Galapagos Elite Luxury Catamaran

The new luxury catamaran M/C Elite is scheduled to be in Galapagos for the upcoming summer of 2019. With high standards of service and comfortable balcony cabins, Elite offers outstanding wildlife experiences in a luxury fashion led by the most qualified Naturalist Guides in the Galapagos Islands.

With capacity for 16 guests the boat has four cabins on the main deck and four cabins in the upper deck, all of them with private balcony and private facilities. An ample living room where guests can rest or enjoy a cocktail is located also on the main deck, on this living room your Naturalist Guide will perform briefings about your activities and lectures about Galapagos. Your dining rooms for 16 guests is also located in the main deck where the most delicious meals will be served.

Our sales team is ready to assist you booking individual cabins or private charters for those who like to travel with friends or family in a more exclusive atmosphere.

Call now and let us craft your Galapagos cruise.

- SAT

am

Arrival to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal Island. Reception and Assistance at the airport by our members and transportation to the Elite.

pm : El Junco Lagoon, San Cristobal

Your afternoon begins in the lush highlands of San Cristobal Island. When settlers first colonized the Galapagos Islands, they needed to establish their homes near a reliable source of fresh water. The El Junco lagoon – the size of a large pond or small lake – is one of very few freshwater bodies of water in the Galapagos. Fed by cool, misty rains, the lagoon fills the crater of a long-extinct volcano.

El Junco lagoon boasts a unique ecosystem of water birds, and it’s possible to see ducks and herons that are rare elsewhere. The walk from the port to the lagoon takes visitors through small highland villages, offering a glimpse into the life of the locals, most of whom have lived here for generations.

- SUN

am: North Seymour Island

North Seymour is a visitor favorite, packed full of the sorts of animals that people have come from around the world to see. After a brief scramble up a rocky bluff from the landing site, the trail is more or less flat, although quite rocky in places. The trail wends though some scrubby vegetation before looping around and returning to the landing site via a picturesque beach.

The star animal here is the land iguana, which is seen at only a handful of visitor sites. There is a species of cactus here that the iguanas like to eat, so look for them near cacti, munching on the pads. Look for nesting Frigate Birds in the trees along the trail. Mating season for the North Seymour Frigate Birds is between March and June, and those are the best months for seeing the bright red neck pouches for which the birds are famous, but there always seems to be one or two rogue frigates who inflate theirs at other times of the year.

On the ground, Blue-footed Boobys abound, quorking at visitors from their dusty nests on and near the trail. There is a healthy colony of sea lions near the landing site and along the beach, and you’ll also see marine iguanas and the ubiquitous Sally Lightfoot crabs there. After the visit, your guides may take you snorkeling nearby: lucky visitors may see sharks, eels or rays in addition to the usual colorful reef fish.

pm : Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz

Depending on who you ask, Dragon Hill (“Cerro Dragon” in Spanish) gets its name either from the fact that it is shaped roughly like a sleeping dragon or from the fact that it is home to many land iguanas. Both explanations work: from afar, if you squint just right and have a good imagination, it can look like a dragon, and the iguanas here make the site a visitor favorite.

Dragon Hill is one of the longer hikes in Galapagos. It winds through a maze of Palo Santo trees and prickly cacti before ascending the hill itself. The hike is desert-like, especially during the drier months of the year. Look for the little dragons – the land iguanas – near the trail, munching on cactus pads. Part of the hike will take you past a salty lagoon, where sometimes flamingoes can be seen. Look for Pintail Ducks and stilts there, too. Darwin Finches and mocking birds flit through the trees, and you may see a Galapagos Dove or two waddling along the trail, pecking away at nearly-invisible seeds on the dusty ground. The trail eventually reaches the top of Dragon Hill, from where there is a fantastic view and the opportunity to do snorkeling.

- MON

am: Tintoreras/Sierra Negra

Tintorera is the local name for the White-tipped Reef Shark, but can also refer to an area off of Isabela Island where there are many very small islands and semi-submerged rocks in a small area. This area is well-known for abundant wildlife: in addition to the sharks, there are countless marine iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks. Penguins live here, too, Blue Footed Boobys nest on the larger rocks and islets and brown Pelicans splash into the sea to devour a billful of fish. There is a certain shallow channel that the sharks seem to like: at times it is possible to see dozens of them there.

Alternatively, Sierra Negra is an interesting hike. Sierra Negra, on Isabela Island, is the only volcano currently open to hikers. A group of fit hikers with guide can do the trail in about five to six hours. The trail itself if not dangerous or particularly steep, but the sun can be strong and groups should be well provisioned with water, sunscreen and other protection against the elements.

