Summary : Set sail aboard the majestic Evolution for a journey through the northern and central islands of the Galapagos archipelago. Snorkel with playful sea lions at Chinese Hat, discover the sprawling booby and frigatebird colonies of Genovesa Island, and pick up some outgoing mail at Post Office Bay. Experience this spectacular destination with naturalist guides who provide insight and appreciation for this unique region.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling
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Arrive in Quito and check into your hotel. A representative will greet you and brief you on various aspects of the tour. The day is free for you to enjoy the city. The Ecuadorian capital of Quito enjoys a wonderful spring-like climate, despite the fact that it is only 14 miles south of the Equator. Nestled in a valley flanked by mountains, on a clear day several snow-capped volcanoes, including nearby Pichincha, are visible from the city center. Add to its beautiful location a rich history and well-preserved colonial district, and you begin to understand Quito’s appeal to thousands of visitors every year. The city is home to several excellent museums, historical buildings, landmarks, and a vibrant nightlife.
Transfer early to the airport for your flights to the Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival in San Cristobal, meet your naturalist guide who will assist you in transferring to your vessel. Visit the Galapaguera Cerro Colorado in the afternoon, a reserve for the repopulation of giant turtles.
Set sail and reach South Plaza Island in the morning. One of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, South Plaza has one of the largest populations of Land Iguanas. Walk along a path through a cactus forest and view a combination of dry and coastal vegetation.
In the afternoon, arrive in Mosquera., which is located between North Seymour and Baltra. The island consists of a long narrow stretch of white sand, rocks, and tide pools. Created by Geological uplift the island has a flat look to it rather than the conical shape of the volcanically formed islands. A snorkel excursion is planned for the afternoon. Follow this by a panga ride to Daphne island for some more time to snorkel.
In the morning the boat arrives to a small little island off the southern tip of Santiago called Chinese Hat, known for it's unique shape. Here, it is often possible to see Galapagos penguins and the marine life makes for fantastic snorkeling. There is also a large sea lion colony here, as well as many marine iguanas that can be seen on your guided walk amongst the volcanic scenery, with good views to the cone of the island's volcano. Spend the afternoon on James Bay, home to one of the most outstanding volcanic sites in the Galapagos.
Land at Genovesa Island, an old imploded volcano, to observe the massive colonies of Frigate Birds, Boobies and other seabirds, as well as striking volcanic cliffs rising from the ocean.
North of the main Galapagos Island group, Genovesa Island itself is the shape of a horseshoe due to its volcanic history. The first landing is at Darwin Bay for fantastic snorkeling opportunities within the partially eroded crater on the south side of the island.
In the afternoon, explore "El Barranco," otherwise known as Prince Phillip's Steps, on the southern tip of the island. This site is a major breeding ground for red footed boobies. Masked boobies can also be observed here, as well as various species of finches and the Galapagos Mockingbird.
Set sail in the morning for North Seymour, just north of Baltra, home to sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. Seymour Island is one of the most exciting island photographically. Bird life abounds, and close to the trail you will find many nesting pairs and young chicks. Seymour is also home to the Galapagos’s largest colony of Magnificent Frigatebirds. Their mating ritual is an ostentatious display: males expand the red sack at the base of their throat and perch atop a bush with wings fully extended, flapping furiously. Interested females circle overhead, and if so inclined, may join the male on terra firma. Further along the trail, you can observe a colony of sea lions.
Set sail and reach Santa Fe, a fairly small and dry island. Also called Barrington, Santa Fe Island is well-known as a great place for watching (and swimming with) sea lions. Along the island's northern shore, view the forest of giant Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia). Santa Fe is also home to a number of endemic species which have bounced back from various threats to their survival. You may get a chance to see the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, a variety of finches and the Galapagos Mockingbird.
Make your way to Floreana Island, an island rich in beauty and history. Post Office Bay is the site of a barrel placed here in the late 18th century by English whaling vessels to be used as a post office. Passing ships would stop to leave mail for loved ones, collecting at the same time any mail destined for ports on their itineraries. Today, the box is used mainly by tourists, who may drop off and pick up unstamped letters to be carried to far destinations. The remains of a Norwegian canning factory are the only evidence of the Island’s history prior to its designation as a protected area. A short hike up past the post barrel takes you to an interesting lava cave. With the aid of a flashlight, descend 262 feet to the point where the sea enters the cave.
Later in the afternoon, make your way towards Punta Cormorant on the northern part of Floreana. The landing is on a beach of green sand, colored by olivine crystals, volcanic-derived silicates of magnesium and iron. The trail leads to a lake normally inhabited by flamingos and other shore birds, and continues to a beach of fine white sand known as “Flour Beach”, an important nesting site for turtles. Around the point, Devil's Crown derives its name from the broken remains of a partially submerged volcanic cone. This is a perfect spot for snorkeling from the boat, as the waters are home to a multitude of colorful fish and sea lions.
In the morning, arrive in Puerto Ayora, and explore on Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz is the second largest in the island group, and has the largest population, with Puerto Ayora as its main town. It also boasts the most varied of the islands’ vegetation zones: coastal, transition, scalesia, miconia and pampa. The Charles Darwin Research Station is a 10 minute walk from the center of the town. Here, an exhibition center displays photos of recent volcanic eruptions, charts outlining geological formations and drawings of the evolutionary development of endemic species. A corral houses adult Galapagos Tortoises, and a nursery cares for young tortoises until they are about three years old, when their shells have hardened enough to resist attack from feral dogs. In the afternoon, you may have the opportunity to visit the highlands and see giant land tortoises in the wild.
In the morning, enjoy an excursion by "panga" to Black Turtle Cove, to witness the extensive mangrove system and interesting waterway canals. Sea Turtles and different species of rays can often be seen in this cove, offering a peaceful and fascinating glimpse into the diversity of the area.
Disembark at Baltra and transfer to the airport for your flight back to Quito.
Depart at any time or continue on to other adventures.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Arrival transfer and Continental breakfast while in Quito, onboard accommodations, 7 nights in the Galapagos Islands, shore excursions, daily opportunities for swimming and snorkeling, snorkeling equipment and sea kayaks onboard Galapagos yacht, 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners, 2 nights at deluxe hotel in Quito; local transportation by flight (Quito to Galapagos, and reverse), motorized yacht, van, zodiacs, public bus; local naturalist guide (certified by the Galapagos National Park) while in the Islands; local representative in Quito; small group experience.
Airfare; travel insurance (required); passport and visa fees; departure taxes; Tourist Transit card fee ($20 cash, subject to change); Galapagos park entry fee payable immediately upon arrival to the Islands ($100 cash, subject to increase); meals not expressly outlined in itinerary; beverages on board; gratuities are at your discretion; items of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; optional activities.