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Day-to-Day B

Isabela & southeastern Galapagos

8 days / 7 nights – Monday to Monday – every 14 days

Our 7 nights eastern itinerary visits most popular sites of southern and eastern Galapagos, where you will keep going from one surprise in the other. This route combines the spectacular sea bird colonies of Española, largest American flamingo colonies of Isabela and Floreana with highly appreciated and not to be missed South Plaza. This varied route is characterized by relatively shorter nightly navigations and even two nights of quiet rest at fairly calm anchorage-sites.

Walk at a short distance past blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies and waved albatrosses, whilst courtshipping, mating, breeding, nurturing or learning to fly (depending the season). Española is the sole option for those eager to admire synchronous courtship dances of the only tropical albatross in the world. Other not to be missed highlights of this cruise certainly will be Santa Fe and South Plaza, where characteristic Galapagos land iguanas crawl below bizarre giant prickly pear cacti. Mind your step when strolling around, because you may tread on one of them!

These almost extinguished volcano islands in the south-west are geologically eldest, where evolution has had enough time to create plenty endemic species. En route you can observe marine iguanaswhitetip reef sharks and – if lucky – even Galapagos penguins. On Santa Cruz you will have a full day to quest for emblematic giant Galapagos tortoises in the lush forests and to learn more on their successful captured breeding programs in the Charles Darwin Research Center. Striking coral sand beaches at azure bays are favourite places for large colonies of Galapagos sea lions.

For many Devil’s Crown is Galapagos deep water snorkelling site number one, and one of the very highlights of their cruise. Besides that this route also offers plenty possibilities for optional scuba diving.

 

Important notes:
• Itinerary is subject to change in case of force majeure caused by exceptional and natural circumstances.
• Approximate departure and navigation times are just indicative and depend on the sea state and decisions of the captain.
• Although Galapagos seldom requires quests for wildlife, observation of specific species can never be guaranteed.

 


Day 1 – Monday

Bachas Beach is a pleasant start of your Galapagos visit, without the necessity to navigate a long stretch to get first contact with the unique insular nature. Along this beach (north coast Santa Cruz), which is popular breeding ground for the Pacific green turtle, you will make a relaxed stroll to a aquatic bird-rich saline lagoon.

Program:

AM: This morning you will fly from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra Airport.
PM: After welcome aboard Sailing Catamaran Nemo I, check-in, lunch buffet and the safety-drill you will make your first wet landing (bare feet) at Bachas Beach, followed by an easy stroll along the waterline of this coral sand beach. Filled with impressions you will return on board for dinner.
Navigation: At dinner time we will lift the anchor and sail about 7 hrs – depending on the sea state – south-west to Isabela.

 

AM: Arrival at Baltra Airport

ACTIVIDADES (80)-webAt Baltra Airport you have to pay your Galapagos National Park entrance fee and your luggage is inspected. See Getting there for flight and arrival information.

In front of the arrival hall you will meet your naturalist guide and fellow passengers, and be transferred to the landing dock by airport shuttle. Our inflatable dinghy brings you the last stretch to the yacht.

 

 

 

 PM: Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz)

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Strolling along its coastline, blinding white Bachas Beach appears full of intertidal and bird life. But the symmetrical tuff cone-islet of Daphne Major will pull your eyes to the horizon as well. Beware of Galapagos sea lionsmarine iguanas, a shark fin or (seasonally) mating Pacific green turtles in the surf! Both quiet beaches have become their preferred nesting site on the main island of Santa Cruz. ‘Bachas’ refers to the ‘minefield of nest holes’ in the dunes strip; though others argue that it is a ‘Spanglish’ mispronunciation of ‘barks’, referring to two rusty landing vessels that have been left on the longer second beach in World War II, when the American US Air Force used BALTRA as a strategic base to defend the Panama Canal.

Sparkling orange coloured and heavy-armed sally lightfoot crabs play seek and hide with you when you want to picture them on the dark basaltic rocks. A brackish lagoon in the dunes houses different species of wade and shore birds, including black-necked stilts, white-cheeked pintails (or Bahama ducks) and hunting herons. Migratory aquatic birds that winter in Galapagos, such as whimbrels, also frequent this pond. As soon as water level drops and the lagoon becomes saltier, you might even encounter some American flamingos tirelessly filtering water to catch shrimp and algae!


