This 8-day/7-night Following in Darwin's Footsteps itinerary will leave you enchanted with history and lessons of the Galapagos Islands from Darwin himself. Start off on the beautiful Sandy Beach at Whaler's Bay, visit Plaza and Santa Fe Islands then head north to Genovesa and west for Isabela and Fernandina Islands. The Charles Darwin Research Station, Darwin Bay, Darwin Lake and Darwin Volcano are all on the itinerary, as is Puerto Egas (James Bay) where Charles Darwin spent most of his Galapagos land time.
2013 - 8 Day/7 Night Cruise Only
Albert Master Suites
Albert Twin Suites
Carolina Dbl Stateroom
Carolina Twin Stateroom
Rates are per person based on double
Christmas, New Year or Easter departures
Includes 3 nights hotel, transfers, city tour, internal flights, park fees and taxes. View details
Departs every Saturday
The Following in Darwin's Footsteps itinerary details are listed below. Click on the following links to view details of other Grace Galapagos cruises or return to the main page.
Beyond Darwin's Footsteps 8 day/7 night
Galapagos Grace Main Page
Day 1 - SAT - Baltra to Whaler's Bay (Santa Cruz)
Fly to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands and board M/Y Grace. Spend the afternoon at Whaler's Bay. On the north shore of Santa Cruz, this beautiful sandy beach makes it a great welcome for visitors. As you drift though the quiet waters in a panga, you are likely to see marine life and when disembarking at the bay, enjoy the fabulous opportunity snorkel or swim in the clear water. This is a peaceful place that will leave you feeling that way. Reconvene back on board the Grace for a welcome cocktail and first formal briefing.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
lunch and dinner
Day 2 - SUN - Santa Fe & South Plaza Islands
Begin the morning on Santa Fe Island, which may well be the oldest island in the Galapagos. Anchor at one of the most beautiful and most sheltered bays in the archipelago, for some of the best snorkeling in its crystal clear waters. It's also one of the best locations to see sea turtles, swim with sea lions and glimpse the Galapagos white-tipped shark. After a wet landing, 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. The goal of this excursion is to spot one of the large endemic species of land iguana.
This afternoon sail to South Plaza Island - one of the smallest islands of the archipelago, yet one of the richest in wildlife. The dry landing transports you to a brilliant combination of life and colors. Land iguanas wandering through bright-red carpet weed, swallow-tailed gulls nesting around the overhang tops and red-billed tropicbirds and shearwaters flying with dancing displays. This 13 acre island is one of the best spots in the archipelago to see land iguanas and swallow-tailed gulls, both indigenous to the Galapagos. There are iguana nests scattered all over the hill. The sheer cliffs of the southern shore are a perfect bird habitat, making it an
unparalleled bird observatory especially for swallow-tailed gulls, Audubon shearwaters and red-billed tropicbirds. You'll also have the chance to spot the only marine-land iguana hybrids in the islands and one of the biggest sea lion colonies in the archipelago.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 3 - MON - Prince Phillip’s Steps & Darwin Bay (Genovesa)
Genovesa (Tower) Island sits to the northwest, slightly removed from the Galápagos archipelago. The southwestern part of the island is an ocean-filled caldera ringed by the outer edges of a sizeable and mostly submerged volcano. Genovesa is also known as Bird Island, a name it lives up to in a spectacular way. Named for a visit by the British Monarch in 1964, 81-foot Prince Phillip's Steps 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. Red-footed boobies wrap their webbed feet around branches to perch in the bushes, and, in contrast, their “masked-booby” cousins dot the surface of the scrublands beyond. Crossing through the sparse vegetation, you will come to a broad lava field that extends towards the sea — this forms the north shore. 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. Today there are opportunities to go on walks, hikes and dinghy rides, as well as snorkel and kayak.
Landing on the white coral sands of Darwin Bay and walking up the beach, you are surrounded by the bustling activity of great frigate birds. Farther along discover a stunning series of sheltered pools set into a rocky outcrop. A trail beside the pools leads up to a cliff overlooking the caldera, where pairs of swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world, can be seen nesting at the cliff‘s edge. Lava gulls and pintail ducks ride the sea breezes nearby. A brief panga ride brings you 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. Among them, red-billed tropic birds enter and leave their nests trailing exotic kite-like tails. This is also an intriguing place to go deep-water snorkeling, where the truly fortunate swimmer can spot one of the giant manta rays that frequent the inner bay along the cliff walls. You might also seem them at the surface as the sun sets on your first full day in the Galápagos.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4 - TUE - Punta Espinosa (Fernandina) & Urbina Bay (Isabela)
At 4,858 feet, the big news on Fernandina Island, the youngest and westernmost of the Galapagos Islands, is La Cumbre volcano that erupts frequently, most recently in May 2005. Fernandina sits across the Bolivar Channel opposite Isabela. Today's destination is Punta Espinosa, a narrow spit of land in the northeast corner of the island, where a number of unique Galápagos species can be seen in close proximity such as marine iguanas, sea lions, flightless cormorants, and hawks. As your panga driver skillfully navigates the reef, penguins show off by throwing themselves from the rocks into the water. The landing is a dry one, set in a quiet inlet beneath the branches of a small mangrove forest. A short walk through the vegetation leads to a large colony of marine iguanas resting atop one another in friendly heaps along the rocky shoreline, spitting water to clear their bodies of salt. Nearby, sea lions frolic in a sheltered lagoon. This is one of the few places you can glimpse iguanas grazing on seaweed underwater. Farther down this stretch of shore, the world‘s only species of flightless cormorants have established their colony near an inviting inlet frequented by sea turtles. Back toward the landing and farther inland, the island’s black lava flows become more evident, forming a quiet, inner lagoon.
