Galapagos - Central & Eastern Islands Aboard the Xavier III

10 Day Expedition Cruise from Quito to Quito with Explore

Book online and enjoy exclusive savings on Explore's 10 Day Galapagos - Central & Eastern Islands Aboard the Xavier III. A boat journey around the Galapagos is considered one of the most rewarding boat journeys in the world. Join us on our best value Galapagos seven-night cruise as we visit the central and eastern islands, more

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$ 6,250
Per Person ($AU)
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$ 272
Per Person ($AU)
Expedition Cruise Starts In
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Expedition Cruise Ends In
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Expedition Cruise Ship
Ship Type
Expedition Cruise Ship
Trip Style
Trip Style
Scenic / Cultural
Trip Style
Scenic / Cultural
Trip Pace
Countries Explored:
Galapagos, Ecuador
Trip Operated By:
140 Reviews
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1 Join tour 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 Xavier III

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.

On arrival in San Cristobal, we will meet our naturalist guide and transfer to our home for the next seven nights, the Xavier III. 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. 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. In the afternoon we will visit the Jacinto Gordillo Tortoise Breeding Centre, see all of the different species of tortoises up close. See newborns as well as full-grown adult tortoises that can live well over 100 years. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

3 Visit Punta Pitt and snorkel at Kicker Rock

We land this morning at Punta Pitt, on the eastern tip of San Cristobal Island. Here we will find unique volcanic formations as well as nesting sites for all three species of the Galapagos boobies: blue footed, red footed and Nazca. Punta Pitt is also home to the endemic lava lizard. We will be able to observe a mixture of different types of lava flows as well as colourful vegetation. It is possible to see the three species of boobies as well as frigatebirds, all nesting in the same area - unique to this spot in the entire archipelago.

After, we visit Cerro Brujo on San Cristóbal Island to observe sea lions, marine iguanas, and seabirds along the beach. A short distance away and visible from shore is an island called Leon Dormido, or 'Kicker Rock', which rises hundreds of feet above the ocean and resembles a sleeping lion. It is quite striking and if conditions are right we may be able to sail through a narrow channel which splits Kicker Rock in half. An incredible snorkelling spot, Kicker Rock is home to an incredibly diverse set of marine life in the nutrient-rich water and is also inhabited by large numbers of seabirds. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

4 Explore Santiago Island including Playa Espumilla

Today is spent on Santiago Island. This island has seen its share of human activity from whalers and pirates over the years, and despite the introduction of goats to the island many years ago, the wildlife of Santiago has flourished and provides outstanding viewing opportunities. The island boasts marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, land and sea turtles among others, which provide great wildlife viewing both on land and in the water. In the morning we will visit Playa Espumilla, one of the most idyllic beaches in the Galapagos Islands, boasting thick mangroves along with flamingo and sea turtle nesting sites. We continue on to Buccaneer Cove, to witness its towering cliff wall rock formations. Jump into the panga and cruise alongside high cliffs and rock formations. This area was a favourite hideout for pirates looking to stock up their boats with food and water. Spot sea lions relaxing on the beach and sea birds nesting in the cove - there's alot to see at this site.

Later in the afternoon, we head to the dark-sand beach at Puerto Egas and tidal pools. Explore the spectacular shoreline of Puerto Egas, also known as James Bay and spot a great number of shore birds and reptiles - the beach here is home to a plethora of wildlife. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

5 Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, view giant tortoises in the Highlands

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. The Charles Darwin Research Station is a ten minute walk from the centre of the town and has been responsible for conservation projects within the islands since 1959 (the centenary of the publication of Darwin's book the Origin of the Species).

Here, an exhibition centre displays photos of recent volcanic eruptions, charts outlining geological formations and drawings of the evolutionary development of endemic species. A corral houses adult Galapagos tortoises, and a nursery cares for young tortoises until they are about three years old, when their shells have hardened enough to resist attack from feral dogs. The Research Station is also the training centre for naturalist guides who accompany all visitors and members of the international scientific community often come to study at the station. In the afternoon, we head to Santa Cruz's verdant highlands and the El Chato Reserve. There are many reserves in this area, such as El Manzanillo, Primicias, and El Chato II, making this is a perfect place to see giant tortoises in their natural environment. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

6 Snorkel at Chinese Hat and visit Black Turtle Cove

In the morning the boat arrives to a small little island off the southern tip of Santiago Island called Sombrero Chino or 'Chinese Hat', named for its unique shape. Chinese Hat comprises of a tilted cone and lava flows that run down to the coast. Here it is often possible to see Galapagos penguins and the abundant marine life, including rays, turtles and sea lions, make for great snorkelling possibilities. Snorkel right from the white-coral sand beach and come face to face with playful sea lions and large schools of tropical fish. Keep an eye out for marine iguanas and penguins. There is a large sea lion colony here as well as many marine iguanas that can be seen on our guided walk among the volcanic scenery which offers good views to the cone of the island's volcano.

