Western/Northern Islands with Eric, Letty and Flamingo
DAY 1 - Sunday
San Cristóbal Island
Upon arrival at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno Airport on San Cristóbal Island, the crew will be waiting to escort you to your anchored yacht. After a welcome briefing, buffet lunch and safety drill, travel by bus into the interior of the island to visit La Galápaguera Cerro Colorado, where the National Park authorities have established a breeding programme for tortoises and set up an information centre for visitors. Along the trail you should see the San Cristóbal mockingbird and the calandrinia plant, both endemic to this island. This evenong enjoy the Captain's welcome cocktail party before dinner.
DAY 2 - Monday
Tower (Genovesa) Island
The entire day is spent on Tower Island, without doubt one of the most spectacular Islands in the Galápagos for birds. Begin with a wet landing on Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach where swallow-tailed and lava gulls gather near the tide pools. Enter a forest of optuntia cactus and mangroves where colonies of Great frigatebirds nest. The males inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. The trail leads through a rich inter-tidal zone where you can find a wide diversity of wildlife. After lunch there will be a dry landing at Prince Philip’s Steps. Red-footed boobies nest here in Palo Santo trees and Nazca boobies nest near the trail. In an open lava field, you'll find Storm Petrels in large numbers. If you are lucky, you'll also see the elusive short-eared owl. Search in a zodiac or by kayak for the beautiful red-billed tropic bird usually found in the crevices along the cliff. You will have the opportunity to swim and/or snorkel from the beach in the company of sea lions. Return to the yacht. Tonight the yacht crosses the Equator.
DAY 3 - Tuesday
This morning arrive at Las Bachas, on the north coast of Santa Cruz Island. There is a long stretch of a soft white sand beach and interior lagoons where you should see Greater flamingo. There is also a wonderful chance to snorkel here from the beach. At Black Turtle Cove you will have a zodiac ride through a series of coves and inlets surrounded by mangroves. Here you can view pairs of mating sea turtles (September to February), white-tipped reef sharks and golden cow-nosed rays. Located on the northern tip of Santa Cruz is Cerro Dragon, where along the trail you will encounter Darwin finches, Galápagos flycatchers, yellow warblers, Audubon shearwaters and the endemic land iguanas. You should also see pink flamingos feeding in the salt-water lagoon as well as other lagoon birds - stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers and more. From the top of the hill, enjoy a majestic view of the island. After dinner tonight, sail toward the western islands and cross the Equator for the second time.
DAY 4 - Wednesday
Punta Espinoza (Fernandina Island)
This morning there is a semi-wet landing at Punta Espinoza on Fernandina, the youngest and most pristine Island in the Galápagos. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast. Hundreds of marine iguanas, the largest colony in the islands, bask in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory. Flightless Cormorants build their nests on the point and Galápagos Hawks fly overhead.
Urbina Bay, Isabela Island
After crossing the Bolivar Channel, where whales and dolphins are often spotted riding the bow wave of the yacht, disembark at Urbina Bay (Isabela Island), where you will find four miles of coastal seabed, with marine life exposed due to a dramatic uplift in 1954 when the volcano erupted. The marine remnants of coral skeletons, some of them waist-high, are visited after a wet landing on the beach. Brown pelicans and flightless cormorants nest here. Giant marine iguanas are seen along the coast. You may encounter penguins while snorkelling here. At Punta Vicente Roca, a zodiac ride offers an incredible view of the tuff walls, and you can enter the wave-sculpted cave and see sea turtles. You may spot the dorsal fin of a mola mola, an odd looking giant sunfish.
DAY 5 - Thursday
Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island
This morning you will enjoy a zodiac ride at Elizabeth Bay that begins with a visit to a secluded cove, lined with large red mangrove trees. Here, turtles, rays, and shore birds can be seen. Continue to the rocky islets known as Las Marielas, where a colony of nesting penguins, fightless cormorants and giant marine iguanas are found.
Tagus Cove, Isabela Island
A dry landing this afternoon at Tagus Cove. During the afternoon walk you will discover a salt-water lagoon, a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields and volcanic formations. Graffiti dating back to the 1800s is written on the rocky cliffs. Explore the coves by zodiac or kayak to view Galápagos penguins, boobies, pelicans and other seabirds. An excellent snorkelling opportunity is offered here after the walk. Tonight you will cross the Equator for the third and final time.
DAY 6 - Friday
Puerto Egas - Santiago (James) Island
After a wet landing, stroll along the shoreline looking for octopus, starfish and other sea life caught in the tide pools. At low tide, catch a glimpse of marine iguanas as they feed on exposed green algae. Watch for great blue herons, lava herons, American oystercatchers and yellow-crowned night herons. Your walk ends at the grottos, deep pools of clear water where you should encounter fur sea lions once on the verge of extinction. Before returning to the yacht, there is a snorkelling and kayak opportunity.
Rábida (Jervis Island)
Rábida, located off Santiago (James) Island, sports the most diversified volcanic rocks of all the islands and is considered the geographic centre of Galápagos. The dark red sand beach originated from the erosion of volcanic stones. Follow a trail that leads to a salt water lagoon, and observe greater flamingos as they feed. Brown pelicans nest in the mangroves at the far side of the lagoon. After the walk, there is time for snorkelling.
DAY 7 - Saturday
Santa Cruz Island
Travel by bus to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. The scenery gradually changes as the bus winds its way through all seven vegetation zones found in the Galápagos. Here, you will visit the tortoise reserve at one of the private farms in the highlands where you encounter giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Visit 'Los Gemelos' (Twins), a pair of large pit craters where you should see the bright red male vermilion flycatcher.
Charles Darwin Research Station
This afternoon visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, including all three tortoise corrals and the breeding centre with new hatchlings and miniature tortoises not yet ready to be repatriated. Scientists from all over the globe work at the station and conduct biological research from anatomy to zoology. Puerto Ayora is the social heart of the islands with the largest population of 24,000. This evening you have the option to return to your yacht for a buffet dinner or remain in town on your own account. Those who return to the yacht will be provided with zodiacs to return to town to shop for souvenirs or stop in at an internet café. Zodiacs will be provided for your return to your yacht.
DAY 8 - Sunday
San Cristóbal Island
Visit the Interpretation Centre, where you will gain a more complete understanding of the natural and human history of the islands. Afterwards, spend some time in the port before heading to the airport the flight back to the mainland.