Stroll through the streets of the biggest and best preserved colonial center of the first city to be declared world cultural heritage site. Visit the enigmatic Highlands, filled with wildlife and home of the great Andean Condor.
Day 01: Arrive Quito
Arrival in Quito and transfer to the hotel of choice.
Fly to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island, our crew is waiting at the airport to escort you to your anchored yacht. After the welcome briefing, buffet lunch and safety drill, we set sail for Playa Ochoa where we have a wet landing. Here, we can test our snorkeling equipment and at the same time swim with a small colony of sea lions. Behind the beach, there is a tidal lagoon where bird can be spotted including the rare Chatham mockingbird. At sunset, 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 spot Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and Magnificent Frigate birds.
This morning, we visit the northeast tip of San Cristobal, PUNTA PITT, a tuff formation that serves as a nesting site for many sea birds including Blue footed, Nazca and Red-footed boobies, Frigate birds, Swallow-tailed gulls and Storm petrels. Punta Pitt is considered to be a first class site for birds and equal to Genovesa (Tower) Island. This afternoon we visit CERRO BRUJO, a breathtaking white power-sand beach, said to be one of the most spectacular in Galapagos and have an opportunity to snorkel or kayak right from the beach.
This morning we have a dry landing at Punta Suarez, ESPANOLA, where we witness the highest rate of endemic species in Galapagos. Sea lions noisily green us as we land on their beach. Curious Hood mockingbirds peck at our shoelaces. From April to November, the waved albatross, found only on Espanola, perform their wild mating ritual. Colonies of blue-footed boobies engage in "sky-pointing" to show off for potential mates. Nazca boobies busily care for their young. Stunning swallow-tailed gulls are the only nocturnal gulls in the world. 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".
In the afternoon, we have a wet landing on Gardner Bay, ESPANOLA (HOOD). Walk along seemingly endless stretches of this white sandy beach where you'll find large colonies of sea lions. There is no trail to follow so this is a chance to explore and you may find a Galapagos Hawk, Darwin's Finches or Hood Mockingbird. Swim with sea lions right from the beach, explore by kayak or just relax. There's an excellent snorkeling site off Gardner Islet with a colorful diversity of sea life near Tortuga Rock, explore caves covered with invertebrates.
This morning we step ashore at Punta Cormorant, FLOREANA (Charles). one of the few populated islands in the Galapagos. Floreana presents a rich history with mystery and intrigue. Set food on a green-sand beach alive with the sounds of sea lions. Follow a trail to a brackish lagoon, home of the pintail ducks, common stilts, and the pinkest Flamingos in the world. Wind your way past a rich variety of plants including Morning Glory, Cut Leaf Daisies, Palo Verdes and Scalesia leading to a beach with power soft sand.
Sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand dunes and rays swim in the shallow water. After the walk, we have an opportunity to snorkel at Devil's Crown, a shallow sunken crater colonized by a brilliant array of colorful fish and corral. This afternoon we visit Post office Bay, not the most scenic, but probably the most famous sites in Galapagos. Here is where a post barrel was put into use in the late 18th Century by English whaling vessels. You are invited to leave a post card and to pick up any mail from your home area.
This morning we visit a hidden gem on Isabela Island called Los Humedales and Muro de Lagrimas which translates to "wetlands" and "wall of tears". This area has trails from which you find all four species of mangroves, secluded sandy beaches with rocky shores lava tunnels and natural pools View migratory birds including Whimrels, Short-billed Dowitchers, Wilson's Pharlarope, Common Tern, Osprey, Semi-palmated Plovers as well as mating Flamingos.
The national park has released young tortoises from the breeding center in this area so you may encounter tortoises in the wild. The Wall of Tears was constructed between 1946-1959 when Isabela was a penal colony. In the afternoon, we visit Sierra Negra Volcano, located in the Southwest portion of Isabela, and considered the oldest and largest volcano on Isaleba. From Puerto Villamil, we travel by motorized vehicle to Santo Tomas. From here, we continue to the rim of the caldera, traversing a lava field through a series of craters and fumaroles until we reach Volcan Chico. Along the way, you will usually spot the vermillion flycatcher, Galapagos Martins, Whimbrels, Egrets, Galapagos Hawks and possibly the Dark-billed Cuckoo.
This morning we visit Mosquera, a tiny islet between Baltra and North Seymour with a long narrow beach and large population of sea lions. After a wet landing, we will have time for swimming and snorkeling on this volcanically-formed islet. This afternoon we visit Bartolome, where 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 stairs leading to the summit of a once active volcano. Along the way, we pause to 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. Crystal clear water is an invitation to snorkel from the beach or Zodiac with schools of tropical fish and Galapagos Penguins.
This morning, we visit SOUTH PLAZA, a small geological uplift with tall cliffs offering spectacular views. After a dry landing, the trails lead us through Prickly Pear cactus or Opuntia and Sesuvium. Here we can find the Galapagos Land Iguana feeding on the cactus leaves.
Toward the end of the hill, we encounter a colony of bachelor sea lions. The dominant bulls are in various stages of recovery from battles lost over prime beach territory. We also find Swallow tailed gulls, Shearwaters and Red-billed tropicbirds who build their nests along the cliffs. 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. Here, we visit the tortoise reserve at one of the private farms in the highlands where we encounter giant tortoises In their natural habitat. 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.
We visit the Interpretation Center opened on San Cristobal Island in 1999. Here we gain a more complete understanding of the natural and human history of the Islands. Afterward, we spend time in port before heading to the airport for our flight back to the mainland departing noon time on Aerogal. Fly to Quito.
Transfer to airport for flight home.
Price per person sharing: ---- GBP (subject to change and availability)