Dutch-built as a private luxury yacht, the Samba was carefully converted into a cruise boat specializing in Galapagos Islands cruises. The 78 feet (23.77 meter) motor sailor accommodates 14 guests, a perfect number for enjoying the magic of the Galapagos Islands with privacy and flexibility. Spend 8-days and 7-nights cruising the crystal clear waters of the Galapagos Islands on an adventure that you’ll never forget. On board the 14-passenger tourist-class Samba motor sailor, its itinerary “A” will take you almost full circle around the Galapagos archipelago, visiting central, southern western and northern islands. On the beaches, during this Galapagos tour, you will be inspired by the richness of the fascinating wildlife that catalyzed Darwin’s spectacular breakthrough in human understanding of biology. Around “Black Beach,” for example, you are likely to come across well-adapted Marine iguanas diving for algae growing on the lava beds below the serene, calm, blue waters.
“We loved every moment of our trip and could not have done it without Ligia and Surtrek. I highly recommend them!”
AM: In the morning, you will fly from Quito or Guayaquil (on the Ecuadorian mainland) to Baltra Island, in the heart of the 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 your ship's crew will then welcome and accompany you to your yacht: the M/Y Samba.
PM: This afternoon we will arrive on the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island, where we will visit the long and sandy Bachas Beach, one of the most important nesting beaches for sea turtles. Here you can also find flamingos, Black-winged stilts, sea lions, herons, marine iguanas, and — with a little bit of luck — tiny Galapagos penguins. In addition, this beach is one of the main nesting sites of sea turtles in the Galapagos. A female can lay eggs 3 or 4 times with an average of 70 eggs each, but they then spend 3 to 5 years without breeding. At this paradisiacal site, we will also find the remains of barges that sank long ago; these were once property of the United States Navy when they operated an airbase on Baltra Island during World War II. In fact, the beach got its name because the English word “barges” was hard to pronounce for the local people – hence “Bachas” Beach. You will also have the opportunity to swim on this soft white sand beach or explore the fascinating underwater by snorkeling.
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 can see Red-footed boobies. After a wet landing in Genovesa Island’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 different species of boobies. Later, we will visit a crater wall where Prince Phillip’s Steps are located. These stairs were carved in the stone wall and lead up to a wide plateau where you will find nesting places of Great frigate birds, Red-billed tropic birds, Bahama ducks, Lava seagulls and Fork-tailed seagulls. During this easy stroll, we will cut through a small scalesia forest where you might observe short-eared owls. With a little bit of luck, you will also be able to observe the unique courtship rituals carried out by the various booby species (Red- and Blue-footed as well as Masked boobies). It truly is a show.
PM: This afternoon we are off to the El Barranco cliffs. Located on Genovesa Island, along the southern part of Darwin Bay, a one mile (1.5 km) trail stretches out over volcanic rock that leads to this cliff (this hike 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. Two other species of petrels that can be seen here are the Galapagos petrel and the Wooden petrel. Red-footed boobies and Nazca boobies can be seen here as well as fur seals and several species of seabirds.
AM: Named after Fray Antonio Marchena, Marchena Island has an area of 50 square miles (130 sq. km.) and a maximum altitude of 343 meters. There aren’t any visitor sites on this island, although it is possible to take dives in the waters around the island on organized tours. Most visitors only see this island if they sail around the northern part of Isabela Island. Marchena Island’s volcano, like many Galapagos volcanoes, has a caldera that is a crater-like formation created when the volcano collapsed and the “ceiling” sank into the volcano. On Marchena, today we will visit Punta Mejía, one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos. The calm, clear, blue of the water on the northwestern coast, and the dark unyielding topography of the site, give one the impression of being witness to the formation of our planet and its underwater world. There is a vast variety of fish here, and you will have the chance to see rays, sea turtles and Whitetip reef sharks.
PM: Black beach is one of the most unique locations to visit in the Galapagos Islands. Its name came from the black eroded basaltic sand which derived from the Galapagos basaltic shield of volcanoes. Around Black Beach you may see Bottle-Nosed dolphins playfully splashing about and it may be possible to see Marine iguanas diving for algae growing on the lava beds below the serene, calm, blue waters. Marchena Island is also very mysterious. As legend holds two bodies washed up many years ago and were naturally mummified on the island and to this day nobody knows how they came to their untimely fate!
AM: This morning we will explore Isabela Island, first visiting Albemarle Point, which is Isabela Island’s former name. This site is comprised of two areas. The first is a mangrove area between Pahohoe lava flows, solidified lava in a wavy or accordion shape which forms creeks and channels. This site is ideal for traveling by zodiac. The second point of access is the former radar base near the beach used by Americans troops during World War II. The marine iguanas here are the largest in the archipelago. You will also find flightless cormorants, sea birds and many marine species.
