The M/S Encantada is a small but lovely yacht for 12 passengers. Although classified as tourist superior class, this vessel offers a cozy atmosphere and superb personalized services, making for a great option to cruise the islands. All of its 6 double cabins feature air conditioning, private bathrooms with hot water and comfortable twin bunk beds.
5 - 6 Days Cruise
Day 1 – FRIDAY
AM: Charles Darwin Station
You land on the island of Baltra and drive 10 minutes from the airport to the Itabaca canal where a five-minute ferry ride takes you to the island of Santa Cruz. From here we travel across the island, stopping to see some of the giant Galapagos tortoises at a nature preserve along the way. Upon arrival in the seaside town of Puerto Ayora there is time to visit the Charles Darwin Research Center and get a look at Lonesome George, the legendary last-surviving tortoise from the island of Floreana. Later in the afternoon we board the yacht and settle in to our cabins. After dinner we pull anchor and begin our travels towards the island of Genovesa.
Day 2 - SATURDAY
AM: Prince Phillip Steps
We arrive in the morning at the island of Genovesa and have a dry landing at El Barranco, or Prince Phillip’s steps where a steep, rocky path leads to the top of a high cliff. There are spectacular views from here and the opportunity to observe red-footed boobies, short-eared lava owls, Galapagos doves and Galapagos swallows.
PM: Darwin Bay
We return to the boat and continue to Darwin Bay to find a white-sand coral beach and a half-mile trail that winds through mangrove trees filled with various birds. We should see Nazca boobies, redfooted boobies and swallow-tailed gulls among other birds. There are also tide pools to explore and interactions with curious, playful sea lions.
Day 3 - SUNDAY
We arrive at the island of Bartolome, an extinct volcano where lava and rocks are shaded in red, black and green. This is the home of the iconic Pinnacle Rock and we climb a trail of stairs to the summit of the volcano for panoramic views across the island and to distant islands. We return to a lovely beach that is perfect for snorkeling and a chance to see the Galapagos penguin – and with any luck, a chance to snorkel with them!
PM: Sullivan Bay
Then we continue to Sullivan Bay where there is a large lava field of fascinating patterns, the result of explosions of gas or water coming forth from the once-molten lava.
Day 4 - MONDAY
Today we visit Bainbridge Rock, also known as James Bay. A trail follows the coastline where there are tide pools and grottos filled with sea life. This is an excellent chance to see the Galapagos fur seal bathing in the sun. Chinese Hat We also visit Chinese Hat which is a place of fairly recent volcanic activity and a few intact lava tunnels. This is another place to snorkel and swim in tranquil blue waters, watching colorful fish and playing with young sea lions.
PM: Black Turtle Cove
After lunch on the boat we head to the northern part of the island of Santa Cruz to visit Caleta Tortuga Negra, a small bay surrounded by mangroves and only accessible by dinghy. It’s a safe home for marine life such as white tip reef sharks, sea turtles and various rays such as manta rays and eagle rays.
Day 5 - TUESDAY
AM: North Seymour
Our last day on the Encantada has still more discovery. We go to the official visitor site of Seymour North where there is a large breeding colony of frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. The trail leads up among their nests while you watch your step as there are also land and marine iguanas. It’s a special place to end our Galapagos adventure and then return to the Itabaca Canal for a short transfer back to the Baltra airport and a flight to Quito or Guayaquil.
Day 1 – SUNDAY
AM: Baltra / Transfer in
You land on the island of Baltra where the U.S. Air Force built a runway during WWII to strengthen U.S. presence in the Pacific. Upon arrival you are met by yacht staff and drive from the island of Baltra to the Itabaca canal where the Encantada is waiting. We board the yacht, settle in to our cabins and enjoy lunch.
PM: Bachas Beach
Then it’s a short cruise to the north side of Santa Cruz Island for a visit to Bachas Beach. The perfect introduction to the Galapagos, we walk along the beach and you are introduced to the wonder of the flora and fauna of the islands. There are Sally Lightfoot crabs, perhaps sea turtles, various wading birds, pelicans flying, and much more. We return to the boat in our dinghy to enjoy sunset over the Galapagos. Then, in the night, we begin our voyage across the sea towards Plazas Island.
Day 2 - MONDAY
AM: Plazas Island
Plazas Island is a small island with steep cliffs. We transfer by dingy to the shore to walk along a well-marked trail, passing cactus and a number of iguanas, both land and sea. In fact this is one place where the two have hybridized. There is a large sea lion colony here and their barks can be heard during our walk.
