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Absolute Galapagos | Grand Daphne

17 Days FROM USD 10,495

Overview

This comprehensive 17-day tour of the stunning Galapagos Islands sees you sailing as far afield as Espanola, the spectacular southernmost island of the Galapagos, past Kicker Rock to the westernmost island of Fernandina and up to the north-eastern outpost of Genovesa. Spectacular scenery and an incredible array of flora and fauna, both land and marine, are all waiting to be discovered as you cruise between the islands aboard the M/Y Daphne. Blue and red-footed boobies, frigatebirds, vermillion flycatchers and Darwin’s finches are amongst the colourful birds you are likely to spot. Be intrigued by the prehistoric-looking iguanas and lava lizards, the playful sea lions, the placid giant tortoises and the soaring albatrosses. Be mesmerised by the beautiful landscapes from mangrove wetlands to lava fields, Scalesia cloud forests, red sand beaches and picturesque coves. This will be an incredible experience that will be etched in your memory forever. 

Optional Activities :

Trip Code: ECTSABG

Location: Ecuador, Galapagos Islands

Ship: Grand Daphne

CRUISE ITINERARY

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador.
A welcome meeting will be held in the evening at either 5pm or 6 pm when you meet others travelling with you on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Please check with hotel reception or check the reception notice boards for the time and place of the meeting for your trip. As today is an arrival day, you can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting.
If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Quito sits at high altitude under the towering Pichincha volcano. It is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in South America. The city stretches along the valley and is surrounded by the Andes. The Old Town of Quito is awash with history, with more than 30 churches to explore, and a number of fascinating museums. La Compania de Jesus is considered to be the most beautiful and ornate churches in the Americas. The city's oldest street, Calle La Ronda, is well worth exploring.

As this trip spends very little time in Quito, we recommend you spend a few extra days before or after your trip to experience all the city has to offer. You may even wish to explore further beyond the city and visit Otavalo, Cotopaxi, the Cloud Forest or the Equatorial Monument.

Quito

Today is mostly a long travel day, and your Galapagos activities will begin after lunch. Rise early and transfer to the airport (approximately 1 hour) for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Pick-up may be as early as 4:30 am (your leader will confirm this at the welcome meeting) and a boxed breakfast will be provided. You will be met in the arrivals hall of the airport by a transfer guide (look out for ‘Daphne’ signs). Your transfer guide will take you on an airport public bus for a short distance (approximately 5 minutes), then you’ll board the public ferry and head across the Itabaca Channel (approximately 7 minutes). All public transport fees are included. Once you reach Santa Cruz Island, it’s time for your first Galapagos destination – take a private bus to the Highlands. After a short journey (approximately 10 minutes), arrive at Los Gemelos, which are twin sinkholes (not volcanic craters) created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. It is surrounded by the unique Scalesia cloud forest, so be on the look-out for the abundant bird life including different species of Darwin finches, woodpeckers, warbler finches and vermillion flycatchers. Continue into the highlands (approximately 30 minutes) and explore a rancho farm, where you will take a walk and enjoy your first lunch on the islands. The walk around (approximately 2 kilometres) reveals giant tortoises in their natural habitat. After lunch, travel to Puerto Ayora (approximately 45 minutes) where your yacht Daphne and her crew will be waiting for you. Once on board, you’ll be assigned a cabin and meet your crew and naturalist guide. Settle in for your first night on the islands.

Baltra - Santa Cruz Highlands

Discover the quirky maritime history of Post Office Bay, home of the oldest postal system in the Americas. Take the opportunity to post a letter in the historic post office barrel from 1793 which is still used today. Galapagos visitors can leave letters and postcards to be collected by the next passing boat. Snorkelling and a lovely panga ride are also included in this outing. Afterwards, head ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystal (a glassy volcanic mineral that gives the beach an olive-green colour). This is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions. Keep an eye out for pink flamingos and other waterbirds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. The moderate 2-kilometre walk continues to a white-flour sandy beach, which is an Eastern Pacific green turtle nesting site. Young diamond stingrays are commonly found in the shore line. Enjoy the view of the turquoise crystalline ocean. Just offshore, the famous Devil’s Crown is an old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices. The centre of the cone is an outstanding spot and many people find this one of the best snorkelling experiences of their trip. You might see rays, sharks, sea lions and turtles.

