Departure from Quito/Guayaquil to Baltra island (2 1/2 hours flight). Our natural guides pick up passengers at the airport and take them to the bus stop to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
Dry landing at the Pier. The Interpretation Center provides a wealth of information about the history of Galapagos and its importance in the world. It also outlines threats and conservation efforts. Then, we'll hike up to Frigatebird Hill (Cerro Tejeretas), where we will have great views of both frigate-bird species, as well as beautiful scenery of the bay below.
Morning wet landing at Gardner Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in Galapagos; the long, white sandy beach is lapped by turquoise water and home to a colony Galapagos sea-lions that are indifferent to humans who walk among them. Hood mockingbirds are endemic to this island and will eagerly inspect visitors to satisfy their natural curiosity. Darwin's finches, including an isolated warbler finch, may join the crowd. To add to our adventure, we can snorkel in the bay from the beach and swim with playful Sea-Lions.
After lunch on board, we dry land at Punta Suarez. This is where we meet a variety of sea lions and marine iguanas. From there, our walk continues with close encounters with boobies and endemic lizards as well as gulls. We have one chance to meet the endangered Waved-Albatross, which is only present on the oldest island of the archipelago during their breeding season (April through December). We can witness their intricate courtship displays with luck.
Floreana Island, wet landing; just a short walk from the beach takes us to the famous Post Office Barrel. It is believed to be the oldest operating "post office" on the Pacific side. It was originally designed so that fur sealers and whalers could leave letters in the barrel for their homeward bound friends. Visitors are still encouraged to write letters or send postcards to loved ones on their cruise.
Wet landing. The observant visitor to the beach will notice that the subtle green color of olivine, which is a volcanic rock, has been added. We will pass island-endemic Scalesia trees and arrive at a shallow lagoon, often home to greater flamingoes. Continue on through a forest full of "palo santo", trees, to reach a powdery white beach, a nesting place for green turtles. We will see white-tipped reef sharks and diamond stingrays as we paddle barefoot through the shallow waters. The coral-sand beach is the end of the trail. We return to the olivine beaches we landed on to swim or snorkel with Sea turtles, Reef fish and Sea-lions. With luck, we may even see white-tipped sharks. Sometimes, you can also see a small colony penguins.
Continue on towards Devil's Crown, a volcanic cone eroded into a volcano that is home to a variety of marine and fish species. We'll be swimming with large schools of yellow-tailed and creole surgeonfish. With some luck, we might even spot Sea turtles. The jagged "ecrowni", which is a roosting place for boobies and noddies, tropicbirds and frigates, is a jagged area.
We will then head to Champion Islet, which is also the last island-endemic Floreana mackerel home that we might be able to see from our pangas.
To visit the Charles Darwin Station on Santa Cruz Island, dry landing at Puerto Ayora is recommended. This station was once home to Lonesome George, the Pinta Tortoise. The breeding and relocation center was named after his long-time guardian. You can visit the center in the Galapagos National Park Service, where you will find many interpretive buildings. These grounds are home to many native plants and are a great place to see some rare Darwin's finches like the woodpecker, cactus, and vegetarian finches.
Santa Cruz Island's central highlands offer the best chance to meet Galapagos giant tortoises, which are completely wild. You can also find many highland species in the vicinity of these giant, 600-pound reptiles, including several famous finches, by taking a short walk.
Wet landing. This is the perfect spot for water sports like snorkeling, kayaking and glass-bottom boats. You will see many fish species, including surgeonfish, king angelfish and parrotfish. The land portion of the tour will include sea lions, basking marine Iguanas, and herons. Turtles can be found in the mangroves. It is possible that we will find some ceramic relics from ancient settlements.
Transfer to the airport after our morning visit to catch our flight back to the Mainland.