The best way to see the Galapagos Islands is on board the luxury cruise Petrel. The newest ship in Galapagos, the Petrel offers a deluxe way to visit these magical islands. Named after a sea bird common to Galapagos, the Petrel is like its namesake: elegant, swift, and silent at sea. A motorized catamaran, the Petrel is designed for comfort and stability and is outfitted with spacious cabins, a comfortable lounge, and Jacuzzi.
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, medical care on board (not including the cost of medication), shared transfers in the islands and from main hotels in Quito and Guayaquil.
Please remember that the exact route and programme may vary according to weather and ocean conditions and the wildlife we 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 San Cristobal 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 Petrel where you will have lunch.
San Cristobal Island:
This is the fifth largest island in the Galapagos and lies farthest East. It is where Darwin first landed back in 1835 and where the first permanent settlements were founded. Today the main port Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of the Galapagos province and houses many government offices, the Ecuadorian Navy, and an airport with daily flights to the mainland of Ecuador. Conservation challenges the island faces include invasive plants like Blackberry and Guayaba and insects like the Blackfly.
Interpretation Ctr. / La Galapaguera:
The Interpretation Centre has been open to the public since 1998 and offers extensive information about the history of Galapagos, all ecosystems, geology, and flora and fauna. Giant Tortoises are also bred here and roam about in a semi-natural habitat created by the centres employees. Inside the centre there are meeting rooms, interpretational panels, auditoriums, exhibits, and much more.
AM:Española Island/Gardner Bay/Osborn Islet/Gardner Islet:
Here lies the southernmost island in the Galapagos, as well as the oldest. It is estimated to be about four million years old. Because it is so far away from the other islands it has the most endemic species. It is a wonderful opportunity for some great photography of endemic bird species that are found only on Española and awesome landscapes created by millions of years of erosion.
You will visit one of the best beaches in the Galapagos. Gardner Bay is a white sandy beach home to a large colony of friendly and playful Sea Lions. Three different types of Finches can be seen. The Española Mockingbird is very friendly, but probably looking for food. At one point in time, tourists must have given it water or food, which taught them bad habits. The site is also where Green Sea Turtles will come to nest their eggs between January and March.
PM: Suarez Point:
This is a phenomenal site where you will get to see many of Española Island’s endemic species. The trail will pass by the only Waved Albatross breeding site. If you are lucky you might see a young Albatross take off for its first flight for up to five years at sea. Older birds stay at sea for months at a time, only coming back to breed. They have the same mate for life and will meet each other each year, only here to reproduce. Other species that can be seen are Marine Iguanas that stay brightly coloured year-round, Galapagos Doves, Nazca Boobies, Blue-footed Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Red-billed tropic birds, and Darwin Finches.
This Island is one of the most interesting when it comes to human history. The first Galapagos resident was an Irishman who lived on Floreana from 1807 to 1809. It is the site of the first post office within the islands created by whalers in the 1700’s. Later it became the first island to be colonised by Ecuadorians, but to this day is still very isolated. Surrounded by mystery, in the 1930’s various disappearances occurred and is thought to be because of tension between a baroness and her three servants who arrived after an already settled husband and wife, who gave birth to the first to be born in Galapagos and another couple of a doctor and female companion who lived of the land from their garden. The small population of today lives off the land with home grown farms and gets their water from rain filled ponds during the rainy season. There is one hotel with the only phone in the port of Velasco Ibarra where most residents live, the rest live up in the highlands. Transportation is limited and is only available every two weeks.
Another fun and interesting visitor site. Two beaches can be visited and Flamingos can be seen wading through brackish lagoons looking for Shrimp, which gives them their bright and vibrant colours. One of the beaches look green because of olivine crystals and the other is appropriately called Flour Beach a powdery white, made from fine pulverised coral.
Devil’s Crown: Devil’s Crown is a visitor site that boasts the best snorkelling opportunities. Below the surface are amazing volcanic structures that have submerged over time. Hundreds of different colourful fish species can be found here among the coral reefs. Sharks, Rays, Sea Turtles, Hammer-head Sharks and Sea Lions are also common visitors. It is an underwater spectacle that cannot be missed.
Post Office Bay:
A completely human influential site, Post Office Bay is the first official post office created by passing whalers in the 1700’s. To this day visitors continue the tradition as many leave addressed messages on post cards in the barrel to be sent by future visitors while picking up post cards left behind by previous visitors to send when they return home. It is a fun exchangeable activity many visitors enjoy.
