DAY BY DAY
DAY 1 : SUNDAY
AM: Baltra Island Airport. Meet upon arrival to Baltra airport and transfer to the Galapagos Endemic catamaran.
PM Visit: Playa las Bachas/Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz Island. The name “bachas” is derived from the English word ‘barges’ and dates from World War Two, when the USA had a military base in the Galapagos Islands. Bachas is a lovely beach, great for swimming or some easy snorkeling off shore. Shore birds like whimbrels and stilts are common, as are sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. A brackish lagoon popular with flamingos is a short walk from the main beach.
DAY 2: MONDAY
AM Visit: Cerro Brujo/Witch Hill, San Cristobal Island. “Witch Hill” gets its name from the “pájaro brujo,” or witch bird, better known in English as the Vermilion Flycatcher. The site bewitches visitors even without the little red birds: it consists of a white coral sand beach perfect for playing in the sand, kayaking or snorkeling. It is possible to snorkel or kayak in the gentle surf off the beach. Panga rides take guests past some interesting rock formations along the island shore.
AM Visit: Leon Dormido/Kicker Rock, off San Cristobal Island. Apparently, no one can agree what Kicker Rock looks like. This distinctive rock formation off the coast of San Cristobal island is called León Dormido, or “Sleeping Lion” in Spanish, but “Kicker Rock” in English. Depending on how you squint at it, it can be seen as vaguely shaped like a lion or a boot. It is one of the best snorkeling and diving sites in Galapagos: lucky visitors may get to see hammerhead sharks and sea turtles in addition to many dazzling reef fish.
PM Visit: Isla Lobos/Sea Lion Island, off San Cristobal Island. “Sea Lion Island” lives up to its name! One of the best snorkeling spots in the Galapagos, Isla Lobos is a long islet parallel to the coast of San Cristobal Island, creating a calm channel perfect for beginning snorkelers. The island is home to a large colony of sea lions who sometimes splash into the water and frolic with swimmers and snorkelers. It’s also a great place to practice your kayak skills if you’re rusty!
DAY 3: TUESDAY
AM Visit: Islote Osborn, Islote Gardner/Osborn and Gardner Islets, off of Española Island. One of the best snorkeling spots in all of Galapagos, Osborn Islet is known for tranquil waters and abundant sea life. Sea lions frolic with snorkelers while brilliantly colorful parrot fish nip at the coral on the sea bed. Nearby, Gardner Islet is also home to a sea lion colony. These islets are close to one another and guides may decide to go to one or the other depending on conditions.
AM Visit: Bahía Gardner/Gardner Bay, Española Island: One of only two sites on spectacular Española island where visitors are allowed to land, Gardner Bay is a gorgeous white-sand beach where guests can lounge and get some sunshine alongside sleeping sea lions. There isn’t much wildlife (crabs and marine iguanas are common, as are some wading birds) but it’s one of the best beaches in Galapagos! Those who have not had their fill of snorkeling earlier in the morning can putter around in the gentle surf off the beach.
PM Visit: Punta Suarez/Suarez Point, Española Island. An amazing visitor site, Punta Suarez is the personal favorite of many veteran Galapagos guides. It is the only place in all of the islands where visitors can reliably expect to see the majestic Waved Albatross. The albatrosses migrate away from Española between January and April, but are there for the rest of the year. Suarez Point is also home to Nazca Boobys, Blue-footed Boobys, Red-billed Tropic Birds, marine iguanas, mockingbirds and more.
DAY 4: WEDNESDAY
AM Visit: Isla Santa Fe/Santa Fe Island. Santa Fe is a small island, but it has a memorable trail which wends its way through a forest of tall, prickly cacti. The cacti are the preferred food of a booming population of endemic Land Iguanas. The Santa Fe rice rat, one of the few mammals native to the islands, is also found there, although the elusive rodent is seldom seen by visitors. The native population of giant tortoises on Santa Fe was wiped out by whalers over a century ago, but in 2015 some Española tortoises were released onto the island. It is possible to go snorkeling and kayaking off of the island after the hike.
PM Visit: Plaza Sur/South Plaza Island. A low, rocky island populated by cacti and a healthy population of land iguanas, South Plaza Island is always a favorite among visitors to Galapagos. The island is home to the sesuvium plant, which is bright red at certain times of the year. This gives the site an otherworldly look and makes it one of the most picturesque sites in the islands. As you hike, look for boobys diving for fish offshore!
DAY 5: THURSDAY
AM Visit: Charles Darwin Station/Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, Santa Cruz Island. Named after the Galapagos Park Ranger who served for 43 years, the Fausto Llerena Breeding center is home to hundreds of baby tortoises of different sub-species being raised until they are large enough to be released. Over the years, thousands of tortoises have been released into the wild. Here, visitors can learn all about the tortoises and other conservation programs run by the prestigious Charles Darwin Foundation.
PM: Baltra Island Airport. Transfer from Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island to Baltra Airport.