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: $5,995 * Price includes special offer 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 $5,995

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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SPECIAL OFFER

Save $1,000 per person when you book by January 25, 2020!

Overview

The Galápagos Islands comprise a mysterious landscape of wonder, beauty, and the most unusual wildlife found anywhere on Earth. Wake up to new vistas each day, cruise to six of the Galápagos Islands, and learn about this fascinating World Heritage site. 

Highlights Include

  • Unique Wildlife: Watch the antics of Blue-footed Boobies and observe the beauty of Nazca Boobies, flamingos, and Frigate birds. Get up close to sea lions, seals, Sally Lightfoot crabs, iguana, penguins, and giant land tortoises.
  • Featured Islands: Cruise roundtrip from Baltra Island to San Cristobal, to encounter sea lion colonies and dozens of bird species and reptiles. See prickly pear cacti and scarlet succulents during a nature walk on Santa Fé then continue to nearby South Plaza Island. Learn about the efforts to protect rare giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz. Cruising to Española Island— the southernmost and one of the oldest islands—see the famous Punta Suarez blowhole spray water nearly 100 feet high. Swim, snorkel, or sea kayak off Gardner Bay's picturesque white coral beach and watch Blue-footed Boobies dive into the ocean for prey. Enjoy the natural wonders of North Seymour Island before concluding your cruise. 
  • Santa Cruz II: Sail for six nights aboard our newly refurbished ship, an ideal size that allows for a choice of excursions and also offering an intimate experience. 

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.

2020 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Guayaquil, Ecuador

Fly to Guayaquil, once a favored haven for 17th- and 18th-century English and Dutch buccaneers. Known for colorful neighborhoods and great views of the river and city. Check into the Hilton Colon Hotel.

Day 2 — Guayaquil/ Galápagos Islands

Fly to the small Galápagos 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 as you cruise toward the Mosquera Islet—a small, volcanic uplift surrounded by lava reefs between Baltra and North Seymour islands while you are briefed on the exciting week ahead, filled with activities and the wonders of nature in the Galápagos. Make a wet landing by Zodiac and wade to shore along a shallow reef as your naturalist guides point out sea lion colonies.

Attend the Captain’s Welcome Gathering on board the ship this evening. (B,L,R,D)

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

Day 3 — San Cristóbal Island

In the midst of an abundant deciduous forest on San Cristóbal Island, visit a conservation and breeding center for endangered giant tortoises and see these amazing creatures up close in their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for dozens of bird species and two endemic species, the San Cristóbal mockingbird and lava lizard! 

This afternoon, explore Punta Pitt and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the San Cristóbal shoreline. Be greeted by hundreds of barking sea lions as you make your way to the only site in all of the Galápagos Islands where all three species of boobies congregate in one place—the blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies. Look for two species of frigate birds, plus swallow-tailed gulls and storm petrels. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Santa Fe Island/ South Plaza Island

Pristine white beaches, prickly pear cacti, droves of sea lions and prehistoric looking endemic iguanas make Santa Fe Island an essential stop for explorers of all ages! Enjoy snorkeling and swimming, glass-bottom boat rides or even kayaking in the lagoon’s crystal clear waters.

On South Plaza Island, watch as gray and yellow land iguanas wait patiently for sweet pear fruit to drop from the cactus grove among a landscape of crimson succulents. Join your naturalist guides for an evening of stargazing (weather permitting) and learn more about how explorers once used the night sky to navigate. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Santa Cruz Island

Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about efforts to protect the island’s rare giant tortoises. Continue to Santa Cruz’s cool, lush highlands for lunch amid mist-covered forests. 

This afternoon, choose from a variety of leisure activities for the whole family. Swim in the clear blue waters of secluded Tortuga Bay, home to black turtles, colorful reef fish, marine iguanas, and lava gulls. Hike the island’s wilderness trails or walk the sparkling white sandy beaches and look out for seashells, Galápagos crabs and brown pelicans in search of their prey. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Española Island

This morning, visit Punta Suarez on Española Island for a look at the unique wildlife during a nature walk guided by your expert naturalists. This island is known for its unique seabird colonies, including the Galápagos albatross, Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls. Watch the geyser-like spray of the famous Punta Suarez blowhole, and see the island’s red and green marine iguanas up close. 

Cruise to Gardner Bay and the pristine Osborn Islet while scanning the skies and shorelines for sightings of endemic mockingbirds, yellow warblers and Darwin’s finches. In the islet’s turquoise waters, snorkel, swim or kayak and keep an eye out for seahorses, sea turtles, sea lions, coral hawkfish and other fantastic aquatic wonders. (B,L,D) 

Day 7 — Eden Islet/North Seymour Island

Visit Eden Islet off the coast of Santa Cruz Island for more encounters with the incredible Galápagos wildlife. From a Zodiac, watch as blue-footed boobies dive into the lagoon, frigate birds flit about and reef sharks glide smoothly along the ocean floor. 

Enjoy a walk through the natural wonders of North Seymour Island, with more chances to encounter blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls, and marine iguanas. 

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

Day 8 — Baltra/Guayaquil, Ecuador

Dock at Baltra to disembark the ship. Fly to Guayaquil and transfer to the deluxe Hilton Colòn Hotel, where we have arranged for day rooms until travelers’ late-evening departure to the U.S., or continue on the optional Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley post-tour extension. (B)​

Day 9 — Arrival

Arrive in the U.S.

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

2021 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)