Galapagos Essence 5 days
Sample Program: 5 days / 4 nights
Day 1: San Cristobal (L/D)
On our first day of adventure, we will explore the island of San Cristobal. Upon arrival we will head to our hotel at Casa Opuntia, where we will have lunch and settle in.
After this, we will start our journey through the best of the Galapagos Islands. First we will visit the Galapagos Interpretation Center, where the natural and anthropological history of the Islands will be revealed to you. We will then visit Frigate Hill, home to many interesting marine birds like frigate birds, pelicans, boobies and many others. This beautiful lookout point will be our first encounter with the magnificent life of the Galapagos.
Before returning to the lodge, we will visit Carola Beach, where we can swim and relax before dinner.
Day 2: San Cristobal Coast (B,L,D)
Few marine reserves have as much life as the Galapagos – hundreds of marine species, playful sea lions, patrolling sharks, and depending the time of the year, whales – the gentle giants that visit the Islands to raise their offspring. They all congregate in just a few miles of marine waters. On the second day of our tour, we will do some snorkeling at some of the best places that the Galapagos have to offer.
Due to the Galapagos National Park conservation policies, snorkeling sites will vary depending on the day of the week they are visited, thus reducing the concentration of visitors at any one site and better preserving the fragile ecosystem. Visitor sites include Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), Cerro Brujo, or Punta Pitt, all of them great snorkeling sites filled with life, hundreds of tropical fish, rays, sea lions, and even hammerhead sharks might be spotted at these places. But life is not only underwater – we might see Nazca boobies, blue footed boobies, frigate birds and other marine birds looking for their prey.
After a full day of exploring the coast of San Cristobal, we will return to our lodge for a well deserved night's sleep.
Day 3: The magnificence of Isabela (B,L,D)
Isabela is one of the youngest islands of the Galapagos Archipelago. This hippocampus-shaped island is one of the most beautiful of the Galapagos. Formed by a series of active volcanoes, this island holds the archipelago’s best secrets. After settling in at Iguana Crossing Hotel, we will start our exploration of this beautiful island.
First, we will take a hike across some of the most amazing coastal ecosystems of the island, passing from surprisingly white sandy beaches to impressive green mangrove ecosystems to reach the Wall of Tears – a wall built by the prisoners of the penal colony that once inhabited the island, as an effort to distract them from their isolation.
In the afternoon, after lunch, we will head to Tintoreras, where the islets have formed channels, caves, and other formations that are a great habitat for marine species. We might be able to see some of the famous Galapagos penguins, and of course the white-tipped reef shark (which, in Spanish, is “tintorera”).
We will then return to our hotel for a delicious dinner.
Day 4: Santa Cruz (B,L,D)
Santa Cruz is the most populated island of the archipelago and has a unique charm that will captivate you. Early in the morning, we will travel in a shared speed boat to the island of Santa Cruz, and after settling into our hotel – the Angemeyer Waterfront Inn – we will start our adventure.
Our first stop will be the highlands of El Chato. This unique ecosystem consists of a cloud forest, which is a dramatic change in the ecosystem if you consider the dry forests and coastal beaches that you visited in the past days. Santa Cruz Highlands are home to several Galapagos species. During our visit, we will be able to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. After visiting these gentle giants, we will walk through some lava tunnels. Many historians point out that these lava tunnels that are found all over the island were the perfect place for pirates and buccaneers to hide their treasures. To end our morning exploration, we will visit the Gemelos Craters and the amazing scalesia forest that surrounds them.
In the afternoon, after a great lunch, we will have sometime to explore the town of Puerto Ayora.
Day 5: Santa Cruz, Baltra, & Depart (B)
After breakfast, we will visit the world-renowned Charles Darwin Research Station, where scientists from around the world carry on Charles Darwin’s legacy and do many research and conservation projects in an effort to preserve one of the most incredible natural places on earth. After visiting the Station, we will travel to Baltra Airport for our flight back to mainland Ecuador.
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