|Day 1: Sat: San Cristobal - Cerro Brujo
Morning: Arrive at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal, Galapagos
In 1998 the Galápagos National Park Visitor Centre opened for the benefit of islanders and travelers alike, presenting a comprehensive exhibit of the islands’ natural history, human interaction, ecosystems, flora and fauna. Our guide will use the exhibits to provide an illustrated overview of the natural history of the islands. From the Interpretation Center, a short trail arrives at Frigate Bird Hill, where both “magnificent-frigates” and “great-frigates” can be seen in the same colony—ideal for learning to distinguish the two bird species. You’ll also be treated to views of the harbor where your yacht awaits you below. It’s a very short ride to the harbor and it’s not long before you will be crossing from shore to reach the Evolution, your home and adventure center for the next week. Your captain and crew will be waiting to greet you and will take care of seeing to it that your bags reach your cabin. Now it’s time to get settled in and relax as we set out on our voyage.
Afternoon: Cerro Brujo
We set out along the coast of San Cristobal heading northeast toward our first landing at Cerro Brujo. This inviting powdery beach beside turquoise waters is a great introduction to the islands offering your first opportunity to go snorkeling with sea turtles, rays and the archipelago’s playful ‘wolves of the sea’ i.e. sea lions
Day 2: Sun: Española
Morning: Hood (Española) Island - Punta Suarez
One of the oldest of the islands,
Hood is small and flat with no visible volcanic crater or vent. Punta Suarez is one of the most outstanding wildlife areas of the archipelago, with a long list of species found along its cliffs and sand or pebble beaches. In addition to five species of nesting seabirds there are the curious and bold Hood Island mockingbirds, Galapagos doves and Galapagos hawks. Several types of reptiles, including the brilliantly colored marine iguana and the oversized lava lizard, are unique to this island. When heavy swells are running, Punta Suarez is also the site of a spectacular blowhole, with thundering spray shooting 30 yards into the air.
Sunday Afternoon: Hood (Española) Island - Gardner Bay
Gardner Bay is on the eastern shore and has a magnificent beach. This beach is frequented by a transient colony of sea lions, and is a major nesting site for marine turtles. Around the small islets nearby, snorkelers will find lots of fish and sometimes turtles and sharks. On a trail leading to the western tip of the island you will pass the only nesting sites in the Galapagos of the waved albatross, huge birds with a 6-foot wingspan. These huge birds nest here from April to December and represent the majority of the world’s population of this species.
Day 3: Mon: Santa Cruz
Morning: Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island - Puerto Ayora Town
Santa Cruz is the only inhabited island to be visited during this Galapagos cruise. Puerto Ayora, with a population of about 10,000 people is the location of the Charles Darwin Research Station, world famous for its tortoise breeding programs. After touring the Station, journey by bus into the highlands to Los Gemelos the two deep pit craters situated in the Scalesia forest with lots of interesting bird life. Go for a walk through the giant lava tubes, visit the Tortoise Reserve to search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings. There will be some free time to explore the town of Puerto Ayora on your own.
Afternoon: Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island - Highlands
The lush greenery of the Santa Cruz Highlands is a definite contrast with the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands. A point of interest is the famed lava tunnels, a fun and geologically informative visit. The trip to the highlands ends with a visit to the Twin Craters
Day 4: Tue: Santiago - Bartholomew
Morning: Santiago (San Salvador, James) Island - Puerto Egas
This island has several sites to visit at the western end of James Bay. Puerto Egas with its black sand beaches was the site of small salt mining industry in the 1960s and a hike inland to the salt crater is an excellent opportunity to sight land birds such as finches, doves, and hawks. A walk down the rugged shoreline, especially at low tide, will turn up many marine species as iguanas basking on the rocks and sea lions lazing in the tide pools. At the end of the trail there is a series of grottoes or sea caves where fur seals and night herons are found resting on shady ledges. Just north of James Bay is Buccaneer Cove, a particularly scenic area of steep cliffs and dark beaches.
Afternoon: Bartolome (Bartholomew) Island: Pinnacle Rock
Bartolome is a small island that has beautiful white sand beaches, luxuriant green mangroves and a colony of penguins. Activities will include swimming and snorkeling and a climb to the summit of the island for one of the most breathtaking views in all the Galapagos. From the summit you will have the best view of the often-photographed Pinnacle Rock.
Day 5: Wed: Tower (Genovesa)
Morning: Tower (Genovesa) Island - Prince Philips Steps
second trail called Prince Philip Steps, leads to an open area for masked boobies, frigates, and red-footed boobies. At the end of this trail are thousands of band-rumped storm petrels at the cliffs edge, where they nest in crevices. Short-eared owls can sometimes be seen here, hunting the storm petrels during daylight hours.
Afternoon: Tower (Genovesa) Island - Darwin Bay Beach
Tower is a collapsed volcano and ships sail directly into its large breached caldera to anchor at the foot of the steep crater walls. Tower attracts vast numbers of pelagic seabirds that come here to nest and breed: great frigate birds, red-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and storm petrels. A trail leads from a coral beach past tidal lagoons where lava gulls and yellow-crowned night herons are seen, then along the low shrubs populated by frigates and boobies, and eventually to a cliff edge where seabirds soar.
Day 6: Thu: Fernandina - Isabela
Morning: Fernandina (Narborough) Island - Punta Espinosa
Fernandina is the youngest and most active volcano in the Galapagos with eruptions taking place every few years. The flat lava of Punta Espinosa offers a stark and barren landscape, but here flightless cormorants build their nests on the point, sea lions sprawl on the beach or play in the tide pools and marine iguanas dot the sand.
Afternoon: Isabela (Albemarle) Island - Tagus Cove
A favorite site of the early pirates and whalers, Tagus Cove has a continuing historical tradition (now discouraged), evident as one reads the names of hundreds of ships which were first carved and now are painted on the high cliffs that enclose the protected cove. More important, however, is the inside trail around a salt crater lake, called Darwin Lake, the Dry Zone vegetation and the lave fields of Darwin Volcano. A dinghy ride (tour) along the cliffs will five the visitor a good chance to see brown pelicans, marine iguanas and to see Galapagos Penguins, flightless cormorants, migratory birds, and quite a few marine invertebrates in the intertidal zone.
Day 7: Fri: North Seymour - Santa Cruz
Morning: North Seymour (Seymour Norte) Island
North Seymour is an uplifted (as opposed to volcanic) island and so is generally flat and strewn with boulders. There are good nesting sites here for a large population of magnificent frigate birds. Blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dance in the more open areas and swallow-tailed gulls perch on the cliff edges.
Despite the tremendous surf that can pound the outer shore, sea lions haul out onto the beach and can be found together with marine iguanas.
Afternoon: Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island - Black Turtle Cove
The panga will take you into a tidal lagoon to see three kinds of mangrove plants, red, white and black. White-tipped sharks, spotted rays, mustard rays and Pacific marine turtles frequent the waters here.
Day 8: Sun: San Cristobal
San Cristobal Island - Kicker Rock - Departure
Kicker Rock is a magnificent rock in the middle of the sea. Rising 500 feet strait from the ocean, this giant uplifted rock has the shape of a sleeping lion. It has a split with towering vertical walls on either side, forming a narrow channel through which small vessels can navigate.