Arrive in San Cristobal where a guide will be waiting to meet you and transfer you to the ship. The first excursion of the trip starts at the Galapagos National Park Interpretation Center provides a complete history of the Galapagos, primarily focusing on its volcanic origins to the present. Tijeretas Hill provides an excellent location to view the bay and the surrounding areas of San Cristobal. Have the chance to observe the magnificent and great frigate birds that wander this area.
Observe unique colonies of marine birds, including albatross, while exploring the stunning landscape of Punta Suarez. Espanola is very isolated from the other islands allowing it to have a high proportion of endemic fauna. Make friends with the whimsical sea lions that inhabit the beach at Gardner Bay. This location is also an important nesting area for sea turtles. Further inland, Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest near the trail and Galapagos doves peck around and finches go about their day to day business unaware of visitors. Further down the trail there is a blowhole, a fissure in the lava where water spurts high into the air resembling a geyser.
One of the Galapagos most famous islands due to many unique stories about past settlers is Floreana. Post Office Bay is home to a unique “post office” which was a wooden barrel that was used as an unofficial mail box in 18th century by whalers and other frequenters of the island. The tradition of this unique feature is to leave a postcard in the barrel and grab another to mail when you get home. Floreana is also a magnificent site for swimming and kayaking, or climbing down into lava tunnels and exploring the inner workings of this island. Watch your step because this tunnel has been kept untouched and completely natural over these many years. Punta Cormorant is a great site for bird-watching. Cormorant Point has a large lagoon where an array of species including flamingos, stilts, and pintail ducks tend to wander.
Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos and the only island where six different vegetation zones can be seen. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic center of Santa Cruz Island from tourism, fishing, boat building and commerce. Santa Cruz is also the center of the archipelago, and has the largest population of the four inhabited islands. A trip to the lush greenery of the Santa Cruz highlands offers a welcome contrast with the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands. You will get a chance to see enormous pit craters, lava tunnels and giant tortoises roaming freely.
Isabela Island is the largest of the archipelago, formed by five volcanoes, as well as the youngest of the islands. Located south of Isabela Island are the Wetlands which consists of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves. There are paths that wind through the swamps and are excellent for viewing various bird species including common stilts, whimbrels, white-cheeked pintails, and gallinules. 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 and prepare them for survival in their natural environment.
Elizabeth Bay consists of several islets and is on the western side of Isabela. This is a wonderful mangrove ecosystem that is a refuge for sea turtles, rays, blue-footed boobies, penguins, herons, and more. Moreno Point is located just southwest of Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island. Surround yourself by some of the most magnificent scenery while observing different types of lava and pioneer plants. In the tide pools, have a chance to spot green sea turtles and possibly white-tip sharks. This area is made of up rocky shores that are great for observing penguins, sea lions, blue footed boobies, and marine iguanas.
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. With some luck, you might spot the giant tortoises which like to feed within the site’s dense vegetation.
Tangus Cove was a main hub for pirates, buccaneers, and whalers to use. The high ridges are covered with the painted 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.
One of the most pristine and dynamic ecosystems in the entire world is Fernandina Island. The lava fields from the eruption of La Cumbre in 2009 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. A panga ride allows for the 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. A wonderful snorkeling site that would be tested out is Punta Vicente Roca. Here you can usually see turtles and various types of fish.
Admire the red volcanic rocks surrounding a beautiful red sand beach that is home to a colony of sea lions and a pelican nesting site on the island of Rábida. Follow the trail that leads to a salt water lagoon where you can view various types of shore birds. Rábida is considered to be one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos Islands, so enjoy the opportunity to go snorkel. Puerto Egas (James Bay) is located on the northwest side of Santiago Island and is home to a black sand beach with eroded rock formations surrounding it. The trail crosses the dry interior where you will pass the remnants of a salt mine and tidal pools that are home to an abundant variety of invertebrate organisms including sea urchins, octopus, and starfish. Have the chance to also see marine iguanas, finches, oyster catchers, and possibly the Galapagos Hawk. At the end of the trail is one of the only places in the islands where the Fur Sea Lions can be viewed.
