Galapagos Explorer: Southern Islands (Grand Queen Beatriz)


Cruise the Galapagos and discover its unique native wildlife on a 7-day sailing adventure around the southern end of the archipelago. Meet giant tortoises that inhabit Isla San Cristobal, watch blue-footed boobies dance the booby two-step and wander the unfamiliar environment that characterises these far-flung islands. Every day wake up to a different view out your window from the comforts of the M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz. Sail past the volcanic Punta Pitt, swim with sea lions at Bahia Gardner, and hike past prickly pear cacti on Isla Santa Fe. Prepare to head on the adventure of a lifetime and become a Galapagos explorer.

7 days, from

$4,370

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

3
Trip code: GMQE
Style: Comfort
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Details

Countries Visited:  Ecuador
Accommodation: Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (4 nights)
Transportation: Minibus , Boat , Plane , Zodiac
Meals: 4 dinners, 6 breakfasts
Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • Keep an eye out for your next glimpse of Galapagos penguins, sea lions or albatross. In the air, on land and underwater – there’s always something to see.

  • Cruise in small-scale style on the M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz, following in the footsteps of past explorers and passing the best of the southern islands.

  • Roam Isla Plaza Sur, a small island packed full of wildlife – get close to sea lions, walk trails past one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations and visit the rugged southern cliffs that are home to a gathering of old and young male sea lions known as the 'Gentlemen’s Club’!

  • Go exotic bird watching off the coast of Isla Espanola, where you may see the unique waved albatrosses, blue-footed boobies, and masked boobies.

  • Understand the geography and history of the Galapagos at the San Cristobal Interpretation Center, where you’ll learn more about past explorers and expeditions and how your journey shapes up to theirs.

Itinerary

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Day 1: Quito

On arrival at Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure. A welcome meeting will be held in the evening at either 5 pm or 6 pm when you will meet others travelling with you on your cruise around the Galapagos Islands. As today is an arrival day, you can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting.

Quito sits at high altitude under the towering Pichincha volcano. It is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in South America. The city stretches along the valley and is surrounded by the Andes. The Old Town of Quito is awash with history, with more than 30 churches to explore, and a number of fascinating museums. La Compania de Jesus is considered to be the most beautiful and ornate churches in the Americas. The city's oldest street, Calle La Ronda, is also well worth exploring.

As this trip spends very little time in Quito, we recommend you spend a few extra days before or after your trip to experience all the city has to offer. You may even wish to explore further beyond the city and visit Otavalo, Cotopaxi, the Cloud Forest or the Equatorial Monument.

Day 2: Isla Baltra - Charles Darwin Research Station

This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Please note the pick-up time can be as early as 4:30 am (a boxed breakfast will be provided), as the airport is a 1-hour drive away and you must allow for delays and check-in times. (Your tour leader will confirm this time with you at the welcome meeting).

The flight to the Galapagos will make one stop in Guayaquil to pick up other passengers. (Total flight time is about 3.5 hours).

On arrival in the Galapagos, you will be met in the arrival hall of the airport by a transfer guide to take you to the M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz, anchored on the other side of Isla Santa Cruz. Our transfer guide will accompany you on an airport public bus to then take a short journey on a ferry across the Itabaca Channel. Once you reach Santa Cruz, take a private vehicle for a 45-minute drive to Puerto Ayora, the main port of the island. Here, you and your fellow travellers will be transported to the boat. Once on board, cabins will be assigned and there will be a welcome briefing and safety drill. You will then get to meet our crew members and get to know your naturalist guide while enjoying a delicious lunch.

Your first stop in the afternoon is Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic centre of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. You will also see baby tortoises and land iguanas.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Puerto Ayora to Isla Santa Fe: 2 hours (16 nautical miles)

Day 3: Isla Santa Fe - Isla Plaza Sur

Santa Fe is home to many sea lions and these ones are happy to share the sea and shore with you! It’s a lovely place to take a dip and is a fantastic place to see many of the stars of the Galapagos in one relatively small area. Expect to see Galapagos hawks, land iguanas, a variety of finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, sea lions, marine turtles, frigate birds, Galapagos doves and lava lizards. It’s a naturally beautiful island with small coves and jade-green waters ideal for snorkelling. Hiking towards the cliffs on Santa Fe will lead you to a forest of prickly pear cactus. A member of the cactus family, their name comes from the pear-shaped fruit the plant produces. The island is also home to a unique sub-species of land iguana.

