Photo by Andy Hook

Photo by Bill Abbott

Photo by Andy Hook

Photo by Bill Abbott

Photo by Dan Heller

 

Ultimate Galapagos

The Quintessential 15-day Cruise in Darwin’s Islands

Ultimate Galapagos route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $9295  
Length: 17 days
Arrive: Guayaquil, Ecuador
Depart: Guayaquil, Ecuador
Lodging: 14 nights aboard the Mary Anne, 2 hotel nights in Guayaquil
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch, 2 dinners
Activity: Small Boat & Yacht Cruising, Snorkeling, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level: Daily hikes, snorkeling, optional sea kayaking
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Highlights

  • The most comprehensive adventure in the islands
  • Cruise in comfort aboard a 16-passenger sailing yacht with a superb naturalist guide
  • Active journey, with daily hiking, snorkeling, and sea kayaking
  • See vast colonies of basking marine iguanas
  • Hike to find giant land tortoises in the wild
  • Amazing bird life, from blue-footed boobies to pink flamingoes


Perfection from beginning to end. Sailing aboard the yacht was a delight. I’ve been traveling with WT exclusively since 1981. Need I say more?Cynthia S.—Portland OR

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Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Early Sign-up Discount!

$500 discount per person
All 2015 departures

Limited to the first six sign-ups per departure. Please note that these special offers cannot be combined with other discounts.

There’s so much to see and do on these amazing islands and in the glorious underwater universe surrounding them, that we’ve created the “ultimate” Galápagos experience: an active 15-day cruise exploring the major sites—and fascinating wildlife—of the archipelago! Our epic adventure aboard the Mary Anne brings you to dramatic lava flows, white-sand beaches, and up–close encounters with the exotic creatures that inspired Charles Darwin. You’ll walk by magnificent frigatebirds in full courtship display, swim with Galápagos penguins, and snorkel right alongside sea turtles. It’s a wildlife experience like no other on the planet!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Guayaquil / Baltra / Green Sea Turtles / Red-Footed Boobies / Tower

From Guayaquil, fly to Baltra and board the Mary Anne. We travel alongside mangroves where herons roost and green sea turtles swim, and head to remote Tower (Genovesa), a birdwatcher’s paradise where great frigatebirds, elegant swallow-tailed gulls, and storm petrels nest along the edges of the island’s cliffs.

Days 4-7
Bartolomé Hike / Santa Fé / Land Iguanas / Walk Red-Sand Beaches / Rabida / South Plaza

Hiking to the top of Bartolomé you’ll get breathtaking views of Pinnacle Rock, then we’ll head across 100-year-old lava flows, walking among colonies of prehistoric looking land iguanas. Snorkeling with Galápagos penguins on Rabida is a special treat.

Days 8-9
Española / Marine Iguanas / Blue Footed Boobies / Santa Cruz

A spectacular wildlife walk at Española offers us seagoing marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and Galápagos sea lions. On Santa Cruz, we’ll see the vast twin craters of Los Gemelos, and hike in the highlands, searching for giant tortoises in the wild.

Days 10-13
Floreana / Snorkel Devil’s Crown / Fernandina

The snorkeling is incredible at Devil’s Crown, an underwater volcanic cone abundant with schools of fish, sea turtles, and sea lions. We’ll also visit Floreana’s Post Office Bay, explore pahoehoe lava flows, and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Flightless cormorants and Galápagos penguins are highlights at Fernandina’s Punta Espinosa.

Days 14-17
Isabela / Swim with Sea Turtles / Santiago

You’ll discover an old pirate hideaway, then snorkel with sea turtles at Punta Vicente Roca, one of the best snorkeling sites of the archipelago, and then head to Santiago for encounters with Galápagos flycatchers, Darwin’s finches, and fur seals swimming under lava arches. Fly to Guayaquil for a final overnight and depart on Day 17.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 1+. Trips that are rated 1 are non-camping trips with optional walks and little elevation gain or loss. The + indicates that this trip is a bit more strenuous than other trips of this level. We feel this trip is appropriate for anyone in good health who is physically active and enjoys regular moderate walks and hikes, but we ask you to consider the following factors before choosing this trip: 

Shore Excursions
To get ashore each day you will be transfer from the Mary Anne onto our Zodiac (the small boat that brings you ashore) and stepping out of the Zodiac to go ashore. Passengers are required to wear life jackets when traveling in the Zodiac. Getting on the Zodiac involves walking down a gang-plank set of stairs and stepping onto the Zodiac while both the yacht and Zodiac are moving with the roll of the seas. A crew member on the Zodiac will reach for your hand to help steady you during this maneuver, but it nonetheless can often feel tricky depending on the amount ocean swell.

