Morning arrival to Baltra Island and immediate transfer to the dock to board Yacht La Pinta. Welcome introductory briefing and lunch.
North Seymour Island
Afternoon disembarkation (dry landing) for a walk along the coast and the interior of the island, observing bird colonies of blue footed boobies, frigate birds, swallow tailed gulls and also sea lions and marine iguanas. Opportunity for snorkelling or coastal exploration. Evening briefing, welcome cocktail and dinner.
Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela Island)
Since there is no landing site at this location, the coastal exploration is by dinghy, while the naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area with remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. This is the nesting place for flightless cormorants, the only existing marine birds in the world other than penguins that have changed their condition of flying birds to diving birds. Wildlife here also includes sea lions, Galápagos fur seals, Galápagos penguins, blue-footed and Nazca boobies and noddy terns. Depending on the conditions of the ocean, it will be possible to schedule a snorkelling outing along the cliffs of partly-sunken Ecuador Volcano, near the northern tip of Isabela Island. This area has a very rich marine life, and is seasonally visited by green sea turtles. Lunch on board.
Punta Espinoza (Fernandina Island)
Afternoon visit to the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina. Disembark (dry landing) for a one-mile walk over dark lava. Punta Espinoza has an amazing combination of barrenness and a lot of wildlife. Having no introduced mammals, Fernandina boasts a very unique environment with the highest density of marine iguanas, sharing their space with sea lions, sally-light foot crabs, hawks, penguins and the flightless cormorant. Snorkelling is possible. Evening briefing and dinner.
Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)
After breakfast (wet landing) disembark at Urbina Bay, located at the foot of volcanoes Alcedo and Darwin, west of Isabela Island, the result of an uplifting of the ocean in 1954. Here you can find corals, shells, and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water. This area is also home to large and very colourful Galápagos land iguanas, giant tortoises (occasionally); a good spot to observe Darwin’s finches. Along the shoreline, after the hike, guests may encounter flightless cormorants and see penguins while snorkelling in this beautiful cove. Lunch on board.
Tagus Cove (Isabela Island)
On the northwest of Isabela, secluded Tagus Cove provided a favourite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. Old graffiti is still found carved on its walls. The vegetation in the area includes the fragrant palo santo trees. These white-barked trees are leafless and look dead most of the year. They leaf and spring back to life in the wet season. An uphill hike takes guests to the back of Darwin Crater, filled with salt water. The view at the end of the trail is worth the climb. Darwin is one of Isabela’s six volcanoes, a remarkable contrast to the lower islands to the east of the archipelago. Possibilities to swim, snorkel or ride kayaks. There is no beach in the area, so these activities are done from the pangas. Briefing and dinner.
Rábida Island (Jervis)
Disembark at Rábida Island (wet landing) on a red-coloured beach, due to the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic material. A gratifying stroll along the beach of this small island (1.9 sq. mi.) allows the observation of a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. Very close to the beach, hidden behind a strip of green saltbush, is a salt pond where at times greater flamingos migrate. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach, both for beginners as well as for experienced snorkelers, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes. During navigation to our next island, dolphins are often spotted. Lunch on board.
Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) (Santa Cruz Island)
The north shore of Santa Cruz hosts Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill). Dry landing and a walk that includes a brackish water lagoon frequented by lagoon birds, including stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers, sanderlings, and more. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago. This area is a natural nesting site for land iguanas, constantly monitored and assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The arid-zone vegetation can be a rewarding location for bird watching, where Darwin’s finches, Galápagos mockingbirds, the endemic Galápagos flycatcher, and yellow warblers are regular sightings. Tonight our expedition plan will reveal the interesting sites of the day ahead. Dinner.
Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station
Morning disembarkation (dry landing) to visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens, including tortoise celebrities like “Lonesome George” within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Lunch at the poolside of the Finch Bay Eco Hotel.
Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
After lunch, visit the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, with their impressive Scalesia forest and the geological formation of the twin pit craters known Los Gemelos. From December to mid-April a visit to see the giant tortoises in the wild may be included, if weather conditions are good. Next day’s expedition plan and dinner.
Baroness Cove & Post Office Bay (Floreana Island)
After Breakfast, a wet landing at the Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has been serving as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries, to learn about the human side of the islands, its early inhabitants and the adventures of pirates and whalers. Panga ride along the maze of channels in the north shore of Floreana, see the Sea Lion colonies, marine turtles in shallow waters, rays and occasionally penguins. Wet Landing on Baroness Cove and a short walk up to the observation tower to enjoy breath taking views of Floreana and its nearby islets. Snorkelling and/or kayaking is possible. Back on board for lunch.
Punta Cormorant (Cormorant Point, Floreana Island)
Disembark at Punta Cormorant (wet landing) at an olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish water lagoon where bird species like greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers, and others may be observed. This outing also includes a white-sand beach where sea turtles come out at night to nest (from December to May). Possibility of snorkelling from the beach; a ride in our glass-bottom boat; or for advanced snorkelers, “The Devil’s Crown”, if conditions permit. Briefing and dinner.
Santa Fe Island
After breakfast, a wet landing on a sandy white beach with many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right of “Beach Master”, while smaller males masking as females make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name with tree-sized trunks! The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the afternoon walk. Snorkelling and swimming from the beach rounds off the rewarding experience. Lunch on board.
South Plaza Island
Disembark (dry landing) in the channel between North and South Plaza Islands, where the island tilts toward the water, the approach makes for a lavishly colourful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange ‘Sally Lightfoot’ crabs. Further up the shore a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-gray land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide playing with the thermals that form along the cliffs of this small but amazing island. Briefing and dinner.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal (Chatham) Island)
After breakfast, departure to the port and airport for flight back to the mainland.