Today you can explore this "living laboratory", where the wildlife wander freely and fearless of naturalists and photographers. Observe prehistoric land-iguanas, the Galapagos namesakes, 600-pound giant tortoises, and 13 species of finches, each with a distinct beak. These beak adaptations led to Darwin's theory of evolution. Almost all the reptile species and half of the species of plants and birds found throughout the archipelago live only in the Galapagos.
Only in the Galapagos you can snorkel with a penguin on the Equator and, on the same day, swim with a sea lion in a secluded bay or go eye-to-eye with a flightless sea bird. The islands' isolation from the mainland means that many animals have no natural predators, therefore their apparent fearlessness. Around the Galapagos, where cold and warm waters intermingle, fur seals, sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and sharks thrive, unafraid of human predators.
Enjoy the crazy courtship dance of blue-footed boobies, watch puffed-up, crimson-throated frigate birds show off for their mates, gaze, awestruck, at hundreds of waved albatrosses and ponder the world's pinkest flamingos. Marvel at marine iguanas, lava lizards, and masked boobies. Departures every Sunday, year-round.
Day 1: Upon arrival to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island, our crew is waiting at the airport to escort you to your anchored yacht. This afternoon, visit Playa Ochoa, offering a subtle introduction to these extraordinary islands. As the sun sets, we cruise around Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), a vertical tuff cone formation that abruptly juts up almost 500 feet out of the ocean. On the cliffs, we find blue-footed boobies, masked boobies and magnificent frigate birds;
Day 2: We spend the entire day on Tower (Genovesa), considered to be one of the most spectacular Islands in Galapagos. We land on Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach where swallow-tailed and lava gulls gather near the tide pools. Enter a forest of mangroves where colonies of great frigate birds nest. The males inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. After swimming or sea kayaking, take a panga ride along the jagged shoreline to spot. The beautiful red-billed tropic bird. At Prince Philip’s Steps, we find storm petrels and the elusive short-eared owl. Red-footed boobies nest here in Palo Santo trees;
Day 3: This morning, we visit a small islet just off the east coast of Santa Cruz. South Plaza is a geological uplift with tall cliffs offering spectacular views. After a dry landing, the trails lead us through Opuntia or “Prickly pear cactus” and sesuvium. Here, we find the Galapagos land iguana which feed on the cactus. Toward the end of the cliff, we encounter one of the few bachelor sea lion colonies found in the Galapagos. The dominant bulls are in various stages of recovery from battles they lost from fighting over prime beach territory.
We also find swallow tailed gulls, shearwaters and red-billed tropicbirds who build their nests along the cliffs. This afternoon, we disembark on North Seymour, also a small geological uplift. After a dry landing, we follow a trail that leads us to sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls and blue-footed boobies. Visit the largest colony of magnificent frigatebirds found in Galapagos. As we stroll along the beach, watch for sea lions body surfing the northern swells;
Day 4: This morning, we visit Tagus Cove, located on the western Island of Isabela. Six volcanoes flowed together and formed the largest Island in Galapagos. On our walk, we discover a salt-water lagoon, a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields and volcanic formations. Graffiti dating back to the 1800's is written on the rocky cliffs. Explore the Cove in pangas or sea kayaks and find Galapagos penguins and other seabirds. After lunch, we cross the Bolivar Canal and disembark at Punta Espinoza, Fernandina.
