The Experience

If you ever wanted to explore lands time forgot, this is your chance to do it in style. Pack your bathing suits, sunscreen, hats and comfortable hiking shoes and prepare to get wet as you set sail for some of the most amazing tropical islands in the world. Galapagos tour featuring a four-night cruise aboard M / V Santa Cruz.

Have you ever seen birds wearing bright red or blue “shoes”? You will during this eco-cruise because the Galapagos is one of their favorite places to kick up their heels. How about prehistoric-looking iguanas that hunt and fish in the ocean?

Or penguins and sea lions so friendly that they might swim right alongside you in brilliant blue water? Even the crabs are different here, with their bright red and yellow shells that provide quite a contrast to the black-lava rocks of these volcanic islands. Luckily for us, not much has changed since Charles Darwin first set foot on these remote islands off Ecuador in the 1830s; these islands are protected and tourists must leave these islands exactly as they found them, leaving only their footprints so this amazing place can thrive as nature intended.

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Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Ecuador

This special holiday version of our Tauck Bridges Galápagos cruises begins in Ecuador at the Swissôtel Quito. A transfer is included from Mariscal Sucre International Airport to the Swissôtel Quito, where you’ll spend the next two nights in Executive Level rooms. After your flight to Ecuador, get a good night’s sleep so you’ll be rested and ready for your family’s unforgettable Galápagos adventure.
Lodging
Swissôtel Quito

Day 2 Standing in two hemispheres at once in Quito
Meals B, L, D
Quito has a long history as colorful as the sites you will see today. Your discoveries start at the Equator, the imaginary line that divides the Northern and Southern hemispheres. You’ll be able to stand with one foot on each side of the world during your visit this morning, before stopping at the Inti Ñan Museum to learn more about one of the Earth’s first solar GPS systems. Volcanoes have made their presence known in Ecuador since the 1600s when the first recorded eruption took place; have lunch near the dormant crater of one of these hot-headed geologic wonders, then head downtown to explore Quito’s colonial quarter. Sights include Independence Plaza, the Presidential Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace. Join us this evening for a special reception with local entertainment, followed by a welcome dinner as we share details about one of Tauck’s best Galápagos cruises – yours – to the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands!
Lodging
Swissôtel Quito

Day 3 Galápagos adventures begin on Baltra & Santa Cruz
Meals B, L, D
In Quito, hop on a plane headed via Guayaquil to Baltra Island, the starting point for this Galápagos Islands expedition*. The crew of the M/V Santa Cruz is waiting to welcome you aboard. Settle into your cabin and get your sea legs ready for one of the most amazing wildlife cruises in the world! Your first shore excursion is to North Seymour Island, where you may encounter wildlife including Galápagos land iguanas, sea lions and a host of shore and lagoon birds ranging from pelicans and swallow-tailed gulls to blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds. Return to the ship, where the fun continues with a naturalist’s briefing and the Captain’s Welcome Reception, followed by dinner at sea.

Lodging
Aboard M/V Santa Cruz

Day 4 Tropical birds on Isabela & a lava walk on Fernandina
Meals B, L, D
Chart a course to Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island this morning where you’ll explore the coast by panga, making a wet landing at Albemarle Point, where you can still see an old radar station built by American troops during World War II. This is the nesting place for a large population of flightless cormorants, the only existing marine birds in the world other than penguins that have evolved from flying birds to diving birds. Their neighbors include sea lions, fur seals, Galápagos penguins, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, and noddy terns – you may spot the island’s seasonal residents, green sea turtles and oceanic sunfish in the waters. Explore the youngest of all the islands when you join us for a one-mile walk over dark lava on Fernandina Island. Marine iguanas, sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs and birds are in abundance here. A chance for snorkeling and an expedition briefing on the ship complete the day.

Lodging
Aboard M/V Santa Cruz

Day 5 Tagus Cove, Urbina Bay & Darwin Lake
Meals B, L, D
Every day is a different adventure here in the Galápagos, with volcanic islands as diverse as the wildlife that lives on them. This morning, a wet landing at Tagus Cove on Isabela Island and an uphill hike takes you to the back of saltwater-filled Darwin Lake, where the views of the neighboring volcanic islands are awesome. After lunch, your ship sails to Urbina Bay on Isabela where, following another wet landing, you’ll walk on what once was the ocean floor; be careful not to step on the land iguanas who sunbathe here!  There may be time during the day for swimming or snorkeling*.

Lodging
Aboard M/V Santa Cruz

Day 6 Darwin Research Station & more on Santa Cruz Island
Meals B, L, D
Following a dry landing at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to hear about ongoing conservation efforts to preserve the natural environments and wildlife you’ve encountered, and explore the town of Puerto Ayora. Then head to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island; after lunch, you’ll have a choice of activities this afternoon. You can choose to hike along trails through the minconia forest, home to many elusive birds including the dark-rumped petrel; embark on a mountain biking* excursion to Garrapatero Beach; go sea kayaking* and spend some time relaxing on a gorgeous, sandy beach; or visit an organic coffee plantation for a firsthand look at sustainable agriculture in the Galápagos. Return to the ship for a briefing and dinner with your family and friends, sharing great stories from one of Tauck’s best-selling Galápagos cruises!

Lodging
Aboard M/V Santa Cruz

Day 7 Post Office Bay & Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island
Meals B, L, D

Prepare to get wet when we go ashore on Floreana Island, rich in lore and intrigue for its history as a favorite stopping point for whalers, sailors and buccaneers. Bring your postcards with you for a wet landing at Post Office Bay – the first wooden post barrel was established here in 1793 as a place where passing ships could send and receive mail. Rays, turtles and sea lions may be seen gently swimming next to our pangas. On land, take a short hike up a volcanic cone to Baroness’s Tower for amazing views of the north shore of the island; your naturalist guide will share stories and legends of days past to make this a day to remember. After lunch aboard ship, head over to Punta Cormorant where you will go ashore on an olivine-crystal beach. Look for ducks, sandpipers, stilts and flamingos in the island’s wildlife-rich lagoon and walk along a powder-sand beach where nesting sea turtles may be seen at night from December through May. Time permitting, go snorkeling or take a glass-bottom boat ride to view marine life under the water. Enjoy dinner aboard ship tonight during your last evening at sea!

Lodging
Aboard M/V Santa Cruz

Day 8 Disembark at Baltra & fly to the mainlaind
Meals B, D
After a slide show from your trip presented by your team of naturalists, say goodbye to the M/V Santa Cruz and her crew today as you disembark on Baltra Island for the end of one of Tauck’s most memorable Galápagos cruises. Board a flight back to Guayaquil on the mainland of Ecuador for an overnight at the Hilton Colón Guayaquil. Join us for a farewell party beside the hotel swimming pool in Guayaquil tonight!

Lodging
Hilton Colón Guayaquil

Day 9 Journey’s end
Meals B

Special holiday Galápagos cruises end in Guayaquil. A transfer from Hilton Colón Guayaquil to José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport is included. You should allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.

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