- Duration 8 Days
- Difficulty 3/5
- Group Size 17
Galapagos with pre extension to the Amazon
24 December, 2019 to 1 January, 2020
The Galapagos archipelago, on everyone’s bucket list, is one of the planet’s last wild and incredible places. We have chartered the M/Y Coral II, a luxury vessel operating in the national park. On this seven-day itinerary, we will visit many highlights including Isabela Island, North Seymour Island and Fernandina Island; this last is considered one of the most pristine islands anywhere in the world. We will walk on bare lava and come face to face with blue-footed boobies and displaying frigatebirds. 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. For the islands that inspired Charles Darwin we have customized this family charter to offer a fun, educational trip of a lifetime.
Price not published
Single Supplement: None
Arrival: Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Departure: Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil, Ecuador
Arrival Time: 24th December, 2019
- Hotel in Guayaquil the night prior to departure to Galapagos.
- Airport transfers on arrival into Guayaquil and out to Galapagos.
- 7 nights full-board on the M/Y Coral II.
- Naturalist guides plus two Pete Oxford Expeditions trip leaders.
- Migration control card.
- International airfare to and from Guayaquil.
- Domestic air fare between Guayaquil or Quito 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.
- Additional hotel nights not mentioned in the itinerary.
- Hire of wetsuits.
- Tips to Guides and crew.
- Items of a personal nature including laundry, postage, shipboard bar, personal shopping and internet.
Day 1, December 24th, 2019: Guayaquil
After arriving at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil we will transfer to the hotel for the night. As this is a travel day and many flights arrive late in the evening dinner will be on your own.
A Day 2, December 25th am: Baltra Island
After breakfast on Christmas day we will fly to Baltra Island the gateway to the Galapagos. On arrival, we will immediately transfer to the boat to settle in and have lunch. From this night until the morning of day 8 we will eat and overnight aboard our vessel, the M/Y Coral II.
B Day 2, December 25th pm: Santa Cruz Highlands
We will spend this afternoon visiting the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. After landing on the dock of Santa Cruz we will board our transportation and head to the highlands. This area, in contrast to the coastal region, has lush vegetation and forest due to the humidity that gathers in the higher regions. We will visit one of the ranches of the area to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat and using mud wallows. As these animals migrate from the coastal area to the highlands and back, the ranch chosen will depend on the presence of the tortoises at the time. This is also a good place for a possible sighting of barn owl, various finches, Galapagos flycatchers and the yellow warbler. After this visit, we return to the M/Y Coral II for dinner and the evening briefing.
C Day 3, December 26th am: 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. Turtles are usually plentiful here and we may, with luck, also spot a southern ocean sunfish. 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.
D Day 3, December 26th pm: Fernandina Island: Punta Espinosa
Darwin’s ‘Imps of Darkness’ the marine iguana ‘capital’ of the world. As we sit or walk along 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. Snorkeling in this area ranks as one of our favorites as we will swim with turtles, a diversity of fish species and look for Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants and marine iguanas feeding underwater.
E Day 4, December 27 th am: Isabela Island: Urbina Bay
We will begin today with a wet landing onto a black volcanic sand beach of this geologically uplifted area. On our 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.
F Day 4, December 27th pm: 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 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 back as 1836, one year after Darwin’s visit, can be found carved in the rock face.
G Day 5, December 28th am: Santiago Island: Puerto Egas
We first embark on another great snorkel, followed by a wet landing onto the dark volcanic beach of Puerto Egas, also on Santiago Island. Here 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.
H Day 5, December 28th pm: Sullivan Bay: Santiago Island
In the afternoon we head across to Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island to a recent, barren lava field. The flows of black, basaltic pahoehoe or ropey lava are only 100 years old. The different lava formations, crystallized minerals and pioneer plants are stunning and highly photogenic. Here too we have another great snorkel where we hope to interact with turtles, sea lions and rays.
