|Day 1||Monday||Arrival to San Cristobal Airport (SCY)||L D|
|Colorado Hill (San Cristobal)|
|Day 2||Tuesday||Plaza Sur||B L D|
|Day 3||Wednesday||Champion Islet (Floreana)||B L D|
|Loberia & Asylum of Peace (Floreana)|
|Day 4||Thursday||Charles Darwin research station (Santa Cruz)||B|
|Transfer to Baltra Airport (GPS)|
Upon arrival at San Cristóbal Airport, a check-up is carried out first, to ensure that no foreign plant or animal species are introduced on the islands. Furthermore, your TCC (Transit Control Card) is stamped; this must be kept safe during your trip, as it has to be presented again on your return flight.
In addition, entrance to the Galapagos National Park is due for entry (US $ 100), if this has not yet been paid. Your guide will meet you at the airport, assist you with the luggage and accompany you on the short bus ride to the port of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Here you will climb aboard the catamaran Archipel I. After greeting the crew and the captain, your cabins will be assigned to you and then you will enjoy your first lunch on-board.Colorado Hill (San Cristobal)
Cerro Colorado Tortoises Protection and Growing Centre is located at approximately 40 minutes by bus to the southeast of the island. This centre was built to improve the status of the population of the island tortoises. It includes a large corral, a visitor centre, breeding centre and an interpretative trail.
Along this trail it is possible to see different species of native and endemic plants as well as birds including the San Cristobal Mockingbird, Yellow Warblers, and many species of finches and the Galapagos flycatcher.
After breakfast you will enjoy an unforgettable guided walk on South Plaza, the best place to encounter endemic Galapagos land iguanas, patient and photogenic models. You can also look out for some of the unique hybrids between the male marine iguana and female land iguana.
Arriving at the upper rim, about 20m/75ft downwards impressively droning waves splash against the foot of soaring cliffs. Clouds of petrels, storm petrels, shearwaters and brown noddies make spectacular flights and sometimes look like they’re walking on the waves. Take your binoculars and don’t miss the red-billed tropicbird with its graceful long tail and spectacular mating fights. These cliffs are also a nesting place for the endemic swallow-tailed gull.
Before lunch we will sail to Santa Fe, possibly escorted by bottlenose dolphins.
After lunch you will land right in the middle of a Galapagos sea lion colony on the beach, where you will have time for a refreshing swim or excellent snorkeling among tropical reef fish in the crystal-clear azure waters of Barrington Bay.
You will also encounter bizarre giant prickly pear cactus (opuntia) forests. These are the largest cacti on the islands, with extremely thick trunks, and can grow over 10m/33ft tall! At the end of the morning we have a wet landing at the beach of Santa Fe where we have a guided nature walk. This extraordinary island is a remnant of probably the most ancient volcano on the Galapagos. Your guide will decide whether the easy shorter circuit is followed, or a strenuous longer hike land inward (moderate level; about 3km/2mi).
Bottlenose dolphins frequently escort our passage to Champion Islet and you can see them from nearby jumping the wakes! Underwater, Galapagos sea lions are playful acrobats that become the number one attraction. You will also see lots of reef fish, and perhaps a green Pacific turtle. An inflatable dinghy ride along the shoreline of this islet offers sightings of lots of seabirds that are endemic to the archipelago, including Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds, red-billed tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls and lava herons. A bird watcher’s dream is to get a glimpse of the Charles mockingbird on top of prickly pear cacti. This mockingbird is a scientific and historic key species, because it put Darwin on track of his theory of ‘adaptive radiation’.
The Asylum of Peace Island is of historical interest for guests. This hike goes past a mesmerising cave and visits a fascinating freshwater spring. La Loberia beach gets its name from the huge amount of sea lions that populate the island and rest on the sand. It’s an ideal spot to relax by the ocean, go snorkelling as well as enjoy the sea lions that live there.
Our dinghies will bring you to the pier of Puerto Ayora, from where you will be brought to the Charles Darwin Research Station. This is where biological research and indispensable conservation management of this unique archipelago are carried out. The complex houses interpretation and information centres about the National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The most memorable part of your visit will probably be the successful breeding centre and the enclosures with Galapagos giant tortoises.
Transfer to Baltra Airport