Spend eight days on our private charter, the Natural Paradise, and visit islands such as San Cristobal, Rabida, Bartholomew, Santa Cruz and remote Genovesa. The Galapagos Islands with an abundance of wildlife, seemingly unafraid of humans, is a place few others can rival. There will be daily opportunities to explore and get close to the islands' unique wildlife, either on foot, by kayak, by panga (small boat) or when snorkelling in the warm seas. With a naturalist guide on board as well as Sue Flood, be assured of receiving personalised and insightful narrative on all the wildlife seen. Wildlife highlights include all three types of booby (blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca), giant tortoises, frigate birds, Galapagos penguins and sea lions.
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Half Day Quito City Tour
Half day morning city tour of the highlights of Quito. Walk through the historic area of Quito and learn about the Inca empire, the Spanish invasion and independence.
Visit Independence Square with beautiful colonial buildings, the Presidential Palace and cathedral. Go to San Francisco Square and see the convent, one of the oldest churches in Quito. Also see the ornate La Compania Jesuit church before heading up to Panecillo Hill with spectacular views over the historic district.
With Pichincha Volcano on one side and Machangara Gorge on the other with the equator passing directly through, few cities can rival Quito's setting. Few also can match the splendour of its old town, with its colonial churches, mansions and plazas.
Quito was named as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. This historical city sits at 2,850 metres and has the largest and best preserved historic centre and colonial quarters in Latin America.
Welcome meal this evening at a local restaurant.
Embarkation and San Cristobal Island
This morning fly to San Cristobal in the Galapagos archipelago. After passing through Galapagos National Park inspection, Peter your national park guide will be waiting, holding a sign with Natural Paradise, the name of your yacht. Peter will accompany the group on the short bus ride to the waterfront. At the dock board a panga (dinghy) to make the short crossing to Natural Paradise. Only bring carry-on luggage on the panga as the crew will transfer the main luggage to the cabins. Settle into the boat and have lunch and a briefing en route to the first visitor site of Kicker Rock.
This striking rock formation is located a couple of hours off the western shore of San Cristobal. Jutting out of the water, the rocks rise almost 150 metres above the ocean divided by a small channel. Although there are no landing areas, snorkelling and panga rides make spotting a variety of marine life possible, including sharks, turtles and rays. Also find sea birds such as Nazca and blue-footed boobies and frigate birds.
It was Charles Darwin's 1835 exploration of the Galapagos Islands, whilst serving as a naturalist on HMS Beagle, and his subsequent 1859 publication On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection that first brought the world's attention to these fascinating islands.
Today the Galapagos remain a living laboratory of evolution where birds and animals have no fear of man. Blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants, land and marine iguanas and giant tortoises roam freely making a visit to these islands an unforgettable experience.
Located some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, the archipelago is now a National Park and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. There are 13 islands (isles) in total and dozens of smaller islets and rocks - all the result of volcanic activity with exotic plant life, unique wildlife species and an extraordinary landscape fringed with blue sea.
North Seymour and South Plaza Island
This morning, stop on North Seymour Island where sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, pelicans and magnificent frigatebirds can be found.
This afternoon visit South Plaza Island, this small island with steep cliffs was formed by rising lava and is now covered by opuntia cacti. It is also home to one of the largest sea lion colonies as well as colourful yellow and red land iguanas.
Rabida and Bartholomew Islands
This morning visit Rabida Island, one of the most colourful and volcanically varied islands in the archipelago and a great snorkelling site. The island is a birdwatcher's delight with some of the rarest species such as nine varieties of finches, large-billed flycatchers, Galapagos hawks and brown pelicans.
After lunch visit Bartolome, famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded column that rises from the edge of the sea. Galapagos penguins and sea lions can be found here and sea turtles nest in the sandy beaches. Hike the 600 metre trail to Bartolome's summit and be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and Sullivan Bay as well as Pinnacle Rock and the beach below. The beach is perfect for snorkelling and possible sightings of the Galapagos penguin.
Santiago and Santa Cruz Islands
This morning visit Sullivan Bay located on the southeast part of Santiago Island. This place is interesting for its geology and the chance to walk across a recent lava flow that was formed in the late 19th century and view its structural characteristics.
This afternoon visit Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island. This is one of the newest visitor sites accessible to tourists in the Galapagos Islands. One of the lengthier Galapagos walking trails will lead you along a beach and up a trail to the lagoon lookout where bright flamingos, pintail ducks and land iguanas can be spotted.
Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos and its capital, Puerto Ayora, is the economic centre of the Islands. In the morning travel to the highlands and visit Los Gemelos, or the Twin Craters- the name is only figurative in that the craters are not real craters, these formations were created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers.
