Independent Vacation (min 2 people):
Day 1: Santa Cruz. Departure from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra (aprox. 2 and half tour flight). Passengers are picked up at the airport by our guides and taken to the Itabaca canal, then cross to the Island of Santa Cruz and travel to Puerto Ayora. Santa Cruz Highlands. One option is to cross the highlands of Santa Cruz. Passengers will observe the twin pit craters and visit Cerro Chato. You’ll be able to observe the famous giant tortoises. Additionally, travelers can walk inside the dormant lava tubes.
Day 2: Española (Suarez Point). Dry landing. Visitors will learn about the lava terrain and cross the inactive lava fields. Besides the sea lion colonies, this is one of the most important sites for bird watching. Many species, like the hooded mockingbird and red-billed tropic, can be spotted and observed closely. Past the nesting grounds you’ll reach the world’s largest colony of waved albatross. From May to December their mating rituals are a highlight of the visit. Later, you’ll visit the famous blowhole, where water shoots 23 m (75 ft) into the air.
Afternoon Española (Gardner Bay). Wet landing on a white coral beach amidst a large colony of sea lions. This site has no trails, so hiking is not possible. It’s an open area where you can spot Galapagos hawks, American oyster catchers, Galapagos doves, hood mockingbirds, 3 species of Darwin finches, yellow warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas. It’s great for swimming and snorkeling, and you can see many Galápagos marine species like king angelfish, creole fish, damsel fish, parrot fish, manta rays, white tipped reef sharks.
Day 3: Floreana (Cormorant Point). Wet landing on a greenish colored beach. Passengers will hike from black mangrove beds to a lagoon. This large, brackish lagoon holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island is best known for its endemic plant life like the Galapagos millwork, passion flower, and button mangrove. Novice snorkelers can practice on the main beach with the playful sea lions; experienced snorkelers can roam around Devils Crown. After Cormorant Point, we’ll make dinghy ride along the coast. One tour tour to observe: blue footed bobbies, sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls. Deep water snorkeling, this unforgettable activity lasts an hour approximately you will be swimming in an aquarium with colorful fishes, tame sharks, and rays.
Floreana (Post office). Located on the north side of Floreana Island, the bay is so-named because in 1793, Captain James Colnett installed an empty barrel which served as an informal post box for sailors who passed through the Galapagos, taking with them the letters to their destinations. Today, our visitors continue the tradition by placing unstamped postcards inside the barrel which reach their destinations for free. It can take weeks, sometimes months, or sometimes the cards never arrive at all! A short walk from the famous barrel, you’ll come to a tunnel formed by lava flows. Down a path you can observe the mocking bird of Galapagos, some species of Darwin’s finches, yellow Wardle and lava lizards. After a short trip in the panga, you’ll make a dry landing at Lookout Point where you enjoy a great view among marine birds.
Day 4: North Seymour. Dry landing. Guests will encounter swallow tailed gulls and sea lions. This site is a major nesting colony of blue footed boobies and has the largest colony of the magnificent frigate bird. Travelers will also spot both iguana species, the marine iguanas and land iguanas, and then hike around the nesting sites.
Santa Cruz (Dragon Hill). Wet landing. Visitors walk to a saltwater lagoon which is occasionally visited by pink flamingos. Then you’ll hike up to Dragon Hill, which offers a beautiful view of the bay. This area is a nesting site for numerous reintroduced land iguanas. There is also a peculiar scalesia tree forest.
Santa Cruz (Venice). Dinghy ride around the islet along the coast of Santa Cruz. The land iguanas that live in Venice were protected from the wild dogs that live on the island of Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz is possible to observe the vegetation and marine animals like: spotted eagle rays and golden rays, mullets, white tipped ref. sharks and pacific green sea turtles which rest in the calm waters of the coves and channels.
Day 5: Rábida (Jervis). Wet landing. The volcano-formed beach is dark red and frequented by sea lions. It’s considered the geographic center of Galapagos because it has the most diverse volcanic rocks on the Islands. You’ll hike to a salt water lagoon, where flamingos can sometimes be found. July through September is a good time to observe brown pelicans nesting in the salty bushes. Boobies and 9 species of Darwin’s finches can also be observed. You can take a dinghy ride by the reefs, as well as snorkel.
Santiago (Egas Port). Wet landing on a dark sand beach. Most of the landscape is tuff-stone layers and lava flows. You can observe hunting herons, great blue herons, lava herons, yellow crowned night herons and oyster catchers. Passengers will see marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside red sally light-foot crabs. There is a colony of fur-seals swimming in deep cool-water pools. Here you can swim and snorkel and find octopuses, sea horses, star fish.
Day 6: Fernandina (Espinosa Point). Dry landing. Visitors will see the biggest marine iguanas mingling with sally-light foot crabs, as well as flightless cormorants nesting sites, Galapagos penguins, Galapagos hawks, and sea lions. Among the flora and volcanic formations observers will spot brachycereus cactus, and “pa-hoe-hoe” lava and “AA” lava formations. Numerous mangrove beds extend into the sea.
Isabela (Tagus Cove). Dry landing on Galapagos’ largest island. Visitors will learn about the eruption of five volcanoes that formed this island. The trail leads to Darwin’s salt water lagoon and an excellent view of the lava fields and volcanic formations. You’ll take a dinghy to observe marine life. Frequently, Galapagos penguins can be seen here. Opportunity for snorkeling. Graffiti believed to have been made by 19th century pirates helps passengers better appreciate the relationship between the islands and tourism today.
Day 7: Bartolomé. Dry landing. Passengers will see volcanic formations such as lava bombs, spatter, and cinder cones. After hiking to the summit you can enjoy a great view of the surrounding islands, including Pinnacle Rock’s eroded tuff cone. On the way to the summit, you’ll often see colonies of marine iguanas, lava lizards, tiquilla and various cacti. You’ll be able to snorkel and see the Galapagos penguin, sea turtles, and white tipped sharks from a safe distance.
Santa Cruz (Black Turtle Cove). Located near Las Bachas beach on the north side of the island. Passengers will take a dinghy though the mangrove. The motor is turned off to allow close observation of marine turtles, white tipped reef sharks, spotted eagle rays, and yellow rays.
Day 8: Santa Cruz (Charles Darwin Research Station). Travelers will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, staffed with international scientists conducting biological research and conservation projects. Here you’ll be able to admire the giant tortoises involved in the breeding program. Visitors can also admire the prickly-pear cactus forest and many land birds. Later on, you’ll have some free time to walk around town and shop for souvenirs. Disembark at Baltra. Passengers will take a bus to the airport for the flight back to the mainland via Guayaquil to Quito.
Low Season Dates:
- Dry landing: passengers step from the dinghy onto rocks or a dock.
- Wet landing: as the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, passengers step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
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