Take an epic cruise around the Galapagos on the highly-rated yet affordable Aida Maria yacht. This trip includes stops to some of the most exciting places in the Galapagos like Rabida, Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Fe. Get a close up look at sea lions, rays, tortoises, blue footed boobies, frigatebirds, and turtles. Enjoy the adventure of snorkeling around Devil's Crown, visiting the Wall of Tears, and hiking to the Sierra Negra volcano on this 15-day tour.
Visit a flamingo lagoon in Punta Cormorant
Snorkel with tropical fish and white-tipped sharks
Arrive in Baltra and your bilingual naturalist guide greets you at the airport. During lunch you are introduced to the islands, flora, and fauna that you can encounter at Las Bachas Beach.
The white sand beaches of Las Bachas give you a closer look at the sea turtle nesting area as well as pink flamingos and other migratory birds. Take a swim in the Pacific Ocean and then enjoy a welcome dinner aboard the ship.
Disembark at Genovesa "Tower" Island and anchor at Darwin Bay. Take a walk and witness several swallow-tailed gulls. On your way back from the beach see a variety of Opuntia cactus and mangroves. Tower is an outpost for many sea birds. There are almost no land reptiles except for the marine iguanas.
Visit El Barranco during the afternoon and then return to the boat for dinner.
Explore Bartolome and climb to the highest point for one of the most photographed vistas in the archipelago. The island is fairly young and quite volcanic so only a handful of plant and animal species call it home.
Visit nearby Sullivan Bay and admire the lava flow.
Arrive at Black Turtle Cove, a red mangrove lagoon on Santa Cruz. Be on the lookout for white-tip reef sharks, golden rays, spotted eagle rays, scalloped hammerhead sharks, black-tip sharks, and maybe even turtles.
After lunch visit Cerro Dragon and make a dry landing on lava rocks. Observe the many land iguanas that live in the area.
Sail to Santa Cruz Island and visit the Charles Darwin Station. This is one of the best places to see land tortoises, including Lonesome George, the last survivor of his subspecies. Go to the station's Tortoise Rearing Center and find tortoises that range from babies the size of your hand to adults over 500 pounds.
Santa Cruz Island is also home to the largest town and economic center of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. Explore the portside town and then move on to the upper region of the island. Learn about the vegetation and animal life in the area and see Darwin's finches, yellow warblers and vermillion flycatchers.
Visit Punta Cormorant and follow a path to a flamingo lagoon. On your way pass by Carolina Beach, a sea turtle nesting area with countless sea birds and sea rays.
Next, stop at the Devil's Crown, a sub-marine crater that offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the Galapagos. This is a great spot for seeing a wide array of tropical fish and white-tipped sharks.
After lunch sail to Post Office Bay, the island's original post office which is really just a wooden barrel! Drop off unstamped letters and postcards and pick up whatever mail you can hand deliver when you return home.
Take a dingy to the shore of Espanola and watch sea lion pups sunbathing with marine iguanas. Also see blue-footed boobies and the Galapagos hawk. Depending on the season, you may be able to witness the blue-footed booby mating dance.
As you walk along the island's path, pass hundreds of blue-footed booby nesting sites and one colony of masked boobies. There is also a good chance you see the frigatebird, the red-billed tropic bird, and the swallow-tailed gull. Pass El Soplador, a giant blowhole that explodes to heights of 25 feet. You may also see sea lions lounging in the nearby tide pools.
After lunch visit Gardner Bay, a perfect place to relax, swim and snorkel near lionfish, flycatchers, and Galapagos hawks.
Arrive at Isla Lobos, a very small islet made of volcanic rocks. Observe the behavior of the sea lions and then visit the Interpretation Center. There your guide explains the formation of the islands and how the flora and fauna arrived. Visit the corrals and witness giant tortoises.
Continue to Santa Fe Island and enjoy a noisy welcome from the sea lion colony. Follow your guide along the path to reach Santa Fe's main attraction, a towering forest of giant cacti. Look for marine and land iguanas, lava lizards and land tortoises throughout the forest. After the walk, snorkel with sea lions, lionfish, and sea turtles.
After lunch head to South Plaza Island to see a large colony of sea lions lounging in the sun. Enjoy cacti, lava gulls, yellow warblers, and red-billed tropic birds.
Hike to the Sierra Negra Volcano, one of the oldest volcanos in the Galapagos. Next visit the humedales, which is a mangrove area with small brackish water lagoons that create the perfect environment for a small type of shrimp that serves as the food for the island’s flamingos.
Following this visit you are transported to “The Wall of Tears.” When the Ecuadorian government first took possession of the islands their main purpose was to harbor Ecuadorian prisoners; since there was not much for them to do they were forced to carry rocks to a far location and build a wall.
Arrive in Punta Moreno on the west coast of Isabela. There are three kinds of cacti found here and the vegetation in this area is sparse and concentrated mainly in the mangrove area and around the lakes.
The main attractions at Punta Moreno are the coastal lagoons amid black lava flows where there are several species of birds. Here you have a panoramic view of three of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos. Continue to Elizabeth Bay and observe marine life. You can usually spot the the Galapagos penguins on the rocky islet at the entrance of the bay.
Travel through a small passage lined with mangroves and emerge into an enclosed cove. Here look for marine turtles, rays, flightless cormorants, sea lions and the Galapagos hawk.
The visitor’s site of Tagus Cove is located west of Darwin Volcano on Isabela Island. The entire distance of the trail is about 1800 meters. This was a favorite spot for pirates and whalers, and the tradition of inscribing the names of boats is a tradition still observed today. At the beginning of the walk, going up and passing the staircase, is a small cave where you can find inscriptions dating to the 1800s. The trail offers a chance to view various land birds and leads to the lava fields of the Darwin Volcano.
After lunch arrive in Punta Espinoza, a narrow ledge of lava and sand that extends from the base of the volcano to the sea. It is a place famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas and species like the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin, Galapagos hawk, snakes and others.
Travel to the black sand beaches of James Bay. Explore the surrounding area and then head to Rabida. Rabida Island has beautiful red sand beaches, a coastal lagoon and a loop trail. The color of the rocks and sand on the beach is due to the very porous volcanic material, which with the help of environmental factors, has acted as an oxidizing agent.
Day 15: North Seymour | Baltra | Disembark
After breakfast arrive at North Seymour Island. Here see frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies and sea lions.
Sail to Baltra Island to catch your plane back to the mainland.
This was our first trip to South America and we were a little nervous. But Adventure Life made things so easy! All our questions were answered before we left, and our guide, Vidal, was amazing! He gave us enough space to explore without rushing us along. He also knew where the best picture taking opportunities were, which was great.