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 Make a Reservation 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

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—cruising to six of the Galápagos Islands, including rarely visited western islands. You’ll learn about this fascinating World Heritage site, where Darwin developed his research on evolution, from a highly qualified and diverse team of experts.

Highlights Include

  • Unique Wildlife: Watch the antics of Blue-footed Boobies and observe the beauty of Nazca Boobies, flamingos, and Frigate birds. Along sparkling white-sand beaches, get up close to sea lions, seals, Sally Lightfoot crabs, iguana, penguins, giant land tortoises, and other amazing wildlife in their native habitat.
  • Featured Islands: Enjoy a day in an area that is rarely visited—the Western Galápagos Islands. Cruise through the Bolivar Channel, offering stunning views of the volcanic peaks of Isabela and Fernandina Islands. Your time at seahorse-shaped Isabela features snorkeling along the cliffs and searching the northern shores for wildlife. Isabela is also known for its orca whale and dolphin populations and land iguana and tortoises. Then continue to the moon-like landscapes of Fernandina, which showcases one of the densest concentrations of wildlife in the archipelago. On Santa Cruz, learn about efforts to protect the rare giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station. You’ll also call at Floreana, one of the first islands to be settled by European whalers and buccaneers; the small Champion Islet, known for its sea horses, coral hawkfish, and other aquatic wonders; and Baltra Island.
  • Active Adventure: Throughout your voyage, discover the islands through nature walks, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, or excursions by glass-bottom boat!
  • Santa Cruz II: Cruise for four nights aboard our upscale small expedition-style ship, featuring a fleet of Zodiacs and everything you need to explore the islands. Our vessel is the ideal size—large enough to provide a choice of excursions but also offering an intimate experience. Find more details on our website.
  • Quito: Enjoy two days in Quito, featuring tours of the Old City, a World Heritage-designated historic colonial district; a private museum of pre-Columbian art; and the fascinating Ethnographic Museum (located at the equator).

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)