This 8-day/7-night itinerary takes you in the steps of Pirates and Darwin by visiting some of historically rich islands such as Floreana - home to Post Office Bay, Tower Island - home of Darwin Bay, and Santa Cruz - home of Charles Darwin Research Station. With this central-eastern island itinerary you will experience the history of Galapagos pirates, delve into the theory of evolution, and become educated about all of Charles Darwin's endeavors.
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In the Steps of Pirates & Darwin itinerary details are listed below. Click on the following links to view details of other Evolution Galapagos Cruise or return to the main page.
Footsteps Back in Time 8 day/7 night
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Day 1 - SAT - Baltra, Whaler Bay & Eden Islet
Upon arrival at Baltra Airport, meet the expedition staff and transfer to Evolution. After briefing and lunch, make your first island excursion on Santa Cruz Island. Visit Whaler Bay, a beautiful green sand cove at the base of Dragon Hill on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. The beach contains a large amount of olivine crystals of volcanic origin. The crystals were formed when the magma was still underground. The content is magnesium, iron and silica. A small population of tortoises from Pinzon Island lived at the site, but was probably taken by whalers or previous inhabitants. There is an opportunity to see marine iguanas and see birds followed by snorkeling. After head back to the ship for a welcome cocktail and briefing.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
lunch and dinner
Day 2 - SUN - Punta Roca & Punta Espinosa, Fernandina
Punta Vicente Roca is one of the most fascinating marine sites in Galapagos. Divers come to explore the underwater caves and incredible marine life including rays, mula mula and horn sharks. While no landings are permitted here the tranquil waters that make up the base of the 2,600 foot Volcano Ecuador are teeming with wildlife. A panga ride along the coast provides the opportunity to observe Galapagos Penguins, flightless cormorants, pacific sea turtles, noddy terns, blue footed boobies, frigatebirds, sea lions and fur seals.
After a delicious lunch, head to Punta Espinosa, a place famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas and as the habitat of unique species like the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin, Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, among others.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 3 - MON - Ubina Bay & Tagus Cove, Isabela
This morning make a wet landing at Urbina Bay onto a gently sloping beach. Walk amongst the dried coral heads, mollusks and other organisms that formed the ocean floor. Giant tortoises Inhabit this coastal plain during the wet season, before migrating to the highlands when it turns dry. Our landing beach also provides opportunities to snorkel amongst marine creatures, or just relax on shore.
On the way to Tagus Cove, the boat will sail through the Bolivar Channel. These are the coldest, most productive waters in the Galápagos, the upwelling of the Cronwell Current, where dolphins and whales are frequently seen. Tagus Cove, a popular anchorage for whalers, pirates and other sailors since around 1836, visitors at this time marked their names in the canyons as a sign of their arrival on this site. The cove‘s quiet waters make for an ideal panga ride beneath its sheltered cliffs, where blue-footed boobies, brown noddies, pelicans and noddy terns make their nests, and flightless cormorants and penguins inhabit the lava ledges. From our landing, a wooden stairway rises to the trail entrance for a view of Darwin Lake, a perfectly round saltwater crater, barely separated from the ocean but above sea level! The trail continues around the lake through a dry vegetation zone, and then climbs inland to a promontory formed by spatter cones. The site provides spectacular views back toward our anchorage in the bay, as well as Darwin Volcano and Wolf Volcano farther north.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4 - TUE - Pinnacle Rock & Sullivan Bay, Bartholome
Visit to Bartholomew Island, hiking to the top of a dormant volcano for a beautiful panorama of lava flows, neighboring islands and Pinnacle Rock. This Island is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean‘s edge and is the best known landmark in the Galápagos. Galápagos penguins—the only species of penguin found north of the equator—walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. A perfectly crescent, pink-and- white sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle. Sea turtles use the beach as a nesting site and can sometimes be found wading in the shallow water near the shore, or resting in the sand to recover from the arduous task of digging nests, laying eggs and covering them over. Penguins dot the nearby rocks of the next landing site, less than a kilometer along the eastern shore. Here the submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a fountain pool. This dry landing—no wet feet!—is the entrance to a 2000-foot pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartholomew‘s summit. The walk takes approximately an hour to an hour and a half. Returning to the shoreline black and white Oystercatchers can be seen fishing for crabs and mollusks in the tide pools. After exploring the lava flow, there is swimming and snorkeling with playful sea lions off two small coralline beaches.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 5 - WED - Bachas Beach & Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz
Morning visit to Las Bachas where the sand at is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white and soft, and a favorite site for nesting sea turtles. The Sally Lightfoot crabs are abundant on the lava rocks along the water's edge. These crabs will eat anything they can get their claws on.
This afternoon head to Dragon Hill, one of the newest visitor's sites on Santa Cruz Island. Named for the large number of land iguanas that frequent the area, Dragon Hill has become an important nesting site for iguanas reintroduced there by the Charles Darwin Research Center. Enjoy a short walk from the beach to a hypersalinic (saltier than the ocean) lagoon that is frequented by pink flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks and other species of birds. From here, they will pass through a Scalesia tree forest. Endemic to the Galapagos, there are only 400 specimens of the Scalesia tree left in the world. Past the forest, hike up Dragon Hill itself for impressive views of the bay.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 6 - THR - Charles Darwin Station & Highlands, Santa Cruz
Puerto Ayora is home to both the Galápagos National Park and Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of the great restorative efforts taking place in the park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Go ashore to visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Program run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 16 tortoises on the island of Española in the 1970s. This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today. You will see many of these animals, with their sweet ET necks and faces, from hatchlings to juveniles to large, distinguished individuals.
