You will visit one of the most unusual islands in the Galápagos on the North Central Route: Genovesa with its collapsed caldera. The island is a birder’s paradise. Española is the most southerly island and one of the richest in terms of wildlife; it is the only nesting place in the world for the Waved Albatross.
- Visit “Bird Island” home to over 30 bird species.
- Climb Prince Philip’s Steps to see a thriving seabird colony and search for the Galápagos Short-eared Owl.
- Observe sea lion families and the famed giant tortoises and marvel at the fearless behaviour of wildlife.
- Admire the antics of Red-footed and Blue-footed Boobies.
- Hike up the sides of an extinct volcano and hike across lava flows.
- See the Waved Albatross (depending on the season — April to December).
- Swim and snorkel in tranquil, clear waters.
- Photograph colourful marine iguanas.
- Cruise by Zodiac along scenic coastlines.
- Learn about conservation efforts at the “Fausto Llerena Breeding Center”.
Day 1 — Baltra
Embark Silver Galapagos and depart on your exciting Silversea Expedition — North Central Galápagos. 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, frigatebirds, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Brown Noddies and Brown Pelicans, as well as Swallow-tailed Gulls.
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 (“Tower “in English) is dubbed “Bird Island”, a name it lives up to in a spectacular way. Huge colonies of seabirds create a birdwatcher’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: a remarkable spectacle of Nazca Boobies nesting on the ground, Great Frigatebirds with their fiery red sacs, and, if you are lucky, you might see the elusive Short-eared Owl on a daytime hunt for Storm Petrels, a favourite prey. After a morning walk, we will have a chance to enjoy our first snorkelling excursion and experience the diverse, underwater wonderland that surrounds the island.
We will also have 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 sea. Two species of frigatebirds nest here; one of which, the Magnificent Frigatebird, is an opportunistic breeder. At any month of the year we 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. We will walk through this spectacular landscape, and afterwards have an opportunity to go snorkelling—perhaps even spotting the impressive whitetip reef shark.
Coming ashore on the east coast of Santiago Island, we will witness the marks Nature has left on the islands through its geological forces. Our landing will be on a white sandy beach or directly onto lava — depending on the conditions. In either case we will see the lava flows that are not much older than a hundred years — 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 supposedly 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. As the sun heats up the lava during the day, at the time of our visit the temperatures will have you back at the sandy beach and getting ready for snorkelling in due time. While we will look for shelter from the heat at the beach, be aware that animals like beaches, too. Apart from rays, 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 rock cliffs and maroon sand. Here we can see Darwin’s finches, lava lizards and Galápagos Mockingbirds. Take a walk along the cliffs where the red rocks, green Palo Santo trees and the blue turquoise sea create landscapes of stunning contrast, while an underwater world teeming with colourful tropical species and vibrant submarine landscapes is equally amazing. After a short but rewarding hike, we will have the opportunity to swim or simply stroll along the beach and admire the sea lions snoozing along the shore. You 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.
Sail 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, they make an excellent spot for kayaking as well.
Day 5 — La Galapaguera & Punta Pitt, San Cristobal
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 tenacious work of the Galápagos National Park Service park rangers and the scientists of the Charles Darwin Research Station has been bringing those numbers back. We’ll 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. We may see three species of boobies here: Red-footed, Blue-footed
and Nazca, as well as both the Great and Magnificent Frigatebird. After a wet landing on an olivine beach where sea lions doze, we’ll climb up a ravine to view one of the most scenic panoramas in the archipelago. San Cristóbal or Chatham lava lizards guide our way, while Red-footed Boobies and Nazca Boobies fly overhead.
Day 6 — Bahía Gardner and Punta Suárez, Española
Don’t miss a chance to swim with sea lions from the gorgeous beach at Gardner Bay. Relax on the white sands of this idyllic beach as the water laps gently in front of you. You may even spy some iguanas on the shore. Further out you can snorkel with large schools of colourful tropical fish and an occasional manta ray, while a whitetip reef shark naps on the bottom. You may wish to experience this from a kayak: paddling through crystal-clear waters while marvelling at the natural wonders all around you.
In the afternoon we will visit Punta Suárez 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
We 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. The Station is the operative branch of the Charles Darwin Foundation, an organisation established in 1959 to provide conservation counsel to the Ecuadorian government. Its flagship program is the restoration of Galápagos giant tortoises.
At the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, we will get to see tortoises of both morphotypes: dome-shaped and saddle-backed, as well as young giant tortoises up to 5 years old that 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 such as dogs and cats, but they have had a comeback thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service and Research Station. Towards the end of the morning,
there will be time to do some sightseeing and shopping in town.
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.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.