DAY BY DAY DESCRIPTION OF SITES VISITED WITH ACTIVITY APPROVED BY DE GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK
NORTH & CENTRAL ROUTE
DAY 1: SUNDAY
Upon arrival in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (SCY) SAN CRISTOBAL Island, our guides will be waiting to escort you to your expedition yacht. After a short ride by bus to the dock, and by Zodiac to the yacht anchored in the bay, you’ll be shown your cabin and treated to a delicious lunch. There will be a welcome briefing and a brief safety drill afterward you can chose your snorkel equipment and wet suit for the week. You’ll have time to settle in after lunch before the yacht leaves the harbor. Within a few hours, we reach Leon Dormido, (Spanish for sleeping lion), a remnant of a vertical tuff cone formation, rising 500 feet from the ocean. Erosion has split the rock providing a spectacular backdrop for photographs at sunset. As we circumnavigate the formation, you’ll easily spot blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, and frigatebirds on the cliffs. Guests on the Evolve visit La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado (Centro de Crianza Gianni Arismendy)-2. After a briefing on activities for the following day, join our Captain and crew for a cocktail reception. An elegant multi-course dinner, prepared by our accomplished chefs is served.
DAY 2: MONDAY
Your first day of exploration starts with a Zodiac ride to look for wildlife at Cerro Brujo (1), which translates to Wizard Hill. Your guide will point out the wide variety of birds soaring overhead, from brown pelicans and brown noddy terns to blue- footed boobies dive-bombing the water as they fish. Look for different color patterns that indicate age - for example, a brown pelican will have a white neck when it’s mature. Sally lightfoot crabs, black when they’re young but extremely colorful once fully grown, scurry all over the rocks. Your guides will also point out unusual geological formations, including the Cathedral, jokingly called Darwin’s Pants. After the Zodiac tour, you’ll step ashore at a gorgeous coral sand beach and can explore at your own pace. Take a peaceful walk along the beach, swim with sea lions or get in a paddleboard or kayak. Paddleboards are beginner-friendly, with the option to kneel if you aren’t comfortable standing. This is a good opportunity to become familiar with your snorkeling gear from the beach (1) before snorkeling in
deeper water. Your guides will help you identify the various species of fish you’ve encountered so far and lend their expertise. We return to the yacht for a BBQ lunch served on the sun deck (weather permitting).
This afternoon, we go ashore at Punta Pitt (4) for a hike - parts of the trail are rocky, and there is some climbing involved. This is considered one of the best sites for bird-watching, primarily because it is the only place where you’ll see all three species of boobies: blue-footed, red-footed, and the Nazca. Look for baby blue-footed boobies, fully grown after just a couple of months but fluffy and white until their feathers grow in. Your guides will also point out frigatebirds, swallow- tailed gulls, storm petrels, and brown pelicans. We can snorkel at Pitt Rock (2) with sea lions and colorful fish; King Angel and Surgeon fish. Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner. As the yacht sets sail, choose from a selection of guidebooks or fiction from the library, or climb to the top deck for a distant view of “Kicker Rock”. After dinner, join your guide on deck for an exploration of the Southern skies full of stars.
DAY 3: TUESDAY
This morning you’ll land at Punta Suarez on Espanola (Hood) Island (5). Your guides will point out the large number of endemic species living here, such as the waved albatross. These gorgeous birds spend the first several years of their lives in the open ocean and return to land to mate. If your visit is between April and December, you will witness the well-known courtship dance. As you walk, take care not to step on the marine iguanas sunbathing on the dark lava rocks. These iguanas are usually black but acquire bright red and green coloration during mating season from the algae they eat. Follow the trail to the dramatic ocean blow hole, watch for colorful sally light-foot crabs crawling along the shoreline. We also find Darwin’s Finches, Hood mockingbird, Galapagos Doves, red-billed tropicbirds, Galapagos Hawks, Nazca boobies and swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gull in the world. Return to the yacht for a BBQ lunch served on deck (weather permitting) and a cooking demonstration on how to make Ecuadorian ceviche.
After lunch, you’ll have the option to snorkel at Tortuga Rock (2) and explore the caves covered with invertebrates. Disembark at Gardner Bay (1), site of an expansive white-powder sand beach where colonies of sea lions dot the shoreline. The dominant males of a sea lion colony keep watch over their harems to keep them safe. Here you’ll have the option to snorkel from the beach (1), kayak or paddleboard, or take a leisurely stroll, sunbathe or look for wildlife; Darwin Finches, Espanola mockingbird and Galapagos hawks. After the activities, return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner. Your guide will offer an optional enrichment lecture tonight after dinner. Informative and entertaining, the topic for this evening is on marine currents and climate or Geology of the Islands.
DAY 4: WEDNESDAY
Step ashore at Punta Cormorant’s olive-sand beach with the sounds of sea lions, lava herons, yellow-crowned night herons and blue-footed boobies as you explore Floreana (Charles) Island (3). The green mineral you’ll see on the beach is caused by a high concentration of iron and manganese from the same basaltic lava found in Hawaii. As you walk to a brackish lagoon, home to Bahama ducks, common stilts, Galapagos flycatchers and bright pink flamingos, the guides will point out the rich variety of plant life, including morning glories, cut-leaf daisies, mangroves (black, red and white), palo verde and Scalesia. The trail leads to a beach where sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand dunes and sting rays swim in the shallow water. Don’t miss the opportunity to snorkel at Devil’s Crown or Champion Islet (2), a shallow sunken crater colonized by a brilliant array of colorful fish and coral, white-tipped sharks, sea turtles, spotted eagle rays and sea stars. Return to the yacht for lunch and a lecture on the human history of Galapagos. Learn about fascinating facts of why this island is sometimes called the Island of Mysteries.
