A guide will be waiting to escort you to the boat for check-in, a short briefing, and then lunch. After this the first excursion to Sombrero chino begins takes you to a small islet near the southeastern coast of Santiago Island. In english, Sombrero Chino translates to 'Chinese Hat' which is represented by the unique shape of the island. This is a great island for seeing unique geological formations as well as an abundance of various marine species including the colorful Sally Lightfoot Crab and sea lions. Keep an eye out for the many species of Darwin's finches as well.
Cerro Dragon was named after the large population of land iguanas that were found here in 1975. Behind the beach, hike to a salt water lagoon that is frequented by an abundance of stilts, pintail ducks, and sometimes flamingos. A short walk further takes you to see the nesting site for the land iguana. Also enjoy a breathtaking view of the bay. Enjoy some swimming before heading to Rabida Island for some more beach activities, snorkeling, and kayaking. Rabida is covered in red volcanic rocks and has a beautiful and unique red sand beach. This is a great area to encounter sea lions and view pelican nesting sites.
Isabela Island is the largest of the archipelago, formed by five volcanoes. It's also the youngest of the islands. Puerto Villamil is a friendly port and will be your home-base during a diverse and exciting day where choices for adventure and relaxation abound. Visit the Tortoise Breeding Center where visitors and locals are educated on the importance of the giant tortoise. This is also a facility that helps protect the giant tortoise in its first years. Located south of Isabela Island are the Wetlands which consists of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves. This is an excellent location for viewing various bird species.
Travel to Floreana to visit Post Office Bay, where an a wooden barrel was placed by 18th century whalers as an unofficial post office. The tradition has continued to this day, and travelers can leave addressed postcards and sort through the barrel for postcards close to their homes. Then spend some time enjoying some relaxing snorkeling or kayaking around the island. If you are feeling adventurous, make a visit to the lava tunnel which has been kept untouched and completely natural. In the afternoon, set sail for Cormorant Point which features a large flamingo lagoon. The beach here is known as the 'Green Beach' due to its green color created by the high number of olivine crystals in the sand.
Cerro Brujo is an excellent place for enjoying the beach and snorkeling. This gorgeous beach is home to many playful sea lions. This is also the location where Charles Darwin first stepped in this archipelago. The next excursion is to Isla Lobos which is named after a large colony of sea lions. Get up close and personal with playful sea lions when snorkeling. They love to swim with people. Other great sites to see are the amazing Blue-Footed Boobies, Frigates, and have the chance to see the Fur Sea Lion as well.
Enjoy a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station where you will gain insight into the efforts being made to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Encounter tortoises of different subspecies that are being prepared for reintroduction to their natural habitats. Then there will be a short drive to the green highlands of Santa Cruz, where you will visit a tortoise reserve to search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings.
Punta Suárez 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 Española marine iguanas bask in the sun. Further inland, Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest near the trail, Galapagos doves peck around unaware
of visitors and finches go about their day to day business. The trail continues towards a blowhole, which is a fissure in the lava where water spurts high into the air resembling a geyser. Swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds make their homes in the many cracks of the cliff. Further up the cliff you will find waved albatrosses nesting. The 15,000 to 17,000 pairs of albatrosses on Española represent almost the entire population of this species on the planet. They perform one of the most spectacular courtship rituals of the animal world.
Gardner Bay offers the chance to enjoy a beautiful white sandy beach that is home to one of the most important colonies of sea lions. It is also a nesting site for sea turtles. Throughout the afternoon there are opportunities for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking.
Mosquera is a tiny islet that is home to a huge population of sea lions and as well as many shorebirds. While at Mosquera, keep your eyes peeled as there are occasional reports of dolphins and orcas swimming through these waters.
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. Look for the low-lying pioneer plant, locally known as “mollugo”, as well as the lava cactus.
Bartolome is a small island where you can enjoy some relaxed snorkeling 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 and 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 and large land iguanas. The giant tortoises which like to feed within the site’s dense vegetation can also be seen here.
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 that came to the island. This is a practice that is now forbidden. 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 the incredible view of the whole cove and Darwin Lake.
The brisk hike is followed by kayaking or a panga ride. Witness large numbers 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 species of the Galapagos 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. If you prefer not to snorkel, 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 a variety of invertebrate organisms, including sea urchins, octopus, and starfish. Also get a change to see marine iguanas, finches, oyster catchers, and with luck, the Galapagos Hawk. Then head 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 unique landscape. Keep an eye out for the Galapagos Hawk as well as Darwin’s finches. The beach here is also an important site for nesting marine turtles.
The Charles Darwin Research Station is a tortoise breeding center where you can encounter tortoises of different subspecies which are prepared here for reintroduction to their natural habitats. Newly hatched tortoises average 3 inches long, while the adults can reach over 4 feet. Stretch out your hand and interact with these gentle giants.
Genovesa is the northernmost island that is allowed to be visited by non-diving cruises. This is an extremely remote island and is the home to millions of birds belonging to many different species. Amongst the many species, the red-footed booby as well as frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, and endemic owls are included.
El Barranco, also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, is a steep path with stairs carved into the rock leading up 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 have the opportunity to spot a short-eared lava owl.
North Seymour is located slightly in the north of Baltra. This is a low, flat island, formed as a result of submarine lava formation uplift. It is covered with low, bushy vegetation that contains the largest colony of magnificent frigatebirds in the Galapagos. There is also a large population of blue-footed boobies in this area that perform an amusing courtship dance when nesting conditions are right. Then transfer to Baltra airport for departure back to the mainland.