Day 2 – Tuesday

First overnight crossing will bring you to Puerto Villamil on Isabela. In the next few days Nemo I will navigate clockwise around this by far largest island of the archipelago. Its larger living space seems to cause that evolution is hunting for records over here (although some are disputed). 

Huge marine iguanas crawl over undisturbed rocky islets just outside the harbour, which also contain a unique tidal channel where whitetip reef sharks rest. Listen to the concert of exotic songbirds while hiking through the mysterious highland’s cloud forest to the rim of the impressive caldera of active Sierra Negra Volcano. Saline lagoons in the wetlands house the largest insular colony of American flamingos and you will visit the botanical garden of another tortoise breeding center with native species.

 

Program:

AM: Before breakfast (we provide a snack) the inflatable dinghies will bring you to the Tintoreras islets for a guided hike to the tidal channel, following a rough volcanic rock trail (easy/moderate level). After breakfast you can experience some great snorkelling.
PM: After lunch you will have free time to enjoy Puerto Villamil and its striking beach. Than you will visit the local tortoise breeding center and the surrounding wetlands.
Overnight navigation: After dinner the anchor is lifted for rounding the southern lob of Isabela clockwise to its far west coast (about 6 hours). 
Additional options scuba-diving: Isla Tortuga, Cuatro Hermanos or Roca Viuda (advanced).

 

AM: Whitetip reef shark channel (Isabela/Tintoreras)

white tipped shark - GalapagosJust outside the harbour of Puerto Villamil (Isabela), a group of rocky islets protrude just above sea level. These are remnants of a lava flow that is demolished by the waves. A collapsed lava tube forms a channel that fills-up on high tide, while the entrance is closed on low tide. Marine life gets trapped, including turtles and elegant white-spotted eagle rays or golden rays. In the crystal clear water of this unique site  you can also observe whitetip reef sharks (called tintoreras in Spanish; to which the islets are named after) resting from their nocturnal hunts. This species of shark is fairly common in the archipelago, and often spotted on the seabed when snorkelling, but here you can see them dry and comfortably from the bank.
Unlike the beaches of Puerto Villamil, tiny plagues along these black rocks offer  undisturbed breeding places for marine iguanas. Over here the largest Isabela subspecies (up to 1,5m/5ft tall !) can reproduce successfully and thrive by hundreds. The rocky shoreline with its intertidal life also attracts sally lightfoot crabs, lava herons and occasional Galapagos penguinsGalapagos sea lions occupy the sand beach and complete this stereotypical Galapagos image.

 

PM: Arnoldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center (Isabela)

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In Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center you can see hundreds of giant Galapagos tortoises of all sizes. Vulnerable hatchlings are not gigantic at all, even smaller than the size of your hand! This project just outside Puerto Villamil is created to rescue the endangered populations of Isabela’s both southernmost volcanoes.
From the almost incredible estimations of 250,000 giant tortoises in the 16th century only remained about 3,000 individuals in the 1970s. One thing becomes clear on your visit: it’s hard work to save these queer creatures for extinction by reproduction in captivity and repopulation. The good news is that these programs are successful and have saved several species for extinction so far. By 2015 their number has increased up to about 32,000 in all archipelago.

Don’t forget to visit the native botanic garden of this breeding centre. It also attracts colourful songbirds such as yellow warblers, Darwin’s finches, Galapagos and vermillion flycatchers. Finally there is no greater counterpart to the cumbersome tortoises as the graceful American flamingos that frequently filter the saline waters of the adjacent lagoon for shrimp and algae. They are joined by a handful of species of aquatic and shore birds, from which some even migrate from Canada and Alaska.

