1 Start Quito.
Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening. Free transfers are available for all clients. A local guide will welcome you to Quito and explain the schedule for the next few days. Stay: Hotel Vieja Cuba (or similar.)
2 Discover Quito at your leisure.
Today is free to relax, recover from the flight and explore the fascinating city of Quito. Quito is the second highest capital in the world, standing at 2,850m on the western cordillera of the Andes. It is one of the smaller and more attractive of the colonial capitals of South America. Because of the altitude visitors to Quito are advised to take it easy at first. Stay: Hotel Vieja Cuba (or similar.)
3 Fly to Baltra Airport on the Galapagos & Bachas Beach
Morning Fly to Galapagos: This morning we transfer to Quito Airport for our flight to the Galapagos Islands. Be prepared for an early start as this could mean leaving the hotel around 6:00am. A USD20 per person transit card is payable on departure at Quito and a USD100 per person national park entry fee is payable on arrival in the Galapagos. Please have cash on hand to pay for these. On arrival in the Galapagos we are met in the arrivals hall and then transferred to our boat, the Nemo II, which will be anchored a short distance away in Santa Cruz. Once on board we'll be assigned our cabins, meet the crew and get to know our naturalist guide and fellow travellers over lunch. The rest of your schedule will follow itinerary A. Afternoon Bachas Beach: Navigate to Bachas beach. The name is “Spanglish” for 'barges', which were wrecked offshore during World War II. There is a delightful swimming beach here with a lagoon behind, and a longer beach for a stroll and wildlife-watching. The saltwater lagoon often has Great Blue herons and small waders such as Sanderlings. Both beaches are nesting areas for Green sea turtles which leave tracks in the sand, especially from November to February. After dinner we navigate the short distance to Santa Cruz. Stay Seven Nights: Nemo II
4 South Plaza & Sante Fe
Morning Sante Fe: After navigating to Santa Fe Island we spend some time in one of the most beautiful coves in all of the Galapagos, with its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. In the large Sea lion colony bulls vie for the right of beachmaster whilst cows laze in the sun. The loop trail leads us past salt bushes where Galapagos hawks can be seen at close range, alongside the largest land iguanas in the Galapagos. Afternoon South Plazas: This afternoon we navigate to South Plazas island, where the biggest population of land iguanas in the Galapagos can be found. The iguanas here are yellow-brown and feed on the fruit and pads of the Prickly Pear Cactus. As we walk alongside the sea cliffs, Swallow-tailed gulls, frigatebirds, Audubon shearwaters, Red-Billed tropicbirds, Brown pelicans, Blue-footed and Masked boobies are frequently seen.
5 San Cristobal Island
A day at San Cristobal Island to discover Cerro Brujo, a striking eroded tuff cone and one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin. We have a landing to explore the white sand beach where Blue-footed boobies, Brown pelicans, Sea lions and Marine iguanas are all found, before making our way to explore the striking spear of Kicker Rock and the nearby Sea lion colony of Isla Lobos.
6 Espanola Island
Morning Punta Suarez: Arriving at Espanola Island, we spend the morning at Punta Suarez on the western tip where Sea lions, sea birds and the largest Marine iguanas of the Galapagos are found, along with Masked boobies nesting among the rock formations. Afternoon Gardner Bay: A 45 minute boat ride from Punta Suarez takes us to Gardner Bay, a stunning stretch of white-sand beach with excellent possibilities for swimming and snorkelling. Visitors can find migrant, resident and endemic wildlife include brightly coloured Marine iguanas, Espanola lava lizards, Hood mockingbirds, Swallow-tailed gulls, Galapagos hawks and a large colony of Waved albatross.
7 Santa Cruz Island
Morning Highlands: Today's excursion allows us to discover the highlands of Santa Cruz and its incredible vegetation zones. We visit a private finca called 'Las Primicias' which offers the best possibility to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Afternoon Charles Darwin Research Station: Our next visit will be the Charles Darwin Research Centre to begin learning about the ecology of the islands, their origin and formation. You can also see the famous Galapagos giant tortoise hatchery which is based here.
8 Floreana Island
Morning Post Office Bay: Today we arrive on Floreana Island, where the famous Post Office Bay is found. In 1793 British whalers established a Post Office barrel to send letters to and from England, a tradition that has continued and thrives to this day, with many visitors collecting and leaving postcards to destinations all over the world! Afternoon Cormorant Point: We also visit Cormorant Point today, an area with a green sand beach (caused by the olivine crystals) and large lagoon where Pink flamingoes and other shore birds can be seen. This is also a good spot for seeing Large-billed flycatchers and numerous finch species.
9 Chinese Hat & Bartolome
Morning Chinese Hat: Sombrero Chino is a small islet located near the south-east coast of Santiago. Shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from afar, it is geologically fascinating, with many lava tubes leading from the cone to the coast. We land on a beautiful crescent-shaped white sand beach, home to Sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. The trail on Sombrero Chino explores its volcanic origin, one of the most evident in the islands. Snorkeling in the waters near Sombrero Chino can create a stir; White-tipped sharks frequent these waters, as do the playful Galapagos penguins and Sea lions. Afternoon Bartolome: This afternoon we navigate to Bartolome, a desolate landscape made famous by the tuff cone known as Pinnacle Rock, which has become one of the most visited and photographed parts of the islands. Very little vegetation grows in this barren place. Mangroves border the beach and the small shrub Tiguilia grows in the volcanic sands. The seeds and tiny white flowers of the Chamaesycae provide food for the island's finches. These plants are common to arid regions and are able to survive in harsh volcanic conditions.
10 Fly to Guayaquil; end Guayaquil.
Morning Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz): An early start to explore Black Turtle Cove, a red mangrove wetland on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. This is a wonderful spot to see Green turtles and is a nursery for rays and Galapagos sharks. There is also abundant birdlife, such as the Yellow warbler and Lava heron. Afternoon transfer out to Baltra Airport: We say farewell to the Galapagos Islands after this morning's excursion and head to the airport on Baltra for our flight to Guayaquil where the holiday ends. At Guayaquil airport it's possible to connect with international flights this evening from 6pm onwards. Land only clients may prefer to organise post-tour accommodation for the night in Guayaquil and organise their international flights for the following day in case of delays coming back from the Galapagos.