Isla Floreana

Sail overnight and wake up on the island of Española, the spectacular southernmost island of the Galapagos. Because of its remote location, this island has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses and also home to colonies of blue-footed and masked boobies. Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, lead you right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen. Land at Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos, home to a large and varied wildlife population. A walk along its rocky trails (approximately 3 km) takes you to a clifftop viewpoint that affords magical panoramas. Boobies line the rocky shoreline below, while frigate birds can be seen overhead. Enormous male sea lions lounge nearby, and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, getting airborne on the southeast winds. If you’re lucky you might spot the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate. Next, head to Gardner Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches of the Galapagos Islands. It’s full of sea lions and hood mockingbirds. Enjoy a walk (approximately 1 km) along the beach, and do some snorkelling which could be great for playing with sea lion pups and many fish. The rocks off the coast provide particularly great snorkelling, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish (such as surgeon and angelfish). Small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks.

Isla Española

Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido) is the magnificent basalt remains of a crater in the middle of the sea, the shape resembling a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. Cruise through the channel as nesting seabirds flank the boat, tropicbirds soar overhead, marine iguanas swim about and sea lions lounge on the water. Snorkelling from the panga gives you the chance to see Galapagos sharks, sea turtles and an incredible biodiversity of invertebrates on the wall. You might even spot a hammerhead shark. Some passengers will be leaving/joining today, so you may have some free time to explore the town of San Cristobal. Today you will visit the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre. The centre brings the history and geography of the archipelago to life, from its volcanic origins to the present day. The human history exhibit offers an insight into the discovery and colonisation of the Galapagos and the issue of problems the islands face today is also explored. This is a great place to get a complete overview of the Galapagos. If there’s time, your guide may be able to organise an optional visit to the Highlands of San Cristobal which will be the last chance for you to see the giant tortoises in the wild. The price of this activity depends on the number of passengers attending. Relaxing at the beach is of course a great option too.

Isla San Cristobal

Isla Santa Fe is home to more sea lions, and these ones are very eager for swimming partners! It’s a lovely place to take a dip, offers a dense concentration of wildlife, and is a fantastic place to see many of the stars of the Galapagos in one relatively small area. Expect to see Galapagos hawks, land iguanas, a variety of finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, sea lions, marine turtles, frigatebirds, Galapagos doves and lava lizards. This stunning island boasts one of the most attractive coves in the whole archipelago. The jade-green waters are ideal for snorkelling. Take a hike along the coast into the Opuntia forest (approximately 1.5 hours). From here you can see Santa Fe's trees – the largest in the Galapagos – along with a forest of giant cacti and palo santo trees. The trail can be a little rocky, so mind your step. Once back at the beach, you’ll have time for a snorkel. Playful sea lion pups and fluorescent fish make for nice company. Afterwards, continue to Plaza Sur (South Plaza), a small, picturesque island. Take a walk (approximately 1.5 hours), getting close to sea lions and passing one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations which rest among cacti, volcanic landscapes dotted with brightly coloured sea-purslanes. The southern cliffs are great for spotting tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as ‘the Gentlemen’s Club’ – a gathering of male sea lions. Today there may be an extra stop along the way to Plaza Sur to restock the provisions for the boat. Later tonight, set sail for Isla Genovesa.