In the afternoon visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to visit the Giant Tortoise and Land Iguana Breeding and Rearing Program. Puerto Ayora is also a good spot to buy souvenirs.
Genovesa Island is located in the northwest of the Galapagos archipelago, remote but rewarding for wildlife, particularly birds. Here the biggest colony of red footed boobies, many great frigate birds, yellow crowned night herons and swallow tailed gulls can be found.
This morning visit El Barranco also known as Prince Phillips Steps where a steep, rocky path leads up to a high cliff face and a great view point. Red footed and Nazca boobies, short-eared lava owls, Galapagos swallows, and Galapagos doves can all be seen here.
After lunch visit the white sand coral beach of Darwin Bay, a trail winds through mangroves filled with Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and swallow tailed gulls. Further down the path are tidal pools where sea lions swim playfully.
This morning visit Espumilla beach, a long sandy beach, a popular place for marine iguanas and Sally lightfoot crabs. This is a great spot for swimming and snorkelling.
This afternoon visit Puerto Egas home to the curious Galapagos hawks and quick footed lava lizards. The trail leads to the coast with tide pools with marine iguanas and bright red Sally lightfoot crabs. There is the chance to snorkel and see reef sharks, turtles, rays and sea lions.
Santa Cruz Island and disembarkation
In the morning if time allows, visit Bachas Beach located on the north shore of Santa Cruz. Look for flamingos, Sally lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black-necked stilts and whimbrels.
After this final visit, travel by bus with the guide to Baltra airport in time for your flight back to the mainland.
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"As a wildlife photographer, filmmaker, and nature-lover, I am incredibly excited about this trip to the Galapagos, which will afford us some incredible photographic opportunities. Being based on board our yacht Natural Paradise will allow us to make the most of this archipelago as we cover many miles around the islands. As with any great wildlife photography trip, the wildlife will sometimes dictate our agenda. Early morning light and stunning sunsets can be great times for photography, but a great photo opportunity can occur at any time of day and I’ll be on hand to ensure we make the most of every wildlife encounter. Whether you’ve a simple point and shoot or a more sophisticated SLR, you’’ll pick up tips on how to improve your photography, whatever your level of expertise. Composition, framing, use of light, and simply “capturing the moment” - how do you turn the scene in front of you into a stunning photo? I’ll be giving lectures on photo tips throughout the voyage, but will be available for informal one-to-one advice and feedback throughout so that you come back from this wonderful trip with images that do your memories justice. The Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime journey that should be on every bucket list! Please join me on what is bound to be an unforgettable adventure"
This is a unique opportunity to travel around the Galapagos archipelago with experienced wildlife photographer Sue Flood. The Galapagos Islands are a wildlife photographer's dream, combining the world's most fascinating animals living in the world's most beautiful archipelago. Time will be spent at each landing and at each point of interest to give photographers all the time they need to capture memorable images. Sue will be on hand throughout the trip, to offer one-to-one advice, tips on composition, use of light and framing.
No, not at all as the Galapagos Islands are a special place for anyone to visit. The experienced naturalist guide will accompany each excursion and give evening lectures on the natural history and fascinating geology of the islands. Activities other than taking photographs include the chance to swim and snorkel, exploring the islands by kayak as well as taking panga rides and guided walks.
Whilst not guaranteed, you are likely to see a huge number of both land and sea birds and an eclectic mix of mammals and marine life. Some of the sea birds likely to been seen are magnificent frigate birds, Nazca, red-footed and blue-footed boobies as well as the endemic Galapagos penguin, the only penguin to nest in the Tropics. Land birds such as the Galapagos hawk, the curious mockingbird and most of the 13 species of Darwin finches are likely to be seen during the cruise. Marine creatures may include rays, turtles, marine iguanas and playful sea lions that love to swim with snorkellers. On both Santa Cruz and San Cristobal islands giant tortoises can be found - synonymous with the Galapagos and a poignant symbol of the islands since the passing of Lonesome George.
The Natural Paradise is a spacious and stylish yacht, purpose built to sail around the Galapagos islands. The boat can accommodate 16 people across nine cabins so there will be plenty of space on board. There is a lounge, both indoor and outdoor eating areas and a generous sundeck with loungers and a Jacuzzi.
In May the waters are usually calm, especially as this Galapagos cruise will focus on the eastern and central islands which are generally protected from the winds.
May is a lovely time of year to travel to the Galapagos islands. The days are generally warm, with clear skies and temperatures averaging 25 C. Sea temperatures are also at their warmest at this time so snorkelling can be more enjoyable.
Group size: 8
Tour Expert: Sue Flood
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