Day 1 – Tuesday
AM – Baltra Airport Upon arrival at Seymour Ecological Airport, a check-up is carried out first, to ensure that no foreign plant or animal species are introduced into the islands. Furthermore, your TCC (Transit Control Card) is stamped; this must be kept safe during your trip, as it has to be presented again on your return flight. In addition, entrance to the Galapagos National Park is due for entry (US $100), if this has not yet been paid. Your guide will meet you at the airport, assist you with the luggage, and accompany you on the short bus ride to the harbor of Puerto Ayora. Here you will climb aboard the M/Y Aqua! After greeting the crew and the captain, your cabins will be assigned to you and then you will enjoy your first lunch on-board.
PM – North Seymour This islet is one of most visited sites, and it is teeming with birdlife. An easy circular path takes you through the archipelago’s most extensive colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. At the beginning of the breeding season, adult frigate bird-males blow up their vivid red pouches to impressive football-sized balloons. This is one of the few spots where you can compare the magnificent and the great frigate bird breeding next to each other.
Day 2 – Wednesday
AM – South Plazas South Plaza is located at the east of Santa Cruz Island, and forms part of two islands known as Islas Plazas. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the Galapagos are found here. The Plazas land iguanas are smaller than their relatives found on other islands. There are several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a male marine iguana and a female land iguana; they are unique, recognizable at first glance by their black/grey color, with a land iguana’s crest, but face and tail of the marine iguana. The large population of iguanas is due to the presence of tuna, their favorite food. Swallow-tailed gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs are seen along with other seabirds such as Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and brown pelicans.
PM – Santa Fe Located in the south-eastern part of the Galapagos, this island was formed from an uplift rather than being of volcanic origin, which is why it is mostly at. There are some theories which claim that this could be the oldest island in the Archipelago. Santa Fe is home to a number of endemic species like the Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos snake, Galapagos mockingbird, rice rats and one of the two species of lands Iguanas of the islands. After disembarking into the beautiful and clear waters you will be in contact with one of the many sea lion colonies.
Along the trail, many salt bushes can be seen as well as the giant prickly pear cactus – gigantism is a characteristic of oceanic islands. There are many possibilities to snorkel with playful sea lions and tropical fish.
Day 3 – Thursday
AM – CC Fausto Llerena
After discovering and learning about the difference of Espanola Island tortoises with those from other islands, you will have the opportunity to take amazing photographs of the tortoises at the breeding center! The tour starts at the information booth of the GNP. The trail continues to the Van Straelen Interpretation Center, the breeding center and from there will be a path- this is where you can see the
tortoises of Española Island, ending in the tortoise exhibit corral. Tortoises of this corral are accustomed to humans; it is an excellent spot to be photographed with them!
PM – Cormorant Point
The peninsula of Cormorant Point forms the extreme north cape of Floreana, which formed from smaller volcanic cones, covered by tropical dry forest (palo santo). At the landing beach, you will be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion colony. The green sand on this beach contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals which have been blown out by the surrounding tuff cones. The ‘flour sand’ beach on the southern side of the peninsula is made up of even finer white coral sand which feels very smooth on the feet. Parrotsh have pulverized it, grinding the calcareous skeletons of living coral. You can spot schools of stingrays who love the sandy bottom to hide. During the rest months of the year, Pacific green turtles come ashore to bury their eggs.
Day 4 – Friday
AM – Dragon Hill
Dragon Hill boasts two key-species which are very likely to be seen during every visit to the Galapagos, though not too commonly distributed throughout the islands: Galapagos land iguanas and American flamingos. You will climb a hill with giant opuntia cacti where these ‘dragons’ feed and breed. Although they are quite shy and elusive, you stand a fair chance of seeing the success of this project with your own eyes.
The short walk crosses the coastal vegetation zone, as well as the somewhat higher arid zone with vulnerable tropical dry forest. In the warm and wet season in the first half of the year, everything turns green. Evergreen giant prickly pear cacti with internal reservoirs used a different survival tactic in this dry climate to the leaf dropping palo santo trees; in the end, both were successful.
Moreover, this is a very photogenic spot as well, with breathtaking panoramas over the bay and towards an intriguing steep volcanic spout of red lava that overlooks the area. Dragon Hill has become popular because of its saline lagoons behind the beach; these contain algae and shrimp and attract seasonally foraging American flamingos. Dragon Hill is the best location on Santa Cruz to observe them.
