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The Coral I & II are modern motor-yachts with a capacity of 36 and 20 guests respectively. There is also a Jacuzzi at the stern, and a largxe sun deck on the top with barbecue.
Itinerary 7 nights
Departure from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra (aprox.2 and half hours flight). Passengers are picked up at the airport by our naturalist guides and taken on a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/Y Coral I or M/Y Coral II.
PM - Fausto Llerena Breeding Center - Charles Darwin Station (Santa Cruz Island)
Dry landing. We visit the Station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place as part of our efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment and where the famous Lonesome George (the last surviving specimen of his species) lived for decades. The program is conducted by GNP staff with the collaboration of scientists from the CDRS. Eggs are brought from the Galapagos Islands of Pinzon, Santiago and Santa Cruz to the station. The eggs are incubated artificially; the “galapaguitos” (little Galapagos) are born and reared until the age of 5 years; they are released in their native areas when they are capable of surviving the effects of introduced predators (rats, pigs and dogs). Since 1970, more than 2000 “galapaguitos” have returned to the native areas. Moreover, admire a prickly-pear cactus forest and variety Darwin Finches and other land birds. In addition, the Darwin Station works in providing environmental education to communities, schools within the Islands and tourists who are visiting the Galapagos Islands. If there is enough time, you can visit the town and shop for souvenirs.
AM - Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz).
Dry landing. We walk by a brackish lagoon where feeding flamingoes can be occasionally found. The trail leads across typical dry zone vegetation* up to Dragon Hill, an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas*, offering lovely views of the anchorage and neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin’s finches, Yellow Warblers, and Galapagos Doves.
PM – Bartolomé
Dry or wet landing. We discover a fascinating moonscape* formed by different volcanic parasitic cones —lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones —as we hike to the summit for impressive views of the surrounding islands, including the eroded tuff cone Pinnacle Rock*. We also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and blue-footed boobies*.
Beach time is a great opportunity to snorkel and see (perhaps swim with) Galapagos Penguins, sea turtles and White-tipped Reef Sharks among a great variety of colorful fish. For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best of snorkeling experiences*; the water here is generally clear, without too much surf and full of marine life.
Due to its geographical location, the lack of vegetation is immediately noticeable. Pioneer plants are observed, so called because they are the first to establish roots on new ground. They include Tiquilia nesiotica (which is endemic to the island) and Chamaesyce (known as sand mat or spurge in English), lava cactus, and Scalesia bushes. Behind the beach, we have dunes covered by mangroves.
AM - Rábida.
Wet landing. Dark-red sand covers these unique beaches with the incredible landscape; Rábida is considered the epicenter of the Galapagos Islands due to the diversity of its volcanic geology. Nesting Brown Pelicans are found from July through September and nine species of the famous Darwin’s finches can be seen. We will also take a dinghy ride along cliffs to observe nesting seabirds, and snorkel off the coast, where marine life is particularly active.
PM - Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz).
Wet landing on the north side of Santa Cruz; behind the beach lie two small flamingo ponds with iguanas, coastal birds, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and gulls, as well as interesting native and endemic vegetation, red and black mangroves, salt bushes, and much more. 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 then spend 3 or 5 years without breeding.
At this paradisiacal site, we will also find the remains of barges that sank long ago, once the property of the United States Navy when they operated an airbase on Baltra Island during World War II. That is why the beach is called “Bachas” because the word “barges” in English was hard to pronounce for the local people.
AM - Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz).
On the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, accessible only by sea where four species of mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon, turtle enjoy swimming in the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface while fish, rays and small sharks circle below. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat, sea birds, including pelicans, herons and egrets, all feed in the cove. This cove has been declared as a “Turtle Sanctuary”.
PM - Eden Islet/ Ballena Bay (Santa Cruz Island).
Off the western coast of Santa Cruz, Eden Islet offers opportunities to see Nazca and Blue-footed boobies, Reef sharks, and Endemic Salemas, either from the dinghy or during snorkeling. Wet landing in “Ballena” (Whale) Bay, this is a beautiful green sand cove at the base of Dragon Hill on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. The beach contains a large amount of olivine crystals of volcanic origin. The crystals were formed when the magma was still underground. The content is magnesium, iron, and silica. Small populations of tortoises from Pinzón Island lived at the site but were probably taken by whalers or previous inhabitants. Opportunity to see marine iguanas and sea birds followed by snorkeling.
AM - Vicente Roca Point (Isabela Island).
This point is a promontory with two protected turquoise coves on either side of the remains of a tuff cone. One of them, the Bolivar Channel (one of the richest marine ecosystems on Earth), is accessible from the sea by water-filled subterranean passages, so it is a marine-only visitor site with really great opportunities for deep-water snorkeling. In this part of the Galapagos, the upwelling of cold water currents from the West, offer an abundant food supply for marine species that supports a wide variety of marine life like: Red-lipped batfish, Seahorses, Frogfish, Nudibranchs and Octopi; the Mola mola or Sunfish, have also been spotted close to the rock walls. It is common to observe groups of dolphins, Sea Lions, and tunas feeding here. The geological formations here are very impressive; a sheer cliff provides the perfect setting for a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds, to name a few, we have: the Noddies, Brown pelicans, Galapagos Penguins, and Flightless Cormorants. Marine birds such as Pelicans or Nazca and Blue-footed boobies are often seen feeding all at once in these waters. There are whale-watching opportunities during the cold season (May - December) while navigating from Vicente Roca Point to Espinosa Point.
