Galapagos Voyage - Darwin's Enchanted Isles
Our 9-night itinerary exploring Darwin's Enchanted Isles starts with a night in the vibrant city of Guayaquil before taking an internal flight to the Galapagos. These legendary 13 islands and 40 islets are strewn like jewels in the Pacific. They are fiercely protected and visitor numbers are strictly limited. Incredibly 97% of the National Park is pristine and untouched so today's visitor can see the same sights as Darwin did over 150 years ago.
We visit seven of the islands from our base, the intimate 32-guest M/V Evolution. Highlights include walking to the top of Bartolome for a view of iconic Pinnacle Rock, one of Galapagos' most photographed sites, and exploring the archipelago's oldest and youngest islands, Espanola and Isabela. You'll find yourself just inches away from giant tortoises, comical blue-footed boobies, sea lions, penguins, iguanas and many other animals, and you'll gain an appreciation for how remarkable life on Earth can be.
The small size of the M/V Evolution ensures you enjoy ample time and attention as you explore. Plus, you don't have to sacrifice comfort and world-class service to discover the Galapagos. Each day during this Galapagos Islands tour, you 'come home' to a comfortable, intimate expedition ship. The Evolution is the perfect haven for relaxing between daily excursions, or for joining fellow travelers for a briefing by our knowledgeable naturalists.
Typical day-by-day itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive in Guayaquil
Arrive into Guayaquil, Ecuador, and transfer to the Hotel Oro Verde.
Day 2 - Guayaquil / Baltra / Santa Cruz: Whaler Bay & Eden Islet
Fly to Galapagos, landing on Baltra, and board the Evolution. During World War II, Baltra was used as an United States Air Force base. After a safety briefing, hike along Whaler Bay, site of one of the islands’ oldest whaling camps. Just off the coast, discover tiny Eden Islet, where we may spot Nazca boobies, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and large schools of mustard rays while on a peaceful Zodiac ride.
Day 3 - Isabela Island / Fernandina Island
Zodiacs take you on a dramatic ride into the heart of a sunken volcano at Punta Vicente Roca. Take to the water, where we swim and snorkel among sea turtles, penguins and possibly even sea horses. Explore the lava fields of Punta Espinosa, located on Fernandina, the youngest and most volcanically active island in the Galapagos. Here we spot flightless cormorants and marine iguanas. Whale watch from the Evolution’s open-air decks as we cross the Bolivar Channel.
Day 4 - Isabela Island
Walk along the uplifted section of sea floor in Urvina Bay at the base of the Alcedo Volcano. Our naturalists point out the tortoises, colorful land iguanas and other wildlife that feed on the vegetation. Board our Zodiacs for an excursion to Tagus Cove, where we look for penguins, flightless cormorants, pelicans along the cliffs before a chance to snorkel and swim.
Day 5 - Bartolomé / Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay
Visit Bartolomé Island, walking to the top of a dormant volcano for a dramatic panorama, including famed Pinnacle Rock. The island is dotted with craters, cinder cones, lava flows, spatter cones and broken lava tunnels which run down from the summit. Our Zodiac drivers will take “non-walkers” for a ride around the cliffs, observing a stunning volcanic landscape and Galapagos penguins. Swim and snorkel with sea lions and maybe even speedy penguins. This afternoon, walk across the panoehoe lava of Sullivan Bay, seeing some of the hearty flora colonizing the landscapes. Stroll along the coralline beach spotting black and white oystercatchers.
Day 6 - Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach & Dragon Hill
Walk along the white sands of Bachas Beach looking for Sally Lightfoot crabs, black necked stilts and whimbrels. Snorkel in the calm waters where sea turtles nest. Named for the area’s large land iguanas, Dragon Hill is an important nesting site for iguanas reintroduced by the Charles Darwin Research Center. Walk to a lagoon where we often find flamingos, common stilts and pintail ducks.
Day 7 - Santa Cruz Island
Begin at the Charles Darwin Research Station, famous for its tortoise breeding programs. See baby tortoises and learn about vital work being done to study and preserve Galapagos wildlife. Head into the forested highlands, with ample opportunity to see and photograph giant tortoises in their verdant natural habitat.
Day 8 - Española Island
As the southernmost island in the archipelago, Española’s relative isolation has resulted in not only an abundance of unusual wildlife, but species and subspecies that are endemic to the island, such as Española (Hood) mockingbird, Española (Hood) racer snake, Española (Hood) lava lizard, waved albatross and brightly colored marine iguanas. Enjoy a Zodiac ride before wading ashore to Punta Suarez through a sea lion colony. Walk along the cliffs looking for waved albatrosses, Galapagos hawks, Hood mockingbirds and the red-colored race of marine iguana en route to Española’s blowhole, where waves spout 90 feet into the air. After a relaxing lunch, swim, snorkel and kayak in the waters off Gardner Bay, or simply bring along your book or a camera and relax on the white sands.
Day 9 - San Cristobal Island / Guayaquil
End your Galapagos Islands cruise by returning to San Cristóbal to visit the Interpretation Center, opened by the park in 1998. Fly to Guayaquil, with time to relax at the Hotel Oro Verde.
Day 10 -Depart Guayaquil
For a longer tour, why not consider combining this with our Galapagos Voyage Central & Remote Northern Islands
Where you stay
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking. You can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss accommodation options.
Oro Verde, Guayaquil (5 star)
In keeping with Guayaquil's status and progressive outlook, the Oro Verde Hotel is as far from the historic haciendas and mansions of the highlands as it is possible to be. A luxury five star city centre property, it is extremely opulent and has every comfort travellers could possibly need. Although it caters primarily to the business market, so do all other Guayaquil Hotels, as the city has commerce as its raison d'etre. It is, however, representative of the progressive and style conscious city itself, with acres of marble, mirrors and chandeliers, three restaurants as well as delis and ice cream parlours, an outdoor pool, gymnasium and sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi complex.
Spacious and luxurious rooms are state of the art with cable television, air-conditioning and flashy chrome bathrooms. A fifteen minute walk takes you down one of the cities most interesting shopping and people watching streets to the waterfront, or you can just relax in the air conditioned interior and enjoy the services and facilities available.
Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.
MV Evolution (5 Acorn)
This intimate ship features a great deal of public space, including an observation deck and a canopied bar on the roof deck, perfect for enjoying a snack and drink on the canopied roof deck while whale watching or chatting with fellow passengers. Two-person kayaks are also available and a doctor is aboard on every voyage and even accompanies your small group off-ship.
Each day the naturalist guides will give talks and briefings on the day’s events and about the natural and human history of the Galapagos. They will help you understand the context of what you’ve seen and help prepare you for the next day’s activities. A convenient boarding platform makes it easy and safe to board our excursion boats. You are also welcome to visit the captain and crew and learn all about the ship’s operation and navigation.
Meals are served in one seating in the dining room, and each meal boasts international and traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, fresh fruit and sumptuous desserts.
The air-conditioned cabin is the perfect haven between excursions, featuring private facilities and ample storage space.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange flights and connecting transfers to your hotel.
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop, and where necessary improve, our services and ensure our holidays continue to be the best they can be. However, as this is a relatively new holiday, we don't yet have any customer reviews available.
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Minimum group sizes
A minimum of 26 people (in total) are required for each departure.
Guided walking, twin centre. Managed by Headwater rep.
Departures, for 10 days (9 nights).
9 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners included.
Enquire about this holiday
Simply complete the form below and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and additional information.
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