This 8-day/7-night itinerary follows the "Footsteps back in Time" by taking you to all the important visitor sites that have shaped these islands through history and evolution. From Santa Cruz to Fernandina and Isabela, then making your way to Floreana, Espanola and San Cristobal, you will experience all the wonderful flora and fauna during this central-western island itinerary.
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The Evolution Footsteps Back in Time itinerary details are listed below. Click on the following links to view details of other Evolution Galapagos Cruises or return to the home page.
In the Steps of Pirates & Darwin 8 day/7 night
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Day 1 - SAT - Playa Ochoa & Kicker Rock
Upon arrival at the San Cristobal Airport, meet your expedition staff and transfer to the Evolution. After briefing and lunch, make your first island visit at Playa Ochoa & Kicker Rock. The visiting area is restricted to Ochoa beach. Near the beach is a temporal pool, which is constantly visited by migrating birds and shorebirds. It is one of the sites where you can see the mockingbird endemic to San Cristobal. Next head to Kicker rock, a spectacular formation that rises 500 feet out of the Pacific. It takes the form of a sleeping lion, but from another angle you can see that the rock is split, forming a colossal tablet and, piercing the sea, a great chisel ready for etching.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
lunch and dinner
Day 2 - SUN - South Plazas, Punta Carrion & Daphne
South Plaza is one of the smallest yet richest islands in the archipelago. The trail gradually follows the tilt of the island to the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the south, where swallow-tailed gulls nest. Red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-footed boobies ride the windy currents. The overlook is a great place for spotting large marine life, including manta rays. Surf pounds an inlet at the western corner of the island, where a colony of sea lion bachelors make their home, accounting for the surface of the rocks, polished by the oils of their fur.
Spend the afternoon at Daphne Island. Venture up a steep trail to the crater rim. Finches, Masked Boobies, Short Eared Owls and Galapagos Martins are visible along the way.Nearing the summit Red-Billed Tropicbirds nest in the cliffs. These elegant birds with long white tail feathers and a coral-red bill, nest in the over hanging ledges and crevices of the steep slopes. Magnificent Frigatebirds build their nests in the little vegetation that occurs on the islands slopes and near the crater rim. This is a place where thousands of birds can be seen soaring overhead.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 3 - MON - Sombrero Chino & James Bay, Santiago
Begin this morning at Sombrero Chino Islet. Less than a quarter of a square kilometer in size, the tiny island of Sombrero Chino gets its name from its appearance, which is that of a Chinese hat. Starting from a crescent-shaped white sandy beach, this 400 meter long trail provides some wonderful landscapes to view. There are also some good swimming and snorkeling opportunities in the cove area amidst white-tipped reef sharks and tropical fish.
After lunch, make our way to James Bay Santiago Island, which offers access to three unique sites, Puerto Egas, Salt Mine and Espumilla Beach. The first landing, Puerto Egas is the most visited area and begins with a wet landing on a black beach. With intriguing eroded rock formations inland, the trail crosses the dry interior eastward and continues along the shore line where two different types of lavas merge into unreal scenery. There we find the so called Fur seal Grottos, the only place during your visit that allows you to see these beautiful marine mammals during a land excursion. From the black beach at Santiago Island it is possible to experience one of the most exuberant snorkeling sessions during your visit.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4 - TUE - Prince Phillip’s Steps & Darwin Bay, Tower
Start the morning with a trip to Prince Phillip’s Steps, named for a visit by the British Monarch in 1964. The 81-foot stairway leads to a narrow stretch of land that opens out onto the plateau surrounding Darwin Bay, and extends to form the north side of the island. "Storm petrels" flutter out over the ocean in swarms, then return to nest in the cracks and tunnels of the lava field, where their predator, the short-eared owl, is a frequent visitor.
Spend the afternoon at Darwin Bay. Landing on the white coral sands and walking up the beach, you will be surrounded by the bustling activity of "great frigate birds." Farther along you will discover a stunning series of sheltered pools set into a rocky outcrop, forming another natural film set. A trail beside the pools leads up to a cliff overlooking the caldera. Enjoy a brief panga ride to the base of those same cliffs to reveal the full variety of species sheltering in the ledges and crevices created by the weathered basalt. This is also an intriguing place to go deep-water snorkeling.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 5 - WED - North Seymour Island & Santa Fe Island
North Seymour Island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit perched in ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bring them into bloom. This island is teaming with life! Further along, the rocky shore displays white sand, and large flocks of pelicans mass for a dive bomb feeding frenzy, rendering a tableau for us from ages long past. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galápagos of the magnificent frigate bird. These huge, dark acrobats have two-meter wingspans, and males, with puffed up scarlet throat sacks; sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks. Snorkel with sea lions and rays.
Santa Fe Island may well be the oldest island in the Galapagos. This afternoon, anchor at one of the most beautiful and most sheltered bays in the archipelago, and some of the best snorkeling is here, with its crystal clear and Santa Fe Island - Mapshallow waters. Certainly one of the best locations to see sea turtles, swim with sea lions and glimpse of the Galapagos White-tipped Shark. After a wet landing you will walk up to a nearby cliff to see the land iguanas through an area of Opuntia Cactus. Other animals present are the Galapagos Hawk, owls, Frigates, Pelicans, Manta Rays and mockingbirds.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 6 - THR - Post Office Bay & Punta Cormorant, Floreana
Punta Cormorant offers two highly contrasting beaches; the strand where the yacht anchors is composed of volcanic olivine crystals, giving it a greenish tint that glitters in the sun. From here a trail crosses the neck of the isthmus—that rises to form a cinder cone—to a beach of very fine white sand, formed by the erosion of coral skeletons. Between the two beaches is a salt lagoon frequented by flamingos, pintails, stilts and other wading birds. Start with a leisurely hike to Post Office Bay, once used by British navigators to send mail with home bound messengers. Descend into a lava tube before a panga ride along la loberia.
In 1793 British whalers set up a barrel as the island‘s Post Office, to send letters home on passing ships. The tradition continues to this day, simply by dropping a post card into the barrel without a stamp. The catch is you must take a post card from the barrel and see that it gets to the right place. That is how the system began and continues to this day. Some claim it works better than the post office. Seen 250 meters north from Punta Cormorant is an old submerged volcanic cone that has been worn down by waves, Devil's Crown is home to a myriad of marine species including a variety of corals, pencil sea urchin, wrasses, angelfish, amberjacks and many other creatures, making for some of the best snorkeling in the Galápagos. The eroded crater walls form a popular roosting site for seabirds including boobies and pelicans. Enjoy walking to Punta Cormorant, where a salt-water lagoon is home to large colonies of pink flamingos.Accommodations: EvolutionIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 7 - FRI - Charles Darwin Station & Highlands, Santa Cruz
This morning 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 Espanola 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.
A highlight of any trip is 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, to 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 wet 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 8 - SAT - Black Turtle Cove & Disembark Baltra
Spend the last morning at Black Turtle Cove. On the north shore of Santa Cruz, is a living illustration of how mangroves alter the marine environment to create a rich and unique habitat. Three species of mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon, which reaches almost a mile inland. White-tipped reef sharks slip beneath the boat and Pacific green sea turtles come to the surface for air and to mate. After the morning's excursion, head to Baltra Island for flights 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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