 

PM: Wetlands & Beach

YOLITA 5-webThe tempting white sand beach of Puerto Villamil counts far more marine iguanas and sally lightfoot crabs than bathing guests. Its overgrown beach wall hides the largest salty lagoon of Galapagos, which attracts lots of aquatic bids and wintering shore birds (about Nov-Feb); some have arrived from arctic regions!
This lagoon is part of a swampy coastal zone known as the wetlands, with an old mangrove forest, and more salt and brackish ponds in collapsed lava tubes. These lagoons are home to the largest concentration and breeding site of American flamingos in Galapagos!

 

 

Program:
AM: After breakfast the inflatable dinghies will drop you at the harbour of Puerto Villamil from where a bus continues to the lush highlands of Isabela. You will hike through abundant cloud-forest to the viewpoint on the rim of huge Sierra Negra Volcano (moderate level; about 6,5km/4 mi).

AM: Sierra Negra (Isabela)

valle-LR-webSierra Negra is the 3rd highest volcano of Isabela and the 5th highest of Galapagos (1124m/3687ft). It has erupted 7 times in the 20th century (latest: October 2005). Its caldera measures about 7x9km/4.5x6mi across, and is the largest of the archipelago. Since the discovery of so-called super volcanoes (like Yellowstone) it shouldn’t appear any more in the listing of largest craters in the world. It is the only major volcano of Isabela whose crater regions are actually opened to tourism.

A muddy trail through cloud forest leads to the rim. Only the main islands are high enough for these evergreen forests. Fog and drizzle – more frequent in the cool garúa season (June-December) – contribute to the mysterious atmosphere. Their dense and rich vegetation includes ferns, tree ferns and endemic scalesia trees laden with epiphytes like lichens, orchids and bromeliads. You can also spot striking song birds as the vermilion flycatcher, the yellow warbler and the woodpecker finch (among six more species of Darwin’s finches); this peculiar one hammers on branches and uses twigs as tools to capture insects! Turning point is a viewpoint on the rim with fantastic sights into the caldera; thanks to prevailing winds clouds usually tend to dissolve at the viewpoint (clear weather unpredictable).

 


Day 3 – Wednesday

At midnight Sailing Catamaran Nemo I will drop the anchor at the north cape of Floreana (Cormorant Point), where American flamingos use to forage and breed. For many Devil’s Crown is Galapagos deep water snorkelling site number one, and one of the very highlights of their cruise. Historical Post Office Bay seems to be located nearly at the end of the world.

Program:
AM: After breakfast and a wet landing at the greeny beach of Cormorant Point (wet landing) and walk to a powdery coral sand beach on the other side of the peninsula (easy level; about 1,5km/1mi). En route you can observe the American flamingo lagoon from different viewpoints.
Then it’s time for fantastic deep-water snorkelling around Devil’s Crown (though sometimes stronger currents). If this is not your thing or if you prefer bird watching, alternatively you can make a dinghy-ride.
PM: Post your holiday greetings in the historical barrel at Post Office Bay, one of three nearby visitor’s sites on Floreana’s north coast (short displacement, wet landing) and relax.
Overnight navigation: Around midnight the Galapagos Odyssey will navigate about 5 hours east to Española.
Additional options scuba-diving: choice out of 9 nearby diving sites (All levels)

 

AM: Cormorant Point (Floreana)

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The peninsula of Cormorant Point forms the extreme north cape of Floreana, which is pockmarked by numbers of smaller volcanic cones and covered by tropical dry forest (predominently palo santo). Please don’t expect to spot the flightless cormorant at Cormorant Point. This emblematic example of evolution lives exclusively in the remote west of Galapagos on Fernandina and Isabela (Route A). Instead, its salty lagoon is one of the best places in Galapagos to observe a breeding colony of American flamingos. Though, when breeding is done and the lagoon dries up, these exotic birds tend to be on the move to look for shrimps and algae from other saline lakes.

At the landing beach you will be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion-colony. The green sand contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals that have been blown out by the surrounding tuff cones. The ‘flour sand’ beach on the south side of the peninsula feels very smooth to your feet; this is pulverized by parrotfishes. Schools of sting rays in the surf love this powdery sand to hide themselves, and Pacific green turtles come ashore to burry their eggs in it at night (first months of the year). Next morning you can notice their tracks from the dunes, or eventually still catch an exhausted, delayed one, crawling back to sea.

