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After arriving by plane on to Baltra Island you will be transferred to the dock where you will board your ship. Once on board you will receive your introductory briefing, boat drill and lunch.
After lunch it’s time for the first excursion of the day to North Seymour Island. This is a great introductory site to the Galapagos Islands and their wildlife, full of bird colonies of blue footed boobies, two species of frigate birds, swallow tailed gulls, as well as sea lions and marine iguanas.
After breakfast, the ship will arrive at Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island where you can explore the coast by panga ride, while the naturalist guide will explain the dramatic geology of the area, nesting place for a Galápagos highlight: flightless cormorants. Depending on weather conditions, you can snorkel along the cliffs of this area which are rich in marine life, seasonally-visited by green sea turtles and oceanic sun fish (Mola mola).
The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the youngest island of the archipelago, Fernandina, which boasts a very unique environment with a high density of marine iguanas, who share their space with sea lions, Sally light-foot crabs, hawks, penguins and the flightless cormorants.
After breakfast, we land at Tagus Cove on the northwest of Isabela Island. It provided a favourite anchorage for pirates and whalers over the centuries. An uphill hike takes guests to the rim of a crater, Darwin lake, filled with salt water and to a dramatic viewpoint. After the walk, you can take a panga ride to spot local wildlife, with the possibility of swimming or snorkelling.
After lunch we disembark at Urbina Bay, the fascinating result of an uplifting of the ocean floor in 1954. Here we can admire corals, shells and many other calcareous organisms exposed above water. First we enjoy a snorkel from the beach, with the chance of swimming with flightless cormorants. This are is also home to a large and very colourful Galápagos land iguanas, and occasionally to giant tortoises. We return back on board for dinner.
In the morning, we disembark (dry landing) for our visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station’s giant tortoise Breeding Centre at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Located within an impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest home to many land birds these are the headquarters of scientific investigation, conservation and the National Park administration. Following the visit, you will head into the cooler highlands of Santa Cruz Island for lunch.
This afternoon there are several options available in the highlands including mountain biking, kayaking in Tortuga Bay and hiking. At the end of the afternoon’s activities, you will return to Puerto Ayora and embark the ship in time for dinner.
This morning you will land at Post Office Bay on Floreana Island. A short walk leads you to the historic barrel where postcards are traditionally left for guests from other vessels to hand-deliver to destinations across the world. Near Post Office Bay you can explore the north shore of Floreana where there are narrow channels teeming with life. Then head back on board for lunch.
Following lunch, you will take to the pangas and glass-bottom boat to explore the underwater wonders around Champion Islet. It’s an extinct shield volcano and regarded as one of the best snorkelling spots in the archipelago. From there, it’s on to Cormorant Point, beginning with a wet landing on the olivine-crystal beach for an easy walk that includes a brackish water lagoon where bird species such as greater flamingos, pintail ducks, common stilts, herons, sandpipers, and others gather. Continuing your walk you will head over to a white-sand beach, where sea turtles emerge from the sea at night to nest (from December to May).
Today you will disembark at Baltra Island in order to transfer to the airport and take the flight back to the mainland.
Conceived for operations in remote areas, the state-of-the-art Santa Cruz 2 is an ideal expedition vessel for exploring the Galápagos Islands. At just over 70 metres long, the generous, five-deck ship holds 50 cabins for 90 guests and features an expert expedition crew, a fleet of modern zodiac boats for exploration and ample sized social areas to enjoy once back on board.
From outdoor and indoor dining areas, the fitness room and Jacuzzis to the elegant bar and lounge, not to forget the well-stocked library, the ship is designed to please with sophisticated simplicity. The ship also enjoys a great ratio of crew and guides to passengers which ensures great service on board too.
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