Galapagos - Central, South & Eastern Islands Aboard the Monserrat

10 Day Expedition Cruise from Quito to Quito with Explore

Book online and enjoy exclusive savings on Explore's 10 Day Galapagos - Central, South & Eastern Islands Aboard the Monserrat. On this tour we spend seven nights on the Monserrat embarking on a Galapagos cruising adventure through the archipelago's central, southern and eastern islands. Hike the dramatic black lava more

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$ 6,250
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Ship Type
Expedition Cruise Ship
Trip Style
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Scenic / Cultural
Trip Style
Scenic / Cultural
Trip Pace
Countries Explored:
Galapagos, Ecuador
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1 Join trip in Quito

Arrive in Quito, Ecuador's mountain capital and the second highest capital city in Latin America. One of South America's most beautiful cities, Quito lies in a narrow valley at the foot of the Pichincha Volcano, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and extinct volcanoes. On arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), a representative will be waiting to meet you directly in front of the arrivals section, holding a sign with your name on it. They will show you where to go to catch your transfer to your hotel. For those arriving on time, a group representative will meet you in the hotel reception at approximately 5pm for the welcome meeting. You will have the opportunity to meet other tour participants and receive information about the trip, as well as departure times for the following day. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the exact meeting time, though we do recommend that you arrive at the hotel by 4pm.

If you arrive late, the representative will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the following morning. There are no other activities planned today. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to explore the new and old parts of the city. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich blend of colonial architecture, imposing churches and bustling local markets. A climb to the top of Cerro Panecillo affords one of the best views across the city and the surrounding mountains, presenting you with an unparalleled vista of the encircling Andes from the viewing platform offered by the statue of the Virgen de Quito. Stay: Hotel (Comfortable)

2 Fly to San Cristobal Island, transfer to the Monserrat

Today we transfer to the airport early for our flight to the Galapagos Islands via Guayaquil (refuelling stop only, you will not disembark the plane). Lying on the Equator, 970km west of the Ecuadorean coast, the Galapagos National Park is a unique collection of islands, formed by volcanoes over hundreds of thousands of years and consists of six main islands, 12 smaller islands as well as over 40 small islets, supporting a distinct and unique flora and fauna, including prehistoric creatures found nowhere else on earth. This desolate and fantastic habitat was discovered in 1535 by Fray Tomas de Berlanga. One of the original designations by him was Las Islas Encantadas, the Enchanted Isles. Charles Darwin visited the islands on the Beagle exactly three hundred years later, in 1835. He observed the total isolation of the giant reptiles and other creatures, and this played a substantial part in his formulation of the theory of evolution.

The Galapagos have never been connected with the continent. Gradually, over many hundreds of thousands of years, animals and plants from over the sea somehow migrated there and as time went by they adapted themselves to Galapagos conditions and came to differ more and more from their continental ancestors. Thus many of them are unique: a quarter of the species of shore fish, half of the plants and almost all the reptiles are found nowhere else. In many cases different forms have evolved on the different islands.

Of the extraordinary animals to be found in the Galapagos many are reptiles, such as the great tortoise, large land iguanas, numerous lizards and three species of non-poisonous snakes. There are also several species of turtle, which come ashore to mate. Up to three quarters of a million seabirds flock to the islands, including a third of the world's blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, cormorants, albatross and petrels. Only 35cm tall, the Galapagos penguin can be seen swimming among tropical mangroves, whilst offshore it is common to see dolphins, sea lions and fur seals playing in the water. Fearless though not tame, the extraordinary wildlife can be easily approached and the opportunities for photography are superb. The Galapagos National Park charges a visitor fee of $110 USD, payable on arrival, which funds park maintenance and supervision in the Galapagos, as well as ecological study, conservation and infrastructure development in Ecuador's other national parks. Entry fees and the funds they generate for the national park system are among measures taken by the Ecuadorian government to protect its natural heritage.

On arrival in San Cristobal, we will meet our naturalist guide and transfer to our home for the next seven nights, the Monserrat. San Cristobal is the easternmost island of the Galapagos archipelago and one of the oldest geologically. The principal town is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos. We will spend the afternoon visiting Isla Lobos, where we will be greeted by frolicking sea lions. Explore this tiny island for great wildlife encounters. Either by foot or by panga, view the sea and shore birds nesting and feeding. Snorkel the waters of peaceful Isla Lobos, amid the families of sea lions and their inquisitive pups looking to play. Spot nesting frigatebirds and the famous blue-footed boobies resting on the shore. Be sure to bring your camera to catch some snaps at this prime wildlife watching haven. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

3 Walk to Cerro Brujo and visit the Highlands
Our first landing for the day is at Cerro Brujo, where there is a chance to go hiking, swimming and snorkelling. The sandy beach is home to Sally Lightfoot crabs, brown pelicans, blue footed boobies and California sea lions. We will spend the afternoon visiting in the Highlands - a tortoise natural breeding area, surrounded by endemic flora of the islands. Visit the Jacinto Cordillo Breeding Center, a giant tortoise breeding centre and see all of the different species of tortoise up-close. See newborn as well as fully-grown adult tortoises that can live well over 100 years. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)
4 Discover Punta Suarez on Espanola Island

