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Pinnacle rock on Bartolome

Baltra to San Cristobal

Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Silver Origin
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Instantly conjuring up images of strange and wonderful wildlife, the Galapagos islands have been topping travel wish lists for years. Embark on a 12-day cruise aboard the Silver Origin to experience the best of Galapagos. At 1,000 kilometres off mainland Ecuador, their remoteness has allowed endemic species to thrive, so expect the world’s only colony of red-footed boobies, the Galapagos Marine Iguana, and 13 types of finch. Be transported into 2021 by the best ship sailing the islands, and get ready for a great year ahead.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Baltra | Embark
Day 2 : Galapaguera Cerro Colorado | Punta Pitt
Day 3 : Gardner Bay | Punta Suarez
Day 4 : South Plaza
Day 5 : Kicker Rock
Day 6 : Isla Bartolome | Playa Espumilla
Day 7 : Punta Vicente Roca | Punta Espinoza
Day 8 : Tagus Cove | Elizabeth Bay
Day 9 : Post Office Bay | Champion Islet | Punta Cormorant
Day 10 : Cerro Dragon | Las Bachas
Day 11 : Santa Cruz Highlands
Day 12 : San Cristobal | Disembark

Highlights

  • Visit the Cerro Colorado Galapaguera to see the tortoise breeding center
  • Snorkel around Bahia Dorada in Isla Bartolome
  • Hike to Tagus Cove and see the vast wildlife

Ship

Silver Origin

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Bachas Beach
  • Baltra
  • Bartolome
  • Cerro Colorado
  • Dragon Hill
  • Eden Islet
  • Elizabeth Bay
  • Espanola
  • Espumilla Beach
  • Fernandina
  • Floreana
  • Gardner Bay
  • Highlands
  • Isabela
  • Leon Dormido
  • Post Office Bay
  • Punta Cormorant
  • Punta Espinosa
  • Punta Pitt
  • Punta Suarez
  • Punta Vicente Roca (Galapagos)
  • San Cristobal
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santiago
  • South Plaza Island
  • Tagus Cove

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Punta Cormorant, Floreana Post Office Bay, Floreana sally lightfoot crabs Colorful South Plaza Island Pinnacle rock on Bartolome Spectacular wildlife
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Day 1 Baltra | Embark

Baltra Island, also known as South Seymour, is the gateway through which most people enter and depart the Galapagos Island. Upon arrival and once through immigrations procedures, visitors are transferred directly to a nearby dock to join the ship by Zodiac. The runway was first constructed here during World War II when the island was used as a US Army Air Base. Located near the geographic center of the Galapagos, the island itself is small, flat and arid. Its dry environment hosts salt bushes, prickly pear cactus and palo santo trees, all of which support land iguanas that can occasionally be seen crossing the runway.

Just off Santa Cruz, Eden Islet offers up a thick coastal mangrove forest growing on black volcanic boulders peppered with tall prickly pear cactus. Eden is a small, eroded tuff cone from an ancient volcano, and is an excellent example of the unique geology of the Galápagos. The shallow waters around the island are ideal for spotting Pacific green sea turtles, reef sharks, eagle rays, sea lions, marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Explore by Zodiac or kayak, and watch for Brown Pelicans flying and diving to scoop up their prey, while Blue-footed Boobies enter the water like torpedoes to spear small fish. Great Blue Herons also wade in the shallows, and reflected in the water can be the subject of a perfect photo.

Day 2 Galapaguera Cerro Colorado | Punta Pitt

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The Galapaguera, i.e. tortoise (breeding) center, Cerro Colorado is located on San Cristobal’s east side, yet to get there one has to land in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the largest settlement and port on San Cristobal’s west side and also the capital of the Galapagos Islands. The center was started in 2003 and is one of two tortoise reserves on the island. The aim is to give information regarding the giant tortoises’ origin and evolution and to protect the native population on San Cristobal’s northeastern side by breeding and taking care of them at Cerro Colorado before releasing them into the wild once they have reached an age where they can fend for themselves. Approximately 16 hectares of land were fenced in to stop the tortoises from wandering off and visitors can walk along interpretive trails and see the feeding spots and the young tortoises in their holding pens based on their age. Apart from the giant tortoises, Chatham Island Mockingbirds, Darwin finches and lava lizards are found here.

