Day 1 - Arrive Guayaquil, Ecuador
Arrive in Guayaquil, where you are met and transferred to your
Day 2 - The Galápagos
This morning, fly to Baltra in the remote Galápagos Islands,
a haven for the diversity of wildlife that first led naturalist
Charles Darwin to propose that species evolved in response
to their environment. You are met by your naturalist guide
and escorted to ‘La Pinta,’ your home for a six-night cruise
through the Galápagos’ western islands, a route that offers
a higher number of endemic species than other island groupings. Attend an introductory briefing followed by
lunch, and then get underway cruising to North Seymour
Island, where you disembark on your first shore excursion.
Walk along the coast and the interior of this beautiful flat
island, observing numerous bird colonies as well as sea lions
and land iguanas. You may also opt to explore just offshore
by dinghy. This evening, return to ‘La Pinta’ for a welcome
cocktail and dinner. Each evening, your time is your own:
Attend a lecture presented by one of your affable guides,
who recaps the day and gives a sneak peek at tomorrow’s
itinerary; explore the mysteries of the night sky with a
fascinating astronomy lecture on deck; peruse the ship’s
library for further insight into a species you encountered;
or gather in the lounge to cap off a day of extraordinary
discoveries. Drift asleep in your air-conditioned cabin to the
rise and fall of gentle ocean swells.
Day 4 - The Galápagos
Today, begin at Isabela Island (Punta Vicente Roca). Since
there is no landing site at this location, explore the coast
by skiff while your naturalist guide explains the dramatic
geology of the area, such as the remains of lava flows and
tuff rock layers. Watch for the island’s abundant wildlife and
snorkel along the cliffs, possibly in the company of green sea
turtles. This afternoon, visit the youngest and most pristine
island of the archipelago, Fernandina (Punta Espinoza) to go
ashore and view the amazing combination of barrenness and
abundant wildlife. Watch for hawks, penguins and flightless
cormorants as you take in the astounding views of the
surrounding volcanic landscapes. The next day, disembark
at Urbina Bay, on the western side of Isabela Island, to view
corals, shells and large, colorful Galápagos land iguanas. You may also sight giant tortoises further inland. Cruise up
to secluded Tagus Cove on the northwest coast of Isabela
Island, once a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers.
Go ashore for a hike to saltwater-filled Darwin Crater. You
may also snorkel or kayak if you wish before taking the hike.
Return to the ship for dinner.
Day 6 - The Galápagos
Disembark at Rábida Island’s red-colored beach to observe
marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several
species of Darwin’s finches. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach. Non-snorkelers may opt to explore via glass-bottom
boat. Proceed to the north shore of Santa Cruz Island
to view the fascinating landscapes of Cerro Dragón (Dragon
Hill). Circle a lagoon frequented by sea birds, such as red-footed
boobies, and trek inland for the chance to observe
land iguanas. The next day, continue your explorations on
Santa Cruz with a visit to Puerto Ayora and the Charles
Darwin Research Station. Get up close to the giant tortoises
living on site in an expansive prickly pear cactus forest.
Learn from station staff about their latest conservation
efforts, and then head to the highlands for lunch. Afterward, view the exuberant highland vegetation where giant tortoises
roam in the wild, perhaps spotting one of the iconic,
lumbering reptiles yourself.
Day 7 - The Galápagos
After breakfast, ride by panga (small boat) along the maze of
channels on the north shore of Floreana Island, continuing
to Baroness Cove with its breathtaking views. Then, land
at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has been
serving as a post office in the archipelago for over two
centuries. Return to the ship to proceed to Punta Cormorant.
Before disembarking, snorkel or ride by glass-bottom boat,
viewing life beneath the waves. Cruise along the coast of an
extinct volcanic cone called Champion Islet. This afternoon,
go ashore at Punta Cormorant for an easy walk beside a
brackish water lagoon where greater flamingos may be
observed. Venture to the other side of the island to find a
white-sand beach where sea turtles come to nest at night.
Day 9 - Depart Guayaquil
Disembark in Baltra and fly back to Guayaquil. Enjoy time
to relax before gathering for a farewell dinner at your hotel’s
restaurant. The next morning, transfer to the airport to board
your flight home.