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Xavier III - Central & East Islands

Overview

7 nights aboard the Xavier III sees you cruising through the Galapagos National Park to discover the archipelago made famous by Charles Darwin. Watch sea lions and marine iguanas, relax on the white sand beach of Santiago and gain a deeper understanding of the history of the Galapagos at the Charles Darwin Centre. Search for land iguanas in the cactus forests of South Plaza Island and snorkel with rays and sea lions at the dramatic Kicker Rock. The Galapagos Islands will amaze you with their scenic beauty and array of fascinating wildlife.

Optional Activities :

Trip Code: SEV10MB

Location: Ecuador

Ship: Xavier III

CRUISE ITINERARY

On arrival, please make your way through to the Arrivals Hall where our representative will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel.
He/she will be holding a sign with your name on it. Should you not be able to locate them, please refer to the front of your itinerary for emergency contact details of our representative office. Please note this service is with a driver only.

Arrival transfer in Quito

Sitting at 2,850 metres above sea level high in the Andean foothills lies Quito, the capital of Ecuador. The city, a short distance from the Equator and with an amazing backdrop of snow-capped mountains, is known for its stunning colonial architecture and artwork. Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city, Quito has one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas. It was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978.

Arrive Quito

This morning you will have an early transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. On arrival in San Cristóbal, you will be met by your naturalist guide and transferred to the Xavier III. San Cristóbal is the easternmost island of Galapagos and one of the oldest. The principal town is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos.

Please note that the Galapagos National Park charges a visitor fee of USD100, payable on arrival, which funds park maintenance and supervision in the Galapagos, as well as ecological study and conservation.

The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000 kilometres (620 miles) off the Pacific coast of South America. The archipelago is comprised of 13 major islands and scores of islets that served as a living laboratory for Charles Darwin, the renowned evolution theorist. Long before Darwin arrived in the Galapagos, seafarers knew these isolated islands as home to some of the strangest and most wonderful wildlife imaginable, including birds that could swim but no longer fly, aquatic iguanas, dragon-like lizards left over from prehistoric times and the giant Galapagos tortoises for which the islands were named.

After lunch we begin exploring San Cristobal and visit the Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Centre in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. At this giant tortoise Breeding Centre you can see all of the different species of tortoises close up. The tortoises are bred in captivity in a protected wild area, safeguarded from predators. There are newly hatched tortoises as well as full-grown adults that can live well over 100 years. You may also see finches, warblers and mockingbirds in the vegetation surrounding the Breeding Centre.

Back on board the Xavier III you can relax on the outdoor deck and take in the views and enjoy local and international cuisine. The ship sails overnight ensuring that you arrive at the next destination relaxed and ready to explore, whilst maximising time spent on the islands.

San Cristóbal

We make a landing this morning at Punta Pitt on the eastern tip of San Cristobal, where we will see a group of eroded volcanic cones. Here you can see fascinating geological formations and enjoy amazing wildlife opportunities. Punta Pitt is made up of volcanic tuff substrate and it is the only site in the Galapagos where three species of booby and two species of frigatebird can be seen.

Next we visit Cerro Brujo on San Cristobal to explore its coastline, look for wildlife and learn about the human and natural history of the area. There is time to take a refreshing dip in the turquoise water and head out on a short walk to a freshwater lagoon to see flamingos.

Later in the afternoon we sail to the dramatic León Dormido, or Kicker Rock, which is a magnificent rock with steep vertical walls that rise from the ocean, set in a shape resembling a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface of the water and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel navigable by small vessels. Kicker Rock is one of the most stunning landmarks in the Galapagos Islands, home to an incredibly diverse range of marine life that inhabits the nutrient-rich water. Sharks and fish are drawn to the rock and provide an exhilarating and unique snorkelling experience.

Punta Pitt / Kicker Rock

This morning we make an excursion to Playa Espumilla, one of the most idyllic beaches in the Galapagos Islands, with thick mangroves along with flamingo and sea turtle nesting sites.

After exploring Playa Espumilla, we head to Buccaneer Cove with its towering cliff wall rock formations. Here we cruise by panga and explore the cove that was once a hideout for pirates as they restocked their boats with food and water. We may spot seabirds nesting in the cove and sea lions resting on the beach.

Our third stop for the day is at Puerto Egas with its spectacular shoreline, salt crater, dark-sand beach and tidal pools. Also known as James Bay, there are many reptiles and shore birds to be seen here.

Santiago Island has seen it's 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, offering great wildlife viewing both on land and in the water.

Isla Santiago

This morning we arrive in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island for a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Centre. Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos, with the largest population and with Puerto Ayora as its main town. It also boasts the most varied of the islands’ vegetation zones including coastal, transition, scalesia, miconia and pampa.

The Charles Darwin Research Station is located a short walk from the centre of the town. It is a science organization that was initiated in 1964, working to preserve the ecosystem of the Galapagos through the conservation efforts of scientists, researchers and volunteers. It also provides a study location for international scientists and training for Naturalist Guides.

We tour the exhibition centre to see photo displays of recent volcanic eruptions, charts outlining geological formations and drawings of the evolutionary development of endemic species. The station is also a great place to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity, brought back from the brink of extinction. Here you can see the famous Galapagos tortoise close up. A corral houses adult Galapagos tortoises and there is a nursery in which the young are cared for until around age three when their shells have hardened.