Located in the western part of the archipelago, Fernandina is the youngest and most pristine Island found in Galapagos. Hundreds of marine iguanas, the largest colony in Galapagos, bask in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory. Flightless Cormorants build their nest on the point and Galapagos Hawks fly overhead. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast;
Day 5: This morning, stroll along the shore at Puerto Egas, Santiago (James) looking for octopus, starfish and other sea life caught in the tide pools. At low tide, catch a glimpse of marine iguanas as they feed on exposed green algae. Watch for great blue herons, lava herons, oystercatchers and yellow-crowned night herons. Our walk ends at the grottos, deep pools of clear water where we encounter fur sea lions once on the verge of extinction. On Bartolome, it seems like we are walking on the moon. This young Island is inhospitable to most plants and animals. After a dry landing, climb 30 minutes up a steep slope to the summit of a once active volcano. Along the way, we pause to catch our breath and marvel at lava bombs, spatter cones and cinder cones. From the top of the wooden stairs, we can gaze out across the island for a panoramic view of the island and "Pinnacle Rock", an eroded tuff cone. Down below, crystal clear water is an invitation to snorkel with schools of tropical fish. Galapagos Penguins often swim in this area. On the other side of the Island, encounter sea turtles and white-tipped sharks;
Day 6: This morning, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Scientists from all over the globe work at the station and conduct biological research from anatomy to zoology. Get your picture taken with the giant tortoises. Observe year-old tortoises and learn about the captive-breeding program. Stroll through the town of Puerto Ayora (population: 12,000) the largest town in the Galapagos. Buy souvenirs, mail postcards and absorb local charm in the social heart of the Islands. After lunch on board, we travel by bus to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. The scenery gradually changes as we wind our way through all seven vegetation zones found in Galapagos. From June to January you can find giant tortoises on a private farm in the highlands. We visit Los Gemelos, Spanish for “The Twins”, a pair of large pit craters where we find the bright red male vermilion flycatcher. We stop at "the tunnels", the largest lava tubes found in Galapagos;
Day 7: This morning, step onto Gardner Bay, Espanola. Walk along seemingly endless stretches of sandy beach where you’ll find colonies of sea lions. Swim and snorkel with the sea lions and enjoy the colorful diversity of sea life near Gardner Islet. This afternoon, we disembark at Punta Suarez, Espanola, where we witness the highest rate of endemic species in Galapagos. Sea lions noisily greet us as we land on their beach. Curious mockingbirds peck at our shoelaces. From April to November, the waved albatross, found only on Espanola, perform their wild mating rituals. Colonies of blue-footed boobies engage in “sky-pointing” to show off for potential mates. Masked boobies busily care for their young. Stunning swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds take shelter under the cliffs. We also find Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Doves and Galapagos Hawks. Observe a unique specie of marine iguana identified with traces of red and green colorings. Colorful sally light-foot crabs crawl along the shoreline near to the famous "blow hole";
Day 8: This morning, we drop anchor in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal. We travel by bus into the interior of the island to visit a new site called Galapaguera of Cerro Colorado (Red Hill). At Galapaguera, we find Calandrinia an endemic plant of this island. The National Park has established a breeding program for the tortoises and set up an information center for visitors. Passengers not only get to see the terrestrial tortoises living in their natural habitat but also learn about their origin, evolution and threats by introduced animals. Afterwards, we head straight to the airport for our flight back to the mainland.
Shore excursions include:
- Naturalist Guided Hiking on 8 Unique Islands;
- Wildlife Viewing;
- Snorkeling opportunities nearly every day;
- Giant Tortise Excursion;
- Bachelor Sea Lion Excursion;
- Penguin Excursion;
- Additional Shore Excursions for Waved Albatross and Boobies, including exciting mating rituals;
- On-Board Entertainment Center;
- Observation Deck;
- Natural and Interpretive History and much more!
Accommodations include ten cabins located on three decks, each with a large private bathroom and a fresh, hot-and-cold-water shower. Either two twin lower beds or one double bed, a roomy closet, drawers, overhead storage, separate climate controls, intercom system, bottled water, hair dryer, toiletries, and fresh towels grace the inside of each cabin.
Start each day with a casual breakfast buffet including fresh, exotic fruit juices, eggs cooked to order, toast, café con leche, and a wide array of cereals. At lunch, enjoy a buffet of crisp salads, pastas, assorted vegetables, fresh produce, meats, and fish all creatively prepared. Unwind quickly in the evening with creamy soups, ceviche, grilled seafood, roasted potato salad, unique desserts, and other delicacies both Ecuadorian and international.
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