Summary : Certainly one of the most iconic and memorable expeditions you can take, Galápagos adventure travel is exhilarating and humbling. You’ll find yourself in the company of species found nowhere else in the world, walking among abundant wildlife that has grown astonishingly approachable in the absence of humans and large predators. On your Galápagos tour, you might find yourself face to face with a pair of courting Blue-footed Boobies, sitting next to a marine iguana as it basks in the sun, or snorkeling amidst a family of playful sea lions.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Photography, Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
Depart on your flight to Guayaquíl. Transfer to your hotel for the night.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island, then transfer to nearby Santa Cruz Island. Here, you visit the highlands' Tortoise Reserve, containing one of the largest giant tortoise populations in the Galápagos. Continue to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Learn about conservation efforts and view the tortoises and land iguanas being raised for reintroduction. This afternoon embark the Isabela II.
This morning visit Post Office Bay and view one of the oldest working sea-mail drops. Zodiacs take you to nearby islets to observe rays, sea lions, and sea turtles, followed by a short walk to a lookout for panoramic views of Floreana. At Punta Cormorant you may see American flamingos, black-necked stilts, and white-cheeked pintail ducks in a brackish lagoon. Your hike takes you to a fine coral-sand beach where green sea turtles nest. A highlight of your day is the chance to swim and snorkel with friendly and frolicking sea lions.
Today visit Punta Suárez to see the largest birds in the Galápagos Islands, the waved albatross. Virtually the entire population of 12,000 pairs of albatross nests here from April to December. Other wildlife includes red-billed tropicbirds, Blue-footed and Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and marine iguanas. Stroll along the beautiful white-sand beach of Gardner Bay where you hope to find Hood Island mockingbirds and lava lizards, Galápagos hawks, and three species of Darwin’s finches. Enjoy another opportunity to snorkel this afternoon.
San Cristóbal was the first island Charles Darwin visited when he arrived in the Galápagos. First known as Chatham Island, it was later named in honor of Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón). Punta Pitt is the only place in the Galápagos where three species of boobies and two species of frigates can be found nesting in the same area—blue-footed, Nazca, and red-footed boobies, as well as great and magnificent frigatebirds. In the afternoon, walk along the beautiful beach of Cerro Brujo as you search for species endemic to this island, including San Cristóbal mockingbirds and lava lizards. The sheltered bay is frequented by sea lions and rays.
Disembark on the southwest side of the island at the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to visit the Interpretive Center, which will give you a greater understanding of the Galápagos’ uniqueness. After lunch board coaches to Cerro Colorado to visit a Galápagos tortoise breeding center.
Cross the equator overnight, arriving at Genovesa Island. Entering Darwin Bay, formed by the caldera of a partially eroded volcano, a short Zodiac tour along the coastline takes you to Prince Philip’s Steps, where you may find red-footed boobies nesting in palo santo trees. Nazca boobies nest on the ground, along with wedge-rumped storm-petrels and short-eared owls. You can also search for the four species of finches that live here. Afterward, swim and snorkel along the cliffs of this colossal harbor. Later, land on a sandy beach and pass swallow-tailed gulls as you walk by a forest of salt bush and mangrove where colonies of great frigatebirds and red-footed boobies nest.
This morning you arrive at Espumilla Beach, a large coffee-colored sand beach located at the north end of the island. A short walk inland takes you through a mangrove forest to a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white-cheeked pintails can be seen. Once back on the beach you have a chance to swim or snorkel. After a short lunch cruise, arrive at Puerto Egas and hike along a coastal trail to a nearby fur seal grotto. Along the shore you may spot great blue herons, striated herons, oystercatchers, and yellow-crowned night herons as they feed. At low tide it is possible to see colorful Sally lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas grazing on sea lettuce.
The cool waters of the Cromwell Current upwell around Isabela and Fernandina and these nutrient-rich waters provide great feeding sources for whales and dolphins. In the morning explore Punta Espinoza on Fernandina, the youngest island of the Galápagos. Here you observe the largest colony of marine iguanas in the Galápagos, flightless cormorants, and moonscape-like lava fields. This is one of the largest, most pristine islands in the world with no introduced species to date. On the western shore of Isabela, stop at secluded Tagus Cove, which was once a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers. An uphill hike through the forest takes us to Darwin Lake, a crater filled with salt water.
Step ashore on a gentle sloping beach on Urbina Bay. A short trail leads to a coral reef, evidence of uplift from the sea which occurred in 1954. Here you may find land and marine iguanas, giant Galápagos tortoises, flightless cormorants, and Galápagos penguins. Then cruise north along the Bolívar Channel, accompanied by impressive views of Isabela’s rugged coast, to Punta Vicente Roca. Be on the lookout here for more cormorants, penguins, blue-footed boobies, turtles, and perhaps, the amazing mola mola.
Though small, Rábida contains a great variety of rock and lava types. Wildlife found here includes Galápagos hawks, pelicans, and sea lions. Your next stop is Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) on the northwest side of Santa Cruz Island. Aptly named, this site is one of the best places to see land iguanas. The trail continues through palo santo trees and cacti forests and ends at a saltwater lagoon, where you may see various species of birds—white-cheeked pintail ducks, Galápagos mockingbirds, flamingos, finches, Galápagos flycatchers, and more.
This morning enjoy time at leisure before disembarking the Isabela II for your flight back to Guayaquíl. On arrival, transfer to your hotel. Enjoy free time in the afternoon to relax before your farewell dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for independent flights homeward.
Gratuities; accommodations in hotels and on board the Isabela II as outlined in the itinerary; onboard meals; group meals on land as per itinerary; soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner; transfers on arrival and departure dates; services of the expedition staff , including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; snorkeling equipment; landing and port fees; $100 Galápagos National Park fee; airfare from Guayaquíl/Baltra and Baltra/Guayaquíl; $25,000 of medical expense coverage and $100,000 in emergency evacuation insurance.*
All air transportation (except as listed above); excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages except as listed above, e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.
*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $25,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.
PHOTOS: © ZE; © Andrew Ah; © Jack Grove