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Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

The West Galápagos Cruise

6 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Aida Maria

Length

6 Days

Ship category

Budget

Ship type

Small Yacht

Capacity

16 Passengers

The West Galápagos Cruise

4 Reviews

Trip highlights

The best snorkeling in Galapagos: Vicente Rock Point

Thousands of Marine Iguanas at Espinosa Point

Mars-like landscapes at Rábida

Flamingos and Pahoehoe lava at Moreno Point

The Galapatours experience

Built in Galápagos

Great itineraries

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 Aida Maria! On this Expedition Cruise, you will discover the incredible wildlife of the Galápagos Islands: Fernandina, the youngest island, will blow your mind with its rugged lava landscapes. The youngest island in the archipelago, it is still being formed by volcanic eruptions and makes for a wonderful, otherworldly contrast to the other islands. Isabela, the biggest of all islands in the Galápagos, offers you fantastic hikes, views and arguably some of the best snorkeling spots in the Archipelago. On North Seymour, an incredible hike and snorkeling session awaits you. This island is the archipelago condensed into very little space, and you'll be able to see almost all the iconic Galápagos species in just a few hours. 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. On Santiago, an island formerly inhabited by pirates, you will be able to enjoy hikes and dinghy rides.

Your ship: Aida Maria

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise
Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise
Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

What better way to experience the Galápagos Islands than on board a yacht that was designed and built right here in the islands from local materials and using local craftsmen? The Aida Maria was launched in 1997, and her owner's family have been a part of Galápagos life since the 1930s. A Galápagos cruise aboard Aida Maria gives you a unique perspective on these unique islands. We think Aida Maria gets the balance just right between affordable Galápagos cruising and having an enjoyable, comfortable and stylish experience. When you step on board, it's remarkable to think that the entire ship wa … Read more about Aida Maria

Cabins

Double Twin
Double Twin

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.

Punta Moreno walk - Nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

3 Days

5.0

(1)

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 Santa Cruz Highlands
El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve

Santa Cruz is the only island on the Galápagos that allows you to travel through every habitat type that exists in the archipelago. This makes the journey north from the coast up into the highlands a fantastic opportunity to experience the breadth of life that exists on these islands.

Your bus journey starts from Puerto Ayora on the coast and you slowly start to climb through the agricultural zone where open fields begin to give way to lush, green, mist-covered forests. This is a marked contrast to many of the islands which are at much lower elevation and much more arid. This rich verdant landscape is predominantly made up of dense Scalesia forest.

Your expert Galapatours guide will stop several times along the route to allow you to explore various different sites. Among the stops will be a Giant Tortoise reserve, and also a visit to the famous lava tubes. Over half a mile long, a walk through these natural volcanic features is eerie and unforgettable.

Also along the way you will stop for refreshments, and you'll be able to try locally-grown Galápagos coffee - we think it's among the best we've ever tasted!

Isabela Sierra Negra Volcano
Sierra Negra Volcano

Sierra Negra is renowned as the most impressive volcano in the Galápagos. The crater is over 6 miles across and is the second largest in the world.

However, to visit the volcano is quite a logistical effort. The only way to get there is to start with a 45 minute drive from Villamil to a trailhead from where you can follow another 2 hours of trails up to and along part of the rim.

There's also the option to walk on quite recent lava flows, as the so-called parasitic cone of Volcan Chico last erupted in 1979 leaving large flows to cool to rock.

The journey is well worth the effort, as the views from the rim of Sierra Negra are simply stunning. You can see across the other volcanoes on Isabela and across to Fernandina.

Your expert Galapatours guide will explain in detail about the geological processes that shaped not only this part of Isabela, but of the whole Galápagos.

Isabela Puerto Villamil
Puerto Villamil

The vast majority of Isabela's human population live in Puerto Villamil, which still holds onto its traditional fishing port charm. Indeed many of Galapatours visitors tell us they think it's the prettiest village in the whole archipelago.

The main reason for this is that Villamil had little impact from tourism until the 1990s, the residents quietly making their living from fishing and farming. Then in 1996 a small runway was opened for flights for light aircraft operating inter-island flights. There are now 13 hotels and 18 bars and restaurants in town, compared to only 1 and 2 respectively in 1980! Despite this, the town still enjoys a relaxed and authentic atmosphere.

Villamil enjoys a beautiful long beach, which is picture-book tropics - palm trees line it's bright white coral sand. Behind the beach are several saltwater lagoons which are home to pink flamingos, pintail ducks and several other species. There are several visitor sites that can be the subject of excursions from town on foot, by minibus or panga.

Isabela Concha de Perla
Concha de Perla

Pearl Beach, Concha de Perla, is a small beach in walking distance from Puerto Villamil. Simply walk down the main road (Antonio Gil) direction East and follow the signs to "Concha de Perla". A short beautiful walk through the mangroves on a boardwalk will lead you to the spot with turquoise waters and wildlife galore! You can expecto to see plenty of other tourists alongisde colorful fish, sea lions, sea turtles, pelicans, mockingbirds and maybe even marine iguanas!

Isabela Moreno Point
Moreno Point

Moreno Point (known locally as Punta Moreno) is a short journey from Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island. You will take a panga ride which will give you great views of the striking rocky shoreline before you make your landing.

Here you will see the eerie site of a huge lava field leading up to the distant Cero Azul volcano. Hiking through this alien landscape you will come across several tidal lagoons, pools and mangroves - all of which provide an oasis for a range of wildlife, particularly bird species.  In the larger tidal pools you may see green turtles or sharks, the clear waters giving you a unique opportunity to view them from on land!

