Travel aboard the
Travel to the Galapagos western islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina, and Santiago on cruises designed for families and explorers of all ages with naturalist guides providing exceptional learning opportunities. Multilingual naturalist guides provide exceptional learning opportunities by leading shore excursions twice a day, and delivering talks about geology, history, evolution, flora and fauna of the islands are provided in several languages. The charming Coral I & II boast elegant sea-view cabins and suites, ample outer decks with jacuzzi and pool, and a fine selection of meals from buffet breakfast and gourmet dinners to evening barbecues.
Baltra Airport / Santa Cruz Island
Arrive in the Galápagos at Baltra Island from Quito or Guayaquil where you’ll be picked up by your guides and shuttled to the pier where you’ll board your ship.
By afternoon, set off into the mountains of the Galápagos for the Highlands Tortoise Reserve. Admire tree and ground finches, vermilion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets along the way. The road winds through the varied landscape of the island, from the coast through the agricultural zone up to the dense humid forests. Giant Galápagos tortoises are often seen wandering through pastures on the way. This is a birdwatcher’s haven. Nearly every land bird of the Galápagos lives or migrates here.
Isabela Island /Fernandina Island
Start the morning at Vicente Roca Point, a high peak of land made from the remains of a volcanic tuff cone, on Galápagos’ largest island. Two protected turquoise coves surround the point. Snorkel through the Bolivar Channel, one of the richest marine ecosystems on Earth. Spot red-lipped batfish, seahorses, frogfish, nudibranchs, octopus, and the “Mola mola” or ocean sunfish as well as dolphin pods, sea lions, schools of tuna. Take a dinghy ride along the coast where a great diversity of seabirds like noddies, brown pelicans, Galápagos penguins, flightless cormorants, Nazca and blue-footed boobies often feed, especially during the cooler months between May and December. Whales can also make an appearance during this time.
By the afternoon, explore Espinosa Point across the Bolivar Channel. Here, the largest, most primitive-looking marine iguanas mingle with sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. With the exception of mangroves, Fernandina Island’s terrain is otherworldly with its vast volcanic landscape and scarce vegetation. It provides the best opportunity to view flightless cormorants in their nesting sites, as well as Galápagos penguins, the only penguin species in the world to live in the tropics, and the Galápagos’ “King of Predators,” the Galápagos Hawk.
Wake up to the island’s volcanic black beaches where giant tortoises, land iguanas, and cormorants have begun their day. Swim and snorkel with sea turtles, sea lions, and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of flowers blossoming with fantastic colors attracting different insects, birds, and reptiles. Explore the island’s uplifted coral reef, the result of seismic activity in 1954. Take in the exquisite views of Alcedo Volcano.
This afternoon, continue exploring Isabela Island. Learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that created it. Hike to Darwin Lake, a saltwater crater lake with excellent views of lava fields. Then, take a dinghy ride along the shore filled with marine wildlife. The greatest population of Galápagos penguins lives on this side of Isabela Island. Graffiti believed to have been left by 19th-century pirates is also an intriguing highlight.
Darwin visited Egas Port in 1835. This black volcanic sand beach offers trails formed by volcanic ash and basaltic rock. The striking layered terrain of Santiago Island’s shore is home to a variety of animals, including the bizarre yellow-crowned night heron, Sally Lightfoot crabs, marine iguanas, and colonies of fur seals playfully swimming through volcanic rock pools.
Spend a relaxing afternoon on the southeastern portion of Santiago Island. Extensive reddish and yellow-colored volcanic cones cover the landscape of the island. Mollugo plants, with their yellow and orange leaves often sprout from the center of these volcanic fissures. Walk along the solidified lava beds. Look for evidence of tree molds and other large plants that once lived there.
Santa Cruz Island / Departure
Spend the morning on the northside of Santa Cruz Island where two flamingo ponds sit just inland from the beaches. This beach is also one of the main sea turtle nesting sites in the Galápagos. Iguanas sunbathe while Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and gulls fly overhead. Search for native plants like red and black mangroves. Snorkel along the reef where remains of barges that sank ages ago when the United States Navy operated a base on Baltra Island during World War II. This beach is so named “Bachas” due to the local people’s term for these sunken barges.
Afterward, guests return to the airport for their return flight to Guayaquil or Quito.
NOTE: The above itinerary reflects the intended program, however, should be read as a guide only. The actual itinerary will depend on weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control.