Ultimate Galapagos: Central Islands (Grand Daphne)


When it comes to encountering wildlife up close and personal, a voyage to the Galapagos Islands really is an experience like no other. Head underwater off Isla Santa Cruz, Bartolome or Isla Isabela and you'll be snorkelling with sea lions, white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles and penguins. Look to the skies in North Seymour or Caleta Bucanero and you'll spot boobies, pelicans and more soaring above. Head out for a wander across the volcanic landscapes of Punta Espinosa and you'll see land iguanas and flightless cormorants. This 10-day sailing expedition through the central islands of the Galapagos is an adventure waiting to happen.

10 days, from

$5,905

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

3
Trip code: GMDD
Style: Comfort
Theme: Sailing
Print itinerary

Details

Countries Visited:  Ecuador
Accommodation: Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (7 nights)
Transportation: Boat , Plane , Bus , Zodiac (Panga)
Meals: 7 dinners, 9 breakfasts
Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • Encounter the unique Galapagos wildlife in their natural habitat, from giant blue-footed and masked boobies, pelicans and frigate birds to iguanas, sea lions and turtles.

  • Experience the benefits of small group travel aboard your vessel, M/Y Grande Daphne, sailing through the natural beauty of the Galapagos, day and night.

  • Explore the remote west coast of Isabela on a small panga boat, and venture to the far-west Fernandina, home of the highest density of marine iguanas.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Quito

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador. This country might be smaller than its heavyweight South American neighbours, but it stakes a legitimate claim as the continent's most complete package, blessed with interesting cities, perfect beaches and the remarkable Galapagos Islands. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 5 pm or 6 pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

If you arrive early, get out and explore Quito (2,850 m), one of South America’s most attractive cities. Stroll around the Old Town, and be sure to visit the majestic Monastery of San Francisco if you have time. Alternatively, check out Cotopaxi volcano, the Cloud Forest, the local hot springs or the Equatorial Monument.

Day 2: Isla Santa Cruz

Transfer to Quito Airport for your early morning flight to the Galapagos Islands. Keep in mind that you may leave the hotel as early as 4:30 am (a boxed breakfast will be provided).

Your flight to the Galapagos Islands will make a stop in Guayaquil to refuel and pick up other passenger (total flight time is around 3.5 hours).

On arrival in the Galapagos, you’ll be met in the arrivals hall by your naturalist guide and transferred to your boat, M/Y Le Grande Daphne, which will be moored close to Isla Baltra. Once on board, you’ll meet the crew, be assigned a cabin and enjoy a delicious lunch with your fellow travellers. Try on the snorkelling gear to ensure it fits, before your first snorkelling session. Wetsuits can also be hired at an additional cost.

Sail from Baltra to Las Bachas, on the north shore of Isla Santa Cruz, which is a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle. You may also see some marine iguanas. The sand here, made of decomposed coral, is particularly white and soft, and the nearby rocks make for an excellent snorkelling spot, where you might see some of the many Sally Lightfoot crabs on the island. A saltwater lagoon just near the beach is home to flamingos, whimbrel and great blue herons.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Isla Baltra to Las Bachas: 30 minutes; 4 nautical miles

Day 3: Isla Rabida - Isla Isabela

Today you will sail from Las Bachas to Isla Rabida, known for its spectacular red sand beaches, caused by the high content of iron in the sand which rusts to form the unusual shade. Follow a trail from the shore along to a lagoon which is one of the best spots in the Galapagos to view flamingos. Keep an eye out for nesting pelicans, pintail ducks, marine iguanas and sea lions – all are commonly sighted on the island. Check out a vast opuntia cactus forest, hinting at the previous habitation of land iguanas, Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds, doves, finches and lava lizards. You may like to take the chance to go snorkelling and seek out sea stars, damsels, gobbies and surgeon fish.

In the afternoon, head to Albemarle on the northeast side of Isabela Island. Covered in mangroves, the bay is home to sea turtles, sea lions, penguins and flightless cormorants who feed on the algae and fish here. Take a walk inland and discover the remains of an old radar base from World War II and pass by pahoehoe and lava formations. Another fantastic location for snorkeling, you may like to have a look beneath the water’s surface in search of sea turtles and flightless cormorants.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Sail from Bachas to Rabida: 3.3 hours; 23 nautical miles
Rábida to Punta Albermarle: 6. hours; 56 nautical miles

Day 4: Isla Isabela

Sail overnight from Isla Santiago around to the western shores of Isla Isabela. Wake up near Tagus Cove, where pirates and whalers used to collect tortoises for their travels. Enjoy a short visit here (approximately 2 hours), perhaps snorkelling or checking out the graffiti on the walls (the oldest of which is from 1836). Witness flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, a variety of waterfowl and the most northerly penguins in the world. You will walk to a lookout point for a stunning view of the north of Isabela Island and Volcan Wolf (Wolf Volcano).

Today you will also visit Bahia Urbina on the west of Isabela Island, Urbina Bay has a wide variety of plant life which changes depending on the season. You will be able to observe the beautiful color of the plants which attracts many different insects. The site also features a short trek inland, where giant tortoises can be spotted amongst the bushes in their natural habitat. You may also see land iguanas which often nest in the middle of the trail where their distinctive, textured and yellowish skin can be observed from up close. Flycatchers, Darwin’s finches and mockingbirds are common on the ground and in the trees.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Punta Albermarle to Caleta Tagus: 3.5 hours; 37 nautical miles
Caleta Tagus to Bahia Urbina: 1.5 hours: 15 nautical miles

Day 5: Isla Fernandina - Isla Isabela

Today we visit Punta Espinosa that is a narrow ledge of lava and sand extending from the base of La Cumbre volcano. Take a walk around the beautiful peninsula, which boasts such wildlife and plant life as lava cacti, marine iguanas, barking sea lions, tiny penguins and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Keep a lookout for that marvelous Galapagos predator hunting from the treetops: the Galapagos hawk. Top-notch snorkeling opportunities await in the clear waters, and turtles and sea lions can be seen swimming around and feeding on the shore. This is also a great spot to see flightless cormorants drying their atrophied wings on the rocks.