 

AM: Devil´s Crown (Floreana)

The jagged crater rim of Devil’s Crown just protrudes sea level and is beaten by the waves.  The inner walls of the crater rim are coated with coral formations and protected against the surf. The depth and very transparent waters of this deep-water snorkelling site gives you some sensation of flying once you plunge in this huge tropical aquarium. You will swim amidst schools of thousands of brightly coloured tropical fish, as yellowtail surgeon fishesking angelfishes, and many other species. On the seabed you can distinguish resting whitetip reef sharks, different species of ray and starfishes. A Pacific green turtle or Galapagos sea lion might swim by, and don’t scare when you encounter scalloped hammerhead sharks!
Above sea level the dramatic decor of the jagged crater rim provides living space to lots of coastal birds, including lava gulls, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, brown pelicans, and red-billed tropicbirds. The opposite land head of Floreana is a nesting place for magnificent frigatebirds, where you could also head for during an alternative dinghy-ride.

 

PM: Post Office Bay (Floreana)

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Bring your unstamped postcards and post them in the peculiar barrel on this historic site. Together with James Bay (Santiago) this used to be a popular base to complement stocks. Present barrel commemorates the improvised mail service between British 16th century whalers and poachers. Returning vessels also picked-up letters for home delivery. Finally this post box became the termination of the flourishing British whaling industry in this region (Moby Dick), because it let the American frigate USS Essex easily locate and hijack British whalers during the Anglo-American War (1812-1815).


Day 4 – Thursday

Next island Española is located in the far southeastern corner of the archipelago. As one of its crown jewels, this bird watcher’s and photographer’s dream offers all that you might expect from Galapagos. Walk in a distance of just a few meters past waved albatrosses, booby colonies, sunbathing marine iguanas and Galapagos sea lions and feel yourself within an exciting nature documentary! Several endemic species give you the opportunity to become an eyewitness of evolution.

Program:
AM: Before breakfast (we provide a snack) you will make a ‘dry landing’ at Suarez Point. During a longer guided walk (moderate level; 4km/2.5 mi/about 2 hours) you will pass awakening sea bird colonies on top of the cliffs (some short scrambling passages; avoidable depths). Back on board you will have a deserved breakfast and will navigate about an hour. Next you can plunch into the alluring turquoise-coloured Gardner Bay for snorkelling.
PM: After lunch and a ‘wet landing’ (bare feet) on the wide sand beach you can stroll along the sea lions colony (easy level), or enjoy a moment of reflection, relaxation, or rolling with sea lions in the surf.
Overnight navigation: After dinner we will navigate 5hrs north and anchor just before midnight in the sheltered harbour of Puerto Ayora, where you can enjoy a quiet floating sleep.

 

AM: Suarez Point (Española)

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Huge ocean waves bang on the southern basaltic cliffs of Suarez Point, and form a spectacular blowhole, where a fountain of sea water sprays meters/feet high into the air (depending on the tide and how strong sea breeze pushes the waves). Take a meditative break in silence on this emblematic viewpoint to convert this unforgettable moment in a lifetime experience.

Waved albatrosses soar most time of their lives far out at sea and just come to Española (March-December) to breed and nurture their huge chick. This spectacular seabird is the only tropic albatross (critically endangered species). Besides some strayed individuals on Isla de La Plata (out off the Ecuadorian coast) it only breeds on Española, where you can witness its synchronous courtship dances, which include bowing, whistling and even a stylized form of ‘sword fighting’ with their bills (especially in October)!

Suarez Point is also a massive breeding site for Nazca and blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirdsBlue-footed boobies don’t bother to breed in the middle of the trail. Especially during the food-abundant garúa-season (2nd half of the year) you can admire amusing courtship dances, mating, breeding, emerging from the eggs, nurturing or first flight-attempts.

Española marine iguanas become bright red with a turquoise-colored crest and legs at the start of the breeding season (starting from Christmas). Hood lava lizards are the largest of the 7 endemic species in the islands, as well as endemic mockingbirds, that have turned to carnivorous behaviour!

