Experience an adventure that will provide memories to last a lifetime. Learn about Darwin, geology, and unique wildlife and enjoy snorkeling, swimming, and nature walks as you visit six of the Galapágos Islands.

Starting at: $6,495 Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Mother and baby seal  Two Nazca Boobies  Sally Lightfoot Crab  Blue-footed Boobies  Travelers snapping a photo of seals   A tortoise and a traveler   Bright Frigate bird  Swallow-tailed Gull  Green sea turtle in the Galápagos  Sally Lightfoot crabs  Seals and Sally Lightfoot crabs  Seals basking on the beach  Colorful iguana

Wonders of the Galápagos Islands

A Voyage Aboard Santa Cruz II

9 days from $6,495

Experience an adventure that will provide memories to last a lifetime. Learn about Darwin, geology, and unique wildlife and enjoy snorkeling, swimming, and nature walks as you visit six of the Galapágos Islands.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

The Smithsonian opens doors to sites that you could not see on your own and to travel with a Smithsonian Journeys expert brings life to the history and romance of the experience.

- Barbara C.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active


Expectations: Ocean-going ship requires using smaller boat conveyances to get to shore for excursions, although the ship may also pull into a pier for embarkation and disembarkation. This is an expedition-type cruise that involves  excursions by small boats and wet shore landings by rubber Zodiac boats (i.e. step from the Zodiac directly into ankle high water). Travelers must be able to negotiate a steep gangway and get in and out of the Zodiacs with minimal assistance. Excursions will be at an active pace during mornings or afternoons. Long periods of time standing and walking (up to one and a half hours) during outdoor activities and tours and nature walks, often without places to sit, yet it is always interesting due to vegatation and fauna. Walking two to three miles will be over sometimes uneven terrain, such as slippery walking trails in rain forests and beach areas. Opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and hiking are offered during the cruise. Be aware that you can experience hot temperatures (over 80 degrees), high humidity, and strong sun due to the proximity to the equator. Wildlife observation requires time spent on small excursion boats, which do not provide shade or protection from the strong tropical sun. There is a round-trip internal flight by regularly scheduled airlines between the mainland and Baltra Island.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

The Smithsonian opens doors to sites that you could not see on your own and to travel with a Smithsonian Journeys expert brings life to the history and romance of the experience.

- Barbara C.

Itinerary

Day 1 - U.S./Quito, Ecuador

Fly to Quito and transfer to the deluxe JW Marriot Hotel. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, yet only miles from the equator, Quito is a World Heritage site known for its magnificent Spanish colonial architecture and lively public squares.

Day 2 - Quito

Quito is a city of startling contrasts, where thousands of years of South American traditions are interwoven with imported Catholicism, the Spanish language and European culture. Quaint family‑owned shops and open‑air markets are steps away from gleaming skyscrapers and ornate Spanish Baroque cathedrals favored by the conquistadores. On the panoramic tour through the heart of Quito, visit the noble, 16th‑century Iglesia de San Francisco and Iglesia de La Compañía de Jesus, renowned for its lavish interiors decorated with an estimated seven tons of gold leaf. Tour Casa del Alabado, an impressive private museum of pre‑Columbian art and archaeological pieces housed in a 17th‑century colonial mansion. This evening, attend the private Welcome Reception in the hotel. (B,R)

Day 3 - Quito

Stand on the “middle of the world” with one foot in each hemisphere at the Equator and see the hundred-foot‑tall monument where an 18th‑century multinational expedition located zero degrees latitude, accurately establishing the Earth’s size for the first time. Admire spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and tour the Ethnographic Museum, illustrating the diversity of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore Quito. (B)

Day 4 - Quito /Baltra Island/Galápagos Islands/Santa Cruz Island

Fly to the small island of Baltra and embark the Santa Cruz II in time for lunch.

Attend your first briefing by the ship’s English‑speaking Ecuadorian naturalists while cruising to Santa Cruz Island, known for prehistoric‑looking iguanas, prickly pear cacti, vibrantly colored flamingos and pristine white beaches. Aboard Zodiacs, explore the shores of beautiful mangrove-lined islets and seek out charming blue‑ and red-footed boobies, brown pelicans and magnificent frigatebirds, whose males inflate their bright red throat pouches to impress potential mates. Land in a small lagoon favored by elegant pink flamingos and ascend Dragon Hill for spectacular views of the western islands and the chance to observe land iguanas.

Attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception onboard the ship this evening. (B,L,D,R)

Please note that the itinerary and cruise pattern are dependent on weather, sea conditions and Galápagos National Park Service regulations.

Day 5 - Isabela Island/Fernandina Island

Cruise through the Bolivar Channel, showcasing the stunning volcanic peaks of Isabela and Fernandina. Spend the morning at seahorse‑shaped Isabela, a younger island formed by six shield volcanoes. On the arid shore, you may encounter the largest land iguanas in the Galápagos as well as giant tortoises and flightless cormorants.

Snorkel off Punta Vicente Roca or search the northern shores for Nazca boobies, Darwin’s finches and penguins. Dominated by the sweeping slopes of La Cumbre Volcano, the moon‑like landscapes of Fernandina are the most untouched of all the Galápagos Islands, home to the famous flightless cormorant, sea lions, Galápagos penguins, marine iguanas, and pelicans. Explore how recent volcanic activity has reshaped the island’s topography, creating an ever-changing environment for the thriving species found nowhere else. (B,L,D)

Day 6 - Santa Cruz Island

Learn more about efforts to protect the island’s rare giant tortoises in the Charles Darwin Research Station, then transfer to Santa Cruz’s cool, lush highlands for lunch amid an endemic Scalesia cloud forest. This afternoon, choose from a variety of leisure activities. Kayak in clear blue Tortuga Bay, secluded home to black turtles, colorful reef fish, marine iguanas, and lava gulls. Walk the island’s trails or stroll along serene sandy beaches. (B,L,D)

Day 7 - Post Office Bay, Floreana Island/Champion Islet/Cormorant Point

Floreana was one of the first islands in the archipelago to be settled by European whalers and buccaneers. At Post Office Bay, peruse the mail in the wooden barrel “post office,” established by whalers to transport letters home on passing ships. Discover a piece of mail to hand-deliver to its final destination or leave your own message to be delivered by a future visitor.

Cruise via Zodiac or snorkel in the clear waters surrounding pristine Champion Islet, encountering sea horses, sea turtles, sea lions, coral hawkfish and other aquatic wonders; scan the skies and shorelines for possible sightings of the endemic Floreana mockingbird, common to the islands when Darwin visited, but critically endangered today; and walk along the brackish lagoons and mangroves near Cormorant Point, famous for flamingos and pelicans. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception onboard the ship this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 8 - Baltra Island/Guayaquil, Ecuador

Anchor at Baltra, disembark the ship and board your late-morning flight to Guayaquil. Continue on the Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley Post-Program Option or enjoy a day room in the Hilton Colón Hotel and depart late this evening for the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)