On the northern shore of San Cristobal Island is a peninsula known as Punta Pitt. The point is made up of two coalesced volcanoes and is much younger than the rest of the island. Some of the lava flows are only a few centuries old. From a sandy beach Zodiac landing leads a long walk following a twisting red gravel path that runs through black basalt lava rocks, and between craggy peaks. The vegetation along the way is low and scrubby, and attractive blue-gray lichen grows on the rocks. Gaining elevation along the narrow trail will open up views of the Silver Origin sitting in a sapphire blue sea far below. If the long walk is not your cup of tea, beachcomb at the landing beach looking for sea urchin skeletons and limpet shells washed up by the tide.

Day 3 Gardner Bay | Punta Suarez

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Isla Champion is a small islet off Floreana Island’s northeast coast. To cruise by it reveals a bare, rocky island without much allure, but to enter the infinitely blue waters around this small landmass is to discover a spectacular underwater realm. The visibility is generally impressive and thanks to this water clarity snorkelers often spot reef sharks patrolling the reef wall, cruising Pacific green turtles, and playful Galapagos sea lions. Encounters in the blue with thousands of small silver minnows, large tuna fish, or oceanic sunfish are not unheard of either.

Punta Suárez lies at the western point of Española, the oldest island in the Galápagos. Sheer cliffs provide superb thermals for seabirds and you may spot Swallow-tailed Gulls, Nazca Boobies and Blue-footed Boobies on the breeze. The largest seabird to nest in the Galapagos Islands is the Waved Albatross. These ocean wanderers can be seen seasonally here from April through December, when pairs reunite on Española, going through an elaborate pair-bonding display. Mockingbirds, doves, and occasional Galápagos Hawks can also be seen on the point, along with sea lions and colorful marine iguanas.

Day 4 South Plaza

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
South Plaza is one of the two Plazas Islands next to the easternmost tip of Santa Cruz. Only South Plaza can be visited as North Plaza is used for research. Roughly one kilometer in length and less than 200 meters wide, South Plaza is one of the smallest of the Galapagos Islands. Formed by geological uplift and tilted downward on the northern side, the southern cliffs have a height of up to 23 meters. At the landing site on the northern side sea lions are often seen, but it is the flora and land iguanas that are special. The Galapagos carpet weed of the sea-purslanes family turns orange and red in the dry and cool season, contrasting with the grey and green of the prickly pear cacti standing in the landscape and the blue of the ocean. Land iguanas are often seen next to the prickly pear cacti, as the plant gives shade and the pads are eaten by the iguanas. Marine iguanas can also be found here –and as their territories overlap, even hybrids can be encountered on South Plaza. The cliffs are used for nesting by Swallow-tailed Gulls, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Audubon’s Shearwaters and Nazca Boobies.

Day 5 Kicker Rock

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Kicker Rock is the vertical remnant of a former tuff cone less than 5 kilometers to the west of San Cristobal. Both its Spanish name “Leon Dormido” (Sleeping Lion) and English name Kicker Rock imply that it is one rock only -when in fact it is a larger one 300 meters long by 100 meters wide with a maximum height of approximately 150 meters and next to it an obelisk-like rock separated by a narrow channel some 20 meters deep. When approaching Kicker Rock, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and frigatebirds can be observed in the air, while sea lions can be seen along the shore. Snorkelers and divers have reported manta rays, hammerhead sharks and turtles. The Spanish name implies that the geological formation seen from the south resembles a sleeping lion. An interesting explanation for the English name suggests that James Colnett in 1794 likened it to famous landmarks in Portsmouth.

Day 6 Isla Bartolome | Playa Espumilla

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Your ship anchors in sight of the volcanic moonscape of Isla Bartolomé, at Sullivan Bay. Zodiacs bring guests ashore to ascend a boardwalk of 388 steps. Passing through the arid volcanic landscape provides a chance to watch for lava lizards, Galapagos Hawks, and Blue-footed Boobies. However, the climber’s ultimate reward is one of the most beautiful panoramas in all of the Galapagos Islands – the view towards Pinnacle Rock with black, volcanic cones of Baltra, Daphne Major and Daphne Minor in the distance. On the way down watch how the sunlight catches the green of pioneering plant species in stark contrast against dark volcanic rock, and look forward to time swimming and snorkeling from the golden beach at Bahia Dorada.

Espumilla Beach is one of three visitor sites in James Bay, on Santiago’s northwestern shore. The sandy beach is well-liked by Pacific green turtles to lay their eggs, while marine iguanas prefer the rocks on either end of the beach. Although salt was extracted from a mine less than 5 kilometers further south, today the island is uninhabited and has been freed of introduced pigs, goats and donkeys. A seasonal lagoon immediately behind the beach is one of the sites where flamingos can often be seen. White-cheeked Pintails, Yellow Warblers and Galapagos Hawks are just some of the species of land birds found here. A trail around the lagoon and through an incense tree forest and past mangroves shows how the flora and landscape would have been before the introduction of domesticated animals.

