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Tip Top IV Galapagos Cruise+Flights

Central Galápagos Cruise

5 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Tip Top IV

Length

5 Days

Ship category

Premium

Ship type

Small Yacht

Capacity

16 Passengers

Central Galápagos Cruise

14 Reviews

Trip highlights

Playful Sea Lions in South Plaza

Mars-like landscapes at Rábida

Giant Tortoises in the wild on Santa Cruz

Iconic views during a walk on Bartolomé

The Galapatours experience

Kajaks on board

Experienced crew

English-speaking guide for all activities

Lectures in the evening

Get to know the highlights of Galápagos with this Naturalist cruise on board the beautiful Tip Top IV! On this Expedition Cruise, you will discover the incredible wildlife of the Galápagos Islands: During your time spent on Rábida, you will have the opportunity to watch wild Flamingos and walk on a blood-red sandy beach. During your time on Santa Cruz, you will have the chance to observe the famous Galápagos Giant Tortoises in the wild and learn more about the preservation and scientific study of these amazing animals. Your visit to Santa Fe will involve a beautiful short hike, during which you can observe Galápagos Hawks, Darwin's Finches, Galápagos Mockingbirds. and Galápagos Sea Lions. On Santiago, an island formerly inhabited by pirates, you will be able to enjoy hikes and dinghy rides. A walk across South Plaza is one of the best visitor experiences in the Galápagos thanks to the large number of species living in such a small area.

Your ship: Tip Top IV

Tip Top IV Galapagos Cruise+Flights
Tip Top IV Galapagos Cruise+Flights
Tip Top IV Galapagos Cruise+Flights
  • Flights to and from Galápagos included (from Quito or Guayaquil);
  • Ample sun decks with shade and open skies;
  • Sea kayaks and snorkeling gear on board.
  • Most prices already include your flight tickets from and to the Galápagos Islands (from Quito or Guayaquil).

Tip Top IV is a beautiful 125ft first class motor yacht. Launched in 2006, she was designed and built specifically to offer the very best Galápagos adventure cruises and is one of the “Tip Top” fleet operated by the Ecuadorian Wittmer family. Captain Rolf Wittmer was one of the original pioneers of sustainable Galápagos touri … Read more about Tip Top IV

Cabins

Double twin
Standard Double

Type:

Matrimonial

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Upper Deck
Upper Deck Cabins

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Map

Itinerary

Your itinerary below may vary, depending on the weather, wildlife breeding, and local conditions.

Flight to Baltra XL1411
Popular

1 Day

4.5

(42)

Flight from Mainland Ecuador to Galápagos

Important: Please do inquire with us for your flights to Galápagos! The timing of your flights is crucial for a smooth operation of your cruises. Together, we must ensure that you arrive well before the departure of the cruise - better even on the exact same flight as the other passengers on board your ship. Therefore: Should you chose to book your own flights from Mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) to Galápagos (Baltra Airport or San Cristóbal Airport) and arrive late to Galápagos, then we will not assume any responsibility. The ship might not wait for you, in which case you will **miss your cruise without right to compensation**.

From

USD 299

Punta Moreno walk - Nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

3 Days

Day Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

Enjoy a 3-day cruise extension from Puerto Ayora, including a full-day land excursion to an exquisite uninhabited island in the Galápagos. Observe the remarkable biodiversity up close and snorkel in the tropical waters in the afternoon.

From

USD 680

Galapagos Green Turtle

3 Days

Diving Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This Mid-range 3-day cruise extension will take you from Puerto Ayora on a full-day diving trip to one of the most spectacular sites in the Galápagos Islands. Get up close to the amazing life, swim amongst sea turtles, sea lions and an endless array of colorful fish!

From

USD 490

Baltra Arrival at Baltra airport+transfer to ship
Baltra: Arrival at Baltra airportBaltra: Arrival at Baltra airport + transfer to ship - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104 + transfer to ship - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104

Welcome to Galápagos! Once your flight has landed and you went through the immigration process, you'll be met in the Arrivals lounge by our English-speaking guide who will take you to your transfer vehicle for the short journey to your waiting ship.

Baltra Island, where your arrival airport is, was used as an important Air Force base in the Second World War. This is the primary airport for the Galápagos Islands and you'll be rubbing shoulders with fellow tourists, international naturalists and conservationists, researchers and academics, and Galápagos residents alike. The airport has been built as a "green" airport, and as well as using recycled materials in its construction, it's special design keeps the buildings relatively cool without the need for any air conditioning.

