DAY 01 WEDNESDAY:
MORNING: Baltra airport, Galapagos
The flight from Quito (via Guayaquil) to the Galapagos is approximately 2 ½ hours on a Boeing 727. Upon arrival at Baltra travellers pass through an airport inspection point to insure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands and to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless prepaid). Your guide will meet you, collect your luggage and escort you on the short bus ride to the harbor. Motorized rafts, called 'Pangas' will then transport you to the M/C Galapagos Journey II and our crew will welcome you onboard. After a safety briefing, we set sail and eat lunch, after which the first island visit is made.
A small barren island that is located across from Sullivan Bay just off James Island, Bartolome has two main visitors' sites. The first site offers the possibility to climb to the summit of the island, from where visitors can observe a variety of volcanic formations including lava bombs spatter and cinder cones, lava flows and lava tubes. The moon like landscape provides one of the most scenic panoramas in the archipelago. At the second site, visitors have the chance to relax on a beautiful beach, which offers great snorkelling opportunities. Multi –coloured fish and occasionally penguins and sea turtles have been seen at the base of the tall pinnacle rock, which dominates Bartolome's landscape. A short walk across to Bartolome´s second beach and swimming is strictly prohibited. Here visitors can see White-tipped Reef Sharks at a safe distance swimming along the shoreline.
DAY 02 THURSDAY:
MORNING: Fernandina Island – Espinoza Point
Just across from Tagus Cove, there is a visitor's site where some of the unique Galapagos species can be seen. Here marine iguanas unite in larger groups than on any other island as they stretch out on the sand, basking in the sun, swimming near the shore and sometimes even blocking the path at the landing dock. Among the unique species found here, is the Flightless Cormorant - a bird that due to a lack of predators had to adjust their way of survival and perfect their skills of finding food in the ocean. Their wings, tails and feet progressively adapted for swimming. Observing these birds, is like witnessing evolution happening right in front of you.
AFTERNOON: Isabela Island - Urbina Bay
Located on the western coast of Albemarle Island and at the foot of the Alcedo Volcano, this bay was uplifted from the sea in 1954. Flightless cormorants and pelicans can be found along the coast during their nesting seasons, and sea turtles and rays can be seen in the bay. The highlands are home to large and colorful land iguanas.
DAY 03 FRIDAY:
MORNING: Isabela Island - Elizabeth Bay
As this is a marine visitor site, the excursion is carried out in a zodiac and so there is no landing point. Your zodiac ride starts with a visit to the Marielas islets where there is the largest and most important penguin colony in the Galapagos Islands. The excursion continues into the cove that is surrounded by red mangroves where you can admire their red roots and green leafs. It is here that you are able to observe sea turtles, flightless cormorants, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, brown pelicans and sea lions. Frequently visitors have been able to see Galapagos Hawks soaring overhead whilst schools of Pompano and Dorado fish swim below.
AFTERNOON: Isabela Island – Moreno Point
This visitor site has a low-lying rocky shoreline surrounded by black and red mangrove lagoons, and abundant shore birds. It offers close views of volcanoes Alcedo, Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. It has a desolate and pristine landscape of impressively immense black lava flows and an extraordinary and unusual arid-zone vegetation. Darwin's finches, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, penguins, cormorants, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies can be seen.(B.L.D)
DAY 04 SATURDAY:
MORNING: Floreana Island - Devils Crown & Punta Cormorant
Considered one of the most outstanding marine sites of the Galapagos Islands, Devil's Crown is a half-submerged volcanic cone and is a great place for snorkeling.
At Punta Cormorant there is a greenish beach, due to the accumulation of olivine crystal mineral. Sea lions swim and play around while you enjoy a good snorkel. The trail leads to a sandy white beach which is a nesting area for Green Turtles.
Stingrays and White-tipped reef sharks swim where waves crash, and are visible from the shore. There is also a flamingo lagoon.
AFTERNOON: Floreana Island – Post Office Bay
This site is home to a wooden barrel, historically placed there in the 18th century by the crew of a whaling ship. Ever since this time the barrel has been used by mariners and tourists as a sort of postal service. Whalers and Galapagos residents used to leave their mail inside it, waiting for the captain of any boat headed to where the mail was addressed to deliver it, why not try it out to see if it still works?! What's more, apart from being the location of the Post Office Barrel, this site was also the landing area for some of the first colonists to the Galapagos Islands.
