DAY 1 (Thursday): Baltra Airport & Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
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.
After our stop 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. Darwin’s finches, Yellow warblers, and Bright Red Vermillion flycatchers will fly in and out of the moss-covered trees. From this high vantage point you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the surrounding archipelago.
In the late afternoon you’ll return to town. For those who wish to check out the nightlife, this is your chance; the boat will be docked in port most of the night. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 2 (Friday): Floreana Island – Post Office Bay, Mirador de la Baronesa, Punta Cormoran, & Devil´s Crown
When you wake up and look out from the boat deck today, you will see Floreana, one of the greenest islands in the archipelago. Your guide will tell you about its mysterious history laden with rumors of witches, murderous baronesses, blackmail, and dubious disappearances.
Your first stop is Punta Cormorant, where you’ll follow a footpath to a lagoon inhabited by flaming-pink flamingos. You will also pass by Carolina Beach, a sea turtle nesting area and a superb spot for watching sea birds and sea rays.
Back on the yacht, you’ll skirt the island’s coast until you arrive at La Corona del Diablo (the Devil’s Crown), a sub-marine crater that offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the Galapagos. This is a great spot for seeing the wide array of tropical fish, many endemic to the islands, including purple sea stars and spiky sea urchins. The crater’s most thrilling undersea creatures, however, are the white-tipped sharks. As with most of the creatures in the Galapagos they are unperturbed by your presence, so you can swim in their company freely and fearlessly.
After returning to the boat for lunch you’ll sail on to Post Office Bay, where the islands’ original post office (really only a wooden barrel) was established in 1793. The current system still functions as it did three centuries ago: Visitors drop off unstamped letters and postcards AND pick-up whatever mail they can hand deliver themselves when they return home! (Try it, it actually works!). (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 3 (Saturday): Española Island – Punta Suarez, Bahia Gardner, Islote Gardner, & Islote Osborn
Espanola is one of the most magical of all the islands. It is a place where the animals reign supreme and we humans are merely guests. As your dingy brings you to shore you’ll see sea lion pups sunbathing with Marine Iguanas and Blue-footed boobies nesting in between, and nearby may be a Galapagos hawk. If it is Booby mating season watch the bonded pairs do the infamous Booby dance (if it’s not mating season, ask your guide to demonstrate — after all it’s their job to teach you about the local fauna!).
As you follow the footpath around the island, you will pass hundreds of Blue-footed booby nesting sites including one colony of masked boobies. There is also a good chance you’ll see the thief-like Frigate Bird (which has the habit of stealing other birds’ food), as well as the stunning Red-Billed tropicbird and the nocturnal Swallow-tailed gull.
If it is the right time of the year (mid-April to December) you’ll also encounter the giant Waved albatross. Apart from a few pairs that breed on Isla de Plata, off the Ecuadorian mainland, all of the world’s 12,000 Waved albatross breed on Espanola Island. At the end of the breeding season, the entire population leaves the island and heads out to sea, where they spend years without touching land; four or five years may pass before the fledglings return to Espanola. These large, quirky, and beautiful birds are wonderful to see at any time of year — but perhaps the most charming event to witness is their curious mating dance. Count yourself even more lucky if you get to see this spectacle!
As you make your way around the island you’ll pass by El Soplador, a giant blowhole that explodes to heights reaching 25 feet. In the nearby tide pools you can often find lounging sea lions enjoying the blowhole’s misty spray. Following lunch on board the yacht, you’ll visit Garner Bay, a great place for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. Lionfish, flycatchers, and Galapagos hawks will keep you company as you relax under the rays of the evening sun. Dinner on the yacht completes your day. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 4 (Sunday): San Cristobal – Leon Dormido, Centro de Interpretacion, & Isla Lobos
You arrive early in the morning to San Cristobal, the capital of the Galapagos. The first site will be Kicker Rock or Leon Dormido, a tuff volcanic cone that has been eroded by the wind and marine currents giving it the shape from the distance of a sleeping sea lion. This site is now home to Blue-Footed Boobies and Frigate Birds amongst many others, which have turned this area into their nesting site. After navigating around Kicker Rock you’ll continue on to the Interpretation Center in Puerto Baquerizo, the local branch of the Galapagos National Park Service, where your guide will explain the formation of the islands, how the flora and fauna arrived and were established in Galapagos, as well as visit the corrals where there are several species of giant tortoises under the care of the National Park Service.
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. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 5 (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. 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 6 (Tuesday): Santa Cruz Island – Charles Darwin Station & Baltra Airport
This morning, you’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.
You will be transferred to the Baltra Airport 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.