On this Galapagos Islands tour, you will travel on board the 16-passenger Millennium motor catamaran to snorkel with sea lions, watch the Blue-footed boobies in their mating dances, and explore the islands that inspired the theory of evolution. This 8-day Galapagos Islands vacation will take you to the eastern islands of the archipelago to encounter strange and wonderful bird and animal species that are perfectly adapted to the unique conditions of these islands. Here, you will discover giant tortoises rubbing shoulders with marine iguanas, and observe playful penguins and curious finches and frigate birds have no reason to fear their human visitors.
“Everything about Surtrek was amazing. The hotels, the food, the tours. Everything exceeded our expectations. I cannot recommend Surtrek highly enough!”
AM: In the morning, you will fly from Quito or Guayaquil (on the Ecuadorian mainland) to Baltra Island, in the heart of Galapagos archipelago and the main point of entrance to this natural paradise. Upon your arrival at the airport, you will need to pay the national park entry fee, which goes to protecting both the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve. A member of the ship's crew will welcome you and accompany you to your yacht: the M/C Millennium.
PM: In the afternoon we will explore the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island. You will visit Dragon Hill, which is an excellent spot for observing lava lizards, Darwin finches and wading birds. On your way to Dragon Hill, you will rest at a small lagoon that is a popular feeding place for colorful birds and flamingos.
AM: Today we will explore South Plaza Island, located east of Santa Cruz Island. After a dry landing on the northern part of this life-filled islet, you will encounter colonies of sea lions and land iguanas. While on the steep banks you can see numbers of birds like nesting Tropic birds and Fork-tailed seagulls, but most of all, you will enjoy the beautiful views from eithers atop the steep banks or while strolling along the base of the cliff. Opuntia cactuses grow on this island and the vegetation changes color throughout the year.
PM: This afternoon we will visit Santa Fe Island, a small rocky island covered in small Palo Santo trees and six-meter-high opuntia cactuses. The island is inhabited mainly by large yellow land iguanas, Galapagos buzzards, Blue-footed boobies and pelicans. While snorkeling in the wonderful blue-green bay in which the ship anchors, you can observe the many inhabitants of this underwater world, including countless tropical fish, rays, sea turtles and playful sea lions.
AM: At the port of Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of Ecuador’s Galapagos Province, we will visit San Cristobal Island’s Interpretation Center, an excellent place to learn about the nature and settlement history of the archipelago. Here you will discover displays with information about the volcanic origins of the islands, ocean currents, the archipelago’s climate, and facts concerning the arrival of the different species and their colonization. The islands’ human history is also showcased, chronologically narrating the most significant events related to the discovery and settlements of the Galapagos.
PM: After lunch we will head for Lobos Island, located across from San Cristobal Island. This is a seasonal nesting location for Blue-footed boobies and Frigatebirds. You also can enjoy swimming and snorkeling with sea lions in the island’s calm bay.
AM: In the morning we will visit Punta Pitt, on the eastern side of San Cristóbal Island. After a high intensity hike on rocky terrain along a 1.4 km-long path and several magnificent lookout points, you will make your way through colonies of Frigatebirds and Fork-tailed seagulls. What’s more, this is probably the only site in Punta Pitt is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling.
PM: One of the main features on the San Cristobal Island is the Tortoise Breeding Center, where you will also see enormous Galapagos tortoises and iguanas. The natural population of tortoises from San Cristobal Island is seriously threatened by introduced animals – mainly wild goats, rats and cats. Efforts are being made to eradicate them, but so far these have not been successful. Close to the center is an easy trail that covers a distance of 900 meters; along this trail you will see different species of native and endemic plants of the Galapagos, like cat’s claw, manzanillo, romerillo, and acacia. Be careful not to touch or eat the manzanillo fruits as these are toxic. San Cristobal Island is also one of the few islands where you can see the plant calandrinia galapagosa, which is in danger of extinction.
AM: This morning we will make a wet landing on San Cristobal Island to visit Cerro Brujo, a fascinating lava hill located on the northeastern coast of San Cristobal Island with exceptional views of Kicker Rock, the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast. On the rocks you can observe Blue-footed boobies, sea gulls, Black-necked Stilts, Ruddy Turnstones, Whimbrels, other sandpiper species, White-cheeked pintails and some pelicans. The protected bay is also popular among young sea turtles and rays, which makes swimming and snorkeling particularly exciting here.