Today we head to Punta Suarez on Espanola Island. The southernmost island in the Galapagos archipelago is home to several wildlife species, including masked and blue footed boobies. A hike to the top of the cliff makes for spectacular photo opportunities. Punta Suarez on the western side of Espanola Island is spectacular: gargantuan waves break on jagged cliffs and large bird colonies thickly populate the interior of the island; there is a distinct feel of desolate wilderness here. The waved albatross is seen here from April to December during its mating/nesting season. This bird leaves land between January and March each year to make its annual odyssey far out to sea. Amazingly, Espanola is the nesting site of virtually the entire world population of this species, with more than 12,000 pairs residing here. Large numbers of masked and blue footed boobies are also found here, red-billed tropicbirds dash madly through the air, and both marine iguanas and sea lions are common.

A huge blowhole, where the surf is forced through a natural rock formation spouting seawater 15 to 20m into the air, adds to the island's impression of untamed beauty. We follow the trail through a rookery and learn the geological history of the island from our naturalist guide, including its dramatic volcanic features, climate, flora and fauna. Visit Gardner Bay's magnificent white sandy beach and spectacular landscapes. This incredible place is home to sea lions, hood mockingbirds, Nazca boobies, waved albatross, red-billed tropic birds, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks, and blue-footed boobies. Snorkel through the beautiful turquoise water and enjoy its incredible sea life - spot playful young sea lions and large schools of tropical fish, including yellow-tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish, and bump-head parrot fish. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

5 Observe the wildlife of Floreana Island, visit Post Office Bay

The history of Floreana Island has gradually evolved to reach near mythic proportions. The story begins when a baroness and her two lovers, a German doctor and his mistress, and a German couple and their young son all came to settle on this land. Their dalliances and disasters, shrouded in mystery, were chronicled in John Treherne's book 'The Galapagos Affair'. Descendants of the German family, the Wittmers, still live on the island in the small community of Puerto Velasco Ibarra. Mrs. Margaret Wittmer has also written a booked entitled 'Floreana' and this can be purchased at the airport in Baltra or at a local bookstore. This morning we make our way to Punta Cormorant on the northern part of Floreana Island. The landing is on a beach of green sand, coloured by olivine crystals, volcanic-derived silicates of magnesium and iron. The trail leads to a lake normally inhabited by flamingos and other shore birds and continues to a beach of fine white sand particles known as 'Flour Beach', an important nesting site for turtles.

Later in the afternoon we stop at Post Office Bay, which has a lot of history. A barrel was placed here in the late 18th century by English whaling vessels to be used as a post office. Passing ships would stop to leave mail for loved ones, collecting at the same time any mail destined for ports on their itineraries. Today the box is used mainly by tourists, who may drop off and pick up unstamped letters to be carried to far destinations. The remains of a Norwegian canning factory are the only evidence of the island's history prior to its designation as a protected area. A short hike up past the post barrel takes you to an interesting lava cave. With the aid of a torch, you can descend about 80m to the point where the sea enters the cave. We will end our day's activities with a snorkelling excursion at Champion Islet. Keep an eye out for sea lions, sea turtles, rays and colourful reef fish swimming by. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

6 Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station

In the morning we arrive in Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos and has the largest population, with Puerto Ayora as its main town. It also boasts the most varied of the islands' vegetation zones: coastal, transition, scalesia, miconia and pampa. Spend some time walking around the small town of Puerto Ayora. Visit a local fish market or buy some souvenirs and discover how people live in the Galapagos. Visit the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, a great place to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity. Brought back from the brink of extinction, see the famous Galápagos tortoise up close - a corral houses adult tortoises, and a nursery cares for the young until around age three when their shells have hardened.

This area also houses the Charles Darwin Research Station, a scientific organization initiated in 1964, which works to preserve the Galápagos' ecosystem through the conservation efforts of scientists, researchers, and volunteers. While the offices themselves are not open to visitors, the research station provides a study location for international scientists and environmental education for the local community. Enjoy the highlands of Santa Cruz and see the Galápagos giant tortoise in its natural surroundings. Explore the area and its incredible underground lava tunnels. Wander along the volcanic tubes and keep an eye out for the (mainly) nocturnal barn owls that sometimes roost here. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

7 Travel to Santiago and Bartolome Islands

In the morning, we will travel to Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island to witness the striking and fascinating giant lava formations. Very few plants have managed to survive on this island due to its harsh environment and relatively new lava flow. Enjoy a walk along the lava formations before coming to a white coral sand beach, where plentiful Sally lightfoot crabs and sea lions can be seen. Enjoy a cool dip after exploring Sullivan Bay on foot. Grab a snorkel and discover many species of fish and other marine life in the shallow waters. Keep an eye out for turtles, rays, and large schools of colourful fish. Later, we visit Bartolome Island. A hike to the summit of the island (Pinnacle Rock) provides a clearer perspective of the islands' not-too-distant volcanic origins, and the panoramic view is one of the best among the islands. From here the double-sided beach of Bartolome directly below, the volcanic tower rising out of the water next to it, and Santiago Island in the distance are all visible.

