Catamaran: Ocean Spray
As you exit your plane you will feel the warm air of the archipelago. Your guide and crew will be waiting with a sign that says Ocean Spray. Board the catamaran and enjoy a welcome drink, lunch is served upoon arrival to avoid any downtime as your boat sets sail to Bartolome isle for the first excursion.
Bartolome Island is a one of the smaller islets just off the shores of the larger Santiago Island. The pointy Pinnacle Rock rules the half moon bay, this iconic formation was baptized after James Sullivan one of the members of the HMS Beagle expedition and a friend of Charles Darwin. It is a camera magnet and appears in most Galapagos photos, indeed one of the most picturesque formations in the archiplelago.
To reach the trail that leads to the summit of the island you will be taken on a zodiac ride over an underwater sunken crater. You will then disembark on a rustic dock made of lava stone and concrete. From the begining of the trail the views of surrounding islands, the bay and the blue ocean start to unveil the geological wonders of the archipelago. To reach the hilltop of the island you need to climb the 372 wooden steps, along the way you will be able to view cindeer cones, lava tuffs and remnants of the volcanic activity that formed the island. Your path will be crossed by the ocassional lava lizard as it seems to be scouting out the new visitors.
The hike to the top is moderate, but the rewards is well worth the effort, the views below are literally out of this world. Two half moon bays lead the eyesight towards the Sullivan Bay lava field on neighboring Santiago island and in the background you can spot the volcanoes on isabela island. After the breathtaking moonlike landscape has drained your camera memory, you will be back on the zodiac for a ride around the cliffs and rocks where you might spot a small colony of Galapagos penguins. Your visit will end with the opportunity to snorkel in the bay. Playful sea lions, manta rays, colorful reef fish, sea turtles and other marine creatures will keep you company as you swim over a coral reef and underwater lava rocks.
Back on board your guide will offer an evening lecture (daily) and dinner will be served before the nightly sailing.
Genovesa is one of the northern islands of the archipelago and has the shape of a giant letter C. Also the peak of a marine volcano, formed by constant yet subtle lava flows that emerged from a shield volcano. The first visit on Genovesa is Darwin bay, a white coral beach frequented by warblers, seagulls and night herons. The mangrove forest is a nesting site for red footed boobies. You will have the opportunity to snorkel in the calm waters of the bay and if you are a good swimmer you can venture out along the rocky shore to spot white tipped reef sharks, moray eels and enjoy the views of an underwater mountain.
Take a break, escape the midday sun and restore yourself on board your boat. Lunch time. Meals on board the Ocean Spray are a gastronomic delight with fresh seafood and organic ingredients from mainland Ecuador and the highland farms on the inhabitted islands.
The afternoon visit takes you to "El Barranco", but first you must climb Prince Phillips steps. A short but steep walk (aprox. 20 steps) will put you in front of nesting masked and red footed booby birds. These colorful birds nest in the Palo Santo trees, there are about 100.000 pairs nesting on the island. The trail leads inland and to the other side of the island, along the crevaces you will be able to spot Galapagos hawks and owls. It is an easy walk to the other side of the island, you will reach the cliff that unveils thousands of sea birds circling above. You will understand why it is called "bird island".
Disembark at Egas port, the former sight of a Norwegian fishery. The trail leads inland offering beautiful scenery and the rock formation comically known as "Darwin's toilet", here you will be able to spot the Galapagos fur seals as they playfully swim in between tidal pools. Marine iguanas, herons, warblers, booby birds and other creatures are ther common sightings. The bright red sally light foot crabs contrast beautifully with the lava rocks and the ocean.
Today you will also visit Bucanner cove and Espumilla beach, both are rich in birdlife and have top notch snorkeling where you can swim with sea lions, sea turtles and with some luck spot octopus, tropical fish, moray eels and white tipped reef sharks.
B, L, D
North Seymour Island was named after British noble Lord Hugh Seymour. The island is also the product of a volcanic eruption and its subsequent lava flows, it is competely flat and the trail is very easy to walk, so no great effort is needed. North Seymour is home to a huge colony of land iguanas - approximately 2,500 according to the parks last census. There are important colonies of sea lions, blue-footed boobies, common noddies and frigatebirds. The arcipelagos largest nesting area of Magnificent Frigatebirds is alongside the trails.
Santa Cruz island is one of the most diverse islands, the dry coast area with the palo santo forests turns lush and green as you ascend to the highlands. This is one of the favorite habitats for giant tortoises who love the cloudforest weather, they soak in mud pools and graze in the pastures of local farms. We visit one of these farms that border the national park, tortoises roam freely and can cross between the farm and park, of course having a well kept mud bath is enticing for anyone carrying a shell on their back for over 50 years. The highlands are also home to endemic plantlife like the escalesia tree and a variety of ferns. There are lava tubes that can be explored, if you are up to crawling a bit you can visit the deeper tunnels. Birdwatching is world class, although mostly small species like finches, warblers, flycatchers, doves they are all mainly endemic meaning you can find them nowhere else on the planet.
Mosquera Islet is more of a sandbar than an island. It is north of Santa cruz island located between the islands of Baltra and North Seymour. It is a reef of rocks and coral (the result of an uprising) and a great white sand beach. Its narrowest width reaches about 160 meters and has an estimated length of 600 meters. In most of the perimeter, there is a base of lava rocks where you will be able to spot sally light foot crabs. There is a noisy sea lion colony and you can spot several shore birds.
The surrounding scenery is beautiful and suites well as a final visit to the enchanted isles. The last time we were on Mosquera we were able to analize a humpback whale skeleton with our guide, it had grounded on the island and was an interesting part of the islands natural history.
Your cruise has officially come to an end. We hope you enjoyed your Galapagos Cruise! We will now transfer you to your scheduled departure from Baltra Airport to mainland Ecuador. Safe travels!