 

PM: Gardner Bay (Española)

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Make your first ‘dive’ in the alluring turquoise-coloured Gardner Bay, and admire colourful reef fish, snorkel side by side with a Pacific green turtle, or find yourself in the middle of playful Galapagos sea lions.

The striking white coral sand beach is an important breeding site for Pacific green turtles. But without doubt its main attraction is the Galapagos sea lion colony. Females stay year round in this nursery, suckling their pups up to an age of 3 years, although these start to learn fishing already after 5 months. During the breeding- and mating season the colony becomes even more populous. The strongest bachelors and elder males return from their secluded bases and start again to conquer and defend their part of the 1300m/4250ft long beach. Pregnant females choose the best territory to give birth, and will mate again with their landlord within a month.


Day 5 – Friday

Without any doubt most-emblematic representatives of the archipelago are the Galapagos giant tortoises. Today is mainly dedicated to these slow creatures on the central island of Santa Cruz. First you will have the opportunity to quest for a wild population in El Chato Tortoise Reserve in the lush highlands, and afterwards you will visit the successful breeding centre at the Charles Darwin Research Station. There is also free time to relax in cosy Puerto Ayora.

Program:
AM: B Route: After breakfast you will travel by inflatable dinghy and private bus from the harbour of Puerto Ayora into the highlands. In the Chato Reserve or agricultural zone you can see Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild before continuing to the airport.
B5 Route: After an early breakfast it’s time say goodbye and to leave the yacht. The dinghies will bring you to the pier of Puerto Ayora, where you can visit the Charles Darwin Research Station before continuing to the airport.
PM: After lunch buffet and the safety-drill you will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station as an introduction to Galapagos and get some free time to stroll through the cosy town of Puerto Ayora.
B4 Route: After welcome, check-in, lunch, and the safety-drill you will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station as an introduction to Galapagos and get some free time to stroll through the cosy town of Puerto Ayora.
Overnight navigation: Short before midnight the anchor will be lifted for this route’s longest navigation to easternmost Pitt Point, about 8 hours in eastern direction.

 

AM: Highlands: El Chato Reserve (Santa Cruz )

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Santa Cruz offers excellent opportunities for viewing wild Galapagos giant tortoises, roaming through pastures in the agricultural zone and in the transition zone of El Chato Tortoise Reserve. The pond in the native forest reserve is the most authentic setting, but sometimes also requires an adventurous quest for these silent heavyweights. Than you have to listen carefully for the sound of heavy footsteps and of shrubs being slowly crushed. Most time of their stretched lives is spent slowly and silently, except for a warning hiss, or loud screams during mating, which can be heard from far in the first half of the year. Subsequently females leave the highlands and descend all the way down to the beaches to dig holes and lay their eggs. It is estimated that in 2015 about 32,000 tortoises live in the wild in all the islands, most on restricted locations of Isabela. You will certainly also appreciate the native scalesia forest, overgrown with lichens, ferns, and other epiphytes; plus chances to spot endemic Darwin’s finches, vermilion flycatchers, yellow warblers, and less common birds like short-eared owls, Galapagos rails and paint-billed crakes.

 

 

PM: Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz)

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The Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) and the headquarters of the Galapagos National Park Service share same location on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. From here biological research and indispensable conservation management of this unique archipelago are directed. The complex houses a bunch of interpretation and information centers about the National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve around.

Most memorable from your visit will probably be the successful breeding centre and the enclosures with Galapagos giant tortoises; even after the death of its world famous resident, emphatically called ‘Lonesome George’ († June 2012; the last known individual of the Pinta subspecies, who sadly failed to reproduce offspring). Most remaining adult giant tortoises in the corals are former pets and many of them are accustomed to human company.


Day 6 – Saturday

The longest nocturnal passage of this route will bring you to Pitt Point, the extreme eastern cape of San Cristobal (and of the entire archipelago). On top of these eroded cliffs you can find blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies breeding together, and also frigate birds with bright red, balloon-sized pouches in the mating season! You will land in a bachelor’s colony of Galapagos sea lions, and stroll along a cute nursery colony at the scenic beach below Witch Hill in the afternoon. 

