Arrive Guayaquil, Ecuador
Arrive in Guayaquil, where you are met and transferred to your hotel.
The Galápagos | On Board All-New ‘La Pinta’
This morning, fly to Baltra in the remote Galápagos Islands, a haven for the diversity of wildlife that first led naturalist Charles Darwin to propose that species evolved in response to their environment. You are met by your naturalist guide and escorted to ‘La Pinta,’ your home for a six-night cruise through the Galápagos’ western islands, a route that offers a higher number of endemic species than other island groupings. Attend an introductory briefing followed by lunch, and then get underway cruising to North Seymour Island, where you disembark on your first shore excursion. Walk along the coast and the interior of this beautiful flat island, observing numerous bird colonies as well as sea lions and land iguanas. You may also opt to explore just offshore by dinghy. This evening, return to ‘La Pinta,’ for a welcome cocktail and dinner. Each evening, your time is your own: Attend a lecture presented by one of your affable guides, who recaps the day and gives a sneak peek at tomorrow’s itinerary; explore the mysteries of the night sky with a fascinating astronomy lecture on deck; peruse the ship’s library for further insight into a species you encountered; or gather in the lounge to cap a day of extraordinary discoveries. Drift asleep in your air-conditioned cabin to the rise and fall of gentle ocean swells.
The Galápagos | Isabela & Fernandina
Today, begin at Isabela Island (Punta Vicente Roca). Since there is no landing site at this location, explore the coast by skiff, while your naturalist guide explains the dramatic geology of the area, such as the remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. Watch for the island’s abundant wildlife and snorkel along the cliffs, possibly in the company of green sea turtles. This afternoon, visit the youngest and most pristine island of the archipelago, Fernandina (Punta Espinoza) to go ashore and view the amazing combination of barrenness and abundant wildlife. Watch for hawks, penguins and flightless cormorants as you take in the astounding views of the surrounding volcanic landscapes. The next day, disembark at Urbina Bay, on the western side of Isabela Island, to view corals, shells, and large and colorful Galápagos land iguanas. You may also sight giant tortoises further inland. Cruise up to secluded Tagus Cove (Isabela Island), on the northwest coast of Isabela, once a favorite anchorage for pirates and whalers. Go ashore for a hike to salt-water-filled Darwin Crater. Return to the ship for dinner.
The Galápagos | Rabida & Santa Cruz
In the morning, disembark at Rabida Island’s red-colored beach to observe marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. This is a great place to snorkel from the beach. Non-snorkelers may opt to explore via glass-bottom boat. Proceed to the north shore of Santa Cruz Island to view the fascinating landscapes of Dragon Hill. Circle a lagoon frequented by sea birds, such as red-footed boobies. Trek inland for views of the bay and the chance to observe land iguanas. The next day, continue your explorations on Santa Cruz with a visit to Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station. Get up close to the giant tortoises living on site, within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest. Learn from station staff about their latest conservation efforts, and then enjoy some free time in the town of Puerto Ayora, before stopping for a poolside lunch at the Finch Bay Galápagos Hotel. This afternoon, head up to the highlands, passing farmlands and lush forests, and view the exuberant vegetation where giant tortoises roam in the wild, perhaps spotting one of the iconic, lumbering reptiles yourself.
The Galápagos | Floreana
After breakfast, ride by panga along the maze of channels on the north shore of Floreana Island, continuing to Baroness Cove with its breathtaking views. Then, land at Post Office Bay to visit the historic barrel that has been serving as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries. Afterward, you may wish to kayak or snorkel. Return to the ship to proceed to Punta Cormorant. Before disembarking, snorkel or ride by glass-bottom boat, viewing life beneath the waves. Cruise along the coast of an extinct volcanic cone called Champion Islet. This afternoon, go ashore at Punta Cormorant for an easy walk beside a brackish water lagoon where bird species like greater flamingos may be observed. Venture to the other side of the island, where sea turtles come out at night to nest, to take in the flora, fauna and delightful sea views from a white-sand beach.
Disembark in Baltra and fly back to Guayaquil. Enjoy time to relax before gathering for a farewell dinner at your hotel’s restaurant. The next morning, transfer to the airport to board your flight home.
‘La Pinta’ is a stylish expedition vessel ideal for small-group exploration. The ship and its shore excursions are shared with other passengers.
Travel Privately with A&K | For a private journey consider Tailor Made Ecuador: Galápagos Cruise. Contact A&K for more details.