On your journey back to the boats from your 1.2 mile hike you're likely to see Galápagos Penguins on the rocky shores as well a range of birds including herons and Galápagos Flamingos. This is a favorite excursion as it combines the opportunity to see coastal species with a hike through stunning landscapes.

Isabela Elizabeth Bay
Elizabeth Bay

On the eastern coast of Isabela, the wide and sheltered Elizabeth Bay is a haven for wildlife. With areas of mangrove on the shore that contrast with the surrounding lava fields, and a myriad of small islets and rocky reefs, this is a particularly rich area for wildlife.

Accessible only by panga (small motorised dinghy), exploring Elizabeth Bay will provide you with an opportunity to get up close and personal with many of Isabela's species. During your 2 hour boat ride around Elizabeth Bay you can see rays, sharks, green sea turtles, Galápagos penguins, pelicans, and plenty of Galápagos Sea Lions. Nearer to the shores and mangroves, you'll see Galápagos Flightless Cormorants and marine iguanas.

Galapatours guests regularly tell us that Elizabeth Bay is one of their favourite Galápagos excursions and visitor sites.

Fernandina Espinosa Point
Espinosa Point

Fernandina Island has never been colonised by any non-native species, and this makes it ones of the world's most pristine island ecosystems. Coupled with its young age (Fernandina was only formed a few hundred thousand years ago) this makes a visit to this Galápagos island very special indeed.

At Espinosa Point on the northeastern shore of Fernandina the vista is dominated by "La Cumbre", the volcano whose lava fields formed the island. A visit to Espinosa Point is high on many people's list thanks to the number of iconic unique Galápagos species you will see here. As well as the noisy and fun-loving Galápagos Sea Lions, Espinosa Point is a great place to see Marine Iguanas, the wonderful Galápagos Penguins and the unique and endangered Galápagos Flightless Cormorant. If you are very lucky and keep your eyes skyward you may also catch sight of a Galápagos Hawk circling overhead looking for its next meal.

Isabela Vicente Rock Point
Vicente Rock Point

Galapatours clients regularly rate Vicente Rock Point as one of the best snorkeling and SCUBA diving sites in Galápagos, or perhaps even in the world! There is no landing here, and snorkeling is done directly from the boats. The scenery around the Point is stunning - the remains of two ancient volcanoes made this formation, and the cliffs and caves around the bay provide an amazing backdrop.

The bay is well sheltered from ocean swells, making it ideal for snorkelers of any experience. The cold-water currents bring a rich stock of food to these waters, and the bay around Vicente Rock Point is often home to feeding frenzies, with groups of whales, dolphins, Galápagos Sea Lions, tuna, Blue-footed Boobies and other marine birds all feeding together, making for spectacular sights.

Many boats also take visitors on a panga ride along the shore, offering the chance to explore some of the caves and to encounter some of the other species such as Galápagos Flightless Cormorants and a small colony of Galápagos Fur Seals.

Santiago Egas Port
Santiago - Egas Port - nemo i galapagos cruise - gal00

Puerto Egas (Port Egas) is a sheltered landing site at the southern end of James Bay on the northwestern coast of Santiago. This landing site is the trailhead for two hiking paths.

The first trail runs along the coast to visit the so-called "Fur Seal Grottos". The Galápagos Fur Seals like to seek shade from the equatorial sun, and they prefer rocky shores with caves or other nooks and crannies in which they can keep cool. The grottos here are perfect for them, and the tidal pools are also popular with Galápagos Marine Iguanas who can be seen feeding in and around them.

The second trail from Egas Port heads inland to the "Salt Mine Volcano". This hike is just under 2 miles long and takes you to the rim of a salt mine crater. This "mine" is actually a small volcanic cone that is filled with a salt water lagoon that dries up in the dry season. At several points in the 20th century individuals or companies attempted to mine salt from it, but without commercial success. The name of your landing site is after the owner of the last company to try salt mining here, Hector Egas.

The lagoon is often home to Galápagos flamingos and other birds, and the wonderful Galápagos Hawk can often be seen circling above this area.

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.

North Seymour North Seymour
A walk on North Seymour

The island is named after an English nobleman, Lord Hugh Seymour and has an area of 1.9 square kilometers and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. This island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls and hosts one of the largest populations of frigatebirds. North Seymour has a visitor trail approximately 1.2 mi in length crossing the inland of the island and exploring the rocky coast.

North Seymour was formed at the same time as neighboring Baltra Island, and by the same process - an uplifting of undersea lava. This small, flat island has hiking trails throughout, allowing you to explore the arid landscape and to meet the seabirds that call North Seymour home.

North Seymour was the site of one of the earliest conservation experiments in the Galápagos. In 1934 a group of Galápagos Land Iguanas were moved there by Captain Hanckock. They have since thrivedthrived, and there are now well over 2,500 of them on the island and more than 3,000 on the neighbouring Baltra island.

The biggest attraction of North Seymour is its large colony of Blue-Footed Boobies and its Frigatebirds. These popular Galápagos species are often found together because the Frigatebirds rely on the Boobies’ fishing prowess. The Frigatebirds actively steal the Boobies catch to feed themselves!

There is also a population of Marine Iguanas and Galápagos Sea Lions are frequently spotted. The snorkeling here is also very good, with plenty of marine life to see including rays and reef sharks.

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

5.0

(1)

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.

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

client

Yoeri G

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

Budget

March 2024

Unglaubliche Reise! Galapagos ist wirklich etwas anderes und ich liebte jedes bisschen davon. Der Reiseplan stimmte nicht immer mit unseren Erfahrungen überein und eine Insel war wegen einer Vogelgrippe geschlossen, worüber wir nicht informiert wurden. Auch die Ko