DAY 1 (Sunday): San Cristobal – Airport & Isla Lobos
Fly from the Ecuadorian mainland to the islands on an early morning 90-minute flight. As you prepare to land in Baltra, look out the window. The landscape below will seem otherworldly – you’ll truly be landing in a place like no other. The Galapagos Islands are completely unique and you’re about to see why. Your bilingual naturalist guide will greet you at the airport and meet you after customs. During lunch your guide will introduce you to the islands, specifically the flora and fauna that you will encounter.
You will go from the airport straight back to the boat to show you to your accommodations. After lunch we’ll navigate to Isla Lobos, a very small islet made of volcanic rocks that gets its name from the colony of Sea Lions (Lobo de Mar in Spanish) that live there. Here you can observe the behavior and interaction of Sea Lions living in a small community.
Night navigation to your next destination. (Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 2 (Monday): Santa Fe Island – Plazas
After breakfast on the yacht, you’ll continue to Santa Fe Island. Upon arrival to the island, you’ll be treated to a noisy welcome from the local Sea Lion colony. Following your naturalist guide on the island paths you’ll reach Santa Fe’s main attraction, a towering forest of giant cacti. Scattered around the cacti trees you’ll see a number of the island’s indigenous sun-seekers: marine and land iguanas, the rainbow-streaked lava lizards and, if you’re lucky, land tortoises – the namesakes of the islands. After the walk you’ll dive into the salty sea and snorkel in the company of Sea Lions, Lion Fish and Sea Turtles. Finally, you’ll return to the yacht for lunch.
After lunch we’ll navigate to Plazas Island, where a large colony of Sea Lions lounge daily in the equatorial sun. Plaza also boasts excellent examples of typical Galapagos native flora such as the towering cacti “trees” that form the principal diet for both the Land Iguanas and the Cactus Finch. Other birds that may flutter by include Lava gulls, Yellow warblers and Red-Billed tropicbirds. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 3 (Tuesday): Santa Cruz Island – Charles Darwin Station & El Chato
This morning, we’ll visit the world famous Charles Darwin Research Center and make a stop in the fascinating Tortoise Rearing Center. Here you can find baby, hand-sized tortoises, between the ages of one and five, and marvel at how they achieve such large sizes as adults (500 lbs. or more!) which you will also see at the center. Galapagos tortoises are believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years, so the young ones have a long life ahead of them as long as they receive the protection they need. The research center has been an invaluable tool in helping conserve the ecosystem of the Galapagos and ensure that tortoises do not become extinct.
Aside from the Station headquarters, Santa Cruz Island is home to the largest town and economic center of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. In this portside town you can buy souvenirs (postcards, t-shirts, books, etc.) of the islands. Check out the uniquely Galapagos ceramic shop near the entrance of the Charles Darwin Station. After shopping in Puerto Ayora and lunch on the boat (guests may dine in town if they desire), you’ll explore the upper region, “parte alta” of the island, which is a moisture-rich area with fertile volcanic soils. You’ll learn about the vegetation and animal life of this zone, often strikingly different than that found at lower elevations.
This area in the highlands is called El Chato which is a giant tortoise reserve, and one of the few places open to visitors where giant tortoises are found in their natural habitat interacting with the rest of the Galapagos life. While wandering through the reserve, you’re very likely to spot these massive creatures munching on leaves and lumbering through the vegetation. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 4 (Wednesday): Isabela Island – Puerto Villamil, Humedales, Muro de las Lagrimas, & Centro de Crianza Arnaldo Tupiza
Your first visit in the morning will take place in Puerto Villamil, one of the smallest towns in Galapagos, located right in front of a white sand beach. Puerto Villamil is one of the most beautiful spots in the islands and you may feel like you’ve arrived on a Caribbean island. After a dry landing you will go to visit the humedales, which is a mangrove area with small brackish water lagoons that create the perfect environment for a small type of shrimp that serves as the food for the island’s flamingos. Hopefully, we’ll get to observe some of these flamingos feeding in the lagoon.
Following this visit you will be transported to El Muro de las Lagrimas or “The Wall of Tears” which was built by former prisoners when the Island was a penal colony. Here, your guide will explain some of the Island’s history while you climb the lookout beside the Wall of Tears and observe the expansive view of the coastline.
After this visit you’ll return to the beach for some relaxation before lunch on the boat. In the afternoon you’ll visit the local branch of the Galapagos Park Service whose main purpose is to take care of the many species of giant tortoises that inhabit Isabela Island so that you can see the efforts made by the National Park Service to protect and increase the declining population of giant tortoises on this island. This small breeding center is a great place to see the teeny tortoise babies up close and how the repopulation efforts in the Galapagos work together.
