Charles Darwin Adventure in the Galapagos
Study Evolution & Animal Science in the Galapogos
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After you arrive at the Baltra airport in Puerto Ayora, your guide will greet you and get you on your way to your hotel in Santa Cruz. On the way there, you’ll stop off at the twin craters Los Gemelos in the Highlands area above the city, where you’ll get to walk among the giant tortoises in the wild before you’ve even unpacked!
Your group will also visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you can learn about the impact humans have had on the islands’ fauna, and check out the giant tortoise hatcheries, where the animals are nurtured and raised before being readied for release into the wild. The tortoises’ numbers were severely threatened as recently as the 1970s due to invasive species predation and human consumption.
Once you arrive at your hotel you’ll have a chance to settle in, have a meal, and talk about the upcoming adventures that await!
You’ll start the day off right with a 1.5 hour boat ride over to tiny Floreana Island, which is home to only about 120 full-time residents. On the way, you’ll be navigating through a region known as an underwater highway for dolphins, humpback whales, whale sharks and even orcas, so keep your eyes peeled! You’ll get to tour the highlands area of the island and visit its pirate caves while you hear the story of Irish castaway Patrick Watkins, who was marooned on the island in 1807 and had to make do for two years growing fruit and vegetables to trade with passing whaling ships.
After lunch in the tiny, idyllic port town of Puerto Velasco Ibarra, you’ll head to the coast where you can go snorkeling off the gorgeous white sand beach of La Loberia. There, you’ll see – and perhaps swim with – marine iguanas, sea lions, the largest species of sea turtles in the islands, and maybe even Galapagos penguins.
A short morning trip of 1.5 hours will take you to Pinzon Island, a lesser-known island among the Galapagos, but home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world. Not only can you can come face-to-face with sea lions, sea turtles, and marine iguanas while enjoying the crystal-clear turquoise water, you’ll learn about one of the greatest environmental rescue efforts in human history.
After passing ships unintentionally introduced rats to the island around 150 years ago, the Pinzon giant tortoise was nearly wiped out due to the rodents ravaging the animals’ eggs before they could hatch. Starting in 1965 conservation efforts began to help the tortoises breed and repopulate. At the same time a massive effort was embarked on to rid the island of the invasive rodents. The island was pronounced rat-free in 2015, and over 100 Pinzon hatchlings bred in captivity have been released and continue to thrive there.
After breakfast, you’ll take a water taxi over to Tortuga Bay, featuring a seemingly endless white sand beach and considered one of the best snorkeling sites on Santa Cruz Island. Here you can swim and go kayaking in the tranquil waters with marine iguanas, white-tipped sharks, and blue-footed boobies. After a half-day here, you’ll head back to Puerto Ayora where you’ll get packed up to head over to Isabella Island, where you’ll spend the next two nights.
After waking up at your hotel in Puerto Vilamil on Isabella Island, you’ll head out on a tour of one of the most biologically diverse areas in the Galapagos, known as Los Tuneles, or the Cabo Rosa marine lava tunnels. A 1.5 hour boat ride will take you over to the lava tunnels, where at various stopping points you can snorkel with white-tipped sharks, sea turtles, penguins, seahorses, golden rays and perhaps even manta rays.
After lunch and a return to Puerto Vilamil, you’ll be taken to a lagoon in the island’s wetland area where you can see wild flamingos in their natural habitat. After that, you’ll visit this island’s giant tortoise breeding center, where you can observe tortoises ranging in age from just-hatched babies to some that are thought to be nearly 200 years old. A short hike will then take you to a gorgeous, palm-tree lined beach.
Is it hot in here? Today your guides will take you from Puerto Vilamil to the volcano Sierra Negra, where you’ll see amazing views of the island and surrounding ocean while walking along the eastern caldera. Afterwards, you’ll head over to the fresh lava fields that are found to the north of the main crater. The moon-like landscape will surprise you in its contrast to the turquoise bays and sandy rockiness you’ve previously encountered. After lunch you’ll head back to Santa Cruz and then return to Puerto Ayora.
With some extra time before your flight out, you might consider heading back to Tortuga Bay for a tranquil morning walk along the beach. Better yet, think about a return trip to the Charles Darwin Research Station to reassess what you know about the delicate balance of nature in the Galapagos Islands in combination with the animals and landscapes you’ve seen with your own two eyes. Then you’ll catch your transfer to the airport and home!
Follow in the footsteps of the great naturalist and father of the theory of evolution Charles Darwin as you discover the unique variations of animals living among the rocky, volcanic islands of the Galapagos! You’ll rub shoulders with the giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies, snorkel with sea turtles and baby sharks, and maybe catch a glimpse of a dolphin or humpback whale as you go island-hopping.
As you enjoy the rare beauty of the area, you’ll also learn about the environmental impact humans have had on the fragile ecology of the islands over the years, and how the government of Ecuador is working to save this unique, natural jewel created by millions of years of evolution.
Interested in adding or modifying activities? No problem! All Worldwide Navigator itineraries can be customized to your liking!
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