Day 1 San Cristobal Airport | Embark | Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill, San Cristobal
Arrive to the San Cristobal airport and transfer by bus to your ship, the Galapagos Legend. This afternoon visit the Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about islands’ history in The Museum of Natural History which displays information about the volcanic origins of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, ocean currents, climate, the arrival of the different species and their colonization, among other points of interest. The human history is also showcased, chronologically narrating the most significant events related to the discovery and the island’s colonization. Afterwards, stop at Tijeretas Hill and join a high-intensity walk amidst beautiful landscapes and a magnificent view at the foot of a frigate bird nesting colony.
Day 2 Gardner Bay & Osborn Islets | Suarez Point, Española
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning arrive at Española Island and explore Gardner Bay and the Gardner and Osborn Islets. Land on a beautiful white coral sandy beach guarded by a colony of sea lions. There are no trails, so you must stay along the shore where you can spot Galapagos hawks, American oystercatchers, Galapagos ground doves, Hood mockingbirds, yellow warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and three species of Darwin’s finches: a subspecies of the large cactus finch, which is similar to the large ground finch, the small ground finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) and the warbler finch (Certhidea Olivacea), another endemic subspecies. Swimming and snorkeling offer a great variety of the Galapagos’ marine wildlife: king angelfish, creole fish, damsel fish, parrotfish, manta rays, and white-tipped reef sharks.
In the afternoon, travel over to Suarez Point in Española, an island of geological interest, volcanic formations and a riveting wildlife: large sea lion colonies and seabirds including the Española mockingbird, Nazca boobies, and the spectacular red-billed tropicbird. You can also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and the colorful Sally lightfoot crabs. Enjoy a lengthy hike that bring you among Nazca and blue-footed boobies, right up to nesting grounds that sometimes overlap the trail. Other birding favorites include Galapagos dove, Galapagos hawk, swallow-tailed gulls and the world’s largest colony of waved albatross, an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December). Admire the island’s dramatic backdrop, featuring the famous “Soplador”, a seaward blowhole that shoots up water up to 23 m (75 ft) in the air.
Day 3 Post Office | Cormorant Point, Devil's Crown or Champion, Floreana
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today explore Floreana Island. Upon arrival, head over to Post Office Bay. Located on the north side of Floreana, the bay was named because in 1793 Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel which served as an informal post office for sailors passing through, who would take letters with them back to their destinations. Today, visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel, hoping that some other traveler, going to the letter destination, takes it back for free. The chances are that the letter posted can take a long time to arrive at its destination. However, there have been cases where it has arrived before the sender. You may also encounter Darwin’s finches, yellow warbler and lava lizards. As well, the island is best known for its endemic vegetation: Scalesia villosa, Lecocarpus Pinnatifidus, and the Galapagos milkwort. Enjoy some great snorkeling opportunities with green sea turtles and playful sea lions.
In the afternoon stop at Cormorant Point and Devil's Crown where you can enjoy a hike from the black mangrove beds to a brackish lagoon, which usually holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island features some endemic plants such as Scalesia villosa, white and black mangrove, and holy stick. The trail continues to a beautiful white sandy beach, one of the most important nesting sites of green Pacific sea turtles. It is important to avoid walking in the water due to the sting rays that may be hiding in the sand, which can be dangerous if accidentally stepped on. From the beach, one can spot sea turtles, blue-footed boobies plunging into the water, and small reef sharks floating along the shoreline in the search for food. This coral-sand beach marks the end of your trail, and you must head back to the olivine beach you landed on, to swim or snorkel amongst sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions and, on a good day, white-tipped reef sharks. A small colony of penguins resides on Floreana and can sometimes be observed as well.
Day 4 Charles Darwin Research Station & Highlands Tortoise Reserve | Ballena Bay or Eden Islet, Santa Cruz
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning visit the Station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place as part of efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment and where the famous Lonesome George (the last surviving specimen of his species) lived for decades. Admire a prickly-pear cactus forest and variety Darwin’s finches and other land birds. The Darwin Station also works providing environmental education to the communities, schools, and tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands. Enjoy some free time to visit the town and shop for souvenirs.
Afterwards, explore the highlands of Santa Cruz. In the mountains of Galapagos is possible to admire different kind of birds, such as: tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on the tortoises’ shell). The journey to the reserve offers great opportunities to see the contrasts that the island offers in reference to the variety of ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Often, Galapagos giant tortoises are also seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is a birdwatchers’ haven, since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here.
In the afternoon land at Ballena (Whale) Bay, a beautiful green sand cove at the base of Dragon Hill on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. The beach contains plenty of olivine crystals of volcanic origin. The crystals were formed when the magma was still underground. The content is magnesium, iron, and silica. A small population of tortoises from Pinzón Island lived at the site but were probably taken by whalers or previous inhabitants. Snorkel off the coast and have the opportunity to see marine iguanas and sea birds.
Day 5 Carrion Point, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra
This morning cruise to Carrion Point. This rocky cliff offers the great opportunity to explore more the various marine biodiversity of the islands. Do snorkeling among a variety of colorful fish, stingrays, and if lucky, there could be the chance to see the magnificent white tipped shark.
Afterwards, head straight to the airport for your flight back to mainland Ecuador.