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Evolution

This beautiful mid-sized boat offers highly exclusive longer itineraries in luxurious surroundings.

Overview

Built in the style of the vessels from the golden age of travel, the Evolution Galapagos features the look of the roaring 1920s on the exterior mixed with contemporary interior décor and modern amenities. The roomy 200-foot ship is home to just 16 staterooms for 32 guests, ensuring that everyone has ample space to relax and enjoy the magnificent views offered from every deck and stateroom.

Life Aboard The Evolution Ship

As you board the Evolution, the pampering begins right away. An 18-member crew, plus a dedicated cruise director, will do everything possible to make your time on the ship a peaceful, joyful experience. The barman stands ready to serve you a signature cocktail, which you will undoubtedly want to enjoy on the sundeck.

At the top of the ship, this outdoor space features lounge chairs, a hot tub, and a bird’s eye view of the marine life below. For breakfast and lunch, enjoy buffet-style meals. When it is time for dinner, elegantly-prepared meals, served in either the interior dining room or the alfresco dining area, pay tribute to the area’s culinary traditions. Sustainably-sourced ingredients such as freshly-caught tuna, locally-grown coffee, and exotic fruits are the stars of the show, and children’s menus are available to please budding adventurers.

Before you, sadly, disembark at the end of your cruise, stop by the onboard boutique to choose a Panama hat or a beautiful scarf as a stylish souvenir of your cruise. This is also a convenient place to pick up sunscreen or insect repellent so that you do not need to make room for it in your luggage.

Excursions From Your Evolution Boat Galapagos Cruise

Thanks to itineraries designed to feature top-tier landing sites, such as Punta Espinoza on Fernandina and Prince Phillip’s Steps on Genovesa, unexpected animal encounters are always a moment away. Perhaps you will spot a Flightless Cormorant, snorkel with a sea lion, or photograph a giant tortoise.

The stargazing experiences offered on several nights throughout the cruise will have you looking at the night sky in a whole new way. Kayaking through secluded coves and mangrove estuaries is a highlight for many travelers. One of the two naturalist guides aboard the Evolution ship leads every activity. These guides each have over 15 years of experience, provide insider knowledge of the area, and hold Level III certifications, the highest available from the Galapagos National Park Authority.

Time For Exploration And Relaxation

With two itineraries of eight days and another of 15 days, cruises aboard the Evolution are longer than the trips offered by many other boats. Rather than overstuffing a short cruise with too many activities or skipping important locations, an Evolution cruise allows you to fall in love with everything that the Galapagos Islands offer at a leisurely pace while still leaving time for relaxation.

Whether you are a couple in love looking for a romantic getaway, a scuba diver wanting to experience the world-class diving available in the Galapagos, or a bird watcher hoping to spy a Darwin’s Finch, the Evolution offers something for everyone.

Itineraries & Prices

1 / 2
8-Day
8-Day

8 Day / 7 Night - Western Islands - In the Steps of Pirates and Darwin

itinerary map

Embarkation

AM: For this itinerary, you will be landing on the island of Baltra. After passing through Galapagos National Park inspection your National Park Guide will be there to greet you, holding a sign with the name of your yacht. Your guide will accompany you on the short bus ride to the waterfront. During WWII the island of Baltra was a US Air Force base and one can still see the remnants of the old foundations left behind from that era. We transfer via panga (launch) to the waiting Evolution. The crew will see that your luggage is transferred to your cabin. At the dock, we board a dinghy (panga) to make the short crossing to Evolution. You only need to bring your carry-on luggage on the panga as our crew will transfer your luggage to your cabin. You’ll have time to settle into your new home for the week before assembling to review safety procedures and coming events with your Galapagos National Park Guide. While this is taking place the Evolution will start her engines and set off into the archipelago.

PM: Daphne Minor, a tuff cone (giant pile of compressed volcanic ash shaped like a cone), sits off the north coast of Santa Cruz Island, west of Baltra Island, and North Seymour Island. While off-limits to all but limited scientific parties going ashore, we’ve obtained permission from the National Park to navigate around the island, close by. You will have a front-row seat to witness bustling colonies of blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, magnificent frigate birds, and more. You’ll also have the opportunity to observe short-eared owls and red-billed tropicbirds. This island has (natural) historic importance as a result of the husband-wife biology team of Peter and Rosemary Grant conducting a 20-year field study into the behavior and life cycles of finches as relates to Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Their work is chronicled in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Beak of the Finch. As the sun sets on your first day in the Enchanted Archipelago, you’ll toast to the voyage ahead with a welcome cocktail.

