DAY BY DAY
DAY 1: 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 Visit: Bartolomé/Bartholomew Island. Bartholomew is a small but scenic island, home to the iconic, pointy Pinnacle Rock. There are only two visitor areas on Bartholomew: a series of wooden steps leading to a scenic overlook and a small, sandy beach. There’s not a lot of wildlife on the way up the steps – look for lava lizards – but the view is spectacular. The small beach is one of the better snorkeling spots in the Galapagos, as there is a small penguin colony there and the penguins enjoy darting around snorkelers underwater. You can also see any number of fish and rays, and maybe even a shark or two if you’re lucky.
DAY 2: FRIDAY
AM Visit: Punta Cormorant/Cormorant Point, Floreana Island. Cormorant Point features two beaches and a flamingo lagoon, but oddly enough, no cormorants (which are found mostly in the western islands of Fernandina and Isabela). Cormorant point is sort of like two sites in one: the landing site is a green sandy beach popular with sea lions, but a short walk takes you to the other side of the point and a gorgeous white sand beach. You can wade in up to your ankles, but don’t go any deeper: the waters off this beach are full of stingrays! On most days, you can see dozens of them just off the beach.
AM Visit: Corona del Diablo/Devil’s Crown, off of Floreana Island. The Devil’s Crown is a jagged set of rocks in a roughly circular shape off of Floreana Island: they are the final remnants of an ancient volcanic crater mostly eroded over the ages. It’s a marvelous snorkeling spot: the deep water on one side is good for seeing large rays, sharks and other spectacular large marine life, while the interior of the ‘crown’ is calm and often full of playful sea lions.
PM Visit: Bahía Post Office/Post Office Bay, Floreana Island. Back in the day, whalers and other ships roamed the seas, often for years at a time. For the men who worked these ships, communication with home was very difficult and they would leave letters in certain places around the globe: one such drop off was a barrel at what came to be known as “Post Office Bay.” The barrel is still there: leave your own letter for a loved one! The site also features a nice sandy beach perfect for relaxing or snorkeling.
PM Visit: Mirador de la Baronesa/The Baroness’ Overlook, Floreana Island. From a sandy beach, a short trail leads to the Baroness’ overlook, where visitors will get a good view of the Floreana coastline. Ask your guide for the story of the “Baroness of the Galapagos.” It’s a murder mystery which is unsolved to this day! After a visit to the overlook, there will be the opportunity to take a panga ride along the coast or take out one of the sea kayaks.
DAY 3: SATURDAY
AM Visit: Sombrero Chino/Chinese Hat, off Santiago (James) Island. Chinese Hat, named for its distinctive conical shape, is a visitor site memorable for geology and animal life. The island is known for lava tubes and pillow formations, meaning that it likely was formed underwater and later was pushed to the surface by geological forces. Besides being an informative case study in volcanic geology, Chinese Hat is home to sea lions, penguins and Sally Lightfoot Crabs. The hike is followed by panga rides, snorkeling and kayaking.
PM Visit: Seymour Norte/North Seymour Island. Another visitor favorite, North Seymour has something for everyone. The Frigate Birds and Blue-Footed Boobys nest right next to the rocky trail, allowing for spectacular photographs. The island is home to a booming population of Land Iguanas, often seen contentedly munching on cactus pads. There are usually dozens of sea lions near the landing site and along the beach. As if that’s not enough, the snorkeling is excellent!
DAY 4: SUNDAY
AM visit: Mosquera Islet. Mosquera is a sandy, sparsely vegetated sand bar known for sea lions, lava gulls, shorebirds and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Lucky visitors might get to see a Yellow-crowned Heron as well! The visit features a guided walk around the islet and the chance to snorkel offshore.
PM: Baltra Island Airport. Navigation to Baltra Island and transfer to the airport.