Once on board your ship, you will be introduced to the crew and given a welcome briefing as well as an important safety drill. After this you'll be shown to your cabin. While you're served a well-deserved and delicious lunch, the captain will cast off and your adventure truly starts.

Note: If you plan to spend a few days prior to the cruise in Puerto Ayora and want to do the cruise later this is no problem at all. The transfer from Puerto Ayora to Baltra is very easy.

Santa Cruz Black Turtle Cove
Black Turtle Cove

The only way into Black Turtle cove is by panga (motorised dinghy). This "secret" corner of the Galápagos feels like your own personal hideout, and once the panga motor is shut off you're surrounded only with the gentle sounds of nature as you drift through the mangroves.

Rich with wildlife, you'll often see Galápagos green turtles feeding, or even mating, in the calm water, as well as different shark species and Galápagos rays.

This is a very different visitor site, showing another side to the Galápagos away from the noise of surf on the beaches and barking sea lions.

Santiago Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat ("Sombrero Chino" to locals) is an islet set just a short distance off the southeastern coast of Santiago. The small channel between Chinese Hat and mainland Santiago is fairly deep yet sheltered, and the water here is a glistening turquoise.

The islet gets its name because if you approach from the north, you will see that this small volcanic cone does indeed look like the traditional bamboo or rice hat. Viewed from above on a satellite image, however, you will see that this islet is actually more of an oval shape.

There is a short hiking trail on Chinese Hat that runs along the western coast of the islet. This is a harsh landscape of volcanic rubble and lava formations, a very atmospheric reminder of the fiery origins of the Galápagos.

Along the cost of both Chinese Hat and the opposite Santiago shore you are likely to see Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Penguins, either basking in the sun or seeking shade to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Overhead, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Galápagos Hawk.

The stand-out reason for a visit to Chinese Hat however is to snorkel in that turquoise channel. Here you can see various species of sharks, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Not all Galápagos boats can visit, and permits are only given to a select few boats and guides. Here at Galapatours we offer itineraries on all of these specially selected boats, so if a visit to Chinese Hat is important to you, speak to one of our Galápagos experts today to help choose the perfect itinerary.

Rábida A walk on Rabida Island
A walk on Rabida Island

Rabida is a small, steeply-sloped island with red-sand shores, and was originally called Jervis. Despite its small size, Rabida has one of the highest concentrations of volcanic features in the Galápagos, and it's thanks to the iron-rich lava deposits that its sands and soils are so red.

After a wet landing on the northern coast you will often see Galápagos Sea Lions and marine iguanas around the beach, especially near the sheltered caves in hot weather. Just behind the beach is a nesting site for brown pelicans, who use the saltbush as cover. Rabida is one of the best spots in the archipelago to observe pelicans. Sometimes flamingos can also be seen in the lagoon here.

There is a short hiking trail that leads further inland through Opuntias where there are good opportunities to see land birds like Darwin's finches, Galápagos Doves and Galápagos Mockingbirds.

After your trip inland you can then have a relaxing swim and enjoy some snorkeling, which is very good in the clear waters off the beach. While you swim, you'll be able to see Blue-Footed Boobies taking off over your head from their cliff-top roosts.

Santiago Sullivan Bay
Sullivan Bay

Sullivan Bay is on the eastern coast of Santiago Island. This visitor site is all about the geology and volcanic origins of the Galápagos, and although there is little wildlife here, the eerie landscape that was formed only 150 years ago has a real beauty all of its own.

On the hiking trail you will walk along lava that bubbled up from the ground, flowed and solidified in the second half of the 18th century. We recommend good sturdy shoes for walking in these lava fields. The landscape here is eerie and apparently barren - some of our Galapatours guests liken it to a "lunar landscape".

As the trail moves inland, the textures and colors change as you encounter much older lava fields. Here you can start to see signs of nature beginning to colonize this "new land". The small green plants that have started to grow in the cracks and crevices are called Mollugo.

Your Galapatours expert guide will be able to explain more about the volcanic processes that formed Santiago and all the Galápagos Islands, as well as how species begin to colonize the bare landscape.

