Board your early flight to the Galapagos either from Quito (via Guayaquil) or Guayaquil. Upon arrival to San Cristobal Island, airport travelers pass through the entrance formalities and proceed to the baggage area where the boat crew is waiting to escort passengers by bus and then zodiac to our anchored yacht. After the welcome briefing, safety drill and a delicious buffet lunch, we?ll return to San Cristobal to explore El Junco Lake. Spanish for "sedge," El Junco is the caldera of an extinct volcano and only sizable fresh water lake in the Galapagos. Listen for the calls of sea lions?they may try to approach, and as we ride the zodiac we?ll see them lounging on the boats docked in the harbor. Upon return to the yacht there will be a briefing followed by our Captain?s welcome cocktail party and dinner prepared by our culinary school-trained chefs. All meals included when aboard ship.
We?ll start our exploration today with a Zodiac ride to look for wildlife on Cerro Brujo. Our guides will point out a wide variety of birds soaring around us, Sally Lightfoot crabs scurrying over rocks and unusual geological formations, including the Cathedral. After the Zodiac tour, we?ll be able to take in the gorgeous coral sand beach at our own pace. Choose a peaceful walk along the beach, swim with sea lions, paddle board or kayak. We return to the yacht for lunch and this afternoon go ashore at Punta Pitt, which serves as a nesting site for many sea birds including all three types of boobies: blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies, both frigate bird species, swallow-tailed gulls, storm petrels and shearwaters. At Pitt Rock, we snorkel with sea lions and colorful fish such as the king angel and surgeon fish. We return to the yacht for a briefing followed by dinner.
Walk: Punta Pitt, 2 miles, short steep section, rocky trail.
We disembark at Punta Suarez on Espanola Island where from April to December, the waved albatross, found only on Espanola, performs their wild mating ritual. A unique species of marine iguana identified with traces of red and green colorings will also be found. We?ll see colonies of blue-footed boobies, stunning swallow-tailed gulls, and red-billed tropicbirds who take shelter under the cliffs as we follow a trail to a dramatic ocean blow hole. After lunch and a ceviche cooking demonstration on board, we?ll have the option to snorkel at Tortuga Rock and explore the caves covered with invertebrates. We disembark at Gardner Bay, where large colonies of sea lions dot the seemingly endless white sand beach. Choose to take a leisurely stroll, swim with playful sea lions or explore the bay and islets by kayak or stand up paddle board. After activities, we have a briefing, dinner and enrichment lecture on board.
Walk: Punta Suarez, 2 miles, rocky.
Step ashore at Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island, where we follow a trail rich in birds and plant life. It leads to a beach where sea turtles lay eggs in the powdery sand dunes and sting rays swim in the shallow water. After there is an opportunity to snorkel at Devils Crown or Champion Islet, colonized by a brilliant array of colorful fish and corral, whitetip sharks, sea turtles and spotted eagle rays. Floreana is one of the few populated islands in the Galapagos with a rich and intriguing human history. After lunch, visit one of the most famous sites in Galapagos, Post Office Bay, where a post office barrel was erected in the late 18th century and is still in use today. Later, we take a Zodiac ride near Baroness Point to look for sea turtles, rays, sea stars and a brilliant array of colorful fish. Tonight on board is an entertaining pirate-themed party.
This morning we find our yacht anchored in the lively harbor of Puerto Ayora. We travel by bus to the highlands to investigate the volcanic processes that shaped this island with a visit to a lava tube and a pair of large craters known as "Los Gemelos." The highlight of our morning is a privately owned ranch, where giant tortoises roam freely in their natural habitat, feeding or resting in shallow pools. After lunch back on the yacht we'll take an afternoon trip to the Charles Darwin Research Station with its tortoise corals and breeding center. Here we?ll see hatchlings and miniature tortoises that will be repatriated when grown. Afterwards it's free time in town to stroll, shop, or visit an art gallery. Return to the yacht for dinner or remain in town to dine on your own. Zodiac shuttles from the yachts to the main dock will be offered throughout the evening.
This morning we visit Bartolome where we climb the long wooden staircase to the summit of a dormant volcano for a panoramic view of the entire island, including the distinctive Pinnacle Rock or if you prefer enjoy a Zodiac ride around the island looking for penguins. Afterwards a chance to wade on the beach or snorkel with tropical fish and Galapagos penguins. In the afternoon the day will vary depending on your yacht. The Theory visits Las Bachas where we?ll have a wonderful opportunity for snorkeling after exploring interior lagoons with vivid flamingos. The Letty calls at Black Turtle Cove to take a Zodiac ride through a series of coves and inlets surrounded by mangroves looking for sea turtles and golden rays. Origin guests visits China Hat where we take a hike looking for sea lions and marine iguanas and see remnants of the island?s geological history.
Walk: Bartolome-372 step wooden stairway, Elevation gain/loss: 600'.
Today we?ll start at South Plaza, a small islet with tall cliffs and a trail with a variety of plants and animals. We are looking for Opuntia or prickly pear cactus and other native flora. We?ll see a variety of birds and this island is home to a colony of bachelor sea lions, with dominant bulls in various stages of recovery from battles over prime beach territory. We?ll see land iguanas and our guides will describe what differentiates them from marine iguanas. During lunch, we?ll sail to North Seymour Island, where a spectacular sight awaits: frigate birds with red sacs on their chests inflated, seeking mates. We?ll have a final opportunity to snorkel in deeper water looking for sharks, sea lions, starfish and tropical fish. Before dinner, the captain and crew join us for a champagne toast to celebrate a wonderful week during the Captain?s farewell party.
Walks: South Plaza, 1 mile, rocky but level; North Seymour, 1 mile, rocky but level.
After breakfast, we'll travel by bus to the Interpretation Center on San Cristobal Island. Here we gain a more complete understanding of the natural and human history of the Islands. Afterwards, we spend time in town before heading to the airport for our flight back to the mainland departing around noon. We will arrive in Guayaquil around 3:30pm or Quito by 5pm.