Evolution's Western Islands In the Steps of Pirates and Darwin 8-Day Itinerary Day One - Blue-Footed Booby Sighting.
Location
Baltra - Daphne
Day
1 / 8

Punta Vicente Roca & Punta Espinoza

AM: Located at the ‘mouth’ of the head of the sea horse, which forms the northern part of the Isabela is Punta Vicente Roca. Here the remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves with a bay well protected from the ocean swells. The spot is a popular anchorage from which to take panga rides along the cliff where a partially sunken cave beckons explorers. Masked and blue-footed boobies sit perched along with the point and the sheer cliffs, while flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline. The upwelling of coldwater currents in combination with the protection of the coves makes Punta Vicente Roca one of the archipelago’s most sought after dive spots. One cove is only accessible from the sea by way of an underwater passage. The passage opens to calm waters of the hidden cove where sea lions laze on the beach having traveled along the underwater route. The entire area of Punta Vicente Roca lies on the flank of 2,600 foot Volcano Ecuador. This is the island’s sixth largest volcano. Half of Volcano Ecuador slid into the ocean leaving a spectacular cutaway view of its caldera. The site offers deep water snorkeling where sea lions turtles, spotted eagle rays, and even manta rays are the attraction. After our visit here we set off south and west across the Bolivar channel. Keep your eyes open in this best place in the islands for spotting whales.

Fernandina is the youngest and westernmost island in the Galapagos. It sits across the Bolivar Channel opposite Isabela. Our destination is Punta Espinoza, a narrow spit of land in the northeastern corner of the island, where a number of unique Galapagos species can be seen in close proximity. As our panga driver skillfully navigates the reef, Galapagos penguins show off by throwing themselves from the rocks into the water. Red and turquoise-blue crabs disperse across the lava shoreline, while blue and lava herons forage through the mangrove roots. The landing is a dry one, set in a quiet inlet beneath the branches of a small mangrove forest. A short walk through the vegetation leads to a large colony of marine iguanas, resting atop one another in friendly heaps along the rocky shoreline, spitting water to clear their bodies of salt. Nearby, sea lions frolic in a sheltered lagoon. Dominating this landscape from high overhead looms the summit of La Cumbre, 1,495 meters (4,858 feet), one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Farther down this stretch of shore, the world’s only species of flightless cormorants have established a colony near an inviting inlet frequented by sea turtles. Because these birds evolved without land predators—it was easier to feed on the squid, octopus, eel, and fish found in the ocean—the cormorants progressively took to the sea. They developed heavier, more powerful legs and feet for kicking, serpent-like necks, and fur-like plumage. Their wings are now mere vestiges. Back toward the landing and farther inland, the island’s black lava flows become more evident, forming a quiet, inner mangrove lagoon where you will spot rays and sea turtles gliding just below the surface. Galapagos hawks survey the entire scene from overhead.

PM: The snorkeling off Punta Espinoza offers some real treats, as many of the creatures you just saw on land, including the Godzilla-like marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, and sea lions await you in the waters of the point (which incidentally was used as a set during the making of Master & Commander). A key feature of the ocean bottom here are the troughs formed by volcanic rock and ocean currents. Because these waters reach out into the Bolivar Channel they can be quite cold. Sea turtles like to hang out in the warm water of the troughs. You’ll also see marine iguanas ferrying back and forth between underwater grazing areas and their colonies onshore. This is an excellent place to see underwater iguanas munching on algae. If you are fortunate you may catch a glimpse of a flightless cormorant demonstrating its swimming abilities or watch a Galapagos penguin zip by. You will feel the difference in ocean temperature and watch the water get clearer as you move from the more protected shallow areas out into the cold rich waters of the channel. The Bolivar Channel is the very best place in the Galapagos to see dolphins and whales. On rare occasions, our groups have been able to swim with dolphins, kayak with melon-headed whales, and even spot the elusive sperm whale.

Evolution's Western Islands In the Steps of Pirates and Darwin 8-Day Itinerary Day Two - Cruise at Isabela.
Location
Isabela - Fernandina
Day
2 / 8

Urbina Bay & Tagus Cove

AM: Isabela is the largest island in the archipelago, accounting for half of the total landmass of the Galapagos at 4,588 square kilometers. Though narrow in places, the island runs 132 km from north to south or 82 miles. Isabela is formed from six shield volcanoes that merged into a single landmass. It is also home to the highest point in the Galapagos, Wolf Volcano at 1,707 meters (5,547 feet), and calderas of up to 20 kilometers (121⁄2 miles) across. Urbina Bay is directly west of Isabela’s Volcano Alcedo, where we will make an easy, wet landing (a hop into a few inches of water) onto a gently sloping beach. In 1954, a Disney film crew caught sight of this gleaming white strip and went to investigate. To their astonishment, three miles (5 km) of the marine reef had been uplifted by as much as 13 feet (4 meters) prior to their arrival. They discovered schools of stranded fish and other creatures in newly formed tidal pools along with the skeletons of sea turtles and sharks unable to make it to the ocean as a result of the uplift event. Alcedo erupted a few weeks later. Now visitors can walk amongst the boulder-sized dried coral heads, mollusks, and other organisms that once formed the ocean floor.

A highlight of this excursion is the giant land iguanas, whose vivid and gaudy yellow skin suggests that dinosaurs may have been very colorful indeed. Giant tortoises inhabit this coastal plain during the wet season, before migrating to the highlands when it turns dry. Our landing beach provides a nesting site for sea turtles and will also provide you with opportunities to snorkel amongst marine creatures, or just relax onshore. Here we must take care not to step on the sea turtle nests dug carefully into the sand. For those looking for snorkeling from a beach, this is the place, with tropical fish hiding amongst the rocks to the north side of the bay.

