Arrive at the airport in Baltra and be escorted to the boat for check-in and a quick introductory briefing. Then continue on to North Seymour for the rest of the day. North Seymour is a perfect introduction to the Galapagos Islands. Fauna abounds and you will soon find yourself surrounded by frigates and blue footed boobies. Keep an eye out for land iguanas and sea lions too.
Head out to South Plaza Island which although it is quite small, it is actually 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 as its color is a greenish-yellowish during the rainy season and a bright red during the dry season. Also have the chance to see Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and other kinds of sea birds as well as various types of finches.
The island of Santa Fe was formed by uplifting, rather than by a volcano. Some of the island’s endemic species include the Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Snake, rice rats, different types of finches, and the Galapagos Mockingbird. This visit includes a nice hike past salt bushes where Galapagos hawks and Santa Fe land iguanas tend to wander. Friendly and playful sea lions may 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. It is so unique and beautiful it is definitely worth the effort. Watch out for the Red-Footed Boobies nesting in the cliffs. After this power hike, enjoy the opportunity to kayaking, snorkeling or take a panga ride.
Disembark at Cerro Brujo for an excursion, kayaking, snorkeling & panga ride. This area has a fantastic landscape as well as wonderful swimming, snorkeling and panga ride experiences. Cerro Brujo’s breathtaking beach is also home to an abundance of sea lions. This is also the first coast where Charles Darwin first stepped foot on the Archipelago!
Floreana is one of the Galapagos most famous islands due to many unique stories about past settlers. Post Office Bay is home to a unique “post office” influenced by 18th century pirates and buccaneers who used a wooden barrel as an unofficial mail box. Continue the tradition by leaving addressed postcards in the barrel and sorting through left mail to deliver at home. Floreana is also a magnificent site for swimming and kayaking. For the more adventurous guests, there is an option to visit the inside of a lava tunnel. Watch your step because this tunnel has been kept untouched and completely natural over these many years.
Enjoy snorkeling or a panga ride at Champion Islet followed by an excursion to Punta Cormorant. 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. Bring binoculars so you can see these incredible creatures up close. Prior to the excursions, you will also have an opportunity to enjoy a relaxing snorkeling trip at Champion Islet.
One of the furthest points of the Galapagos that will be visited on this cruise is Elizabeth Bay. Enter a sheltered cove accessible by panga only. 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 whole observing and learning about different types of lava and pioneer plants. In the tide pools, have a chance to spot green sea turtles and possibly white-tip sharks. Afterwards, head out on a panga ride along the striking rocky shores. Have an opportunity to observe penguins, sea lions, blue footed boobies, and marine iguanas.
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. Here you can view the tortoises at many stages of life. Newly hatched tortoises average 3 inches long, while the adults can reach over 4 feet. This research station helps prepare these incredible creatures for reintroduction into their natural environment.
After the visit we drive to the green highlands of Santa Cruz, where you will visit a tortoise reserve. Take some time and search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings. This is a leisurely afternoon.
Gardner Bay offers the chance to enjoy a breathtaking white sandy beach. This is the home to one of the most important colonies of sea lions as well as a nesting site for sea turtles. Throughout the morning there are many opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking.
One of the most popular and attractive sites in the Galapagos is Punta Suarez. Espanola is very isolated from the other islands allowing it to have a high proportion of endemic fauna. Right off the landing site, view groups of Española marine iguanas basking in the sun. Further inland, Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest near the trail. Watch as Galapagos doves peck around and finches go about their day to day business unaware of visitors. Further down the trail there is 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 find their homes in the cracks of the cliffs. Further up the cliff in an area of low-lying trees you will find a nesting site for the albatross. The 15,000 to 17,000 pairs of albatrosses on Española represent almost the entire population of this species on the planet. Have a chance to see them perform one of the most spectacular courtship rituals of the animal world.
Mosquera Islet is a tiny islet, which is actually home to a huge population of sea lions. Here you will also have the chance to view many different types of shorebirds. While at Mosquera, keep your eyes peeled as there are occasional reports of dolphins and orcas. Disembark for the airport and return to the mainland.