Day 7 Punta Vicente Roca | Punta Espinoza

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Punta Vicente Roca is one of the marine sites Isabela Island has to offer. On the southern side of Ecuador Volcano, the tip of land on the western end of Isabela is named after Vicente Ramon Roca, President of Ecuador from 1845-49, who as Prefect of Guayas had proposed the Ecuadorian annexation of the Galapagos Islands in 1831. The geological formations, the underwater caves and lava tubes offer fascinating views of the coastline. The South Equatorial Countercurrent hits this part of the archipelago from the west and the water offers abundant food sources for different marine life and seabirds. It is normal to see Pacific green turtles, but sharks, rays, whales and dolphins can also be expected, apart from a small colony of fur seals. Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Brown Noddies and other seabirds nest in the cliffs and both the endemic Galapagos Penguins and Flightless Cormorants have established small colonies nearby.

Marine iguanas also like this area because of the rich variety of seaweeds growing underwater along the western coast of Isabela. As a marine site, deepwater snorkeling is also possible at Punta Vicente Roca.

With the gentle slopes of La Cumbre volcano in the distance, the low, lava-forged coast of Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island is a spectacular sight. Hundreds of marine iguanas rest on the black rock of recent lava flows absorbing heat from the stone and defending their territories against one another. Galapagos sea lions and their pups also take shelter here, resting on the beach and playing in the shallow tide pools sprinkled along the coast. Walk past high sandy areas where marine iguanas lay their eggs and along low, shallow mangrove ponds ringed with bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs and Flightless Cormorants drying their stubby wings in the sunshine.

Day 8 Tagus Cove | Elizabeth Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Tagus Cove is bordered by a steep rocky coastline and has for centuries offered shelter for ships and yachts. The cove is named after the British frigate HMS Tagus visiting the Galapagos in 1814. Already by the 1830s other ships had their visits recorded by painting or scratching their name onto the rocks. On approach Galapagos Penguins and Flightless Cormorants –both birds mainly found on Isabela’s west coast and neighboring Fernandina- are often seen. From the landing a trail through an incense tree forest leads past Darwin Lake to a viewpoint on top of a splatter cone. During the hike several land birds including Medium Ground-Finches, Galapagos Hawks, Yellow Warblers as well as Large-billed and Vermilion Flycatchers are often present. Brown Noddies and Blue-footed Boobies prefer the rocks along the shore.

Elizabeth Bay is one of the marine sites on Isabela’s west coast. South of Alcedo Volcano and north of Sierra Negra, Elizabeth Bay is found at Isabela’s narrowest east-west extension where the lava flows of these two volcanoes have connected each other. Elizabeth Bay’s shores show mangroves and specifically the easternmost part, a cove which can only be entered via a narrow channel, has red, white and black mangroves. Different animals prefer different parts of Elizabeth Bay. Las Marielas, three rocks at the entrance to the bay, are favored by Blue-footed Boobies, Flightless Cormorants and Galapagos Penguins as a resting place, while the mangrove area is preferred by Great Blue Herons for hunting or the Magnificent Frigatebirds for perching. The bay is used by turtles, rays and even sharks for feeding or resting. The shallow water and the root system of the mangroves in the small inlet allow smaller fish to hide from bigger predators.

Day 9 Post Office Bay | Champion Islet | Punta Cormorant

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Floreana’s Post Office Bay has received its name as the site was used to leave mail for retrieval by others who were thought to stop at the Galapagos Islands or might be heading for the addressee’s direction. First mentioned by Porter in 1813 as “Hathaway’s Postoffice”, HMS Beagle’s captain FitzRoy stated that it was not in use in 1835 as the island was already settled at that time. Floreana had been the first island to be settled by Ecuadorians in 1832. Today a barrel instead of the original box is used by visitors who leave their own postcards and retrieve mail for hand-delivery. Apart from the beach and mail barrel the bay offers good swimming and snorkeling. The area holds remains of a failed Norwegian fish canning plant and settlement dating back to the 1920s. A lava tube in the vicinity can also be explored. Although Floreana is inhabited, the number of residents is reduced because of the difficult access to water.

A track from Post Office Bay connects with the only road from Puerto Velazco Ibarra on the west coast to a spring in the highlands.

