Friday: Arrival / Baltra
PM: Mosquera Island
After lunch, the Santa Cruz II will sail and relocate just four nautical miles away from Baltra Island, right beside Mosquera Island – a small piece of volcanic uplift that sits between the larger islands of Baltra and North Seymour. Mosquera Island is a long and narrow sand bank that’s surrounded by lava reefs. The excursion group will approach the island from its western shore, which consists of a long shallow reef and acts as the perfect nook for young sea lions. After a wet landing, naturalist guides will lead guests past the sea lion colonies, where they will get the chance to learn more about the fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Galapagos. The walk is easy here, as it only involves walking across a few hundred meters of flat and sandy dunes. This visitor site also allows guests to give snorkeling a go!
AM: Cerro Colorado
PM: Pitt Point
In the afternoon, guests will disembark (wet landing) on the eastern tip of the island at Punta Pitt, which consists of an eroded tuff cone and a trail that provides spectacular views of the coastline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together. Guests are welcome to enjoy the walk or a dinghy ride along the coast. Snorkeling, swimming and kayaking activities are available here.
AM: Santa Fe
After breakfast, guests will ride a dinghy and disembark (wet landing) over at this idyllic white sand beach that’s home to plenty of sea lions. The endemic land iguana, which is exclusive to this island, may be spotted during the morning walk, typically sitting among the giant prickly pear cactus. Snorkeling and swimming from the dinghy rounds out this supremely rewarding experience. Alternatively, guests can also opt to hop aboard the Santa Cruz II’s glass-bottom. Kayaking is also offered here.
PM: South Plaza
Following lunch and a break, guests will disembark (dry landing) along the channel here, where turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Nearby, a carpet of scarlet Sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent-green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for their prickly-pears to drop. Along the coastline, guests will have the chance to spot sea lion colonies, all while frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide around, playing with the currents.
AM: Charles Darwin Station
In the morning, guests disembark (dry landing) in Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. The Station consists of a giant tortoise Breeding Center and an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest that is home to many land birds. The Station also serves as the headquarters for scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following this visit, guests will board a private transport to head up and enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, which is an entirely different ecosystem.
PM: Santa Cruz Highlands
Guests will have several options to choose from in the afternoon, these of which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, guests will return to Puerto Ayora and hop aboard the Santa Cruz II.
AM: Suarez Point
An exciting walk awaits at this site, where guests are sure to enjoy the unique variety of sea bird colonies present. Galapagos albatross (April-December), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls are all present here. Guests will also get to experience the Galapagos’ famous “blowhole” geological phenomenon. Red-green-black marine iguanas are also present here. Afterwards, guests will head back on board for lunch.
PM: Gardner Bay
In the afternoon, the postcard-worthy coral beach of Gardner Bay and the nearby Osborn Islet provide a beautiful setting for observing sea lions, mockingbirds, and finches as guests take their time to simply relax or take a dip in the water for some excellent snorkeling. Kayaking activities are available here too.
AM: Eden Islet
After breakfast, a boat ride takes guests to Islote Eden, a small islet located off the coast of Santa Cruz. It is here that the waters will have the opportunity to see blue-footed boobies dive, reef sharks swimming and frigates flapping their fins. There is the possibility to snorkel and, weather permitting, take a ride aboard the glass bottom boat or kayak.
PM: North Seymour
North Seymour is the result of oceanic uplift that resulted from a volcanic event long ago. Its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. A small forest of silver-gray Palo Santo trees sits just above the landing site (dry landing). These trees are generally leafless, dormant for half the year, and wait for rain as a signal to bloom. This is a great site to watch the bird colonies of blue-footed boobies, two species of frigates, and swallow-tailed gulls fly by. Guests will also have the opportunity to experience sea lions and marine iguanas.
On the last day, guests disembark at Baltra Island and transfer to the airport to take their flight back to the continent.