Take an early flight to the Galápagos Islands and transfer to Puerto Ayora and board the ship. Spend the afternoon in the highlands seeing Giant Tortoises in the wild and exploring lava tunnels.
Highlands Giant Tortoises Visit
Head to Santa Cruz’s verdant highlands and the El Chato Reserve, a perfect place to see giant tortoises in their natural environment. Explore the reserve’s lagoon and lava tunnels, keeping an eye out for owls that often roost in the tunnels’ entrances.
Lava Tunnels Visit
Check out Santa Cruz’s lava tunnels, massive underground lava tubes found throughout the island that, in some places, extend several kilometres.
Chinese Hat Visit
Spend the morning exploring lava flows and lava tunnels on the small island of Chinese Hat before diving into the turquoise water to cool off and search for fish and sea turtles in the protected bay.
Rabida Island Excursion
Arrive at a red sand beach at Rabida to explore its trails. A short trail leads to a saltwater lagoon; another trail goes past the lagoon to the interior, where the revered palo santo trees grow. (When burned, the branches of this tree give off a pleasing aroma and ward off mosquitoes.) Head back to the beach to see prehistoric-looking pelicans nesting among low-lying bushes–it’s a rare treat to watch parent pelicans return with gullets full of fish for the squawking youngsters.
Playa Espumilla Excursion
Head to Playa Espumilla, one of the most idyllic beaches in the Galápagos Islands, which has thick mangroves and sea turtle nesting sites.
Puerto Egas Visit
Explore the spectacular shoreline of Puerto Egas, also known as James Bay.Spot a great number of shore birds and reptiles–the beach area is home to a plethora of wildlife.
Punta Espinoza Visit
Tour a number of different trails at this not-to-be-missed landing site that’s home to some of the largest colonies of marine iguanas and sea birds. Follow the path along the beach and across lava flows for a unique opportunity to explore one of the least-visited areas of the Galápagos.
Urbina Bay Visit
Visit Urbina Bay for a unique walk among a massive marine reef that was raised out of the water in 1950 during an uplift. See “sculptures” of dried coral and other ocean formations while touring the area on foot. Urbina Bay also offers great opportunities to see land iguanas that have astonishingly yellow skin,flightless cormorants, brown pelicans as well as marine turtles and rays.
Elizabeth Bay Panga Ride
Head out by panga to explore, keeping an eye out for wildlife hiding among the mangroves. Search for marine turtles, rays, and flightless cormorants in the sheltered waters. Also spot blue-footed boobies, penguins, and pelicans feeding on the abundant marine life.
Punta Moreno Visit
Visit Punta Moreno and explore its interesting landscape, which is home to black lava flows and a unique system of brackish lagoons that draw in a wide range of wildlife. Spot Darwin’s finches, Galápagos doves, penguins, and more!Be sure to bring your camera for shots of the island’s amazing scenery. Punta Moreno boasts a panoramic viewpoint of three of Isabela’s imposing volcanoes: Alcedo, Sierra Negra, and Cerro Azul.
Sierra Negra Volcano Hike
Hike to the rim of the 10km (6 mi) wide crater of the Sierra Negra volcano,which has the largest basaltic caldera in the Galápagos. Trek across the moon-like landscape of the lava fields and fumaroles, and enjoy spectacular views looking north toward Fernandina and the rest of Isabela Island. The volcano last erupted in October 2005, making it the most recent eruption of the Galápagos.
Las Tintoreras Excursion
Tour the “Tintoreras” to watch manta rays and white tip reef sharks swim in the channels between the rocks. Get up close to pelicans, frigatebirds, and diving blue-footed boobies, and keep an eye out for rare Galápagos penguins, the only species found in Galápagos and north of the Equator.
Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre Visit
Walk through the town’s wetlands to visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre. With the giant tortoise on its way to extinction in the late 1950s, this program was established to protect these noble creatures.
Charles Darwin Research Station Visit
Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, as cientific organization initiated in 1964, which works to preserve the Galápagos’ ecosystem through the conservation efforts of scientists, researchers, and volunteers. The research station provides a study location for international scientists and environmental education for the local community.The station is also a great place to observe many species of tortoises and land iguanas in captivity in the Fausto Llerena Breeding Centre. Brought back from the brink of extinction, see the famous Galápagos tortoise up close–a corral houses adult tortoises, and a nursery cares for the young until around age three when their shells have hardened.
Tortuga Bay Hike
Enjoy a short walk to the beautiful white beach of Tortuga Bay. Relax on the beach, walk along the mangroves looking for marine iguanas and bird life, or rent a kayak and explore this marine wonderland. Look for Tintoreras sharks,sea turtles, and manta rays in the water’s shallow areas.
Disembark early and visit the San Cristóbal Interpretation Centre on the island before flying back to Quito.
San Cristóbal Interpretation Center Visit
Pay a visit to the Interpretation Centre to learn everything you wanted to know about the Galápagos from the islands’ natural history to their ecosystems and flora and fauna.