Aboard M/C Athala II, Southern Circuit

Explore the Galapagos aboard this newly-refurbished high-end catamaran
Overview

overview

Newly-refurbished in 2011, the luxury catamaran Athala was specifically designed and built to cruise the Galapagos Islands in style. This elegantly-designed ship provides comfort, superior speed, excellent stability, and it meets all the latest safety standards.

The Athala is unrivaled in offering the generous, comfortable accommodations and amenities of a larger ship while still preserving the relaxed atmosphere and camaraderie of a smaller vessel. You are sure to find the layout, furnishings, food, and crew all to be excellent.

All of Athala's cabins on board are deluxe, with well-appointed private bathrooms, air conditioning and wall-to-wall carpeting. All have ocean views with large windows (not portholes). All cabins are 175 square feet or more, and the main deck cabins have the additional luxury of private balconies.

The huge sundeck is great for whale and dolphin watching or to simply relax and soak up the sun between island excursions. In the evenings, there is no better place for star gazing. The upper deck has a well-stocked bar, Jacuzzi hot tub, and a beautiful open teak deck area for relaxation, alfresco dining, and barbeques. The main deck houses the dining area and a separate comfortable lounge area complete with plasma TVs, laptops (no internet service), DVD player, stereo, and library.

Athala's crew of ten and her naturalist guide are all experts in their fields and are friendly, full time, experienced, and highly professional. Your naturalist guide is guaranteed to be bilingual (minimum fluent English and Spanish) and among the best and most knowledgeable in the Galapagos. You will not find a luxury boat with better people and service, more space, more comfort, and such a great itinerary at a better price.

Starting in 2012, two itineraries are offered to adhere to new touring regulations established by the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve to limit tourist visits for the islands' health and recovery.  Take your pick between this itinerary and its companion tour of northern islands, based on your preferences and your dates.  If you want the complete Galapagos experience and have the time, take both!

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Quito or Guayaquil
    Visit the stairstep neighborhood of Las Penas

    Arrive in either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador, where you will be met and transferred to your local hotel.*

    Quito is located in a huge valley of the Andes mountains at an altitude of 9,455 feet; it’s a great place to extend your stay to explore the city, the surrounding volcanic mountain range, or possibly an excursion to the fabled Otavalo market.

    Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city; with its low elevation and coastal location, it is an ideal point from which to fly to the Galapagos.  The city's 1.5-mile waterfront Malecon 2000 riverfront promenade is a lovely and enjoyable place to spend an afternoon.

    *Hotel/city tour package is not included in cruise rate.

    Meals
    None
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  • Day 2: Quito or Guayaquil
    Wander along Guayaquil's lovely Malecon

    Quito city tour: Stroll down cobblestone streets and through flowering plazas. Visit the old colonial center of Independence Square, the elegant cathedrals of San Francisco, La Compañía, and San Agustín, Quito’s oldest monastery. Drive through the residential section and past the Legislative Palace (Congress). Panecillo Hill overlooks the city and snow-capped mountains. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore or relax.

    Guayaquil city tour: Our first stop is Malecon 2000, an 80-million-dollar riverside complex built along a two-mile stretch of the Guayas River. The waterfront promenade features restaurants, cafes, shops, and museums with art exhibitions as well as free weekend jazz and classical music concerts. Drive through the colorful streets of one of Ecuador’s most important port cities. Visit the Public Market, the waterfront, the docks, and Simon Bolivar Park, which is famous for its tree iguanas. Also, admire the watchtower, La Rotonda, Old Santa Ana Fort, and Las Penas, a charming colonial section of town frequented by artists. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore or relax.

    Meals
    Breakfast
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  • Day 3: Baltra Island/Sombrero Chino
    Get your first glimpse of the Galapagos on your descent

    The flight from Quito (via Guayaquil) to the Galapagos is approximately 2-1/2 hours long (or about 2 hours from Guayaquil). Upon arrival at Baltra airport, travelers pass through an airport inspection point to ensure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands and to pay the park entrance fee (pre-paid for you). Guides will meet you, collect your luggage, and escort you on the short bus ride to the harbor. Motorized rafts called Zodiacs, or pangas, will transport you to the yacht, and the crew will welcome you onboard.

