Galapagos Cruises

As a follow up on my last post regarding the Galapagos Islands, I did some dreaming… I mean research, and found the following:

Sacred Earth Tours has a Galapagos tour, with an itinerary as follows (for information only, not an endorsement):

Weekly seven night departures offer comprehensive itineraries visiting the most spectacular sites in the archipelago on a year-round basis.

SUN : San Cristobal / Playa Ochoa / Leon Dormido

Upon arrival to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, SAN CRISTOBAL Island, our crew is waiting at the airport to escort you to your anchored yacht. After the welcome briefing and safety drill we set sail for Playa Ochoa, where we have a chance to test our snorkeling equipment and at the same time swim with a small colony of sea lions. Behind the beach, there is a tidal lagoon where birds can be spotted including the rare Chatham mockingbird. At sunset, we cruise around Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), a vertical tuff cone formation that abruptly juts up almost 500 feet out of the ocean. On the cliffs, we find blue-footed boobies, masked boobies and magnificent frigate birds.

MON : Darwin Bay/ Prince Philip’s Steps, Tower

Great FrigatesWe spend the entire day on TOWER (Genovesa), considered to be one of the most spectacular Islands in Galapagos for bird species. This morning, we have a dry landing at Prince Philip’s Steps. Red-footed boobies nest here in Palo Santo trees and Nazca (formerly masked) boobies nest near the trail. In an open lava field, we find storm petrels in large numbers. If you are lucky, we will see the elusive short-eared owl.

After lunch, sea kayaks are available to paddle along the shoreline. Look for the beautiful red-billed tropic bird usually seen in a crevice. A snorkeling opportunity is offered along the inner rim of the volcanic crater. We land 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 frigate birds 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 we find a wide diversity of animal life. Swim from the beach with sea lions.

iguana - Galapagos Islands

TUE : Bachas Beach/ North Seymour

This morning, we visit Las Bachas, which is the Spanish translation for “barges”. There is a long stretch of a soft white-sand beach and interior lagoons where we find the Greater Flamingo. There is also a wonderful chance to snorkel here from the beach. Remnants of the U.S. presence from World War II – a floating pier – is found here.

This afternoon, we disembark on North Seymour, a small geological uplift. After a dry landing, we follow a trail that leads us to swallow-tailed gulls, blue-footed boobies and the endemic land iguanas. Visit the largest colony of magnificent frigate birds found in Galapagos. As we stroll along the beach, sea lions body surfing the northern swells.

WED : Tagus Cove, Isabela / Punta Espinoza, Fernandina

dolphin - GalapagosThis morning, we visit Tagus Cove, located on the western Island of ISABELA. Six volcanoes flowed together and formed the largest Island in Galapagos. On our walk, we 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 1800’s is written on the rocky cliffs. Explore the Cove in pangas or sea kayaks to find Galapagos penguins, boobies, pelicans and other seabirds. After lunch, we cross the Bolivar Canal. Be on the look out for whales and dolphins riding the bow wave.

We disembark at Punta Espinoza, FERNANDINA, the youngest and most pristine Island found in Galapagos. Hundreds of marine iguanas, the largest colony in Galapagos, bask in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory. Flightless Cormorants build their nest on the point and Galapagos Hawks fly overhead. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast. A snorkel here provides opportunities to see many sea turtles.

sea-kayaking in the Galapagos

THU : Puerto Egas, Santiago/ Bartolome

This morning, stroll along the shore at Puerto Egas, SANTIAGO (James) 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. Our walk ends at the grottos, deep pools of clear water where we encounter fur sea lions once on the verge of extinction. Before returning to the yacht, there is a snorkeling opportunity with loads of tropical fish.

On Bartolome, it seems like we are walking on the moon. This young Island is inhospitable to most plants and animals. After a dry landing, climb 30 minutes up stairs leading to the summit of a once active volcano. Along the way, we pause to marvel at lava bombs, spatter cones and cinder cones. From the top of the wooden stairs, we can gaze out across the island for a panoramic view of the island and “Pinnacle Rock”, an eroded tuff cone. Down below, crystal clear water is an invitation to snorkel with schools of tropical fish and Galapagos Penguins. On the other side of the Island, encounter sea turtles and white-tipped sharks.

