GTEG-122 – M/Y GALAPAGOS SAN JOSE CRUISE ITINERARIES
FIVE DAYS / FOUR NIGHTS (ITINERARY “B”) – FRIDAY TO TUESDAY
DAY 1 – FRIDAY – ARRIVAL GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
San Cristobal Island
This morning you will fly from Quito or Guayaquil to San Cristobal Airport. Upon arrival, meeting, assistance and transfer to the M/Y San Jose for check-in, lunch, and a safety-drill. Afterwards you will visit the Interpretation Centre, its botanical garden town. The Interpretation Centre just outside the provincial capital Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is a perfect introduction as well as an interesting complement to the field-explanations and briefings of your naturalist guide to get an overview and learn what makes the Galapagos so unique. The well-maintained botanical garden with native species is worth your visit as well. The attractive exhibition is quite complete and explains a series of natural circumstances that create the Galapagos’ unique environment: such as the volcanic genesis of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, its ocean currents, its special climate, the arrival of different species, and their establishment, among others. On return to the yacht a welcome cocktail, a daily briefing and dinner.
Meals: Lunch, dinner
DAY 2: SATURDAY – GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Gardner Bay & Suarez point
Española, is located in the far south-eastern corner of the archipelago and promises to be a highlight of your cruise. As one of its crown jewels, this bird watcher’s and photographer’s dream offers all that you might expect from the Galapagos. Walk just a few yards past waved albatrosses, booby colonies, sunbathing marine iguanas and Galapagos sea lions and feel as though you’re in an exciting nature documentary! Several endemic species give you the opportunity to become an eyewitness of evolution.
After a ‘wet landing’ on the wide sandy beach at Gardner Bay you can stroll along the sea lions colony or enjoy a moment of reflection, relaxation, or rolling with sea lions in the surf. Next you can plunge into the alluring turquoise-coloured Gardner Bay for snorkeling. The striking white coral sand beach is an important breeding site for Pacific green turtles, but without doubt its main attraction is the Galapagos sea lion colony.
During the breeding and mating season the colony becomes even more populous. The strongest bachelors and elder males return from their secluded bases and start again to conquer and defend their part of the beach.
Back on board we will navigate for about an hour. After lunch we will make a ‘dry landing’ at Suarez Point. During a longer guided walk (moderate level) you will pass spectacular seabird colonies on top of the cliffs.
Huge ocean waves crash on the southern basaltic cliffs of Suarez Point, and form a spectacular blowhole, where a fountain of seawater sprays feet high into the air. Waved albatrosses soar for most of their lives far out at sea and just come to Española (March-December) to breed and nurture their huge chicks. This spectacular seabird is the only tropic albatross (critically endangered species). Suarez Point is also a massive breeding site for Nazca and blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds. Española marine iguanas become bright red with a turquoise-colored crest and legs at the start of the breeding season. Hood lava lizards are the largest of the 7 endemic species in the islands, as well as endemic mockingbirds, which have turned to carnivorous behavior!
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 3: SUNDAY – GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Cormorant Point, Champion Islet, Post Office Bay & Baroness Lookout
After breakfast, a wet landing on the greenish beach of Cormorant Point and walk to a powdery coral sand beach on the other side of the peninsula. En route you can observe the American flamingo lagoon from different viewpoints. Back on-board we will navigate about 45 min to Champion Islet. There are fantastic snorkeling opportunities here. (If this is not your thing – there will be opportunities for bird watching and a dinghy ride.
Cormorant Point forms the extreme north cape of Floreana, which is pockmarked by a number of smaller volcanic cones and covered by tropical dry forest (predominantly palo santo). Its salty lagoon is one of the best places on the Galapagos to observe a breeding colony of American flamingos. However, when breeding is done and the lagoon dries up, these exotic birds tend to be on the move to look for shrimps and algae from other saline lakes. At the landing beach you will be welcomed by a small Galapagos sea lion-colony. The green sand contains a high percentage of glassy olivine crystals that have been blown out by the surrounding tuff cones. Schools of sting rays in the surf love using this powdery sand to hide themselves, and Pacific green turtles come ashore to bury their eggs in it at night.