After the summit hike, we stop at the beach to relax in semi-tropical tranquility. There is great snorkelling among the submerged volcanic rock and around the base of the tower. Home to Galápagos penguins, friendly sea lions, sea turtles, and a huge variety of fish, Bartolomé and its surrounding waters are a fantastic place to explore the natural wonders of the Galápagos. A short hike to the beach on the opposite side is worth the effort. It is not unusual to see sharks in these shallow waters, and marine turtles nest here from January through till March. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

8 Visit Bachas Beach and Cerro Dragon, Santa Cruz Island

We visit Bachas Beach in the morning, located on the northeastern tip of Santa Cruz Island. This is a great beach to stroll on with crystalline waters perfect for swimming. The sand is made of decomposed coral, making it soft and white, and the beach is a favourite site for nesting sea turtles. Spot abundant Sally Lightfoot crabs on the lava rocks along the water's edge. Trek to see a wide range of wildlife, including flamingos, hermit crabs, black necked stilts, and marine iguanas. You will also have the opportunity to go snorkelling or swimming right off the beach. Spot all sorts of marine wildlife in its shallow waters and tidal pools.

In the afternoon, we will explore Cerro Dragon, on the western coast of Santa Cruz Island. Here we will see land iguanas as well as visit a salt water lagoon frequented by flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks and other species of birds. Pass through a Palo Santo tree forest; endemic to the area, there are only 400 specimens of Scalesia trees left in the world. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

9 Visit Black Turtle Cove then fly back to Quito
Early morning, we visit Black Turtle Cove in search of marine life. Take a morning panga ride, offering a peaceful and fascinating glimpse into the diversity of the area. Spot sea turtles and different species of rays, often seen in this cove. In the afternoon, we transfer to the airport on Baltra Island for our flight to Quito via Guayaquil (refueling stop only, you will not disembark the plane). On arrival back on the mainland, we transfer to the hotel for our final night in Ecuador. Stay: Hotel (Comfortable) (B)
10 Trip ends in Quito
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Quito. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. We recommend spending extra time in Quito, particularly if you wish to go on some of the optional day trips that are bookable locally, or if you are looking to book on our Amazon extension package (trip code: AE). Pick-up times for your airport transfer to Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) will be re-confirmed locally in your welcome pack. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at the hotel. (B)

Explore Inclusions

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Journey Highlights
  • Galapagos Cruise -Seven nights exploring the Galapagos Islands aboard the comfortable Monserrat boat
  • Sierra Negra - Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano, the largest basaltic caldera in the Galapagos
  • Iguanas - Discover land iguanas feeding in the cactus forests on South Plaza Island and view plentiful marine iguanas on Santa Fe Island
  • Playa Espurmilla - Visit one of the most idyllic beaches in the Galapagos, on Santiago Island
Trip Pace: Moderate
  • Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a holiday which combines exciting activities and experiences with plenty of time to relax and unwind. Typically you'll be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries.
Read Trip Notes
  • Trip Notes outline what's included, visa information, important notes, how to get to your accommodation, packing checklist, optional activities, travel insurance requirements - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more. Please take time to have a read through, and contact us if you have any questions. View Trip Notes
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About Explore!
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Trip Starts Trip Ends Status Offer Save Now Our Price  
Saturday 25 Jul 2020 Monday 03 Aug 2020 260per person 6,250per person Not Avail
Saturday 08 Aug 2020 Monday 17 Aug 2020 272per person 6,518per person Not Avail
Saturday 22 Aug 2020 Monday 31 Aug 2020 272per person 6,518per person Not Avail
Saturday 05 Sep 2020 Monday 14 Sep 2020 265per person 6,365per person Enquire
Saturday 19 Sep 2020 Monday 28 Sep 2020 265per person 6,365per person Enquire
Saturday 03 Oct 2020 Monday 12 Oct 2020 265per person 6,365per person Enquire
Saturday 17 Oct 2020 Monday 26 Oct 2020 260per person 6,250per person Enquire
Saturday 31 Oct 2020 Monday 09 Nov 2020 265per person 6,365per person Enquire
Saturday 14 Nov 2020 Monday 23 Nov 2020 260per person 6,250per person Enquire
Saturday 28 Nov 2020 Monday 07 Dec 2020 265per person 6,365per person Enquire
Saturday 12 Dec 2020 Monday 21 Dec 2020 272per person 6,518per person Enquire
Saturday 26 Dec 2020 Monday 04 Jan 2021 265per person 6,365per person Enquire
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Trip Notes
Trip prices are per person, and reflect applicable discounts. Discounts are subject to availability, exclusive to Global Journeys and may be withdrawn at any time without notice. Trip prices are correct at the time of the products going live, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking. All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however are subject to change by Explore. Full terms & conditions are available here.