PM: Santa Fe
After our visit we return to the boat and cruise to Santa Fe island, located roughly halfway between Santa Cruz and San Cristobal islands. There is a small and picturesque bay here where we drop anchor and then head to shore to walk. It’s a lovely island for exploring, replete with prickly pear cactus and an endemic land iguana. There are many other species to view including lava lizards, Galapagos hawks, Audubon Shearwaters, brown pelicans, Galapagos mockingbirds, yellow warblers and more. We overnight in this protected harbor and enjoy the sunset.
Day 3 - TUESDAY
AM: Kicker Rock
Morning finds us at San Cristobal Island. Our first stop is Leon Dormido or Kicker Rock that juts from the sea in geologic splendor. It’s one of the most notable places in the Galapagos and one where past trips have seen dozens of dolphins. It’s a fantastic place to snorkel, swimming through a passage between the rocks. Colorful sea stars dot the walls, hundreds of brillian fish swim by and we often see rays, sharks and sea turtles.
PM: Interpretation Center
After lunch we continue on to the port town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The second largest town in the islands, it is the provincial capital of the Galapagos and the location of one of the two main airports. Over a hundred years ago this town started out as a penal colony. Today it has a lovely waterfront where sea lions lounge. Our highlight is the excellent National Park Interpretation Center which provides an excellent overview to the Park’s natural and human history. After our visit here we walk back into town and you have time to explore a bit before returning to the boat.
Day 4 - WEDNESDAY
AM: Suarez Point
Wildlife is truly a highlight of Espanola and the best-known star is the waved albatross. Because of their large wings they have difficulty taking off and landing, and the island's steep cliffs make for the perfect runways for these large birds. Espanola's remote location helped make it a unique jewel with a large number of endemic creatures. Secluded from the other islands, wildlife on Espanola adapted to the island's environment and natural resources. The subspecies of Marine iguana from Espanola are the only ones that change color during breeding season from a reddish hue to a shade of green. The Hood Mockingbird is endemic to the island and these birds have no fear of people, sometimes landing on the shoulders or heads of visitors. As we visit the Suarez Point landing site, we see all this plus lava lizards, various finches, blue-footed and masked boobies and more. There is also a spectacular blowhole where ocean waves are forced into a narrow opening and blow into the sky.
PM: Gardner Bay
From Suarez Point we cruise to Gardner Bay for an afternoon of more exploration. There’s a lovely beach here as well as good snorkeling. With any luck you snorkel with sea turtles, sea lions and naturally, dozens of colorful fish.
Day 5 - THURSDAY
AM: Post office Bay
WAn overnight cruise takes us to Floreana Island and a stop at the famous Post Office Bay where 18th century whalers left messages in a wooden barrel as an unofficial mail box.
PM: Cormorant Point
We return to the sea and cruise to Punta Cormorant where we go ashore for a wonderful walk along a sandy beach and visit a lagoon where pink flamingoes along with other shore birds wade and feed. The beaches are very special here as well. One is a green sand beach, created from olivine crystals that come from silicates made up of magnesium and iron. Another beach is known as “flour beach” with powdery white sand. .
Day 6 - FRIDAY
AM: Charles Darwin Station
We wake in the harbor of Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz, the largest town in the Galapagos Islands. A short walk takes us to the Charles Darwin Research Station and an opportunity to learn more about conservation work in the Galapagos. This is the home to Lonesome George, the last known tortoise carrying the gene pool of Floreana Island. This is also the most important tortoise breeding center on the island from which young tortoises are reintroduced into the wild. After a relaxed morning in town we transfer across the island by bus, across the Itabaca canal by ferry, and then another 10 minutes by bus to the airport on Baltra. A two-hour flight gets us to Guayaquil.
Transfer: You will be met and taken to the airport.
Day 1 – TUESDAY
You land on the island of Baltra and you are met by Encantada yacht staff and drive from the island of Baltra to the Itabaca canal where the Encantada is waiting. We board the yacht, settle in to our cabins and enjoy lunch. Then it’s a short ride to the north side of Santa Cruz Island for a wonderful hike at Dragon Hill.
PM: Dragon Hill
This is one of the longer trails in the Galapagos and offers a good variety of flora and fauna. We hike to the top of a small hill, past a brackish lagoon where there may be flamingos and pintail ducks and walk along a trail where we encounter our first land iguanas. We return to the boat to enjoy sunset over the Galapagos. Then, in the night, we begin our voyage across the sea towards Isabela Island.
