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The Reina Silvia is one of the finest vessels of her size in the Galapagos, allowing you to discover the Enchanted Islands in relaxed comfort. This 8-day itinerary will take you through the west islands and show you the beauty that lives in this unique location.
Duration: 8 Days
After arrival in Baltra, we visit the highlands of Santa Cruz Island for a special opportunity to view the islands' most famous reptile: the giant tortoises in their wild habitat. The vegetation of the area includes the Scalesia Forest (an endemic giant daisy tree) and birds such as the vermilion flycatcher will delight everyone with its scarlet feathers against an emerald green forest. Look for Darwin's finches (most of them from the tree-finch group), particularly the famous Woodpecker Finch.
Los Gemelos, or the Twin Craters, are located opposite each other on both sides of the road leading from Puerto Ayora to Baltra. The name is only figurative; not real craters, these formations were created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. The view is breathtaking.
Penguins are often seen swimming near the yacht anchorage at Punta Cormorant, on the eastern tip of the southern island of Floreana. In the large, brackish lagoon the usual crowd includes Pink Flamingos, Blacknecked Stilts, Bahamas White-cheek Pintail ducks, Ruddy Turnstones, and other wading birds. From the white sand beach, we often see rays skimming along just below the surface, sea lions, and squadrons of Blue-footed Boobies plunge-diving for fish. This is an important sea turtle nesting site and we frequently see the evidence, bulldozer-like trails running up the beach from the surf to craters in the sand where egg pits were dug.
Just offshore is Devils Crown, a remnant volcanic tuff cone whose crater is half-open to the sea. This is a favourite location for snorkelling with sea lions and viewing marine life. We then visit Champion Islet, one of the top snorkelling spots in the islands (the island itself is off limits to visitors). We usually make a visit to the nearby historic Post Office Barrel where we drop off postcards to friends back home, and learn more about the islands on a tender ride through tiny islets where we see more birds and animals. We may cruise west to Black Beach where we may visit Margret Wittmer's family homestead. Margret Wittmer was perhaps the oldest living (she was in her 90's when she died in 1999), and longest resident in Galápagos.
Elizabeth Bay is a pristine mangrove lagoon. On the approach, we pass tiny islets (submerged rocks) where penguins are often standing, sometimes braying to their brethren. The entry to the enclosed lagoon is through a narrow passage lined with giant red mangroves. Once inside, the guide poles the tender along quietly while we watch sea turtles, golden rays, small sharks, herons and other shorebirds fishing from the mangrove roots. Pelicans and egrets also nest in the mangroves. This is sort of a “sea turtle Ft. Lauderdale” where hundreds and hundreds of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas agassiz) come to mate before nesting. Moreno Point is a rather barren lava flow with interesting plants and a small pond where we may see flamingos, ducks, and Great Blue Herons. It is an enjoyable walk to the pond and a great place to stretch your legs.
Bahía Urbina, at the foot of Volcan Alcedo, was created in the late 1800's when a geological event uplifted a big chunk of sea floor to the surface overnight. The shoreline is a rough jumble of huge marine corals and new lava. Flightless Cormorants, pelicans and marine iguanas are prevalent here. Not far inland is a small colony of large land iguanas. You may see them digging nests (burrows) during the mating season. Often, you can see a giant tortoise that has chugged down from Volcan Alcedo. The vegetation is varied and several species of birds nest here. It's one of the most rewarding visitor sites. Espinoza Point is the most westerly island, the youngest and the most volcanically active of the Galapagos Islands. Ashore, we stroll over the black pahoehoe lava among hundreds of marine iguanas that are piled up together, taking in the sun.
Tagus Cove is a deep, secluded bay, surrounded by high cliffs. There is a scenic and challenging trail up through the fascinating dry zone vegetation. At the end of the trail there is a fine view of Isabela's coastline and picturesque Fernandina, just across the Bolivar Channel. Through the centuries this cove has been an anchorage for whaling and sealing ships, pirate ships, warships, and a parade of commercial and private vessels. Many crews left graffiti on the cliff faces noting their presence. You can find names and dates going back a long way. Vicente Roca Point is a huge rock that foots the northwest corner of Isabela. Boobies and other seabirds nest on its slopes. Feral cats live there and poach the eggs and the young. There is no landing at this site; rather we explore the cliff faces by tender and putt-putt in to a huge marine cave where we explore the interesting marine life.
Espumilla Beach is located on the eastern side of James Bay. In the lagoon behind the beach, we may see flamingos, ducks, wading birds, and sometimes even a stranded sea turtle. You may also see El Prujo as well as Galapagos Hawks. Bucanero Cove, on the north side of Santiago, was a legendary hideout for pirate ships preying on the Spanish Galleons ferrying Inca gold and treasure to Spain. This is a secret cove with a tiny beach and a modestly interesting visitor site. At Puerto Egas are remnants of several failed fish drying enterprises. Nearby there is an abandoned, open pit salt mine. Here we visit the fur seal grotto and usually see a number of fur seals sleeping in the sun. At low tide, marine iguanas graze on exposed seaweed among Sally Lightfoot crabs, while American Oystercatchers and whimbrels search out tidbits. We will see marine iguanas feeding and swimming in the surf.
Las Bachas is a small beach on the northern side of Santa Cruz, not far from Baltra and Caleta Tortuga. We will see playful sea lions and have time for swimming and snorkelling. In the tiny lagoon behind the white sand beach, we sometimes see Flamingos and Great Blue Herons. Sea turtles nest here from December to April. If we anchor here for the night during the hatching season, with a flashlight we can easily spot hatchlings swimming frantically for open sea. North Seymour Island is a small, flat, uplifted island with dense colonies of Blue-footed Boobies and magnificent Frigate birds living together.
After breakfast you will be taken to the airport for your return flight to the mainland.
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6 staterooms; 2 staterooms with 2 lower single beds or 1 king bed, 4 additional staterooms with 2 lower single beds or 1 double/king bed and 1 pullman-style bed, air conditioning, large en-suite bathroom with full-size shower & porthole window.