PM: In the afternoon we will follow the route that Charles Darwin once took and sail around the massive tuff-rock called Kicker Rock, which is a nesting site for hosts of sea birds. Here, you will be able to find Blue-footed boobies, pelicans, and frigate birds.
AM: Española is the southernmost, oldest and one of the most bio-diverse islands of the Galapagos archipelago. Its English name is “Hood Island,” in honor of the British admiral Samuel Hood. Because of its isolated position, there is much endemic wildlife to be explored here – in addition to great snorkeling from Española’s remarkably beautiful beaches. After breakfast, we will go on an excursion to Suarez Point, one of the archipelago’s most outstanding wildlife areas, boasting a long list of species along its cliffs and its sand and pebble beaches. In addition to five species of nesting seabirds, there are the curious and bold Española Island mockingbirds, while other birding favorites include Galapagos doves, Galapagos hawks, Swallow-tailed gulls and the world’s largest colony of Waved albatross, an unequivocal highlight during mating season (May-December). Several types of reptiles are unique to this island, including the marine iguana and the oversized lava lizard. In fact, this is also the only site where you will be able to see “red” sea iguanas. In addition, when heavy swells are running, Suarez Point is the site of a spectacular blowhole whose thundering spray shoots 30 yards up into the air. The trek here is on a stony path about a mile long.
PM: On Española Island’s eastern shore, Gardner Bay is noted for its turquoise-colored waters and its magnificent beach, which we will visit in the afternoon. Around the bay’s small nearby islets, snorkelers will find an abundance of fish and sometimes turtles and benign sharks. The bay is also frequented by a transient colony of Galapagos sea lions who love to swim with people. Birds, like the endemic Española mockingbird and different species of Darwin finches, are omnipresent.
AM: Today we will visit Floreana Island, considered to be one of the most exotic in the Galapagos archipelago. Countless legends are part of the history of this island, as pirates and buccaneers were drawn to here in search of for food and water. Later the island was colonized by Norwegians, Brits, Germans and others who were in search of ways to make money from what they hoped to discover here. The name Floreana is in honor of Juan José Flores, Ecuador’s first president. This morning’s excursion is to the Cormorant Point visitor site. After a wet landing on the beach, we will go down a 100-meter-long path to a mangrove lagoon, which is home to Galapagos ducks, black herons, oystercatchers and plovers. With a little bit of luck, you might also see flamingos. Another path leads to a small beach that is an important nesting site for sea turtles. In the shallow water here, one can often find stingrays and Whitetip reef sharks now and then.
PM: Later we will visit Post Office Bay, where the legendary post barrel that whalers historically used to put their mail in is still kept. After a wet landing, you walk just off the beach to leave a letter here in hopes that it will make to its destination via another tourist…so don’t forget to bring postcards along. Snorkelers can take a dip on the main beach among the playful sea lions and green sea turtles.
AM: Today we will visit the charming port town of Puerto Ayora, which – with more than 20,000 inhabitants – is the most populous town in the Galapagos Islands. It has the best developed infrastructure in the archipelago, with schools, hotels, restaurants, stores and clubs. It is also the best place to communicate with the outside world via a number of Internet cafés and telephone offices. Most travelers used to just pass through here on their way to see “Lonesome George,” the 150-year old tortoise who lived at Charles Darwin Research Center, but those who linger for a moment longer will discover that Puerto Ayora has more to offer. The town also has sports shops for diving equipment, mountain biking, and birdwatching, as well as day tours that include its nearby white-sand beaches. This morning we will head for one of the most visited spots in the islands. Located on Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station is primarily an international scientific research station situated on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. You will be taken to its visitor center to learn about the geology, climate, natural history and the conservation of the Galapagos Islands. However, the highlight of your visit here will undoubtedly be the research facility’s Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center, which breeds giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles can live up to 150 years and weigh between 250 and 300 kg. Approaching them in their humid and forested spaces is always an inspiring adventure. For decades, the Fausto Center was home to “Lonesome George,” who finally died in 2012 as the last of his particular species. The tortoises you will see here are accustomed to humans, so it’s an excellent spot for visitors to take photographs with them. Remember that looking at the animals is allowed, but touching is not; and it’s absolutely forbidden to jump over the walls or open the pen doors at any time.
PM: Concluding this amazing experience in the Galapagos Islands, you will be transferred to the Baltra Island airport for your return flight to the Ecuadorian mainland. Enjoy your last look back at the “enchanted islands,” a unique paradise with inspiring natural wonders.
“My husband, daughter and I want to thank you again for making our trip to the Galapagos extremely awesome!”