After arriving at Baltra airport, be greeted by our personnel to then cross the Itabaca channel and reach Santa Cruz Island for our first visit in the Archipelago: The Highlands of Santa Cruz. This area, in contrast to the coastal region, has lush vegetation and forest due to the humidity in the higher regions.
Visit one of the ranches of the area where it is possible to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. As these animals migrate from the coastal area to the highlands and back, the chosen ranch will depend on the presence of the tortoises since they roam free and change locations. Then head for the M/Y Passion for lunch and to freshen up to then head back to Puerto Ayora for our second visit of the day, the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, we will see tortoises from different islands. The animals are found in large semi natural pens for their protection, but also to ensure an easy view for the visitors. The pens are divided according to four different stages: eggs, neonates, juveniles (held here until they are mature enough to be "repatriated"), and adults. Afterward, head back to Puerto Ayora, where you will have some time to explore the town and shops by yourselves (this is the only chance of shopping during on this itinerary) before boarding the M/Y Passion at around 5:00 p.m.
Once on board, the crew and captain will welcome you, have a short security drill and enjoy dinner and the briefing for the next day´s activities.
Day 2: Cormorant Point | Devil's Crown | Post Office Bay, Floreana
Spend the day on Floreana, legendary homestead of infamous Baroness Eloise Von Wagner de Bousquet. Wet landing onto the olivine beaches of Punta Cormorant, where we will be seeking Greater Flamingos on the brackish lagoon on our way to another special beach with the finest sand you’ll set foot on, a sea turtle nesting ground where sharks and rays also visit regularly. We end the outing with a short panga ride to snorkel in the Devil’s Crown, an old volcanic crater and a key snorkeling site.
After lunch, visit Post Office Bay (wet landing), where you can drop your postcards in the barrel as the whalers did centuries ago and select cards to hand-deliver when you return home.
This morning visit Floreana Island´s Black Beach to learn about the intriguing human history of the island and its first inhabitants. Visit this freshwater source known as Asilo de La Paz, as well as the caves that served as hideouts for pirates and where the first Galapagueño was born, according to the stories of Floreana, which involve the infamous Baroness Eloise Wagner von Bousquet and her lovers who mysteriously began to disappear after settling on the island.
After your visit, have the best opportunity for a not‐so‐common yet well-beloved activity in the archipelago, full afternoon navigation to look for whales and dolphins. This afternoon is completed by the impressive landscapes of Isabela and the Cerro Azul volcano.
Arrive at Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos. After breakfast, step ashore at Punta Moreno (a dry landing) onto a superb pahoehoe lava flow surrounded by giant shield volcanoes, some still active! From here do a short hike to a lagoon where flamingos are usually present.
Disembark at Urbina Bay (wet landing) onto a black sand beach, a nesting site for green sea turtles. Take a brief hike inland in search of land iguanas and giant tortoises (seasonal) that migrate to and from the highlands. At the beach, admire the remains of a geological uplift exposing coral heads and marine fossils, and if the sea conditions and time are on our side, we will also snorkel in these waters.
Day 5: Tagus Cove, Isabela | Espinosa Point, Fernandina
Dry landing near Tagus Cove, a historical pirate hideaway where names of countless ships are recorded for posterity on the cliff face. Hike through beautiful Galapagos landscapes to Darwin Lake, a salt‐water crater lagoon surrounded by tuff stone.
Once again we are aboard the Passion crossing the Bolivar Channel to Fernandina Island, one of the world’s most pristine sites and currently still active with a recent eruption in 2018. We will disembark with a dry landing at Punta Espinosa.
At Puerto Egas (wet landing) disembark on a dark sand volcanic beach with an interesting history of human settlement. Sleepy Galapagos fur seals lounge under arches of lava carved by the ocean and occasionally dip into the crystalline pools, also known as “grottos.” Walk along the shore and observe the abundant marine life.
At Buccaneer Cove, take a panga ride around the beautiful coastline. This place got its name because it used to be a refuge for British Buccaneers, which anchored here to collect supplies and clean their ships among other activities. The cove is very scenic with views of the cliffs and a dark beach. Do not forget to look for two unusual rock formations known as ‘the monk’ and ‘elephant rock.’ We head to central Santiago to disembark at Espumilla (wet landing), onto a golden‐colored sand beach, used by green sea turtles as a nesting site.
A forest trail takes you through some of the largest specimens of Palo Santo on the islands to observe yellow warblers, the amazing Galapagos flycatcher, and Darwin finches.
Enjoy a dry landing on Sullivan Bay in Santiago Island to start our walk over a recent lava flow, including very fresh pahoehoe lava formations, lava bubbles containing crystallized minerals and pioneer plants. Along the shoreline, you may find Galapagos penguins and herons going after small fish.
Disembark on North Seymour Island directly onto this small, uplifted island. Walkthrough a large bird nesting colony of the two different species of frigatebirds, blue‐footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls. Depending on the season, watch the spectacular mating rituals being displayed.
Day 8: Disembark on Baltra
Mosquera is a small islet located between Baltra and North Seymour Islands and measuring about 160 meters across and 600 meters long. It is home to one of the largest sea lion colonies and is also a haven for shorebirds. Orcas occasionally come to the islet to feed on the sea lions. After this visit, the yacht sails to Baltra where passengers ending their trip disembark.
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.