PM: We head north along the western coast of Isabela Island, to Tagus Cove, named for a British warship that moored here in 1814. Historically the cove was used as an anchorage for pirates and whalers. One can still find the names of their ships carved into the rock above our landing, a practice now prohibited. The cove’s quiet waters make for an ideal panga ride beneath its sheltered cliffs, where blue-footed boobies, brown noddies, pelicans, and noddy terns make their nests, and flightless cormorants and penguins inhabit the lava ledges. From our landing, a wooden stairway rises to the trail entrance for a view of Darwin Lake; a perfectly round saltwater crater, barely separated from the ocean but above sea level! From the air one can see that both Tagus Cove and Darwin Lake are formed from one, partially flooded, tuff cone on the eastern edge of the giant Darwin volcano. The cove is formed by a breached and flooded section of the crater with Darwin Lake forming the very center of the same cone. The trail continues around the lake through a dry vegetation zone and then climbs inland to a promontory formed by spatter cones. The site provides spectacular views back toward our anchorage, as well as to Darwin Volcano and Wolf Volcano to the north. While one does not normally think of greener pastures when planning to snorkel, that is exactly what you will find at Tagus Cove. The carpet of green algae that covers the floor of the cove gives the impression of a submerged pasture, and really that is just what it is. You can find marine iguanas grazing the algae along with numerous sea turtles gliding and munching their way along. Because the cove opens to the rich waters of the Bolivar Channel this is one of the best snorkeling sites on the island. You also have a good chance of snorkeling with underwater feathered friends including Galapagos penguins and rare flightless cormorants.

For those who want to dive deeper, there are special rewards waiting for you at 3 meters where camouflaged creatures await, including scorpionfish nestled against the outcrops and sea horses masquerading as twigs of the seaweed waving in the currents. The rare Port Jackson shark can also be found here. Kayakers can enjoy a paddle around the cove, offering excellent views of nesting birds on the cliff walls above. As we set sail north to navigate out of the channel back towards the central islands keep your eyes peeled as this is one of the best places in the islands to spot whales and dolphins that feed in these productive waters created by the upwelling of the Cromwell Current. And while you watch you can enjoy a happy hour at the Sky lounge on the upper rear deck.

Evolution's Western Islands In the Steps of Pirates and Darwin 8-Day Itinerary Day Three - Land Iguana Sighting.
Location
Isabela
Day
3 / 8

Pinnacle Rock & Sullivan Bay

AM: Bartolomé is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best-known landmark in the Galapagos. It served as a backdrop in the film Master & Commander. Galapagos penguins - the only species of penguin found north of the equator - walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at their base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. Below the surface, shoals of tropical fish dodge in and out of the rocks past urchins, sea stars, and anemones. A perfectly crescent sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle and across a narrow isthmus another beach mirrors this one to the south. Sea turtles use both beaches and another to the west of the Pinnacle as nesting sites and can sometimes be seen wading back out into the shallow water near the shore or resting in the sand recovering from the arduous task of digging nests, laying eggs, and covering them over. Penguins like to rest atop the nearby rocks by our next landing site, about a quarter-mile east along the shore. Here the submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a large fountain pool.

This dry landing is the entrance to a 600-meter (2000-foot) pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolome’s summit. The route is not difficult and presents an open textbook of the islands’ volcanic origins; a site left untouched after its last eruption, where small cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs down from the summit. At the top, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and Sullivan Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock, where the crystal turquoise waters of the bay cradle your yacht.

PM: Our next landing site is a short distance away to the southeast. If you created a partnership between well know glass artist Dale Chihuly and mother nature the result would be Sullivan Bay. Back in 1897, the island fired up its own internal kiln giving birth to a field of pahoehoe (“rope-like” in Hawaiian) lava reaching out into the channel toward Bartolome. The results gleam in the sun like a gigantic, obsidian sculpture. It stirs the imagination to envision the once-molten lava lighting up the earth, flowing into the sea and sending plumes of superheated steam skyrocketing into the air as pockets of gas in the flow exploded when the lava hit the water. The flow gave birth to the new land as it engulfed vegetation, leaving some plants forever etched into the earth. Today the flow stands as a great walkway gallery of abstract shapes resembling braids, curtains, and swirling fans. Brightly colored painted locusts and lava lizards punctuate the black volcanic canvas, as does the occasional finger of lava cactus and spreading carpetweed. We hike south into the flow taking time to admire the Earth’s craftwork as we proceed.

Upon our return to the black rocky coast, you may spot Galapagos penguins that dot the shore. Unlike the penguins, which mimic the lava with their color, sally lightfoot crabs stand out against the black rocks as a reminder of their once molten state. Snorkeling along the edge of the lava flow is very good for swimming with penguins and sea lions. Squadrons of spotted eagle rays pass through the channel, and sea turtles that lay their eggs on nearby Bartolome swim past, while white-tipped reef sharks patrol the bottom.

