Download Galapagos and Ecuador - Onboard the Legend Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Quito
You will be met on arrival at Quito Airport and transfered to our Quito hotel. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Quito.
Day 2: Quito
Explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas. On our tour we visit some of its most important churches such as the majestic La CompaÃƒÂ±ÃƒÂa (Society of Jesus Church) and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. Drive through the traditional neighborhood of San Juan. Finish the tour at the "Panecillo" hillside with its breathtaking views of the old and modern city. Overnight in Quito.
Day 3: Fly to Galapagos Islands, Highlands - Pit Craters (Santa Cruz)
This morning you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Baltra Island where we are greeted by our Galapagos guides. Upon arrival we take a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/Y Legend.
PM: Dry landing. A 45-minute bus ride will take us to the Santa Cruz highlands, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where we will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the island's name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and can live up to 150-200 years. Additionally, travelers can walk inside surprising lava tubes; we also visit Pit Craters created from the collapse of surface materials into chamber fissures underground. It's a great place to spot Vermilion Flycatcher as we walk inside an endemic Scalesia forest.
Day 4: Egas Port / Salt Mines (Santiago), Bartolomé
AM: Wet landing on a beach of black volcanic sand, visited by Darwin in 1835. The first section of the trail is comprised of volcanic ash (eroded tuff) and the other half of partially uneven terrain is comprised of volcanic basaltic rock lounging the shoreline.
The unique, truly striking layered terrain of Santiago's shores is home to a variety of resident and migrant birds, including the bizarre Yellow-crowned Night Heron and an astounding array of marine wildlife including lobster, starfish and marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside Sally Light-foot Crabs. Colonies of endemic fur seals swimming in cool water pools formed by volcanic rocks are also a highlight.
PM: Dry or wet landing. We discover a fascinating moonscape formed by different volcanic parasitic cones -lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones -as we hike to the summit for impressive views of the surrounding islands, including the eroded tuff cone Pinnacle Rock. We also encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards and blue-footed boobies.
Beach time is a great opportunity to snorkel and see (perhaps swim with) Galapagos Penguins, sea turtles and White-tipped Reef Sharks among a great variety of colorful fish. For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best of snorkeling experiences; the water here is generally clear, without too much surf and full of marine life.
Due to its geographical location, the lack of vegetation is immediately noticeable. Pioneer plants are observed, so called because they are the first to establish roots on new ground. They include Tiquilia nesiotica (which is endemic to the island) and Chamaesyce (known as sand mat or spurge in English), lava cactus and Scalesia bushes. Behind the beach we have dunes covered by mangroves.
Day 5: Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz), North Seymour
AM: Dry landing. We walk by a brackish lagoon where feeding flamingoes can be occasionally found. The trail leads across typical dry zone vegetation up to Dragon Hill, an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas, offering lovely views of the anchorage and neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin's finches, Yellow Warblers and Galapagos Doves.
PM: Dry landing. This is perhaps one of the busiest tourist destinations on the archipelago. Off of Baltra Island (where the airport is located) and not far from Santa Cruz, North Seymour is the most accessible for day trips out of Santa Cruz's main port, Puerto Ayora.
An approximately two hour walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigatebirds and swallow-tailed gulls for an in depth encounter with sea bird breeding cycles, as well as sea lions. You will also encounter sea lions, land iguanas and on a lucky day, you might even come across a Galapagos Snake.
Day 6: Ballena Bay / Eden Islet (Santa Cruz), Black Turtle Cove
On the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, accessible only by sea where four species of mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon, turtle enjoy swimming in the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface while fish, rays and small sharks circle below. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat, sea birds, including pelicans, herons and egrets, all feed in the cove. This cove has been declared as a "Turtle Sanctuary".
Day 7: Sullivan Bay (Santiago), Rabida
AM: Wet landing. This visitor site located at the southeastern portion of Santiago Island, and of important geologic interest, features extensive lava flows believed to have been formed during the last quarter of the 19th century.
PM: Wet landing. Dark-red sand covers these unique beaches with incredible landscape; RÃƒÂ¡bida is considered the epicenter of the Galapagos Islands due to the diversity of its volcanic geology. Nesting Brown Pelicans are found from July through September and nine species of the famous Darwin's finches can be seen. We will also take a dinghy ride along cliffs to observe nesting seabirds and snorkel off the coast, where marine life is particularly active.
Day 8: Urbina Bay, Tagus Cove (Isabela)
AM: Wet landing on a volcanic "black" beach. Depending on the season, we may find giant tortoises, land iguanas and the unusual Flightless Cormorant. After a short walk inland, snorkeling time is allotted, giving you yet another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season. We can observe the beautiful colors of plants that attract different insects, birds and reptiles. We will explore the uplifted coral reef that resulted from 1954 volcanic activity, with a spectacular view of Alcedo Volcano.
PM: Dry landing on Galapagos' largest island where we will learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that form it. The trail leads to Darwin's salt-water crater Lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations.
We will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where we will admire a variety of seabirds, such as Blue-footed Booby, Brown Noddy, terns, Flightless Cormorant and depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos Penguins which are only 35 cm. tall; the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the equator. They are monogamous and lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, on the lower parts of the island near the shoreline not reached by the ocean waves.
The population of penguins on the islands is about 2,000 individuals, most of which live on this western portion of Isabela; others are scattered further south on the island. We will have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water. Graffiti believed to have been left by19th-century pirates is a curious reminder of an intriguing past.
Day 9: Espinosa Point (Fernandina), Vicente Roca Point (Isabela)
AM: Dry landing. Espinosa Point is the only spot that we visit on Fernandina and from it we can see the island of Isabela across the BolÃƒÂvar Channel, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. The largest, most primitive-looking race of marine iguanas are found mingling with sea lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs; a wonderful opportunity to encounter Flightless Cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos Penguins and the "King" of predators on the Islands, the Galapagos Hawk.
"Pa-hoe-hoe" and "AA" lava formations cover the majority of the terrain. Vegetation is thus scarce inland, but we encounter Brachycereus cacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores.
PM: Great deep-water snorkeling at one of the richest marine havens on Earth (BolÃƒÂvar Channel). We take a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds; Nazca and blue-footed boobies, noddies, brown pelicans, penguins, flightless cormorants. The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life.
Day 10: Highlands (Santa Cruz), Fly to Quito
AM: Dry landing. A 45-minute bus ride will take us to the Santa Cruz highlands, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where we will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the island's name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and can live up to 150-200 years.
PM: We will depart the Galapagos and take our short flight to Quito where you will have free time to enjoy Quito. Overnight in Quito.
Day 11: Depart Quito
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.