PM - Espinosa Point (Fernandina Island).
Dry landing. Espinosa Point is the only spot that we visit on Fernandina, and from it, we can see the island of Isabela across the Bolívar Channel, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. The largest, most primitive-looking race of marine iguanas are found mingling with Sea Lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs; a wonderful opportunity to encounter Flightless Cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos Penguins and the “King” of predators on the Islands, the Galapagos Hawk.
“Pa-hoe-hoe” and “AA” lava formations cover the majority of the terrain. Vegetation is thus scarce inland, but we encounter Brachycereuscacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores.
AM - Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)
Wet landing on a volcanic black beach. Depending on the season, we may find Giant tortoises, Land iguanas, and the unusual Flightless Cormorant. After a short walk inland, snorkeling time is allotted, giving you yet another chance to swim with Sea turtles, Sea lions, and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season. We can observe the beautiful colors of plants that attract different insects, birds, and reptiles. We will explore the uplifted coral reef that resulted from 1954 volcanic activity, with a spectacular view of Alcedo Volcano. There are whale-watching opportunities during the cold season (May - December) while navigating from Urbina Bay to Tagus Cove.
PM - Tagus Cove (Isabela Island)
Dry landing on Galapagos’ largest Island where we will learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that formed it. The trail leads to Darwin salt-water Crater Lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations. This is a great site to see land birds such as Galapagos Hawks, Ground and Tree finches, Large-billed flycatchers and Yellow warblers.
We will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where we will admire a variety of Seabirds such as Blue-footed boobies, Brown Noddies, Terns, Flightless Cormorants and, depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos Penguins (which are about 35 cm tall).
Most of the Galapagos penguins live on this Western portion of Isabela, others are scattered further South on the Island; they are the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the Equator. Moreover, they lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, on the lower parts of the island near the shoreline so the ocean waves won’t reach them. Finally, we will have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water. Graffiti believed to have been left by19th-century pirates is a curious reminder of an intriguing past. Many names of the early visitors to this site, pirates, and whalers, are written on the cliffs along the shore.
AM - Salt Mines / Egas Port (Santiago Island)
Wet landing on a beach of black volcanic sand, visited by Darwin in 1835. Salt Mines visitor site has an important history, on 1683; William Ambrose Cowley visited this place and named the bay with the English name of James. British buccaneers anchored in this whole area during the 1600s since it was a good place to provide them with water, tortoises, and salt from the salt-lake that locates down into the crater. The first part of Egas Port trail is comprised of volcanic ash (eroded tuff) and the other half is partially uneven terrain, comprised of volcanic basaltic rock that lies on the shoreline and takes you to the best tidal pool areas in the Galapagos that are populated by Fur Seals and Sally Lightfoot crabs.
The unique, truly striking layered terrain of Santiago’s shores is home to a variety of resident and migrant birds including the Galapagos hawk and the bizarre Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Snorkeling in this place is a highlight, astounding array of marine wildlife, including Lobsters, Starfish, and Marine iguanas graze on algae beds alongside Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Snorkeling also offers rarities such as Octopus or Squid. At this visitor site, you can observe the two species of sea lions: Fur “seals” and Galapagos Sea Lions. You can watch colonies of Endemic Fur Seals swimming in cool water pools formed by volcanic rocks.
PM - Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island)
Wet landing. This visitor site located at the Southeastern portion of Santiago Island is of important geologic interest, features extensive Pahoehoe lava flows is believed to have been formed during the last quarter of the 19th century. In the inland section of the trail and in the middle of the lava flow, older reddish-yellow-colored tuff cones appear. In this place, Mollugo plants and their yellow-to-orange whorled leaves which usually grow out of the fissures. Walking on the lava is breathtaking, this flow is geologically very young, the magma formed is flat but the movement of underground lava, the rapid cooling, and other eruptions make it look like it just solidified.
AM - Highlands (Santa Cruz Island)
Dry landing. We will reach the Santa Cruz highlands and visit a private farm and natural tortoise reserve “El Chato” / “Primicias”, where Giant Tortoises are found in their natural habitat, as well as land birds such as Tree and Ground Finches, Vermillion Flycatchers, Paint-billed Crakes, Yellow Warblers and Cattle Egrets. The journey to the reserve offers great opportunities to see the contrasts that the island offers in reference to the variety of ecosystems, life, and geology. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense forests of the highlands that emerge from a light fog. Often, tortoises are also seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the agricultural zone. Land birds can also be observed along the excursion. This visit is actually of important interest for birdwatchers since they can observe almost every land bird present on the island.
After this early visit, you will be transfered straight to Baltra airport for your return flight to Guayaquil or Quito.
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