Exploring Darwin’s Islands aboard the Reina Silvia

Note: This trip must start on a Saturday

Overview

The Galápagos Islands are truly “a world unto themselves,” as Darwin wrote. Aboard your own private yacht with a naturalist guide, set off into Darwin’s world for an active journey full of nature hikes, snorkeling, and wonder. Abundant marine life makes for fantastic snorkeling, and swimming with playful sea lions is an experience you’ll never forget! In the evenings, enjoy a delicious dinner as you discuss the experiences of the day with your naturalist and enjoy the beauty of the star-filled equatorial night. Wilderness Travel Private Journeys are designed for people who want to travel with their own small private group, but who still want to experience the same superb itinerary design, great accommodations, and signature quality of Wilderness Travel’s escorted group trips. A Private Journey allows you to choose your own dates and your traveling companions—yet still enjoy a guided adventure.

Itinerary at a Glance

ROUTE A (WESTERN ISLANDS)

Day 1, Saturday
Baltra Island / Santa Cruz Island: Santa Cruz Highlands / Darwin Station / Puerto Ayora

On arrival at Baltra Island, you are met by your naturalist guide for a drive into the lush Santa Cruz highlands, where you can look for Galápagos tortoises. In the small town of Puerto Ayora, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station’s tortoise-breeding facility. After your visit, embark aboard the Reina Silvia for dinner.

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Day 2, Sunday
Floreana Island: Punta Cormorant / Champion / Post Office Bay / Black Beach

Cruise to Floreana for a walk to a salt-water lagoon where elegant pink flamingos wade in the shallows. At Champion Rock, enjoy snorkeling with Galapagos penguins, sea turtles, and colorful reef fish. In the afternoon, visit Floreana’s Post Office Bay, with its historic Post Office Barrel. In the 18th century, sailors left letters here to be posted by passing ships. Also visit Black Beach, with its lava sand and sea lion colony.

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Day 3, Monday
Isabela Island: Elizabeth Bay / Punta Moreno

Five volcanoes contribute to Isabela’s dramatic scenery and spectacular coastline of basaltic bluffs. Take a Zodiac ride through a salt-water mangrove lagoon to see green sea turtles and Galápagos penguins. In the afternoon, Reina Silvia lands on a superb pahoehoe lava flow. There are flamingos, gallinules, and ducks in ponds and lagoons here. Enjoy great snorkeling at Punta Moreno.

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Day 4, Tuesday
Isabela Island: Urbina Bay / Fernandina Island: Punta Espinosa

On Isabela, land on a beach often used by green sea turtles as a nesting site. As you hike over varied terrain, observe large land iguanas, a variety of endemic plants, and sometimes giant tortoises. In the afternoon, hike to Punta Espinosa, which extends out from the base of the Fernandina Volcano, to see the largest marine iguanas in the Galápagos. We should also find flightless cormorants nesting in the rocks and land iguanas.

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Day 5, Wednesday
Isabela Island: Tagus Cove / Punta Vicente Roca

Hike at Tagus Cove, once an anchorage for pirate boats, and view the volcanic landscapes of Darwin Volcano and Darwin Lake. Back at the shore, you may see brown noddies, noddy terns, and flightless cormorants. At Punta Vicente Roca, take a panga ride along the cliffs and explore a sunken cave at the water’s edge. Blue-footed and masked boobies perch along the rocky cliffs and flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline here.

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Day 6, Thursday
Santiago Island: Espumilla Beach / Buccaneers Cove / Puerto Egas / Mina de Sal

At Santiago, visit idyllic Espumilla Beach, a great place for swimming and snorkeling and an important site for nesting marine turtles. North of Espumilla, visit Buccaneers Cove, once a haven for pirates and whalers, and Puerto Egas, a magnificent stretch of coastline that host a great variety of wildlife. Birders may be able see one of Darwin’s finches as well as the endemic Galapagos hawk. Beyond the tidepools, visit the fur seal grotto.