The trail to the top is a memorable one, because it passes through different zones. Near the base, the vegetation is lush and green, and small birds are common, but later it gets rockier as it passes through some areas of dried lava. The view from the top of the volcano is stunning: visitors get to see the volcano caldera as well as an unforgettable seascape.

pm: Isabela Wetlands/Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center

A short walk from Puerto Villamil, the only town on Isabela Island, the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center is a visitor favorite. The center specializes in the five subspecies of giant tortoise native to the island of Isabela, the largest in Galapagos. Adult tortoises were brought to the center to reproduce in a safe environment where eggs and young tortoises could develop away from predators. The center has been very successful, and even the Cerro Paloma tortoise subspecies, once on the brink of extinction, is now healthy once more.

The center itself is shady and airy, and has a garden-like feel to it. Visitors stroll around at their leisure, snapping photos of the tortoises and asking questions of their guides. There are interesting species of trees here, too: look for signs or ask your guide about them.

The trail from the town to the breeding center is part of the fun: it goes through a marshy lowland and parts of it are on raised boardwalks so that visitors will not disturb the fragile ecosystem. Look for wading and swimming birds like Pintail Ducks and egrets.

- TUE

am: Moreno Point

Punta Moreno is an excellent site for fans of geology and bird lovers. The ground is covered in rough lava, dried out after an eruption decades ago. The formations of the lava rock indicate how it flowed and dried and are very interesting for geologists. The lava flow cooled unevenly, and in places there are little ponds of brackish water popular with wading birds like flamingoes, herons and stilts. You may even get to see the occasional Pintail Duck in one of the pools!

There is little in the way of vegetation, but some hardy pioneer plant species and cacti have begun the process of breaking the lava rocks down into something friendlier for plants and animals. There are small lizards and snakes to be found in and among the rocks. Along the coastline, tidal pools may trap some interesting sea life, and you may get to see some marine iguanas swimming and diving down to feed on underwater algae. Also snorkeling along the shoreline, lucky guests may spot some Galapagos Penguins.

pm: Urbina Bay, Isabela

Isabela Island is still acutely active, geologically speaking, and lucky guests may even get to witness an eruption: these happen every five years or so. One day, about fifty years ago, volcanic activity deep under the earth rocked Isabela island, reshaping the contours of Urbina Bay. Large areas that had been underwater were thrust upwards and into the sunlight, so quickly that trapped fish and turtles died on the muddy land: passing sea captains reported that the new coast of the bay stunk of dead fish for weeks. Today, one of the more fascinating trails in the islands wends its way through the rocks and trees of Urbina Bay. Massive chunks of coral still stand where they were when the land rose out of the sea. In and around the trail, it is possible to see land iguanas and smaller birds like finches, and the occasional giant tortoise lumbers across the trail in front of astonished visitors.

- WED

am: Espinosa Point, Fernandina

Years after your trip, many of your favorite photos will have been taken here on Espinosa Point. Hundreds of marine iguanas bask in the sun near the landing point: sharp-eyed guests may even spot some swimming in the surf, ready to dive down and gnaw some algae off of the rocks offshore. Galapagos hawks soar overhead, looking for a meal, or stare, stony-eyed, at visitors from their perch in a tree. At the end of one of the trails, flightless cormorants – a species unique to the islands – make their nests and clumsily waddle around. In the gentle surf off the point, monstrously large sea turtles surface, gulp a mouthful of air, and sink again. Some visitors will spot the shy Galapagos snakes slithering between the cracked lava rocks. Tidal pools have been known to capture large stingrays, which then must await the next tide to escape to the sea again. Geology buffs will marvel at the lava formations which make up the rugged ground here. Unforgettable!

pm : Vicente Roca Point, Isabela

Vicente Roca Point, on the rocky coast of Isabela Island, is not a walking tour. The visitor site is the coastline itself: rocky and pounded by the surf. Pangas keep a safe distance from the treacherous waves, making their way along the coastline. Visitors can expect to see both varieties of sea lions native to the Galapagos: the Galapagos Sea Lion and the Fur Sea Lion. Also, lucky guests may see penguins along the rocky shore and any number of sea birds nesting along the cliffs and soaring overhead. The snorkeling is excellent here: the guides will pick the best spot depending on the conditions, and guests have the possibility of seeing sea lions, penguins and turtles in addition the usual parrot fish, surgeon fish, sergeant-majors and other stars of the pacific reefs.

- THU

am: Rabida Island

This morning’s visit has something for everyone! Rabida is a smallish island with an unforgettable trail. Visitors disembark on a beach where the sand is a startling shade of crimson. This is due to the high iron content of the soil and sand. If you walk along the red, sandy beach, you may observe Brown Pelicans nesting in the mangroves and trees. Behind a wall of mangroves is a shallow, salty lagoon where flamingoes occasionally feed.

The main trail meanders up a small hill, through rocks, fragrant palo santo trees and cacti, eventually reaching a scenic rocky cliff. In addition to the pelicans, flamingoes and the occasional booby, Rabida is known for smaller birds: visitors should look for Finches, Galapagos Doves, Yellow Warblers and Mockingbirds.