In the afternoon head to Punta Vicente Roca, this site allowed for panga rides to observe the abundant wildlife and offers one of the best snorkeling spots of the Archipelago. The snorkeling “route” takes us along the cliffs and offers the not so common chance of exploring two shallow underwater caves.

The primitive and unaggressive bullhead shark, known locally as the Port Jackson shark, is often seen here sharing its space with red-lipped batfish, frogfishes, Pacific seahorses, the endemic Camotillo, schools of barracuda and brown-stripped snappers. Sponges, corals, and other marine invertebrates are also abundant in the area.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Bahia Urbina to Punta Espinoza 1.4 hour: 16 nautical miles
Punta Espinoza to Punta Vicente Roca 1.4 hours; 16 nautical miles

Day 6: Isla Santiago

Sail this morning to Puerto Egas, a black-sand beach on the west side of James Bay, northwest of Isla Santiago, home to incredible volcanic tuff formations. Take a stroll along the beach with the native marine iguanas, pelicans, finches, mockingbirds, oystercatchers, Galapagos sea lions and Galapagos fur seals. You can see the amazing tidal pools, formed from ancient lava flow, providing a home for sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish. You might also end up snorkelling with a Galapagos fur seal – they’re always looking for a friend! In the afternoon travel to the northwest side of Santiago Island where you’ll find Caleta Bucanero, named after the pirates and buccaneers who once found shelter in the bay. Here you’ll have the chance to go snorkelling and take a dinghy ride to look for blue-footed boobies, pelicans and nocturnal seagulls nesting in the cliffs.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Punta Albermarle (Isla Isabela) to Pto Egas (Isla Santiago): 5.2 hours; 45 nautical miles
Puerto Egas (Isla Santiago) to Caleta Bucanero (Isla Santiago): 1 hour; 9 nautical miles

Day 7: Isla Bartolome - Isla Sombrero Chino

Wake up in Bartolome Island, a spectacular volcanic landscape full of spatter cones and lava flows, and home to Galapagos penguins and lava lizards. Put on your walking shoes and climb up 360 wooden steps to the summit, where an amazing view of Pinnacle Rock awaits. This is one of the most photographed sights in the Galapagos – an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth, providing a focal point for two nearby bays. Hike to the top of a once-active volcano and enjoy superb views across to Bahia Sullivan on nearby Isla Santiago. If you’re in luck, you might catch a glimpse of the Galapagos hawk. There’s also the chance to go snorkelling among the colourful marine life. In the afternoon, travel to the small island of Sombrero Chino, found on the southeast side of Santiago Island. With lovely sandy beaches and a striking volcanic landscape, this is a fantastic place to take a hike and look out for the sea lions and penguins that rest here, and snorkel in search of reef sharks and sea turtles.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Caleta Bucanero (Isla Santiago) to Isla Bartolomé: 2.2 hours, 21 nautical miles
Isla Bartolome to Isla Sombrero chino:1.25 hours, 7 nautical miles

Day 8: Isla North Seymour - Isla Santa Cruz

Wake up this morning in North Seymour, one of the most visited islands of the Galapagos. First up is a walk around the island to spot some blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship, sharing the same nesting area on North Seymour. Blue-footed boobies nest on the ground while the frigate birds nest just above them in the saltbushes. As you walk, look out for land iguanas, marine iguanas, Galapagos sea lions and the endemic incense tree. After the walk, cool off and go snorkelling and encounter a great variety of fish and perhaps some white-tipped reef sharks, rays and sea lions. Later in the day, travel to Isla Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. Pay a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the small town of Puerto Ayora. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. You may also see baby tortoises and land iguanas.

Estimated travel time/distance:
Isla Sombrero Chino to Isla North Seymour: 1.30 hours; 18 nautical miles
Isla North Seymour to Charles Darwin Station (Isla Santa Cruz) S: 3.45 hour; 31 nautical miles

Day 9: Isla Baltra - Quito

Flights to the mainland from Galapagos depart mid-morning, so it’s an early start for your last morning on the islands.

You will visit the Santa Cruz Highlands. Travel through the agricultural region and into the misty forests where you can see the unique scalesia cloud forest, dome-shaped giant tortoises in the wild, different species of Darwin finches and possibly the world-famous woodpecker and warbler finches. You might also glimpse a vermillion flycatcher.

Then it’s time to bid farewell to the archipelago and head to the airport for your mid-morning flight back to Quito for the last night of the tour. This flight takes approximately 2.5 hours with a transit in Guayaquil. Upon arrival at Quito Airport, at about 4 pm, you’ll be transferred back to your hotel for an overnight stay. A local Intrepid representative might stop by the hotel this evening to get your feedback on the trip.

Day 10: Quito

There are no activities planned for the day so we are able to depart our accommodation at any time. If you have not spent time in Quito beforehand, we recommend you stay on a few days as there are many fascinating things to do, such as the Cotopaxi volcano, the Cloud Forest, hot springs, the Equatorial Monument or perhaps city tour of the fascinating Old Town. If you want to spend more time, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability) and can also assist you in booking a departure transfer to the airport.

10 days, from $5,905

to book call 1-844-205-6226


Privacy Preference Center

Club Adventures Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter for adventure travel inspiration, updates and exclusive offers.

Club Adventures Newsletter

You have Successfully Subscribed!