DAY 1: SUNDAY
START AT MID-DAY BALTRA - SANTA CRUZ
AM: Arrival to the airport in Baltra, reception by the cruise guide and transfer to the yacht.
PM: Lunch service and navigation to Bachas Beach in Santa Cruz.
Wet landing. Nature walk. Snorkeling.
The name is “Spanglish” for 'barges' which were wrecked offshore during the World War II. A common first landing site, there is a delightful swimming beach here, with a lagoon behind, and a longer beach for a stroll and wildlife watching. The saltwater lagoon behind often has great blue herons and small waders such as sander lings and semi‐palmated plovers. Both beaches are nesting areas for green sea turtles, which leave tracks in the sand to the back of the beach, especially from November to February. The beach offers ample space one can explore at leisure.
Evening: Guide briefing. Welcome cocktail. Dinner service and navigation to Genovesa Island.
DAY 2: MONDAY
DARWIN BAY - PRINCE PHILLIP´S STEPS (EL BARRANCO)
AM: Breakfast service. Wet landing. Nature walk. Shallow water snorkeling.
Darwin bay, is the caldera of a collapsed volcano. We land on a small coral beach, were will take an easy walk. For those looking for a little more action there is a demanding optional walk over lava rock. This path will uncover stunning views from the cliffs with ample time and opportunity to photograph the amazing bird life. You may observe such species as swallow-tailed gulls, red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, large ground finches, large cactus finches, sharp-billed ground finches, small marine iguanas, and great Frigatebirds.
PM: Lunch service. Dry landing. Nature walk. Prince Phillip´s Steps.
Deep water snorkeling.
Also known as the bird island: El Barranco, this is a demanding walk up a steep cliff, where tropicbirds, red-footed boobies and other nesting seabirds can be found. We follow the trail through Palo Santo forest to a storm petrel colony passing red boobies and great Frigatebirds along the way.
Evening: Guide briefing. Dinner service and navigation to Santiago Island.
SULLIVAN BAY - RABIDA
AM: Breakfast service. Panga boat ride to Sullivan Bay. Wet landing. Nature walk.
Snorkeling from the beach.
The main attraction of this bay are the broad, Pahoehoe or rope lava flows.
It is one of the most incredible places to compare the lava flows and their characteristics.
PM: Lunch service and navigation to visit Rabida. Wet landing. Nature walk. Deep water snorkeling.
One of the special features of Rabida Island is its remarkable red color, which is a result of the high percentage of oxidized iron in the composition of lava. Here we will witness the nine varieties of finches, as well as the large-billed flycatchers and brown pelicans. There is also a small salt-water lagoon where greater Flamingos can be seen and a beautiful colony of sea lions.
Evening: Guide briefing. Dinner service. Navigation to Santa Cruz Island.
DAY 4: WEDNESDAY
HIGHLANDS - CHARLES DARWIN STATION
AM: Breakfast service. Visit to Santa Cruz Highlands. Dry landing.
The highlands of Santa Cruz have incredible zones of vegetation. This reserve offers you one of the best possibilities to see the huge turtles of Santa Cruz Island in their natural habitat. You can observe them from very close.
PM: Lunch service. Visit to Charles Darwin Scientific Station and Breeding Center. Dry landing.
The main visit in Puerto Ayora is to Charles Darwin Station. An excellent way to begin learning about the islands, their origin and formation. You will learn about how the Galapagos turtles are raised and meet Jorge, the famous solitary turtle. The Scientific Station has its own beach that receives many visitors on weekends.
Evening: Guide briefing. Dinner service and navigation to Isabela Island.
ELIZABETH BAY - URBINA BAY
AM: Breakfast service. Dry landing. Visit to Elizabeth Bay. Deep water snorkeling.
Elizabeth Bay is one of the few places from Galapagos Archipelago in which landing is forbidden.
This happens because there is not a single place to stay in, and also to preserve the natural species of plants and animals living there. However, you can swim and play some water sports as a gift. Animals will be happy to welcome you to this water paradise.
