Activity level: Moderate
Ship: Galapagos Eden
You will begin this tour with an early flight to the Galápagos Islands. Your first stop will be to head over to Bachas Beach, a beautiful sandy beach, where you can find Sally Lightfoot crabs, flamingos, and sea lions.
Bachas Beach Landing
Bachas Beach Landing will be the perfect first stop to introduce you to the beauty and wonder of the Galapagos. The sand here is unique in that it is made of decomposed coral, making it soft and white, and a favorite spot for nesting sea turtles. If a little excitement is more your speed, walk along the lava rocks on the water’s edge to see if you can find the abundant and agile Sally Lightfoot crabs. These fast crabs can outmaneuver almost any predator and will eat anything they can get their claws on! Their nimble movements and ability to seemingly walk on water make them exciting creatures to observe. You can also trek around the landing to see a wide range of fascinating wildlife, including flamingos, hermit crabs, black necked stilts, and sea lions.
Snorkeling (Darwin Bay)
On your second day you will get to explore a brilliantly beautiful sunken caldera for a unique snorkeling opportunity. The caldera walls may almost seem alive with the presence of large schools of tropical fish, if you’re lucky, you may even be able to see a manta ray or hammerhead as you explore the surrounding waters.
Darwin Bay Visit
After your underwater adventure, talk a relaxing walk along the white coral sands of Darwin Bay while surrounded by the bustling array of sea birds that inhabit the Bay. Follow the trails and you can even find nesting frigate birds, gulls, and boobies. You’ll want to bring a camera as this is a fantastic place to take amazing pictures of the feathered wildlife you can find in the Galapagos.
El Barranco Visit
End the day with a visit to “El Barranco” also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, which is located on the southern tip of the island. Once you hike up the steps, you will be met with amazingly beautiful views of a dynamic seabird colony that includes the breeding grounds for red-footed boobies and masked boobies.
Bartolomé Island Landing
Volcano enthusiasts will really enjoy the third day’s hike to Bartolomé’s summit where you can fully appreciate the islands’ volcanic origins and enjoy a panoramic view. This stunning view is one of the best to be found on the islands! Here you can see other Galápagos Islands in the distance and Pinnacle Rock, the island’s distinguished and towering landmark.
Snorkeling (Bartolomé Island)
Continue your day with the opportunity to swim and snorkel around the iconic volcanic rock formation, Pinnacle Rock. Since, Bartolomé and its surrounding waters are home to a variety of creatures including Galápagos penguins, friendly sea lions, sea turtles, and many types of fish, it is a fantastic place to explore the natural wonders of the Galápagos.
Sullivan Bay Visit
Lastly, you’ll visit Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island to see its striking and fascinating giant lava formations. Very few plants have managed to survive here due to the harsh environment and relatively recent lava flow. Enjoy a walk along the unique lava formations before coming to a lovely white-coral sand beach, where you can find many sea lions and Sally Lightfoot gathering on the shore
Black Turtle Cove Excursion
Explore the mangrove forest by panga (dinghy) and experience the rare opportunity to see the rich marine wildlife that exists in these undisturbed and protected waters. Make sure you keep an eye out for the sea turtles and manta rays that can be found in this tranquil ecosystem. Some lucky observers may also see white tip reef sharks gliding by.
Cerro Dragón Visit
Bird enthusiasts will be excited for the visit to Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) for some prime bird watching. A short walk from the beach will lead you to a hypersaline lagoon frequented by pink flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks, and many other species of birds. Visitors can pass through a forest of Scalesia trees, which are endemic to this area. There are only 400 specimens of Scalesia trees left in the world, so this is a rare treat.
Charles Darwin Research Station Visit
The next day you will visit the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, which is a fantastic place to observe the many species of tortoises and land iguanas found here in captivity. See the famous Galápagos tortoise, which has been brought back from the brink of extinction, up close. Visit the corral that houses adult tortoises and the nursery that cares for young tortoises until their shells have hardened. This is also the home of the Charles Darwin Research Station, a scientific organization founded in 1964, whose mission is to preserve the Galápagos’ ecosystem through the conservation efforts of scientists, researchers, and volunteers. While visitors cannot visit the offices themselves, the research station does provide a study location for international scientists and environmental education for the local community.
Santa Cruz Highlands Excursion
Continue with a visit to the highlands of Santa Cruz to see the Galápagos giant tortoise in its natural habitat. Explore the entire area including the incredible underground lava tunnels. Wander through the volcanic passageways and look out for the (mostly) nocturnal barn owls that sometimes roost here.
Post Office Bay Visit
Take a trip to Post Office Bay and learn about its unique and interesting history. Back in the late 18th century, a barrel was placed here by English whaling vessels to be used as a post office. Today, the box is still there, but it is mainly used by tourists, who can drop off and pick up unstamped letters to be carried to far off destinations. Continue the tradition by leaving a letter and maybe even take one to deliver, as long as you can make sure it makes it to the correct location!
Punta Cormorant Visit
Beach lovers will enjoy visiting Punta Cormorant, Floreana Island’s only landing site. Discover the wonders of the two amazingly different beaches: one with green sand, which gets its color from olivine crystals, and ‘Flour Beach’ which is covered by totally white sand particles. Spend the afternoon watching the flamingos and the other birds feeding at the lagoon. You can also spot penguins and marine iguanas at the water’s edge.
Snorkeling (Corona del Diablo)
Next you will enjoy an exciting snorkeling experience at the ‘Devil’s Crown,’ an old underwater volcanic cone just north of the Punta Cormorant. You can spot large schools of tropical fish, reef sharks, sea turtles, and rays living among the coral reef. Be sure you’re a strong and experienced swimmer as the currents here can be intense.
Punta Suárez Visit
Animal lovers will be invigorated by the visit to Punta Suárez, one of richest wildlife landing sites in the Galápagos. Upon arrival you will be greeted by young surfing sea lions. Head to the trail to search for many species of nesting seabirds and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to see the waved albatross. Finally, follow the path up to a cliff for breath-taking views of the ocean and the ability to watch sea birds gliding in the wind.
Gardner Bay Visit
Continue the day by visiting Gardner Bay’s magnificent white sandy beach which is home to sea lions and sea birds. You can also explore the beautiful turquoise water and the incredible sea life. This water is home to many young sea lions and large schools of surprisingly big tropical fish.
Snorkeling (Gardner Bay)
At Gardner Bay, you will head to Tortuga Rock for a spectacular snorkeling experience.
Once underwater, you can spot young sea lions, yellow tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish, and bump-head parrot fish. You can also look for the white tipped reef sharks who can often be seen napping on the bottom of the sea floor.
On your final day of the trip, you will learn about the history of the Islands at the San Cristóbal Interpretation Center before flying back to Quito.
Interpretation Center Visit
Learn about the entire history of the Galápagos Islands starting from their beginning and volcanic origins all the way to today’s conservation efforts. The Human History exhibit also offers the opportunity to learn about the discovery and colonization of the Galápagos, while examining the natural history and variety of unique flora and fauna that make the Galápagos so fascinating.