Program:
AM: After breakfast you will make a wet landing at Pitt Point, from where you will hike to the cliff-top sea bird colonies (and back). After that snorkelling is scheduled.
PM: During lunch we will navigate along the shore of San Cristobal to Witch Hill, where a lot of activities can be undertaken: a dinghy-ride, sea kayaking, snorkelling and a beach stroll.
Overnight navigation: This evening we will sail to Santa Fe (4 hrs west), in which sheltered bay you can enjoy a comfortable night rest.

 

AM: Pitt Point (San Cristobal)

Two wind sculptured tuff cones at Pitt Point constitute the extreme eastern end of San Cristobal, and thus of the archipelago as well. These cliffs were the first sight of land when HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin arrived on September 15th 1835. On the small green sand beach, you will be welcomed by a cacophony of barking Galapagos sea lions. This is a bachelor colony, where males usually recuperate from and prepare themselves for fighting and mating.

From saltbush and spiny shrubs behind the beach a trail leads up to an area of tropical dry forest vegetation: most of the year leafless palo santo trees, yellow cordia shrubs, tiny prickly pear cacti and carpetweed, that turns red in the dry season. After the pretty steep climb through a gully to the cliff top, you can wander around the only colony in Galapagos that counts with all three species of booby: blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca booby; as well as both species of frigatebird (great and magnificent), famous because of their scarlet balloon-sized pouches during mating season. Frigatebirds rather attack returning boobies and conduct aerial battles than fishing themselves and get a wet suit.

 

PM: Witch Hill (San Cristobal)

To scout out the dangerous reefs HMS Beagle’s Captain FitzRoy climbed in 1835 to the top of the obvious tuff-cone that overlooks this scenic bay. Nowadays it is called Witch Hill and not any more the main attraction of this site, but part of its romantic coastal panorama. Let your eyes travel from the volcanic cone, over the turquoise bay to the razor-sharp contours of Kicker Rock at the horizon, one of the photogenic landmarks of Galapagos.

You can walk about 1km/0.6mi along the romantic, crescent-shaped beach and feel with your feet the soft and powdery white coral sand (in fact it is pulverized by parrot fishes, that destruct living coral reefs). Enjoy the Galapagos sea lion rookery with its cute babies, or study the rich intertidal and bird life (mainly brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls). Behind the beach and the narrow stretch of dunes, there is a dark lava tongue with several saline lakes that used to be a local salt mine (necessary for conservation of fish). Here reside some coastal and wading birds such as the great blue heron.


Day 7 – Sunday

Heading back towards the heart of the archipelago you will visit extraordinary  Santa Fe and not to be missed South Plaza that belongs to most popular sites. Below bizarre giant prickly pear cacti you will encounter characteristic land iguanas. Although this ‘Jurassic islet’ is different to every other site in the National Park, at the same time it is so typical Galapagos with its sharp contrasts, amazing diversity and stunning concentration of wildlife. While sailing along Santa Cruz we will look-out for whales.

Program:
AM: After breakfast you will make a guided walk from the beach of Santa Fe (wet landing). Your guide decides whether the easy shorter circuit is followed, or a strenuous longer hike land inward (moderate level; about 3km/2mi). Don’t forget to retain strength for excellent afterwards swimming or snorkelling in the crystal clear azure waters of Barrington Bay.
PM: Around lunchtime we will proceed to South Plaza (about 2 hrs northwest), possibly escorted by bottle nose dolphins. You will make an unforgettable guided walk on this Jurassic islet (easy level; about 1,25 km/0.75 mi; avoidable depths on the cliff-edge).
Navigation: While navigating to Black Turtle Cove (2 hrs, before dinner and sunset) we will have opportunities of some great whale watching. After dinner you can enjoy a relatively quiet floating sleep.
Additional options scuba-diving: Gordon Rocks (Expert/Advanced) or Santa Fe (All levels).

 

AM: Barrington Bay (Santa Fe)

Valerie Kuelker (Calgary) kijkt omhoog naar cactusboom op Isla Santa Fé.

