- Duration 9 days
- Difficulty 3/5
- Group Size 15
7 – 15 January, 2022
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 more unique yachts operating in the national park. On this itinerary we will visit Fernandina Island which is considered to be one of the most pristine islands anywhere in the world. We will walk on bare lava, 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 offer a fun and educational trip of a lifetime.
USD $8,100.00 Per person sharing a cabin
Single Supplement: No single supplement cost but limited to 6 spaces
Arrival: José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Departure: José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Arrival Time: 7 January, 2022
- 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 a Pete Oxford Expeditions trip leader.
- All activities, including INGALA fee and loan of snorkel gear.
- International airfare to and from Guayaquil.
- Domestic air fare 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.
- Tips to guide and crew.
- 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.
- COVID-19 related tests and / or vaccinations.
Day 1, January 7th. After arriving at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil, we will transfer to the hotel (to be confirmed) for the night. Dinner is on your own.
A Day 2, January 8th: Baltra Island, Galapagos
After breakfast in our hotel we fly to Baltra Island, the gateway to the Galapagos.
B Day 2, January 8th am: Santa Cruz Island, Highlands & El Chato Ranch
On arrival, we immediately transfer across the Itabaca channel to Santa Cruz Island to find wild tortoises where we will come face to face with these 600 lb (270 kg) prehistoric giants in the lush highlands, a remarkable first encounter!. We will have lunch in the highlands before we travel across the island to Puerto Ayora to board our vessel the S/S Mary Anne.
C Day 2, January 8th pm: Puerto Ayora, Tortoise breeding center
Once we have settled into our cabins we will make another short visit back to town and the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center 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.
Beginning tonight and until the morning of day 8, we eat and overnight aboard the S/S Mary Anne.
D Day 3, January 9th am: Floreana Island: Punta Cormorant, Devil’s Crown & Post Office Bay
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 but this island, to arrive at a saltwater lagoon where startlingly pink flamingos nest and feed.
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.
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 when necessary. Visiting yachts have added their calling cards, too.
E Day 4, January 10th 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.
F Day 4, January 10th pm: Navigation & Whale Watching
In the afternoon, we will navigate into the rich waters off 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.
G Day 5, January 11th 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 against the backdrop of basaltic volcanoes.
H Day 5, January 11th pm: Isabela Island: Urbina Bay
This afternoon we will make 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.
I Day 6, January 12th am: Isabela Island: Tagus Cove
At Tagus Cove, a hike leads 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 moulded 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.
J Day 6, January 12th pm: 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 truly 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. This is our favorite snorkeling area, as we will swim with turtles and myriad fish species and look for Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants and marine iguanas feeding underwater.
K Day 7, January 13th am: 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.
L Day 7, January 13th pm: Santiago Island: Buccaner Cove
At Buccaneer Cove we will take a panga ride around the beautiful coastline. This place got its name because it used to be a refuge for British Buccaneers, which anchored here to collect supplies and clean their ships among other activities. The cove is very scenic with views of the cliffs and a dark beach. Do not forget to look for two unusual rock formations known as ‘the monk’ and ‘elephant rock’.
M Day 8, January 14th am: Sullivan Bay
We will do a start off with a snorkel in a sheltered bay where we often encounter penguins and rays followed by a fascinating short hike. As be approach the lava rocks of the shoreline of Sullivan Bay most people wonder what there could possibly be of interest. Once on shore we immediately get a sense of pre history. Because the lava flow we will walk on is only 100 years old the formations created lie at our feet as if it only flowed yesterday. It is truly a wonderous place.
N Day 8, January 14th pm: North Seymour Island
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.
O Day 9, January 15th am: Mosquera Islet and Baltra Airport
This small islet located between North Seymour and Baltra is a fabulous place to end the trip. With one of the largest sea lion colonies in the archipelago we can explore at leisure. There are also a large number of shorebirds and even the possibility of orcas.
After our visit on Mosquera, we head back to the island of Baltra and the airport to fly back to mainland Ecuador for our onward flights home.
NB 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
Until recently Pete and Reneé had lived in Ecuador from 1985 and 1991, respectively. They currently reside on the Atlantic shoreline of South Africa within a Biosphere Reserve. 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. Having had the Galapagos Islands in their backyard for so long, Pete and Renee continue to be fascinated by and have 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!