PM – Chinese Hat Islet (Santiago)
Chinese Hat is a 52m/170ft high volcanic cone, forming another islet right off the rocky coast of Santiago, where a small colony of Galapagos penguins has settled. Approaching Chinese Hat from the north, you will understand the meaning of the name. This is an excellent place to learn more about volcanoes, lava bombs, and lava tunnels.
You will arrive just in time to witness how this barren islet is colonized by pioneer species that have begun to sprout! Beautiful beaches of white coral sand and holes in the eroding lava fields are filled up with lava sand, which enables
rooting. Galapagos sea lions and countless marine iguanas contribute to fertilization, and all together create many favorable options for newcomers, such as saltbush and the Vesuvius carpet.
Day 5- Saturday
AM – Cowley Islet (Isabela) This islet, located coast of Isabela, is a popular diving site due to the many incredible species located in the waters here. You will encounter a range of shark species, Galapagos sea lions, stingrays, green sea turtles, cormorants, penguins, manta rays, and more! And if you’re lucky, you can encounter sea horses!
PM – Albany Islet (Santiago) Albany Islet is an amazing sloping rock located off the Northwest Point of Santiago. This is a great site to observe tiger nudibranchs, sea turtles, Galapagos black coral, barnacles, Galapagos sharks, and golden eagle rays.
Day 6 – Sunday
AM – Egas Port We will have a “wet-landing” and take an easy walk along trails and on the beautiful shoreline of the black-sand beach, where you can see birds, sea lions, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, marine iguanas, and Galapagos Fur Seal. During the walk, you will be able to see some of Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers and many other beautiful and unique animals!
PM – Sullivan Bay The arrival in Sullivan Bay is like a moon landing. The desolate, sprawling fields seem to be mostly lifeless, but this island, which is particularly popular among photographers, still offers a lot to see. There is even some life! Green sea turtles burrow in the small white sand beach, where you can also find crabs, blue herons, and oystercatchers.
Day 7 – Monday
AM – Rábida Island After a ‘wet landing’ on the remarkable red beach of Rabida, there are two short guided hikes. Oxidized iron particles give the rocks and sand their rusty color. The beach wall holds a shallow green-fringed lagoon; this oasis is the most fertile place on the otherwise arid islet, which is overgrown with leaf-dropping palo santo trees. The salty pool attracts all kind of aquatic birds, like pintails and sometimes Americanflamingos. Between the evergreen foliage of the surrounding mangrove bushes, many species of songbirds hide and breed. One of the most outstanding attractions is the major breeding colony of brown pelicans, the only ones in the world that plunge-dive.
PM – Bartolome Island The beautiful volcano islet of Bartolomé is among the youngest of the islands, and on a geological scale was just recently born out of re. Although at first sight lifeless, Bartolomé offers some of the wildest landscapes and best panoramas of the entire archipelago. To enjoy the postcard view of the idyllic ‘Pinnacle Bay’ you have to climb the stairs to the viewpoint on top of the island (114m/375ft). Enter a dramatic world of threatening (though extinguished) nearby spatter cones, craters, and lightweight lava droplets that have been spewed out by fiery fountains. The Summit Trail is also ideal for witnessing how scanty pioneer vegetation such as lava cactus struggles to take root in the bare virgin lava fields.
Day 8 – Tuesday
AM – Mosquera Though close neighbors, Mosquera and North Seymour offer a very different experience; diverging habitats attract different residents. While North Seymour contains large breeding colonies of boobies and frigate birds, Mosquera stands out as one of the largest concentrations of Galapagos sea lions in the entire archipelago. It’s also one of the few spots inside the National Park where you can stroll around freely, without being restricted to a trail. Galapagos sea lions are real beach lovers and Mosquera offers beautiful white coral sand beaches contrasting with the azure-colored water. This islet is just a few meters higher than a sandbank and doesn’t complicate their landing, and they can roll relaxed in the surf. For fishing, they just have to enter the Itabaca Channel, which is a sort of natural place in which lots of marine life and schools of share concentrated. Transfer out to Baltra Airport (GPS) It’s time to say goodbye to Galapagos! It’s been a pleasure accompanying you on this unique trip and hopes to see you again very soon! Assisted by the naturalist guide and some crew members, the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to the Seymour Ecological Airport, where we will take the shuttle back to the airport. In case you have booked your trip for a longer stay with us.