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Galapagos Travel Guide: Cruise, Tours, Last minute deals
Galapagos Cruise: My experience sailing on the Golondrina Yacht
This was my first experience traveling by cruise in the Galapagos and I did it on the Golondrina Yacht.
Traveling on the Golondrina Yacht gave me the chance to experience islands and places in the Galapagos that aren’t accessible on day tours. Most importantly, I didn’t have to worry about where to sleep or what to eat.
If you’ve browsed through my blog, you’ll have read all the information I have about traveling through the Galapagos Islands on your own, without purchasing a tour package. The fact is that, while this is a good way to experience the Galapagos, there will be numerous places you can’t visit on day tours, including Fernandina Island, Santiago Island and a few parts of Isabela Island. You can visit these on a cruise, however.
LOW BUDGET CRUISE
Golondrina Yacht is a tourist class, or low cost, cruise. We traveled for 5 days following itinerary B. During the trip, we visited islands like Fernandina Island and the North part of Isabela Island, normally not accessible on day tours.
This cruise has 8 cabins, each equipped with bunk beds, private bathrooms, a dining area where you can serve yourself 3 buffet-style meals a day. There are different social spaces. You can get some sun while sailing between destinations or grab a beer at the bar. There’s always something to do on Golondrina Yacht so we never got bored.
If you want to travel Tourist superior on a Galapagos cruise, you can follow this same route on the Fragata Yacht, which always sails alongside Golondrina Yacht.
ACTIVITIES ON THE CRUISE
GOLONDRINA & FRAGATA YACHTS: DAY BY DAY
– DAY 1: Baltra Island / Mosquera Islet
The guide was waiting for us at 11:00am at the airport on Baltra Island (Avianca Airline). We had to wait a little until all the passengers were gathered.
Afterwards, we went to the loading dock used by cruises and were taken to the Golondrina Yacht. After putting our things away, we had a briefing with the cruise staff to review the itinerary and then we had lunch.
At 3:00 pm we reached our first destination and made a wet landing on Mosquera Islet, one of the beaches I had yet to visit. I was surprised at how white the sand, though I had expected to see more marine life. The sea lions saved the day, as usual, and swam close to us as we snorkeled.
Back on the cruise we had dinner and then received information about what we would be doing the next day. Meanwhile, the Golondrina Yacht took us West toward Isabela Island.
– DAY 2: Vicente Roca Poit on Isabela Island / Espinoza Point on Fernandina Island
At 7AM you should be up and having breakfast to make the most of your day, though if you can get up earlier at 6AM, you’ll see a spectacular sunrise over Isabela Island’s northern tip.
Our first activity on the second day was a panga ride through Punta Vicente Roca where we could observe Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, cormorants and other birdlife. In this sector you’ll also find another. type of sea lion called the fur seal, which are smaller and have larger eyes.
We waited for the sun to come out before plunging into the sea for 2 hours of snorkeling, observing different fish species, sea turtles and sea lions.
Each day of activities is divided by the lunch hour and after digesting, we went to Punta Espinoza, located on Fernandina Island.
Fernandina Island is the only place in the Galapagos where you can observe marine iguanas as they forage in the ocean. I think this may be the best snorkeling experience I’ve had in my life, observing how the sea turtles, marine iguanas and fish forage in the vegetation. Sea lions will also dash and play around you as you snorkel.
After snorkeling in Fernandina Island, we made a dry landing for a 1.5 hour hike where we could appreciate a colony of marine iguanas, zayapa crabs, lava lizards, sea lions and the impressive Galapagos hawk. To end the day, we watched as the sun set behind the volcano.
– DAY 3: Urbina Bay on Isabela Island / Tagus Cove on Isabela Island
As on the previous day, we had breakfast at 7am to be ready and make our first dry landing at Urbina Bay.
During the hike we could observe land iguanas and Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat. We also saw the hollows shell of a tortoise while the whistle of a monkey bird guided us along the trail.
From Urbina Bay we sailed to Caleta Tagus and took advantage of the travel time to have lunch and rest from the hike.
Tagus Cove, or Caleta Tagus, was once a pirate hideaway and the markings/paintings on the walls are evidence of the people that once passed through here. I couldn’t understand how they would go out of their way and climb up on the rocks to scribble a nonsensical phrase, but maybe that was just part of the adventure back then.
The activities done at Tagus Cove are a hike and snorkeling. The trail takes us to a lookout point where we observed a lake that’s very close to the sea. Once we finished the hike, tired from the heat, we went snorkeling and went on a panga ride to see Galapagos penguins on the rocks.
Before finishing the day, we crossed latitud 0º 0′ 0” from South to North and watched the captains GPS del capitán as we moved from one hemisphere to the other.
– DAY 4: Puerto Egas on Santiago Island / Chinese Hat Island
The trip from Tagus Cove to Puerto Egas on Santiago Island lasts around 11 hours and, if the sea isn’t too choppy, you should be able to sleep without any problem.
Since this day is split between two islands, you’ll have breakfast very early at 6:30am to then make a wet landing on Puerto Egas, where you’ll go on a coastal hike that takes about 1.5 hours. We could observe the Zayapa crabs, sea lions and the Galapagos hawk.
Afterwards, we returned to the cruise boat to make a second stop at the Chinese Hat.
While we sailed to the Chinese Hat, we ate lunch and had some time to rest before our landing at the new island.
Chinese Hat island has a canal the color of Caribbean water and, there, a colony of sea lion babies curiously awaited us. The trail was full of red and green vegetation, which contrasted beautifully with the volcanic stones. Beside the marine iguanas there were many zayapa crabs, which also contrasted with the other colors of the island.
After we finished the hike, we returned to the Golondrina yacht to get our gear and go snorkeling.
We snorkeled in an area facing Chinese Hat Island, along Santiago Island’s coast in turquoise water and white sand. We saw penguins again, star fish, a variety of fish and eventually found the Tintonera sharks as they slept.
– DAY 5: Charles Darwin Station on Santa Cruz Island
Heading back to Puerto Ayora, we said our farewells to the crew and other travelers. After breakfast we visited the famous Charles Darwin station and, after doing the turtle route and seeing the dissected Solitary George, each one of us went on our way to our next destination.
Check out this map that includes photos and video of each stop along this cruise
BEFORE TRAVELING THROUGH THE GALAPAGOS BY CRUISE
WHAT TO TAKE ON A GALAPAGOS CRUISE
Here are a few things you need to ensure you have a great experience in this magical place. Some of these things you can obtain in town, thereby also contributing to the local economy:
DEPARTURES AND AVAILABILITY: GOLONDRINA & FRAGATA YACHTS
*We work directly with boat owners and tour operators in the Galapagos, thereby avoiding additional costs, unlike travel operators like Viator, Get Your Guide and Civitatis which rely on third-party local operators.
DON’T MISS OUT ON A GALAPAGOS CRUISE!
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