**Please note: The Charles Darwin Research Station has partially closed until December 2016. Groups affected will visit the highlands to see the giant tortoises in the wild.**

This afternoon we head to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to visit El Chato Reserve and to see giant land tortoises in the wild in their natural environment. We explore the Reserve’s lagoon and lava tunnels, keeping an eye out for owls that often roost in the entrances to the tunnels.

At the end of the day you have some free time to explore the small port town of Puerto Ayora. You may like to visit a local fish market or do some souvenir shopping before returning to the ship.

Santa Cruz

This morning we arrive at the small island of Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat), so called due to its unique shape, lying off the southern tip of Santiago. Here it is often possible to see Galapagos penguins and the abundant marine life makes snorkelling here a fantastic experience. You can snorkel from the beach in amongst sea lions and schools of colourful tropical fish. There is a large sea lion colony as well as many marine iguanas that can be seen on a guided walk amongst the beautiful volcanic scenery and along the spectacular white-coral sand beach.

This afternoon we explore Black Turtle Cove on the northern end of the island and take an excursion by panga. We navigate the extensive mangroves to observe the rich and varied marine life between the fresh and salt waters, including manta rays, sea turtles, pelicans and an abundance of other birdlife. Whitetip reef sharks can sometimes be seen gliding by.

Chinese Hat / Black Turtle Cove

We start the day by visiting Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) on the west coast of Isla Santa Cruz to observe land iguanas and a saltwater lagoon frequented by flamingos and other bird species. We take a short walk from the beach to a hypersalinic lagoon frequented by pink flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks and other species of birds. We pass through a Scalesia tree forest. This tree is endemic to the area with only 400 specimens of Scalesia trees left in the world.

Our afternoon landing is at Daphne Island, a tiny conical island located between the islands of Santa Cruz and Baltra. Daphne is home to a varied birdlife including a number of Darwin’s finches, masked and blue-footed boobies, Galapagos martins and frigatebirds. Many of the finches seen here are banded, as a result of a long-term study by Dr. Peter Grant. We explore the volcanic tuff island on foot to discover its geology, flora and fauna.

Cerro Dragón / Daphne

We reach South Plaza (Plaza Sur) this morning, one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos. This island is home to one of the largest populations of land iguanas as well as a wide range of other fauna and incredible birdlife. We walk along a path through a cactus forest and view a combination of dry and coastal vegetation. We may see red-billed tropicbirds and indigenous swallow-tailed gulls resting on the cliffs, as well as sea lions playing in the water.

In the afternoon we explore the small island of Santa Fé, also called Barrington, a great place to watch and swim with sea lions. There is a forest of giant prickly pear cactus (Opuntia) on the northern shore of the island where you may see land iguanas and other wildlife. Santa Fé is also home to a number of endemic species that have bounced back from various threats to their survival. You may get a chance to see the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, a variety of finches and the Galapagos mockingbird.

There is the opportunity to swim or snorkel off the beach at Santa Fé in amongst playful sea lions. You may also see turtles, rays, reef sharks and large schools of tropical fish.

South Plaza / Santa Fé

We reach San Cristóbal this morning. We disembark after breakfast and make a visit to the Interpretation Centre. Here you can learn about the Galapagos Islands from the natural history of the archipelago and their volcanic origins through to their ecosystems, flora, fauna and today’s conservation efforts. The Human History exhibit provides information on the discovery of the Galapagos Islands and their colonisation.

After the visit you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Quito. On arrival there is a transfer to the group hotel with time to enjoy one last night in Ecuador’s capital.

San Cristóbal

You will be collected from your hotel at the appropriate time and transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Transfer to the airport for onward destination
DOWNLOAD ITINERARY PDF

Pricing & date

Departing Ending Duration
18 May 2019 27 May 2019 10
01 Jun 2019 10 Jun 2019 10
15 Jun 2019 24 Jun 2019 10
29 Jun 2019 08 Jul 2019 10
27 Jul 2019 05 Aug 2019 10
10 Aug 2019 19 Aug 2019 10
24 Aug 2019 02 Sep 2019 10
07 Sep 2019 16 Sep 2019 10
21 Sep 2019 30 Sep 2019 10
19 Oct 2019 28 Oct 2019 10
02 Nov 2019 11 Nov 2019 10
16 Nov 2019 25 Nov 2019 10
30 Nov 2019 09 Dec 2019 10
14 Dec 2019 23 Dec 2019 10
28 Dec 2019 06 Jan 2020 10
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Important Information

    • Hotels (2 nts), aboard the Xavier in twin-share cabins (7 nts).
    • Certified Galapagos Park Guide
    • All landings, excursions and transportation,
    • Flights to and from the Galapagos Islands,
    • Snorkeling equipment, visit to a wildlife interpretation centre
    • Arrival transfer on Day 1
    • 9 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners. (Allow USD75-100 for meals not included. Drinks and tips while on the yacht are extra.)
    • Hotels (2 nights), On board Xavier in twin-share cabins (7 nights)
    • Local flight, motorized yacht, van, zodiacs, private bus
    • Galapagos National Parks Guide while in the islands
    • Small group experience; Max 16, Avg 12

    Not included: USD20 Tourist Transit card fee at the Quito airport and a USD100 (cash) Galapagos park entry fee upon arrival to the Islands.

  • Available upon request

  • Snorkeling equipment and beach towels included at no extra charge. Wetsuits available for rent. Comprehensive breakfast and gourmet Ecuadorian and international cuisine prepared fresh daily. All meals on board included.

  • Season and availability

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including:

1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting.

2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community.

3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America.
4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities.

5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.