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Day 7, Friday
Santa Cruz Island: Las Bachas / North Seymour Island

Cruise to Santa Cruz Island’s Las Bachas, a major nesting site for green sea turtles, and visit a saline lagoon where flamingos wade. The beach is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. At North Seymour Island, hike among prehistoric-looking marine iguanas as well as a large colony of magnificent frigatebirds

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Day 8, Saturday
Baltra Island / Disembark

Arrive in Baltra, bid farewell to your naturalist guide and yacht crew, and disembark.

ROUTE B (EASTERN ISLANDS)

Day 1, Saturday
Baltra Island / Santa Cruz Island: Santa Cruz Highlands / Darwin Station / Puerto Ayora

On arrival at Baltra Island, you are met by your naturalist guide for a drive into the lush Santa Cruz highlands, where you can look for Galápagos tortoises. In the small town of Puerto Ayora, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station’s tortoise-breeding facility. After your visit, embark aboard the Reina Silvia for dinner.

 View Lodging
Day 2, Sunday
Espanola Island: Gardner Bay / Punta Suarez

Cruise to Española, the southernmost island in the archipelago, where green sea turtles often rest in the dunes, and Galápagos sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, Darwin’s finches, and Española’s endemic mockingbird are found. One of the island’s most spectacular birds, the huge waved albatross, with its seven-foot wingspan, nests here from April through December.

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Day 3, Monday
San Cristobal Island: Isla Lobos / Puerto Baquerizo Moreno / Visitor Center

The snorkeling is excellent at Isla Lobos, a small channel off the coast of San Cristóbal, and with luck, you can swim amid frolicking sea lions. At the sleepy town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the second largest settlement in the islands, visit the Interpretation Center to learn about the history of the islands and development of both the island and species that live here. Later, drive up above treeline to El Junco Lagoon, a haven for frigatebirds.

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Day 4, Tuesday
Santa Fe Island / South Plaza Island

Explore the white-sand beach on Santa Fe Island, where Galápagos sea lions laze, and keep an eye out for Darwin’s finches and yellow warblers. On tiny South Plaza, hike among land iguanas as they nibble on the fruit of prickly pear cactus, and watch huge seagoing marine iguanas roam the shores. Swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds are often found here, too.

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Day 5, Wednesday
Tower (Genovesa) Island: Darwin Bay / El Barranco

At remote Tower Island, enjoy a walk among its huge colony of red-footed boobies perched in palo santo trees. Great frigatebirds are also here, as well as elegant swallow-tailed gulls, Darwin’s famous finches, Galápagos doves, swallow-tailed gulls, and thousands of band-rumped storm petrels that nest in crevices at the cliff’s edge.

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Day 6, Thursday
Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay / Bartolome Island

On Santiago, walk the recent lava flows of Sullivan Bay, with their fresh pahoehoe formations, then visit Bartolomé, a tiny island off the eastern shore of Santiago. A hike to the top of Bartolomé offers breathtaking views of photogenic Pinnacle Rock, the Galápagos’ most famous icon, and neighboring Santiago Island.

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Day 7, Friday
Rabida Island / Sombrero Chino

Rabida, the red island, is a landscape of colorful eroded hills, and you’ll explore its fascinating maroon-tinted interior and saltwater lagoon, with lots of Darwin’s finches, Galápagos mockingbirds, and yellow warblers. Later, visit Sombrero Chino, a recent volcanic cone, where a hike on a white-sand beach brings you sea lions, American oystercatchers, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and Sally Lightfoot crabs.

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Day 8, Saturday
Baltra Island / Disembark

Arrive in Baltra, bid farewell to your naturalist guide and yacht crew, and disembark.

Highlights

Highlights

Swim and snokel with sea lions
Cruise in comfort aboard the Reina Silvia—the ultimate way to go!
Wonderful nature hikes with a superb naturalist guide
See the remarkable wildlife that inspired Darwin

Details

Length: 8 days
Cost From: $4958  
Arrive: Baltra, Galapagos
Depart: Baltra, Galapagos
Lodging: 8 days/7 nights aboard the yacht
Meals: All meals included aboard yacht plus draft beer, water, sodas, and juices
Activity: Small Boat & Yacht Cruising, Snorkeling, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

Daily hikes, snorkeling, optional sea kayaking

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