Evolution's Western Islands In the Steps of Pirates and Darwin 8-Day Itinerary Day Four - Cruise at Bartolome.
Location
Bartolome
Day
4 / 8

Playas Las Bachas & Rabida Island

AM: At the north end of Santa Cruz Island is Las Bachas, comprised of two sandy white-coral beaches that are are major egg-laying sites for sea turtles. The official story of how Las Bachas got its name comes from the Galapagos National Park. During WWII the US military discarded two barges on the beaches. When the first settlers to the area following the war arrived they mispronounced barges as bachas, resulting in the name. There are other explanations of how the location got its name having to do with indentations left in the sand by both egg-laying sea turtles and their departing hatchlings, but we will go with the Park’s. We go ashore the white sandy beach and are greeted by patrolling blue-footed boobies. A brief walk inland takes us to a lagoon where pink flamingos are often found along with great blue herons, common stilts, brown noddies, white-cheek pintail ducks, and migratory birds. Snorkeling today is from the beach and you can also enjoy a swim in these waters, which are typically warmer than in other places in the Galapagos.

PM: At the geologic center of the archipelago, Jervis presents an island of a different color with its deep red sandy beach and equally red towering cliffs. Even the starfish are red. The flanks of a sloping volcanic cinder-cone rise sharply from the coast and looking up one can see where the vegetation transitions from the arid zone to the wetter Scaleisia zone. A hedgerow of green saltbush frames the beach between the clear teal waters of the Pacific making for one of the more colorful islands. A noisy colony of sea lions inhabits these scarlet shores. This is also the best place in the islands to get close to nesting brown pelicans raising their chicks in precariously positioned nests atop the saltbush. A short trail inland offers observations of land birds including Galapagos dove, cactus finch, and the large ground-finch. Hidden behind the narrow strip of green saltbush is a briny lagoon frequented by flamingos. These large pink birds feed for up to 12 hours a day on the pink shrimp larva and water boatman that give them their color. We follow the trail to the left and up from the beach to the top of the rocky peninsula that juts from the island towards the north.

As we climb higher we pass through groves of prickly pear cactus, some oddly reminiscent of Mickey Mouse. The top of the overlook reveals excellent views back toward the lagoon and red sea cliffs beyond. Rabida also offers a nice kayaking route starting on the eastern side of the peninsula, then around and along with it. The route continues west past the beach, then beneath the island’s towering red cliffs. This is a great place to spot sea turtles from your kayak. They sometimes swim right up without noticing you and then dart into the depths once they see you. Make sure you stop kayaking when you reach the red diamond-shaped sign where there is a large rock where both blue footed and masked boobies like to perch. Beneath the ocean surface, Rabida offers excellent snorkeling along the shore of the little peninsula. The sea turtles you just saw topside are easier to see once you are in the water. Large schools of yellowtail surgeonfish thread through passages between the rocks. You can look for chances to swim with sea lions and penguins as well and keep your eyes open for marine iguanas grazing the underwater greenery. We’ve also have had groups watch orca right off the shore on rare occasions but this pod can also be seen elsewhere as they patrol the islands.

Evolution's Western Islands In the Steps of Pirates and Darwin 8-Day Itinerary Day Five - Flamingo Sighting.
Location
Santa Cruz - Rabida
Day
5 / 8

Darwin Station/Puerto Ayora & Santa Cruz Highlands

AM: Santa Cruz, our next stop, is the second-largest island in the Galapagos and something of a hub for the archipelago. Baltra, where one of the archipelago’s two airports is found, is on the far north end of the island. Puerto Ayora, located in the south of this large, round volcanic island is the seaside economic center of the Galapagos, focused on fishing and tourism.

The little port town offers restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, internet cafés, and a place to get your laundry done! This morning we visit Puerto Ayora, home to both the Galapagos National Park Service Headquarters and Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of the great restorative efforts taking place in the park, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here we visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding & Rearing Program run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 14 tortoises on the island of Española in 1970. This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today. You will see many of these animals, with their sweet ET necks and faces; from hatchlings to juveniles to large, distinguished individuals. This is where famed tortoise, Lonesome George, lived out his last days as the last of his particular race of tortoise.

PM: A highlight of any trip to the archipelago is a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands, where the sparse, dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. Our afternoon destination is the Wild Tortoise Reserve where we will have chances to track and view these friendly ancient creatures in their natural setting. This extends to the adjacent pasturelands, where farmers give tortoise safe quarter in exchange for allowing paying visitors to see them. When viewing the tortoise in their natural setting you are literally scratching the surface because there is another world awaiting you beneath the highlands.

Lava tubes are formed when the outer surface of a lava flow cools, insulating the interior lava, which continues to flow on leaving a hollow tube as the result. The tubes become covered with earth over time and the result is a perfectly formed underground tunnel courtesy of Mother Nature. A wooden stairway descends to the mouth of the arched entrance to one of these underground passages and continues to the narrow opening that marks its exit. There are lights to show you the way but it’s also a good idea to bring a flashlight.