Practically every animal on Santa Fe is unique; endemic to Galapagos, or even to this island alone and extremely vulnerable! This extraordinary island is remnant of the probably most ancient volcano of Galapagos, and gave evolution enough time and isolation to create its wonders.

Your experience starts already before anchoring, when the contours of its bizarre giant prickly pear cactus (opuntia) forests become distinguishable. These largest cacti of the islands have extremely thick trunks indeed, and can grow over 10m/33ft tall! You will land right into a Galapagos sea lion colony on the beach.  From their outlooks at the beach ridge surprisingly fearless Galapagos hawks are ready to snatch away a lava lizard; not worrying that even these are unique…
Almost every visitor of Santa Fe becomes eager to get a glimpse of the rare Barrington land iguana. But this pale endemic version is not as easy to spot as its modelling counterparts on South Plaza. This one asks for an adventurous quest (rather untypical to Galapagos); other times it surprises waiting for you next to the trail. Whether you spot it, or not, you will keep going from one surprise into the other.
While snorkelling in the azure coloured Barrington Bay between tropical reef fish, maybe a curious Galapagos sea lion is willing to play with you!

 

PM: South Plaza

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The southern of both Plaza islets is best place to encounter endemic Galapagos land iguanas. Watch your step and don’t stumble over one of them whilst distracted by equally bizarre giant prickly pear cactus-trees! These iguanas are not only ugly as Darwin pronounced, but also very patient and photogenic models with strikingly saffron colours. Overpopulation and severe food competition have affected their smaller size. It is incredible to see how cactus spines don’t harm them while chewing pads, flowers and fruits. Beware as well for some unique hybrids between a male marine iguana and a female land iguana.

Arriving at the upper rim, you get to know the other, wild and windy face of South Plaza that provides a complete different habitat. About 20m/75ft downwards impressively droning waves splash against the foot of massive cliffs. Being talented rock climbers, sun basking marine iguanas have escaped the cool shadows of the wall. Clouds of petrels, storm petrels, shearwaters and brown noddies make spectacular flights and sometimes appear to walk 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, most beautiful gull in the world. Its neatly lined eyes are perfectly adapted for its exceptional nightly fishing habits.


Day 8 – Monday

Even at the very end of your cruise Galapagos keeps surprising. On this last morning you will explore the evergreen mangle forest of Black Turtle Cove, and feel a while as if you are in the Amazon rainforest instead of at the north coast of Santa Cruz. These lagoons and adventurous creeks teem with marine and birdlife, and (seasonally) with mating turtles and sharks.

Program:
AM: Shortly after your wake-up call and a snack you will leave for this farewell dinghy-ride. After breakfast it’s time say goodbye, leave the yacht and continue to the airport (unless you have booked an extension on the A-route).

 

AM: Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz)

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The ancient mangle at Black Turtle Cove has grown out to forest proportions and forms the backdrop for a distinct adventure. You might even feel yourself a while in the Amazon rainforest instead of close to sea; though on a closer look vegetation mainly exists of red mangroves with characteristic aerial roots that let them survive in salty and brackish water. By inflatable dinghy we will explore the calm emerald lagoon and enter the surrounding shallow creeks of these salt-water marshes. The outboard engine is sometimes turned off, so that you can enjoy the ambiance at its fullest. You have to keep your eyes peeled when looking around and staring into the crystal clear waters to observe all the life that is flying and swimming around.

You can spot silently hunting lava herons on the banks and brown pelicans nesting on top of the mangroves. Various species of ray and shark come to this nutritious cradle to give birth; scaloped hammerhead sharks come back to the place where they’ve born and their babies tend to be close to the surface. Pacific green turtles (black turtles was their former name) visit this cove in their reproduction season (November-January); if you’re lucky you can catch them mating at the surface! Afterwards their eggs are deposited on coral sand beaches along this north-western coastline of Santa Cruz.

 

AM: Transfer to Baltra airport

ACTIVIDADES (83)-webAssisted by the naturalist guide and some crew members the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to Baltra, where we take the airport shuttle. Your guide will accompany you until the check-in counters in the departure hall.

We expect that you will return home with stunning pictures and unforgettable memories for life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Nemo I - Galapagos Sailing Catamaran.