Galapagos Cruise: Grand Daphne

Tour/Activity , Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands of San Cristobal, Española, Santa Cruz, Floreana, Genovesa, Santa Fé, Rabida and Plaza Sur.

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer from Baltra Airport to Santa Cruz Island

On arrival in the Galapagos, you collect your luggage and meet the cruise guide at the arrival’s hall. First youneed to take the bus from the airport to the dock. Our guide will provide you the ticket for this. On arrival to the dock you will then take the Ferry to cross the Itabaca Channel and get from Baltra to Santa Cruz Island.

Santa Cruz Highlands

Beginning at the coast in the northern part of the island, we travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests where we 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, as well as vermillion flycatchers. Today we will enjoy lunch in the highlands.

This afternoon we travel to Puerto Ayora, where we are then transferred to our boat, the Grand Daphne. Once on board, you will be assigned your cabin, meet the crew members and get to know better our guide and the group.

Day 2

Floreana Island: Post Office Bay

Floreana offers a wonderful testament to the fascinating human history of the Archipelago. Although paling in comparison to the geological history, human history extends far beyond the island's first residents.

At Post Office Bay you can learn about the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries. Lonely sailors, away from home for years at a time, would stop at Floreana to restock their supplies of food and water. The homesick sailors devised a clever solution - they left letters in a makeshift 'post box' on Floreana, and when passing ships stopped on the way back to their homeport, they would pick up all the letters destined for that place and deliver them.

To this day, the system is alive and well - each year thousands of visitors continue to leave letters for loved ones, and search for letters to bring home and deliver. To keep the tradition alive, hunt for a letter destined for a town near you and hand-deliver it.

Floreana Island: Punta Cormorant + Devils Crown

Afternoon: Punta Cormorant is home to two stunning natural beaches. You'll make a wet landing in the first bay, where you'll find a special black sand beach that twinkles green in the sunlight. The shimmering sand is made of olivine crystals, remnants of a long-gone violent volcanic eruption. In the waters here are sea turtles, reef fishes, sea lions, and even reef sharks! There is also a small penguin colony in Floreana where you might have a chance to see on your lucky day.

Floreana Island: Devil’s Crown

Just offshore, the famous Devil’s Crown is an old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices. The center of the cone is an outstanding snorkeling spot and many people find this one of the best snorkeling experiences of their trip. We might see rays, sharks, sea lions and turtles.

Day 3

Española Island: Suarez Point

Española is a geologically interesting island where you can explore the volcanic formations and spot a lot more of the Galapagos' unique fauna. Regular sightings include large sea lion colonies and flocks of seabirds, such as the Española mockingbird, the Nazca booby, and the spectacular red-beaked tropicbird. There are also marine iguanas, lizards, and Sally Lightfoot crabs. A long hike will take you past the world's largest colony of Galapagos albatrosses! During mating season (May to December) you will have the opportunity to see the nesting area of the albatrosses and if you're lucky, you'll even get to witness their courting dance. The courting dance of the albatross is extra special as it is the start of a life-long bond for these birds who mate for life. Other interesting birds include Galapagos doves, Galapagos hawks, whip-tailed gulls.

Make a final stop to admire the dramatic topography of the famous Blow Hole, catapulting seawater an impressive 23 meters into the air.

Española Island: Gardner Bay

This outstanding white sand beach at Gardner Bay is an import nesting place for the green pacific sea turtle. However, the large Galapagos Sea Lion colony is sure to steal the show here. The female sea lions say at the nursery and take care of their pups until they are three years old, even though sea lions can also fish independently when they are 5 months old. During mating and nesting season, the number of sea lions is even higher! Join the colony of sea lions on the beautiful white coral beach. From the shoreline, you can observe the Galapagos hawks, American oystercatchers, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, gold-warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas and three different types of Darwin finch!

Day 4

Kicker Rock

Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido) is the magnificent basalt remains of a crater in the middle of the sea, the shape resembling a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 meters above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. We cruise through the channel, with nesting seabirds on either side of the boat, tropic birds overhead, marine iguanas in the water and resting on the rocks and many sea lions also present. Snorkeling give us the opportunity to see Galapagos sharks, and with some luck even hammer head sharks among sea turtles and an incredible biodiversity of invertebrates on the wall.