    After a briefing and a light lunch, you'll set off on a Zodiac (panga) ride to Sombrero Chino, a small islet near the southeastern coast of Santiago Island whose name means "Chinese hat," a name that perfectly captures its unique shape. There are various interesting geological formations that make this a great place for photos, but there are also various marine species to observe, such as sea lions and Sally lightfoot crabs.  Keep an out out for different species of Darwin's finches as well.

    Back on board late in the day, attend the first of your daily briefings on the next day's adventure, then enjoy welcome cocktails and dinner onboard.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 4: Santa Cruz/Cerro Dragon/Rabida
    See land iguanas and their nesting sites

    After breakfast, take a panga ride to a dry landing at a pier on the beach at Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill), Santa Cruz, named for the healthy population of land iguanas found there in 1975. After landing, hike beyond the beach to a salt water lagoon frequented by common stilts, pintail ducks, and (occasionally) flamingos. A short walk up the hill leads you to a land iguana nesting site with breathtaking views of the bay. You will have the chance to go swimming after the walk, then return to the boat for an lesson on Ecuadorian ceviche (delicious!) followed by lunch.

    In the afternoon, trabel by panga to Rabida (wet landing), a small island with red volcanic rocks surrounding a beautiful red sand beach, home to a colony of sea lions and a pelican nesting site. The trail leads to a salt water lagoon where shore birds can be seen. Rabida is considered to be one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos Islands, so dive in and search for colorful fish and marine life. You also have options this afternoon for beach activities, kayaking, and panga rides.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 5: Isabela/Elizabeth Bay/Moreno Point
    Snorkel among vibrantly-colored schools of fish

    After breakfast, hop in a panga for a trip to Elizabeth Bay, a natural bay on the coast of Isabela Island and one of the furthest points in the Galapagos that we will visit on our cruise. Enter a sheltered cove – a wonderful mangrove ecosystem that is a refuge for sea turtles, rays, blue-footed boobies, penguins, herons and more. Difficulty level: Easy.

    After returning to the boat for lunch, head out in the afternoon to Moreno Point, located just southwest of Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island and known for large populations of sea birds which can be appreciated on a panga ride along the striking rocky shores or on a hike along a path through lava rock that leads to large tide pools and mangroves. Look for green sea turtles and white-tip sharks in the tide pools. Difficulty level: Moderate to difficult.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 6: Floreana/P.O. Bay/Punta Cormorant
    Participate in the traditions of Post Office Bay

    Floreana Island is one of the Galapagos' most intriguing places, with many strange stories about its past settlers. There are many wonderful and diverse sites to visit, including Post Office Bay and the "Baroness's Viewing Point." Marine life also abounds in Floreana's coastal regions, making it a fantastic site for snorkeling. Flamingos also populate the island and may be seen during your visit. The Baroness's Viewing Point is the perfect place to take Floreana's special environment and is a great spot to learn and ponder regarding the intriguing history of the Baroness and her three lovers (yes, three!). Difficulty level: Easy.

    Next, visit Post Office Bay, where, in the 18th century, whalers passing through the islands placed a wooden barrel for use as an unofficial mail box. The tradition continues today as visitors leave addressed postcards in the barrel and sort through left mail to deliver to their home towns after their vacations. This is one of the archipelago's most famous spots. There will be time for snorkeling or kayaking before lunch. Difficulty level: Easy.

    After returning to the ship for lunch, head to Punta Cormorant for snorkeling, kayaking, or panga rides. A great site for bird-watching, Cormorant Point has a large lagoon where everything from flamingos to stilts and pintail ducks can be observed. The beach nearby is also quite special and known as the "Green Beach," for its unusually-colored sand containing a high concentration of olivine crystals. Difficulty level: Easy.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 7: San Cristobal/Cerro Brujo/Isla Lobos
    Sail by dramatic Kicker Rock islet

    Located on the north coast of San Cristobal Island, the eroding tuff cone of Cerro Brujo offers a fantastic landscape as well as wonderful swimming, snorkeling, and panga rides. Cerro Brujo's gorgeous beach, home to many sea lions, is also the site of Charles Darwin's first landfall in the Galapagos. You'll also visit a beautiful lagoon used by the locals of Baquerizo Moreno Port for salt mining as well as two different species of halophytes (rare plants that grow in soils with a high salt content). Difficulty level: Easy to moderate.