In the afternoon, you’ll be able to participate in a thrilling Galapagos tradition. Floreana is home to Post Office Bay (1), the site where English whaling vessels erected a post barrel in the late 18th century. When you drop a postcard in the barrel, no postage is required. You’ll search through the postcards left by previous visitors, and if you see one addressed to a location near your home, you may choose to take it with you. However, you must deliver it in person. Similarly, your postcards will be delivered by future visitors. Take a Zodiac excursion or explore by
paddleboard at Baroness Point to find sea turtles and rays in the shallow lagoon. You’ll be busy snapping photos of sea stars and a brilliant array of colorful fish. Return to the yacht for a briefing followed by dinner and a fun filled pirate themed party – participation is optional.
DAY 5: THURSDAY
When you awake this morning, the view will be completely different from the last few days. A harbor full of boats is bustling with activity at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island (2), a town with a population of 24,000. You’ll travel by bus to a higher altitude with beautiful geological formations including the lava tunnels at El Mirador and Los Gemelos (the twins), a pair of massive craters. Your guides will explain how they were formed. The highlight of the morning is a visit to Rancho Primicias, a privately-owned ranch where tortoises roam free. These slow-moving giants can grow to be over 500 pounds! Lunch is served back on board the yacht, and later in the afternoon you’ll learn about the most famous visitor to the Galapagos - Charles Darwin - as well as current conservation efforts, when you visit the Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena or Charles Darwin Research Station (1). Visit the exhibit honoring Lonesome George, whose death marked the extinction of his species of tortoise from Pinta Island. There’s another story with a happier ending: Diego, a tortoise from the San Diego zoo, brought his species back from the brink of extinction by fathering hundreds of offspring. You’ll have free time to explore the town as you walk back to the main dock, the distance of about a mile. If you’re looking for a souvenir, this is the perfect time. You’ll have the option to remain in town for dinner on your own with transfers provided by Zodiac. Otherwise, return to the yacht for the customary delicious multi-course dinner.
DAY 6: FRIDAY
When you wake up this morning, you’ll be in solitude once again, with no other boats in sight. You’ll have two options for a morning activity. Today’s hike is a challenge, with about 400 wooden steps winding around Bartolome island (4), ending in a gorgeous panoramic view of Pinnacle Rock. Your guide will stop along the way to describe the geology of the landscape; mini lava cones and lava bombs formed by flowing magma from past volcanic eruptions. If you’d rather skip the hike, enjoy a Zodiac ride around the island to look for penguins. You’ll see these adorable animals, the second smallest type of penguin, swimming and diving playfully or grooming themselves on rocks. Crystal clear water beckons you to wade in from the beach (1). Snorkel with schools of tropical fish, white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos Penguins. Return to the vessel for a BBQ lunch served on the sundeck (weather permitting).
The itinerary for this afternoon varies depending on your yacht, but all visitors will enjoy lovely views and some of the Galapagos’ renowned wildlife. Guests on the Origin go ashore on Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat), a small island off the southern tip of Santiago that owes its name to its shape. Sea lions await on the beach, and as you explore, you’ll see marine iguanas and oystercatchers. Along the trail (3), you’ll see remnants of the island’s geological history, with volcanic rubble and cracked lava formations. Snorkeling here, often with penguins, is not to be missed. Guests on Theory visit Playa Las Bachas (1), on the northern side of Santa Cruz. You’ll also have a wonderful opportunity for snorkeling after exploring interior lagoons with vivid flamingos. Guests on the Evolve have a Zodiac excursion at Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) through a series of coves and inlets surrounded by mangroves. You’ll navigate slowly along the shoreline, listening for the telltale deep inhale of a sea turtle and watching for the wings of a school of golden rays. Your guide will offer an enrichment lecture tonight after dinner. Informative and entertaining, the topic for this evening is Charles Darwin and evolution or social and environmental projects that we support at Ecoventura.
DAY 7: SATURDAY
This morning you’ll head out on South Plaza (3), a small islet with tall cliffs and a trail with a variety of plants and animals. This island’s species of “Opuntia” or prickly pear cactus has been decimated by invasive species, so you’ll see young plants surrounded by nets to protect them. Look for nests for a variety of birds, such as swallow-tailed gulls, shearwaters, small ground finches, and red-billed tropicbirds. This geological uplift is home to a colony of bachelor sea lions, with dominant bulls in various stages of recovery from battles over prime beach territory. You’ll also have an opportunity to see land iguanas up close, Great and Magnficent, and your guides will teach you how to identify them.
During lunch, you’ll sail to North Seymour Island (3), where a spectacular sight awaits: frigate birds with red sacs on their chests inflated, seeking mates. At the height of mating season, you’ll be surrounded by dozens, but no matter what time of year you visit, there will be individuals seeking mates. The Galapagos Islands are home to two different species of frigates, Great and Magnificent, and your guides will teach you to identify the difference. You’ll have a final opportunity to snorkel in deeper water (2). Look for sharks, sea lions, and starfish, along with a variety of tropical fish. Before dinner, enjoy a champagne toast to celebrate a wonderful week at the Captain’s farewell gathering. During the briefing, and you’ll receive detailed instructions for disembarking the next morning. After dinner, there is a special presentation from your guides with images from your week in paradise.
DAY 8: SUNDAY
This morning you’ll disembark from the yacht after breakfast. As a perfect way to sum up the trip, you’ll visit the Interpretation Center on San Cristobal (1) to discover more about the human history of the Galapagos Islands. There’s also a paved trail where you can enjoy a brief walk before a bus ride into town. You’ll have some free time for last-minute photos before your transfer to the airport. It’s a quick flight back to the mainland, but you’ll be bringing lifelong memories with you.