This 5-day private cruise to the Western Islands visits some of the most remote corners of the Galapagos. Explore the wildlife-rich shores of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, and the volcanic islet of Daphne Major. Experience stunning encounters with Galapagos wildlife as you take part in adventure options such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and swimming in pristine crystal-clear waters. View the famous dance of the blue-footed boobies and see giant tortoises in their natural habitat.
Zodiac cruise along Moreno Point's shoreline and spot marine iguanas with your private group of up to 14 guests
Take a morning walk over the lava tongue of Espinoza Point in Fernandina
Look for the Galapagos penguin, one of the rarest penguin species
Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station's giant land tortoises
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, Charles Darwin Research Station.
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, venture around Isabela, starting with a journey around Moreno Point. 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 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 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 Espinosa Point, 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 the Galapagos, and could be considered as 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 seahorse 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 Bucaneer Cove.
Day 5: 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.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!