    Following lunch on the ship, sail by Kicker Rock Islet (amazing sight!) on the way to Isla Lobos, named after its large colony of sea lions (also called “lobos,” or wolves, in Spanish). Visitors often have close encounters with curious sea lion pups, especially while snorkeling. This small islet also is home to populations of blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and the shy and elusive Galapagos fur seal (actually a type of sea lion). Difficulty level: Easy.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 8: Santa Cruz/Darwin Station/Highlands
    Learn about conservation efforts at Darwin Station

    After breakfast, head by panga to a dry landing on the dock in the town of Puerto Ayora. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you will gain insight into massive efforts being made by scientists, guides, rangers, and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will see the famous Galapagos tortoises that are the islands'namesake. Afterward, take a bus ride to the green highlands of Santa Cruz, where you will visit a tortoise reserve to search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings. Return to the ship in the early afternoon for lunch and an afternoon of optional water activities. Difficulty level: Easy to moderate.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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  • Day 9: Espanola/Punta Suarez/Gardner Bay
    Get close-up views of Galapagos sea lions frolicking in the surf

    Punta Suarez (dry landing), Espanola, is one of the most popular and attractive sites in the Galapagos. Due to its isolation from other islands, it has a high proportion of endemic fauna. A few steps inland from the landing site, groups of marine iguanas bask in the sun. Further inland, Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest near the trail, Galapagos doves peck around, unconcerned about visitors, and finches go about their day-to-day business. The trail continues toward a blowhole, a fissure in the lava where water spurts high into the air like a geyser. Cracks in the cliffs are home to swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds. Further up the cliff in an area of low-lying trees, you will find waved albatrosses nesting. The 15,000 to 17,000 pairs of albatrosses here represent almost the entire planet's population of this species. They perform one of the most spectacular courtship rituals of the animal world. Difficulty level: Difficult.

    Return to the ship for lunch, then head out to Gardner Bay (wet landing) and its beautiful white sandy beach, home to one of the islands' most important colonies of sea lions and also a sea turtle nesting site. Throughout the afternoon, there are also opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Difficulty level: Easy.

    Return to the ship for a departure briefing, farewell cocktails, dinner, and your final night on board.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Santa Cruz/Quito or Guayaquil
    Leave the M/C Athala, your home for the week, and head for the mainland

    Watch and listen to the ship's naturalist's descriptions as the M/C Athala circumnavigates the small island of Daphne Major, located between Santa Cruz and Santiago Islands, a spectacular bird-watching as well as scientific research site. A select handful of scientists have long studied bird life here, especially Darwin's finches, so important that this little island became famous after many publications by well-known researchers, Peter and Rosemary Grant. From the vantage point of the yacht's decks, your guide will point out the bird life and explain some of the important research carried out here. Non-research visitors are not allowed on this island due to its very fragile nature.

    Around mid-morning, head to the airport for your midday flight back to  Quito or Guayaquil, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel with the rest of your day at leisure.

     

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Quito or Guayaquil/Onward
    Bid farewell to Ecuador

    You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast
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Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Thursday weekly departures (cruise departs on Saturday). Call for dates.
Land Cost:
$4,950
- $5,400
Costs are for cruise only See above for full details Fuel surcharge may apply
Single Supplement:
$2475
No single supplement if willing to share? Otherwise, single supplement stat as 1.5 x the per person cabin cost.
Need to Know

Need to Know

About the Ship

The M/C Athala

For those looking for a Galapagos adventure cruise in style, the 16-passenger Athala II provides a cozy small yacht atmosphere, comfortable accommodations, personalized service, a dedicated cruise director, and more.