Rábida is a small island with red volcanic rocks surrounding a beautiful red sand beach. Here there is a colony of sea lions and a pelican nesting site. The trail 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, or if you prefer to kayak or take a panga ride, that is also available.
Puerto Egas (James Bay) is located on the northwest side of Santiago Island. The landing is on a black beach with eroded rock formations surrounding it. The trail crosses the dry interior where you will pass the remains of a salt mining enterprise and then continues along the coast. Tidal pools are home to an abandant 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. There is a trail that leads to the Fur Sea Lion Grottos, one of the only places in the islands where the Fur Sea Lion can be viewed.
After the walk, take some time to swim or snorkel. This will allow you the chance to see sea lions, various fish, and possibly turtles, rays, and reef sharks.
Tagus Cove was historically used as an anchoring place for pirates, buccaneers, and whalers. They would paint the names of their ships on the high ridges, a practice that is now forbidden. There are the name of hundreds of ships left on these walls. Take a hike through an area of vegetation and the volcanic landscape of Darwin volcano. At the top of the trail, you will enjoy an incredible view of the whole cove and Darwin Lake.
The early morning activity is followed by kayaking or a panga ride. This will give you the opportunity to see a large number of blue-footed boobies perched on the ledges of the cliffs. Also enjoy the chance to see marine iguanas, penguins, brown pelicans, brown noddy terns, and swallow-tailed gulls. While exploring the channel between Fernandina and Isabela Islands, an encounter with dolphins and whales is sometimes possible.
Fernandina Island is one of the most pristine and dynamic ecosystems in the entire world. La Cumbre Volcano last erupted in April 2009 and its lava flows dominate the landscape here all the way to the ocean. Punta Espinoza is a narrow piece of land where some of the most unique Galapagos species can be seen. These include the flightless cormorant, Galapagos snakes, marine iguanas, penguins and the Galapagos hawk.
Located in Western Isabela, Urbina bay is at the foot of Alcedo volcano. After a wet landing on a breathtaking black-sand beach, you may be able to observe sea turtle nesting sites. This area is also known for penguin and flightless cormorant sightings as well. It is also one of the best places to see Darwin’s finches and large land iguanas. Keep an eye out for Galapagos tortoises while on this excursion. They like to feed within the site’s dense vegetation.
Punta Vicente Roca is a fantastic snorkeling site, where you can usually see turtles as well as several varieties of fish. For those who do not snorkel, a panga ride will give you the opportunity to study some of the Galapagos’ spectacular geological rock formations. Nazca boobies, pelicans, swallow-tailed gulls, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants and penguins are often seen in the area
Enjoy another visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here you can view the tortoises at many stages of life from measuring just three inches long up to four feet. These great efforts help prepare these tortoises for reintroduction back into their natural habitat. Stretch out a hand to these friendly creatures.
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.
Darwin Bay’s soft, coralline white sand is only the beginning of this next spectacular excursion. A trail from the beach immerses you into lush mangroves where red-footed boobies nest. Other locals inhabitants include sea lions, swallow-tail gulls, frigates, and more. Snorkeling is a must here as sharks, colorful reef fish, rays and tortoises are common.
Bartolome is a small island with has two visitor sites. Snorkel around Pinnacle Rock at the first where penguins are usually seen. Then take a short dinghy ride to a dry landing for a nice climb to the highest point on the island. Encounter different volcanic formations, including spatter and tuff cones, lava flow, and lava tubes and your way up. At the summit there is a wonderful view of Sullivan Bay. There is the option of enjoying a panga ride instead of taking the hike. This will include a chance to see sea lions, pioneer plants, reef sharks, rays, and colorful reef fish.
The name Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) comes from the fact that it was one of the few sites on Santa Cruz Island where a very large population of land iguanas were found. Take a hike to a salt water lagoon behind the beach that is frequented by common stilts, pintail ducks, and occasionally flamingos. A short walk up the hill leads you to a land iguana nesting site. Also enjoy breathtaking views of the bay. Have an opportunity to enjoy a nice swim after the walk.
Las Bachas Beach is located in the north of Santa Cruz Island and has incredible soft, white sand that is derived from decomposed coral. This makes this area a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind the beach there is a small slightly salty lagoon. Here it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. Disembark to the airport and head back to the mainland.