Nature Guide - Galapagos

FRI : Darwin Station / Highlands, Santa Cruz

Friday is feeding day at the tortoise corals at the Charles Darwin Research Station. We visit all three tortoise corals and the breeding center 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. We also visit the Van Straelen Hall where there are exhibits and a short video presentation. Visitors can now see the pen of Lonesome George, the last surviving member of the Pinta Island subspecies.

After lunch on board, we travel by bus to the highlands of SANTA CRUZ Island. The scenery gradually changes as we wind our way through all seven vegetation zones found in Galapagos. From June to January, we can find giant tortoises on a private farm in the highlands. We visit Los Gemelos, Spanish for “The Twins”, a pair of large pit craters where we find the bright red male vermilion flycatcher. We stop at “the tunnels”, the largest lava tubes found in Galapagos. Stroll through the town of Puerto Ayora (population: 15,000) the largest town in the Galapagos. Buy souvenirs, mail postcards or kick back at an internet cafe in the social heart of the Islands.

Blue-footed Booby (29K)

SAT : Gardner Bay / Punta Suarez, Espanola (Hood)

This morning, step onto Gardner Bay, ESPANOLA (HOOD). Walk along seemingly endless stretches of sandy beach where you’ll find large colonies of sea lions. There is no trail to follow so this is a chance to explore and you may find a Galapagos Hawk, Darwin’s Finches or Hood Mockingbird. Swim with sea lions from the beach. There’s an excellent snorkeling site off Gardner Islet with a colorful diversity of sea life near Gardner Islet and Tortuga Rock with caves covered with invertebrates.

This afternoon, we disembark at Punta Suarez, ESPANOLA, where we witness the highest rate of endemic species in Galapagos. Sea lions noisily green us as we land on their beach. Curious Hood mockingbirds peck at our shoelaces. From April to November, the waved albatross, found only on Espanola, perform their wild mating ritual. Colonies of blue-footed boobies engage in “sky-pointing” to show off for potential mates. Nazca (formerly masked) boobies busily care for their young. Stunning swallow-tailed gulls are the only nocturnal gulls in the world. Red-billed tropicbirds take shelter under the cliffs. We also find Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Doves and Galapagos Hawks. Observe a unique specie of marine iguana identified with traces of red and green colorings. Colorful sally light-foot crabs crawl along the shoreline near to the famous “blow hole”. This is the scene most people envision when they decide to visit Galapagos and is a glorious finale to your Galapagos cruise.

SUN : Interpretation Center/ San Cristobal

This morning, we drop anchor in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, SAN CRISTOBAL. We visit the Interpretation Center opened in 1999. Here we gain a more complete understanding of the natural and human history of the Islands. Afterwards, we head straight to the airport for our flight back to the mainland.

Another website shows the following tour operators:

A list of ecotour operators who are either based in or organise trips to Galapagos. Each listing includes a full page description. Just click on the operator’s link.

Travel agents that can arrange tailor made eco holidays to the Galapagos Islands:

Adventure Life Journeys
Rich local culture, landscapes & small group travel. Explore South & Central America and Antarctica through thoughtful itineraries designed to step lightly and give back to local communities.

A Closer Look Travel
Specializes in booking eco travel, community (real cultural connection) travel and volunteer travel. We have one of the largest databases (about 3,300) of worldwide sustainable travel opportunities in the US.

Explore Worldwide
Explore pioneers small, group adventure holidays around the world. Explore’s responsible tourism policy is the cornerstone of the company’s approach to tour operating.

Lost World Adventures
Lost World Adventures specialises in independent and small group custom tours in Central and South America. Our trip consultants have first hand experience in the destinations we offer and can give insight into the regions within countries.

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