, head to the ‘gringolandia’ of the Mariscal, a compact area of guesthouses, travel agencies, ethnic eateries and teeming bars.

Day 4: Baltra & Isla Daphne Grande:    

Baltra Island, also known as South Seymour, is the gateway through which most people enter and depart the Galapagos Island. Upon arrival and once through immigrations procedures, visitors are transferred directly to a nearby dock to join the ship by Zodiac. The runway was first constructed here during World War II when the island was used as a US Army Air Base. Located near the geographic center of the Galapagos, the island itself is small, flat and arid. Its dry environment hosts salt bushes, prickly pear cactus and palo santo trees, all of which support land iguanas that can occasionally be seen crossing the runway.

Daphne Major is a volcanic tuff crater island, located to the north of Santa Cruz Island not far from Baltra International Airport. Circumnavigating the island by ship will reveal the rocky outcropping from all angles as it rises approximately 120 meters (390 feet) above sea level. Usually only scientists are allowed to land on Daphne, so it will be a special event to come in close with the ship and watch for Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, frigatebirds, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Brown Noddies, Brown Pelicans, and Swallow-tailed Gulls riding the sea breezes swirling around this rugged landmass.

Day 5: Bahia Darwin & El Barranco:

At Genovesa Island the ship tucks into Darwin Bay, an ancient volcanic crater now flooded by the sea. Zodiacs land on a picturesque sandy beach where Galapagos sea lions often rest on the fine, white sand. Explorations along the shore may reveal marine iguanas looking like prehistoric dinosaurs in miniature. By heading inland a short distance visitors could encounter seabirds of all shapes and sizes nesting in the vegetation. Scores of immature Red-footed Boobies perch on branches within an arm’s reach of the path. In addition, watch for Great Frigatebirds and Yellow-crowned Night Herons along the walk.

From Darwin Bay on Genovesa Island explorers can access an area known as El Barranco or the “Prince Philip’s Steps”. A brief scramble up the stone steps brings you to the plateau of the island. From here, on flat ground, a small trail wanders past Red-footed Boobies, perching frigate birds, Galapagos Mockingbirds, Nazca Boobies, and Galapagos finches. The highlight however, is arriving on the windward side of the island to see hundreds of Wedge-Rumped Storm Petrels flying around in a frenzy of activity above the lava field where they nest. In addition to the petrels, their predator, the Short-eared Owl can also be spotted here, perhaps even actively hunting its prey.

Day 6: Seymour Norte & Bahia Sullivan:  

The landing at North Seymour Island is onto black lava rock. After a short climb, visitors arrive on the island’s flat plateau where a number of sea lions nurse pups and frigatebirds nest. The island is dry, and so the predominant tree is the prickly pear cactus favored by the yellow Conolophus land iguanas that live here in number. The undulating terrain is littered with red-brown volcanic boulders and large male Magnificent Frigatebirds can be seen inflating their vivid red gular sacs in hopes of impressing females flying overhead. At certain times of the year, pairs of Blue-footed Boobies dance here in a ritualized mating dance that reinforces their pair bond and shows off their vivid blue feet.

The lava fields of Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island will inevitably remind visitors of the surface of the moon. As brilliant red Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttle along the black volcanic shores, learn about the formation of the islands through geological forces from your guides. The lava flows here are just over one hundred years old and date back to 1897. The lava took on a rope-like appearance and geologists have adopted a Hawaiian word, pahoehoe, as the technical name for this kind of volcanic rock. After walking the exposed rocky terrain, it is a welcoming sensation to return to the sandy beach and get ready for a swim or a snorkel.

Day 7: Rabida & El Eden:    

Rabida Island has received accolades for being one of the most exotic spots on earth and while it is small in size, the island is dramatic in scale. Rugged red cliffs rise from the sea and Zodiacs land onto a beach of dark red sand colored by iron ore. Ghost crabs and Galapagos sea lion pups often rest on the russet sands. Further inland, the rusty sand gives way to shrubby coastal vegetation dominated by prickly-pear cactus. Common Cactus Finches feed on the yellow flowers while Darwin finches and lava lizards skitter across the path in search of food.

Just off Santa Cruz, Eden Islet offers up a thick coastal mangrove forest growing on black volcanic boulders peppered with tall prickly pear cactus. Eden is a small, eroded tuff cone from an ancient volcano, and is an excellent example of the unique geology of the Galápagos. The shallow waters around the island are ideal for spotting Pacific green sea turtles, reef sharks, eagle rays, sea lions, marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Explore by Zodiac or kayak, and watch for Brown Pelicans flying and diving to scoop up their prey, while Blue-footed Boobies enter the water like torpedoes to spear small fish.

Day 8: Galapaguera Cerro Colorado & Punta Pitt:

Giant tortoises are emblematic of the Galapagos Islands. To experience these ancient animals firsthand, the Silver Galapagos anchors off San Cristobal Island and Zodiacs take all ashore to the pretty little town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. From here we set out by bus for the Galapaguera Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve in the highlands of the island. The trails of the reserve lead to encounters with large, lumbering adult tortoises as well as small juveniles that could fit in the palm of a person’s hand. Back in town take time to wander the shops or photograph the Galapagos sea lions resting on local boats, lazing about under park benches, or lounging on rocks surrounding the working waterfront.