Baroness Lookout Point:
On the northern part of the island, Baroness Lookout Point has a beautiful landscape and historic view. It was named after the supposed Austrian Baroness that was the subject of many mysterious disappearances and well-known stories of loathing by those on Floreana.
AM: Charles Darwin Research Station:
The station conducts many different research projects and provides assistance to other researchers and governmental institutions and agencies, especially the Galapagos National Park. Many of the results are later published online, in magazines, and popular scientific journals. The research station also plays a big part in educating the community and public schools in Galapagos. There is also the long time running Giant Tortoise restoration program that includes various stages of the Giant Tortoise from eggs, hatchlings and adults.
The Highlands of Santa Cruz is a very interesting site due to the rich wildlife, hills, Ferns, volcanoes and lava tubes present. Exploring the lava tubes is a surreal and unique experience. Here you can see all the different agricultural zones that are present in the Galapagos in one place. The variety of birds makes this a bird watchers delight.
AM: Santiago Island/Sullivan Bay:
The second Island visited by Charles Darwin was originally named after England’s King James the second. The island was a good source of salt, water and food for whalers and buccaneers passing. There was a salt mine inland that was used to salt fish and tortoise meat. Land Iguanas used to populate the island but are now extinct. From Darwin’s own notes he wrote that Land Iguanas were thriving quite well since there was no place to even pitch a tent. Santiago Island today is now one of the most visited islands.
Sullivan Bay is a satellite island of Santiago. This is one of the best places to see the Galapagos Fur Seal. There is not much wildlife to see here, but the old lava formations are quite a site to see with tuff cones, pyroclastic cones, and other volcanic landscapes.
PM: Bartholomew Island/Pinnacle Rock:
Bartholomew is another satellite island that derives from Santiago Island. It is home of the famous Pinnacle Rock and is named after James Sullivan, a friend of Charles Darwin who was also aboard the HMS Beagle. Of all the islands, this is the most photographed and is also featured in the 2003 movie “Master and Commander”.
Pinnacle rock is a volcano cone formed by magma expelled by an underwater volcano. The sea cooled the hot lava and as it exploded from contact, the pieces formed together this huge rock of many, many layers of basalt. The huge rock also has a beach where a small population of Green Sea Turtles will nest. Galapagos Penguins gather here and swimming can offer beautiful sights of colourful schools of fish and curious Sea Lions.
AM: Genovesa Island:
This horseshoe shaped island was formed by the eruption of a shield volcano with large slopes formed by gradual lava flows. It is known as “Bird Island” due to the wide variety of birds that can be seen. The only reptile on the entire island is the Marine Iguana and it is one of the very few places Red-footed Boobies gather in one large mass.
PM: Darwin Bay/El Barranco: Darwin Bay is the result of the shield volcano where one of the sides of the caldera collapsed after years of erosion. It is one of the places in the Galapagos where Red-footed Boobies can be guaranteed to be seen. Over 200,000 Red-footed Boobies are estimated to be living in the trees and bushes of Genovesa.
El Barranc is better known as Prince Phillip’s Steps. Start your walk through a steep and rocky path that leads up to a cliff with a marvellous view. There is also a Palo Santa forest that is home to nesting Red-footed Boobies and other birds.
AM: Egas Port/Buccaneer Cove:
Egas port is also known as James Bay. It is home to quick footed Galapagos Lava Lizards, Galapagos Fur Seals along the grottoes and tide pools and is a great snorkelling site.
Buccaneer Cove is better known for excellent snorkelling opportunities and was once known as a refuge for British buccaneers or pirates. The underwater formations are amazing and many different species of fish gather here.
You will also visit Espumilla Beach where Marine Iguanas lounge and the Sally-light foot crabs attract the hunting herons and perform the dance of predator and prey right before your eyes. Snorkelling is highly recommended as you could find yourself face to face with an Octopus, Moray Eel, Shark, or a variety of other species of tropical fish.
AM: Carrion Point: There is no place to land here so either a panga ride or snorkelling will take place. It is a sheltered lagoon with beautiful turquoise water on the Northern coast of Santa Cruz at the entrance of the Itabaca Channel.
Transfer to Baltra Airport for your ongoing flight.