Set sail on Nemo I to explore the exceptional western Galapagos on this 8-day private cruise to North Seymour, Genovesa, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina, and Santiago. Walk along the white coral sandy beaches of Genovesa, a favorite island for birdwatchers. Snorkel at the foot of Pinnacle Rock, the most representative landmark of the Galapagos, with crescent sand beaches on each side and dunes with evergreen mangrove bushes in between. See the Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild in the Chato Reserve. Anchor at Santiago's James Bay and sail around the sea bird-laden volcano islet of Daphne Major. Explore the largest sea bird colonies and some of the most remote corners of the archipelago on this adventurous route with the most dramatic landscapes and unique wildlife encounters.
Look for marine iguanas and groups of Galapagos penguins in Marielas islets with your private group of up to 14 guests
Learn about Charles Darwin Research Station's conservation program
Meet North Seymour's colonies of frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies
Walk, snorkel, and kayak next to Galapagos sea lions in Darwin Bay
Upon arrival in Baltra, a naturalist guide from the Nemo I greets you and transfers you to the ferry across the Itabaca Channel. On Santa Cruz you continue by bus through the lush highlands to the harbor of Puerto Ayora. Then, take a dinghy to the yacht and head to your first stop, North Seymour Island.
On the island, enjoy the company of frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls, and sea lions as you walk along the beaches and rocky shorelines. Take a guided walk through the large seabird colonies, following a circular loop and watching as blue-footed boobies show their cute courtship rituals, in which their remarkable feet play an important role.
In the morning, walk along the white coral sandy beaches of Genovesa, a favorite island for birdwatchers, as it is home to red footed-boobies, masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, yellow warblers, whimbrels, and yellow-crowned, black-crowned, and lava herons. Darwin Bay is a compact site that shows the extremely varied coastal ecosystems of the Galapagos in miniature.
In the afternoon, explore Prince Phillip's Steps (also known as El Barranco). Here you can climb to a plateau that surrounds the eastern side of Darwin Bay as you search for red-footed boobies and masked boobies in the trees, and storm petrels and short-eared owls nesting in the lava flows. At the seaside of the rim, the bushes open up and you can enjoy wide views, a strong sea breeze, and the amazing flying skills of uncountable seabirds.
The scenic views off Bartolome are some of the most stunning in all of the Galapagos. In this morning, take time to observe volcanic cones, lunar-like craters, lava fields, and the famous Toba-formed pinnacle eroded by the sea. Then, walk to two breathtaking beaches, where you can find marine turtles and Galapagos penguins. Snorkel at the foot of Pinnacle Rock, the most representative landmark of the Galapagos, with crescent sand beaches on each side, and dunes with evergreen mangrove bushes in between.
In the afternoon, hike around the unique island called Chinese Hat. This island features unique geological features such as lava flows and lava tubes. On the west side of the island, you can even find lava formations that formed under the sea and raised upwards. Also enjoy the company of sea lion colonies, marine iguanas, and Galapagos penguins that live around the island.
After breakfast, travel by inflatable dinghy and private bus from the harbor of Puerto Ayora into the highlands. In the Chato Reserve (or a ‘tortoise farm’ in the agricultural zone) you can see Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild. The pond in the native forest reserve is the most authentic setting, but sometimes also requires an adventurous quest for these silent heavyweights. You have to listen carefully for the sound of heavy footsteps and of shrubs being slowly crushed. It is estimated that in 2015 about 32,000 tortoises lived in the wild in all the islands, most on restricted locations of Isabela.
In the afternoon, tour the Charles Darwin Research Center and learn about the biological research and indispensable conservation management of this unique archipelago. The complex houses a bunch of interpretation and information centers about the National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Discover the successful breeding center and encounter Galapagos giant tortoises.
Today, continue your journey around Isabela, starting with a journey around Punta Moreno. Walk along a trail that runs along a lava flow Pahohoe (solidified lava in the form of an accordion) into an area of coastal lagoons. As you hike around the lakes and mangroves, keep your eye out for the many bird species that live on the island. Tidal pools form natural traps and attract scavengers and hunters, such as bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs, oystercatchers, and herons. During a dinghy ride along the jagged shoreline, you can spot marine iguanas that wait patiently for their turn at the lowest tide to graze weeds on the seabed, and a breeding colony of brown pelicans in the mangroves.
In the afternoon, head back to Isabela and explore Urbina Bay. This very wide beach provides ample nesting places for iguanas, turtles, and even for Galapagos giant tortoises that descend all the way down from the Alcedo volcano in the wet season. The marine and land iguanas of Urbina Bay are the largest of the Galapagos.
Start today with visits to Punta Espinosa, Fernandina’s only terrestrial visitor's site, and one of the few locations where you can find some bizarre outgrowths of natural selection. A perfect example is the emblematic flightless cormorant that lives exclusively in the remote west of Galapagos and could be considered the ‘holy grail of evolution.' Together with its neighbor, the Galapagos penguin, these are two of the rarest and most vulnerable bird species in the world, with less than 2000 individuals each.
In the afternoon, explore Punta Vicente Roca, located at the “mouth” of Isabela’s west-facing sea horse shape. This magical place offers unique whale watching opportunities and incredible landscapes.
In the morning, walk along the black beaches of Puerto Egas, the southernmost visitor's site along James Bay. Walk through its masterly sculptured coastline of black basalts and polished multi-colored ash layers that form a photogenic scenery with collapsed lava tunnels, natural arches, caves, and blowholes. Explore a grotto at the end of the beach, where a colony of Galapagos fur seals occupies the shade, sheltering from the equatorial sun. This refuge is the very best place to see these endemic, shy, and once heavily hunted marine mammals.
In the afternoon, enjoy the sights of Espumilla Beach, an important breeding site for turtles that return year after year to bury their eggs into the cinnamon-colored sand dunes. Have a great snorkeling opportunity at Buccaneer Cove.
Day 8: Daphne | Baltra | Disembark
Spend your morning cruising around the beautiful Daphne Major, where you can view red-billed tropicbirds, Galapagos martins, short-eared owls, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, and magnificent frigatebirds. This islet also has been the location for an important multi-decade study of Darwin’s finches.
After your trip to Daphne Major, transfer to the Baltra airport for your flight back to Guayaquil or Quito.
Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!