Shore landings are either “dry” (where there are rocks or wooden piers to step onto when you disembark from the Zodiac) or “wet” (which involves stepping out of the Zodiac into a foot or so of surf and wading to shore). Getting out of the Zodiac for a dry landing is occasionally tricky even though a crew member will be there to assist, especially on days when the seas are active and the rocks you step onto may be slippery. For a wet landing, you may be stepping into shallow surf, possibly up to your knees or higher if you disembark just as a wave comes in, so it is important that you have the agility for this. Of course, our boat staff will be on hand to assist with landings.

Hikes/walks on the Galapagos Islands are not long (up to 3 miles), but they often involve uneven ground, either on dry lava, which can be quite sharp if you fall, on rocky trails with uneven boulders, or on sandy beaches. 

Swimming/Snorkeling
Trip members on any Galápagos trip should be able to swim and ideally have previous snorkeling experience. The itinerary includes snorkeling excursions on most days and they are a major attraction for any visit to the islands. Please consult both our office and your Trip Leader aboard the boat if you have any concerns about swimming and snorkeling.

Most of our snorkeling is in water that is between 10 to 40 feet deep, but if conditions allow, we may offer open-ocean snorkeling near a remote off-shore reef. These open-ocean snorkels are not suitable for first-time snorkelers or weak swimmers.

Your Trip Leader accompanies the group on all snorkeling excursions and the Zodiac will attempt to stay close, should anyone wish to get out of the water. We do not, however, have staff members available to individually assist snorkelers and it is incumbent on each swimmer to keep track of his or her own whereabouts. Currents in Galápagos can be strong at some sites. You should only choose to swim and snorkel in those spots where you are completely comfortable. If you are not a strong swimmer or have little experience snorkeling, you might prefer to bring your own personal flotation device (PFD) rather than rely on the cumbersome on-board life jackets.

To get in the water, you will slide off the side of the Zodiac and into the water. Getting back in the Zodiac will require climbing up a small metal ladder attached to the side of the Zodiac. The seaman in charge of the Zodiac will help, but it is impossible for him to just pull you out of the water—you have to be prepared to do most of the work under your own power.

While normally a good variety of snorkeling equipment is available on the Mary Anne, if you are a particularly serious snorkeler, we highly recommend bringing your own snorkel, mask, and possibly even fins to assure a proper fit. A proper fit of your mask is critical for keeping water out and allowing you good vision underwater. There is no scuba diving available on our Galápagos trips. Our boats are not set up for scuba diving but there are places in Puerto Ayora where diving is available if you would like to extend your trip. Depending on your personal tolerance for cold, you may not need a wetsuit. However, everyone’s tolerance level is different and most prefer to use a wetsuit. Complimentary shorty wetsuits are available on board for your use. If you easily get cold, you may prefer a full-length wetsuit (you will need to bring your own from home). Many people wear a t-shirt while snorkeling to protect their arms and backs from sunburn. The backs of the legs are also prone to sunburn, so some people might want to swim in lightweight tights or leggings, or purchase “skins” (lycra bodysuits sold at dive shops).

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Dec 19, 2014-Jan 4, 2015  Bitinia Espinoza
2015
Jan 9-25, 2015  Daniel Jacome
Feb 6-22, 2015  Silvia Vargas
Feb 20-Mar 8, 2015  Daniel Jacome
Mar 6-22, 2015  Silvia Vargas
Mar 20-Apr 5, 2015  Bitinia Espinoza
Apr 17-May 3, 2015  Daniel Jacome
May 1-17, 2015  Silvia Vargas
May 15-31, 2015  Fausto Arellano
Jun 12-28, 2015  Fausto Arellano
Jun 26-Jul 12, 2015  Bitinia Espinoza
Dec 18, 2015-Jan 3, 2016
2016
Jan 8-24, 2016
Feb 5-21, 2016
Feb 19-Mar 6, 2016
Mar 4-20, 2016
Mar 18-Apr 3, 2016

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$9295 (6-16 members)
Single supplement (Hotel): $225
Internal airfare: $515 (subject to change)
Galapagos park fee: $100 per person
Holiday surcharge (Dec): $500
Discounts for children: call for details: $500
No single supplement on board (subject to availability)
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Otavalo and Hacienda Zuleta Extension
   from: $1025
Amazon Rainforest Extension: Napo Wildlife Center
   from: $1595
Cusco and Machu Picchu Extension
   from: $2795

Deck Plan

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations at the hotel in Guayaquil and aboard the yacht
  • All meals included except 1 lunch, 2 dinners
  • airport transfers as indicated

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, internal flights, Galapagos park fee, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, airport departure taxes, optional gratuities (tipping your Trip leader and yacht crew is customary, but at your discretion), additional hotel nights (due to airline schedule changes or other factors), pre-trip expenses such as medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, passports and visas, or other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, and so on).

