Day 1 Baltra | Embark | Santa Cruz Island
Start the day in Puerto Ayora, where you may visit the world famous Charles Darwin Station as well as the giant tortoise rearing center "Fausto LLerena ". This is one of the best places to see giant tortoises, including the place where Lonesome George used to live in the Galapagos National Park center. Here, find baby, hand-sized tortoises, between the ages of one and five years old, and marvel at how they achieve such large sizes as adults (500 lbs or more!). Galapagos tortoises are believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years, so the young ones have a long life ahead of them as long as they receive the protection they need.
Santa Cruz Island is home to the largest town and economic center of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. In this portside town you can buy souvenirs (postcards, t-shirts, books, etc.) of the islands. Check out the unique Galapagos handicrafts at the local market. After shopping in Puerto Ayora and lunch on the boat (guests may dine in town if they desire), explore the highlands or “ parte alta ” of the island, which is a moisture-rich area with fertile volcanic soils. Learn about the vegetation and animal life of this zone, often strikingly different than that found at lower elevations.
Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, and bright red vermillion flycatchers fly in and out of the moss-covered trees. From this high vantage point, be treated to beautiful views of the surrounding archipelago.
Day 2 Floreana
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Start your day on Floreana, one of the larger islands in the archipelago. Ask your guide to tell you about its mysterious and interesting human history of the island, from its first human settlers to the actual population.
Your first stop is Punta Cormorant. Here you can follow a footpath to a lagoon inhabited by flaming-pink flamingos. At the end of the road, head to a white sand beach which is a green sea turtle nesting area and a superb spot for watching sea birds and sea rays.
Back on the yacht, skirt the island’s coast until you arrive at La Corona del Diablo or the Devil’s Crown, a sub-marine crater that offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the Galapagos. This is a great spot for seeing the wide array of tropical fish, many endemic to the islands, including purple sea stars and spiky sea urchins. The crater’s most thrilling undersea creatures, however, are the white-tipped sharks. As with most of the creatures in the Galapagos they are unperturbed by your presence, so you can swim in their company freely and fearlessly.
After returning to the boat for lunch move on to Post Office Bay, where the island's original post office (really only a wooden barrel) was established around 1793. The current system still functions as it did three centuries ago: visitors drop off unstamped letters and postcards AND pick-up whatever mail they can hand deliver themselves when they return home!
Day 3 Espanola
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Espanola is one of the most magical of all the islands. As your dingy brings you to shore see sea lion pups sunbathing with marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies nesting in between, and nearby may be a Galapagos hawk. If it is booby mating season watch the bonded pairs do the infamous booby dance (if it’s not mating season, ask your guide to demonstrate - after all it’s their job to teach you about the local fauna!).
As you follow the footpath around the island, pass hundreds of blue-footed booby nesting sites including one colony of masked boobies. There is a good chance you see the thief-like frigatebird (which has the habit of stealing other bird's food), as well as the stunning red-billed tropicbird and the nocturnal swallow-tailed gull. If it is the right time of the year (mid-April to December) you can also encounter the giant waved albatross. Apart from a few pairs that breed on Isla de Plata, off the Ecuadorian mainland, all of the world’s 12,000 waved albatross breed on Espanola Island. At the end of the breeding season, the entire population leaves the island and heads out to sea, where they spend years without touching land; four or five years may pass before the fledglings return to Espanola.
As you make your way around the island pass by El Soplador, a giant blowhole that explodes to heights reaching 25 feet. In the nearby tide pools you can often find lounging sea lions enjoying the blowhole’s misty spray. Following lunch on board the yacht, visit Garner Bay, a great place for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. Lionfish, flycatchers, and Galapagos hawks keep you company as you relax under the rays of the evening sun. Dinner on the yacht completes your day.
Day 4 San Cristobal | Disembark
Arrive early in the morning to San Cristobal, the capital of the Galapagos. The first site is Kicker Rock or Leon Dormido, a volcanic tuff cone that has been eroded by the wind and marine currents giving it the shape from the distance of a sleeping sea lion. This site is now home to blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds amongst many others, which have turned this area into their nesting site. After navigating around Kicker Rock continue on to the Interpretation Center in Puerto Baquerizo, the local branch of the Galapagos National Park Service, where your guide explains the formation of the islands and how the flora and fauna arrived and were established in Galapagos. Visit the corrals where there are several species of giant tortoises under the care of the National Park Service. Before taking the flight back to the mainland you have some time to visit the town on your own for last minute shopping or people watching in the Galapagos.