Amazing creatures, mystery, and beautiful seascapes create this unique corner of the world. Seemingly hidden from man for centuries, this series of islands remains relatively untouched. 600 miles off the west coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands offer an unusual microscopic view of nature and natural selection in a nearly pristine state.
Charles Darwin, observed the potential scientific bonanza of the islands’ flora and fauna in 1835 and was inspired to write his famous thesis, “On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection.” Aside from a few roving pirates and buccaneers, the islands remain untouched by man.
Our naturalist guide will fill us in on the extraordinary variety of plants and wildlife as we will visit and explore various islands. A birdwatchers paradise, there are 29 species of land bird found here and 22 of them are endemic to the islands. See the world’s smallest penguins, the bright red-chested frigate birds, the flightless cormorants, boobies, hawks, owls and lava gulls. In the sea, you’ll experience the wonder of watching giant sea turtles swimming to their homes, and sea lions playfully splashing as you snorkel along looking at multitudes of colorful fish. All this from the comfort of a modern and well appointed ship.
OverviewAmazing creatures, mystery, and beautiful seascapes create this unique corner of the world. Seemingly hidden from man for centuries, this series of islands remains relatively untouched. 600 miles off the west coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands offer an unusual microscopic view of nature and natural selection in a nearly pristine state. Charles Darwin, observed the potential scientific bonanza of the islands’ flora and fauna in 1835 and was inspired to write his famous thesis, “On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection.” Aside from a few roving pirates and buccaneers, the islands remain untouched by man. Our naturalist guide will fill us in on the extraordinary variety of plants and wildlife as we will visit and explore various islands. A birdwatchers paradise, there are 29 species of land bird found here and 22 of them are endemic to the islands. See the world’s smallest penguins, the bright red-chested frigate birds, the flightless cormorants, boobies, hawks, owls and lava gulls. In the sea, you’ll experience the wonder of watching giant sea turtles swimming to their homes, and sea lions playfully splashing as you snorkel along looking at multitudes of colorful fish. All this from the comfort of a modern and well appointed ship.
We arrive in Guayaquil to begin our adventure. Since most flights arrive in the late evening, there are no official activities scheduled on arrival day.
After a good night’s sleep, we explore Guayaquil, Ecuador’s major port city that has seen significant development along its waterfront in the past few years. We’ll visit the historical park and have a chance to explore the Marecon, with many new shops and restaurants. In the evening, we’ll have our Welcome Dinner and orientation for our Galapagos adventure.
1 x Breakfast
1 x Lunch
1 x Dinner
All aboard for the Wildlife Express!
After a flight from Guayaquil, we begin our voyage among the islands. Our exact routing will depend on the Galapagos National Park Service, but the following is an example of the islands we may visit. Our naturalist guides will lead us ashore on one island in the morning and another in the afternoon to view the variety of plant-life and marine and land animals, including flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, penguins, marine iguanas and giant tortoises. We are scheduled to visit Santa Cruz Island our first afternoon to get a taste of our adventures ahead.
A dinghy ride among mangrove-lined islets allows the observation of the dramatic landscape and coastline, an area of amazing past volcanic activity. While exploring the nearby waters, various types of birds can be seen, such as boobies, frigates, pelicans. Quite commonly, the black lava will reveal the presence of marine iguanas. Navigating through shallow turquoise colored water gives the chance to see marine turtles, rays and sharks.
We make a dry landing and take a walk that includes a brackish water lagoon frequented by greater flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks and a variety of shore / lagoon birds.
Further along the trail, we head to Dragon Hill, which offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. This area is a natural nesting site for a fairly large number of land iguanas.
During our first night aboard our ship, we sail to Bartholomew Island and arrive early the following morning. We embark on Zodiacs (inflatable boats for going ashore on islands with no pier) for an optional 375 foot climb on a wooden staircase to the summit, to enjoy a panoramic view of the landmark Pinnacle Rock. A tiny colony of Galapagos penguins resides at the foot of the rock. Take a Panga ride around this colossal-sized rock and relax on the sand beach here to swim and snorkel, perhaps with penguins. After lunch we make a wet landing at Puerto Egas on James Island to see land and marine birds.