Urbina Bay is directly west of Isabela‘s Volcano Alcedo; make a wet landing (a hop into a few inches of water) onto a gently sloping beach. Walk amongst the dried coral heads, mollusks and other organisms that formed the ocean floor. A highlight of this excursion is the giant land iguanas, whose vivid and gaudy yellow skin suggests that dinosaurs may have been very colorful indeed. Giant tortoises inhabit this coastal plain during the wet season, before migrating to the highlands when it turns dry. This landing beach also provides opportunities to snorkel among marine creatures, or just relax on shore. Here we must take care not to step on the sea turtle nests dug carefully into the sand. Swim or snorkel from the beach.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 5 - WED - Tagus Cove & Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela)
On the way to Isabela Island's Tagus Cove, the Grace sails 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 was 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. Upon landing ashore, 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 (the highest point in the Galapagos) farther north.
At Punta Vicente Roca the remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves with a bay well protected from the ocean swells. The spot is a popular anchorage from which to take panga rides along the cliff where a partially sunken cave beckons explorers. Masked and blue-footed boobies sit perched along the point and the sheer cliffs, while flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline. The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galápagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life; this in combination with the protection of the coves makes Punta Vicente Roca one of the archipelago's most sough-after dive and snorkel spots. One cove is only accessible from the sea by way of an underwater passage. The passage opens to calm waters of the hidden cove where sea lions like to laze on the beach having traveled along the underwater route. In the late afternoon, visit Punta Albemarle on the very northern tip of Isabela. Rocky volcanic cliffs drop down to the ocean floor as almost vertical walls. You might see large animals like manta rays, marbled rays, hammerhead sharks and marine turtles, but also Chevron barracuda, snappers, yellow fin tuna, rainbow runners, wahoo and groupers.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 6 - THU - Espumilla Beach, Buccaneer's Cove & James Bay (Santiago)
Make a wet landing on Espumilla Beach, a large coffee-colored sand beach is just north of the prized fresh water supply that once attracted pirates and whalers. Espumilla Beach was changed by El Nino; the brackish lagoons here underwent a process of sedimentation, and the flamingo colony that once existed here has moved elsewhere. Galapagos visitors who now come to Espumilla Beach come in search of birds rather than water. A short walk inland takes you through a mangrove forest normally inhabited by the common stilt; sea turtles also visit these mangroves to nest, so be careful where you step. Swim or snorkel back at the beach time permitting.
Late morning, visit Buccaneer's Cove. This site served as a safe haven for pirates, sailors and whalers during the 18th and 19th centuries. Anchoring in the protected bay they were able to make much needed repairs to their ships while other men went a shore to stock up on salt, tortoises, fresh water and firewood. The cove is very scenic with steep cliffs made of tuff and the dark reddish-purple sand beach. This dramatic landscape is made all the more impressive by the hundreds of seabirds perched atop the cliffs. Two of the more recognizable rock formations are known as the "monk" and "elephant rock."
In the afternoon enjoy time at Puerto Egas, also known as James Bay, which offers an intriguing, eroded rock formation with an inland trail crossing the dry interior. The magical shorelines of the west of Santiago Island are a combination of tuff cone, lava flows and organic sand. A rocky coast with a very gentle slope is used by a great number of shore birds and reptiles. Oystercatchers, whimbrels, sanderlings, turnstones, tattlers and other waders are mixed with marine iguanas and bright crabs to feed by the rich littoral zone. Grand, partially collapsed lava tunnels house a Galapagos fur sea lion colony. The snorkeling can be some of the best in the archipelago. Charles Darwin spent most of his Galapagos land time near this spot. Darwin describes his visit to James Bay in Voyage of the Beagle.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 7 - FRI - Charles Darwin Station & Highlands (Santa Cruz)
Start the morning at Puerto Ayora, home to both the Galápagos National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of the great restorative efforts taking place in the park. Here, go ashore to visit the Fausto Llerena Center, a tortoise breeding and rearing facility run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 16 tortoises on the island of Espańola in the 1970s. This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today. You will see many of these animals from hatchlings to juveniles to large, distinguished individuals. The local color of this port makes for an attractive stop-off, with restaurants, souvenir shops and cafés.
This afternoon enjoy 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. See the Twins (Los Gemelos), a pair of pit craters, and El Chato Tortoise Reserve for the chance to track and view these friendly ancient creatures in their natural setting. This extends to the adjacent pasturelands, 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: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 8 - SAT - Interpretation Center (San Cristobal)
Before you bid farewell to the Grace and her crew, pay a visit to the Interpretation Center on San Cristobal, which presents a comprehensive exhibit of the islands‘ natural history, human interaction, ecosystems, flora and fauna. From the Interpretation Center, a short trail arrives at Frigate Bird Hill, where both “magnificent-frigates” and “great-frigates” can be seen in the same colony—ideal for learning to distinguish the two bird species. Then head to the San Cristobal airport 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 or Guayaquil, 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. Contact 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.
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.
Cruises include accommodations aboard the Grace, all shore excursions with English speaking guides, all meals, guides and activities throughout the cruise, all non alcoholic beverages, use of snorkeling equipment, and fuel Surcharge.
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.
Following in Darwin's Footsteps aboard Grace 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.