Discover noisy sealion colonies, Galapagos sharks, and a wealth of the archipelago's colourful birdlife on this one week trip in the Galapagos.
Taking in at least ten islands, this voyage starts at San Cristóbal with its frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies, after which you can cool off by swimming with green turtles, eagle rays and an array of colourful fish.
You will then visit the oldest island in the Galapagos - Española - where you’ll find fiery coloured iguanas and sea lions leisurely wandering around you, and Sally Lightfoot crabs coating the rocks.
Moving on to the southern island of Floreana, home to flamingos and green turtles, before sailing to Barrington Bay on Santa Fe, which is one of the most picturesque islets in the Galapagos with its white sand beach and turquoise water. Nearby you’ll find land iguanas and swallow-tailed gulls, both indigenous to the Galapagos, on South Plaza. Bartolomé Island offers some dramatic volcanic scenery, while a visit to Sombrero Chino provides fantastic snorkelling, with frequent sightings of white-tipped sharks, Galapagos penguins and sea lions.
A typical Southern Islands itinerary is shown below, on board Nemo II, however we offer a variety of other voyages, durations and vessels.
Arrive at Baltra airport and transfer to vessel
After settling into your cabins, you will land for an afternoon visit to Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz Island – a popular landing site for swimming, walking and looking for wildlife. The beach is a nesting site for green turtles, which leave tracks on the beach from November to February. Nearby there is a saltwater lagoon, where you may see great blue herons, sanderlings and semi-palmated plovers.
The Santa Cruz highlands are an excellent area for birdwatching, where you may see a few species of Darwin’s finches. A visit to private fincas ‘Las Primicias’ – a reserve offering you the best possibilities to see the giant Galapagos tortoise in its natural habitat. This afternoon, you visit the Charles Darwin Scientific Station in Puerto Ayora. Here, you can learn about the extensive turtle breeding programmes that operate on the island.
You take a trip to the beautiful white sand beaches of Cerro Brujo, once of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin, where you may spot blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, sea lions and marine iguanas. You’ll have a chance to swim with sea lions here – few creatures are as playful as these marine mammals.
Before lunch, you sail to Kicker Rock, where a great number of tropicbirds, frigates and boobies nest and rest on its walls. Afterwards, you can swim with Galapagos sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays, and enjoy the colourful tropical fish and invertebrates in the near crystal clear waters.
Later in the day, you visit Lobos Island - known for its large populations of sea lions and fur sea lions. There is a nesting ground for the great frigatebird and blue-footed boobies. A visit to a breeding centre will explain the natural history of the Galapagos Islands, taking a look at the series of volcanic eruptions and processes which led to the formation of this wildlife-rich location.
You will land at Punta Suárez, on the western tip of Española, a beautiful island, rich in wildlife. Sea lions leisurely wander around you, while fiery coloured marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, masked boobies and Sally Lightfoot crabs can be found on the surrounding the rocks. A long walk leads you to the home of the only tropical albatross of the earth, which shares its precipice with other seabirds such as the swallow-tailed gull and the Nazca booby.
Depending on weather conditions, either at the end of the morning or early in the afternoon, you can snorkel or kayak around Gardner Island.
Today, you will do a wet landing on the volcanic beach at Punta Cormorant, on the northern shore of Floreana. On one side, the point is partially flooded with a brackish lagoon where flamingos nest and feed. Whimbrels, herons and stilts are other common shore and migratory birds of the wetlands. On the other side sea turtles use every corner of a white sand beach to deliver their eggs. You can often see stingrays and reef sharks from the shore.
Mid-morning, enjoy a panga ride and snorkelling at Champion Islet. This small piece of land is one of two places where the Floreana mockingbird survives after its extinction on the big island. The snorkelling around the island is extraordinary, with lots of fish, rays, sharks and the playfulness of the Galapagos sea lions.
Santa Fe & South Plaza Islands
Barrington Bay, on Santa Fe Island, is one of the most picturesque inlets of the Galapagos, with its white sand and calm turquoise waters – perfect conditions for a large sealion colony. Santa Fe is an ancient extinct volcano and it has been isolated from other island long enough to have an endemic land dragon. Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds and finches can also be found here.
A two hour navigation north takes you to South Plaza, where you will find land iguanas wandering through bright red carpet weed, feeding on the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. The sheer cliffs of the southern shore are a perfect bird habitat, making it an unparalleled bird observatory for swallow-tailed gulls, Audubon shearwaters, and red-billed tropicbirds. If there is enough time and good weather you can swim or snorkel in Punta Carrion.
Sombrero Chino & Bartolomé Islands
Today, you visit Sombrero Chino (Chinese hat - named after the island’s shape), which is located off the southeast tip of Santiago. Although a centrally located island, it is one of the least visited due to National Park visitor restrictions. Here you will land on a stunning white sandy beach, before exploring the volcanic origins of the island on foot. Snorkelling excursions provide sightings of white-tipped sharks, Galapagos penguins and sea lions.
Bartolome Island offers an explosive volcanic landscape, and you can climb around 80 metres to admire the dramatic view of Pinnacle Rock. Between December and March green turtles nest on the beaches here.
Santa Cruz and disembark
This morning, you travel to Caleta Tortuga, also known as Black Turtle Cove, by panga (dinghy). Located on the north side of Santa Cruz, there is a mangrove swamp where you can see nesting marine turtles during certain months, as well as rays, sharks and pelicans. You will return to the vessel following the morning excursion, before disembarking at Baltra shortly afterwards.
You should note: Exact itinerary and duration will depend on your chosen vessel, departure date and local conditions.