This 8-day/7-night itinerary takes you Beyond the Footsteps of Darwin by delving deeper into the history and evolution of the most popular visitor sites of the Galapagos. With this itinerary, not only will you learn a great deal about the past, but you will see evolution happening right before your eyes. Here you will have the chance to witness forests of prickly pear cactus, seas of turquoise green teaming with fish, steep cliffs packed with bird-life and exciting trails leading to hidden coves and lagoons. Start in San Cristobal, home to the spectacular Kicker Rock formation. Cruise south to Espanola and Floreana Islands, then north into the central Galapagos' diverse islands. Round out all the excitement with lessons from the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island for a complete understanding of nature, humankind and conservation.
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
Post Office Bay
Beyond 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.
Following in Darwin's Footsteps 8 day/7 night
Galapagos Grace Main Page
Day 1 - SAT - Isla Lobos & Kicker Rock (San Cristobal)
Fly to San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands and board M/Y Grace. This afternoon, your first island visit will be at Lobos Island and Kicker Rock. Heading up the coast from Wreck Bay and Puerto Baquerizo, you will see Lobos Island across a small channel off the coast of San Cristóbal. This basalt island, outcropping lives up to its name of Sea Lion Island with its noisy population of frolicking and barking beasts. It is also a nesting place for blue-footed boobies and an excellent spot for snorkeling. This is your first chance to share the water with a playful colony of the wolves of the sea followed, by Leon Dormido also known as Kicker Rock, a spectacular rock 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. Head back to the ship for a welcome cocktail and briefing.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
lunch and dinner
Day 2 - SUN - Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay (Espanola)
The quantity and variety of wildlife at Punta Suarez 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 Galápagos. 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 follows 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. 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. Farther 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.
This afternoon visit 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 farther 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: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 3 - MON - Post Office Bay & Cormorant Point (Floreana)
This morning brings visits to Post Office Bay and Devils Crown. 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 postcard into the barrel without a stamp. The catch is you must take a postcard from the barrel and see that it gets to the right place. 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. Start with a leisurely hike to Post Office Bay, once used by British navigators to send mail with homebound messengers. Descend into a lava tube before a panga ride along la loberia.
Spend the afternoon at Punta Cormorant, which 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.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4 - TUE - Dragon Hill & Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz)
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 Station. Take 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, 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. In the afternoon, visit Fausto Llerena Center, which currently houses 925 youth and 70 adult turtles. It has been the primary center for the Galapagos Tortoise Breeding Project, which began in the 1970s and has been an incredible success in helping repopulate the Galapagos Giant Tortoise population. Tortoises of this corral are accustomed to humans; it is an excellent spot for visitors to be photographed with them. The path continues to the Charles Darwin Research facilities and then to the town of Puerto Ayora. The local color of this port makes for an attractive stop-off, with restaurants, souvenir shops and cafés.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 5 - WED - Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz) & Chinese Hat
In World War II the American army abandoned two barges whose remains can still be seen on Bachas Beach, where the sand at is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white and soft, and a favorite site for nesting sea turtles. 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. On this hike, see flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black-necked stilts and whimbrels. Spend the afternoon at Chinese Hat (Sombrero Chino), a tiny island just off the southeastern tip of Santiago Island. It is a fairly recent volcanic cone, which accounts for its descriptive name; it has the shape of a down-facing Chinese hat. The hat shape is best appreciated from the north side. Opposite Chinese Hat, on the rocky shoreline of nearby Santiago, Galapagos penguins are often seen. There is a small sea lion cove on the north shore, where boats anchor and land at the visitor site for swimming and snorkeling. A 400 m. trail goes around the cove and through a sea lion colony and marine iguanas cover the landscape. The volcanic scenery is attractive, and there are good views of the cone.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 6 - THR - Rabida Island & Sullivan Bay (Santiago)
Known for its unique reddish-maroon terrain, Isla Rabida is also home to large populations of sea lions, pelicans and flamingos. Though this island is uninhabited, visiting here is a must to enjoy the intriguing natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Make a wet landing on the unusual red-sand beaches here, to see sea lion colonies flourishing amidst hundreds of nesting pelicans. This island offers some of the best views of these wonderful birds in their natural habitat. Another sight not to be missed is the saltwater lagoon, where vast numbers of brightly colored pink flamingos can be seen lazying around male sea lions that have been ousted from their groups. Isla Rabida has a wonderful walking trail, along which one can take in the palo santo trees that cover the island‘s main volcanic peak. With some good snorkeling opportunities here as well along the rocks with sea lions and tropical fish, Isla Rabida makes for an enjoyable day trip.
Spend the afternoon walking around Sullivan Bay, one of the most outstanding volcanic sites in the Galapagos. The Sullivan Bay lava is known a Panoehoe (Hawaiian for rope). This thin-skinned lava's molten material cools down after an eruption, causing the surface materials to buckle into a rope like appearance. Panoehoe Lava is rare to the rest of the world, but is common to the volcanoes of Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands. 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: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 7 - FRI - Pinnacle Rock (Bartolome) & North Seymour
Spend the morning at Bartolome Island. Enjoy a hike to the top of a dormant volcano for a beautiful panorama of lava flows, neighboring islands and Pinnacle Rock. Bartolome 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. 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 is the entrance to a 2,000-foot pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolomew‘s summit. At the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and your landing site, where the crystal blue waters of the bay cradle the Grace. Take the chance to snorkel with sea lions and penguins, an unforgettable Galapagos experience!
This afternoon head to North Seymour Island, a good nesting site for frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. This 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! 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.Accommodations: GraceIncluded Meals:
breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 8 - SAT - Mosquera Islet & Disembark Baltra
Early this morning tour Mosquera, one of the smallest Islands resulting from an uplift of sand, made up of coral reefs and rocks. It boasts one of the largest sea lion colonies in the Galapagos archipelago. There are occasional reports of orca whales seen preying on the sea lion coiony. Mosquera is also home to many sea birds, making it an excellent site for observing shorebirds. There is a very nice beach here and since the islet is mainly flat there is an easy trail leading past the sea lion colony and a nesting area for lava gulls. Sharks, turtles, rays, barracudas and tropical fish are common in this area. After the morning's activities, head to the airport to fly back to Quito or Guayaquil in 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.
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.
Beyond 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.