- Duration 9 days
- Difficulty 3/5
- Group Size 14
14 December – 22 December, 2018
The Galapagos archipelago, on everyone’s bucket list, is one of the planet’s last wild and incredible places. We have chartered the S/S Mary Anne, one of the best boats operating in the national park. On this itinerary we will visit Fernandina Island, considered one of the most pristine islands any where in the world. We will walk on bare lava and come face to face with blue-footed boobies and displaying frigate birds. We will wander the highlands for giant tortoises, be amazed by hundreds of unique marine iguanas basking at our feet and get up close and personal with the endemic flightless cormorants. We will swim with penguins and sharks, interact with curious sea lions, snorkel alongside green sea turtles and be surrounded by yellow tailed surgeonfish. To the islands that inspired Charles Darwin, we have customized this family charter to offer a fun and educational trip of a lifetime.
USD $7,350.00 Per person sharing a cabin
Arrival: José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Departure: José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Arrival Time: 14th December, 2018
- Hotel in Guayaquil the night prior to departure to Galapagos.
- Airport transfers.
- 7 nights accommodation aboard the S/S Mary Anne.
- All meals, drinking water, tea and coffee aboard the vessel.
- Naturalist guide plus two Pete Oxford Expeditions trip leaders.
- All activities, including INGALA fee and loan of snorkel gear.
- Tips to guide and crew.
- International airfare to and from Guayaquil.
- Domestic airfare between Guayaquil and Galapagos return. **Please note: For the domestic airfare Guayaquil-Galapagos-Guayaquil we will have a group block booking. DO NOT BOOK YOUR OWN FLIGHTS.
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee, international or domestic departure taxes and passport expenses.
- Items of a personal nature including laundry, postage, shipboard bar, personal shopping and internet.
- Hire of wetsuits while on board.
- Additional hotel nights not mentioned in the itinerary.
Day 1, December 14th: Guayaquil
After arriving at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil we will transfer to the hotel for the night. Dinner is on your own.
A Day 2, December 15th am: Baltra Island, Santa Cruz Island Highlands
After breakfast in our hotel, we fly to Baltra Island, the gateway to the Galapagos. On arrival, we immediately transfer to the dock to board the S/S Mary Anne to settle in and for our introductory briefing. Our first activity begins after lunch as we travel across the island of Santa Cruz towards Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Station. We will be making a stop along the way to find wild tortoises where we will come face to face with these 600lb (270kg) prehistoric giants in the lush highlands, a remarkable first encounter! Beginning tonight and until the morning of day 8, we eat and overnight aboard our vessel, the S/S Mary Anne.
B Day 2, December 15th pm: Santa Cruz Island, Charles Darwin Station
From the archipelago’s largest town of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, we visit the world-renowned Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about the history and science of the islands. Finches are easily photographed in this area as we explore the station. Returning through town, we have a chance to shop for souvenirs or continue photographing the juxtaposition of the abundant wildlife in the urban environment.
C Day 3, December 16th am: Floreana Island: Punta Cormorant
At Punta Cormorant, on Floreana Island, we land on a beach where the sand has a greenish tinge caused by large amounts of a volcanic mineral called olivine. Here, sea lions, wading birds and Darwin’s finches all greet us on arrival. We walk through mangroves and unique vegetation, some of which grows nowhere else in the world, to arrive at a saltwater lagoon where startlingly pink flamingos nest and feed.
D Day 3, December 16th late am: Off Floreana Island: Devil’s Crown
A short repositioning of the S/S Mary Anne and some exhilarating snorkeling off the Devil’s Crown, a sunken cinder cone, is our next highlight. The coral reef in the center is perfect for attracting large schools of fish. Turtles, rays and, with luck, even some hammerhead sharks could be swimming below us on the outside of the crater.
E Day 3, December 16th pm: Floreana Island: Post Office Bay
In the afternoon, at the historic Post Office Barrel, we can send a few postcards home and, in so doing, maintain a centuries old tradition. In 1793, British navigators placed a large wooden barrel here, to leave messages and mail to be carried by homebound colleagues. The tradition has continued until the present day, with the barrel being replaced over time. Visiting yachts have added their calling cards, too.
F Day 4, December 17th am: Floreana Island: Black Beach
Landing at Black Beach on Floreana we learn about the most renowned human history to come out of the islands: the story of Margaret Witmer, the Baroness, the Ritters, lover affairs and murder. Floreana was the first island in the Archipelago to be inhabited, as it has one of the very few fresh water sources. We visit the highland areas of this inhabited island looking for the Floreana-endemic medium tree finch.
G Day 4, December 17th pm: Navigation & Whale Watching
In the afternoon, we will navigate into the rich waters of the western islands. On the way, we have a very high chance of spotting whales and dolphins. With plenty of deck space on the back of our yacht, we can spend the entire time outside birding and looking for marine mammals in comfort.
H Day 5, December 18th am: Isabela Island: Punta Moreno
We now venture into the ‘wilder’ side of the Galapagos for three days, where penguins, cormorants and marine iguanas flourish! Against an austere backdrop, we will explore the region in all its majesty. After anchoring at Punta Morena off Isabela Island, we will hike on superb pahoehoe lava flows in search of endemic plants and a brackish lagoon which is home to flamingos and pintail ducks, all the while with the backdrop of basaltic volcanoes.