Following the walk, guests will have the opportunity to snorkel at a spot not far from the beach. Rabida is a favorite snorkeling spot: guests are dropped off where a steep cliff goes into the water. As you swim along the coastline, on the one side there are rocks where colorful reef fish dart about, and on the other side is deepish water where the occasional shark or ray can be seen. Sometimes, playful sea lions will approach snorkelers for a closer look! The snorkeling site is mostly sheltered from the wind and currents which can make snorkeling in other places in the islands challenging.

pm : Bartholomew Island

Bartholomew (Bartolomé in Spanish) Island is one of the more picturesque visits on the itinerary. Bartholomew is a smallish island, located a short distance from the larger Santiago (James) island nearby. The island was once a volcanic cone, but much of it has eroded away. Near the landing site, look for marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, herons and Galapagos Penguins. There is a trail to the top of the cone, from which there is a fantastic panoramic view of the azure waters and misty hills of Santiago Island. The trail consists of a boardwalk with many stairs. The boardwalk is there to protect the fragile ecosystem of the island. There is little wildlife along the trail: look for lava lizards and insects scurrying about.

At the western end of the island, Pinnacle Rock looms over the placid waters of Santiago Bay. Pinnacle rock, which looks like a massive chipped Stone Age spear point, stands out from the rounded hills of Bartolome and Santiago: legend has it that the distinctive formation was created during World War Two, when the United States Navy used the island for bombing practice.

Following the steamy hike to the top and back down again, what better than a refreshing swim? Bartholomew is one of the premier snorkeling spots in the islands. Visitors may see any combination of penguins, sharks, rays and sea turtles in addition to the usual colorful kaleidoscope of reef fish.

- FRI

am: Witch Hill, San Cristobal

Witch Hill gets its name from the Vermilion Flycatcher, a small bird with dazzling red plumage. In Spanish, it is called “pájaro brujo,” or “witch bird,” and the rugged hill at this site was once known for the population of Vermilion Flycatchers that lived there. The birds are not as common here as they once were, although they are still plentiful elsewhere in the islands.

The Witch Hill visitor site features one of the best beaches in Galapagos, a small lagoon where visitors may see egrets and herons, and some excellent light snorkeling. Generally, part of the visit includes a panga ride around the unique rock formations of Witch Hill itself.

Sea lions snooze on the beach, and nesting boobies quork and whistle at visitors from the rocks.

The waters here are particularly lively: look for shore birds darting along the water line and poking around in tidal pools, boobies fishing offshore and pelicans splashing noisily in search of a billful of fresh fish. There is a spectacular view of picturesque Kicker Rock from the beach.

pm : Lobos Island, off San Cristobal

Isla Lobos, or “Sea Lion Island,” is a long, thin island not far off the coast of San Cristobal Island. As the name implies, it is home to a healthy colony of sea lions. There is a trail on the island, and visitors can see different species of birds, including Boobys of both the Blue-footed and Nazca varieties.

There are marina iguanas and lava lizards on the island as well. In addition to the hike on the islet, the calm channel between Lobos Island and San Cristobal is one of the better snorkeling spots in the islands, as it is usually calm and the sea lions often frolic with visitors.

- SAT

am: San Cristobal Interpretation Center

Built in 1998 with the support of the government of Spain and the Charles Darwin Research Station, the San Cristobal Interpretation Center features exhibits on the natural and human history of the Galapagos Islands. There are displays and photographs, with descriptions in English and Spanish. The exhibits document the different phenomena that make the islands so unique: one example is an excellent description of the different ocean currents that seasonally affect all life on the islands. After the visit to the Center, passengers will be then taken San Cristobal airport. Our airport personnel will assist passengers with the check in process. Farwell and boarding the flight back to mainland Ecuador.

Transfer to the San Cristobal Airport

- SAT

am

Arrival to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal Island. Reception and Assistance at the airport by our members and transportation to the Elite.

pm: the Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Center, San Cristobal

The Jacinto Gordillo breeding center, named for a renowned environmentalist, is one of a handful of breeding centers in the Galapagos Islands. Located about an hour from the town, the center is home to hundreds of tortoises of different species and ages. The staff at the center have a favorite tortoise: “Genesis,” one of the first ones hatched there in 2005. The tortoises are raised in a protected environment and eventually released into the wild when they are old enough to be safe from predators and forage for themselves. Through the efforts of the staff at the Jacinto Gordillo center and others like it, hundreds of tortoises have been released and the Galapagos tortoise population is healthier than it has been in decades. The center is located in an area of low, dense forest, and in addition to the tortoises at the center it is possible to see several small species of birds flitting about in the vegetation. Look for finches, Yellow Warblers and Galapagos Doves.

