North Central Galapagos (Baltra to San Cristobal)
8 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 — Baltra
Embark Silver Galapagos and depart on your exciting Silversea North Central Galápagos Expedition. After settling in, attending a mandatory safety drill and setting sail, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team.
Silver Galapagos will then head for Daphne to do a circumnavigation –usually only scientist are allowed to land. From the ship we will watch for Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Brown Noddies and Brown Pelicans, as well as Swallow-tailed Gulls and frigatebirds.
In the evening enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
Day 2 — Bahía Darwin, Genovesa Island
El Barranco, Prince Philip Steps, Genovesa Island
Genovesa is dubbed “Bird Island”, a name it lives up to in a spectacular way. Huge colonies of seabirds create a bird-watcher’s paradise. Take a walk on the sandy beach of Darwin Bay, home to one of the world’s largest Red-footed Booby nesting colonies. Yellow-crowned Night Herons feed near tidal lagoons, while hundreds of Swallow-tailed Gulls nest in the cliffs. Climb “Prince Philip’s Steps”, a steep path named after the Duke of Edinburgh who visited the island in 1965, and you will be well rewarded with a remarkable spectacle of Nazca Boobies nesting on the ground, Great Frigatebirds with their fiery red sacs, and, if you are lucky, you might even see the elusive Short-eared Owl on a daytime hunt for Storm Petrels, a favourite prey.
After a morning walk, you will have a chance to enjoy the first snorkelling excursion and experience the diverse, underwater wonderland that surrounds the island.
There will also be the opportunity to kayak around Darwin Bay — which is actually a flooded caldera —and admire the island’s craggy landscape.
Day 3 — North Seymour
Sullivan Bay, Santiago
North Seymour is a small up-lifted island close to Baltra filled with a spectacular profusion of wildlife above and below the water’s surface. The Magnificent Frigatebird is an opportunistic breeder and at any month of the year one may see males displaying their bright-red gular pouch to attract females.
Galápagos sea lions snooze in the sand. Blue-footed Boobies perform their courtship dance called “sky-pointing”. Marine iguanas and Galapagos land iguanas patrol the beach, while Brown Pelicans and Brown Noddies look for food in the shallow coastal waters. Walk through this spectacular landscape and afterwards take the opportunity to go snorkelling—perhaps even spotting the impressive whitetip reef shark.
Witness the marks Nature has left on the islands through its geological forces. At Sullivan Bay we will see lava flows dating back to 1897. Here the very high temperature of the molten material, as well as its gas content, had caused the surface to be quite smooth. The appearance this lava has is almost like frail rope and the technical term for it is pahoehoe (a Hawaiian name that suggests the swirls left behind by a paddle (hoe) in the water). Since the lava has not moved equally in all places, the design of the surface texture induces one to see different objects and images in the lava.
Back at the sandy beach you might want to get ready for snorkelling. Apart from rays in the shallows, turtles are quite fond of the beaches and come there to lay their eggs.
Day 4 — Rabida and Eden, Santa Cruz
Rabida is a small picturesque island with red cliffs and maroon-coloured sand. Here one can see Darwin’s finches, lava lizards and Galápagos Mockingbirds. A short but rewarding hike will lead along the cliffs where the red rocks, green Palo Santo trees and the blue turquoise sea create landscapes of stunning contrast. The underwater world teems with colourful tropical species and the vibrant submarine landscape is equally amazing. There will be the opportunity to swim or simply stroll along the beach and admire the sea lions snoozing along the shore. One can also go for a stunning snorkel-excursion with sea lions, reef sharks, marine iguanas, colourful anemones and parrotfish, or kayak along the picturesque Rabida cliffs.
Silver Galapagos sails to Eden Islet for snorkelling, kayaking and Zodiac rides. Eden is a small, eroded tuff cone and an excellent example of the unique geology of the Galápagos. It is home to Great Blue Herons, sea lions, and Blue-footed Boobies; while the small tidal areas can be a resting place for reef sharks, eagle rays and green turtles. Eden is also an excellent spot for kayaking.
Day 5 — La Galapaguera & Punta Pitt, San Cristóbal
The most emblematic animal in the archipelago is the Galápagos giant tortoise. Over-hunting and competition with introduced animals has left its numbers close to extinction. Nonetheless, since the late 1950s, the work of the Galápagos National Park Service and the scientists of the Charles Darwin Research Station has been bringing those numbers back. See these ancient reptiles and their babies, and learn more about current conservation efforts at Galapaguera Cerro Colorado. Breeding and rearing endemic animals in captivity is part of a much broader conservation programme aimed at restoring and protecting the Galapagos Islands’ natural biodiversity.
San Cristóbal is one of the oldest islands in Galápagos and the well-eroded landscape of Punta Pitt creates a dramatic landscape. Three species of boobies can be found there: Red-footed, Blue-footed and Nazca Booby, as well as both the Great and Magnificent Frigatebird. After a wet landing on an olivine beach where sea lions doze, climb up a ravine to view one of the most scenic panoramas in the archipelago. San Cristóbal or Chatham lava lizards guide the way, while Red-footed Boobies and Nazca Boobies fly overhead.
Day 6 — Bahía Gardner and Punta Suárez, Española
Bahia Gardner promises a chance to swim with sea lions from its gorgeous beach. Relax on the white sands of this idyllic location. Further out one can snorkel with large schools of colourful tropical fish and an occasional manta ray, while whitetip reef sharks may nap on the bottom. Paddling through crystal-clear waters in a kayak, marvelling at the natural wonders, will give another view of the islands’ treasures.
Punta Suárez is at the western point of Española, the oldest island in the Galápagos. Sheer cliffs provide superb thermals for seabirds. Swallow-tailed Gulls, Nazca Boobies and Blue-footed Boobies can easily be seen. The largest seabird to nest in the islands, the Waved Albatross, may be seen seasonally from April through December and has made Española its home. Mockingbirds, doves, and occasional Galápagos Hawks can also be found, as well as sea lions and colourful marine iguanas.
Day 7 — The Fausto Llerena Breeding Center and Puerto Ayora Town Visit, Santa Cruz Plazas Sur
Silver Galapagos will cruise overnight to Santa Cruz, an island in the central part of the archipelago with the largest human population. The headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station are located in the small town of Puerto Ayora.
At the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, young giant tortoises –both dome-shaped and saddle-backed- up to 5 years old are waiting to be returned to their home island. There is also an exhibit on Galápagos land iguanas; their numbers were once diminished due to introduced animals, but they have had a comeback thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service and Research Station.
There will be time to do some sightseeing and shopping in town as well.
South Plaza is a neat little island located close to the eastern coast of Santa Cruz. Its main attraction is a colony of Galápagos land iguanas, but the setting is also a highlight — giant prickly pear cactus, the reddish sesuvium plant, a mat-like ground cover, and a large nesting colony of Swallow-tailed Gulls make this small island an excellent stop. Marine iguanas and Galápagos sea lions are also around.
Day 8 — San Cristobal
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Galapagos for your return flight from San Cristobal Airport.
All This Included
The Galapagos are some of the world’s most famous and beguiling islands. On this journey in the north central islands you’ll get a chance not only to know the fearless creatures here—from red and blue-footed boobies to marine iguanas and sea lions—but to fully explore this landscape. Hike up an extinct volcano, explore lava tunnels and snorkel in the turquoise waters here.
Cruising: Suite onboard Silver Galapagos
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