On to Isla Plaza Sur: a small island packed full of wildlife, where you will get close to sea lions and walk on trails past one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations, who rest among cacti and bright red and green volcanic landscapes. The island’s rugged southern cliffs are an excellent place to spot tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as the 'Gentlemen’s Club’ – a gathering of male sea lions either too young or too old to be beachmasters!

Estimated travel time/distance:
Isla Santa Fe to Isla Plaza Sur: 2 hours (16 nautical miles)
Isla Plaza Sur to Isla Espanola (Punta Suarez): 7 hours (60 nautical miles)

Day 4: Isla Espanola - Bahia Gardner - Punta Suarez

After an overnight night sail, you will wake up at Isla Espanola – the southernmost island of the Galapagos. Because of its remote location, this island has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses and also home to colonies of blue-footed and masked boobies.

Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions and marine iguanas bathe, will lead you right through clusters of boobies, Galapagos doves and mockingbirds.

Head to the cliffs of Punta Suarez, home to large and varied wildlife population – a walk along its trails will take you to a viewpoint, where you'll gain a magical panorama of the clifftop and crashing waves. Boobies line the rocky shoreline beneath you, while frigate birds may be seen overhead; nearby enormous male sea lions can be seen lounging and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, helping become airborne by the southeast winds that blow across this part of the island. If you’re lucky, you might see an albatross performing their elaborate courtship rituals before the female chooses her lifelong mate!

Stop at Bahia Gardner (Gardner Bay), which is considered by many as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos Islands – full of sea lions and hood mockingbirds. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkelling opportunities to see reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Punta Suarez to Bahia Gardner: 1 hour (7 nautical miles)
Bahia Gardner to Punta Pitt (Isla San Cristobal): 7 hours (50 nautical miles)

Day 5: Isla Cristobal - Leon Dormido - Isla Lobos - Punta Pitt

This morning visit Punta Pitt on the eastern end of Isla San Cristobal. Walk to the top of the volcanic hill for views of the sparsely vegetated area. A variety of seabirds nest here, including blue-footed boobies and frigates.

On a panga (Zodiac boat) ride, you can observe the three varieties of boobies nesting in the Galapagos and later, enjoy a snorkel from the beach. Close by, pass through Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock): the magnificent basalt remains of a crater in the middle of the sea, resembling a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. Cruise through the channel with nesting seabirds on either side of the boat, tropic birds overhead, marine iguanas in the water and many sea lions present including many resting on the rocks. Snorkelling gives us the opportunity to see Galapagos sharks, possibly a hammerhead shark among sea turtles, and a collection of invertebrates on the rock wall.

You will also visit Isla Lobos, a tiny island almost touching San Cristobal. This is the perfect time to witness the always friendly sea lions as they play in the calm shallow waters here. You may also see blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and marine iguanas.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Punta Pitt to Leon Dormido: 2.5 hours (27 nautical miles)
Leon Dormido to Isla Lobos: 1 hour (7 nautical miles)
Isla Lobos to Isla San Cristobal (Puerto Baquerizo): 1 hour (5 nautical miles)

Day 6: San Cristobal Interpretation Center, fly to Quito.

As flights to the mainland from Galapagos depart mid-morning, it is an early start to your last morning on the islands. Depending on the time of our flight, your time spent on this final excursion could be limited.

Visit San Cristobal Interpretation Center in the morning. This centre brings the history and geography of the archipelago to life, from its volcanic origins to the present day. The human history exhibit offers an insight into the discovery and colonisation of the Galapagos, and the reality of the problems the islands face today.

You will then head to the airport for a flight back to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito Airport you will be transferred back to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 7: Quito

After breakfast, there are no activities planned for the final day, so you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. There are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito, so if you would like to spend more time here, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

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Our team of travel specialists and local contacts have curated some of the best, most exclusive and authentic experiences, restaurants and accommodations in Ecuador to truly immerse yourself in a way that wouldn't be possible in larger groups or just on your own.

7 days, from $4,370

to book call 1-844-205-6226