After lunch make a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands, where the sparse, dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. Our destination is the Tortoise Reserve, where we will have chances to track and view these friendly ancient creatures in their natural setting. This extends to the adjacent pasture lands, where farmers have given tortoise safe quarter in exchange for allowing paying visitors to see them. The best times to see tortoises here is during the cool dry season from June through December. Another attraction close by is a very large lava tube. A wooden stairway descends to the mouth of its arched entrance and continues underground to the narrow passage that marks its exit.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 7 - FRI - Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay, Espanola
This morning begin at Punta Suarez. The quantity and variety of wildlife here is remarkable. Sea lions surf the waves beyond the breakwater landing, and tiny pups are known to greet your toes upon arrival. A few steps inland are the largest variety of marine iguana in the Galapagos. They bear distinctive red and black markings, some with a flash of turquoise running down their spine, and nap in communal piles. The trail then takes us beside the western edge of the island where masked boobies nest along the cliff's edge, and then descends to a rocky beach before rising to an open area and a large gathering of nesting blue-foot boobies. Galapagos doves, cactus finch and mocking birds forage by, unconcerned by human presence. The trail continues to the high cliff edge of the southern shore; below, a shelf of black lava reaches out into the surf where a blowhole shoots a geyser of water into the air. Further east along the cliffs is the "Albatross Airport" where "waved albatross" line up to launch their great winged bodies from the cliffs, soaring out over the dramatic shoreline of crashing waves and driven spray.
Spend the afternoon at Gardner Bay which offers a magnificent long white sandy beach, where colonies of sea lions laze in the sun, sea turtles swim offshore, and inquisitive mockingbirds boldly investigate new arrivals. You will be lured into the turquoise water for a swim, but just a little further off-shore, the snorkeling by Tortuga rock and Gardner Island offers peak encounters with playful young sea lions and large schools of surprisingly big tropical fish, including yellow tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish and bump-head parrot fish. Sleepy white-tipped reef sharks can be seen napping on the bottom.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 8 - SAT - Interpretation Center, San Cristobal
Before heading back to the San Cristobal Airport, spend the morning at the Interpretation Center. The tour offered by the Center for Interpretation's facilities takes us through the history of the islands in the context of nature, humankind and conservation. The Museum of Natural History explains a series of natural circumstances such as the volcanic origins of the islands, their remoteness from the continent, its ocean currents, its special climate, the arrival of different species, and their establishment, among others. The Human History exhibit narrates chronologically the most significant events related to the discovery and colonization of the Galapagos. The second level describes the reality of today's Galapagos: the problems and the struggle of several institutions and individuals to conserve Galapagos. Afterwards, transfer to the San Cristobal airport and depart back to Mainland Ecuador.Accommodations:
breakfastGALAPAGOS CRUISE INCLUSIVE PACKAGE:
For your convenience we offer an Inclusive Package with three nights hotel accommodations in Quito, all airport/hotel transfers, Galapagos flights, Galapagos National Park entrance fees and taxes, Galapagos migration card and your Galapagos cruise. View details of our Galapagos Cruise Inclusive Package
Travelers not interested in our inclusive package must purchase Galapagos flights in conjunction with their Galapagos cruise.
GALAPAGOS CRUISE CUSTOM PACKAGE:
If you are booking a cruise-only program our experts can assist with hotels, transfers, flights and tours. Call AdventureSmith Explorations about customizing your tour or the possibilities of combining this trip with our Mainland Ecuador
and Peru: Machu Picchu
extensions. We are Galapagos cruise and Ecuador travel experts and our staff can help you customize the perfect Galapagos cruise or Ecuador tour package.
Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the captain's discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of small ship cruising unique.
Accommodations aboard the Grace, all shore excursions with English speaking guides, all meals, guides and activities throughout the cruise, all non alcoholic beverages, and use of snorkeling equipment and wetsuits.
Airfare; excess baggage charges; airport departure tax from Quito; airline fuel tax; park entrance fees; INGALA Transit Control Card; tips to local staff; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages; and insurance of any kind.
Any double cabin can be booked as a single for a 75% single supplement, or 100% on holiday departures.
Families & Children:
Children under 11 receive a 30% discount off the cruise fare (not available during Easter, Christmas and New Year holidays). A maximum of two children discounts are allowed per family. There is a minimum age of 8 years, but please inquire about potential family departures that might allow younger children and/or private charters.
Arrival & Departure:
Most flights to the Galapagos will depart Quito or Guayaquil between 7:00am-9:00am on day 1 and return between 2:00pm-5:00pm on the final day. We highly recommend travelers arrive Ecuador 2 days prior to their Galapagos cruise.
Payment & Cancellation:
A nonrefundable cruise deposit of $700 per person is required at the time of booking. For land packages a deposit of $300 per person is required at the time of booking. A Reservation Form
, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. For cancellations received 60 days or less prior to departure, the full FIT price will be applied as the cancellation penalty.
Terms & Conditions:
This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions
. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information is sent upon confirmation.
We highly recommend our travelers protect their investment with travel insurance. Please note that you must purchase your travel insurance policy within 14 days of booking your trip for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions. Click the link below for a selection of policies from our partners at Travelex.
There are numerous opportunities to swim and snorkel. The underwater experience is an integral part of any Galapagos cruise. We encourage all travelers to try snorkeling. Snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, fins, floating vest and net bag) and wet suits are provided for the duration of the cruise. Wet suits are recommended from June to December.
This trip will be enjoyed by anyone who is in good health and leads an active life. Daily excursions from the boat to the islands will be made in pangas (dinghies). Trip members will hike from the landing point to specific areas for wildlife observation. Hiking time for most landings will be a couple of hours round trip with lots of time to stop to study, photograph and enjoy the flora and fauna. Some landings are dry but many are "wet," requiring cautious footing on slippery rocks. The boat staff will be on hand to assist.
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