Bartholomew A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew, Galápagos

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Santa Fe A walk on Santa Fe
South Plaza - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104

Santa Fe is a small, flat island right in the center of the Galápagos archipelago, and is thought to be one of the oldest volcanoes here. Dating of the rocks below the water estimates they were formed almost 4 million years ago.

Santa Fe had its own breed of Giant Tortoise that became extinct at some point in the 1800s due to being hunted for meat. There are two species that are unique to the island still present here - the Santa Fe Land Iguana, and the Santa Fe Rice Rat.

There is one visitor site on Santa Fe, and you will have a panga ride to a wet landing on the beach at Barrington Bay on the island's north coast. From here there are two hiking trails. One is a short loop close to the beach that takes you into an Opuntia forest filled with these massive cactus. This is the best opportunity to see the Santa Fe land iguanas and also other species such as Galápagos Hawks.

The second trail is a tougher proposition as it climbs quite steeply to the top of a cliff from where you will enjoy stunning views over the island's unspoilt interior.

Back on the beach you can join the Galápagos Sea Lions who often play in the waves and you can enjoy some wonderful snorkeling in the clear blue-green waters here.

South Plaza A walk on South Plaza
A walk on South Plaza

Whilst her twin, North Plaza, is closed to visitors, South Plaza is one of the best visitor sites in the Galápagos thanks to the large number of species present on her small area.

The Plazas were formed as the result of a geological uplift, and because this was uneven they both have cliffs on their south sides and low lying shores on their northern coasts.

The most noticeable (and noisiest) of South Plaza's residents are her Galápagos Sea Lions, who have a large colony here. Less obvious are her land iguanas (the smallest in the islands), many marine iguanas and large numbers and varieties of seabirds.

Inland is a mix of scrubby vegetation and giant opuntia cactus forest, providing food for the iguanas. As you follow the circular hiking trail you will come to the summit of the cliffs here where you'll be among countless nesting seabirds.

Santa Cruz Bachas Beach
Bachas Beach

The name "Bachas Beach" (or "Las Bachas" in Spanish) actually comes from a mispronunciation! After the second world war, American forces stationed on Santa Cruz abandoned some of their barges there - "bachas" was the nearest some of the locals could get to pronouncing the English word, and the name has stuck. You can still see the remains of one of the floating docks the soldiers set up on one of the two beaches that make up Las Bachas Beach.

This beach is covered in white coral sand, and it's a major nesting site for Galápagos green turtles. There's also a lagoon just behind the sand which often hosts flamingos, ducks and migratory birds. You can also often find marine iguanas feeding on the rocky outcrops near the tide line.

The main beach is perfect for swimming, being very sheltered from the ocean swells, and is a very pleasant spot to cool off and to indulge in some snorkeling.

Baltra Transfer to Baltra airport
Transfer from ship to Baltra airport (organized)

Your Galápagos adventure ends with the arrival of your ship back at Baltra Island. After what many guests describe as an emotional goodbye to your ship and its crew, you'll board the transfer vehicle that will take you on the short journey to the airport in plenty of time for your flight back to the mainland.

Baltra airport serves both Guayaquil or Quito, and we can arrange flights that fit best with your onward plans - particularly if you are continuing a South America tour. Speak to one of our travel experts as we are often able to beat even internet pricing on flights to and from Galápagos.

Note: If you plan to spend a few days in Galápagos after your cruise this is no problem at all. Just let us know and we will arrange for the logistics. The transfer from Baltra to Puerto Ayora, for example, is very easy.

Flight to Baltra XL1411
Popular

1 Day

4.4

(41)

Flight from Galápagos to Mainland Ecuador

Please inquire with us for your flight from Galápagos (Baltra Airport or San Cristóbal Airport) to Mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil). Note: As Galápagos is a protected National Park, there are some regulations that airlines shall fulfill. For this reason, there are no direct international flights to and from Galápagos. Whether you're traveling from the United States, Europe or anywhere else, you should book an international flight to Guayaquil or Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and then travel on to Galápagos on a separate flight.

From

USD 299

Punta Moreno walk - Nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

3 Days

Day Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

Enjoy a 3-day cruise extension from Puerto Ayora, including a full-day land excursion to an exquisite uninhabited island in the Galápagos. Observe the remarkable biodiversity up close and snorkel in the tropical waters in the afternoon.