On the northern shore of San Cristobal Island is a peninsula known as Punta Pitt. The point is made up of two coalesced volcanoes and is much younger than the rest of the island. Some of the lava flows are only a few centuries old. From a sandy beach Zodiac landing leads a long walk following a twisting red gravel path that runs through black basalt lava rocks, and between craggy peaks. The vegetation along the way is low and scrubby, and attractive blue-gray lichen grows on the rocks. Gaining elevation along the narrow trail will open up views of the Silver Galapagos sitting in a sapphire blue sea far below.

Day 9: Gardner Bay & Punta Suárez:    

Isla Champion is a small islet off Floreana Island’s northeast coast. To cruise by it reveals a bare, rocky island without much allure, but to enter the infinitely blue waters around this small landmass is to discover a spectacular underwater realm. The visibility is generally impressive and thanks to this water clarity snorkelers often spot reef sharks patrolling the reef wall, cruising Pacific green turtles, and playful Galapagos sea lions. Encounters in the blue with thousands of small silver minnows, large tuna fish, or oceanic sunfish are not unheard of either.

Punta Suárez lies at the western point of Española, the oldest island in the Galápagos. Sheer cliffs provide superb thermals for seabirds and you may spot Swallow-tailed Gulls, Nazca Boobies and Blue-footed Boobies on the breeze. The largest seabird to nest in the Galapagos Islands is the Waved Albatross. These ocean wanderers can be seen seasonally here from April through December, when pairs reunite on Española, going through an elaborate pair-bonding display. Mockingbirds, doves, and occasional Galápagos Hawks can also be seen on the point, along with sea lions and colorful marine iguanas.

Day 10: Puerto Ayora (Charles Darwin Research Station) & Plazas Sur:    

Silver Galapagos will anchor in front of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, where the prestigious Charles Darwin Research Station is located. The station also houses the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center for giant tortoises and land iguanas where guides interpret the center’s captive breeding and reintroduction programs. In addition to these star species, throughout the station there are huge prickly pear cactus trees being fed upon by the pretty Galapagos Cactus Finch. To round out the stay in Puerto Ayora, enjoy free time in town where local artists have created charming art galleries and corner cafés.

South Plaza is a serene island located close to the eastern coast of Santa Cruz. This small island is sprinkled with giant prickly pear cactus, carpeted with a reddish mat of ground-cover succulents, and is home to a large nesting colony of Swallow-tailed Gulls, along with marine iguanas and Galápagos sea lions. Seabirds crowd the island’s shores including Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Brown Pelicans, and frigatebirds. However, the birds, seals and marine iguanas share the spotlight with brilliant yellow land iguanas of the island. These plump terrestrial reptiles live well eating the plentiful prickly pear cactus fruits and pads found here.

Day 11: San Cristobal:    

Like so many of the islands in the Galapagos, San Cristobal is formed by dormant volcanoes. It lies to the east of the archipelago and is one of the oldest islands in the group. Approximately 6,000 people live on the island, making their living from tourism, fishing, in government offices, or off the rich volcanic soils with some limited farming existing in the highlands. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the southwestern tip of the island is the capital city of the Galapagos Islands. A statue of Charles Darwin graces the harbor, marking one of the first places he likely stepped ashore in the 1830s.

After you disembark the ship you will be transferred to the airport for your flights back to Ireland.

3-nights in a 5* Quito hotel pre-cruise (call for details).

7-nights on board the 6* Silversea Galapagos.

 

A Galápagos expedition cruise, enjoyed aboard Silver Galapagos, brings you to one of the most isolated places in the world to encounter an abundant variety of wildlife species that is incredibly unique and found nowhere else on earth. Lying just off the western coast of South America, the Galápagos archipelago is inaccessible to most, yet this isolation has allowed nature to develop in ways exclusive to the islands. Experience it all with complimentary exploration activities including Zodiac tours, snorkeling, kayaking and nature hikes led by our highly experienced  guides certified by the National Park of the Galápagos.

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Dates & Prices

DATE PRICE STATEROOM
January – September 2018 €7,349 Explorer Suite Book Now
January – September 2018 €8,549 Terrace Suite Book Now
January – September 2018 €8,689 Veranda Suite Book Now
January – September 2018 €12,419 Single Explorer Suite Book Now

Price inclusions

  • Return flights from Dublin to Galapagos
  • All transfers airport / hotel / port
  • 3 nights pre-cruise in Quito, Ecuador, 4-star hotel
  • 7 nights on board 6-star Silver Galapagos based on two sharing
  • Open-seating dining options – dine when and with whomever you please
  • Diversity of dining venues – casual, romantic, regional delicacies, and gourmet cuisine inspired by Relais & Châteaux
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship – select wines, premium spirits, speciality coffees and soft drinks, plus your own tailored mini-bar
  • In-suite dining and 24-hour room service – always complimentary, always available
  • Sophisticated entertainment from live music to production shows
  • Complimentary transportation into town in most ports
  • Butler service in every suite – all guests
  • All onboard entertainment
  • One check-in bag of 20kg per person
  • Taxes and gratuities

Booking remarks

  • Inclusive of taxes and service charges as indicated
  • Non-refundable or transferable booking deposit of 25%
  • 2% surcharge if balance is paid by credit or charge card
  • Optional Insurance from €31 (conditions apply)
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship – select wines, premium spirits, speciality coffees and soft drinks, plus your own tailored mini-bar
  • Gratuities always included in your fare with Silversea
  • These prices are guidelines only and are subject to change and availability. Pricing will be confirmed at time of booking.
  • Silversea Terms and Conditions apply