Visit the most popular sites of southern and eastern Galapagos on this 8-day cruise aboard the Nemo I. This route combines the spectacular sea bird colonies of Española and the largest American flamingo colonies of Isabela and Floreana with highly-appreciated and not-to-be-missed South Plaza. Observe marine iguanas, reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, sea lions, Galapagos giant tortoises, and more!
Stroll the waterline of Las Bachas' coral sand beach, a turtle nesting site
Zodiac cruise to the Tintoreras for a guided hike to the tidal chanel
Land at Cormorant Point's green sand beach and meet Galapagos sea lions
Snorkel side-by-side with Pacific green turtles in Gardner Bay, Española
Upon arrival in Baltra, a naturalist guide from the Nemo I greets you and transfers you to the harbor. Then, take a dinghy to the yacht and head to your first stop, Las Bachas in Santa Cruz. These two small beaches are composed of sand made from decomposed coral, making it soft and a favorite nesting place for sea turtles. Walk to a brackish water lagoon, where you may find flamingos, black-necked stilts, and whimbrels.
Start your day with a dinghy ride to Las Tintoreras, a small bay on an islet, to observe a colony of white-tipped sharks along with many other marine animals, including sea turtles, sea lions, rays, and marine iguanas. Las Tintoreras is one of Isabela's most beautiful spots for sightseeing and relaxing. The rocky shoreline with its intertidal life attracts Sally Lightfoot crabs, lava herons, and occasional Galapagos penguins. Galapagos sea lions occupy the sand beach and complete this stereotypical Galapagos image.
In the afternoon, tour the Arnoldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center, where you can visit about 300 tortoises of all ages and sizes. Isabela is the only island in the world that has 5 different species of giant tortoises. Visit the native botanic garden of this breeding center. It also attracts colorful songbirds such as yellow warblers, Darwin’s finches, and Galapagos and vermillion flycatchers. Finally there is no greater counterpart to the cumbersome tortoises as the graceful American flamingos that frequently filter the saline waters of the adjacent lagoon for shrimp and algae.
Spend the morning exploring Cormorant Point and Devil´s Crown on the gorgeous island of Floreana. Cormorant Point is home to the best and one of the largest flamingo lagoons in the Galapagos, as well as to many other shorebirds. After observing the wildlife and walking along the very distinct "Green Beach" and "Flour Sand Beach" head towards Devil´s Crown for some great snorkeling surrounded by colored tropical fish, such as yellowtail surgeon fishes, king angelfishes, and many other species. On the seabed you can distinguish resting white-tip reef sharks, different species of ray, and starfishes. A Pacific green turtle or Galapagos sea lion might swim by, and don’t scare when you encounter scalloped hammerhead sharks!
In the afternoon, sail past Post Office Bay and bring your unstamped postcards and post them in the peculiar barrel on this historic site. Together with James Bay (Santiago) this used to be a popular base to complement stocks. Its present barrel commemorates the improvised mail service between British 16th-century whalers and poachers.
After breakfast, walk along the shores of Suarez Point and observe one of the most impressive colonies of sea birds in the Galapagos. Suarez Point is also a massive breeding site for Nazca and blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and red-billed tropicbirds. Blue-footed boobies don’t bother to breed in the middle of the trail. Especially during the food-abundant garúa-season, you can admire amusing courtship dances, mating, breeding, emerging from the eggs, nurturing, or first flight-attempts.
Spend the afternoon relaxing, snorkeling, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Gardner Bay. Admire colorful reef fish, snorkel side-by-side with a Pacific green turtle, or find yourself in the middle of playful Galapagos sea lions. The striking white coral sand beach is an important breeding site for Pacific green turtles, but without doubt its main attraction is the Galapagos sea lion colony.
Start today visiting the wild Galapagos giant tortoises, roaming through pastures in the agricultural zone and in the transition zone of El Chato Tortoise Reserve. The pond in the native forest reserve is the most authentic setting, but sometimes also requires an adventurous quest for these silent heavyweights. Listen carefully for the sound of heavy footsteps and of shrubs being slowly crushed.
Then visit Charles Darwin Station 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.
Get your camera ready, as today is filled with lots of opportunities to see amazing wildlife in San Cristobal! Start your morning with a visit to Punta Pitt to hang out with sea lions and many different bird species including red-footed, blue-footed, and Nazca boobies. On the small green sand beach a cacophony of barking Galapagos sea lions greets you. This is a bachelor colony, where males usually recuperate from and prepare themselves for fighting and mating.
In the afternoon visit Wicth Hill and let your eyes travel from the volcanic cone, over the turquoise bay to the razor-sharp contours of Kicker Rock at the horizon, one of the photogenic landmarks of the Galapagos. Walk along the romantic, crescent-shaped beach and feel with your feet the soft and powdery white coral sand (in fact it is pulverized by parrot fishes that destruct living coral reefs). Enjoy the Galapagos sea lion rookery with its cute babies, or study the rich intertidal and bird life (mainly brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls).
The day begins in Santa Fe, where you can find a number of endemic species such as the Galapagos hummingbird, the Galapagos snake, and the Galapagos hawk. You can also see lots of different tropical fish and sea lions as you snorkel in the clear and beautiful water. As you walk along the trail, you may also see many salt bushes and giant prickly pear cacti. While snorkelling in the azure-colored Barrington Bay between tropical reef fish, maybe a curious Galapagos sea lion is willing to play with you!
Then head to South Plaza, the best place to encounter endemic Galapagos land iguanas. Watch your step and don’t stumble over one of them whilst distracted by equally bizarre giant prickly pear cactus trees! These iguanas are not only ugly as Darwin pronounced, but also very patient and photogenic models with strikingly saffron colors. Take your binoculars and don’t miss the red-billed tropicbird with its graceful long tail and spectacular mating fights. These cliffs are also a nesting place for the endemic swallow-tailed gull, most beautiful gull in the world. Its neatly lined eyes are perfectly adapted for its exceptional nightly fishing habits.
Day 8: Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra
Enjoy your last morning in the beautiful little Black Turtle Cove, a red mangrove lagoon. Explore by zodiac the calm emerald lagoon and enter the surrounding shallow creeks of these saltwater marshes. Spot silently hunting lava herons on the banks and brown pelicans nesting on top of the mangroves. Various species of ray and shark come to this nutritious cradle to give birth; scalloped hammerhead sharks come back to the place where they’ve been born and their babies tend to be close to the surface. Pacific green turtles visit this cove during their breeding season (November-January).
After returning from your zodiac excursion around Black Turtle Cove, transfer to the Baltra airport for your flight back to Quito or Guayaquil.
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!