I Day 5, December 18th pm: Isabela Island: Elizabeth Bay
Following the coast of western Isabela Island, we will depart the S/S Mary Anne in our pangas (inflatable motor boats) to explore the more hidden regions of a mangrove labyrinth. We will see Galapagos shearwaters, brown noddy terns, blue-footed boobies, Galapagos penguins and the more uncommon flightless cormorants. The quiet waters in the bay are a refuge for young sea lions, turtles and baby sharks. This is also one of the best places to see and photograph golden rays.
j Day 6, December 19th: Isabela Island: Urbina Bay
We will begin today with a wet landing onto a black volcanic sand beach of this geologically uplifted area. On a relatively short hike we can usually observe another species of giant tortoise. We will also search for large, yellow, land iguanas and more of the finch species that inspired Charles Darwin. After our walk we will go for a snorkel in the hopes of being accompanied by a few Galapagos penguins.
K Day 6, December 19th: Fernandina Island: Punta Espinosa
On Fernandina, the world’s largest, most pristine island, we land directly into the heart of Darwin’s ‘Imps of Darkness’, the marine iguana ‘capital’ of the world. As we sit or walk the shoreline, the world’s only true marine lizard will be strewn at our feet in dense congregations. We will watch the endemic flightless cormorants in hopes of observing their courtship ritual all the while being entertained by jovial sea lions. Turning inland, we face a dramatic, and inhospitable vista of lava and pioneer vegetation of the archipelago’s youngest island. Snorkeling in this area ranks as our favorite as we will swim with turtles, myriad fish species and look for Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants and marine iguanas feeding underwater.
L Day 7, December 20th am: Isabela Island: Tagus Cove
At Tagus Cove, a hike takes us to an overview of a flooded crater, Darwin’s Lake, and onward through a stunning volcanic landscape for a true understanding of how the hot lava of the Earth’s core has molded the Galapagos Islands – geologist heaven! Tagus Cove is also an historic hideaway from which pirates would ransack the whaling fleets hunting in the area. Even today, graffiti dating back as far as 1836, one year after Darwin’s visit, can be found carved in the rock face.
M Day 7, December 20th pm: Isabela Island: Punta Vicente Roca
One of our top snorkeling sites, we take to the deep water in search of penguins, rays, turtles, flightless cormorants and a host of fish species, some only found in the western isles. A panga ride along the dramatic cliffs of Ecuador Volcano, straddling the equator, gives us the opportunity to photograph blue-footed boobies, brown noddies and amazing geological features.
N Day 8, December 21st am: Santiago Island: Espumilla Beach
To the land of pirates and buccaneers! We head first to the golden sands of a turtle nesting beach and on a forested trail into the hinterland where pirates once hunted goats for food. The long, golden sandy beach has a mangrove backdrop and there are several species of Darwin’s finches at this landing site.
O Day 8, December 21st late am: Santiago Island: Buccaneer Cove
Cruising Buccaneer Cove we see where ships were careened (hauled out and cleaned) back in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of the largest specimens of palo santo trees we will see are home to friendly Galapagos flycatchers, yellow warblers and Darwin’s finches.
P Day 8, December 21st pm: Santiago Island: Puerto Egas
In Puerto Egas, also on Santiago Island, after a wet landing onto another dark sand volcanic beach we will hike to submerged lava grottos where we will commune with endemic fur seals that consider the grottos home. Along the shoreline we can watch Sally-lightfoot crabs, herons, oystercatchers and waders. At low tide, this is an excellent site for tide pooling. After a good long walk, we’ll cool off with another great snorkel.
Q Day 9, December 22nd am: North Seymour Island & Baltra Airport
Following another fantastic snorkel, we land on North Seymour Island. Here we will enter the habitat of another kind of pirate: the frigatebird. These birds are known for stealing the meals of smaller birds and frequently even shake boobies in mid-air to force them to regurgitate their prize. We will watch their display as the males show off their bright red pouches to attract the females. On this island we will walk through nesting blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies and frigatebirds all the while encountering more land iguanas and sealions.
After our visit on North Seymour we head back to the island of Baltra and the airport to fly back to mainland Ecuador for our onward flights home.
NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of the Galapagos National Park Service.
Discover the world with experienced travelers
Pete Oxford & Reneé Bish
Photographers | Owners | Trip Leaders
Pete and Reneé have lived in Ecuador since 1985 and 1991, respectively. They travel as a professional photographic and tour-leading team specializing in wildlife and indigenous cultures. Pete began in tourism in 1987 while living as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands. Shortly afterwards he became a co-founder of the Galapagos Naturalist Guides’ Association, which was created to train a higher standard of naturalist guide. With the Galapagos Islands in their backyard, Pete and Reneé have been fascinated by and fallen in love with the archipelago. Together they have written four books on the Galapagos. They are excited to be able to share with you the islands that are so dear to them!