Day 2 - WEDNESDAY
AM: Tintoreras Islet
Isabela is the largest of the Galapagos Islands and also one of the youngest, so there is still volcanic activity. The most recent eruption was in October of 2005. We anchor in the harbor of the small town of Puerto Villamil and take a dinghy a short distance to Tintoreras island. The island is a stark, rocky place with sharp volcanic rocks that shelter hundreds of marine iguanas. We walk along a narrow trail and peer into a small lagoon filled with white-tipped reef sharks. Further along the trail we are likely to see sea lions lounging and perhaps a Galapagos penguin or two. We have time to snorkel near the island and then return to the Encantada for lunch.
PM: Wall of Tears
After lunch we head into the small town of Puerto Villamil, a fishing village with sand streets and a laid-back feel. Our destination is outside of town to a place called the Wall of Tears. From 1945 to 1959 there was a penal colony here and part of the forced labor program was constructing a huge wall some 65’ high. It’s an interesting part of the human saga of life on the Galapagos Islands. From here we head to a nature trail that takes us to an inland lagoon with mangroves and shallow water creating the perfect habitat for various birds including flamingos, common stilts, gallinules, pintails and whimbrels.
PM: Tortoise Breeding Center
The trail ends at one of the Galapagos National Park tortoise breeding centers where the local ranger explains the mission of the center and their success in helping increase the tortoise population on Isabela.
Day 3 - THURSDAY
AM: Moreno Point
We wake up near Elizabeth Bay and Moreno Point on the west side of Isabela Island and go ashore for a hike through a lava rock landscape. The mix of mangroves and tide pools make for an area rich in life and diversity. We see a number of birds, sea turtles and perhaps white-tip sharks and flightless cormorants as we explore.
PM: Elizabeth Bay
After lunch on the boat we had to nearby Elizabeth Bay that has a number if islets that we visit by dinghy. There are penguins and blue-footed boobies along with other birds and sealife.
Day 4 - FRIDAY
AM: Espinoza Point
We arrive early at Fernandina island, the youngest and furthest west of all the Galapagos Islands. Fewer boats make it this far and it’s the least-visited of all the Galapagos Islands. For some, Fernandina is the highlight of the trip as there are literally thousands of marine iguanas, along with almost incredulous numbers of other animals. We land to walk along a lava trail on Punta Espinoza. Wildlife sightings include the flightless cormorant, hawks, tortoises, herons of varying species, crabs, Sea lions (of course) and more! Because it is so remote, this is the most pristine of all the Galapagos Islands and no species of mammals were ever introduced here.
PM: Tagus Cove
After lunch on the boat we cruise a short distance to Tagus Cove on Isabela Island. This cove has been used as a sheltered anchor point for ships since the 1800s. We disembark for a hike to one of the most spectacular views found anywhere in the Galapagos. At the end of our hike we’re perched on a cinder cone with views down to Darwin Lake, a small saline lake within a volcanic tuff cone. Along the way we’re likely to see Galapagos hawks and flightless cormorants. We return to the Encantada to watch the sunset and with any luck, perhaps see some dolphins and whales. The water in this area is some of the coldest in the Galapagos, coming from cold Antarctica and bringing rich nutrients. These in turn feed a wide variety of wildlife including the Galapagos penguin which is more numerous in this area than anywhere else in the islands and is a big reason our chances of seeing whales near here are better than in many other parts of the islands.
Day 5 - SATURDAY
AM: Egas Port
We wake up at Santiago Island and Egas Port, also known as James Bay. British buccaneers came to this bay to anchor in the 1600’s and later and found it a good source of firewood, water, tortoises and salt. Indeed our anchorage is near the old salt mine of Puerto Egas. No people live here now of course, but there are sea lions and brown pelicans among other creatures that offer welcome. We walk along a lava shoreline with marine iguanas basking, land iguanas saunter along and Sally Lightfoot crabs scatter from us. Then we walk about an hour along a dusty trail through of scattered forest of Palo Santo trees. We ascend to the edge of a crater with wonderful views of a salt lake and mine below us. Upon our return to the water’s edge there’s time for snorkeling to see a wide variety of tropical fish and perhaps some playful sea lions.
PM: Espumilla Beach
We return to the boat for lunch, then head to Espumilla Beach, an excellent snorkeling location. Hundreds of Sally Lightfoot crabs live here, providing food for herons and other shorebirds. While snorkeling you may see eagle rays, eel and reef sharks.
Day 6 - SUNDAY
We pass by Daphne Island where Peter and Rosemary Grant have done important research relative to Darwin’s finches (we highly recommend you read the book “The Beak of the Finch) and then head to the Itabaca canal. Here we say good-bye to our yacht crew and head to the airport on Baltra to fly back to Guayaquil or Quito.
Av. Oswaldo Guayasamín E4-145 y Siena.
La Primavera, Cumbayá - Quito - Ecuador
Andrés Karolys (General Manager)
Telephone: 593 9 99333698