Champion Islet is a small islet some 700 meters off the northeast coast of Floreana. It is one of four marine sites surrounding Floreana and offers excellent deepwater snorkeling opportunities. Curious sea lions approach the snorkelers while turtles slowly swim by and sharks, sting rays, and a high diversity of colorful fishes can usually be seen. During a Zodiac cruise around Champion Islet not only seabirds such as Nazca Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, or Red-billed Tropicbirds will be seen, it is also possible to spot the rare Floreana Mockingbird.

Floreana Island’s northernmost point is called Punta Cormorant – named after the British naval vessel HMS Cormorant and dating back to the late 19th century. From the landing beach a short track leads to a shallow lagoon that is famous for its flamingos. The brilliantly pink birds skim the salty waters for shrimp and tend to chicks on the nest. The trail then scales a low hillside through scattered Palo Santo trees to reveal an idyllic white-sand beach on the other side of the point. Standing at the edge of the lapping waves, you might spot mammoth female sea turtles hauling themselves out of the sea to lay eggs in the sugar sand dunes that lay high above the tide line. Before returning to the landing site your guides may also point out White-cheeked Pintails, Blue-footed Boobies, Yellow Warblers, and Medium and Small Ground Finches.

Day 10 Cerro Dragon | Las Bachas

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Cerro Dragón’s land iguanas once played an important part in a conservation program headed by the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park. When the reptiles’ numbers declined in the 1970s, some animals were taken to breed in captivity and were released back into undeveloped areas. Today, it is an honor to see the success of this program firsthand at Cerro Dragón. Walk inland on a trail past small saltwater lagoons that periodically feature flamingos, to see the reintroduced animals. In a periodic local phenomenon, during rainier times the salinity in the lagoons drops with the inflow of freshwater. As a consequence crustacean populations decline, which in turn means the shorebirds become scarce.

Bachas Beach is found on Santa Cruz’s northern shore less than 5 kilometers west-southwest of Baltra and its former US Army Air base –both US Navy and Army had selected the island for their air base and two runways had been built. The base needed water to be brought by barges from San Cristobal. Rudimentary remains of two of the barges can still be seen in the sand. These barges, mispronounced as “bachas” by the Ecuadorians, gave the beach its name. Bachas Beach and its turquoise waters is not only an excellent site for swimming; the beach is also a preferred nesting site for Pacific green turtles on Santa Cruz –white sticks in the sand mark the many nests. Inland from the beach is a brackish lagoon where occasionally American Flamingos are seen. Marine iguanas can be seen in the water or ashore, while Sally Lightfoot crabs on the rocks give a few splashes of color.

Day 11 Santa Cruz Highlands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Los Gemelos (The Twins) is a visitor site in the Santa Cruz highlands. Found some 15 kilometers northwest of Puerto Ayora, the road leading from Puerto Ayora in the south of Santa Cruz to Itabaca in the north dissects the twin pit craters. Pit craters are formed when the roof of an underground void collapses. The smaller pit crater is on the eastern side of the road, while the larger one is on the western side. See from above, the two openings in the ground are not at all identical. Their layout might imply an elongated magma chamber or a lava tube leading further west and the larger twin actually having formerly been two small pit craters whose connecting wall collapsed as well. Trails through a Scalesia forest not only give access to good views of the pit craters, but also permit to observe some of the smaller land birds.

Vermilion Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers, Galapagos Doves, Medium Ground Finches and several other finch species can often be seen there.

Day 12 San Cristobal | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Origin for your return flight from San Cristobal Airport.
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Notes

Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity, and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.

Included in your cruise fare:
  • Personalised service – the best crew-to-guest ratio in cruising
  • Butler service in every suite and stateroom – all guests are pampered equally
  • Open-seating dining options – dine when and with whomever you please
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship – including champagne, select wines and spirits
  • Enrichment lectures by a highly qualified Expeditions Team
  • Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team
  • Gratuities always included in your fare
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
Not included in your cruise fare:
  • Additional Airfare 
  • Optional hotel accommodation
  • Fuel surcharges
  • Optional shore excursions 
  • Meals ashore
  • Accommodation while ashore
  • Security surcharges 
  • Any item or service of a personal nature such as casino gaming, laundry or valet services, purchases from the ship boutiques, childcare services aboard ship, massages, spa treatments, private fitness instruction, hair styling and manicures.
  • Some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars are not included in your fare.

Child Discount

Children under 12 may receive discounts on Galapagos flight fares and entrance fees. Contact us for details.

Included

  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners
  • 11 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Professional, bilingual guide service as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed

Excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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