Afternoon: Lunch service and navigation to Urbina Bay. Wet landing. Nature walk and more wildlife watching. Shallow water snorkeling.
Lying at the foot of Alcedo Volcano, south of Tagus Cove, is Urbina Bay, one of the best and the most recent example of geological uplift in the Galapagos. Uplifts occur when the molten materials beneath the surface shifts. In 1954 the shoreline was uplifted by nearly 15 feet (4 meters). The coastline was driven 3/4 of a mile further out to sea, exposing giant coral heads and stranding marine organisms on what was now on shore.
A Disney film crew visited the site shortly afterwards and discovered skeletons of sharks, sea turtles and lobsters unable to find the ocean from the rapidly rising land. Schools of fish were found stranded in newly formed tide pools. Boulder sized coral heads can be seen near the area that once was the beach. The uplifting of Urbina Bay was followed by an eruption of Alcedo a few weeks later.
Seasonally Urbina Bay provides a nesting area for many of the Galapagos creatures. Female tortoises journey down from Alcedo to lay their eggs in the sand. Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants and brown pelicans nest in the area as well.
The visit begins with a wet landing on the white sand beach. Difficulty of the route varies by season. The trail ranges from stark and easily passable during the dry season to mildly challenging requiring wading to pass during the rainy season. Visitors cross the uplifted region learning about this geological wonder. Then reach the sandy area that was once the beach. Shorter visits return to the landing point on the same path, while longer visits continue past the coral heads and new beach.
Other highlights of this site include marine iguanas and some of the largest land iguanas in the islands, and Galapagos Cotton an endemic plant, historians believe the Incas brought to the islands, while naturalist theorize it floated across from Peru.
Evening: Guide briefing. Dinner service. Navigation to Isabela Island.
DAY 6: FRIDAY
TAGUS COVE – FERNANDINA: ESPINOZA POINT
AM: Breakfast service and navigation to Isabela Island. Visit to Tagus Cove. Dry landing. Nature walk. Panga boat ride. Deep water snorkeling.
Tagus cove (Isabela Island) is situated directly east of Fernandina Island on the west coast of Isabela Island. It is a beautiful, well-protected cove sheltered by the shoulders of two volcanic craters and has been used as an anchorage for over 300 years. A nature trail here ascends through the typical dry vegetation zone and offers spectacular views of Darwin Lake, a saltwater crater lake and the long narrow inlet that appears to connect with it. At the top of the trail it is possible to
observe the different vegetation zones, catch a glimpse of Darwin and Wolf volcanoes, and observe Galapagos Penguins, Flightless Cormorants and Pelicans.
PM: Lunch service. Navigation to Fernandina Island. Wet landing. Nature walk on Espinoza Point. Deep water snorkeling.
Fernandina Island is the youngest and most active volcano in the Galapagos, with eruptions taking place every few years. The flat lava of Punta Espinosa offers a stark and barren landscape, but here flightless cormorants build their nests on the point, sea lions sprawl on the beach or play in the tide pools and large numbers of marine iguanas dot the sand. We also will have the opportunity to compare the Aa and Pahoehoe lava types here.
Evening: Guide briefing. Dinner service and navigation to Santiago Island.
ESPUMILLA BEACH - BUCCANEER COVE - SALT MINES - EGAS PORT
AM: Breakfast service. Wet landing Espumilla Beach. Panga boat ride to Buccaneer Cove. Deep water snorkeling.
The excursion begins just a short distance beyond the tide pools and heads to the fur seal grotto. Fur seals and sea lions can be seen swimming in the rocky lava ringed pools. This may be the only opportunity visitors have to see and swim with fur seals.
Fur seals were once hunted to near extinction for their coats. The Galapagos Fur Seal is the smallest of the fur seals found in the southern hemisphere, now compare in numbers with the sea lions. During the day they hide from the hot equatorial sun in shelves or caves of the rocky lava cliffs. At night they feed on squid and fish avoiding the sharks, which are their natural predator.