- SUN

am: Suarez Point, Española

Universally considered one of the top five visitor sites in all of Galapagos, Suarez Point is an unforgettable hike along the rocky cliffs of the oldest of the Galapagos islands. Bird life abounds: visitors can hope to glimpse Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, Red-billed Tropic Birds, Galapagos Doves and Galapagos Hawks, among others. The undisputed stars of the site, however, are the Waved Albatrosses. These majestic birds range all over the world but only nest here on Española island. Visitors who come between January and March may not get to see many albatrosses, as they are all far away feeding, soaring over deep seas. Suarez Point is not only for birds: marine iguanas and lava lizards abound, and lucky visitors will spot a Galapagos Snake or two along the rocky trails.

pm: Gardner Bay, Gardner and Osborn Islets, Española

Gardner Bay features a wide, pristine beach populated by sea lions, crabs and mockingbirds. Bring your snorkel: you will see some reef fish in the gentle surf off the island. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to swim alongside playful sea lions! It’s the perfect place to relax after the inspirational intensity of the morning visit to Suarez Point. If the weather and conditions are permitting, the visit to Gardner Bay may be combined with a snorkeling trip to Gardner Islet and/or Osborn Islet, both of which are close to the beach.

- MON

am: Cormorant Point, Floreana

Cormorant point is a visitor favorite, as it features two memorable beaches, a picturesque walk and some interesting bird and plant life. Oddly enough, there are no Galapagos Cormorants here, but the flamingos make up for it! Visitors disembark on a sandy beach, which is greenish in color because of the special sand only found here. A short walk leads to a salty lagoon where flamingos feed and nest. An easy trail leads to white sand beach on the other side of the point, this one wide and breezy. As you walk, your guide may point out the two species of plants which are only found here: Scalesiavellosa and Lecocarpuspinaffitidus. Lucky visitors will see stingrays in the gentle surf, or even sharks swimming a little further out. The stingrays make swimming here dangerous, but it is possible to wade in the shallows and take a stroll down the length of the beach. Look for Sally Lightfoot Crabs in rocky areas on both sides of the point. Snorkeling at Champion Islet, considered one of the best places for snorkeling with a great variety of underwater wildlife. It is also home of Floreana Mockingbird, one of the species in danger of extinction.

pm : Post Office Bay, Floreana

Long before the Galapagos Islands were a bucket-list travel destination, it was a common stop for grand wooden seafaring vessels such as whalers. The sailors placed a barrel a short way from a sheltered bay on Floreana Island and used it to drop off and receive letters from home. Today, the yachts that serve the Galapagos are proud to continue this tradition: drop off letters and postcards in the barrel, and some other traveler will deliver them for you! Once you’ve flipped through the letters to see if there are any for your neck of the woods, you can enjoy some sun and sand on the small beach where passengers embark and disembark from the landing craft.

The Baroness’ Lookout

In the early 1930’s, Floreana Island was home to Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet, a beautiful young Austrian woman, and her two lovers. Calling herself “the Baroness of Galapagos,” she quickly became an international sensation. She disappeared in 1934, a case which remains unsolved to this day. The visit to the site includes a short panga ride – look for sea life like rays and turtles. There are red mangroves along the shore: these mangroves are crucial to the island ecosystem. Once on land, a dusty trail wends steadily upwards. The lookout point itself is a rocky hill of rugged volcanic rock, and there is indeed a good view from there, a reward for those who scramble to the top. A short walk away are the ruins of an old biological station, which were likely used in 1934 when some passing filmmakers made a short film starring the Baroness herself.

- TUE

am: Mosquera

Located between the islands of Baltra and North Seymour, Mosquera is one of a number of tiny islets in the Galapagos. Sandy and rocky, it is not home to much in the way of vegetation, but it is very popular with sea lions and birds, including gulls. You can also expect to see marine iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks and colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttling about in the tidal pools. Shorebirds are fond of the island: look for them trotting along the beach. There is some good snorkeling around Mosquera and dive shops in Puerto Ayora

pm: Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz

The Fausto Llerena Giant Tortoise Breeding Center is managed by the Galapagos National Park Service and biologists from the Charles Darwin Research Station. The purpose of the center, named for a legendary park ranger, is to raise Galapagos tortoise hatchlings in a protected environment. When the tortoises are large enough to fend for themselves, they are released into the wild. The program has been a great success and in recent years hundreds of young tortoises have been released on several islands. You will see different sub-species of tortoises in various species of development, from tiny young ones smaller than your fist to fully-grown behemoths lumbering about their enclosures. Your guide will accompany you and provide information about the programs and facilities. The breeding center is located at the Charles Darwin Research Station, just outside of the town of Puerto Ayora. In addition to the tortoises, you may see finches, warblers and other birds in and around the tall tree cacti, and tiny lava lizards scurrying about underfoot. After visiting the Research Station, passengers will be taken to the Puerto Ayora pier to board the M/C Elite.

