galapagos islands trip; yacht; galapagos trip; galapagos cruise; faralote bay

The Galápagos Islands

On our Galápagos Private Journey, you have your own luxurious motor-sailer yacht and a private naturalist guide to bring these magical islands to life for you on walks and snorkeling excursions.

Photo by Dan Heller

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Galapagos Private Journey

Exploring Darwin’s Islands aboard the Reina Silvia

Galapagos Private Journey route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $52,500  
Length: 8 days
Arrive: Baltra, Galapagos
Depart: Baltra, Galapagos
Lodging: 8 days/7 nights aboard the yacht
Meals: All meals included aboard yacht plus draft beer, water, sodas, and juices
Activity: Small Boat & Yacht Cruising, Snorkeling, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level: Daily hikes, snorkeling, optional sea kayaking
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Highlights

  • Swim and snokel with sea lions
  • Cruise in comfort aboard the Reina Silvia—the ultimate way to go!
  • Wonderful nature hikes with a superb naturalist guide
  • See the remarkable wildlife that inspired Darwin


This trip was a dream come true. The sailing was wonderful and the crew and guide couldn’t have been more helpful and fun to be around.Carol F.—Farmington, CT

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.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Note: This trip must start on a Saturday

The Galápagos Islands are truly “a world unto themselves,” as Darwin wrote. Aboard your own private yacht with a naturalist guide, set off into Darwin’s world for an active journey full of nature hikes, snorkeling, and wonder. Abundant marine life makes for fantastic snorkeling, and swimming with playful sea lions is an experience you’ll never forget! In the evenings, enjoy a delicious dinner as you discuss the experiences of the day with your naturalist and enjoy the beauty of the star-filled equatorial night. Wilderness Travel Private Journeys are designed for people who want to travel with their own small private group, but who still want to experience the same superb itinerary design, great accommodations, and signature quality of Wilderness Travel’s escorted group trips. A Private Journey allows you to choose your own dates and your traveling companions—yet still enjoy a guided adventure.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Day 1, Saturday
Baltra Island / Santa Cruz Island: Santa Cruz Highlands / Darwin Station / Puerto Ayora

On arrival at Baltra Island, you are met by your naturalist guide for a drive into the lush Santa Cruz highlands, where you can look for Galápagos tortoises. In the small town of Puerto Ayora, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station’s tortoise-breeding facility. After your visit, embark aboard the Reina Silvia for dinner.

Day 2, Sunday
Floreana Island: Punta Cormorant / Champion / Post Office Bay / Black Beach

Cruise to Floreana for a walk to a salt-water lagoon where elegant pink flamingos wade in the shallows. At Champion Rock, enjoy snorkeling with Galapagos penguins, sea turtles, and colorful reef fish. In the afternoon, visit Floreana’s Post Office Bay, with its historic Post Office Barrel. In the 18th century, sailors left letters here to be posted by passing ships. Also visit Black Beach, with its lava sand and sea lion colony.

Day 3, Monday
Isabela Island: Elizabeth Bay / Punta Moreno

Five volcanoes contribute to Isabela’s dramatic scenery and spectacular coastline of basaltic bluffs. Take a Zodiac ride through a salt-water mangrove lagoon to see green sea turtles and Galápagos penguins. In the afternoon, Reina Silvia lands on a superb pahoehoe lava flow. There are flamingos, gallinules, and ducks in ponds and lagoons here. Enjoy great snorkeling at Punta Moreno.

Day 4, Tuesday
Isabela Island: Urbina Bay / Fernandina Island: Punta Espinosa

On Isabela, land on a beach often used by green sea turtles as a nesting site. As you hike over varied terrain, observe large land iguanas, a variety of endemic plants, and sometimes giant tortoises. In the afternoon, hike to Punta Espinosa, which extends out from the base of the Fernandina Volcano, to see the largest marine iguanas in the Galápagos. We should also find flightless cormorants nesting in the rocks and land iguanas.

Day 5, Wednesday
Isabela Island: Tagus Cove / Punta Vicente Roca

Hike at Tagus Cove, once an anchorage for pirate boats, and view the volcanic landscapes of Darwin Volcano and Darwin Lake. Back at the shore, you may see brown noddies, noddy terns, and flightless cormorants. At Punta Vicente Roca, take a panga ride along the cliffs and explore a sunken cave at the water’s edge. Blue-footed and masked boobies perch along the rocky cliffs and flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline here.