Very close-by is a pleasant swimming beach.(B,L,D)
DAY 05 SUNDAY:
MORNING: Santa Cruz Island - Highlands
Our first stop is at Los Gemelos (the twins), which are a pair of craters approximately 30m deep and located either side of the road from Puerto Ayora to Baltra. Volcanic action underneath the ground made the magna chambers empty causing the above ground to cave in, creating several craters, of which Los Gemelos are the largest. However, our main time in the Santa Cruz highlands will be spent at the Tortoise Reserve, where a number of the endemic Santa Cruz subspecies of Giant Tortoise, "Geochelone elephantopus porteri", wander freely.
The highlands, are also home to Scalesia, Miconia, and Pampa vegetation zones. Birds in this area include several species of finch, the vermillion flycatcher, Galápagos rail, Galapagos Dove, and paint-billed cake. We also may have the opportunity to visit the spectacular lava tubes on the island.
AFTERNOON: Santa Cruz Island - Charles Darwin Research Station
The Charles Darwin Research Station is based at Santa Cruz. Visitors are encouraged to donate to this organization, which carries out investigations and advises the Ecuadorian government and travel agencies on minimizing the impact of tourism on the islands. It contains a national-park information center and a museum. The station is also a tortoise breeding and rearing center, where tortoises of different subspecies are prepared to be reintroduced back to their natural habitat.
(N.B. None of the US$100 park fee goes toward the research station.)
DAY 06 MONDAY:
MORNING: Espanola Island – Suarez Point
Punta Suarez is the best visitor site on Española island. Visitors can follow a trail of lava rocks where blue-footed boobies have made their nests and a variety of iguanas bask in the sun. The trail continues towards the colony of waved albatross (one of the Galapagos most spectacular seabirds) well worth visiting being as this site is home to the only colony of waved albatrosses in the Galapagos. Just beyond the colony is a blowhole where if you sit long enough you can watch seabirds performing their aerial acrobatic moves and their less graceful attempts to land and take off.
AFTERNOON: Española Island – Gardner Bay
Española is the most southerly of the archipelago and being somewhat outlying, it has a high portion of endemic fauna. The beautiful white-sand beach of Gardner Bay, located at the eastern coast, provides an excellent beach for swimming and snorkelling. You will also enjoy the company of the overly curious Hood mockingbirds which are endemic to this island.
DAY 07 TUESDAY:
MORNING: Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe is one of the most entertaining destinations for shore excursions in the Galapagos Islands. It has two trail choices for visitors, one of which takes you to the tallest Opuntia cactus in the Galapagos. While the other trail takes you into the highlands where land iguanas can be seen. After a long walk, the opportunity to swim in calm waters or snorkel with playful sealions will be pretty tempting.
AFTERNOON: South Plazas Island
One of a pair of small uplifted islands a short distance from the east coast of Santa Cruz, South Plaza has unique Sesuvium plants and Opuntia cactuses scattered across the landscape which provide some of the most interesting wildlife observations available in Galapagos. Land iguanas are easily seen from the trail, frequently under the shade of cactuses, waiting for a prickly pear to fall. Swallow-tailed gulls, along with various other sea birds, use the rising air to glide effortlessly over the escarpment and the protected rocky seashore is prime habitat for a large colony of noisy sea lions.(B,L,D)
DAY 08 WEDNESDAY.
morning: North Seymour Island
Located slightly to the north of Baltra, North Seymour is a low, flat island, formed as a result of a submarine lava formation uplift. Covered with low, bushy vegetation, it contains the largest colony of magnificent frigatebirds in the Galapagos. There is also a large population of blue-footed boobies that perform an amusing courtship dance when nesting conditions are right. The dance consists of the birds taking big goofy strides, slowly picking-up high their blue feet, wings spread whilst whistling and honking – it really is one of the highlights of this island. After your visit to North Seymour, a bus transfer to Baltra airport is provided allowing you to catch your flight back to Quito or Guayaquil.(B)
Note: Itineraries are subject to change due to weather conditions or Galapagos National Park regulations.B= breakfast, L= lunch, D= dinner.