Isla Santa Fe - Isla Plaza Sur

After an overnight sail, reach Isla Genovesa, the archipelago's north-eastern outpost. It’s undeniably worth the voyage. Dolphins are often spotted in the waters around beautiful Genovesa. These varied landscapes are a twitcher's paradise, with all three kinds of boobies, including the rare red-footed booby, and numerous other species such as tropicbirds and frigate birds. Next, Bahia Darwin (Darwin Beach) is another superb site with large breeding colonies of seabirds and frigates and other birds such as lava herons, swallow-tailed gulls, mockingbirds and, hopefully, vampire finches. Enjoy a moderate walk (approximately 2.5 hours) that passes tide pools, sea lions and diamond stingrays. This walk involves sand and some rocky sections. The steep Prince Philip's Steps lead you to the heart of the seabird rookeries, with birds overhead and nesting among the cliffs. Look out for storm petrels on the island’s rocky plains; Genovesa is the only place in the world where these birds can be seen flying during the day. Afterwards, perhaps cool off with a snorkel. The island's magnificent marine life makes for spectacular snorkelling – you might encounter manta rays, sharks, turtles and moray eels, plus many species of fish. Later tonight, depart Isla Genovesa for Isla Santiago.

Isla Genovesa

On Santiago Island's eastern coast sits Bahia Sullivan, also known as James Island. Here you’ll take a walk along pahoehoe lava (approximately 1 hour), which was created by an eruption that occurred in 1897, and witness the plants that have grown on the site since that last eruption. With some luck you might see some marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions, finches, turtles, sharks and penguins. During your walk, your guide will recount the geological history of the islands. Then travel to Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill): one of the best places to see land iguanas in the islands. From our dry landing, walk to a brackish, lagoon spotting lagoon birds such as stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers, sanderlings and flamingos. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. This area is a nesting site for land iguanas, which is constantly monitored and assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The arid-zone vegetation makes for an ideal place to see Darwin's finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, the endemic Galapagos flycatcher and yellow warblers. The path can be challenging but it will be worth it for a spectacular view of the bay.

Isla Santiago - Isla Santa Cruz

Explore Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) on a Zodiac. This red mangrove wetland is located on the north shore of Isla Santa Cruz. Cruise through this peaceful cove and look out for mating green turtles, as well as golden cow-nose rays, eagle rays and Galapagos sharks.

Head to Las Bachas, where the soft sand made of decomposed coral is a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle. Marine iguanas are also commonly spotted along the beach. The rocks make for excellent snorkelling and are populated by Sally Lightfoot crabs which are plentiful on the island. A saltwater lagoon just near the beach is home to flamingo and whimbrel – you might also see a great blue heron. Remnants of a floating pier, a testimony to the US presence in the Galapagos during World War II, can also be seen.

Please note that today there will be some downtime spent on Le Grande Daphne, as the guide will be escorting other passengers to and from the airport.

Isla Santa Cruz

Today you will sail from Las Bachas to Isla Rabida, known for its spectacular red sand beaches, caused by the high content of iron in the sand which rusts to form the unusual shade. Follow a trail from the shore along to a lagoon which is one of the best spots in the Galapagos to view flamingos. Keep an eye out for nesting pelicans, pintail ducks, marine iguanas and sea lions – all are commonly sighted on the island. Check out a vast opuntia cactus forest, hinting at the previous habitation of land iguanas, Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds, doves, finches and lava lizards. You may like to take the chance to go snorkelling and seek out sea stars, damsels, gobbies and surgeon fish.

In the afternoon, head to Albemarle on the northeast side of Isabela Island. Covered in mangroves, the bay is home to sea turtles, sea lions, penguins and flightless cormorants who feed on the algae and fish here. Take a walk inland and discover the remains of an old radar base from World War II and pass by pahoehoe and lava formations. Another fantastic location for snorkelling, you may like to have a look beneath the water’s surface in search of sea turtles and flightless cormorants.

Isla Rabida - Isla Isabela

Sail overnight from Isla Santiago around to the western shores of Isla Isabela. Wake up near Tagus Cove, where pirates and whalers used to collect tortoises for their travels. Enjoy a short visit here (approximately 2 hours), perhaps snorkelling or checking out the graffiti on the walls (the oldest of which is from 1836). Witness flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, a variety of waterfowl and the most northerly penguins in the world. You will walk to a lookout point for a stunning view of the north of Isabela Island and Volcan Wolf (Wolf Volcano).