This Motor Catamaran was specifically designed and built to cruise the Islands providing comfort and excellent stability for those looking for a Galapagos adventure cruise in style.

Capacity: 16 passengers
Length: 98 feet / 30 mts
Draft: 4.6 feet / 1.40 mts
Gross tonnage: 320 tons
Cruising Speed: 12 knots
Crew: 10 + 1 naturalist bilingual guide

Cruise Costs:
Prices are per person, for 8-day Cruise only.
Please see below for additional costs.

2014 Rates*:

Upper deck cabin:  $5,200 per person, double occupancy
Main deck cabin with balcony: $5,400 per person, double occupancy
Single supplement is assessed as follows: 1.5 x the twin rate

*Note:
Children 7 years and older are welcome
Children under 12 sharing a cabin with an adult will receive a 25% discount on cruise (only 1 discount per cabin) except on Easter, Christmas and New Years cruises
Children booked in double cabin for a single use pay the adult rate

Additional costs:
$110 National Park entry fee & tourist card

$560 Quito/Galapagos/Quito airfare

Hotel packages: hotel 3 nights, transfers & city tour or hotel 2 nights and transfers; inquire for costs

International airfare estimate: $1000-$1200

Fuel Surcharge may apply

2013 Fuel Surcharge is $200 per person

 

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
3
Luxury motor catamaran, comfortable hotels
Group Size:
16
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
Walking and hikes, some over rough terrain, wet and dry shore landings from Zodiacs

Terms & Conditions: 

Galapagos Cruise

Please note that this trip operates under different payment and cancellation policies than those described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, English speaking guides, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation & check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), park or site entry fees, transit card, international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, fuel surcharges, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: For reservations requiring 1-2 cabins, a deposit of 30% of the cabin cost is due per person. Balance is due 90 days prior to departure. For reservations requiring 3 or more cabins, a deposit of 30% of the cabin cost is due per person. A second deposit of 30% of the cabin cost is due per person 180 days prior to departure and final payment for is due 90 days prior to departure. All payments are NON-REFUNDABLE. All payments are subject to cancellation if payments are not received by the due dates. Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. All payments may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail or via our website.  *HOLIDAY departures require an increased deposit of 40% from the regular terms and conditions.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Airfares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Amazon Rainforest Lodge

Duration: 4 days

Explore the rainforest habitats accompanied by native guides while staying at a charming lodge, designed to offer comfort while preserving the environment and ambiance of the rainforest.

Otavalo Off the Beaten Path

Duration: 3 days

This in-depth exploration of the scenic area north of Quito, including a trip to the famous Otavalo market, as well as visits to some of the smaller towns known for a variety of crafts.

Machu Picchu

Duration: 6 days

This short trip to Machu Picchu can be easily combined with your trip to the Amazon, Ecuador, or the Galapagos. Many major South American cities have daily flights to and from Lima.

Quito Colonial City and the Equator

Duration: 1 days

Enjoy a day exploring the city of Quito before or after your Journeys trip.

Avenue of the Volcanoes

Duration: 3 days

In three days, you can visit some of the most important sites in Ecuador. Cotopaxi is the highest active volcano in the world, and Tungurahua has been erupting since 2001. The route is full of cultural, ethnic, and architectural attractions, along wi... read more

Guayaquil City & Optional Tours

Duration: 1 days

Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city, and with its low elevation and coastal location, it is an ideal point to fly to and from Galapagos. Options include a tour of the city and the Botanical Gardens or the new Historical Park.

Cloud Forest

Duration: 1 days

Escape to a cloud forest paradise. Bellavista is a perfect day trip to see the subtropical rainforest during your stay in Quito. Why spend a spare day in the city when you could be hiking in a forest reserve, or relaxing in a hammock admiring the hum... read more

Otavalo Market

Duration: 1 days

Otavalo market is the oldest, best-known, and most important Indian market in South America, and it takes place every Saturday.  This extension allows you to visit the market, traveling from Quito via Calderón and Cayambe, and passing by some of th... read more

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