THURSDAY – THURDAY
DAY 1: BALTRA ISLAND / STA. CRUZ HIGHLANDS (THURSDAY)
Early flight to Baltra. Upon arrival, meet the naturalist guide, who will assist with the transfer to the Monserrat moored in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.
Santa Cruz Highlands Excursion (PM)
Santa Cruz Island (2h-3h)
Visit the highlands of Santa Cruz and see the Galápagos giant tortoise in its natural surroundings. Explore the area and its incredible underground lava tunnels – some are more than 1km (.6 mi) long! Wander along the volcanic tubes and keep an eye out for the (mainly) nocturnal barn owls that sometimes roost here.
DAY 2: SULLIVAN BAY / BARTOLOMÉ ISLAND (FRIDAY)
Visit Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island to see giant lava formations contrasting the white-coral sand beach. Continue to Bartolomé for a guided tour to see the dramatic volcanic features before hiking to a panoramic viewpoint.
Sullivan Bay Visit (AM)
Visit Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island to see one of its star natural attractions – striking and fascinating giant lava formations. Very few plants have managed to survive on this island due to its harsh environment and relatively new lava flow. Enjoy a walk along the lava formations before coming to a white-coral sand beach, where abundant Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions gather on shore.
Snorkelling (Sullivan Bay) (AM)
Enjoy a cool dip after exploring Sullivan Bay on foot. Grab a snorkel and discover many species of fish and other marine life in the shallow waters. Keep an eye out for turtles, rays, and large schools of fish!
Bartolomé Island Landing (PM)
Hike to Bartolomé’s summit for a stronger perspective of the islands’ not-too- distant volcanic origins, and enjoy a panoramic view – it’s one of the best among the islands! See other Galápagos Islands in the distance as well as Pinnacle Rock, the island’s famous towering landmark. Spot Galápagos penguins — the only species of penguin found north of the Equator — walking precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at the base.
Snorkelling (Bartolomé Island) (PM)
Bartolomé Island (45m-1h)
Take the opportunity to swim and snorkel around Pinnacle Rock, one of the most iconic volcanic rock formations on the islands. Home to Galápagos penguins, friendly sea lions, sea turtles, and a huge variety of fish, Bartolomé and its surrounding waters are a fantastic place to explore the natural wonders of the Galápagos.
DAY 3: BACHAS BEACH / CERRO DRAGÓN (SATURDAY)
Visit the beach on Las Bachas and relax or swim in the crystal waters. Continue to Cerro Dragón on the west coast of Santa Cruz to see land iguanas and a saltwater lagoon frequented by flamingos and other species of birds.
Visit Bachas Beach in the morning, located on the northeastern tip of Santa Cruz Island. A great beach to stroll on with crystalline waters perfect for swimming, Bachas Beach also gives visitors the opportunity to see frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies, and sea lions.
In the afternoon, visit Cerro Dragón, on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. See land iguanas as well as a saltwater lagoon frequented by flamingos and various species of birds.
Bachas Beach Landing (AM)
Bachas Beach (2h-3h)
Head to Bachas Beach where the sand is made of decomposed coral, making it
soft and white, and a favourite site for nesting sea turtles. Spot abundant Sally Lightfoot crabs on the lava rocks along the water’s edge — these crabs will eat anything they can get their claws on! Trek to see a wide range of wildlife, including flamingos, hermit crabs, black necked stilts, and sea lions.
Bachas Beach (45m-1h)
Go snorkelling or swimming right off the white sand beach of Las Bachas. Spot all sorts of marine wildlife in its shallow waters and tidal pools. Bachas is also one of the most important beaches for the green turtle as a nesting site.
Cerro Dragón Visit (PM)
Cerro Dragón (1h-3h)
Visit Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) for some prime birdwatching. Take a short walk from the beach to a hypersalinic (saltier than the ocean) lagoon frequented by pink flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks, and other species of birds. Pass through a Scalesia tree forest; endemic to the area, there are only 400 specimens of Scalesia trees left in the world.
DAY 4: BLACK TURTLE COVE / MOSQUERA ISLET (SUNDAY)
Take a morning panga ride and look for marine life in Black Turtle Cove before navigating back to Baltra for lunch. In the afternoon, sail to Mosquera and walk along the beach and observe the vast sea lion colonies.
Black Turtle Cove Excursion (AM)
Black Turtle Cove
Explore the mangroves by panga to find rich marine wildlife between the fresh and salt waters. Keep any eye out for manta rays and sea turtles in this tranquil ecosystem. Whitetip reef sharks can also be seen gliding by.
Mosquera Island Excursion (PM)
Mosquera Island (2h-3h)
Wander along the beach and keep a look out for wildlife on land, in the air, and
at sea. Relax on the sand or search for aquatic life in the tidal pools that dot the coastline.
