Day 1 Sunday
San Cristobal- Isla Lobos
Transfer early to the airport for our flight to the Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival in San Cristobal, meet our naturalist guide, who will assist with the transfer to Xavier III yacht. In the afternoon visit Isla Lobos to see the sea lions and walk on the beach.
San Cristobal is the easternmost island of Galapagos and one of the oldest. The principal town is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos.
Day 2 Monday
North Seymour / Mosquera
Set sail for North Seymour, just north of Baltra, home to sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. Seymour Island is probably the most exciting island photographically. Bird life abounds, and close to the trail you will find many nesting pairs and young chicks. Seymour is also home to the Galapagos’s largest colony of Magnificent Frigate Birds
Afternoon excursion to Mosquera Island to stroll on the beach and see the vast sea lion colonies.
Day 3 Tuesday
Isla Santiago / Bartolome
Visit Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island in the morning to witness the striking and fascinating giant lava formations. Very few plans have managed to survive on this island due to the harsh environment and relatively new lava flow. Enjoy a walk along the lava formations before coming to a white coral sand beach, where plentiful sally lightfoot crabs and sea lions can be seen.
A hike to the summit of the island provides a clearer perspective of the islands’ not-too-distant volcanic origins, and the panoramic view is one of the best among the islands. From here are visible the double-sided beach of Bartolomé directly below, the volcanic tower rising out of the water next to it, and Santiago in the distance. After the summit hike, stop at the beach to relax in semi-tropical tranquility. There is great snorkelling among the submerged volcanic rock and around the base of the tower.
Day 4 Wednesday
In the morning we arrive in Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz is the second largest in the island group, and has the largest population, with Puerto Ayora as its main town. It also boasts the most varied of the islands’ vegetation zones: coastal, transition, scalesia, miconia and pampa. The Charles Darwin Research Station is a 10 minute walk from the centre of the town. Here, an exhibition centre displays photos of recent volcanic eruptions, charts outlining geological formations and drawings of the evolutionary development of endemic species. A corral houses adult Galapagos Tortoises, and a nursery cares for young tortoises until they are about three years old, when their shells have hardened enough to resist attack from feral dogs. In the afternoon we may have the opportunity to visit the highlands and see giant land tortoises in the wild.
Day 5 Thursday
Rábida / Bachas Beach
In the morning we will take an excursion to Rabida Island, where we will land on a red sand beach. From here a short trail leads to a salt water lagoon, often home to wading flamingos. Another trail goes past the lagoon to the interior, where the revered palo santo trees grow. Back on the beach among low-lying bushes nest the prehistoric-looking pelicans. This is the best area for close viewing of these nesting birds, and it’s a rare treat to watch parent pelicans return with gullets full of fish for the squawking youngsters.
Afternoon excursion to Bachas Beach to see the sea lions and plentiful bird life.
Day 6 Friday
Make our way to Punta Cormorant on the northern part of Floreana. The landing is on a beach of green sand, coloured by olivine crystals, volcanic-derived silicates of magnesium and iron. The trail leads to a lake normally inhabited by flamingos and other shore birds and continues to a beach of fine white sand particles known as “Flour Beach”, an important nesting site for turtles.
Around the point, Devil’s Crown derives its name from the broken remains of a partially submerged volcanic cone. This is a perfect spot to go snorkelling from the boat, as the waters are home to a multitude of colourful fish and sea lions. Please make sure you are a comfortable swimmer, however, as despite the protection from the open sea provided by the “crown,” the water here can be rough and the currents strong.
Later in the afternoon we stop at Post Office Bay has an older history. A barrel was placed here in the late 18th century by English whaling vessels to be used as a post office.
A short hike up past the post barrel takes you to an interesting lava cave. With the aid of a flashlight, you can descend about 80 m (262 ft) to the point where the sea enters the cave.
Day 7 Saturday
Head to Punta Suarez on Española Island home to several wildlife species, including masked and blue-footed boobies. A hike to the top of the cliff makes for spectacular photo opportunities.
Punta Suarez is spectacular: gargantuan waves break on jagged cliffs and large bird colonies thickly populate the interior of the island; there is a distinct feel of desolate wilderness here. The Waved Albatross is seen here from April to December during its mating/nesting season. Amazingly, Española is the nesting site to virtually the entire world population of this species, with more than 12000 pairs residing here.
Follow the trail through a rookery and learn the geological history of the island from our naturalist, including its dramatic volcanic features, climate, flora and fauna. Sail in the afternoon to Garner Bay, an excellent swimming and snorkeling site.
Day 8 Sunday
Reach San Cristobal in the morning. San Cristobal is the easternmost island of Galapagos and one of the oldest. Its principal town is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos. Disembark after breakfast, visit the interpretation center and transfer to the airport for our flight to Quito or Guayaquil.