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An impressive tuff cone has been carved by erosion into an outstanding natural sculpture, being a resting place for marine birds such as blue-footed bobbies and brown pelicans. One of the most beautiful white sand beaches of the Galapagos (swim or snorkel). View sea lions, sally lightfooted crabs, blue-footed bobbies. Behind the dunes, you find a coastal lagoon, which was visited in the past by the locals to extract salt, today it is home to some shorebirds such as stilts and plovers.
The vegetation (as it is one of the oldest islands) shows some endemic species such as Scalesia incisa (flowering plant) only found on this island.
Genovesa is one of the northernmost islands of the archipelago. Genovesa’s southern side of the shield volcano’s crater collapsed and a protected bay known as Darwin Bay was formed. The island is often referred to as the “Bird Island” as the numbers and species of land and seabirds on Genovesa are quite extraordinary. There are two visitor sites, and Prince Philip’s Steps give access to the flat plateau above the bay. Named after Prince Philip who visited the Galapagos on two occasions, the “steps” are mostly natural. View less
The steep cliffs are home to Red-billed Tropicbirds, while Magnificent Frigatebirds, Nazca and Red-footed Boobies prefer the top. The plateau above Prince Philip’s Steps has a palo santo forest and an extensive lava field. This is an area where one of the Galapagos’ top predators, the Short-eared Owl, is hunting storm petrels. The Short-eared Owls are extremely well camouflaged and are not always easy to spot in between the rocks.
At Genovesa Island the ship tucks into Darwin Bay, an ancient volcanic crater now flooded by the sea. Zodiacs land on a picturesque sandy beach where Galapagos sea lions often rest on the fine, white sand. Explorations along the shore may reveal marine iguanas looking like prehistoric dinosaurs in miniature. By heading inland a short distance visitors could encounter seabirds of all shapes and sizes nesting in the vegetation. Scores of immature Red-footed Boobies perch on branches within an arm’s reach of the path.
In addition, watch for Great Frigatebirds and Yellow-crowned Night Herons along the walk. There is also fantastic snorkeling in the waters of Darwin Bay with the opportunity to see large schools of reef fish and brightly colored sea stars.
The landing at North Seymour Island is onto black lava rock. After a short climb, visitors arrive on the island’s flat plateau where a number of sea lions nurse pups and frigatebirds nest. The island is dry, and so the predominant tree is the prickly pear cactus favored by the yellow Conolophus land iguanas that live here in number. The undulating terrain is littered with red-brown volcanic boulders and large male Magnificent Frigatebirds can be seen inflating their vivid red gular sacs in hopes of impressing females flying overhead. View less
At certain times of the year, pairs of Blue-footed Boobies dance here in a ritualized mating dance that reinforces their pair bond and shows off their vivid blue feet. The snorkeling here is well-known for schools of colorful creole wrasses and parrot fish.
The lava fields of Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island will inevitably remind visitors of the surface of the moon. As brilliant red Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttle along the black volcanic shores, learn about the formation of the islands through geological forces from your guides. The lava flows here are just over one hundred years old and date back to 1897. The lava took on a rope-like appearance and geologists have adopted a Hawaiian word, pahoehoe, as the technical name for this kind of volcanic rock. View less
After walking the exposed rocky terrain, it is a welcoming sensation to return to the sandy beach and get ready for a swim or a snorkel.
Among the impressive new lava fields of Fernandina Island hides a cove surrounded by mangroves. A rewarding place for bird-watching as the bay is the point where the land meets the sea, joining the two environments, with sea birds, shorebirds and land birds all in the same place. The different species of mangroves: Red, White and Black, have formed a root system that serves as a nursery for many species of fish, including juveniles’ sharks and green sea turtles. View less
Snorkeling is as rewarding with some unique sightings as Marine Iguanas feeding on algae, or flightless cormorants diving for their prey.
Impressive Pahoehoe lava field that lies between two active volcanoes, Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul, on the south coast of Isabela Island. The rich waters of Cromwell current wash the shores, and as a result, you can see the largest marine iguanas of the archipelago basking on the rocks, flightless cormorants and Galapagos penguins diving for food. Snorkeling can be one of the coldest of the trip, but also one of the most rewarding experiences with good chances to see penguins “flying” underwater, Green Sea Turtles, and Marine Iguanas feeding. View less
During the walk you will experience, as an oasis in a desert of lava, some coastal lagoons in the middle of the field, here you can find shorebirds such as White-cheeked Pintail Ducks, Black-necked Stilts and even sometimes Flamingos.
Los Gemelos (The Twins) is a visitor site in the Santa Cruz highlands. Found some 15 kilometers northwest of Puerto Ayora, the road leading from Puerto Ayora in the south of Santa Cruz to Itabaca in the north dissects the twin pit craters. Pit craters are formed when the roof of an underground void collapses. The smaller pit crater is on the eastern side of the road, while the larger one is on the western side. See from above, the two openings in the ground are not at all identical. View less
Their layout might imply an elongated magma chamber or a lava tube leading further west and the larger twin actually having formerly been two small pit craters whose connecting wall collapsed as well. Trails through a Scalesia forest not only give access to good views of the pit craters, but also permit to observe some of the smaller land birds. Vermilion Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers, Galapagos Doves, Medium Ground Finches and several other finch species can often be seen there.
Santa Fe Island, also called Barrington Island after admiral Samuel Barrington, is a small island of 24 square kilometres which lies in the centre of the Galápagos archipelago, to the southeast of Santa Cruz Island. Geologically it is one of the oldest; volcanic rocks of about 4 million years old have been found.
Isla Champion is a small islet off Floreana Island’s northeast coast. To cruise by it reveals a bare, rocky island without much allure, but to enter the infinitely blue waters around this small landmass is to discover a spectacular underwater realm. The visibility is generally impressive and thanks to this water clarity snorkelers often spot reef sharks patrolling the reef wall, cruising Pacific green turtles, and playful Galapagos sea lions.
Encounters in the blue with thousands of small silver minnows, large tuna fish, or oceanic sunfish are not unheard of either.
Punta Suárez lies at the western point of Española, the oldest island in the Galápagos. Sheer cliffs provide superb thermals for seabirds and you may spot Swallow-tailed Gulls, Nazca Boobies and Blue-footed Boobies on the breeze. The largest seabird to nest in the Galapagos Islands is the Waved Albatross. These ocean wanderers can be seen seasonally here from April through December, when pairs reunite on Española, going through an elaborate pair-bonding display. View less
Mockingbirds, doves, and occasional Galápagos Hawks can also be seen on the point, along with sea lions and colorful marine iguanas.
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