Back on board and night navigation to your next site. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 5 (Thursday): Isabela Island – Punta Moreno & Bahía Elizabeth
This morning we land on the west coast of Isabela which begins our exploration of some of the most remote sites in the Galapagos. The west coast of Isabela and Fernandina Island is scenic, filled with wildlife, and uncrowded. On Punta Moreno you have a dry landing and continue across barren lava field to start the walk. You will discover a number of coastal lagoons amid black lava flows where there are several species of birds. Pink flamingos, blue herons, brown pelicans, and Bahama pintail ducks are all found here. Additionally, you’ll have a panoramic view of three of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos, which are Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul of Isabela Island and La Cumbre of Fernandina Island.
After lunch on board you’ll continue on your way to Elizabeth bay, located on Isabela Island`s west shore, which is an excellent spot for observing marine life. You’ll motor past a few islands where you can usually see Galapagos penguins; this is one of the best areas to take their photos. A colony of these adorable birds inhabit a rocky islet at the entrance to Elizabeth Bay and we’ll make sure to take time to observe this colony.
The boat drifts through a small passage lined with mangroves and eventually emerges into an enclosed cove. The motor will be turned off and you will look in the sheltered waters for Green Sea turtles, rays, Flightless cormorants, sea lions, and, circling overhead, Galapagos hawks. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 6 (Friday): Isabela Island – Caleta Tagus & Fernandina Island – Punta Espinoza, Punta Vicente Roca
The visitor’s site of Tagus Cove is located west of Darwin Volcano on Isabela Island and was a favorite spot for pirates and whalers, and the tradition of inscribing the names of boats is a tradition still observed today. At the beginning of the walk, going up and passing the staircase, is a small cave where you’ll find inscriptions dating to the 1800s.
The trail, mostly gravel, leads into the interior, along Darwin Lake. During the walk, you can see various land birds and we’ll identify the characteristic vegetation of the arid zone. Finally, you’ll see the lava fields of Darwin Volcano.
After lunch, the group will have a short navigation to Punta Expinoza on Fernandina Island, a true highlight of any Galapagos trip. Punta Espinoza is a place famous for its large colonies of Marine Iguanas as well as being the habitat of unique species like the Flightless cormorant, the Galapagos penguin, the Galapagos hawk, and the Galapagos snake, among others. On land, your guide will explain the unique adaptations of each strange animal that has managed to survive on this barren and strange Island. The marine iguanas pile up on the hot rocks to get warm before diving in the ocean below and swimming alongside green sea turtles, rays, and the hilarious flightless cormorants. Bright red Sally Lightfoot Crabs scurry across the lava, dotting the black ground with dots of vibrant color. From here, we also get an outstanding view of Isabela’s towering volcanoes and verdant coast just across a short stretch of water.
After visiting Fernandina you will start the navigation to the central part of the Galapagos and on the way we’ll pass Punta Vicente Roca, a mostly eroded volcano which now is a great site for seeing Blue-footed boobies, Frigate birds and other marine birds from the boat. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner).
DAY 7 (Saturday): Santiago Island – Puerto Egas & Rabida
Today begins with a hike and snorkeling at Puerto Egas, aka James Bay. This spot is home to the fascinating Galapagos hawk as well as Galapagos oyster catchers and Galapagos lava lizards. We will walk to the coastline where we observe tidal pools and an abundance of Galapagos sea lions. Here the Galapagos Fur Sea Lions bathe in the sun. While snorkeling, you swim alongside reef sharks, turtles, and rays.
Later in the day, you will visit La Rabida, another small but fascinating Island. The first thing you’ll notice on La Rabida are its unique red cliffs and beaches. While walking on this Island, you’re likely to spot sea lions, pelicans, Galapagos hawks, Darwin finches, marine iguanas, flamingos and blue-footed boobies. You will also have time to go for a snorkel in the waters just off La Rabida, where you will hopefully swim with sea lions and tropical fish. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 8 (Sunday): Seymour Norte Island & Baltra Airport
After an early breakfast you’ll disembark at North Seymour Island. Here you will see Frigate birds, the clownish Blue-footed booby, and of course the ubiquitous sea lions. With luck you’ll witness the striking courtship display of the male Frigate Bird, in which he inflates a red balloon-like sac below his throat and struts his stuff for all of the young females. The Frigate birds nest in the scraggly trees just above the colonies of Blue-footed boobies who dance and nest on the bare ground. Near the end of the trail, you’ll come to a long beach that is a favorite hangout for sea lions.
Return to the boat and sail to Baltra Island to catch your plane back to the mainland. (Breakfast)
Please note that itineraries are always subject to change without previous notice due to operational purposes, policies of the Galapagos National Park authorities, weather conditions, and for comfort of our passengers.