The terrestrial world of the tortoise and underworld of the lava tubes meet at Los Gemelos (the twins). These two large sinkholes craters were formed by collapsed lava tubes. The contrast between the marine desert coast and the verdant Lost World look of the highlands is most striking here and you can easily encounter rain even when the sun is shining half an hour away at the coast. Los Gemelos is surrounded by a Scalesia forest. Scalesia is endemic to Galapagos and many endemic and native species call the forest home. This is an excellent place to view some of Darwin’s famous finches along with the elusive and dazzling vermillion flycatcher. We return to Puerto Ayora with time for shopping, visiting an internet café, or simply enjoying this little port town near the edge of the world.

Evolution's Western Islands In the Steps of Pirates and Darwin 8-Day Itinerary Day Six - Giant Tortoise Visit.
Location
Santa Cruz
Day
6 / 8

Punta Suarez, Gardner Bay & Gardner Islet

AM: Hood is the southernmost island of the archipelago, and is one of the most popular due to the breathtaking variation and the sheer number of fauna that greet visitors along with well known Gardner Bay. The giant tortoise was reintroduced to Hood in the 1970s and counts as one of the park’s great success stories. They reside in an off-limits area.

The quantity and variety of wildlife at Punta Suarez is remarkable. Sea lions surf the waves beyond the breakwater landing, and tiny pups are known to greet your toes upon arrival. A few steps inland is a colorful variety of marine iguana in the Galapagos. They bear distinctive red and black markings, some with a flash of turquoise running down their spine. They nap in communal piles or cling to the rocks for warmth. The trail then takes us beside the western edge of the island where masked boobies (also known as Nazca boobies) nest along the cliff’s edge. The trail descends to a rocky beach before rising to an open area where you may see a large gathering of nesting blue-foot boobies. Galapagos doves, cactus finch, and mocking birds forage nearby, unconcerned by human presence. Both lava and swallow-tailed gulls, with their red-ringed eyes, sit atop the cliffs in company with marine iguanas.

PM: The trail continues to the high cliff edge of the southern shore; below, a shelf of black lava reaches out into the surf where a blowhole shoots a periodic geyser of saltwater into the air. Further east along the cliff is the Albatross Airport where waved albatross line up to launch their great winged bodies from the cliffs, soaring out over the dramatic shoreline of crashing waves and driven spray. These are the largest birds you will see in the Galapagos with wingspans up to 2.25 m or 7.4 ft. They are the only species of albatross exclusive to the tropics. In the trees set back from the cliff is one of only two places in the world where the waved albatross nests. The 12,000 pairs that inhabit Hood Island comprise all but a tiny fraction of the world’s population of this species. Lucky visitors can watch courtship ‘fencing’ done with great yellow beaks. Large, fluffy, perfectly camouflaged chicks adorn nests on the ground nearby. The Albatross lay their eggs from April through June though they can be seen fencing long after that. Eggs take two months to hatch. Hungry chicks can eat up to 2 kg (4.4 lb) a day which keeps their parents busy. By December the chicks are fully grown and ready to set out on their own in January. Pairs mate for life.

On the northeastern shore of Hood, Gardner Bay offers a magnificent long white sandy beach, where colonies of sea lions laze in the sun, sea turtles swim offshore and inquisitive mockingbirds boldly investigate new arrivals. You will be lured from the powdery white sand into the turquoise water for a swim, but just a little further off-shore the snorkeling by Gardner Island offers peak encounters with playful young sea lions and schools of surprisingly large tropical fish, including yellow-tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish and bump-head parrotfish. The young sea lions like to snack and play along Gardner Island’s sea cliff. They dart up from the depths, playfully show off their skills, and then disappear. Sleepy white-tipped reef sharks can also be seen napping on the bottom. Gardner Bay and Islet also offer inviting waters for those interested in kayaking. For all who visit here, Española is a highlight of the Galapagos.

Evolution's Western Islands In the Steps of Pirates and Darwin 8-Day Itinerary Day Seven - Suarez Point Excursion.
Location
Española
Day
7 / 8

Disembarkation

AM: San Cristobal was the first island Darwin visited when he arrived in 1835. He reported encountering a pair of giant tortoises feeding on cactus during that outing. Today the airport of this easternmost island in the chain is increasingly used as the arrival point for flights into and out of the Galapagos. The administrative capital for the province is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the southwestern shore. Your guide will give you clear instructions on the rest of the day’s events before we go ashore. Once we arrive in the port we board a dinghy (panga) to make the short crossing to dock. In recent years a great deal of effort has gone into sprucing up the waterfront including the building of the new municipal dock. You only need to bring your day pack as the crew will pick up your luggage at your cabin and ensure that it gets to the airport, which is less than a 5-minute drive from the waterfront. In 1998 the Galapagos National Park Visitor Center opened for the benefit of islanders and travelers alike, presenting a comprehensive exhibit of the islands’ natural history, human interaction, ecosystems, flora, and fauna. This is our last stop in the islands and it is also the place where cultural activities take place, including theatre, exhibitions, and workshops.