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: $500
150 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
90 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $500 per person
61-120 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
60 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Hilton Colon Guayaquil

Hilton Colon Guayaquil

Day 1 (1 night),
Day 16 (1 night), Guayaquil, Ecuador

With a convenient location just 15 minutes from Guayquil's international airport, the Hilton Colon Guayquil offers spacious and comfortable rooms, a ...
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<em>Mary Anne</em>

Mary Anne

Days 3 to 16 (14 nights), Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

In legendary square-rigger tradition, the Mary Anne offers the truly romantic ambiance of a tall sailing ship combined with the comforts ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Fausto Arellano

Departure Dates: May 15-31, 2015, June 12-28, 2015

Fausto Arellano has been a naturalist guide and divemaster in the Galapagos for over 25 years. He took his first trip to the islands in 1982 as a graduation present from high school. Captivated by the beauty of the Galapagos, he discovered his study path, graduating from Argentine Catholic ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Bitinia Espinoza

Departure Dates: December 19, 2014-January 4, 2015, March 20-April 5, 2015, June 26-July 12, 2015

Bitinia Espinoza has been guiding groups to the Galapagos and throughout Ecuador since 1991. She graduated from the University of Guayaquil with studies in natural history. Her travels on the lecture circuit on behalf of the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station have ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Daniel Jacome

Departure Dates: January 9-25, 2015, February 20-March 8, 2015, April 17-May 3, 2015

Daniel Jacome was raised in Quito, Ecuador, but spent all his summers in the Galápagos, where his grandfather first arrived in 1958 and where his father has lived and worked as a naturalist since the 1970s. Daniel has completed college studies in Anthropology, Environmental Interpretation, ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Silvia Vargas

Departure Dates: February 6-22, 2015, March 6-22, 2015, May 1-17, 2015

Silvia Vargas is in love with the Galapagos Islands and has been since high school, when she first visited from her hometown of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Her passion for the islands drew her back to live in the Galapagos where she works as a certified naturalist—the perfect job for someone with ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

Ecuador

Amazon Rainforest Extension: Napo Wildlife Center

Into the Emerald Forest

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
6 days  -  Level 2

Otavalo and Hacienda Zuleta Extension

Traditional Cultures and Snow-Capped Volcanoes

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Peru

Cusco and Machu Picchu Extension

Exploring the Realm of the Incas

Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Walking
6 days  -  Level 2

Client Comments

Perfection from beginning to end. Sailing aboard the yacht was a delight. I’ve been traveling with WT exclusively since 1981. Need I say more? Cynthia S., Portland OR I have taken two trips with WT to Galapagos and I can honestly say that they were the best experience of my life. The pageant of life there, its creativity, energy and beauty, is overwhelming. Mark T., San Anselmo, CA Being aboard the yacht was a thrill, and eating on deck with the beauty of the islands in view was beyond spectacular. Our adventures with Wilderness Travel have made us believers—you do your job with excellence and pride. Kay M., Morrison, CO We were catered to every moment of the trip. The time on the ship was very well planned and organized—plenty of activities and yet time to relax. Every encounter was friendly and professional. Cheryle W., Waukegan, IL. Our Trip Leader made the Galapagos Islands an even more magical place. Sigrid M., Napa, CA Well done, Wilderness Travel! This was my first WT trip and I was impressed by virtually every aspect of the main trip and the three extensions I added. Christopher Q., San Francisco, CA This trip exceeded my expectations and fulfilled a desire to see the Galapagos that I have had since childhood. I am still feeling the 'glow' of the experience. Kay B., Princeton, WV This adventure exceeded all my expectations. Baila D., Port Townsend, WA This was a trip I have dreamed about for years. It certainly met my expectations and then some! Nena T., Saint Helena, CA
Fabulous trip. I would definitely travel with Wilderness again. Great crew, trip leader, and all around sites and activities. My first trip with Wilderness and I hope for many more. Barbara L., Calistoga, CA This is the best Galapagos itinerary of any tour company with so many islands visited and such a comprehensive wildlife experience. There aren't enough superlatives to express the depth of this fantastic experience. Ruth M., San Francisco, CA A most fantastic trip—we saw everything we had hoped to, and loved every minute of the experience! Jeanne C., Napa, CA I really thought the whole trip was wonderful. Next time can I fill the whole boat with all of my friends? Julie G., Medina, WA It was nice we could do 2 weeks, and see everything possible to see.  Yvonne B., Hartford, WI This was probably the trip of my lifetime and I have been on all seven continents on numerous outings. David B., Hartford, WI The Mary Anne was spectacular! The vessel was well cared for by an excellent crew! The guide was extremely professional yet fun and always ready with a smile - a true asset to your team. Diana W., Pompton Plains, NJ It was a wonderful experience! Being on a sailing vessel added to the charm. The crew members worked hard, were fabulous, professional, and extremely helpful. I loved every minute of the trip. Laurie K., Edina, MN

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