DAY 1 – SATURDAY SANTA CRUZ HIGHLANDS & CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION
After arriving at Baltra airport, we will 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.
We will 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. We will 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, we will head back to Puerto Ayora, where we will have some time to explore the town and shops by ourselves (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 us, have a short security drill and enjoy dinner and the briefing for the next day´s activities.
DAY 2 - SUNDAY PUNTA CORMORANT, DEVIL’S CROWN, BLACK BEACH & ASILO DE LA PAZ
AM: With a wet landing onto the olivine beaches of Punta Cormorant we will begin a walk on the island looking for Greater Flamingos in a brackish lagoon. We may be able to get a close-up view if we are quiet as the flamingos are shy. The second visit at Punta Cormorant is a back on the other side of the island with fine sand and clear blue waters. Sea turtles nest here, so please do not go off trail. In the shallow water, watch your step as many stingrays and sharks visit regularly. We end the outing with a short panga ride to snorkel at Devil’s Crown, an old volcanic crater that is now a key snorkeling site with many tropical fish and opportunities to see hammerhead sharks.
PM: In the afternoon we will visit Black Beach on Floreana Island to learn more about the intriguing human history of the island and its first inhabitants. We will ride up into the highlands of the island to visit a freshwater source known as the Asilo de La Paz and caves that initially served as hideouts for pirates and the birthplace of the first person to be born in Galapagos. One of the many mysteries on Floreana involves the infamous Baroness Eloise Wagner von Bousquet and her two lovers who inexplicably began to disappear after settling on the island. Following this visit, we will head back to the Passion for dinner and a short briefing on the next day.
DAY 3 - MONDAY POST OFFICE BAY & AFTERNOON NAVIGATION
AM: In the morning we will visit Post Office Bay with a wet landing. During the 18th century, Galapagos was a strategical stop for whalers and pirates during their long voyages. As these trips could last many months and sometimes years, a group of whalers decided to create an unofficial post system with a wooden barrel. Ships that were bound to return would stop in the bay and pick up the post with their same destination. This tradition has continued to this day, so make sure you are equipped with your letter or note to leave in the barrel for another visitor to deliver for you.
PM: In the afternoon after we’ve had lunch and rested a bit, we will have the best opportunity for a not‐socommon, yet exciting activity in the archipelago: a full afternoon navigation for dolphin and whale watching. The channel between Isabela and Fernandina is a popular whale watching site as the whales use this same route when migrating due to the strong currents. This is an area where even orcas may be seen. The impressive landscapes of Isabela and the Cerro Azul volcano add to the experience.
DAY 4 - TUESDAY PUNTA MORENO & URBINA BAY
AM: We arrive at Isabela Island, the largest of all within the Galapagos. After breakfast, we step ashore at Punta Moreno onto an enormous pahoehoe lava flow surrounded by giant shield volcanoes in the distance, some of which are still active. From here we will do a short hike along the lava fields to a lagoon where flamingos may be present. The lava fields can make walking difficult; we have walking sticks aboard if needed and sturdy shoes should be used as the lava fields are uneven, rocky, and have sharp and jagged formations.
PM: The following activity in the afternoon will be at Urbina Bay with a wet landing. We walk onto a black sand beach to dry our feet off; it is also a nesting site for green sea turtles so make sure to stay within the trail as to not step on any eggs beneath the sand. We then enjoy a brief hike inland searching for land iguanas and Isabela giant tortoises that may be migrating to the coast from the highlands to breed.
At the beach, we will admire the remains of a geological uplift exposing coral heads and marine fossils, and if the sea conditions and time allows, we will also snorkel in this area.
DAY 5 - WEDNESDAY TAGUS COVE & PUNTA ESPINOSA
AM: In the morning we visit Tagus Cove with a dry landing. This area is known as a historic pirate hideaway where names of countless ships are graffitied on the surrounding cliffs with the year they visited. The very first visitors engraved their name and year higher up at the beginning of the hike. The hike leads us to a beautiful lookout and a viewpoint to Darwin Lake, a salt-water lagoon surrounded by tuff stone.
PM: 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.
Strolling along the shoreline, we will be on the lookout for flightless cormorants, Galapagos sea lions, Galapagos penguins and hawks, sooty‐colored marine iguanas and bright red and orange Sally Lightfoot crabs.
DAY 6 - THURSDAY PUERTO EGAS, BUCCANEER'S COVE & ESPUMILLA BEACH
AM: At Puerto Egas, we arrive by wet landing and disembark on a dark sand volcanic beach with a fascinating history of human settlement. With luck, we will see the Galapagos fur seals lounging on the edges of the lava fields and playful sea lions under arches of lava carved by erosion from the ocean. In these crystalline pools known as “grottos,” we walk along the shore observing the abundant marine life and shorebirds they attract.
PM: At Buccaneer Cove we can enjoy a panga ride around the beautiful coastline. This place is named so as it was once a refuge for British Buccaneers who anchored here to collect supplies and clean their ships. The cove is scenic with views of the cliffs and a dark beach, and unusual rock formations known as ‘the monk’ and ‘elephant rock.’
After Buccaneer’s Cove, we are en route to central Santiago Island to disembark at Espumilla Beach with a wet landing onto golden‐colored sand. This area is also used by green sea turtles as a nesting site. A trail through the forest will take us through some of the largest specimens of Palo Santo on the islands to best observe yellow warblers, the Galapagos flycatcher, and Darwin finches.
DAY 7 - FRIDAY BACHAS BEACH & NORTH SEYMOUR
AM: This morning we will visit Las Bachas Beach. Located on the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island, this quiet little beach is the perfect spot to unwind. It got its name during World War II when the American army abandoned its barges. Two of those barges found their way to the shore of the Galápagos. The locals couldn’t quite wrap their heads around the word “barge” and called them “bacha” instead. This pristine white-sand beach is known for its incredible wildlife. Home to flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, and countless birds, this is a nature lover’s paradise.
PM: We disembark on North Seymour Island directly onto this small, uplifted island. We will walk through a large bird nesting colony of the two different species of frigatebirds, blue‐footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls. Depending on the season we will be able to watch the spectacular mating rituals being displayed.
DAY 8 – SATURDAY MOSQUERA ISLET & DEPARTURE
AM: Mosquera is a small islet located between Baltra and North Seymour Islands, measuring about 160 meters wide and 600 meters long. We will visit this islet to view the shorebirds and aquatic life that frequent this area.
After this visit, the yacht will sail to Baltra Island where passengers will disembark and be assisted to the airport for their departing flight.