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Galapagos by Sea (West)

Classic Galapagos Cruise | View photos »

Snorkel with sea lions, walk across lava fields, drift among penguins, and marvel at the uniquely fearless wildlife of Galapagos. This handpicked cruise around the highlights of the archipelago allows you to discover the incredible wildlife and landscapes of Galapagos in depth.

10 day trip described, guide price £4,930pp i

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Sample itinerary

Travel to Quito

Fly from the UK to Quito today. Please note that international flights for this holiday are quoted separately. Transfer to your comfortable hotel, located in one of the quieter parts of the city. Relax after your journey this evening.

Explore the beautiful city of Quito

Your guide comes to the hotel this morning to take you on a tour of Ecuador’s capital and its surroundings. Quito is positioned on the flanks of the Pichincha Volcano, and is home to perhaps the best-preserved colonial centre in Latin America (now UNESCO-listed). Explore the historic centre to learn about the city’s colonial past, perhaps dropping into the Government Palace en route.

Fly to Galapagos and board your boat

The Galapagos are around 600 miles off mainland Ecuador so the flight takes a good couple of hours. Meet your guide who takes you up into the highlands of Santa Cruz to meet the islands' most famous inhabitants, the giant tortoises. After a visit to the Darwin Centre to learn about their efforts to protect the tortoises, board your boat this evening and settle into your comfortable cabin.

Flamingos, turtles and amazing snorkelling

Walk across Floreana Island to see the somewhat incongruous sight of flamingoes feeding in a lagoon just inland. Carry on along a good path to a very pretty sandy beach where you can spot rays and sea turtles. This afternoon it's time to go snorkeling in the distinctive Devil’s Crown crater, where you swim through pretty coral formations teeming with marine life. You should see some sea lions and lots of fish. With luck you will see sharks – on a good day you might see hammerheads here.

Tiny penguins, enormous crater

From Isabela island, sail out to the Tintoreras this morning, a Galapagos in miniature, where you should see the small and rare Galapagos penguin. This afternoon you hike up Sierra Negra, the largest crater of all Galapagos volcanoes. Up here you should see lots of bird life, including short-eared owls.The scenery is breathtaking as you look north along the line of volcanoes strung along Isabela’s spine.

Walk on lava fields

Land at Punta Moreno, where you should see penguins living alongside marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies. Carry on in-shore to a series of mangrove rimmed lagoons. There is very still little sign of life on these fairly new lava fields though you pass flightless cormorants on your way back to the boat. Get into the pangas to explore the coastline around Elizabeth Bay. Cut off the engines as you drift in the silence of the late afternoon looking for sea turtles, sharks and penguins in this unusual setting.

Land iguanas and pirate graffiti

Land in Urbina Bay this morning where you can sometimes spot giant tortoises in the wild. You will almost certainly see land iguanas. Visit the cliff-side gallery of Tagus Cove later for a clear view of some 19th century pirate grafitti. It is more than a little strange to see vandalism in such a pristine place.

Walk through piles of iguanas

Visit the youngest island, Fernandina, to walk to the jagged point of Punta Espinosa to see marine iguanas warming themselves on the lava. You may well need to watch where you are treading as there are lots and lots of them piled up against each other for warmth.

Spectacular views of the archipelago

Land on the small, barren outcrop of Isla Bartolomé. Walk to the top of the island on a wooden walkway for beautiful views across the eastern Galapagos Islands. Head back down the hill to snorkel around the base of the emblematic Pinnacle Rock. The visibility here is amongst the best of the week. You might even swim with penguins or sharks. Certainly the channels and rock formations underwater make for a beautiful snorkelling environment.

Travel back home

Get up early this morning to walk on the rocky outcrop of North Seymour before disembarking in Baltra to fly back to the mainland. The west cove of North Seymour offers splendid snorkelling and swimming as well as a white coral sand beach. Fly back to Guayaquil or Quito from where you connect straight onto your international flight home.

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About this trip


Snorkel with sea lions, walk across lava fields, drift among penguins, and marvel at the uniquely fearless wildlife of Galapagos. This comprehensive cruise around the highlights of the archipelago allows you to discover Galapagos on land and in the water, and explore incredible wildlife and landscapes in depth.

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Level of activity

This Galapagos Islands cruise is primarily a wildlife holiday so the focus is not on activity. Having said that, you spend most of your time out and about in the great outdoors, so it is not a sedentary trip by any means. There is some gentle walking though the islands are volcanic which means that you are often walking on quite sharp lava. If you enjoy swimming and snorkeling then you will find some incredible wildlife underwater too.

Level of comfort

As a tailor made trip, we offer a range of different boats in the Galapagos. This itinerary is based on M/Y Beluga, a superior first-class yacht. She carries a maximum of 16 passengers, giving her a wonderfully intimate feel, and the guide and crew are excellent.

The eight cabins are either double or twin each with en-suite bathroom. Given the amount of time spent out and about exploring the islands or up on deck , cabin size is rarely a critical element of your Galapagos holiday. The deck space is ample making her feel pleasantly airy and spacious in general.

In terms of weather, the Galapagos Islands lie on the equator so temperatures and weather conditions are generally warm and pleasant all year round. The water temperature and conditions do vary with colder, choppier waters from June through October giving way to warmer and calmer seas for the rest of the year.

Level of culture

The Galapagos Islands are primarily about the wildlife, though the human history of the islands and the struggles of conservation create a fascinating context for the wildlife. Having seven days in the company of Ecuadorian crew and expert guide should allow you time to gain a wider understanding of your host country.


We have a detailed itinerary for this trip, as set out above. If you would like a copy, please get in touch and we can email it over to you.

Ultimately though, this is a tailor made trip so we would love to have time to talk to you in order to send the most appropriate proposal to you. We work with a range of boats in Galapagos, personally chosen for their quality of itineraries and operation, though these vary widely in route, duration and comfort levels.

In the form set out above, the holiday price includes internal flights, high quality hotel accommodation, a week long Galapagos cruise on board a first class yacht as well as activities, excursions, transfers and entrances as per our detailed itinerary. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.

Flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routings are to fly into Quito (airport code: UIO) and out of either Guayaquil (airport code: GYE) or Quito.


Assumes 7 nights on board MV Beluga in high season in 2018.

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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.

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  • Day 1 - Seven wildlife encounters we won't forget
  • Day 2 - Why the Galapagos has to be done right
  • Day 3 - Why you shouldn't overlook the mainland
  • Day 4 - Six lodges and hotels we just didn’t want to leave
  • Day 5 - Answers to some commonly asked questions about Ecuador

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Book Subscribe to The Pothole » Beluga yacht moored off Fernandina Island in the Galapagos View of Quito The colonial heart of Quito Giant tortoise close encounter in the Galapagos Islands Flamingo feeding on Floreana Island Looking out over the world's second largest crater, Galapagos Flightless cormorant in the Galapagos Islands Land iguana, Galapagos Islands Marine iguana pile up, Fernandina Island, Galapagos Bartolome island in the Galapagos archipelago Close up of feet of a blue footed booby