Summary : Set sail aboard the splendid Evolution for an adventure to the less-visited western and central islands of Galapagos. Experience Fernandina’s massive marine iguana colonies, meet giant tortoises that are over 100 years old, gain a deeper understanding of ecology at the Charles Darwin Foundation and snorkel amidst playful sea lions off the shores of Española. Great naturalist guides offer a wealth of knowledge and provide insight into the natural wonders of these enchanted islands.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
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 Baltra, meet your naturalist guide who will assist you in transferring to your vessel at Santa Cruz Island to begin your Galapagos adventure.
Long before Darwin arrived in the Galapagos, seafarers knew these isolated islands as home to some of the strangest and most wonderful wildlife imaginable, including birds that could swim but no longer fly, aquatic iguanas, dragon-like lizards left over from prehistoric times, and the giant Galapagos tortoises for which the islands were named.
In the morning, visit Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island, a great site for diving and snorkeling with spectacular sea life. See the remnants of an ancient volcano, with the opportunity to take a panga ride along the volcano's cliff wall, where masked and blue-footed boobies sit perched along the sheer cliffs. In the afternoon visit Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island, the youngest in the Galápagos Islands, and comprised of a fascinating mix of mangroves, rocky shores, black sand beaches, and wildlife. Witness the largest colony of marine iguanas and a variety of bird life.
In the morning, make an easy wet landing on Urbina Bay. Walk along the coast or go snorkeling amongst the marine creatures. In the afternoon, visit Tagus Cove, where you can follow a trail along Lake Darwin up to a ridge high enough to display amazing views.
Isabela is relatively young island (approximately 1 million years old), and boasts fascinating geological evidence of the island's volcanic past that left it as it is today. There is also fantastic flora and fauna, particularly on some of the island's volcanoes, which support completely different ecological zones than other islands in the archipelago. Many wild tortoises roam the highlands of Isabela, more so than any other island, and the rich waters surrounding the island provide plenty of nutrients for vast marine life, which allows for fantastic snorkeling opportunities.
Bartolomé Island (Bartholomew) has 2 main areas of interest. A hike to the summit of the island provides a clearer perspective of the islands' volcanic origins, and the panoramic view is breathtaking. From here, the beach of Bartolomé is visible directly below, the volcanic tower rising out of the water next to it, with Santiago in the distance. After your hike, stop at the beach to relax in semi-tropical tranquility. This area makes for great snorkeling among the submerged volcanic rock and around the base of the tower. A short hike to the beach on the opposite side provides an opportunity to see sharks in these shallow waters, and marine turtles that nest here from January through March.
Witness the striking and fascinating giant lava formations of Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island. Few plants survive on this island due to the harsh environment and relatively new lava flow. Walk along the lava formations before coming to a white coral sand beach that abounds with Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions.
Enjoy a morning excursion to Bachas Beach for walks to observe birds and other wildlife, as well as free time for swimming and snorkeling. The beach is known for its soft white sand, made from granulated coral, and is a favorite site for nesting sea turtles.
Continue to Cerro Dragón on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island, to observe land iguanas and a salt water lagoon frequented by flamingos and other species of birds.
Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and see the famed giant Galápagos tortoises. Take an excursion to the Santa Cruz Highlands, allowing you to pass through the islands varied vegetation zones. In the afternoon, visit the Tortoise Reserve, where you will have the chance to see various wildlife and walk through lava tunnels and see the Pit Craters.
Head to Punta Suarez on Española Island. The southernmost island in the Galapagos archipelago is home to several wildlife species, including masked and blue-footed boobies. A hike to the top of the cliff makes for spectacular photo opportunities.
Punta Suarez on the western side of Española Island (also called Hood) is spectacular: gargantuan waves break on jagged cliffs and large bird colonies thickly populate the interior of the island; there is a distinct feel of desolate wilderness here. The Waved Albatross is seen here from April to December during its mating/nesting season. This bird leaves land between January and March each year to make its annual odyssey far out to sea. Amazingly, Española is the nesting site to virtually the entire world population of this species, with more than 12,000 pairs residing here. Large numbers of masked and blue-footed boobies are also found here, Red-billed Tropic Birds dash madly through the air, and both marine iguanas and sea lions are common. A huge blowhole, where the surf is forced through a natural rock formation spouting seawater 15 to 20 m (49 – 66 ft) into the air, adds to the island’s untamed beauty.
Follow the trail through a rookery and learn the geological history of the island from our naturalist, including its dramatic volcanic features, climate, flora and fauna. Sail in the afternoon to Garner Bay, an excellent swimming and snorkeling site.
Reach San Cristóbal in the morning and visit El Junco Lagoon to see the diverse vegetation surrounding the largest freshwater lagoon in the Galapagos Islands.
Disembark after breakfast, visit the interpretation center and transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito. Transfer to your hotel upon arrival, and enjoy one last night on the town.
Depart at any time.
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.