AM: Flight to Galapagos from Quito/Guayaquil Airport
Upon arrival at San Cristobal travelers pass through an airport inspection point to ensure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands and to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless prepaid), and $10 for the required INGALA card. Guides will meet you, collect your luggage, and escort you on the short bus ride to the harbor. Motorized rafts, called “pangas,” will transport you to the M/C Anahi and the crew will welcome you onboard. After departure and lunch, the first island visit is made
PM: La Loberia
The beach, located 10 minutes from the airport of San Cristobal, is a coral sand beach with sea lions. In fact, La Loberia is a piece of coast that has been named for the large number of sea lions resting on the rocks and sand. The tour will take you to observe button mangrove, white mangrove, chala, palo santo, cotton, Tiquilia, morning glory and other species of the littoral zone known as the cacho de chivo, whose seeds are the main source of food for several species of finches. Besides the sea lions, yellow warblers, frigates and various species of finches can be seen. On the rocks, large Galapagos marine iguanas can be found, unique in the world.
Highlands: The route from Puerto Baquerizo follows the signs marked for El Progresso. This small town was established as a penal colony in 1888 by Manuel Cobos. The prisoners were treated a slaves and developed a sugar cane and coffee plantation. The steep road narrows as it climbs the sides of the extinct volcano. At the summit visitors are treated to a spectacular view of the El Junco Lagoon. Rainwater and condensation have collected in the caldera for hundreds of years, creating a haven for frigate birds. The lake supplies fresh water for the people of the island and for many of the tourist boats. Hiking around the lake offers views of practically the entire island, including San Joaquin Hill, the island’s highest point. (Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 2 (Wednesday): Española Island: Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay
AM: Punta Suarez
This rocky spot sustains one of the most impressive and varied colonies of sea birds in the Galapagos. Along its southern shore, high cliffs rise up from the sea affording the visitor spectacular views of soaring birds and of the blow hole where water spouts up to 75 feet into the air, depending on the intensity of the surf.
PM: Gardner Bay
Located on the northeastern coast of Hood, Gardner Bay provides an excellent beach for relaxing, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and the opportunity to observe sea lions. Here you can also observe sharks in the clear ocean waters. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 3 (Thursday): Floreana Island: Cormorant Point, Devil’s Crown & Post Office Bay
AM: Cormorant Point
This site offers probably the best flamingo lagoon in the Galapagos; it is also one of the largest in the islands. It’s situated between two tuff lava cones that give the area a special atmosphere. There are various species of shorebirds to observe besides flamingos, including common stilts, white-checked pintail ducks, and other migratory birds. You’ll also see the two distinct beaches: “The Green Beach” (due to its high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand) and the “Flour Sand Beach,” which is made up of coral.
The Devil’s Crown, located just off Punta Cormorant, offers some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos. In fact, the only way to see the Crown is by water. A Marine Visitor Site, no landings are allowed. Sometimes referred to as Onslow Island, this is an almost completely submerged volcano, and erosion has transformed the cone into a series of jagged peaks; as a result, this site really does look like a devil’s crown.
PM: Post Office Bay & Baroness Lookout
Historically, this site is the location of a wooden barrel that was placed by the crew of a whaling ship in the 18th century. It has been used since by mariners and tourists as a post office. The idea is to carry letters or postcards to their destination by hand. Apart from being the Post Office Barrel, this site was the landing area for some of the first colonists. You will continue to the north of the island and ascend a slope to enjoy a beautiful vista at the Baroness lookout. It is said that Baroness Eloisa Von Wagner loved this place and spent several hours watching the horizon. Within walking distance (30 meters) are the ruins of her home. From this lookout, the landscape covers the coastline from the Enderby islet to Post Office Bay, as well as Cerro Pajas, the pool of flamingos and wide forest of Palo Santo. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 4 (Friday) Santa Cruz Island: Charles Darwin Station & Baltra Airport
AM: Charles Darwin Station
Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come here to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are carried out. The main attractions are the National Park information center, the Van Straelen Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises, Lonesome George (turtle from Pinta), and adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.
After the morning excursion you will be taken to the airport for your flight to the mainland. (Breakfast)