Summary : Encounter a plethora of flora and fauna in one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world. Come unimaginably close to an impressive array of creatures – many of them endemic – including the giant tortoise and colorful land iguanas. After a day of snorkeling and sunbathing with sea lions, return to the unrivaled comforts of a luxury expedition ship on this adventure of a lifetime.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Arrive in Quito and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy an evening tour of Quito's historic city highlights.
Transfer from your hotel to the Quito airport for your flight to the Galapagos. Embark the vessel, and settle in, meet your Expedition Team and enjoy the first of many memorable meals on board.
During the late afternoon Silver Galapagos will circumnavigate Kicker Rock. Look for Frigatebirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls and Nazca Boobies. The geological formation and its impressive height can best be seen from the ship and conditions permitting you'll be able to observe one of the most beautiful sunsets of the Galapagos Islands.
Some of the most spectacular landscapes in the islands come into view just off the coast of Santiago. Bartolome boasts some of the most magnificent landscapes in the islands including the famous Pinnacle Rock, a towering obelisk at the edge of the ocean. Go snorkeling or take a walk along the beach to look for the playful Galapagos Penguin, perched on a rock or zooming underwater.
Beautiful Espumilla Beach is an important nesting site for the East Pacific Green Sea Turtle. Walk through the arid vegetation zone of the interior to see the largest Palo Santo trees in the Galapagos, the perfect habitat for several species of Darwin’s finches.
Five majestic shield volcanoes up to half-a-million years old pierce the arid landscape of Isabela, the largest and youngest island in the Galápagos. Enjoy some of the best snorkeling in the islands at Punta Vicente Roca, located at the base of Ecuador Volcano. Ancient eruptions have carved away half of the volcano to reveal a spectacular view of the caldera. Board a Zodiac and look for an array of seabirds including Flightless Cormorants and penguins.
The largest colony of marine iguanas in the Galápagos can be seen sunning on the black lava shores of Punta Espinoza at the north-eastern corner of Fernandina. One of the most pristine islands in the world, experience Fernandina’s impressive array of wildlife including sea lions, colorful Sally Light-Foot Crabs and the rare endemic Flightless Cormorant.
A short voyage across the Bolivar Strait is Tagus Cove on Isabela Island. Observe Yellow Warblers and Galápagos Mockingbirds that may escort your hike passing Darwin’s Crater Lake along the way. In the water, snorkel to look for penguins, cormorants and the shy Brown Noddy Tern along the sheltered cliffs.
Experience the tallest red mangrove trees in the Galápagos found at Elizabeth Bay, an idyllic lagoon and fascinating place to observe marine life. Take a Zodiac ride through the mangroves where sea turtles swim close to the surface, and pelicans and herons stalk for fish. Watch for sea lions and penguins as they glide through the waters of this marine sanctuary.
Luring visitors since the 18th century when whalers hunted the island for tortoises and pirates sought shelter in its caves, a rustic mailing system was established. A barrel nailed to a pole where they would drop letters in the hopes that they would be delivered by other mariners sailing home. Continue the tradition and then take a walk along the lovely beach, or go snorkeling in an underwater world as colorful as Floreana’s history.
Explore Punta Cormorant’s olivine beaches, deciduous vegetation and pink flamingos, one of the most interesting sites in the islands. Learn about the formation of beaches as you land on the olive-green sand and walk to a favorite nesting site for Green Sea Turtles.
Cerro Dragon’s land iguanas have played an important part in the conservation program by the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park. When their numbers declined in the 1970s some animals were taken to breed in captivity, others were put onto the neighboring islet Venecia. Head inland on a trail leading past small saltwater lagoons that periodically feature flamingos to see the reintroduced animals. Once at the hill, circle Cerro Dragon, looking for the land iguanas and their burrows.
There might also be the possibility to snorkel near the landing site if time and tides permit.
Silver Galapagos will relocate to the northern shore of Santa Cruz during the early afternoon. At Las Bachas there will be the chance to swim from one of the two beaches, see White-cheeked Pintails and flamingos at a lagoon behind the beach and look for sea turtles -Las Bachas is one of the major nesting sites for them.
The second largest island in the archipelago is home to both the largest human settlement and the second largest wild tortoise population. Visit Los Gemelos, two pit craters (similar to sink holes) in the midst of a forest of tall Scalesia trees that look like giant daisies and are endemic to the Galápagos. Here there’s a good chance to spot land birds, especially Darwin’s Finches.
Tortoises in the Galápagos occur in two different forms: dome-shaped and saddle-backed. The smaller saddle-back tortoise was hunted virtually to extinction and just a handful of survivors remain. The Charles Darwin Research Station gives you the opportunity to see both the domed tortoise and the iconic saddleback tortoise after which the islands were named, as Galápagos means “saddle” in old Castilian.
Disembark the vessel and transfer to the airport for your return flight to the mainland.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes. Read this itinerary as a guide only, as the exact route and the wildlife you encounter may vary.
Two-night pre-cruise hotel stay with breakfast at the Quito JW Marriott; evening tour of Quito's historic city highlights; roundtrip economy class air between Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands; transfer from the hotel to the airport in Quito; pre- and post-cruise transfers between the airport and Silver Galapagos in Baltra; a post-cruise hotel day room at the Hotel Oro Verde in Guayaquil (for guests with flights after 10 p.m.); transfer from the airport to the hotel, and from the hotel to the airport in Guayaquil; Galápagos National Park; Ingala Transit Card fees; porterage fees; cabin accommodations aboard ship; all meals aboard ship; Galapagos Transit Card fee; all shore activities and excursions; guide and lecture service; butler service; gratuities aboard ship; kayaking; snorkel gear and wetsuits; complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, spirits, soda, water and coffee); 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Explorer and Terrace Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Veranda, Deluxe Veranda, and Silver Suites; courtesy binoculars and raincoats on loan. Subject to change without notice.
International airfare; government taxes; laundry or valet services, purchases from the ship boutiques or any item or service of a personal nature; premium sparkling wines and spirits; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Daniela Plaza, © Richard Sidey (crab), © Ralph Lee Hopkins (turtle)