In the afternoon we take an excursion by panga to Black Turtle Cove, to witness the extensive mangrove system and interesting waterway canals. Sea turtles and different species of rays can often be seen in this cove, offering a peaceful and fascinating glimpse into the diversity of the area. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

7 Explore Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island and witness Daphne Island's wildlife
In the morning we will visit Cerro Dragon, on the western coast of Santa Cruz Island. Take a short walk from the beach to a hypersalinic (saltier than the ocean) lagoon frequented by pink 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. In the afternoon, we will travel to Daphne Island, located between the islands of Santa Cruz and Baltra. Here we will see much birdlife including a number of finch species, masked boobies, Galapagos martins and frigatebirds. Observe from the boat, as this island is dedicated to scientific research. This island was where Dr. Peter Grant conducted a long-term study of Darwin's finches. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)
8 Discover South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands

After breakfast this morning we visit South Plaza Island. One of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, South Plaza has one of the largest populations of land iguanas. A large colony of noisy sea lions, numbering about 1000 bulls, cows and pups, has its prime habitat on the smooth rocks. We will walk along a path through a cactus forest and view a combination of dry and coastal vegetation. The small cactus forest is populated by land iguanas, which can be seen sunning themselves or feeding on opuntia pads and fruits. Swallow-tailed gulls, which nest on the rugged southern cliffs, are usually seen, along with tropicbirds and Audubon's shearwaters. During the rainy season you can see the red sesuvium turn bright green and the leafless evening-blooming portulaca burst into large yellow flowers, which are loved by the iguanas.

After lunch back on board the Xavier III we will continue to Santa Fe Island. Santa Fe was formed from an uplift (rather than a volcano) giving the island a relatively flat surface rather than the typical conical shape of the other islands. Hike towards the cliffs along the island's northern shore to view the forest of giant prickly pear cactus (Opuntia), which is home to endemic land iguanas. It is also one of the best locations to see sea turtles, sea lions, and maybe even get a glimpse of a whitetip reef shark from the panga. You may get a chance to see the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, a variety of finches and the Galapagos mockingbird. There may also be the opportunity to swim and snorkel with sea lions. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (B/L/D)

9 Visit the interpretation centre on San Cristobal Island then fly back to Quito
We arrive at San Cristobal in the morning. San Cristobal is the easternmost island of the Galapagos archipelago and one of the oldest. Its principal town is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos. We disembark the boat after breakfast and visit the interpretation centre where we can learn more about the Galapagos' history, geology, turbulent past and challenging future. We transfer to the airport 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: Boat (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. Stay: Boat (Comfortable) (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!
Launching in 1981, Explore offer trips from over 130 countries - from classic small group tours... Read more
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Explore Leaders
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Prices & Dates

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Trip Starts Trip Ends Status Offer Save Now Our Price  
Saturday 25 Jul 2020 Monday 03 Aug 2020 272per person 6,518per person Not Avail
Saturday 08 Aug 2020 Monday 17 Aug 2020 265per person 6,365per person Not Avail
Saturday 22 Aug 2020 Monday 31 Aug 2020 265per person 6,365per person Not Avail
Saturday 05 Sep 2020 Monday 14 Sep 2020 260per person 6,250per person Enquire
Saturday 19 Sep 2020 Monday 28 Sep 2020 260per person 6,250per person Enquire
Saturday 03 Oct 2020 Monday 12 Oct 2020 260per person 6,250per person Enquire
Saturday 17 Oct 2020 Monday 26 Oct 2020 272per person 6,518per person Enquire
Saturday 31 Oct 2020 Monday 09 Nov 2020 272per person 6,518per person Enquire
Saturday 14 Nov 2020 Monday 23 Nov 2020 272per person 6,518per person Enquire
Saturday 28 Nov 2020 Monday 07 Dec 2020 265per person 6,365per person Enquire
Saturday 12 Dec 2020 Monday 21 Dec 2020 265per person 6,365per 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.