Eastern Islands on the Santa Cruz
DAY 1 - SATURDAY
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal Island)
Arrive by air from mainland Ecuador at San Cristóbal Island and transfer to the M/V
Santa Cruz, anchored at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the provincial capital
of the Galápagos Islands. Cabin assignment, introductory talk and lunch.
Punta Pitt (San Cristóbal Island)
In the afternoon disembark (wet landing) on the eastern tip of the island. Pitt Point is an eroded tuff cone; the trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galápagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, as well as the two frigate species, plus a colony of bachelor sea lions along the beach. After the walk, if conditions are favourable, there is a chance to swim from the beach or snorkel at the nearby islets.
DAY 2 - SUNDAY
Santa Fe Island
After breakfast, enjoy a wet landing on a sandy white beach with many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right of 'Beach Master', while smaller males masquerading as females make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often observed, perched atop salt bushes. The giant prickly pear cacti found here live up to their name with tree-sized trunks! The endemic land iguana (left), unique to this island, may be spotted during the afternoon walk. Snorkelling and swimming from the beach rounds off the rewarding experience, or if guests prefer, the glass bottom boat for non-snorkellers.
South Plaza Island
Disembark (dry landing) in the channel between North and South Plaza Islands, where the island tilts toward the water, the approach makes for a lavishly colourful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange ‘Sally Lightfoot’ crabs. Further up the shore a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline one finds sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide playing with the thermals that form along the cliffs of this small but amazing island.
DAY 3 - MONDAY
Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island)
In the morning disembark (dry landing) for the visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise pens within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest home to many land birds. These are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following the visit board your transport to enjoy lunch in the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a completely different ecosystem.
Santa Cruz Island
There are several options available for the afternoon, which can be discussed in advance with your Expedition Leader:
1. Trek along trails amid miconia forest in the highlands, home to many elusive birds including the dark-rumped petrel.
2. Mountain bike (mostly downhill) to Garrapatero Beach.
3. Sea kayak and relax on a beautiful, sandy beach.
4. Experience sustainable agriculture in an organic coffee plantation.
At the end of the afternoon’s activities, return to Puerto Ayora and embark on the M/V Santa Cruz.
DAY 4 - TUESDAY
Punta Suárez - Española (Hood) Island
Morning outing at Punta Suárez (dry landing) for an exciting walk on lava/boulder terrain to visit its unique sea bird colonies, including waved albatrosses (April - December, pictured left), Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tail gulls as well as a view of the Galápagos famous “blow-hole”. Among its land birds, the Hood island mockingbird, Galápagos hawks, Galápagos doves and three species of Darwin’s finches are common highlights. Also, look for red-green-black marine iguanas.
Gardner Bay (Española Island)
In the afternoon disembark (wet landing) at a white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches or enjoy the beach. There is great snorkelling in this area, or a ride aboard the glass-bottom boat.
DAY 5 - WEDNESDAY
Disembark at Baltra Island in order to transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.