I Day 6, December 29th am: Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach
After a wet landing onto a white sandy beach we will enjoy beach combing to a arrive behind the beach line to a brackish pond where flamingos can usually be found along with marine iguanas, coastal birds, Darwin’s finches, mocking birds and gulls. The word Bachas refers to old barges used by the US Airforce during World War II.
J Day 6, December 29th pm: Santa Cruz Island: Puerto Ayora: Charles Darwin Research Station
After lunch we will disembark on the dock in Puerto Ayora, the main town in the islands for a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park. Here we will see tortoises from different islands as well as some land iguanas in the breeding program. The grounds are also a good place to spot various species of Darwin’s finches. After this visit, we will have some time to explore the town of Puerto Ayora and its many souvenir shops before boarding the M/Y Coral II for dinner.
K Day 7, December 30th am: Mosquera Islet
This morning we disembark on to a stunning white-sand islet set between North Seymour and Baltra Islands, less than one kilometer in length. With low relief it is one of the few non-volcanic, but rather uplifted, islands in the archipelago. The beach is home to resting sealions and wading bird species. We will enjoy time relaxing with sealions and are free to enjoy an exploratory walk looking at the wildlife.
L Day 7, December 30th pm: North Seymour Island
On North Seymour Island 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 until they regurgitate their catch. We will watch their display as the males show off their bright red pouches to attract the females. On this visit we will walk through nesting blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies and frigatebirds all the while encountering more land iguanas and sea lions.
M Day 8, December 31th am: Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe is idyllic. It is a beautiful natural bay filled with turquoise water and two lovely white sand beaches used by sunbathing sea lions. Inland we hike past a grove of giant, tree-forming prickly pear cacti, a different land iguana species endemic to the island and perhaps an endemic Galapagos hawk or two. We follow the land visit with another fantastic snorkel with turtles, rays, surgeonfish, parrotfish and possibly even sharks. This can also be one of the most rewarding sea lion snorkels.
N Day 8, December 31st pm: South Plazas Island
The tiny South Plazas Island has much to offer. The red carpet of the succulent Sesuvium vegetation growing between the Opuntia cactus provides a beautiful backdrop to swallow-tailed gulls, land iguanas and sea lions – many of them with newborn pups, all present at the landing to greet us. This sub-species of land iguana is the smallest in Galapagos and some have bred with the marine iguanas to form a hybrid species only found here. The path winds its way to the cliff top where we will sit and watch Galapagos shearwaters gliding over the waves while gulls, tropic birds and frigates cruise lazily below and at eye level.
O Day 9, January 1st am: Kicker Rock Circumnavigation & San Cristobal: Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve: Fly home
In the early morning we will take the Coral II close to the dramatic deep-water tuff cone known as Kicker Rock or León Dormido (Sleeping Lion). The iconic landmark stands proudly 140m out of the ocean and constantly appears to change shape as we circumnavigate. It is home to large numbers of frigate birds which are continuously circling overhead as well as red-billed tropicbirds and blue-footed boobies. We continue to the nearby town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the islands capital on San Cristobal Island, the easternmost and one of the oldest islands in the Galapagos. Using local transport we then visit the Galapaguera de San Cristobal, a giant tortoise rearing centre concentrating on conservation and repatriation of the local race of tortoise. From there we head to san Cristobal airport to take our plane back to the mainland and continue on our homeward journey.After this, our final excursion, we board our flights in San Cristobal 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, conservation and indigenous cultures. Pete began his association with Galapagos in 1986 and then, in 1987, became a licensed naturalist guide in the islands where he lived for-two-and-a-half years. Shortly thereafter he co-founded of the Galapagos Naturalist Guides’ Association which was created to help train guides to a higher standard. With Galapagos as their ‘backyard’ Pete and Reneé quickly fell in love with the islands and have been fascinated by them ever since. Together they have published four books on Galapagos. They are excited to be able to share the islands that are so dear to them. This expedition will be a blend of fun, intimate wildlife interactions and education imparting a strong conservation message.