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A Day in the Galápagos
The highlight of an 'Eclipse' cruise is the twice-daily excursions, in which you join a small group (no more than 12 guests, with one naturalist guide per group) on board a panga, a sturdy inflatable raft that ferries you from ship to shore. On arrival, your group's naturalist guide takes over, pointing out each island's unique species and geological wonders. Each guide brings his or her own perspective, and your cruise affords you the chance to interact with all of them.
No guidebook can prepare you for the experience of walking among the islands' wildlife, discovering how they have adapted and photographing them from a few feet away. Every day, you enjoy an excursion in the morning and in the afternoon, which may include activities such as exploring on foot, kayaking, snorkeling with equipment provided by the crew or cruising the islands' hidden nooks by panga. Our expertise and intimate knowledge of the islands means plenty of private landings on beaches and coves no other tour operators visit.
The fun does not end when you return from your excursion. Gather on deck for an al fresco snack and whale watching. At night, clear skies make for spectacular stargazing alongside expert guides (weather permitting). Your on-board naturalists offer a nightly presentation about the island's history, geography or wildlife.
Meet the Natives
Beginning with the finches that inspired Darwin's theory of evolution, wildlife has set the Galápagos apart from every other adventure destination.
This striking bird spends its days scanning the seas for food, returning to land to nest and to carry out the foot-stamping mating displays that make it a favorite of Galápagos visitors.
Both the rarest and the most northerly penguin species, this surprising island denizen arrived at the Galápagos by following the chilly Humboldt Current from Antarctica.
The social sea lion hardly bats an eye at human visitors. When not congregating on the beach, sea lion are swift, powerful swimmers, navigating pounding surf with ease as they search for sardines, their main food.
Called "imps of darkness" by an unimpressed Charles Darwin, the marine iguana is in fact superbly adapted to life in the water, with a fin-like tail and teeth designed to scrape algae from rocks.
Overhunting and habitat loss combined to drive these placid, stately reptiles to the brink of extinction. Happily, conservation efforts are proving successful and many subspecies' populations are on the increase.
Sally Lightfoot Crab
This brilliant-hued crab is perhaps the islands' most photogenic species. It occupies the rocky coasts feeding on algae, its strong legs keeping it firmly rooted against the crashing waves.