National Park Interpretation Centre, San Cristobal

The National Park Interpretation Center, on San Cristóbal Island, was built in collaboration with the Spanish Science Center. The tour offered by the Center for Interpretation's facilities provide a good overview of the Galapagos Islands. The tour takes us through the history of the islands in the context of nature, humankind, and conservation. It also tells the story of the first settlers on the islands.

Day 5

Santa Fé Island

pon arrival at the white sand beach, you will be greeted by a large colony of sea lions. A trail leads you from the beach into a forest of prickly pears and Palo Santo trees. It is not rare to spot Galapagos hawks and even owls in the salt bushes. Even harmless snakes and the endemic rice rat can be discovered with a little luck while exploring the island. Arguably the most special, however, is the Santa Fé iguana. This species differs from its peers due to its significantly lighter color and distinct dorsal spines.

Please Note: The Galapagos National Park has placed a temporary ban on swimming, snorkelling or diving in the waters around Santa Fé.

South Plazas Island

One of the smallest and most colourful islands in the archipelago, Plaza Sur, or 'South Plaza' in English, is just a short sail from Santa Cruz. Reaching dry land, you will come across some of the island’s friendly sea lions, one of the many types of animals in South Plaza for you to discover.

Wander by the nesting places of swallow-tailed gulls, Audubon shearwaters, red-tailed tropicbirds, masked boobies and frigatebirds. The entire island is carpeted with dense sesuvium plants. From June to November, during the colder and drier season, the plants turn a deep red color which gives the island a dramatic, fascinating atmosphere. Watch the iguanas searching high up in the opuntia trees for fruit - a sight you'll never see anywhere else in the world.

Day 8

Prince Philip's Steps, Genovesa

Genovesa Island is secluded from the other main islands in the north of the archipelago and is well-known as the Bird Island.

Prince Philip's Steps are a staircase sunken into volcanic rock that leads to a plateau rich with vegetation and wildlife. True to the nickname of Bird Island, this area is home to nesting masked and blue-footed boobies, Bahama ducks, petrels and gulls amongst a host of other local species. The Galápagos horned owls bask on the warm volcanic rocks here, paying no attention the tourists around them.

Day 6

Darwin Bay, Genovesa

Emerging from the narrow entrance, you'll reach Darwin Bay, surrounded by protective cliffs. Frigatebirds regularly patrol the skies here and petrels can be seen hunting coastal waters for smaller fish. The green water in the bay is evidence of a high plankton content which attracts fish and seabirds, making this wildlife-rich bay a wonderful site for snorkeling. With some luck, you may also encounter peaceful hammerheads and black spotted eagle rays.

Day 7

Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island

Although this beautiful beach deserves its place in the highlights list, the day will surprise you with another highlight: the special pahoehoe lava flows.

Almost 100 years ago, lava flowed across the island and left behind various forms of soil: braided and stringy lava fields alternate with sharp-edged jagged formations. Feel the warm stones of the black, unreal lava landscape under your hands and move back to the time of origin, when volcanoes raged here, ultimately creating a paradise. Return to the yacht for lunch.

Rabida Island

On arrival at Rábida Island's red sand beach you will be greeted by the resident sea lions, basking in the sun. The island's otherworldy red colouring is a result of the high level of iron and magnesium left behind from previous volcanic activity.

A stroll along the beach reveals marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. If you look carefully you may also spot the bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs, who have found possibly the only place on earth where they can effectively camouflage themselves.

Day 8

Black Turtle Cove, Santa Cruz Island

In the afternoon, you make a panga ride on Black Turtle Cove. Black Turtle Cove is a red mangrove lagoon serving as a nursery for sharks and rays. Black Turtle Cove is a great location to observe mating sea turtles during nesting season. Travelers often see large groups of resting white-tip reef sharks, schools of golden rays and the incredibly beautiful spotted eagle rays. As the water is usually very calm, this area can be navigated using paddles instead of the loud panga engines, increasing your chances of wildlife encounters. You will board the Yacht for dinner and the first of your nightly orientations.

Baltra Airport

You will return to the harbour of Baltra. From there transfer to Baltra Airport by bus for your return flight to the mainland or you continue with your individual Galapagos program.

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