DAY BY DAY DESCRIPTION OF SITES VISITED WITH ACTIVITY APPROVED BY THE GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK
WESTERN AND NORTHERN 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 choose 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. 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
In the morning, you’ll land at Prince Philip’s Steps (4), Genovesa (TOWER) Island, one of the most spectacular sites in the Galapagos for bird watching because of its diversity of species. Throughout the day, you’ll want to have your camera ready. Your guides will point out red-footed boobies nesting in palo santo trees, Nazca boobies nesting near the trail, and storm petrels gathering in large numbers in an open lava field. With luck, you may even get to see the elusive short-eared owl. After a BBQ lunch on the yacht’s shaded sun deck and a demonstration on how to make Ecuadorian ceviche, you’ll have the option to explore the cliffs up close, either by kayak or stand-up paddleboard, or join a deep-water snorkeling excursion from the Zodiac (2). Look for the red-billed tropic bird hiding in the crevices of the rock. Males looking to attract a mate inflate a red pouch on their chest. Round out the afternoon by relaxing on the beach, or choose to swim with friendly, playful sea lions in these warmer northern waters. When you return to the yacht, you’ll have a
short briefing followed by a delicious dinner. If the night is clear, take a stroll out on deck and see a sky full of bright stars. Your guides can point out constellations and help you identify the species of birds flying alongside the yacht.
This afternoon, you’ll land at Darwin Bay (1), a gorgeous coral sand beach. Here, you’ll see both swallow-tailed gulls and lava gulls gathered near the tide pools. A forest of Optuntia cactus and mangroves provide shelter for the Great frigate birds. Males looking to attract a mate inflate a red pouch on their chest. Round out the afternoon by relaxing on the beach, or choose to swim with friendly, playful sea lions in these warmer northern waters. When you return to the yacht, you’ll have a short briefing followed by a delicious dinner. If the night is clear, take a stroll out on deck and see a sky full of bright stars. Your guides can point out constellations and help you identify the species of birds flying alongside the yacht.
DAY 3: TUESDAY
This morning you’ll visit Las Bachas (1), (Spanish for barges) on the northern side of Santa Cruz. Dozens of bright pink flamingos feed on the interior lagoons, and a long white sand beach is a beautiful site for a stroll. Your guides will point out endemic plant species and share some fascinating Galapagos history. Before returning to the yacht for lunch, you’ll have time to snorkel from the beach. Bring your underwater camera to take photos of colorful tropical fish and sea stars, along with sea turtles and maybe even sharks along the ocean floor. Your guide will offer an enrichment lecture that is informative and entertaining, the topic is on marine currents, climate, and geology of the Islands.
In the afternoon, when you step ashore on Cerro Dragon (3) (Dragon Hill), you’ll have a magnificent panoramic view of the bay and island landscape. You may see flamingos in the brackish lagoon, along with a variety of plants, including opuntia cactus, Palo Santo and Muyuyo trees (Cordia Lutea). As you walk the trail, look for Darwin’s finches, Galapagos flycatchers, yellow warblers, and Audubon shearwaters. The guides will pause to point out birds such as stilts, pintail ducks and sandpipers. Scan the path for golden Land iguanas, strikingly different from their marine cousins, resting in the sun. These iguanas are endemic to the Galapagos, and were once part of the Station’s breeding program. After a leisurely walk along the trail, you’ll return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.
DAY 4: WEDNESDAY
Begin your morning with a Zodiac ride at Punta Vicente Roca (1). Your skilled driver will navigate through the wave-sculpted caves and bring you up close to the tuff walls covered in colorful Sally light-foot crabs. Don’t miss the opportunity to snorkel (2), with penguins diving playfully in the water or grooming themselves on rock formations. Look for sea turtles poking their heads above water before swimming gracefully beneath the surface. After lunch, take a seat on the sun deck to enjoy the scenery as we sail through the Bolivar Chanel. In addition to dramatic scenery, you may see whales breach or bottle-nose dolphin riding the bow wave or spinner dolphins jumping in graceful arcs. You may spot a Mola-Mola, an odd- looking giant sun fish with triangular fins on the top and bottom and a short, stubbly tail fin.
In the afternoon, you’ll disembark at Urbina Bay on ISABELA (2) and see surprising evidence of volcanic activity. Four miles of coastal seabed are exposed due to a dramatic uplift during a volcanic eruption in 1954, and some of the remaining coral skeletons still stand several feet high. A diverse collection of animal species awaits; Galapagos land iguanas, marine iguanas, Darwin’s finches, brown pelicans, flightless cormorants, and the occasional giant Galapagos tortoise. When you’re finished exploring, you’ll return to the vessel for your nightly briefing and dinner. After dessert, step outside and observe the pale glow of the Milky Way. As we cross the Equator, you may get a visit from King Neptune himself! Guests of all ages will enjoy this fun filled evening and maritime ritual, our crew dress as pirates and guest participation is optional.
