Ultimate Galapagos

July 16, 2015 - July 28, 2015

Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.

Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.

July 16 Depart USA / Guayaquíl, Ecuador

Depart on your flight to Guayaquíl. Transfer to our hotel for the night.

July 17 Guayaquíl / Baltra, Galápagos Islands / Santa Cruz / Embark Isabela II

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island, then transfer to nearby Santa Cruz Island. Here, visit the highlands’ Tortoise Reserve, containing one of the largest giant tortoise populations in the Galápagos. Continue to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Learn about conservation efforts and view the tortoises and land iguanas being raised for reintroduction. Embark the Isabela II this afternoon.

July 18 Floreana Island

This morning visit Post Office Bay and view one of the oldest working sea-mail drops. Zodiacs take you to nearby islets to observe rays, sea lions, and sea turtles, followed by a short walk to a lookout for panoramic views of Floreana. At Punta Cormorant you may see American flamingos, black-necked stilts, and white-cheeked pintail ducks in a brackish lagoon. The hike continues to a fine coral-sand beach where green sea turtles nest. A highlight today is the chance to swim and snorkel with friendly and playful sea lions.

July 19 Espanola (Hood) Island

Today visit Punta Suárez to see the largest bird in the Galápagos Islands, the waved albatross. Virtually the entire population of 12,000 pairs of albatross nests here from April to December. Other wildlife includes red-billed tropicbirds, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and marine iguanas. Next, go ashore for a stroll along the beautiful white-sand beach of Gardner Bay to search for Hood Island mockingbirds and lava lizards, Galápagos hawks, and three species of Darwin’s finches. Enjoy another opportunity to snorkel this afternoon.

July 20 San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal was the first island Charles Darwin visited when he arrived in the Galápagos. First known as Chatham Island, it was later named in honor of Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón). Punta Pitt is the only place in the Galápagos where three species of boobies and two species of frigates can be found nesting in the same area—blue-footed, Nazca, and red-footed boobies as well as great and magnificent frigatebirds. In the afternoon, walk along the beautiful beach of Cerro Brujo to search for species endemic to this island, including San Cristóbal mockingbirds and lava lizards. The sheltered bay is frequented by sea lions and rays.

July 21 San Cristóbal Island

Disembark on the southwest side of the island at the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to visit the Interpretive Center, which will give you a greater understanding of the Galápagos’ uniqueness. After lunch board coaches to Cerro Colorado to visit a Galápagos tortoise breeding center.

July 22 Genovesa (Tower) Island

Cross the equator overnight, arriving at Genovesa Island. Enter Darwin Bay, formed by the caldera of a partially eroded volcano, for a short Zodiac tour along the coastline to Prince Philip’s Steps, where you may find red-footed boobies nesting in palo santo trees. Nazca boobies nest on the ground, along with wedge-rumped storm petrels and short-eared owls. Afterward, swim and snorkel along the cliffs of this colossal harbor. Later, land on a sandy beach and pass swallow-tailed gulls as you walk by a forest of salt bush and mangrove where colonies of great frigatebirds and red-footed boobies nest.

July 23 Santiago (James) Island

This morning arrive at Espumilla Beach, a large coffee-colored sand beach located at the north end of the island. A short walk inland takes you through a mangrove forest to a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white-cheeked pintails can be seen. Once back on the beach you have another chance to swim or snorkel. After a short lunch cruise, arrive at Puerto Egas and hike along a coastal trail to a nearby fur seal grotto. Along the shore you may spot great blue and striated herons, oystercatchers, and yellow-crowned night herons as they feed. At low tide it is possible to see colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas grazing on sea lettuce.

July 24 Fernandina Island / Isabela Island

The cool waters of the Cromwell Current upwell around Isabela and Fernandina and these nutrient-rich waters provide great feeding sources for whales and dolphins. In the morning explore Punta Espinoza on Fernandina, the youngest island of the Galápagos. Observe the largest colony of marine iguanas in the archipelago, flightless cormorants, and moonscape-like lava fields. This is one of the largest, most pristine islands in the world with no introduced species to date. On the western shore of Isabela, stop at secluded Tagus Cove, which was once a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers. An uphill hike through the forest takes you to Darwin Lake, a crater filled with salt water.

July 25 Isabela Island

Step ashore on a gentle sloping beach on Urbina Bay. A short trail leads to a coral reef, evidence of uplift from the sea which occurred in 1954. Here you may find land and marine iguanas, giant Galápagos tortoises, flightless cormorants, and Galápagos penguins. Then cruise north along the Bolívar Channel, accompanied by impressive views of Isabela’s rugged coast, to Punta Vicente Roca. Be on the lookout here for more cormorants, penguins, blue-footed boobies, turtles, and perhaps, the amazing mola mola.

July 26 Rábida Island / Santa Cruz Island

Though small, Rábida contains a great variety of rock and lava types. Wildlife found here includes Galápagos hawks, pelicans, and sea lions. Your next stop is Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) on the northwest side of Santa Cruz Island. Aptly named, this site is one of the best places to see land iguanas. The trail continues through palo santo trees and cacti forests and ends at a saltwater lagoon, where you may see various species of birds.

July 27 Baltra Island / Disembark / Guayaquíl

This morning enjoy time at leisure before disembarking the Isabela II for your flight back to Guayaquíl. On arrival transfer to our hotel. This afternoon, there is free time to relax before a farewell dinner and overnight.

July 28 Guayaquíl / USA

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your independent flights homeward.