Tower Island (Genovesa Island), a collapsed volcano, is our destination the next morning. Ships can sail right into a boiler-like bay and anchor at the foot of the steep crater walls. This island attracts pelagic seabirds that come to nest and breed. You may see frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls and storm petrels. After lunch, depending on local conditions, we will either explore more of Tower Island and its coastline, or visit the uplifted island of North Seymour to see blue footed boobies, marine iguanas, and sea lions.
On Thursday morning, we have a pre-breakfast visit to Santa Fe (Barrington) Island. This island, according to the latest geological studies, shows the islands’ oldest rocks. The small bay on Santa Fe’s northern coast provides one of the most picturesque harbors within the archipelago. A large sea lion colony inhabits most of the surrounding landing site. Follow the trail among a very tall forest of opuntia cacti, with land iquanas darting amongst the cacti and a variety of finches fly overhead. We return to the ship for breakfast, as we sail to Santa Cruz Island.
After breakfast, we go ashore on the island of Santa Cruz, the second largest island of the Archipelago and home to the Darwin Research Station with its giant tortoise pens. The headquarters of the Galapagos National Park is also located on Santa Cruz.
Once ashore, we will have time to stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora and see how Galapagos residents live in this magical paradise, before we have lunch at beautiful Finch Bay Hotel. In the afternoon we will drive up to the lush highlands, including the Scalesia (an endemic giant daisy tree) forest and twin pit craters. The trip to the highlands includes the islands’ most-famous reptile: the giant tortoises in their wild habitat. What a privilege to see an endangered species roving in this lush environment. We will return to the MV SANTA CRUZ for dinner and a final night on the ship.
1 x Lunch
Farewell to the Islands
On Friday morning, we disembark at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. This small attractive port is the provincial capital of the Galapagos Islands (population 4,000), along a crescent-shaped bay. It was this very same island that Charles Darwin first visited in September, 1835.
From here we fly back to Guayaquil for one last night at our hotel and perhaps some nightlife. If your flight home departs around midnight, you can depart tonight.
1 x Breakfast
We fly home today with memories of sealions dancing in our heads. Those with flights late in the day may wish to explore more of Guayaquil. Have a safe journey and we hope to see you again soon.
All accommodations in double occupancy for four nights on our ship, with private bath and for two
Cruise price shown is for a Main Deck Twin Standard cabin, with other higher cabin categories ava
Breakfast each day and one dinner in Guayaquil, plus all meals on board our ship
All transportation from Guayaquil to ship and back to Guayaquil
Transfers between flights and hotel in Guayaquil
Services of local guides, naturalists on the ship, and a professional tour director (subject to m
All hotel service charges, government taxes, porterage, and meal gratuities.
Transportation to and from Guayaquil
Meals not described as included
Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100) and Migration Control Card ($10), with prices subject
Airport departure fees (total of $35-50 depending on airports used)
Gratuities to naturalists, ship crew, and local guides
Personal items including: alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, and telephone calls
• See exotic birds and wildlife in their native setting.
• Visit the breeding grounds and sanctuary for giant green sea turtles.
• Swim with sealions and view an amazing bounty of fish and sea life.
• Relax in a comfortable modern ship for four nights and enjoy the peace and quiet of these remote islands.
• Hike along tidal lagoons, mangroves and bright, clean beaches.
• Experience Darwin’s inspiration in a lovely and pristine setting.
• Ask about cabin availability and about land extensions in the mountains of Ecuador.
• Enjoy this once in a lifetime trek with a friendly group of gay men, lesbians, family and friends.
• Please note that this is not a charter, so our group will be among other passengers on this 90-passenger ship.
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