Center & East Galápagos Cruise
4 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Tip Top II
Center & East Galápagos Cruise
Giant Tortoises in the wild on Santa Cruz
Snorkel with Hammerheads at Darwin Bay
The Galapatours experience
Very friendly, 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 II! On this Expedition Cruise, you will discover the incredible wildlife of the Galápagos Islands: 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.
We compensate all 1.72 tons of CO2 that this trip will cause.
Your ship: Tip Top II
This popular motor catamaran is a popular choice for those looking for the increased stability that twin hull boats can provide whilst still wanting a delightful ambience and luxury accommodation. Tip Top is also one of the faster boats in the Galápagos with a true 12 knots cruise speed that means you can spend more time on your excursions and adventures, and less time travelling between them. Captain Jimmy has been at the helm for 5 years, and a professional sailor for over 12. We could talk with Jimmy for hours (and we did). Listening to this proud father of two, it's soon obvious that ther … Read more about Tip Top II
-10% for children ≤ 11
Transfers to and from ship
Snorkel gear (free of charge)
100% CO2 carbon footprint offset
Kayaks on board
Air conditioning & private bathroom
Standup paddle boards
Single travellers can share cabin
Water, Coffee, Tea & fresh juices
German guide possible
Flights to and from Galapagos
Food & Drinks
Wellington, the wonderful chef, delights in sharing recipes with guests and will show you how to prepare the very best ceviche. The food on board is a stunning blend of Ecuadorian specialities and world cuisines, including French and Italian dishes - a truly cosmopolitan dining experience! From your waiter Luis, to deckhand Mario and first officer David, the entire crew are welcoming, friendly and helpful and everyone goes out of their way to make your cruise a special memory.
You can expect a first-class selection of food, including a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, locally sourced poultry and fish/seafood, rice and pasta dishes. The Tip Top II will always include some typical Ecuadorian dishes on the menu during your cruise. If you have specific dietary requirements then these can usually be accommodated by the chef providing you have given advance notice. Please make sure you tell us about any allergies or dietary requirements you have at the time you book with us. If you leave it until you arrive at the dockside, then it may well be impossible to accommodate your needs.
Your itinerary below may vary, depending on the weather, wildlife breeding, and local conditions.
Arrival at Baltra airport+transfer to ship
Baltra • Arrival at Baltra airport+transfer to ship
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.
Santa Cruz • 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.
Prince Philip's Steps
Genovesa • Prince Philip's Steps
Named after Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who visited the Galápagos Islands twice, the Prince Philip's Steps pier uses natural rock formations to allow you to land and admire the variety of seabirds that inhabit Genovesa. With careful steps on the wet and slippery lower rocks, you begin your hike near a small colony of Galápagos sea bears before reaching the beautiful vantage point further up with views of the lava plains.
The birdlife will surround you from all sides and you will enjoy the sight and sounds of many wonderful species, including blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies and Nazca boobies, but also small Galápagos owls and Galápagos pigeons.
Genovesa • Darwin Bay
Darwin Bay is a must-visit site for birdwatchers. Starting with a landing on a beautiful white coral beach you are able to follow an easy half-mile trail that will take you through bird-filled mangroves. Species that can be seen on this part of the trail include Nazca Boobies, Galápagos red-footed Boobies, and Swallow-Tailed gulls.
As the path continues you will find tidal pools - favourite spots for Galápagos Sea Lions to lazily swim and play. At the path's end you will come to the top of a cliff which will reward you with a spectacular view.
A walk on South Plaza
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.
A walk on Santa Fe
Santa Fe • A walk on Santa Fe
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.
Santa Cruz • Twin Craters
Los Gemelos (or the Twin Craters) are not, in fact, craters - although no less impressive for it! These two large pits were actually caused by the collapse of empty magma chambers after a volcanic uprising. They are easy to access from the Puerto Ayora to Baltra road.
There is a lovely walking trail here that leads up to and then around the rim of both craters. The hike takes you through the wonderful Scalesia Forest, which is full of bird life. It's likely you will see Galápagos Doves, Darwin's Finches, the stunning Vermilion Flycatcher, as well as short-eared owls and many other species.
As you climb up to the rim of the craters you are rewarded with a breathtaking view over the Scalesia canopy, it's lush green a real contrast to the arid vegetation on much of the other Galápagos Islands you can visit.
Transfer to Baltra airport
Baltra • Transfer to Baltra airport
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.
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.
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
Are their any customs restrictions for travel to Galapagos?
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!
Do I need a visa to go to Galapagos?
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.
What are the entry requirements for Galápagos?
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.
What is the Galápagos National Park Entrance Fee?
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
What is the SICGAL baggage check?
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.
How long does it take to get to the Galápagos Islands?
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.
Center & East Galápagos Cruise