DAY 1 (Sunday): Baltra Airport & Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach
Arrival to the airport in Baltra, reception by the cruise guide and transfer to the yacht. Navigation to Bachas Beach. The name is Spanglish for “barges,” which were wrecked offshore during the World War II. A common first landing site, there is a delightful swimming beach here, with a lagoon behind, and a longer beach for a stroll and wildlife-watching.
The saltwater lagoon behind often has great blue herons and small waders such as sander lings and semi-palmated plovers. Both beaches are nesting areas for green sea turtles, which leave tracks in the sand to the back of the beach, especially from November to February. A wet landing and open area on the beach mean one can explore at leisure.
In the night, dinner and navigation to Santa Cruz.
DAY 2 (Monday): Santa Cruz Island: El Chato & Charles Darwin Research Center
The highlands of Santa Cruz have incredible zones of vegetations. There you will visit the private finca “Las Primicias”. This reserve offers you one of the best possibilities to see the huge turtles of Santa Cruz Island in their natural habitat. You can observe them from very close.
The main visit in Puerto Ayora is to the Charles Darwin Scientific Station. An excellent way to begin learning about the islands and their origin and formation is to visit the Station. You can also see how the Galapagos turtles are raised and meet Jorge, the famous solitary turtle. The Scientific Station has its own beach that receives many visitors on weekends.
Dinner at night and navigation to San Cristobal.
DAY 3 (Tuesday): San Cristobal Island: Cerro Brujo, Leon Dormido & Isla Lobos
One of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin, Cerro Brujo is a beautiful white sand beach where brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and marine iguanas are all found. An onshore version of nearby Kicker Rocks, Cerro Brujo is a very striking, eroded tuff cone.
Also known as León Dormido, Kicker Rock located of the coast of San Cristobal. It is the remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea, the two vertical rocks rising 500 feet from the ocean form a small channel that is navigable by small boats. This natural monument has become a favorite sight for cruises due to the many tropicbirds, frigates and boobies that fill the surrounding air.
Beneath the sea the nearly crystal waters offer a brilliant show of colorful tropical fish and invertebrates. Due to the sheer vertical pitch of the rock face, landings are not possible, however many cruises do spend 45 minutes to an hour allowing you to enjoy the full experience.
Lobos Island, as its name suggests, is famous for its population of sea lions and fur sea lions. You will also encounter a nesting ground for the great frigate bird and a small number of blue-footed boobies BREEDING CENTER; here it is explained, in a simple manner, the natural phenomena that created the Galapagos Islands. They explain the series of natural processes, such as volcanic eruption and marine current locations that have led to the amazing islands that you are now visiting. Dinner at night and navigation to San Cristobal.
DAY 4 (Wednesday): Espanola Island: Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay
Arrival to Española Island, in the morning Punta Suarez, found on the western tip of Española, Punta Suarez offers great wildlife such as Sea Lions, sea birds and the largest Marine Iguanas of Galapagos. This is one of the best sites in the Galapagos. The amount of wildlife is overwhelming. Along the beach there are many Sea Lions and large, colorful Lava Lizards and Marine Iguanas. As you follow the trail to the cliff’s edge Masked Boobies can be found nesting among the rock formations. As you follow the trail to the cliff’s edge Masked Boobies can be found nesting among the rock formations. After a short walk down to a beach and back up the other side Blue-Footed Boobies are seen nesting just off the trail.
Visit to Gardner Bay, this bay is a 45-minute boat ride from Punta Suarez. It has a white sand beach and there is a small colony of sea lions. The possibilities for swimming or scuba diving are excellent here. Visitors find migrant, resident, and endemic wildlife including brightly colored Marine Iguanas, Española Lava Lizards, Hood Mockingbirds, Swallow Tailed Gulls, Blue Footed and Masked Boobies, Galapagos Hawks, a selection of Finch, and the Waved Albatross.
GARDNER ISLET Snorkel panga ride OSBORN ISLET Snorkel At night, dinner and navigation to Floreana
DAY 5 (Thursday): Floreana Island: Punta Cormorant, Champion Islet & Post Office Bay
Arrival to Floreana Is, in the morning visit to Post Office bay, In 1793 British whalers established the Post Office Barrel to send letters to and from England. This tradition has continued over the years, and even today visitors may drop off and pick up letters, without stamps, to be carried to far destinations.
In the morning, visit to Cormorant Point, The visit to Punta Cormorant offers two contrasting beaches. Arriving on shore you will encounter a green sand beach (the green sand is caused by the olivine crystals derived silicates or magnesium and iron) from here you will follow the trail leading to a lagoon where Pink Flamingoes and other shore birds can be seen in the distance making their home. Looking into the mud of the lagoon there appears to be ‘cracks’ in the mud. These cracks are not caused from dryness but are actually the footpaths of flamingos. This is also a good spot for seeing Large-Billed Flycatchers, Small-Ground Finches, Medium-Ground Finches or Cactus Finches. The walk continues to another beach on the other side made of fine white sand particles known as “Flour Beach”. In the waters Ghost Crabs and Rays can be seen swimming. Time permitting you may even go for a swim.
POST OFFICE BAY This is one of the few visitor sites, that is visited for its human history. Whaling Captain James Colnett established the wooden post barrel in the early 1793. At the time whaling was a big industry, ships were typically gone for 2 years at a time. The Galapagos Islands were a frequent stop for these ships. Outbound ships would drop off letters after rounding the cape and the ships returning home would mail them.