Today you will also visit Bahia Urbina on the west of Isabela Island, Urbina Bay has a wide variety of plant life which changes depending on the season. You will be able to observe the beautiful color of the plants which attracts many different insects. The site also features a short trek inland, where giant tortoises can be spotted amongst the bushes in their natural habitat. You may also see land iguanas which often nest in the middle of the trail where their distinctive, textured and yellowish skin can be observed from up close. Flycatchers, Darwin’s finches and mockingbirds are common on the ground and in the trees.

Isla Isabela

Today we visit Punta Espinosa that is a narrow ledge of lava and sand extending from the base of La Cumbre volcano. Take a walk around the beautiful peninsula, which boasts such wildlife and plant life as lava cacti, marine iguanas, barking sea lions, tiny penguins and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Keep a lookout for that marvelous Galapagos predator hunting from the treetops: the Galapagos hawk. Top-notch snorkeling opportunities await in the clear waters, and turtles and sea lions can be seen swimming around and feeding on the shore. This is also a great spot to see flightless cormorants drying their atrophied wings on the rocks.

In the afternoon head to Punta Vicente Roca, this site allowed for panga rides to observe the abundant wildlife and offers one of the best snorkeling spots of the Archipelago. The snorkeling “route” takes us along the cliffs and offers the not so common chance of exploring two shallow underwater caves.

The primitive and unaggressive bullhead shark, known locally as the Port Jackson shark, is often seen here sharing its space with red-lipped batfish, frogfishes, Pacific seahorses, the endemic Camotillo, schools of barracuda and brown-stripped snappers. Sponges, corals, and other marine invertebrates are also abundant in the area.

Isla Fernandina - Isla Isabela

Sail this morning to Puerto Egas, a black-sand beach on the west side of James Bay, northwest of Isla Santiago, home to incredible volcanic tuff formations. Take a stroll along the beach with the native marine iguanas, pelicans, finches, mockingbirds, oystercatchers, Galapagos sea lions and Galapagos fur seals. You can see the amazing tidal pools, formed from ancient lava flow, providing a home for sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish. You might also end up snorkelling with a Galapagos fur seal – they’re always looking for a friend! In the afternoon travel to the northwest side of Santiago Island where you’ll find Caleta Bucanero, named after the pirates and buccaneers who once found shelter in the bay. Here you’ll have the chance to go snorkelling and take a dinghy ride to look for blue-footed boobies, pelicans and nocturnal seagulls nesting in the cliffs.

Isla Santiago

Wake up in Bartolome Island, a spectacular volcanic landscape full of spatter cones and lava flows, and home to Galapagos penguins and lava lizards. Put on your walking shoes and climb up 360 wooden steps to the summit, where an amazing view of Pinnacle Rock awaits. This is one of the most photographed sights in the Galapagos – an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth, providing a focal point for two nearby bays. Hike to the top of a once-active volcano and enjoy superb views across to Bahia Sullivan on nearby Isla Santiago. If you’re in luck, you might catch a glimpse of the Galapagos hawk. There’s also the chance to go snorkelling among the colourful marine life. In the afternoon, travel to the small island of Sombrero Chino, found on the southeast side of Santiago Island. With lovely sandy beaches and a striking volcanic landscape, this is a fantastic place to take a hike and look out for the sea lions and penguins that rest here, and snorkel in search of reef sharks and sea turtles.

Isla Bartolome - Isla Sombrero Chino

Wake up this morning in North Seymour, one of the most visited islands of the Galapagos. First up is a walk around the island to spot some blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship, sharing the same nesting area on North Seymour. Blue-footed boobies nest on the ground while the frigate birds nest just above them in the saltbushes. As you walk, look out for land iguanas, marine iguanas, Galapagos sea lions and the endemic incense tree. After the walk, cool off and go snorkelling and encounter a great variety of fish and perhaps some white-tipped reef sharks, rays and sea lions. Later in the day, travel to Isla Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. Pay a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the small town of Puerto Ayora. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. You may also see baby tortoises and land iguanas.

