The M/V Nortada was completely rebuilt and refitted as a private live-aboard charter boat for small groups of up to 8 divers, starting operations as a scuba-diving live-aboard vessel for private charters in the Galapagos Islands in February 2015. In addition to the up to 20 dives, the trip includes a total of three (3) land visits and Galapagos trekking excursions. The 8-passenger M/V Nortada live-aboard diving ship offers an 8-day/7-night Galapagos diving tour that includes the world famous diving sites of the Wolf and Darwin islands. In addition to the up to 20 dives, the trip includes a total of three (3) land visits/Galapagos trekking excursions. Some of the specialized features that the Nortada offers her clients include a full re-breather and technical diving support, photo and video oriented departures, citizen science programs maintained in partnership by leading research institutions, and private celebrity expeditions.
“The Samba cruise anyway was great, good boat, good food, amazing guide and friendly staff.”
AM: In the morning, you will fly from Quito or Guayaquil (on the Ecuadorian mainland) to Baltra Island, which is in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago and the main point of entrance to this natural paradise. Upon your arrival at the airport, you will need to pay the national park entry fee ($100 USD), which goes to protecting both the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve. A member of the ship's crew will then welcome you and accompany you to your diving yacht: the M/Y Nortada.
PM: We will stop for lunch in the charming port town of Puerto Ayora, which – with more than 20,000 inhabitants – is the most populous human settlement in the Galapagos Islands. It also has the best developed infrastructure in the archipelago – with schools, hotels, restaurants, stores and clubs – and is the best place to communicate with the outside world via a number of Internet cafés and telephone offices. Later in the afternoon, this lunch stop in Puerto Ayora will be followed by a check-out dive.
AM: This morning we will head to Isabel Island’s Carrion Point, which is close to the eastern mouth of Itabaca Channel, between Baltra Island and Santa Cruz Island. You will see some almost ever-present creatures such as sea lions, Creole fish and Blue-striped sea slugs. You will also have a good chance of seeing mobula rays cruising by – sometimes in small schools. Whitetip reef sharks are also commonly sighted here. And, if you are lucky, you might see some Galapagos sharks and hammerheads sharks.
PM: We will later take dives off Baltra Island and Cousin’s Rock. Formed by volcanic tuff, the dive sites in these areas are characterized for their eroded surfaces covered by soft corals and gorgonians. Highlights include nudibranchs, frogfish, seahorses, sea lions, eagle rays and schooling fish.
AM/PM: Today will be spent off Wolf Island, which is located in the north-west of the Galapagos archipelago. Known as “The Meca of sharks,” Wolf Island usually offers divers the chance to swim alongside several species of sharks, dolphins, turtles, eagle rays and colorful schools of fishes. Wolf also provides an opportunity to explore the erosion underwater caverns and tunnels. Although 40 meter deep, anchoring there is a great place to observe Galapagos red-lipped batfish and it is a popular site for night diving. Meals are scheduled around diving, usually with one dive before breakfast and one dive after lunch.
AM/PM: Today we will spend a full day of diving off Darwin Island, which is considered as one of the world’s best places to dive. Divers are usually able to see several species of sharks, dolphins, turtles, eagle rays and colorful schools of fishes. Schooling hammer head sharks and whale sharks are the highlights of dives at Darwin’s Arch. Meals are scheduled around diving, usually with one dive before breakfast and one dive after lunch.
AM/PM: We will return to Wolf Island for another full day of diving. Up to 4 dives during the day at Punta Shark Bay, El Derrumbe, Islote La Ventana and La Banana.
AM: This morning’s dives will be at Cape Marshall, located on the northeast side of Isabela Island. Its volcanic walls are sparsely covered with black coral bushes, and from January to May divers usually enjoy encounters with Giant Mantas and large schools of fish; these include the endemic black-stripped Salema, whitetip reef sharks, Galapagos sharks and some species of rays, eels and large groupers.
PM: This afternoon we will dive in an area at the “mouth” of the head of the sea horse that forms the northern part of Isabela Island is Punta Vicente Roca, an interesting rock formation. Here, the remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves, with a bay that’s well-protected from the ocean swells. The upwelling of currents of cool water in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life, which is why Punta Vicente Roca is such a great area for diving.
AM: Cabo (Cape) Marshall is located on the Northeast side of Isabela Island. Depth can be over 40 meters (130+ feet) and visibility varies from 6-21 meters (20-70 feet) depending on the time of the year. Current is moderate to heavy and always a drift dive along the coast. Surge can be moderate in the shallows but imperceptible in general. Cape Marshall is a wall dive and a good place for observing Giant Manta rays, mobulas and pelagic fish
PM: Lunch and additional dives will take place at Puerto Coca and Ciudad de las Mantas (“Manta City”).
AM: This morning we will head for one of the most visited spots in the islands. Located on Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station is primarily an international scientific research station situated on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. You will be taken to its visitor center to learn about the geology, climate, natural history and the conservation of the Galapagos Islands. However, the highlight of your visit here will undoubtedly be the research facility’s Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center, which breeds giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles can live up to 150 years and weigh between 250 and 300 kg. Approaching them in their humid and forested spaces is always an inspiring adventure. For decades, the Fausto Center was home to “Lonesome George,” who finally died in 2012 as the last of his particular species. The tortoises you will see here are accustomed to humans, so it’s an excellent spot for visitors to take photographs with them. Remember that looking at the animals is allowed, but touching is not; and it’s absolutely forbidden to jump over the walls or open the pen doors at any time.
Concluding this amazing experience in the Galapagos Islands, you will be transferred to the Baltra Island airport for your return flight to the Ecuadorian mainland. Enjoy your last look back at the “enchanted islands,” a unique paradise with inspiring natural wonders.
|Double||Jan 1 - May 30 2017||US$ 4,595|
|Jun 1 - Jan 1 2018||US$ 5,595|
“I enjoyed the scenery and the exotic wildlife on the islands very much. The airport transfers in both directions went smoothly and the service on board was very good.”