- Hike a trail to find full-grown giant tortoises in the wild on your first day
- Spot exotic birds like blue-footed boobies and waved albatrosses
- Visit one of the archipelago's smallest islands to see the rare hybrid iguanas
- Swim and snorkel on beautiful beaches to see playful sea lions and tropical fish
|Day 1||Arrive on Isla San Cristóbal, Visit a Giant Tortoise Breeding Center||Cruise Ship|
|Day 2||Explore Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay on Isla Española||Cruise Ship|
|Day 3||Explore Cormorant Point & Post Office Bay on Isla Floreana||Cruise Ship|
|Day 4||Hike & Snorkel on Isla Santa Fé, Visit Hybrid Iguanas on Isla Plaza Sur||Cruise Ship|
|Day 5||Explore Isla Seymour Norte, Visit Las Bachas Beach on Isla Santa Cruz||Cruise Ship|
|Day 6||Visit Mosquera Islet, Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive on Isla San Cristóbal, Visit a Giant Tortoise Breeding Center
Welcome to the Galápagos! Once your flight has landed at Isla San Cristóbal and you've gone through the immigration process, you'll be met by your English-speaking guide, who will transfer you to your waiting ship. Once on board, you'll be introduced to the crew and given a welcome briefing as well as an important safety drill. Then enjoy a delicious lunch while the captain casts off and the adventure begins.
Your first stop is Cerro Colorado, one of the newer visitor sites in the Galápagos, which opened in 2003. This breeding station has an informative center that allows you to learn about the origins and evolution of the Galápagos giant tortoises, as well as the steps being taken to preserve the species from threats such as habitat destruction and introduced species. At the center, you'll meet baby hatchlings and young tortoises that are raised until they reach four months. Then take a short hiking trail where you can look for full-grown giant tortoises in the wild.
Day 2: Explore Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay on Isla Española
After breakfast aboard your ship, you'll set sail for Punta Suarez on Isla Española, a great place for spotting exotic bird species like blue-footed boobies and Nazca boobies. Even more so, this beautiful oceanfront setting is where large waved albatrosses use the cliff as a launching pad, so keep your eyes peeled. You'll also find a magnificent blowhole spurting water high into the air, which offers wonderful photography opportunities.
In the afternoon, you'll head for Gardner Bay. Located on the eastern side of the island, this is the breeding site of nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses. Spend a few hours enjoying an ample white sandy beach with a myriad of lounging sea lions, where you can swim and snorkel. Afterward, return to your ship for dinner.
Day 3: Visit Cormorant Point & Post Office Bay on Isla Floreana
Today you'll sail to the peninsula of Cormorant Point, which forms the extreme north cape of Isla Floreana. At the landing beach, you'll be welcomed by a small Galápagos sea lion colony. The green sand on this beach contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals which the surrounding tuff cones have blown out. The "flour sand" beach on the southern side of the peninsula is made up of even finer white coral sand, which feels very smooth on the feet. Off the shore, keep an eye out for schools of stingrays who love to hide in the sandy bottom.
During the first months of the year, Pacific green turtles come ashore to bury their eggs. Devil's Crown offers one of the best snorkeling spots in the Galápagos due to the coral reef in its center, which attracts a lot of marine life. Here you can spot Galápagos penguins, sea lions, sea turtles, many different species of colorful fish, and even some dolphins. The current can be a bit strong sometimes, so it should not be attempted by novice swimmers.
Next is a visit to Post Office Bay. Historically, this site is the location of a wooden barrel that was placed there in the 18th century by the crew of a whaling ship. Letters found inside the barrel were collected and delivered by sailors returning home. There was no postage fee and surprisingly, this mailbox and its honor system are still in use today. You can also relax on the beach, where in addition to Galápagos sea lions, Pacific green turtles, and golden rays, you may see Galápagos penguins. This is the only place in the southeastern archipelago where penguins reside.
Day 4: Hike & Snorkel on Isla Santa Fé, Visit Hybrid Iguanas on Isla Plaza Sur
This morning is dedicated to exploring Isla Santa Fé. Located in the southeastern part of the Galápagos, some theories claim that this could be the oldest island in the archipelago. Santa Fé is also home to several endemic species like the Galápagos hawk, Galápagos snake, Galápagos mockingbird, and one of the two species of land iguanas on the island. After disembarking into the beautiful and clear waters, you can hike along a flat trail and look for salt bushes and giant prickly pear cacti, and then swim or snorkel with playful sea lions and tropical fish.
Next, head to one of the smallest islands, Plaza Sur, which offers some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the Galápagos, including several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a marine iguana with a land iguana. They are unique and can be recognized at first glance by their black/gray color. They also have a land iguana's crest and a marine iguana's face and tail. In addition, look for swallow-tailed gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs along with other seabirds like Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigatebirds, and brown pelicans.
Day 5: Explore Isla Seymour Norte, Visit Las Bachas Beach on Isla Santa Cruz
This morning you'll set sail for Isla Seymour Norte, which was formed at the same time as neighboring Isla Baltra, thanks to an uprising of undersea lava. This small, flat island has hiking trails throughout, allowing you to explore the arid landscape and meet seabirds that call Seymour Norte home. The island was also the site of one of the earliest conservation experiments in the Galápagos. In 1934 several Galápagos land iguanas were moved here by Captain Hancock. There are now well over 2,500 of them on the island and more than 3,000 on neighboring Isla Baltra.
The biggest attraction of Seymour Norte, however, is its large colony of blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds. These popular Galápagos species are often found together because the frigatebirds rely on the boobies' fishing prowess. The frigatebirds actively steal the boobies' catch to feed themselves! There is also a population of marine iguanas and Galápagos sea lions that are frequently spotted. This is a good opportunity to snorkel, with plenty of marine life, including rays and reef sharks.
In the afternoon, sail to Isla Santa Cruz to visit Las Bachas Beach, which is covered in soft white coral sand. This is a major nesting site for Galápagos green turtles, and there's a lagoon just behind the sand, which often hosts flamingoes, ducks, and migratory birds. You can also often find marine iguanas feeding on the rocky outcrops near the tide line. The main beach is perfect for swimming, being very sheltered from the ocean swells, and is a very pleasant spot to cool off and indulge in some snorkeling.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Visit Mosquera Islet, Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart
It's time to say goodbye to the Galápagos! But first, head to Mosquera Islet, a sand bar known for sea lions, lava gulls, shorebirds, and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Lucky visitors might get to see a yellow-crowned heron, as well! The visit features a guided walk around the islet and the chance to snorkel offshore. You'll then transfer from the cruise ship to Baltra airport on Isla Baltra for your return flight to mainland Ecuador. Safe travels!