From the Interpretation Center, a short trail arrives at Frigate Bird Hill, where both “magnificent-frigates” and “great-frigates” can be seen in the same colony—ideal for learning to distinguish the two bird species. The interpretation center will be our final stop today before departing the islands. Along with your tour of the visitor center museum, there will be time to stroll the quaint tiny port town, with time to shop for last minute souvenirs before taking the bus to the airport where you will have your last chance to make purchases in the Galapagos. There is one final checkpoint before entering the waiting area from which you will board your flight. Almost all flights to the mainland stop in Guayaquil and continue on to Quito so make sure you know where to get off the plane. We say farewell to the Galapagos as you begin your journey home, or on to other destinations like the Ecuadorian highlands, Amazon, or nearby Peru.

Evolution's Western Islands In the Steps of Pirates and Darwin 8-Day Itinerary Day Eight - Disembarkation.
Location
San Cristobal
Day
8 / 8
1 / 8

8 Day / 7 Night - Eastern Islands Cruise - Footsteps Back in Time

itinerary map

Embarkation

AM: For this itinerary, you will be landing on the island of San Cristobal. After passing through Galapagos National Park inspection your National Park Guide will be there to greet you holding a sign with the name of your yacht on it and will accompany you on the short bus ride to the waterfront. San Cristobal was the first island Darwin visited when he arrived in the Galapagos in 1835 aboard HMS Beagle. He reported encountering a pair of giant tortoises feeding on cactus during that outing. Today the airport of this easternmost island in the chain is increasingly used as the arrival point for flights into and out of the Galapagos. The administrative capital for the province is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the southwestern shore. In 1998 the Galapagos National Park Visitor Centre opened for the benefit of islanders and travelers alike, presenting a comprehensive exhibit of the islands’ natural history, human interaction, ecosystems, flora, and fauna. It is also the place where cultural activities take place, including theatre, exhibitions, and workshops.

From the Interpretation Center, a short trail arrives at Frigate Bird Hill, where both “magnificent-frigates” and “great-frigates” can be seen in the same colony—ideal for learning to distinguish the two bird species. If your crew requires a bit more time to prepare the Evolution we may take in the Visitor Center before heading to the dock. At the dock, we board our dinghy (panga) to make the short crossing to the Evolution. You only need to bring your carry-on luggage aboard the panga as our crew will transfer the rest of your luggage to your cabin. You’ll have time to settle into your new home for the week before assembling on deck to review safety procedures and coming events with your Galapagos National Park Guide. While this is taking place the Evolution will start her engines and set out to the first landing site.

PM: Heading up the coast from Wreck Bay and Puerto Baquerizo we spot Leon Dormido to the north. Also known as Kicker Rock, the spectacular formation rises 152 meters (500 feet) out of the Pacific. It takes the form of a sleeping lion (hence its Spanish name), but from another angle you can see that the rock is split, forming a colossal tablet and, piercing the sea, a great chisel ready for etching. We set out along the coast of San Cristobal heading northeast toward our first landing at Cerro Brujo. This inviting powdery beach beside turquoise water is a great introduction to the islands offering your first opportunity to go snorkeling with sea turtles, rays, and the archipelago’s playful ‘wolves of the sea’ i.e. sea lions.

After walking the trail in search of baby sea lions and boobies beneath the salt bushes we have a real treat in store. We change into our snorkeling gear for some swimming with sea lions! The sea lions like to dart past and then swim up to you to blow bubbles at your mask. On occasion, they have been known to leap over, and then dive in front of unsuspecting snorkelers. In short, the sea lions are real show-offs and this is the first place where you will have the opportunity to go snorkeling with them. Following our outing, you will discover that the best place to warm up from your dip is in Evolution’s oversized Jacuzzi. Our afternoon comes to a close as we head south back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. We’ll enjoy your first Pacific sunset aboard the Evolution by celebrating happy hour atop her sky lounge where drinks are available daily along with hors d’oeuvres. A little later we gather in the main salon for the daily presentation by our guide on the next day's activates and visitor sites, before sitting down to dinner. We spend a bit more time in port this evening before setting sail for our next destination to the northwest.

Evolution's Eastern Islands Cruise Footsteps Back in Time 8-Day Itinerary Day One - Embarkation.
Location
San Cristobal
Day
1 / 8

South Plazas Island, Carrion Point & Mosquera

AM: South Plazas Island lies just a few hundred meters off the east coast of Santa Cruz Island and is one of the smallest, yet richest islands in the archipelago. Just over 400 feet wide, it was formed by lava upwelling from the bottom of the ocean. Our landing is in the channel between North and South Plaza, where the island tilts toward the water. South Plaza is known for its lush and diverse flora. A grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cacti, a ground cover of red sesuvium, the turquoise waters of the channel, and fiery sally lightfoot crabs against the black lava rock combine to create a colorful palate of an island to explore. One of the big attractions here is the friendly yellow land iguanas waiting for lunch to drop from a cactus in the form of a prickly pear. We follow a trail up the tilt of the island to cliffs that look out over the ocean. Swallow-tailed gulls, with red-banded eyes, nest atop the overlook where you may spot marine life such as manta rays. South Plaza has a very healthy population of sea lions including a colony of bachelors that sit atop the cliff. They unintentionally polish the surrounding rocks with the oil from their fur. We may see red-billed tropicbirds, Nazca (masked), and blue-footed boobies catching rides on the wind currents.

