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Naturalist Galápagos Cruise

5 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Danubio Azul

Length

5 Days

Ship category

Budget

Ship type

Small Yacht

Capacity

14 Passengers

Naturalist Galápagos Cruise

9 Reviews

Trip highlights

Playful Sea Lions in South Plaza

Giant Tortoises in the wild on Santa Cruz

Cormorant Point: Pink flamingos

Brilliant white coral sand beaches

The Galapatours experience

Excellent itineraries

Smaller groups than usual

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 Danubio Azul! On this Expedition Cruise, you will discover the incredible wildlife of the Galápagos Islands: During our visit to Floreana, you will have the opportunity for some great dinghy rides, extensive snorkeling, and learning more about the fascinating human history of the Galápagos. On San Cristóbal, you will be able to snorkel in crystal clear waters, relax with sea lions on pristine white sand beaches and learn more about the evolution of giant tortoises. 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: Danubio Azul

Danubio Azul Galapagos
Danubio Azul Galapagos Cruise
danubio6

The Danubio Azul is a budget class yacht with amazing service on board. She offers some superb naturalist itineraries, including some of the more intimate and less frequented sites the Galápagos have to offer.

The vessel carries complimentary snorkels and wetsuits, and is equipped with two tenders (or "pangas"). With a maximum of 14 guests, as opposed to the more common 16, the Danubio Azul really does give you are more intimate and friendly experience.

We personally cruised with this vessel. Featuring 5 double cabins, each with air-conditioning and en suite bathrooms, the Danubio Azul featu … Read more about Danubio Azul

Cabins

Double Twin
Standard cabin

Type:

Triple

Max. occupancy:

3

More about this cabin

Double Twin
Standard cabin

Type:

Triple

Max. occupancy:

3

More about this cabin

Map

Itinerary

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

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.

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 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.

San Cristóbal La Galapaguera / Cerro Colorado
La Galapaguera "Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Center"

Also known as Cerro Colorado, this is one of the newer visitor sites in Galápagos and was opened in 2003. Previously accessible only from the coast via a long hike, it's now possible to travel by road from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, where the trip takes about an hour.

This breeding station has an informative visitor center that allows you to learn about the origins and evolution of the Galápagos Giant Tortoises, and about the steps being taken to preserve the species from threats such as habitat destruction and introduced species.

In the center you will see baby hatchlings and young tortoises. After they reach 4 months old they are taken out to be released into the natural habitat in the area. There is a short hiking trail where you may be able to spot giant tortoises in the wild.

San Cristóbal Witch Hill
San Christobal - Punto Pitt - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104

The brilliant white coral sand beach at Witch Hill ("Brujo Hill") is, in our opinion, one of the very best in the Galápagos. The hill itself is the remains of a volcanic "tuff cone" - one made up of compacted volcanic ash and debris. This was one of the first sites where Charles Darwin made landfall on his famous journey here on HMS Beagle.

This is a wonderful place to see many Galápagos species, both in the sea and on the land and in the air. Among the creatures you are likely to see on a visit to Brujo Hill are Galápagos Sea Lions, marine iguanas, pelicans, and Galápagos Blue-Footed Boobies. It's possible to walk right along the beach at a leisurely pace, taking in everything around you.

We really recommend you snorkel here, and if you do you'll be rewarded with likely sightings of Galápagos rays, green sea turtles, sponge coral and a wide range of beautiful fish. If you aren't a swimmer, then a panga ride will still let you see plenty of wildlife thanks to the crystal clear waters off this stunning beach.

Floreana Post Office Bay
Post Office Bay

Floreana, like several of the Galápagos Islands, has a history of whaling. During voyages of many months, whaling ships would call here to replenish stocks of food and water, and the sailors were often keen to send news to loved ones that they were still safe. A tradition grew up here where sailors would leave a letter addressed home, hopeful that a ship heading back to port would pick it up and deliver it for them. This tradition of leaving letters and cards, and picking up others addressed to your home port meant that the location of this letter drop became known as "Post Office Bay".

Decades later, the unofficial Floreana post office is still very active - why not leave a card of your own, or see if you could take one back to your home town for someone else?! As well as this charming tradition, Post Office Bay boasts a pleasant beach, and there is a short hiking trail down to a cave, which is actually a lava tube that runs down to the sea.

You will also have the opportunity to take a Panga through some of the nearby coves and mangroves from which you could see sharks, rays, and sea lions swimming around you.