- WED

am: Prince Philip’s Steps/El Barranco, Genovesa Island

Genovesa Island is famous for bird life and neither of its two visitor sites disappoint. Genovesa is the remnant of a once-mighty volcanic crater, and the island still has a distinctive crescent shape. The body of water formed by the crescent is called Darwin Bay, in spite of the fact that Charles Darwin did not ever visit this particular island. There are no large land animals on Genovesa: not even tortoises or land iguanas. Unlike other islands, Genovesa never had a problem with destructive introduced animals like feral cats or goats, which has allowed bird life to thrive unmolested on the island for millennia. In the morning, you will visit the Prince Philip’s Steps site. Getting to the visitor site from the landing area is tricky and involves a bit of climbing skill, but once you’re up, Prince Philip’s Steps is a visitor favorite. There is a magnificent view from the upraised plateau, especially on a clear day. An easy trail wends through a low, scrubby forest and ends up at a rocky ravine of sorts, where lucky visitors will spot the rarely-seen Short-eared Owl. Visitors may also see Red-footed Boobys, gulls, or other birds nesting or visiting the site.

pm : Darwin Bay and Snorkeling, Genovesa

The Darwin Bay visitor site is on the interior side of the crescent-shaped island, protected from wind and currents. It is a wide, sandy beach with a short trail that leads off to one side of the beach and up into some rocky formations. There are many bird species here: visitors can expect to see Blue-footed Boobys, Frigate Birds, Lava Gulls, Herons, Swallow-tailed gulls and more. It is one of the few visitor sites in the islands where you can see Red-footed Boobys. There are some tidal pools off the trail: lucky visitors may spot a ray or some fish trapped there until the tide returns. Following the visit, guests will get to snorkel in the sheltered waters of the bay. Although deep water currents can sometimes cause the water to be chilly or cloudy, the crescent shape of the island protects the bay from strong winds. The bluffs along the side of the bay drop sharply into the water, which means that snorkelers can stay close to shore but still have deeper water off to one side. Lucky snorkelers might see sharks, rays, sea lions, sea turtles and dazzling reef fish including parrotfish, wrasses, king angelfish and damselfish.

- THU

am: Buccaneer Cove and Espumilla Beach, Santiago

Back in the days of the great sailing ships, the Galapagos Islands were well known as a place where a traveling ship could stock up on food and water. Among the visitors were pirates, and the sheltered bay now known as Buccaneer Cove was a favorite place for them to repair their ships. Your visit includes a panga ride along the coast, where guests will see some interesting rock formations as well as several species of nesting birds including gulls, boobys and pelicans. The formations, eroded into the colorful red rock, are quite striking. You may get to see not only sea lions but also their more reclusive cousins, the Galapagos Fur Sea Lion. The panga ride is followed by a visit to unforgettable Playa Espumilla (“Foamy Beach” in English). The beach, known for reddish sand, is a favorite among guests: long, pristine and beautiful, it is home to a colony of sea lions as well as countless crabs and marine iguanas. It is possible to do some light snorkeling off of the beach.

pm : Egas Port

The human history of the Galapagos Islands is often as interesting as the natural history, and a good example is Port Egas. Decades ago, an Ecuadorian named Hector Egas tried to make his fortune mining salt on Santiago Island. It worked for a while, but in the end the enterprise failed. Port Egas bears the name of this intrepid entrepreneur, and there are still some remnants of the old salt mine facilities here if you know where to look. Puerto Egas is a superb visitor site even without its history. The trail is a loop which goes through some low trees before swinging around along the coast. Along the inland part of the trail, look for finches and a medium-sized black bird: this is the Smooth-Billed Ani, an introduced species which somehow arrived in Galapagos at some point in the 1960’s. On the coastal portion of the trail, you can expect to see numerous sea lions, marine iguanas, and shore birds. The coast is rocky due to its volcanic formation, but easy enough to walk along. Look in the shallow tidal pools: you never know what might have gotten stranded in there when the tide went out, and you might spot a stingray or an octopus in addition to the small fish usually found there.

- FRI

am: Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz

Bachas beach is one of the more beautiful ones in all of Galapagos – and that’s really saying something. It is a long stretch of pristine white sand where sea lions lounge and crabs scuttle back and forth. It was used by the Americans during World War Two: “Bachas” is actually a version of the word “barges,” which were once landed here. Sea turtles nest in some of the sand dunes here, and your guides will ask you to stay clear of the marked areas so as not to disturb the eggs. A short distance away are two salty lagoons where flamingos are frequently seen. There is no real hike here: only the warm, sandy beach. After a stroll along the sand and a refreshing dip, some of our guests like to do some easy snorkeling in the gentle surf.

pm : Twins and Santa Cruz Highlands

The Twins: The “twins” are a pair of sinkholes located in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Created ages ago by collapsing lava tunnels, they are not far from the main road through the highlands. From the parking lot, it is a fun, easy hike through a lush tropical forest to the walkways which ring the top of the sinkholes. Butterflies and smaller birds such as finches, doves and mockingbirds dart and flit through the dense forest on either side of the trail, and attentive visitors may spot the distinctive red flash of a vermillion flycatcher as well. You will stay in the highlands of Santa Cruz island to see giant tortoises in the wild. These impressive animal gives the name to the archipelago. You can easily appreciate the Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat, eating, walking among others. This is also a good place to see birds such as short-eared owls, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, Galapagos rails and paint-billed crakes. As part of this experience, you will visit underground lava tubes formed by cooled and solidified lava. Then we will continue our journey to board the M/C Elite.