Between the north end of Santa Cruz Island and the Galapagos’s other airport on Baltra Island lays the narrow Itabaca Channel. The channel takes less than 5 minutes to cross by ferry. Punta Carrion juts out from the north of Santa Cruz Island to mark the southeastern entrance to the channel and the snorkeling/dive site that it gives its name. It’s time to step up your snorkeling just a bit with some real rewards. The inviting green-turquoise cove close to shore will beckon you to enter the water. Friendly cousins of the sea lion welcoming committee from yesterday will of course be there to make you feel right at home and introduce you to large schools of yellow-tail surgeon fish interwoven with large parrotfish interlopers. Creole fish and blue striped sea slugs and moray eels inhabit the spaces in the rocks. You can stay in the shallow, protected cove or venture out toward the deeper waters where white tipped-reef sharks and the occasional hammerhead inhabit the channel and tuna and red-tailed snapper pass through. Ashore you will see blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans; Galapagos herons, and great blue herons.

PM: Located between North Seymour and Baltra is the small island of Mosquera. The island consists of a long narrow stretch of white sand, rocks, and tide pools. Created by geological uplift, the island has a flat look to it rather than the conical shape of the volcanically formed islands. A stroll down the beach offers views of the brown pelicans, boobies, and colonies of sea lions that like to laze here. The tiny spit of land has one of the largest populations of sea lions in the Galapagos. Along the rocks and in the tide pools are the now-familiar sally lightfoot crabs (red lava crabs). They follow the tide eating the algae and detritus left behind. Ever aware of movement around them, the sally lightfoot is quick to escape from approaching predators, in stark contrast to the unabashed way the crabs climb over the sedentary marine iguanas.

A short distance to the east of Mosquera you will notice a small table-like island and just to the south of this, an island comprised of a single volcanic cone (called a tuff cone). The larger island is known as Daphne Major and the smaller table island is Daphne Minor. We will be navigating close by the larger of the two islands, Daphne Major. Though Daphne is just a short distance from Baltra, with its airport, the Galapagos National Park restricts visits here. Because her shores are teeming with life, especially birds, we will cruise past her shores for a look. The island has been of central focus to scientific researchers and featured in The Beak of the Finch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction book about the work done by biologists Paul & Rosemary Grant. We will not only see finches but short-eared owls, masked boobies, and Galapagos martins as we pass along her shores. Our day ends aboard the Evolution’s sky lounge as we raise our glasses to the Pacific sunset. Our next landing is just off the southeastern shore of Santiago Island looming to the northeast.

Evolution's Eastern Islands Cruise Footsteps Back in Time 8-Day Itinerary Day Two - Land Iguanas at South Plaza Island.
Location
South Plaza
Day
2 / 8

Chinese Hat Islet & James Bay

AM: Tiny Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat) Island is named for the resemblance its shape has to a traditional Chinese Coolie’s hat. Today’s visitor site is off-limits to larger groups and day boats, making Sombrero Chino, along with Daphne Major, one of the least visited sites in the central islands. The island lies just off the southeastern tip of the large nearby island of Santiago; separated by a narrow channel that makes for very calm, protected waters. Our landing site is a tiny crescent-shaped cove with a sandy white beach cradled between black lava rocks and the crystal turquoise waters of the channel. A sea lion colony likes to rest on the warm white sands, while the rockier sections of the coast are alive with fiery colored sally lightfoot crabs. Marine iguanas sun themselves atop the rocks after foraging for algae in the channel. American oystercatchers stalk the tide pools stabbing at shellfish with their bright orange beaks.

A quarter-mile (400 meters) trail sets off into the island’s volcanic interior to explore its rock formations, including excellent examples of pahoehoe lava resembling black rock ropes. The area is inhabited by ground-hugging red sesuvim plants and curious lava lizards. Back at the cove, you will not only have another opportunity to snorkel with sea lions, but rockier sections of the coastline are inhabited by Galapagos penguins that dart past unsuspecting snorkelers. You’ll also have a chance to see the penguins during a panga ride. Galapagos penguins are the only species of penguin you’ll find living north of the nearby equator. Paddlers will have the opportunity to kayak here in the areas that are not off-limits (indicated by National Park Signs).

PM: In the early afternoon, we set out west, making our way along the length of Santiago’s dramatic southern coastline before turning north up her western shore as we make for James Bay (Puerto Egas). This location offers access to three unique sites. One landing is on a black beach with intriguing eroded rock formations inland. A trail crosses the dry interior eastward and rises to the rim of an extinct volcanic crater; cracks within it allow seawater to seep in, which then dries to form salt deposits that have been mined in the past. Darwin describes his visit to South James Bay in Voyage of the Beagle. Another path leads south, where hikers are treated to a series of crystal- clear grottos formed of broken lava tubes. These are home to sea lions and tropical fish. This is the best place in the islands to see fur sea lions as they laze on the rocks by the grottos. Further to the north, another landing and path lead to a series of inland lagoons, home to flamingos.