Over the years thousands of ships have stopped to send and receive mail at Post Office Bay. Many have posted a sign of driftwood or other materials memorializing their visit. This is the only area in the Galapagos were graffiti is still acceptable.
Arriving at Post Office Bay you will land on a brown sand beach, passing the sea lions lying in the sun. At the post barrel the guide will pull a hand full of letters for the group. Continuing the tradition, the letters are brought home with the traveler and then mailed to the addressee. Visitors also have the opportunity to send letters of their own.
There is also the remains of a Norwegian Fishing Village a commercial fishing operation established in 1926 and abandoned a couple of years later. The group of Norwegians arrived with dreams of riches started a fishing and can operation on $900 each. The tough Galapagos life and a few misfortunes had them abandon their dreams.
In the night, dinner and navigation to Santa Fe.
DAY 6 (Friday): Santa Fe Island & South Plazas Island
In the morning visit to Santa Fe Island, home to one of the most beautiful coves in all the Galapagos, Santa Fe is located in the southeastern part of Galapagos, 2 1/2 hours from Santa Cruz and 3 hours from San Cristobal. Santa Fe was formed from an uplift (rather than a volcano) giving the island a relatively flat surface rather than the typical conical shape of the other islands. Visits to Santa Fe begin with a panga ride across the lovely turquoise lagoon. Once ashore you are brought into contact with of the many sea lion colonies in the Galapagos. Bulls vie for the right of beach master while cows laze in the sun. The loop trail around the islands leads past the salt bushes where Galapagos Hawks can easily be approached. Santa Fe is home to endemic Land Iguanas. These iguanas are the largest in the islands and they are beige to chocolate brown in color and resemble small dinosaurs. Reaching the summit there is a stunning view of the cove beneath.
After lunch navigation to South Plazas.
Visiting South Plaza begins with a dry landing. The rocky trail circumnavigates the island displaying the combination of dry and coastal vegetation zone. South Plaza has one of the largest populations of Land Iguanas in the Galapagos. The Iguanas seem to be everywhere once you land. These larger than average Yellow-Brown Land Iguanas feed on the fruit and pads of the Prickly Pear Cactus.
South Plaza is also home to Marine Iguanas living along the coast and a Hybrid Iguana whose fathers are Marine Iguanas and Mothers are Land Iguanas. As the walk continues along the sea cliffs Swallow-Tailed Gulls, Frigatebirds, Audubon Shearwaters, Red-Billed Tropicbirds, Brown Pelicans, Blue-Footed and Masked Boobies are frequently seen. Beneath along the shore a colony of Bachelor Sea Lions can be seen.
Dinner at night and navigation to Chinese Hut.
DAY 7 (Saturday): Sombrero Chino & Bartolome Island
In the afternoon, visit to Sombrero Chino, is a tiny island just off the southeast tip of Santiago. Its name (Chinese Hat) describes the island’s shape. Those visitors who travel to the island will find its special landscape worth the visit. Though centrally located it is one of the least visited sites in the area. National Park Service restrictions have limited the number of visitors to Sombrero Chino. Multi-day cruises with 12 passengers or less are the only ones permitted at this site. The landing is on a beautiful crescent-shaped white sand beach, home to Sea Lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs. The trail on Sombrero Chino’s explores its volcanic origin, one of the most evident in the islands.
The lava rock is very fragile and tends to break off when people walk over it. The sharp outcroppings caused from these breaks make it necessary to bring good shoes. Patches of Pahoehoe Lava, cracked lava and lava tubes can be found on the island. While the path does not lead up the striking red rust sides of the Sombrero to the caldera, it does venture high enough on the island to offer some spectacular views of the waves crashing below. Snorkeling in the waters near Sombrero Chino can create a stir; white-tipped sharks frequent the area, as do the playful Galapagos Penguins and Sea Lions.
At night, after lunch, navigation to Bartolome.
Desolate island with few plants is the most visited and most photographed island in the Galapagos. The island consists of an extinct volcano and a variety of red, orange, green, and glistening black volcanic formations.
The best known of the island’s features is the Tuff Cone known as Pinnacle Rock. This large black partially eroded lava formation was created when magma expelled from the volcano reached the sea. When the sea waters cooled the hot lava it caused an explosion. The exploded particles eventually fasten together forming a rock composed of thin layers. Bartolome’s Pinnacle Rock has become one of the best recognized and most photographed sights in the islands. A prominent sight it was used as a target for US airmen during the second World War. Lying beside the Pinnacle Rock are twin half moon shaped beaches.
The northern beach is a popular snorkeling site where visitors have the opportunity to swim with fish, Sea Lions and Galapagos Penguins. Much larger animals can be found near the southern beach including stingrays, spotted eagle rays, white-tipped sharks, and black-tipped sharks. Little vegetation grows in this barren place. Mangroves border the beach and the small shrub Tiguilia grows in the volcanic sands. The seeds and tiny white flowers of the Chamaesycae provide food for the island’s finch. These plants are common to arid regions and are able to survive in these harsh volcanic conditions. Dinner. Really early in the morning about 4 a.m navigation to Caleta.
DAY 8 (Sunday): Black Turtle Cove & Baltra Airport
On the morning panga ride in Caleta Tortuga, also known as Black Turtle Cove, you will explore a mangrove swamp where marine turtles nest during certain seasons of the year, and also sharks and rays.
Finally disembark in Baltra and transfer to the airport. End of the cruise.