The Galapagos is composed of 13 large and 7 small islands and to this day is one of the most unique and beautiful destinations on earth. The Galapagos is renowned for its beautiful plant life as well as its diverse native species. In fact, UNESCO listed the Galapagos as one of the most biologically diverse and scientifically important places on the planet. To truly experience the best of the Galapagos, we highly suggest making this destination a priority in your charter to experience both a tranquil and adventurous environment.
8 days at Galápagos Islands
DAY 1 - Santa Cruz - Puerto Ayora
Explore this interesting seaside town before boarding our yacht in the late afternoon. Puerto Ayora is the largest town in the Galapagos but with only 10,000 inhabitants, it still has a small-town feel. There are plenty of bars and restaurants along the lively waterfront, where marine iguanas laze. Visit Fausto Llerena, the giant tortoise captive breeding centre or the Charles Darwin Research Centre. A visit to the fish market at Puerto Ayora is quite an experience - Pelicans, sea lions and great blue herons jockey for position as fish off-cuts are cast aside by the fish mongers.
DAY 2 - Floreana - Punta Cormorant & Champion Island, Post Office Bay, Black Beach, Asilo de la Paz
Punta Cormorant offers two contrasting beaches. Arriving on shore you will first encounter a green sand beach (caused by olivine crystals). From this beach, we will walk to a lagoon where pink flamingos and other shore birds thrive. This is also a good location to see large-billed flycatchers and various species of finches.
We continue on to another beach made of fine white sand particles known as 'Flour Beach'. In the clear waters just off the beach, scores of stingrays can often be seen gliding across the sandy bottom. Champion Island boasts some of the best snorkelling in the Galapagos. Swim with playful sea lions, sharks and a myriad of tropical fish.
In 1793, a whaling ship captain (James Colnett) established a wooden 'post office' barrel on the beach at Post Office Bay. Pacific-bound whaling ships would deposit letters for the ships returning home to pick up and deliver for them. Not only do we visit this historic post barrel, but you will have the opportunity to post your own post cards to friends back home (postage free) as the tradition still continues today.
We may also visit the ruins of a failed Norwegian fishing settlement of the 1920's or take a trip to the Floreana highlands where original settlers lived in caves. We end the day with a BBQ on the beach at sunset.
DAY 3 Isabela - Punta Moreno & Elizabeth Bay
Punta Moreno is a place where the forces of the Galapagos have joined to create a work of art, where lava fields spill down directly into the ocean. Swirling black lava from past eruptions have created a series of crystal clear tide pools, coastal craters and some larger mangrove-lined inlets. This fascinating ecosystem attracts flamingos, great blue herons, Bahama pintail ducks, brown pelicans and in the clear waters of this coast it is common to see green turtles, white-tipped reef sharks and brightly-coloured puffer fish. At Elizabeth Bay, we cruise the coastal islets and mangrove-lined inlets in the ship's tenders. Galapagos hawks soar overhead and schools of pompanos and dorados can be seen swimming beneath our Zodiacs. The largest concentration of Galapagos penguins inhabit this site and this may be our first opportunity to view the remarkable flightless cormorant. Spotted eagle rays and golden rays are also often seen whilst cruising this coast.
DAY 4 - Isabela - Urbina Bay and Fernandina - Punta Espinoza
Lying at the foot of Alcedo Volcano, Urbina Bay is one of the best and the most recent examples of geological uplift in the Galapagos. Uplift occurs when molten materials beneath the surface shift. In 1954 the shoreline was rapidly uplifted nearly 4 meters. The coastline was driven over 1 km further out to sea, exposing giant coral heads and stranding countless marine creatures. Visitors to the site shortly afterwards were confronted with skeletons of sharks, sea turtles and lobsters unable to find the ocean from the rapidly rising land. The uplifting of Urbina Bay was followed by an eruption of Alcedo a few weeks later. We may go ashore and walk across the recently uplifted terrain before reaching a sandy area that was once the beach. Keep an eye out for marine iguanas, penguins, flightless cormorants and female giant tortoise which will journey down from Alcedo Volcano to lay their eggs in the sand at certain times throughout the year. We may also visit a small colony of land iguanas inland.
In the afternoon we explore a huge marine iguana nesting site on the Island of Fernandina, accompanied by colourful sally lightfoot crabs and cheeky lava lizards. During the first half of the year, the iguanas nest by digging small burrows in the sand. There is also a large flightless cormorant nesting site nearby.
DAY 5 - Isabela - Caleta Tagus and Punta Vicente Roca
Through the centuries Tagus Cove has been an anchorage for whaling ships, pirates and warships. As we cruise into the landing area, we see the names of many ships from a bygone era carved into and painted onto the cliffs, where blue-footed boobies and noddy terns now nest. We go ashore and hike to the rim of Darwin Lake - a perfectly round crater, now filled with saltwater. We take in the spectacular views back towards our anchorage in the bay, as well as towards Darwin Volcano and Wolf Volcano in the distance to the north.
In the afternoon, the massive red volcanic cliffs of Punta Vicente Roca are our playground. We cruise along in the Zodiacs, taking in the many different species that make their home on the cliff face. There is a huge sea cave we are able to drive right into before jumping in for an afternoon snorkel. The water here is amongst the coolest in the Galapagos courtesy of the upwelling from the Cromwell Current. These cool, nutrient rich waters make the west coast of Isabela the best place in the Galapagos to see whales such as humpbacks, sperm whales, sei whales, minkes and even orcas.
DAY 6 - Santiago - Puerto Egas, Mina de Sal, Espumilla Beach, Buccaneer Cove
We land at Puerto Egas amongst some of the best tidepools in the Galapagos. Beyond the tide pools, we come to a fur seal grotto - a series of caves and sink holes filled with sea water. Both fur seals and sea lions can be seen swimming and playing in these natural pools ringed by lava rock. Turtles, sharks, marine iguana and reef fish may also be seen in the crystal clear pools. This may be the only opportunity we have to swim with fur seals. Needless to say, this is a wonderful place to snorkel.
Behind Espumilla Beach, we discover a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white cheeked pintails can be observed. The dramatic volcanic landscape of Buccaneer Cove served as a safe haven for pirates, sailors and whalers during the 18th and 19th century. Anchoring in the protected bay they were able to make much needed repairs to their ships and stock up on salt, tortoises, fresh water and firewood. The cliffs at Buccaneer Cove are awash with sea birds and teams of bluefooted boobies can often be seen dive-bombing their prey in a co-ordinated spectacle.
Day 7 North Seymour and Santa Cruz - Caleta Tortuga Negra, Bachas Beach
North Seymour is a relatively small islet with extensive nesting colonies of the Magnificent Frigatebird, Blue-footed boobies and Swallow-tail gulls. Lava herons, Red-billed Tropicbirds and Yellow-crowned night herons may also be seen and a small population of land iguanas nest on the island. Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) is a mangrove system teeming with life on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. Between December and March each year, hundreds of sea turtles can be seen mating in the calm waters of the estuary. We drop anchor at the entrance to the cove and cruise up into the ever-narrowing waterway in our pangas (Zodiacs) in hope of seeing spotted eagle rays, golden rays, sharks and of course... turtles. We end our journey with the pure white sands and crystal clear waters of Bachas Beach. This beach has a resident population of playful sea lions and is a favourite nesting beach for Green sea turtles.
DAY 8 - Baltra
This morning, we disembark at Baltra Airport.