SUNDAY: Upon arrival to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, SAN CRISTOBAL, our crew is waiting at the airport to escort you by bus to the dock and then by Zodiac to your yacht anchored in the bay. After the welcome briefing and safety drill, a delicious buffet lunch is served. We travel by bus to the highlands to visit Centro de Crianza Jacinto Gordillo aka La Galapaguera Cerro Colorado where the National Park has established a breeding program for the giant land tortoises that you will encounter in their natural habitat. Learn about their origin, evolution and threats by introduced animals at the information center for visitors. Along the trail, we find the San Cristobal (Chatham) mockingbird and Calandrinia plant, both endemic to this island. Join your fellow yacht mates this evening for your first briefing followed by our Captain’s welcome cocktail party and dinner prepared by our well-trained chefs.
MONDAY: We spend the entire day on TOWER (Genovesa), considered to be one of the most spectacular Islands in Galapagos for bird species. We have a wet-landing on Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach where Swallow-tailed and Lava gulls gather near the tide pools. Enter a forest of Optuntia cactus and mangroves where colonies of Great Frigate birds nest. The males inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. The trail leads through a rich inter tidal zone where we find a wide diversity of wildlife. After lunch, we have a dry landing at Prince Philip’s Steps. Red-footed boobies nest here in Palo Santo trees and Nazca Boobies nest near the trail. In an open lava field, we find Storm Petrels in large numbers. If you are lucky, we will see the elusive Short-eared owl. Chose to have a picnic lunch on deck or dine inside. Look for the beautiful Red-billed Tropic bird found in the crevices along the cliff by kayak or Zodiac. You can choose to swim or snorkel from the beach with sea lions in these northern warmer waters or for those with experience, we offer snorkeling in deeper water. Return to the yacht for briefing and dinner before we cross the equator.
TUESDAY: Today we visit Las Bachas, which is the Spanish translation for “barges”. There is a long stretch of a soft white sand beach and interior lagoons where we find the Greater Flamingo. There is also a wonderful chance to snorkel here from the beach. At Black Turtle Cove aka Caleta Tortuga Negra we have a zodiac ride through a series of coves and inlets surrounded by mangroves. Here you can view pairs of mating sea turtles (Sept to Feb), white-tipped reef sharks and golden cow-nosed rays. Located on the northern tip of Santa Cruz is Cerro Dragon aka Dragon Hill. Along the trail, we find Darwin Finches, Galapagos Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers, Audubon Shearwater and the endemic land iguanas, orange-yellow in color with large spines along their backs, were once part of the Darwin Station’s breeding program. We find pink flamingos feeding in the salt-water lagoon as well as other lagoon birds; stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers and more. From the top of the hill, we enjoy a majestic view of the bay island covered in Opuntia cactus, Palo Santo and Cordia Lutea (muyuyu). After the briefing and dinner, we sail toward the western islands and cross the equator line for the second time.
WEDNESDAY: We have a semi-wet landing at Punta Espinoza, FERNANDINA, the youngest and most pristine Island in Galapagos with no introduced mammals. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast. Hundreds of Marine Iguanas, the largest colony in Galapagos, bask in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory. Flightless Cormorants build their nest on the point and Galapagos Hawks fly overhead. There is a chance to snorkel here with sea turtles. After lunch, we cross the Bolivar Chanel where we often spot whales and dolphins riding the bow wave. We disembark at Urbina Bay, ISABELA, where we find four miles of its coastal seabed, with marine life exposed due to a dramatic uplift in 1954 when the volcano erupted. The marine remnants of coral skeletons, some of them waist-high, are visited after a wet landing on the beach. Urbina is home to the very large and colorful Galapagos land iguanas, occasionally giant tortoises, Darwin Finches. Brown Pelicans and Flightless Cormorants also nest here. Giant Marine Iguanas are seen along the coast. You may encounter penguins while snorkeling here. At Punta Vicente Roca, a Zodiac ride offers an incredible view of the tuff walls, we can enter the wave-sculpted cave and find sea turtle who frequent this area. You may spot the dorsal fin of a Mola Mola, an odd looking giant sun fish. Return to the yacht for briefing and dinner.
THURSDAY: We visit Elizabeth Bay, ISABELA by zodiac starting with a visit to a secluded cove, lined with large red mangrove trees. Here, turtles, rays, and shore birds can be seen. We motor to the rocky islets known as “Las Marielas”, where a colony of nesting Penguins, Flightless Cormorants and giant Marine Iguanas are found. Isabela was created when six volcanoes flowed together and formed the largest Island in Galapagos. We have a dry landing at Tagus Cove, located on the western Island of ISABELA and a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. Old graffiti dating back to the 1800’s is written on the rocky cliffs. Explore the Coves by Zodiac or kayak to find Galapagos Penguins, Boobies, Pelicans and other seabirds. An uphill hike brings us to a salt-water lagoon, a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields and volcanic formations. An excellent snorkeling site is offered from the zodiac or take out a Kayak and explore the shoreline. After dinner, a sky full of stars beckons to go on deck and observe the galaxy while crossing the equator for the last time.
FRIDAY: We stroll along the shoreline at Puerto Egas, SANTIAGO (James) looking for octopus, starfish and other sea life caught in the tide pools. At low tide, catch a glimpse of marine iguanas as they feed on exposed green algae. Watch for great blue herons, lava herons, American oystercatchers and yellow-crowned night herons. Our walk ends at the grottos, deep pools of clear water where we encounter fur sea lions once on the verge of extinction. Before returning to the yacht, there is a snorkeling opportunity. After lunch, take a seat on deck to view the dramatic landscape and dolphins that are often spotted here. We disembark on RABIDA (Jervis), located near James Island. Rabida is considered the geographic center of Galapagos because this island sports the most diversified volcanic rocks. The dark red sand beach originated from the high content of iron in the volcanic stones. While strolling along the trail, you may find marine iguanas, mocking birds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin Finches leading to a salt water lagoon where Greater Flamingos migrate. After the walk, there is not-to-miss snorkeling option with a large colony of sea lions. We return to the yacht for the Captain’s Farwell cocktail party and dinner as well as a special slide show presentation by your guides.
SATURDAY: We 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 “Las Primicias” one of the private farms in the highlands where we encounter giant tortoises in their natural habitat. We stop at “the tunnels”, the largest lava tubes found in Galapagos. Look out for the bright red male vermilion flycatcher. After lunch, we will have our last briefing. Today we visit the Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena aka Charles Darwin Research Station. See all three tortoise corals and the breeding center with new hatchlings and miniature tortoises not yet ready to be repatriated. Scientists from all over the globe work at the station and conduct biological research from anatomy to zoology. We stop at Van Straelen Hall where there are exhibits and a short video presentation. Visitors can see the tortoise and land iguana corrals. Puerto Ayora is the social heart of the islands with the largest population of 24,000 inhabitants. This evening you have the option to return to your yacht for a buffet dinner or remain in town on your own account. Those who return to the yacht will be provided zodiacs to return to town to shop for souvenirs or stop at an internet café. Zodiacs will be provided for your return to the yachts.
SUNDAY: We visit the Interpretation Center opened on San Cristobal Island in 1999 by bus. Here we gain a more complete understanding of the natural and human history of the Islands. Afterwards, we spend some time in port before heading to the airport for our flight back to the mainland departing before noon time.