Champion Islet. Bottlenose dolphins frequently escort our passage to Champion Islet and you can see them from nearby jumping the waves! This is just the prelude of an unforgettable snorkeling excursion. Galapagos sea lions turn into playful acrobats underwater – without a doubt the number one attraction. There are also lots of reef fish, and perhaps a Pacific green turtle. An inflatable dinghy ride along the shoreline of this islet offers sightings of lots of sea birds that are endemic to the archipelago, including Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds, red-billed tropicbirds and the Charles mockingbird on top of prickly pear cacti.
While having lunch we will navigate back to Post Office Bay. Post your holiday greetings in the historical barrel, Explore by inflatable dinghy, another submerged crater rim around the bay of Baroness Lookout.
Post Office Bay & Baroness Lookout. Bring your unstamped postcards and post them in the peculiar barrel on this historic site. Together with James Bay (Santiago) this used to be a popular base to complement stocks. The present barrel commemorates the improvised mail service between British 16th century whalers and poachers.
This is the only place in the south-eastern archipelago where some penguins reside; the best chances however will be on Bartolomé. Climb the miniature basaltic cone of Baroness Lookout and dream away at the paradisiacal coast-scape.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 4: MONDAY – GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Santiago Island & Bartolome Island
After cruising overnight our yacht anchors between the famous, wild romantic panorama of Bartolome and Sullivan Bay. The nature forces that hae created these islands will impress you forever. Surrounding coral reefs give a second chance to meet endangered Galapagos penguins, and while snorkeling you might even encounter these agile hunters fishing!
Sullivan Bay (Santiago)
Setting foot at the lava stream covering Sullivan Bay is like landing on the moon. The desolate, stretched-out fields seem mostly lifeless, but there is enough to see on this highly popular site amongst photographers. Graphical bas-reliefs of rope-lava in the crust are unique to the Galapagos and Hawaii. There is even some life! Pacific green turtles seasonally bury eggs in the tiny white sand beach, where you may also encounter crabs, a strayed blue heron or oystercatcher. On the lava flow only sparse pioneer vegetation such as lava cacti and carpetweed can hold.
The barely eroded lava flow seems to have been solidified for short, and suggests that you are just able to set foot on it. The baking sun completes the sensation of heat. The winding and rippled rope-lava has preserved intriguing traces that tell flaming stories about vaporized leatherleaf trees and miniature cones of volcanic glass.
Bartolomé is among the youngest of the islands, and on a geological scale just recently born out of fire. Although tiny and at first sight lifeless, Bartolomé offers some of the wildest landscapes and best panoramas in the entire archipelago. To enjoy the postcard view of the idyllic ‘Pinnacle Bay’ you have to climb the stairs to the viewpoint on top of the island. Suddenly enter a dramatic world of threatening (though extinguished) nearby spatter cones, craters, and lightweight lava droplets that have been spewed out by fiery fountains. The Summit Trail is also ideal for witnessing how scanty pioneer vegetation such as lava cactus is struggling to take root in the bare virgin lava fields. From the summit you suddenly face a second paradisiacal world; Galapagos’ landmark ‘Pinnacle Rock’ towers prominently over an isthmus with crescent sand beaches on each side, and dunes with evergreen mangrove bushes in-between. Underwater, a third, completely distinctive world opens up to you, resembling a tropical aquarium. Its shallow, clear and warm waters are ideal for snorkeling between coral-grinding parrot fishes, shoals of surgeon fish, harmless whitetip reef sharks and Pacific green turtles.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 5: TUESDAY – DEPART GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Morning transfer to Baltra airport escorted by the naturalist guide and some crew members. Your guide will accompany you to the check-in counter for your flight to Quito or Guayaquil or your next destination. We expect you to return home with stunning pictures and unforgettable memories for life!