Arrive at the airport in Baltra where you will be transferred to the boat. Check in and receive a general introductory briefing and safety drill. After lunch you will embark on your first excursion to Mosquera Island. This small inlet is home to an abundance of sea lions and a variety of shorebirds. There have been reports of dolphins and orcas roaming these waters around Mosquera so keep your eyes peeled.
Sullivan Bay is known for its spectacular volcanic formations, relatively young pahoehoe lava flows, and unique geological scenery. Due to Sullivan’s relatively recent volcanic activity, few plants have been able to take root here. Keep an eye out for the low-lying pioneer plant known locally as “mollugo” as well as the lava cactus.
Bartolome is a small island that has two visitor sites. At the first site you can snorkel around Pinnacle Rock. Penguins can usually be spotted here. Then it’s back on board for a quick change of clothes followed by a short dinghy ride to a dry landing. From here climb to the highest point on the island. On the way up, encounter different volcanic formations including spatter and tuff cones, lava flows, and lava tubes. From the summit, enjoy a wonderful view of Sullivan Bay. If the hike isn't for you, enjoy a panga ride around the island. Enjoy the unique flora and fauna of the island including sea lions, pioneer plants, reef sharks, rays and colorful reef fish.
Isabela Island was formed by five volcanoes and is the largest of the archipelago. It's also the youngest of the islands. Urbina bay is located in Western Isabela, at the foot of Alcedo volcano. Have the opportunity to observe sea turtle nesting sites as well as penguins and flightless cormorants. It is also one of the best places to see Darwin’s finches as well as large land iguanas. Be on the lookout for Galapagos tortoises which like to feed within the site’s dense vegetation.
Tagus Cove was used as an anchoring place for pirates, buccaneers, and whalers. The high ridges are painted with the names of hundreds of ships (a practice now forbidden) that came to the island. Take a hike on a trail that goes through an area of vegetation and the volcanic landscape of Darwin volcano. Once the top has been reached, enjoy an incredible view of the whole cove and Darwin Lake.
The brisk “power-hike” is followed by kayaking or a panga ride, where you will have the opportunity to see a large number of blue-footed boobies perched on the ledges of the cliffs, as well as marine iguanas, penguins, brown pelicans, brown noddy terns, and swallow-tailed gulls. Enjoy the opportunity to encounter dolphins and whales while exploring the channel between Fernandina and Isabela Island.
Fernandina Island is one of the most pristine and dynamic ecosystems in the entire world. La Cumbre Volcano last erupted in April 2009. The lava fields from this eruption stretch towards the ocean from its base and dominate the landscape. Punta Espinoza is a narrow piece of land where some of the most unique Galapagos species can be seen. Amongst these are the flightless cormorant, Galapagos snakes, marine iguanas, penguins, and the Galapagos hawk.
Punta Vicente Roca is a wonderful snorkeling site where you can usually see turtles and various types of fish. Instead of snorkeling, you can also enjoy a panga ride. This allows for an opportunity to study some of the Galapagos’ spectacular geological rock formations. In this area you can see Nazca boobies, pelicans, swallow-tailed gulls, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, and penguins.
Puerto Egas (James Bay) is located on the northwest side of Santiago Island. Here there are black beaches with eroded rock formations. Take a hike past the remains of a salt mining enterprise and then continue along the coast. Tidal pools are home to an abundance of invertebrate organisms, including sea urchins, octopus, and starfish. Also get a change to see marine iguanas, finches, oyster catchers, and possibly the Galapagos Hawk. The trail then leads to the Fur Sea Lion Grottos, one of the only places in the islands where these unique animals can be seen. Enjoy a nice swim with playful sea lions. View the abundant variety of beautiful fish and maybe see some turtles, rays, and reef sharks.
The visitors site on Espumilla Beach is on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay. The main attractions here are a Palo Santo forest, beach, and the landscape. The Palo Santo forest at Espumilla has some of the tallest of this species of tree in the entire archipelago. Also look out for the Galapagos Hawk as well as Darwin’s finches. The beach here is also an important site for nesting marine turtles.
On your visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station you will gain insight into the great efforts being made by scientists, guides, rangers, and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Encounter tortoises of different subspecies. Here these tortoises are prepared for reintroduction to their natural habitats.
After the visit, drive to the green highlands of Santa Cruz, where you will have the opportunity to visit a tortoise reserve to search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings.
Genovesa, is the northernmost island that is allowed to be visited by naturalist (non-diving) cruises. This is extremely remote island and is the home to millions of birds belonging to many different species. Amongst the many species there includes the red-footed booby as well as frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, and endemic owls.
El Barranco, also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, is a steep path with stairs carved into the rock which leads to a plateau. There is a Palo Santo forest here that is home to an abundance of bird life. Have the chance to see Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, and petrels. With some luck, you may even spot a short-eared lava owl.
Darwin Bay’s beautiful white sand is only the beginning of a incredible excursion. A trail from the beach takes you into lush mangroves where red-footed boobies nest. Many other animals make their home here including sea lions, swallow-tail gulls, frigates, and more. Enjoy fabulous snorkeling here as sharks, colorful reef fish, rays and sea turtles are common.
North Seymour may very well be the perfect way to say goodbye to the Galapagos Islands. This island is covered in arid vegetation but still is home to many unique creatures such as frigates, blue-footed boobies, land iguanas, and more.
Enjoy breakfast aboard before disembarking for the airport on Baltra Island and returning to the mainland.
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