DAY 5: THURSDAY
This morning you’re in for another geological wonder. Stop at Punta Espinoza on FERNANDINA (4), the youngest and most pristine Island in Galapagos, formed by active volcanoes that stretch around the coast. With no introduced animals on this island, you can observe the ecosystem at its most pristine. Sea lion harems nap on the beach, with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory and keeping a lookout for sharks that threaten the colony’s pups. Hundreds of marine iguanas, forming the largest colony in Galapagos, warm themselves along the rugged shoreline, blending in with the dark
rocks. On the point, you will find the nests of flightless cormorants close to shore since they lost their ability to fly. You’ll have an opportunity to snorkel here, in the company of large sea turtles that frequent the area. Return to the yacht for a BBQ lunch served on the sundeck where you’ll have a prime view for whale watching. Your guide will offer an enrichment lecture about Charles Darwin and the Theory of evolution as well as social/ environmental projects that benefit the Galapagos.
After lunch, you’ll get to see some of the human history of the Galapagos when you go ashore on Tagus Cove (5). This was a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers for centuries, and sections of the rocky cliffs are covered in graffiti from as far back as the 1800s. Hike at a faster pace to a saltwater lagoon and scenic overview, and take in the ocean, lava fields, and volcanic formations. You may choose to explore the shoreline of the secluded cove by kayak or paddleboard. The wildlife is abundant, with Galapagos penguins, boobies, pelicans and other seabirds. Tonight, as we sail toward the geographic center of the archipelago, we’ll cross the equator for the third and final time.
DAY 6: FRIDAY
This morning, you’ll disembark on the dark red beach of RABIDA (Jervis) (2). This small island is considered the geographic center of the Galapagos because its volcanic rocks are the most diversified in the archipelago. A short trail will lead you to a saltwater lagoon occupied by Greater Flamingos. Along the way, look for marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers, and Darwin’s finches. Over a dozen species of finches live on the islands and observing them contributed to Charles Darwin’s ideas that formed the basis for his theory of evolution. If you choose to snorkel this morning (2), you may see a colony of sea lions or rays. Several species of rays live in Galapagos. Golden rays and spotted eagle rays are the most common.
Guests on the Theory and Evolve visit Puerto Egas on SANTIAGO (James Island) (3), where you’ll stroll along the shoreline looking for octopus, starfish and other sea life caught in the tide pools. Watch for great blue herons, lava herons, American Oystercatchers, and yellow-crowned night herons. At low tide, catch a glimpse of marine iguanas as they feed on exposed green algae. During mating season, green and red algae give the usually black marine iguanas beautiful coloration. The walk ends at the grottos, deep pools of clear water where you’ll encounter fur sea lions once on the verge of extinction. Before returning to the yacht, take the opportunity to snorkel from the beach (1). As the yacht sails after lunch, take a seat on deck to view the dramatic landscape and dolphins often spotted here. Guests on the Origin have a Zodiac excursion at Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove)-1 through a series of peaceful coves and inlets surrounded by mangroves whose large roots rise out of the water. View pairs of mating sea turtles (Sept to Feb), white-tipped reef sharks and golden cow-nosed rays. We return to the vessel for the Captain’s Farewell cocktail with the crew, and dinner as well as a special presentation by your guides.
DAY 7: SATURDAY
When you wake up this morning, your yacht will be one of dozens of boats anchored in the lively harbor of Academy Bay. You’ll disembark at Puerto Ayora, SANTA CRUZ (2) Island, the social heart of the Galapagos, with a population of 24,000 residents. This morning, we visit the breeding center Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena (2) and the Charles Darwin Research Station where we learn about ongoing conservation efforts from exhibits set up along the wooden trail. You’ll see hatchlings and miniature tortoises that will be repatriated by the National Park when grown. The newest exhibit honors Lonesome George, the last surviving tortoise from Pinta Island that tragically died of natural causes. With his species now extinct, Lonesome George has become a worldwide icon, emphasizing the importance of efforts to preserve and protect endangered wildlife. A more hopeful story is Diego, a saddleback tortoise whose species was reduced to 14 individuals
before he was transported from the San Diego Zoo and who has since fathered hundreds of descendants.
Return to the yacht for lunch and later board a bus for a short ride to the highlands of Santa Cruz to a lava tunnel, a hollow formation created when lava on the earth’s surface cools and hardens while molten lava continues to flow in the middle. Your next stop will be Los Gemelos (The Twins), a pair of large, deep craters with vibrant plant life at higher elevation. Next stop is at Rancho Primicias, a privately-owned hacienda, where giant tortoises roam freely – some weighing over 500 pounds – in their natural habitat, feeding or resting in shallow pools. Return to the yacht by zodiac for a delicious multi-course farewell dinner and goodbye presentation from the crew.
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. Guests on the Evolve visit Isla Lobos (5). 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!