From

USD 680

Galapagos Green Turtle

3 Days

Diving Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This Mid-range 3-day cruise extension will take you from Puerto Ayora on a full-day diving trip to one of the most spectacular sites in the Galápagos Islands. Get up close to the amazing life, swim amongst sea turtles, sea lions and an endless array of colorful fish!

From

USD 490

Dates & Prices

From

Until

Info

Availability

Price

30

Dec

2024

3

Jan

2025

- Flights included

Available

From

USD 3,896

30

Dec

2024

3

Jan

2025

Flights included

Available

From

USD 3,896

Preferred date unavailable? Contact us

Info

Single Cabin Supplement

When booking online, you can choose the option to "Upgrade to single occupancy". This will guarantee you the whole cabin to yourself, for an additional fee. If you don't select this option, then another traveler of the same sex might be placed into the same cabin with you.

What's included

All meals onboard (International and Ecuadorian Cuisine). Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for with advance notice - please ask us about your needs.

Snorkeling sessions - whenever possible and allowed by the National Park.

Extensive Zodiac Rides to explore the shorelines and mangrove forests from close up.

All transport to and from the ship: Pick-up by your guide directly from the airport (if you arrive at the first day) and drop-off by your guide directly to the airport (if you leave on the last day).

English-speaking naturalist guides with you at all times during the excursions.

Briefings in the evening, during which your guide will explain what you can expect from your next day.

Lectures in the evenings about a variety of topics, including Geology, Marine Biology, Natural History, Human History, and more.

Entry costs to museums, research stations, breeding stations, etc.

Your booking contributes to our Conservation Project.

What's not included

Galápagos National Park Fee, payable in cash upon arrival at the airport in Galápagos (please see our FAQ)

INGALA Luggage Check Fee at the airport on the mainland: 20USD (please see our FAQ)

Alcoholic beverages onboard (please see our FAQ)

Bottled soft drinks onboard (Coke, Sprite etc.)

Tips & Gratuities for your Guide and Crew (please see our FAQ)

Travel Health Insurance

Reviews

Heather and Steve

Tip Top IV Galapagos Cruise+Flights

Premium

An unforgettable holiday Thank your for an unforgettable holiday! Our stay on board the Tip Top iV counts as one of the nicest - maybe THE best holiday - we have ever taken. The crew was wonderful, the food delicious and our guide Marian was fantastic. Just a great mixture between active and relax, above and inside the water! We highly recommend Galapatours to every friend who considers going to Galapagos.

Heather & Steve

Tip Top IV Galapagos Cruise+Flights

Premium

Unvergessliche Kreuzfahrt Vielen Dank für diese unvergesslichen Tage! Unsere Reise auf der Tip Top IV zählt z uden schönsten überhaupt - vielleicht sogar der beste Urlaub den wir je hatten. Die Crew war großartig, das Essen war sehr gut und unser Guide Marian wusste unglaublich viel über die Inseln. Tolle Mischung aus Entspannung auf und im Wasser. Wir empfehlen Galapatours all unseren Freunden, die über einen Galapagos Urlaub nachdenken.

Jan Schmidt

Tip Top IV Galapagos Cruise+Flights

Premium

Einfach schön Meine Frau und ich buchten eine 8 Tages Tour auf der Tip Top IV mit Galapatours und schwärmen immernoch von dieser Kreuzfahrt. Das Essen, die Unterkunft, der Guide Juan, die Ausflüge, die Blaufußtölpel! Alles war genauso, wie wir uns das ausgemalt haben. Das Schnorcheln hat am meisten Spaß gemacht. Sehr zu empfehlen!

FAQs

Under Ecuadorian law, if you are only temporarily visiting the Galápagos then you are exempted from the requirement to pay any customs charges on items that you are bringing in to the country. This includes new or used portable electronics such as cameras, laptops, music players, etc.

You MUST NOT bring any agricultural or plant materials or any unprocessed food products to the islands. To avoid problems at customs and bag check we suggest only traveling to Galápagos with pre-wrapped snack products such as chocolate bars, etc. Food is plentiful and freshly cooked on your Galapatours cruise, with a wide range of choice on offer to suit all tastes - you really don't need to bring anything with you!

As the Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador, and all flights to the Galapagos depart from mainland Ecuador, you will need to enter Ecuador first.