Day 6, Thursday
Santiago Island: Espumilla Beach / Buccaneers Cove / Puerto Egas / Mina de Sal

At Santiago, visit idyllic Espumilla Beach, a great place for swimming and snorkeling and an important site for nesting marine turtles. North of Espumilla, visit Buccaneers Cove, once a haven for pirates and whalers, and Puerto Egas, a magnificent stretch of coastline that host a great variety of wildlife. Birders may be able see one of Darwin’s finches as well as the endemic Galapagos hawk. Beyond the tidepools, visit the fur seal grotto.

Day 7, Friday
Santa Cruz Island: Las Bachas / North Seymour Island

Cruise to Santa Cruz Island’s Las Bachas, a major nesting site for green sea turtles, and visit a saline lagoon where flamingos wade. The beach is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. At North Seymour Island, hike among prehistoric-looking marine iguanas as well as a large colony of magnificent frigatebirds

Day 8, Saturday
Baltra Island / Disembark

Arrive in Baltra, bid farewell to your naturalist guide and yacht crew, and disembark.

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 Reina Silvia 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 Reina Silvia, 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

 

When to go

Note: This trip must start on a Saturday

Charters are available year-round, but we strongly recommend that you book well in advance. The yachts we charter are some of the most popular and sought-after in the islands, and tend to be reserved up to a year in advance. Please contact us at your earliest convenience to get your preferred dates of travel.

For our Private Journey trips, you choose your own group and your preferred dates—there are no set departure dates. Private Journeys are available to groups as few as two people or as large as you like. Contact us for availability, questions, or to book your adventure!

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014

Aboard the Reina Silvia: $52,500 (up to 12 guests)

INGALA Transit Control Card: $10 per person to be paid at check-in for your Galápagos flight

Galápagos park fee: $100 ($50 for children 11 and under)

Internal airfare: $495 (subject to change)
   Tickets for these internal flights are issued and distributed in Guayaquil by our local agent.

more on pricing

Extension Costs
Otavalo and Hacienda Zuleta Extension
   from: $925
Amazon Rainforest Extension: Napo Wildlife Center
   from: $1395
Cusco and Machu Picchu Extension
   from: $2595

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Galapagos naturalist guide and on-board chef and crew
  • Accommodations aboard the yacht
  • All meals included aboard yacht plus draft beer, water, sodas, and juices
  • Sightseeing, tours, and airport transfers as indicated

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, internal flights, accommodations or meals in Guayaquil, Galápagos park fee and transit control card, meals not specified after each itinerary day, airport departure taxes, optional gratuities, 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, etc.). Tipping your Trip Leader and the yacht crew is customary, but at your discretion.

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 20%
180 days prior to departure: 20%
90 days prior to departure: Balance

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

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $4000 per person
91-180 days prior to departure: 40% of trip cost
90 days or less: 100% of trip cost

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

Reina Silvia

Ecuador

M/V Reina Silvia was built by Lydia Inc. of Stuart, Florida, and named after H. M. Queen Silvia of Sweden. This 90-foot yacht accommodates up to 12 guests and has a highly trained crew of eight, including a multilingual naturalist guide. Reina Silvia accommodates her guests in six staterooms. Two staterooms are doubles which can be configured with either two twin beds or one king-sized bed. The four additional staterooms are furnished with two lower beds, which can be configured as twins or king, and one Pullman-style bed. They are considered doubles and can be used as triples upon request. All staterooms have en suite facilities, including shower, lavatory and vanity. The yacht is fully air-conditioned and features up-to-date security, navigational, and communications equipment, including satellite telephone. Excellent cuisine is offered from the well-equipped galley and served in the spacious dining room.

Deck Plan

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.

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

This trip was a dream come true. The sailing was wonderful and the crew and guide couldn’t have been more helpful and fun to be around. Carol F., Farmington, CT Thank you very much! You enabled a fabulous adventure and unforgettable experience. Each family member was delighted. Elizabeth T., Charlottesville, VA Everything about this trip was truly outstanding. Every day was a new adventure. I wouldn’t change anything and we had the best Trip Leader! Beth S., Winter Garden, FL
Our guides were super! Knowledgeable, good spirits, great in relating to us. Kat K., San Francisco, CA The Trip Leader made our adventure exceptional and the captain and crew were also first rate. Rick H., San Marcos, TX