- SAT

am: Kicker Rock, San Cristobal

They say your culture influences the way you look at things, and Kicker Rock may just be the proof of that. Kicker Rock is a distinctive, boot-shaped rock formation located off of San Cristobal Island. In English, it gets its name from this shape. In Spanish, its name is “León Dormido,” or “Sleeping Lion.” Does it look more like a boot or a lion? You’ll get a nice close-up chance to look for yourself and make up your mind. Your final visit in the Galapagos islands will be a memorable one: a panga ride up to and around the rock, with the chance for some snorkeling as well. The snorkeling here is excellent, although the currents can be rather strong. Hammerhead sharks are often seen in the murky depths around kicker rock, and fortunate snorkelers might even see a large ray or two. After our early morning visit, passengers will get ready and then be taken to San Cristobal Airport. Our airport personnel will assist passengers with the check in process. Farwell and boarding the flight back to mainland Ecuador.

Transfer to the San Cristobal Airport

- SAT

am

Arrival to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal Island. Reception and Assistance at the airport by our members and transportation to the Elite.

pm : the Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Center, San Cristobal

The Jacinto Gordillo breeding center, named for a renowned environmentalist, is one of a handful of breeding centers in the Galapagos Islands. Located about an hour from the town, the center is home to hundreds of tortoises of different species and ages. The staff at the center have a favorite tortoise: “Genesis,” one of the first ones hatched there in 2005. The tortoises are raised in a protected environment and eventually released into the wild when they are old enough to be safe from predators and forage for themselves. Through the efforts of the staff at the Jacinto Gordillo center and others like it, hundreds of tortoises have been released and the Galapagos tortoise population is healthier than it has been in decades. The center is located in an area of low, dense forest, and in addition to the tortoises at the center it is possible to see several small species of birds flitting about in the vegetation. Look for finches, Yellow Warblers and Galapagos Doves.

- SUN

am: Suarez Point, Española

Universally considered one of the top five visitor sites in all of Galapagos, Suarez Point is an unforgettable hike along the rocky cliffs of the oldest of the Galapagos islands. Bird life abounds: visitors can hope to glimpse Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, Red-billed Tropic Birds, Galapagos Doves and Galapagos Hawks, among others. The undisputed stars of the site, however, are the Waved Albatrosses. These majestic birds range all over the world but only nest here on Española island. Visitors who come between January and March may not get to see many albatrosses, as they are all far away feeding, soaring over deep seas. Suarez Point is not only for birds: marine iguanas and lava lizards abound, and lucky visitors will spot a Galapagos Snake or two along the rocky trails.

pm: Gardner Bay, Gardner and Osborn Islets, Española

Gardner Bay features a wide, pristine beach populated by sea lions, crabs and mockingbirds. Bring your snorkel: you will see some reef fish in the gentle surf off the island. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to swim alongside playful sea lions! It’s the perfect place to relax after the inspirational intensity of the morning visit to Suarez Point. If the weather and conditions are permitting, the visit to Gardner Bay may be combined with a snorkeling trip to Gardner Islet and/or Osborn Islet, both of which are close to the beach.

- MON

am: Cormorant Point, Floreana

Cormorant point is a visitor favorite, as it features two memorable beaches, a picturesque walk and some interesting bird and plant life. Oddly enough, there are no Galapagos Cormorants here, but the flamingos make up for it! Visitors disembark on a sandy beach, which is greenish in color because of the special sand only found here. A short walk leads to a salty lagoon where flamingos feed and nest. An easy trail leads to white sand beach on the other side of the point, this one wide and breezy. As you walk, your guide may point out the two species of plants which are only found here: Scalesiavellosa and Lecocarpuspinaffitidus. Lucky visitors will see stingrays in the gentle surf, or even sharks swimming a little further out. The stingrays make swimming here dangerous, but it is possible to wade in the shallows and take a stroll down the length of the beach. Look for Sally Lightfoot Crabs in rocky areas on both sides of the point. Snorkeling at Champion Islet, considered one of the best places for snorkeling with a great variety of underwater wildlife. It is also home of Floreana Mockingbird, one of the species in danger of extinction.

pm: Post Office Bay, Floreana

Long before the Galapagos Islands were a bucket-list travel destination, it was a common stop for grand wooden seafaring vessels such as whalers. The sailors placed a barrel a short way from a sheltered bay on Floreana Island and used it to drop off and receive letters from home. Today, the yachts that serve the Galapagos are proud to continue this tradition: drop off letters and postcards in the barrel, and some other traveler will deliver them for you! Once you’ve flipped through the letters to see if there are any for your neck of the woods, you can enjoy some sun and sand on the small beach where passengers embark and disembark from the landing craft.

