Touting itself as the “only luxury yacht based in the Galapagos Islands,” the M/Y Stella Maris has the facilities in place for serving the most demanding and discerning clientele. Accommodating up to 14 guests in ultimate of style, this thrilling 8-day/7-night Galapagos Islands tour takes you to stunning volcanic island environments that showcase one of Earth’s greatest displays of wildlife and landscapes. On board the 14-passenger Stella Maris luxury yacht, you will see many of the singular geological features created by this volcanic hotspot where its islands are still being formed. This Galapagos Islands cruise through the central and eastern islands will give you the best vantage point to see all of these memorable attractions both by sea and by foot, as the ship will let off you and your professional park-certified naturalist guide for daily land excursions to explore the islands.
“I want to thank you for arranging a perfect tour for me. I know you did not have control over who the other people would be, but it all, on all fronts, was perfect. The itinerary was sensational and the boat fabulous.”
AM: In the morning, you will fly from either Quito or Guayaquil (on the Ecuadorian mainland) to the Galapagos Islands. At the airport on San Cristobal Island, after you will pay your entrance fee to the national park, a member of the ship's crew will welcome you and accompany you to your yacht: the Stella Maris.
PM: After lunch and a security briefing, we will go on our first land-visit on Lobos Island, located across from San Cristobal Island. This is a seasonal nesting location for Blue-footed boobies and Frigatebirds. You can also 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 Cristobal Island. After a high-intensity hike on rocky terrain along a 1.4 km-long path and several magnificent lookout points, we will make our way through colonies of Frigatebirds and Fork-tailed seagulls. What’s more, this is probably the only site in the world where you can see all three species of boobies – Masked, Red- and Blue-footed ones. In addition to its great range of sea birds, Punta Pitt is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling.
PM: Then we will visit Cerro Brujo, a fascinating lava hill located on the northeastern coast of San Cristobal Island. This is a fascinating lava hill located on the northeastern coast of San Cristobal Island. Here you will find exceptional views of Kicker Rock, as well as the southern part of San Cristobal and the adjacent coast. On this site’s 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 here particularly exciting.
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.
Located 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 morning. Around the bays 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 sea lions who love to swim with people. Birds, like the endemic Española mockingbird and different species of Darwin finches, are omnipresent.
PM: After lunch, we will go on an excursion to Suarez Point. One of the archipelago’s most outstanding wildlife areas, this site boasts a long list of species along its cliffs and its sand and pebble beaches. In addition to five species of nesting seabirds, the curious and bold Española Island mockingbirds are found here, as are other birding favorites that 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, though the duration of this excursion is about 3 hours.
AM: Today we will visit Floreana Island, 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 Jose 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 that 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 there, one can often find stingrays and Whitetip reef sharks.
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 can 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: After a dry landing onto North Seymour Island, we will take a short walk along its coast, where you will encounter Swallow-tailed gulls, sea lions and Cliff crabs. This part of Seymour Island is also known for being a major nesting site for Blue-footed boobies and one of the largest colonies of Magnificent frigatebirds (a species different from the Great frigatebird). As you enjoy this relaxing hike around various nesting sites, you can also spot both of the endemic species of iguanas: marine iguanas and land iguanas..
PM: Upon arriving on Bartolome Island, we will go up to a lookout point to admire the spectacular panorama of Sullivan Bay and the famous Pinnacle Rock. The beaches at the foot of the Pinnacle Rock boast some of the finest snorkeling in the islands. There, you can discover a marvelous underwater world and will have a good chance of finding gently gliding sea turtles. On the beaches beneath Pinnacle Rock, it’s quite possible to meet one of the quick-as-an-arrow Galapagos penguins; at around 25 centimeters tall, this is second smallest species of penguin in the world. Likewise, you’re likely to see harmless Whitetip reef sharks in these waters.
AM: Our destination for today is Genovesa Island, considered to be one of the wildest and most pristine islands in Galapagos National Park. Known as “Bird Island,” Genovesa is the only place where you will be able to see Red-footed boobies. This afternoon we are off to El Barranco. Located on Genovesa Island, in the southern part of Darwin Bay, this is 1.5-kilometer trail stretches out over volcanic rock and takes about two hours to cover. The second half of the trail is very delicate, so please stay on the path. It can get very hot so make sure to bring water. Because of the natural erosion, this is the ideal place for the nesting of storm petrels. The two other species of petrels that can be seen here are the Galapagos petrel and the Wooden petrel. You can also see Red-footed boobies and Nazca boobies here, as well as fur seals and several species of seabirds.
PM: This afternoon, at Genovesa’s Darwin Bay, we will walk along a short path that leads through the nesting sites of booby and frigatebird colonies. On the beach, you can observe the interesting spectacle of how frigate birds try to rob the prey of the different species of boobies.
AM: Today we will explore South Plaza Island, located east of Santa Cruz Island. On this life-filled island 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 extremely pleasurable experience and beautiful view from atop the steep banks or strolling along the base of the cliff. Opuntia cactuses grow on this island and the vegetation changes color throughout the year.
PM: After lunch, we will visit Santa Fe Island, a small rocky island covered in small Palo Santo trees and 6-meter-high opuntia cactuses. The island is inhabited mainly by large yellow land iguanas, the Galapagos buzzard, Blue-footed boobies and pelicans. While snorkeling in the wonderful blue-green bay where the ship anchors, you can observe the many inhabitants of the underwater world, including countless tropical fish, rays, sea turtles and playful sea lions.
AM: Today, on Santa Cruz Island, we will visit the El Chato tortoise reserve, founded in 1964, to observe the huge Galapagos turtles and white herons in their natural habitat. You will also be able to walk through underground lava tunnels formed by volcanic eruptions.
PM: In the afternoon, we will go to the highlands and see "the Twins" (twin craters), which your naturalist guide will explain. These craters are surrounded by scalesia forest, where also live Ruby tyrants and small and large Tree finches.
“We loved every moment of our trip and could not have done it without Ligia and Surtrek. I highly recommend them!”