Isla North Seymour - Isla Santa Cruz

Flights to the mainland from Galapagos depart mid-morning, so it’s an early start for your last morning on the islands. You will visit the Santa Cruz Highlands for a second time. Travel through the agricultural region and into the misty forests where you can see the unique Scalesia cloud forest and experience seeing the dome-shaped giant tortoises in the wild once again. Take in the serene atmosphere of the highlands and it's wildlife and then it’s time to bid farewell to the archipelago and head to the airport for your mid-morning flight back to Quito for the last night of the tour. This flight takes approximately 2.5 hours with a transit in Guayaquil. Upon arrival at Quito Airport, at about 4pm, you’ll be transferred back to your hotel for an overnight stay. A local Intrepid representative might stop by the hotel this evening to get your feedback on the trip.

Baltra - Quito

There are no activities planned for the final day so we are able to depart our accommodation at any time. If you have not spent time here before, we recommend you stay on a few days as there are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito, such as the Cotopaxi volcano, the Cloud Forest, hot springs, the Equatorial Monument or perhaps city tour of the fascinating Old Town. Please speak to our customer service representative about any optional activities that might be of interest. They can also assist you in booking a departure transfer to the airport.

Quito
DOWNLOAD ITINERARY PDF

Pricing per person & date

Absolute Galapagos | Grand Daphne from USD 10,495
Selected Tuesdays

Important Information

  • Meals
    16 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 14 dinners

    Transport
    Boat, Plane, Bus, Zodiac (Panga)

    Accommodation
    Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (14 nights)

    Included activities
    Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (3 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Floreana - Post Office Bay - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
    Isla Floreana - Post Office Bay snorkelling (45 mins)
    Isla Floreana - Punta Cormorant walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
    Isla Floreana - Devil's Crown snorkelling (1 hour)
    Isla Espanola - Bahia Gardener - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
    Isla Espanola - Bahia Gardener - Snorkel (1 hour)
    Isla Espanola - Punta Suarez - Walk (3 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla San Cristobal - Kicker Rock - Snorkelling (2 hours)
    Isla San Cristobal - Interpretation Center Visit (1 hour) - Dry Landing
    Isla Plaza Sur - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Santa Fe - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
    Isla Genovesa - Bahia Darwin - Walk (2 hours) Wet Landing
    Isla Genovesa - La Barranco - Walk - Dry Landing
    Isla Rabida - Snorkelling (1 hour)
    Isla Santiago - Sullivan Bay - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Santa Cruz - Black Turtle Cove - Panga ride (1.5 hours)
    Isla Santa Cruz - Bachas Beach Walk (1 hour) - Wet Landing
    Isla North Seymour - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla North Seymour - Snorkelling (1 hours)
    Isla Bartolome - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Bartolome - Snorkelling (1.5 hours)
    Isla Santiago - Puerto Egas - Walk (1.45 hours) - Wet Landing
    Isla Santiago - Puerto Egas - Snorkelling (1 hour)
    Isla Sanitago - Espumilla Beach - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
    Isla Sanitago - Espumilla Beach - Snorkelling (45 mins)
    Isla Sanitago - Buccaneer's Cove - Sail (15 mins)
    Isla Isabela - Tagus Cove - Walk (1.45 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Isabela - Tagus Cove - Snorkel (1 hour)
    Isla Fernandina - Punta Espinosa - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Fernandina - Punta Espinosa - Snorkel (1 hour)
    Isla Isabela - Elizabeth Bay - Panga Ride (2 hours)
    Isla Isabela - Punta Moreno - Walk and Panga ride (2 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Isabela - Punta Moreno - Snorkel
    Isla Isabela - Las Tintoreras visit (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Isabela - Sierra Negra Volcano Crater Walk (3.5 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Santa Cruz - Cerro Dragon - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
    Isla Santa Cruz - Punta Carrion - Snorkelling (1 hour)
    Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (1 hour) - Dry Landing

  • 2 (light adventure)
  • Available upon request

  • Contact us for more details

  • Season and availability

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including:

1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting.

2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community.

3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America.

4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities.

5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.

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