The Baroness’ Lookout

In the early 1930’s, Floreana Island was home to Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet, a beautiful young Austrian woman, and her two lovers. Calling herself “the Baroness of Galapagos,” she quickly became an international sensation. She disappeared in 1934, a case which remains unsolved to this day. The visit to the site includes a short panga ride – look for sea life like rays and turtles. There are red mangroves along the shore: these mangroves are crucial to the island ecosystem. Once on land, a dusty trail wends steadily upwards. The lookout point itself is a rocky hill of rugged volcanic rock, and there is indeed a good view from there, a reward for those who scramble to the top. A short walk away are the ruins of an old biological station, which were likely used in 1934 when some passing filmmakers made a short film starring the Baroness herself.

- TUE

am: Mosquera

Located between the islands of Baltra and North Seymour, Mosquera is one of a number of tiny islets in the Galapagos. Sandy and rocky, it is not home to much in the way of vegetation, but it is very popular with sea lions and birds, including gulls. You can also expect to see marine iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks and colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttling about in the tidal pools. Shorebirds are fond of the island: look for them trotting along the beach. There is some good snorkeling around Mosquera and dive shops in Puerto Ayora sell day trips there. After our early morning visit, passengers will get ready and then be taken to Baltra Airport, crossing the highlands of Santa Cruz Island by car. Our airport personnel will assist passengers with the check in process. Farwell and boarding the flight back to mainland Ecuador. Originally published by Golden Galapagos Cruises, generated on the following link: https://www.goldengalapagoscruises.com/product/itinerary-a-4-day-3-night/ This content is copyright and may not be republished. Please contact us if you need more information about our products. Goldengalapagoscruises.com

- TUE

am

Arrival to Baltra Island Airport. Reception and Assistance at the airport by our members and transportation to our first visitor site.

pm : Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz

The Fausto Llerena Giant Tortoise Breeding Center is managed by the Galapagos National Park Service and biologists from the Charles Darwin Research Station. The purpose of the center, named for a legendary park ranger, is to raise Galapagos tortoise hatchlings in a protected environment. When the tortoises are large enough to fend for themselves, they are released into the wild. The program has been a great success and in recent years hundreds of young tortoises have been released on several islands. You will see different sub-species of tortoises in various species of development, from tiny young ones smaller than your fist to fully-grown behemoths lumbering about their enclosures. Your guide will accompany you and provide information about the programs and facilities. The breeding center is located at the Charles Darwin Research Station, just outside of the town of Puerto Ayora. In addition to the tortoises, you may see finches, warblers and other birds in and around the tall tree cacti, and tiny lava lizards scurrying about underfoot. After visiting the Research Station, passengers will be taken to the Puerto Ayora pier to board the M/C Elite.

- WED

am: Prince Philip’s Steps/El Barranco, Genovesa Island

Genovesa Island is famous for bird life and neither of its two visitor sites disappoint. Genovesa is the remnant of a once-mighty volcanic crater, and the island still has a distinctive crescent shape. The body of water formed by the crescent is called Darwin Bay, in spite of the fact that Charles Darwin did not ever visit this particular island. There are no large land animals on Genovesa: not even tortoises or land iguanas. Unlike other islands, Genovesa never had a problem with destructive introduced animals like feral cats or goats, which has allowed bird life to thrive unmolested on the island for millennia. In the morning, you will visit the Prince Philip’s Steps site. Getting to the visitor site from the landing area is tricky and involves a bit of climbing skill, but once you’re up, Prince Philip’s Steps is a visitor favorite. There is a magnificent view from the upraised plateau, especially on a clear day. An easy trail wends through a low, scrubby forest and ends up at a rocky ravine of sorts, where lucky visitors will spot the rarely-seen Short-eared Owl. Visitors may also see Red-footed Boobys, gulls, or other birds nesting or visiting the site.

pm: Darwin Bay and Snorkeling, Genovesa

The Darwin Bay visitor site is on the interior side of the crescent-shaped island, protected from wind and currents. It is a wide, sandy beach with a short trail that leads off to one side of the beach and up into some rocky formations. There are many bird species here: visitors can expect to see Blue-footed Boobys, Frigate Birds, Lava Gulls, Herons, Swallow-tailed gulls and more. It is one of the few visitor sites in the islands where you can see Red-footed Boobys. There are some tidal pools off the trail: lucky visitors may spot a ray or some fish trapped there until the tide returns. Following the visit, guests will get to snorkel in the sheltered waters of the bay. Although deep water currents can sometimes cause the water to be chilly or cloudy, the crescent shape of the island protects the bay from strong winds. The bluffs along the side of the bay drop sharply into the water, which means that snorkelers can stay close to shore but still have deeper water off to one side. Lucky snorkelers might see sharks, rays, sea lions, sea turtles and dazzling reef fish including parrotfish, wrasses, king angelfish and damselfish.