Floreana Cormorant Point
Cormorant Point

Cormorant Point is on the northern tip of Floreana, and you'll land on a beach that sits between two volcanic cones. The sand on one of the beaches here has a noticeably olive-green color. This is due to a much higher than usual concentration of olivine crystals in the sand. Another beach is made up mainly of coral sand and is almost a brilliant white in comparison.

This Galápagos site has a large lagoon which is favored by flamingos, their pink coloring contrasting with the green sand. There is some good snorkeling here, and you can often spot rays in the shallows. There is a one mile hike available that takes you to higher ground and provides great views over the lagoon, and to both beaches on either side of the Point.

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.

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.

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

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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.

We offset 100% of all CO2 emissions caused by your trip, including all transport, your cruise and your flights (should you choose to book them through us). Carbon offset is achieved through a Gold Standard Climate Protection Project. Learn more

What's not included

Galápagos National Park Fee: 100USD, 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

David Alvarez

Danubio Azul Galapagos Cruise

Budget

Ausgezeichneter Service Die Danubio Azul bietet einen ausgezeichneten Service und fährt die ausgeschriebene Route genau entland. Die Besatzung ist super ausgebildet. Quelle: https://goo.gl/AoMvZP

Fareham

Danubio Azul Galapagos Cruise

Budget

Want to go back on Danubio Azul Guide George excellent. Very informative and always available. He got on well with all of us and was a good diver and snorkeller. Food. How the chef made us meals I do not know. They were excellent. After every trip ashore there were little snacks and juice waiting. Boat. Nice comfortable boat except on night cruising. You need sea sickness tablets. It's a small boat so probably moves more than a big one. The rooms were cleaned every day. Captain Wilson. Very pleasant and always on the look out for interesting animals. Crew were very pleasant and helpful. Trips to islands. Always very good with tons to see. Snorkelling at Devil's Crown was outstanding. Only issue was getting back on Panga after snorkelling as there are no ropes and being hauled on board was not dignified We had a Taxi laid on from Puerto Ayora to the boat. Free. Make sure you tip well. These guys and ladies deserve it. Feedback from: https://goo.gl/3rcHFG

Fareham

Danubio Azul Galapagos Cruise

Budget

Ich will wieder zurück! Der Guide George ist exzellent, sehr gut informiert und immer verfügbar. Er hat sich mit allen gut verstanden und war ein gute Taucher und Schnorchler. Essen: wie der Küchenchef es geschafft hat zu kochen, keine Ahnung. Es war jedoch köstlich. Nach jedem Ausflug warteten Snacks und frisch gepresste Säfte auf uns. Schiff: schönes, gemütliches Schiff abgesehen von den nächtlichen Bewegungen - man braucht anti-Übelkeitstabletten. Da es ein kleines Schiff ist, bewegt es sich mehr, als ein großes. Die Zimmer wurden täglich gereinigt. Kapitän Wilson war großartig und spähte immer nach Tieren für uns. Die Crew war hilfsbereit und ging großartig mit den Gästen um. Die Inselausflüge waren immer toll, mit einer Menge Sehenswürdigkeiten. Das Schnorcheln am Devil´s Crown war phänomenal. Es war etwas problematisch wieder zurück ins Schlauchboot zu klettern aber man schafft es. Versichern Sie sich, dass Sie gutes Trinkgeld dalassen. Diese Männer und Frauen haben es wirklich verdient. Quelle: https://goo.gl/3rcHFG

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!

US, Canadian and Australian citizens do not need a visa for tourist stays of less than 90 days in Ecuador. Upon entry, the passport must be valid for at least 6 months. To enter Galapagos, 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: Tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands must have a valid passport and, in most cases, can obtain a visa upon arrival in Ecuador. 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. A Galapagos National Park entrance fee of $100 must be paid upon arriving in Galapagos. Travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation and medical expenses is also recommended. Visitors are advised to respect the park's rules, such as restrictions on hiking and camping and removal of natural objects. 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. The Galápagos entry fee is currently 100 USD per person (reduced to 50 USD for children under 12 years old). 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! If you are a citizen of a country in South America you might pay less, check here for more information. Therefore, the payment of this entrance fee is indispensable to take part in a Galapagos cruise.

Some people have expressed surprise about paying a Galápagos park "entry fee" simply to set foot on the islands, but the proceeds of this entrance fee go directly into the ongoing conservation, protection and management of the islands. The proceeds are split between several important institutions as follows:

  • 40% Galapagos National Park
  • 20% Galapagos Municipalities
  • 10% National Insitute
  • 10% Galapagos province local government
  • 5% National Navy
  • 5% Ministry of Environment
  • 5% Quarantine and pest control
  • 5% Galapagos Marine Reserve

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
Naturalist Galápagos Cruise

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