PM: Located at the “mouth” of the head of the sea horse that forms the northern part of Isabela Island is Punta Vicente Roca, an interesting rock formation. Here, the remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves, with a bay that’s well-protected from the ocean swells. With a bit of luck you can see Galapagos penguins, while Masked- and Blue-footed boobies, as well as pelicans, sit perched along the point and its sheer cliffs, while flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline. The upwelling of currents of cool water in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life, which makes Punta Vicente Roca a great area for deep-water snorkeling.
AM: Fernandina Island is not only the westernmost island, but also the youngest and most pristine island in the Galapagos. Huge fields of lava were created here by the La Cumbre Volcano’s 2005 eruption, which was followed on April 11, 2009 when the volcano flared up again, forming a cloud of ash and steam as hot lava flowed down the slopes of the volcano into the ocean. Nonetheless, an abundance of wildlife call this island home, including the famous Flightless cormorants, penguins, pelicans, marine iguanas and sea lions. You can also find mangroves on Fernandina Island, in addition to a great diversity of wildlife – such as orcas and whale sharks (which can sometimes be seen while snorkeling and when they surface). Today we will make a dry landing on Espinoza Point, one of Fernandina Island’s visitor points. It is filled with fascinating scenery, such as cactuses growing on the surface of lava. One gets a sense of how life fought to begin when seeing these plants emerging from crevices in this barren landscape. Within this unique scenery you will encounter numerous animals – the highlights being sea lions, Galapagos penguins, Flightless cormorants (especially in the spring and summer), and one of the largest iguana colonies in the Galapagos Islands. In fact, on this small strip of land that constitutes Espinoza Point, you can find literally thousands of marine iguanas, which gather in large groups.
PM: After lunch, we will travel to Isabela Island for a wet landing in Urbina Bay. Coral reefs are visible here as a result of an especially violent eruption of the Alcedo Volcano in 1954, when large sections of Isabela Island’s coast were suddenly raised about four meters. These reefs are now covered with poison apple and muyuyo trees. You can also observe land iguanas and the rare Mangrove finch up close here. From January to June, land turtles occasionally visit the bay, descending from their higher mountain living environments. After a short walk inland, we will have some time for snorkeling, giving you yet another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and countless tropical fish.
AM: This afternoon we will head to the mangrove area of Elizabeth Bay and visit the small islands offshore. You are likely to see dwarf penguins as well as schools of manta rays, turtles and other giants of the ocean – possibly even surfacing whale sharks. The mangrove woods are also home to various species of seabirds and herons.
PM: In the afternoon we will explore Moreno Point, a young volcanic landscape with numerous fresh-water pools and lagoons. You will be able to see flamingos, Bahama ducks and other birds here.
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 Jose Flores, Ecuador’s first president. On Floreana, we will visit the Asilo de la Paz, which is hillside and the cave where the pioneering Wittmer family first settled. In fact, the first person born in the Galapagos Islands was Rolf Wittmer. Your guide will tell you more all about this family and the island’s history of tragedies, colonization and fascinating events. From there, we will visit a fresh-water source and a deserted pirate cave. You will also be able to enjoy the fantastic view of the island from this 450-meter-high hill.
PM: In the afternoon we will land on a small white beach called La Loberia. This site has a 900-meter-long path that goes through the Galapagos National Park. The main attraction of this site is the presence of Galapagos Sea Lions on the beach and in the bay of the Lobería. You can also see Marine iguanas along the shores and numbers of sea turtles.
AM: We will then visit the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island, where the lush landscape is a welcome contrast to the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands. On the way, we will cross through different vegetation zones – from the dry lower region full of cactuses, to the scalesia woods in the Highlands. There one can find two small agricultural communities that grow the famous organic Galapagos coffee. While in the Highlands, depending on the weather, you may have the option of visiting one of two tortoise breeding centers: El Chato or Rancho Las Primicias. At either site, approaching these enormous and slow-moving reptiles is always an inspiring adventure. The El Chato tortoise reserve was founded in 1964 to allow visitors observe the island’s huge Galapagos turtles and White herons in their natural habitat. You will also be able to walk through nearby underground lava tunnels formed during volcanic eruptions. As the outside of the lava hardened, the inside continued to flow to the ocean, creating these tunnels. Alternatively, Rancho Primicias is a great place to see about ten to fifteen Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild. In addition to being able to view the ocean from this location in the Highlands, you can walk through a lava cave that was formed by a volcanic eruption.
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.
“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.”