DAY 5: ISABELA ISLAND (MONDAY)
Arrive at Puerto Villamil, home to the small community that lives on Isabela Island. In the morning, visit las Tintoreras islet, a small island in front of Puerto Villamil. Its bay is known to be home to a colony of whitetip sharks. Later hike to Sierra Negra volcano, which has the largest basaltic caldera in the Galápagos. In the afternoon, check out the tortoise breeding center to see some of the famous giant tortoises of the Galápagos.
Las Tintoreras Visit (AM)
Take a panga across the bay to “Tintoreras” Shark Alley to observe the whitetip reef sharks found swimming in the channels between the rocks. Get a close-up view of pelicans, frigatebirds, and diving blue-footed boobies. Watch for manta rays and rare Galápagos penguins.
Sierra Negra Volcano Hike (AM)
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.
Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre Visit (PM)
Isabela Island (2h-3h)
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.
DAY 6: CHINESE HAT / RÁBIDA ISLAND (TUESDAY)
Visit Chinese Hat for snorkelling opportunities and to observe the birds and sea lions. Take an afternoon excursion to Rábida to see a lagoon and sea lion colony.
In the morning, the boat arrives at a small uniquely shaped island off the southern tip of Santiago called Chinese Hat. Here it is often possible to see Galápagos penguins, and the marine life is fantastic for snorkelling. There is also a large sea lion colony as well as many marine iguanas that can be seen while walking amongst the volcanic scenery. Trek to see good views of the island’s volcano.
Chinese Hat Visit (AM)
Chinese Hat (1h-2h)
Explore Chinese Hat’s beautiful landscape and spectacular white-coral sand beach followed by snorkelling with sea lions and penguins and swimming opportunities in the cove.
Snorkelling (Chinese Hat) (AM)
Chinese Hat (45m-1h)
Snorkel right from the white-coral sand beach and come face to face with playful sea lions and large schools of tropical fish. Keep an eye out for marine iguanas and penguins too!
Rabida Island Excursion (PM)
Arrive at a red sand beach at Rábida 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.
Snorkelling (Isla Rábida) (PM)
Rábida Island (45m-1h)
Take a panga ride from the beach to a cliff wall that drops off into the water to find one of the best deep-water snorkeling spots in the islands.
DAY 7: PUERTO EGAS / SANTIAGO ISLAND (WEDNESDAY)
Morning excursion to Puerto Egas to see the salt crater as well as a dark sand beach and tidal pools. Continue to Playa Espumilla, one of the most idyllic beaches in the Galápagos Islands, which boasts thick mangroves and flamingo and sea turtle nesting sites. Head to Buccaneer Cove to witness the towering cliff wall rock formations.
Morning excursion to Playa Espumilla, one of the most idyllic beaches in the Galápagos Islands, which has thick mangroves and flamingo and sea turtle nesting sites. Continue to Puerto Egas to see the salt crater as well as a dark sand beach and tidal pools.
Santiago Island has seen its share of human activity from whalers and pirates over the years, and despite the introduction of goats to the island many years ago, the wildlife of Santiago has otherwise flourished and provides outstanding viewing opportunities. The island boasts marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, land and sea turtles, among others. Enjoy great wildlife viewing both on land and in the water.
Puerto Egas Visit (AM)
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.
Snorkelling (Puerto Egas) (AM)
Puerto Egas (45m-1h)
Grab a snorkel and jump into the water right off the beach to explore Puerto Egas’ interesting underwater world. Keep your eyes peeled for rays, turtles, and reefsharks while snorkelling. After, visit the large tidal pool area – marine
iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs are everywhere.
Playa Espumilla Excursion (PM)
Head to Playa Espumilla, one of the most idyllic beaches in the Galápagos Islands, which has thick mangroves and sea turtle nesting sites.
Buccaneer Cove Visit (PM)
Jump into the panga and cruise alongside high cliffs and rock formations on this visit to Buccaneer Cove, which was a favourite hideout for pirates looking to stock up their boats with food and water. Spot sea lions relaxing on the beach and sea birds nesting in the cove – there’s lots to see at this site.
DAY 8: NORTH SEYMOUR / BALTRA ISLAND (THURSDAY)
Visit North Seymour for guided walks to observe birds and wildlife, including vast sea lion colonies. Disembark at Baltra and fly back to Ecuador mainland.
North Seymour Island Visit (AM)
Have an amazing wildlife experience visiting North Seymour Island – this island is teeming with life! Follow trails to see all the action (you may need to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana while walking). See blue-footed booby nests where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. Head to a rocky shore to see flocks of pelicans having lunch in a dive bomb feeding frenzy, then turn inland to a large nesting site of magnificent frigatebirds. These huge, dark acrobats have two-metre (6.5 ft) wingspans, and males, with their puffed-up scarlet throat sacks, sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks. Top off the excursion with a snorkel among sea lions and rays.