- THU

am: Buccaneer Cove and Espumilla Beach, Santiago

Back in the days of the great sailing ships, the Galapagos Islands were well known as a place where a traveling ship could stock up on food and water. Among the visitors were pirates, and the sheltered bay now known as Buccaneer Cove was a favorite place for them to repair their ships. Your visit includes a panga ride along the coast, where guests will see some interesting rock formations as well as several species of nesting birds including gulls, boobys and pelicans. The formations, eroded into the colorful red rock, are quite striking. You may get to see not only sea lions but also their more reclusive cousins, the Galapagos Fur Sea Lion. The panga ride is followed by a visit to unforgettable Playa Espumilla (“Foamy Beach” in English). The beach, known for reddish sand, is a favorite among guests: long, pristine and beautiful, it is home to a colony of sea lions as well as countless crabs and marine iguanas. It is possible to do some light snorkeling off of the beach.

pm : Egas Port

The human history of the Galapagos Islands is often as interesting as the natural history, and a good example is Port Egas. Decades ago, an Ecuadorian named Hector Egas tried to make his fortune mining salt on Santiago Island. It worked for a while, but in the end the enterprise failed. Port Egas bears the name of this intrepid entrepreneur, and there are still some remnants of the old salt mine facilities here if you know where to look. Puerto Egas is a superb visitor site even without its history. The trail is a loop which goes through some low trees before swinging around along the coast. Along the inland part of the trail, look for finches and a medium-sized black bird: this is the Smooth-Billed Ani, an introduced species which somehow arrived in Galapagos at some point in the 1960’s. On the coastal portion of the trail, you can expect to see numerous sea lions, marine iguanas, and shore birds. The coast is rocky due to its volcanic formation, but easy enough to walk along. Look in the shallow tidal pools: you never know what might have gotten stranded in there when the tide went out, and you might spot a stingray or an octopus in addition to the small fish usually found there.

- FRI

am: Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz

Bachas beach is one of the more beautiful ones in all of Galapagos – and that’s really saying something. It is a long stretch of pristine white sand where sea lions lounge and crabs scuttle back and forth. It was used by the Americans during World War Two: “Bachas” is actually a version of the word “barges,” which were once landed here. Sea turtles nest in some of the sand dunes here, and your guides will ask you to stay clear of the marked areas so as not to disturb the eggs. A short distance away are two salty lagoons where flamingos are frequently seen. There is no real hike here: only the warm, sandy beach. After a stroll along the sand and a refreshing dip, some of our guests like to do some easy snorkeling in the gentle surf.

pm: Twins and Santa Cruz Highlands

The Twins: The “twins” are a pair of sinkholes located in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Created ages ago by collapsing lava tunnels, they are not far from the main road through the highlands. From the parking lot, it is a fun, easy hike through a lush tropical forest to the walkways which ring the top of the sinkholes. Butterflies and smaller birds such as finches, doves and mockingbirds dart and flit through the dense forest on either side of the trail, and attentive visitors may spot the distinctive red flash of a vermillion flycatcher as well. You will stay in the highlands of Santa Cruz island to see giant tortoises in the wild. These impressive animal gives the name to the archipelago. You can easily appreciate the Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat, eating, walking among others. This is also a good place to see birds such as short-eared owls, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, Galapagos rails and paint-billed crakes. As part of this experience, you will visit underground lava tubes formed by cooled and solidified lava. Then we will continue our journey to board the M/C Elite.

- SAT

am: Kicker Rock, San Cristobal

They say your culture influences the way you look at things, and Kicker Rock may just be the proof of that. Kicker Rock is a distinctive, boot-shaped rock formation located off of San Cristobal Island. In English, it gets its name from this shape. In Spanish, its name is “León Dormido,” or “Sleeping Lion.” Does it look more like a boot or a lion? You’ll get a nice close-up chance to look for yourself and make up your mind. Your final visit in the Galapagos islands will be a memorable one: a panga ride up to and around the rock, with the chance for some snorkeling as well. The snorkeling here is excellent, although the currents can be rather strong. Hammerhead sharks are often seen in the murky depths around kicker rock, and fortunate snorkelers might even see a large ray or two. After our early morning visit, passengers will get ready and then be taken to San Cristobal Airport. Our airport personnel will assist passengers with the check in process. Farwell and boarding the flight back to mainland Ecuador.


RATES PER PERSON
8 DAYS (A)
8 DAYS (B)
4 DAYS (C)
5 DAYS (D)
Golden Suites
US$ 7,450
US$ 7,450
US$ 3,590
US$ 4,650
Front View & Panoramic Suites
US$ 8,050
US$ 8,050
US$ 3,890
US$ 5,025

Main Deck

Upper Deck

Sky Deck

Rates Include:

  • All meals throughout cruise
  • Transfers in the islands
  • All excursions
  • Bilingual national park guide
  • Use of snorkeling equipment
  • Use of Underwater Camera
  • Wetsuit
  • Free airport assistance*
  • 1 hotel night in Quito or Guayaquil (the day before the cruise)*
  • Free airport transfers for Galapagos flights*