The crystal clear water, volcanic bridges, fur seals and sea lions make this a magnificent place for swimming and snorkeling.
Visitors who now come to Espumilla Beach mostly do so in search of birds rather than water. A short walk inland takes visitors through a mangrove forest normally inhabited by the common stilt. Sea turtles also visit these mangroves to nest. Beyond the mangroves is a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white cheeked pintails can be seen. The trail makes a loop heading over a knob into a sparely forested area then back to the beach.
Along the way those with a watchful eye may spot a variety of Darwin finches or a vermilion fly catcher. Once back at the beach visitors may have the chance to swim or snorkel time permitting.
Less than an hour north of Puerto Egas, Buccaneer Cove served as a safe haven for pirates, sailors and whalers during the 18th and 19th century. Anchoring in the protected bay they were able to make much needed repairs to their ships while other men went ashore to stock up on salt, tortoises, fresh water and firewood. Several years ago ceramic jars were found at the bottom of the bay, the disregarded cargo of some mariner from years ago. Inside the jars were supplies of wine and marmalade.
Few boats stop at Buccaneer Cove today. Though many cruise by at a slow speed giving visitors the opportunity to view the steep cliffs made of tuff formations and the dark reddish-purple sand beach. This dramatic landscape is made all the more impressive by the hundreds of seabirds perched atop the cliffs. Two of the more recognizable rock formations are known as the "monk" and "elephant rock".
A large population of feral goats now frequents Buccaneer Cove and this portion of Santiago. The National Park Service has fenced off part of the area to protect the native vegetation from the destructive eating habits of this introduced species. A wet landing on the large coffee-colored sand beach is just north of the prized fresh water supply that once attracted pirates and whalers.
PM: Lunch service. Visit Puerto Egas; nature walk, salt mines and fur seal grotto. Shallow water snorkeling.
There are two interesting excursions conducted from Puerto Egas. The first is a short walk from the landing site that brings visitors to the site of one of the Galapagos' first entrepreneur endeavors. For decades salt was extracted from a local salt crater. The industry was abandoned in the 1950's leaving behind a variety of rusted old machines and parts of buildings. The trail follows the path once used by wagon trains to the crater cone.
The steep trail is easy, but can often seem one of the hottest hikes in the islands. Feral goats prune the arid vegetation, which lines the trail. The goats feed on any leaf within reach leaving little left for the endemic island creatures. Bird lovers will be delighted with the opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of Darwin’s finch, the endemic Galapagos hawk, or the colorful vermillion flycatcher.
Finally reaching the crater rim presents an incredible vista. Looking into the crater you are able to see this extinct volcano whose floor has sunken below sea level. Salt water seeps into the crater creating a small salt lake. The sun evaporates the water, leaving the salt that many have tried to mine without success.
Looking away from the crater are the older orange lava fields supporting vegetation including the Palo Santo trees and the younger desolate black lava fields.
A visit to Puerto Egas begins with a wet landing on the dark sand beaches of James Bay. Taking a walk along the rocky coast offers visitors the opportunity to view some of the Galapagos Island's best tide pools. Sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish including the endemic four-eyed blenny can be seen. The walk also presents visitors with a variety of shore birds, marine iguanas, sally light foot crabs and sea lions.
Evening: Guide briefing. Farewell cocktail. Dinner service and navigation to Daphne Island.
DAY 8: SUNDAY
END AT 08:30 AM SANTA CRUZ:
BLACK TURTLE COVE - BALTRA
AM: Panga boat ride to Black Turtle Cove. Breakfast service. Check out and airport departure.
In the morning, a panga boat ride to Caleta Tortuga, also known as Black Turtle Cove. There is no landing at this sight. It is located on the north side of Santa Cruz Island and the way to reach it is by a panga boat (motorized canoe). You will be able to see its mangrove swamp where marine turtles are nesting during certain seasons of the year, as well as sharks and rays.