Pink flamingos, red-throated frigates and blue-footed boobies will have you craning your neck, snapping photos and contemplating a career in ornithology.. Snorkel through the underwater wonderland of Devil’s Crown, the formerly volcanic crater that is now home to turtles, rays and sharks.. Have an up-close encounter with the lumbering gentle giant that is the Galapagos tortoise, both captive and in the wild.. This 6-day tour is a short and sweet introduction to the famed archipelago, the perfect addition to any South American adventure.
Welcome to the Galapagos Islands, guaranteed to fill even the most well-travelled adventurers with a sense of awe and wonder. Be enchanted by pink flamingos in the lagoons of Isla Floreana, sunbathe with sea lions along Gardner Beach, hike along the spectacular green shoreline of Punta Cormorant and snorkel, well, everywhere. This active 6-day tour is a short and sweet introduction to the famed archipelago, the perfect addition to any South American adventure.
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 3
The adventure gets under way in Quito, Ecuador’s sprawling but refined capital city. A welcome meeting will be held this evening at either 5 pm or 6 pm, but aside from that you are free to check out the city on your own today. If you arrive with time to spare, perhaps head to Quito’s Old Town and pick one (or more) of the 30 churches to explore.
Isla Baltra/Santa Cruz Highlands
Rise and shine! An early start is necessary this morning to make it to the Galapagos with time to play today. This could mean leaving as early as 4.30 am, and an Intrepid representative will confirm the exact departure time during the welcome meeting on day 1. Transfer to Mariscal Sucre International Airport (aka Quito Airport), enjoying a boxed breakfast en route. On arrival in the Galapagos, collect your luggage and meet your naturalist guide in the arrival hall. The action starts straight away with a journey into the highlands of Isla Santa Cruz, into the misty forests filled with unique scalesia. If you’re lucky, this could be your first sighting of giant tortoises in the wild, different species of Darwin finches and the world-famous woodpecker and warbler finches. Enjoy lunch in the highlands, then travel to Puerto Ayora and transfer to your boat – Le Grande Daphne. Settle into your assigned cabin, meet the crew and listen to a safety briefing. With the formalities out of the way, maybe head up to the deck with some of your fellow travellers and get to know each other over a drink or two.
Discover the quirky maritime history of Post Office Bay, home of the oldest postal system in the Americas. There’s a post box here that was first built by 18th-century whalers and is still in use today. Perhaps leave a letter to be collected by another traveller, or have a look for one that you can deliver. Snorkelling and a Zodiac ride are also included in this outing. Afterwards, head ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystal, a glassy volcanic mineral that gives the beach an olive-green colour. Sea lions can usually be seen lounging and socialising along the shore. Explore a little more of the island on a 1-kilometre walk, passing waterbird-filled lagoons and finishing at an Eastern Pacific green turtle nesting site. Later you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel in famous Devil’s Crown. This eroded volcanic cone is a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices. Those who snorkel here might see rays, sharks, sea lions and turtles.
Sail overnight to Isla Espanola.
Estimated travel time/distance:
Puerto Ayora to Isla Floreana: 4 hours (32 nautical miles)
Punta Comorant (Isla Floreana) to Punta Suarez: 6.5 hours (52 nautical miles)
Land at Punta Suarez on Isla Espanola, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos, home to a large and varied wildlife population. A hike along rocky trails (approximately 3 km) takes you to a clifftop viewpoint that affords magical panoramas. Boobies line the rocky shoreline below, while frigate birds can be seen overhead. Enormous male sea lions lounge nearby, and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, getting airborne on the southeast winds. If you’re lucky you might spot the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate. Next, head to Bahia Gardner, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos Islands. It’s full of sea lions and hood mockingbirds. Enjoy a short walk (approximately 1 km) along the beach, then snorkel up and explore off shore. Reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish (such as surgeon and angelfish) make their home along the islands shore. Small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks.
Estimated travel time/distance:
Punta Suarez to Bahia Gardener: 45 minutes (5 nautical miles)
Bahia Gardener to Leon Dormido: 5 hours (8 nautical miles)
Isla San Cristobal
Rise and shine! A very early start is necessary in order to make the most of this morning in the Galapagos. Head to Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), the magnificent basalt remains of a crater in the middle of the sea. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. Cruise through the channel as nesting seabirds flank the boat, tropicbirds soar overhead, marine iguanas swim about and sea lions lounge on the water. Climb into the Zodiac for the snorkelling adventure of a lifetime, giving you the chance to see Galapagos sharks, sea turtles and an incredible biodiversity of invertebrates in the crater. You might even spot a hammerhead shark. Head to the airport on Isla San Cristobal for your flight back to Quito. The flight will stop in Guayaquil to drop off and/or pick up passengers en route. Arrive at Quito Airport at approximately 4 pm and take a transfer to your hotel. An Intrepid local representative may stop by your hotel this evening to get some feedback on your Galapagos experience.
Buenos dias! There are no activities planned for today after breakfast. If you plan to stay on in Quito, why not join a local guide for an Urban Adventure? Discover the city’s stories through the streets, the markets or the bakeries. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Quito-tours.