Entering Ecuador: Every traveler is responsible for checking the individual visa requirements for their nationality. We recommend using https://www.passportindex.org/ to find out if you need a visa for Ecuador. At the time of writing, U.S. citizens do not need to apply for a visa beforehand. Similarly, visitors from the UK, Germany, and most other European countries do not require a visa for the Galapagos Islands. Upon entering the country, you will be given a visa stamp that permits you to stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days. This also applies to many other countries, but please verify the current visa regulations yourself before booking any tickets. In any case, your passport must be valid for at least six more months from the date of entry into Ecuador. You will also need to show proof of onward or return travel out of Ecuador to customs and immigration officials upon arrival; this can be a return or onward airline ticket. If you do not meet these requirements, you may not be allowed to enter the country.

Entering Galapagos: To enter Galápagos, the first official requirement is a valid Ecuadorian tourist visa stamp in your passport - this should have been issued to you upon arrival to mainland Ecuador.

This is a multi-layered question, that we have tried to answer in various articles. Please click on the corresponding links to learn more about the different topics. To recap:

  • Passport & Visa: Tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands must have a valid passport and, in most cases, can obtain a visa upon arrival in Ecuador. Click here to read more.
  • Luggage Check: When leaving Ecuador's main land, tourists' luggage will be checked for restricted items by the Tourist Control and Certification (TCC) to ensure the preservation of the islands' unique environment and wildlife. This check costs 20USD and is done at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil, before checking in for your flight to Galapagos.
  • Entrance Fee: A Galapagos National Park entrance fee must be paid upon arriving in Galapagos.
  • Travel Insurance: A travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation and medical expenses. is highly recommended, and even obligatory on board of some ships.
  • Vaccinations: At the following link you can find out more about vaccinations for a Galápagos trip.

The Galápagos National Park Entrance fee is levied on all visitors to the islands. For foreign visitors, the entry fee is currently 100 USD per person (50 USD for children under 12 years old), but will be increased to 200 USD per person (100 USD for children) from 1 August 2024 onwards. If you are a citizen of a country in South America you might pay less, check here for more information.

Important: This fee must be paid, in cash, at the airport of arrival. If you do not pay, you will not be allowed to leave the terminal - so please make sure you have the means to pay the Galápagos entrance fee! Therefore, the payment of this entrance fee is indispensable to take part in a Galapagos cruise.

The entrance fees collected will be allocated to various local entities to support sustainability and community development in the Galápagos Islands. The proceeds are split between several important institutions as follows:

  • 40% to the Galápagos National Park
  • 20% to Galápagos Municipalities
  • 10% to the National Institute
  • 10% to Galápagos Province Local Government
  • 5% to the National Navy
  • 5% to the Ministry of Environment
  • 5% to Quarantine and Pest Control
  • 5% to the Galápagos Marine Reserve

For more information about the entrance fee structure and the distribution of funds, please visit the official website of the Galápagos National Park Administration.

To protect the vulnerable and unique Galapagos habitats and wildlife, no non-native plant or animal species must be allowed to arrive on the archipelago. SICGAL is the government department responsible for ensuring the islands are protected in this way.

After you have received your TCT/TCC card at the airport in Ecuador, you should proceed to the SICGAL booth. There you will be asked to fill out a form and may have your luggage examined.

To make sure you don't have any trouble here, please do not attempt to travel with any foods other than small quantities of pre-wrapped snack items like chocolate bars or similar, and certainly don't have any plants or plant materials in your bags. Once checked, you will receive an approval label to attach to your bags, and you can then make your way to your airline check in.

Arrival at Quito Airport: SICGAL Luggage Check and TCC Card for your flight to Galápagos
SIGAL Luggage Check at Quito Airport

Galapagos boasts two airports on Baltra and San Cristóbal Islands, offering daily flights from Quito and Guayaquil. Departing in the early morning, the journey from Quito to Galapagos takes approximately 2.5 hours, often including a brief stopover in Guayaquil. The direct flight from Guayaquil to Galapagos clocks in at around 1.5 hours. Three airlines currently serve Galapagos - Avianca, TAME and LATAM.

To mitigate any potential issues arising from flight delays or cancellations on your international leg, it is advisable to arrive in Quito or Guayaquil the night before your Galapagos departure. Ask us for advice on Ecuador hotels when you book your cruise with us.

Galapagos Flights
Central Galápagos Cruise

4.8

(14)

Premium

From

USD 3,896



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