Start the day with a trip to Chinese Hat (Sombrero Chino), a small island off the coast of Santiago Island. It got its name from its unique shape that resembles traditional Chinese hat. Here you can observe Galapagos penguins, eagle rays, sea lions, and marine iguanas on the rocky shoreline. This is an excellent snorkeling site so enjoy some time for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking.
While on a visit to the island of Bartolome, enjoy some superb Snorkeling around Pinnacle Rock where penguins are usually seen. From the highest point on the island, encounter different volcanic formations, including spatter and tuff cones, lava flow, and lava tubes on your way up. At the summit there is a wonderful view of Sullivan Bay. There are opportunities to see sea lions, pioneer plants, reef sharks, rays, and colorful reef fish while touring the island.
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 frigate birds in the Galapagos. The male frigate will inflate its amazing red gular pouch in an attempt to attract a mate. There is also a large population of blue-footed boobies in this area that perform an amusing courtship dance when nesting conditions are right.
Genovesa, also know as Tower Island, is the northernmost island in the archipelago that is allowed to be visited by non-diving cruises making it extremely remote and home to literally millions of birds belonging to many different species. Have the chance to see the red-footed booby as well as frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, and even endemic owls. El Barranco, also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, is a steep path with stairs carved into the rock that leads to a plateau with an abundance of bird life amongst a Palo Santo forest. The inhabitants are abundant and amongst there species the Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, petrels, and, with a little luck, the short-eared lava owl. Darwin Bay is home to a stunning coralline beach that is perfect for a relaxing stroll. A trail from the beach immerses you into lush mangroves where red-footed boobies nest, and there are multiple opportunities to enjoy the other local inhabitants that roam this area including sea lions, swallow-tail gulls, frigates, and more. Snorkeling is a must here as sharks, colorful reef fish, rays, and tortoises are common.
Despite South Plaza Island's small size, it is home to a large Opuntia cacti forest, land iguanas, and one of the largest sea lion colonies in the central region of the archipelago. Sesuvium is an endemic plant that inhabits this island and is a great climate indicator in that it changes colors with the seasons. Greenish-yellowish during the rainy season and a bright red during the dry season. This vegetation makes a nice home for Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and other kinds of sea birds as well as various types of finches. Santa Fe was uniquely formed by an uplifting rather than by a volcano and is home to endemic species including the Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Snake, rice rats, different types of finches, and the Galapagos Mockingbird. Wander around the island to see salt bushes where Galapagos hawks and Santa Fe land iguanas tend to wander. Enjoy the company of friendly and playful sea lions as they accompany you during your snorkeling activities.
Enjoy an excursion to Punta Pitt which is located on the eastern tip of San Cristobal Island. Take a hike up to a plateau to view the spectacular landscape which is so unique and beautiful it is definitely worth the effort. Watch out for the Red-Footed Boobies nesting in the cliffs. The water is great here so enjoy the opportunity for kayaking, snorkeling or swimming. Cerro Brujo’s breathtaking beach is also home to an abundance of sea lions. They are curious and extremely friendly creature that make for an awesome up close and personal experience. This is also the first coast where Charles Darwin first stepped foot on in the Archipelago!
The Galapagos Turtles Breeding Center was created to conserve the San Cristobal tortoise species. The center has the goal to educate the tourists on conservation topics and protection of the environment. This area contains native plants and giant tortoises living in their natural habitat. This is a great location to see these amazing creatures in all stages of life. Really get to know these incredible and gentle creature before you head home from this amazing adventure. The Interpretive Center is a scientific research and environmental education facility that helps with conserving the natural beauty of the Galapagos. Later, return to the airport at San Cristobal and head back to the mainland.