This journey includes visits to Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina and Santiago Galapagos Islands.
Contours Travel suggests a minimum stay of four nights to explore this area.
About the vessel:
M/Y Corals I and II offer passengers a comfortable and intimate base from which to explore the magnificent Galapagos Islands. Coral I accommodates 36 passengers and Coral II accommodates 20 passengers; all cabins have air conditioning and private facilities. Both vessels have ample sun decks, social areas, Jacuzzi and library for guest enjoyment. Corals cruise include full board, two daily guided excursions with optional activities such as snorkelling, kayaking, dinghy rides and daily diving tours for license-holding divers.
Very early this morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Galapagos.
Your Galapagos Cruise include: Accommodation in selected cabin, all meals, island sightseeing, naturalist guides and lecture services in English, snorkelling gear, shared transfers in the islands and from main hotels in Quito and Guayaquil.
Please remember that the exact route and program may vary according to weather and ocean conditions and the wildlife you will encounter.
There are two types of landings throughout your Galapagos tour:
Dry landing: guests step from the dinghy onto rocks or a dock.
Wet landing: as the dinghy edges onto a sandy beach, guests step into knee-deep water and wade ashore.
On arrival in Santa Cruz you will be picked up at the airport by your naturalist guides and taken on a ten-minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/V Corals I & II.
Highlands Tortoise Reserve (Santa Cruz Island)
Dry landing. In the mountains of Galapagos is possible to admire different kinds of birds, such as tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on the tortoises’ shell). The journey to the reserve offers great opportunities to see the contrasts that the island offers in reference to the variety of ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Often, Galapagos Giant Tortoises are also seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is a bird watchers’ haven since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here.
AM: Vicente Roca Point (Isabela Island)
Vicente Roca point is a high peak of land created out of remains of a tuff cone, with two protected turquoise coves on both sides. One of them, the Bolivar Channel is one of the richest marine ecosystems on Earth. This place is only accessible by water, with great opportunities for deep-water snorkelling. In this part of the Galapagos, the upwelling of cold water currents from the west, offer an abundant plankton supply for marine species like Red-lipped Batfish, Seahorses, Frogfish, Nudibranchs, Octopus, and the Mola-Mola or Sunfish. It is common to observe Dolphin pods, Sea Lions’ rafts, and Tuna banks. The dinghy ride along the coast will allow observing a great diversity of Seabirds like Noddies, Brown Pelicans, Galapagos Penguins, Flightless Cormorants, Nazca and Blue-footed boobies are often seen feeding all at once during the cold season (May – December). Whale watching is also common while navigating.
PM: Espinosa Point (Fernandina Island)
Dry landing. From Espinosa Point, is possible to admire a wide view of Isabela Island across the Bolivar Channel, an area that hosts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. Here, the largest most primitive-looking Marine Iguanas are found mingling with Sea Lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Fernandina island displays a wonderful opportunity to encounter Flightless Cormorants at their nesting sites. The Galapagos penguins and the “King” of predators on the islands, the Galapagos Hawk, can also be spotted. Pa-hoe-hoe and AA lava formations cover the majority of Fernandina terrain. Vegetation is scarce inland, except for a few Brachycereus Cacti. In the shore, mangrove can be found.
AM: Urbina Bay (Isabela Island)
Wet landing (high difficult level due to the tide). A volcanic black beach, depending on the season, it is possible to find giant tortoises, land iguanas, and the unusual flightless cormorant. After a short walk, inland it’s snorkelling time! A chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions, and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plants with different range of colours in flowers, attracting different insects, birds, and reptiles. One of the highlights in the island is the uplifted coral reef that resulted from the 1954 seismic activity; here the views of Alcedo Volcano are remarkable. When navigating from Urbina to Tagus Cove whale watching is usual in May – December.
PM: Tagus Cove (Isabela)
Dry landing. Isabela is the largest Island of the archipelago and is formed by the eruption of five different volcanoes. The trail leads to Darwin salt-water crater lake, a place with excellent lava fields, landscapes, and volcanic formations. This is a great site to see land birds such as the Galapagos hawks, ground and tree finches, large-billed flycatchers, and yellow warblers. The name Tagus Cove comes from the 1814 British ship arrival named The Tagus, which anchored searching for tortoises as food supply.
Centuries after, old graffiti art is found here. Visitors, whalers and even pirates used to draw them, until 1959, when the National Park was established. Many names of these early visitors are written on the cliffs along the shore. Later on, a dinghy ride along the shoreline permits admire a variety of seabirds such as blue-footed boobies, brown noddies, terns, flightless cormorants, and depending on the season, a large number of the Galapagos penguins which are among the smallest in the world (14 inches tall). They are the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the Equator. Finally, deep water snorkelling is optional.
AM: Salt Mines / Egas Port (Santiago Island)
Wet landing. On a black volcanic sandy beach, the remains of salt mines still can be seen. This is a historically important site; on 1683, the British buccaneer William Ambrose Cowley named the bay as James. Since then, this location became an anchor base to recollect water, Tortoises, and salt from the salt-lake that locates in a closer crater. Charles Darwin visited this place in 1835. The first part of the trail is comprised of volcanic ash (eroded tuff) and the other half is comprised of volcanic basaltic rock on the shoreline; creating the best tidal pool area in the Galapagos. Here, the fur Seals and Sally Light-foot Crab’s populations thrive. 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. Snorkelling in this place is a highlight; it is frequent to see Lobsters, Starfish, Octopuses, Squids, and Marine Iguanas on algae beds. Santiago is one of the few places where fur Seals, and Galapagos Sea Lions can be found.
PM: Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island)
Wet landing. This site located at the south-eastern portion of Santiago Island is of important geologic interest. It features extensive relative young pa-hoe-hoe lava flows formed during the last quarter of the 19th century. In the middle of the lava flow, older reddish-yellow-coloured tuff cones appear. Mollugo plants with their yellow-to-orange whorled leaves usually grow out of the fissures. Walking on the solidified lava gives the impression of been in another planet. Tree moulds are found, indicating that in that position large size plants grew in small crevices, until the lava flow of past eruptions burned down the flora of the island.
AM: Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz Island)
Wet landing. On the north side of Santa Cruz; behind the beach lies two small Flamingo ponds were Iguanas sunbathe, see coastal birds, Darwin Finches, Mockingbirds, and Gulls, as well as interesting native vegetation like red and black mangrove, salt bushes. This beach is one of the main Sea Turtles nesting sites in the Galapagos. A Turtle can lay eggs 3 or 4 times per season with an average of 70 eggs each time. At this paradisiacal site, you will also find the remains of barges that sank a long time ago, when the United States Navy operated a base during World War II on Baltra Island. Local people modified the word barges to “Bachas”.
Afterwards you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight back to the mainland.