Birders coming to James Bay will have the opportunity to spot vermillion flycatchers, Galapagos hawks, and the tool-wielding woodpecker finch. Puerto Egas is a good spot for taking pictures—the light for photography is perfect at sunset that lights up the distinct rock layers that form the shore. The lava and the black sand seem to catch fire and the animals acquire a surreal quality. The marine iguanas that inhabit the area resemble Samurai warriors and can easily be seen grazing on seaweed in the more shallow pools near the grottos. James Bay is a snorkeling site that is accessed from the shore instead of a dinghy. The sandy beach slopes off into a rocky bottom where a multitude of sea turtles like to hide by blending in with the rocks. But these rocks move and will swim right up to you. At certain times of the year, large schools of golden rays and spotted eagle rays also glide by. Both fur sea lions and California sea lions occasionally pass through as well. Tonight we set sail fairly early for our journey to Tower Island to the far northwest of the archipelago.

Evolution's Eastern Islands Cruise Footsteps Back in Time 8-Day Itinerary Day Three - Turtle Swimming.
Location
Santiago
Day
3 / 8

Darwin Bay & Prince Phillip’s Steps

AM: Tower Island could serve as a film set for a remote secret submarine base. The southwestern part of the island is an ocean-filled caldera ringed by the outer edges of a sizeable and mostly submerged volcano. The island sits to the northwest, slightly removed from the Galapagos archipelago. It is also known as Bird Island, a name it lives up to in a spectacular way. Landing on the white coral sands of Darwin Bay and walking up the beach, you will be surrounded by the bustling activity of great frigate birds. Puffball chicks and their proud papas crowd the surrounding branches, while yellow-crowned herons and lava herons feed by the shore. Farther along you will discover a stunning series of sheltered pools set into a rocky outcrop.

Watch your step for marine iguanas, lava lizards, and Galapagos doves that blend with the trail. The trail beside the pools leads up to a cliff overlooking the ocean filled caldera, where pairs of swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world, can be seen nesting at the cliff’s edge. Lava gulls and pintail ducks ride the sea breezes nearby. A brief panga ride brings us to the base of those same cliffs to reveal the full variety of bird species sheltering in the ledges and crevices created by the weathered basalt. Among them, red-billed tropicbirds enter and leave their nests trailing exotic kite-like tails. This is also an intriguing place to go deep-water snorkeling. Tower offers two very different snorkeling experiencing along the cliffs that form the inner part of the caldera. The center of the caldera is very deep and attracts hammerheads and large manta rays which sometimes patrol the western edge of the caldera that is more open to the sea. You can snorkel here gazing down into the depths where you just may spot these large animals if you are fortunate. But don’t worry, if you don’t really want to see them there is an equally amazing and far more sheltered snorkeling experience for you across the bay.

PM: Across the bay is Prince Phillip’s Steps, named for a visit by the British Monarch in 1964. The shoreline here falls off less sharply into the depths and is far more protected. The first thing you will notice when snorkeling here is very large tropical fish. These are warm water fish feeding off cold water nutrients. You’ll find the full assortment here including an oversize parrot, unicorn, angel, and hogfish along with schools of perch, surgeonfish, and various types of butterflyfish. Hiding in and around the rocky shoreline that drops off into the caldera you will also see a rainbow assortment of wrasse, basslet, anthias, and tang. This is the place to bring your underwater tropical fish identification chart. There are some special treats to be found here including occasional visits by fur sea lions. This area of the bay is also excellent for some kayaking in the calm waters close to the shore to observe nesting birds.

Prince Phillip’s actual steps are a 25-meter (81-foot) stairway leading up to a narrow stretch of land that opens out onto the plateau surrounding Darwin Bay. It extends to form the north side of the island. Red-footed boobies wrap their webbed feet around branches to precariously perch in the bushes, and, in contrast, their masked-booby cousins dot the surface of the scrublands beyond. Crossing through the sparse vegetation, you will come to a broad lava field that extends toward the sea—this forms the north shore of the island. Storm petrels flutter out over the ocean in swarms, then return to nest in the cracks and tunnels of the lava field but not without hazard. Short-eared owls lay in camouflaged wait and make their living feeding off the returning petrels. Remember to watch Tower’s inner bay at sunset as you might spot a giant manta ray.

Evolution's Eastern Islands Cruise Footsteps Back in Time 8-Day Itinerary Day Four - Prince Phillip's Steps.
Location
Genovesa
Day
4 / 8

North Seymour Island & Santa Fe Island

AM: North Seymour Island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form much of the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit perched in ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stands just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bring them into bloom. This island is teeming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana. Blue-footed boobies nest on either side of the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. You are likely to see fluffy white chicks peeking out from beneath their protective mothers. The trail follows the eastern shore along the beach. You may be fortunate to witness flocks of brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies hunting schools of fish. The boobies, which look so comical on land, are ideally adapted as dive bombers and easily pierce the water, zeroing in on their targeted prey. Frigate birds with wingspans of up to 5 feet soar overhead and all around. They have named for the way that the trim of their wings in flight is reminiscent of the square-rigged sailing warship. Not coincidentally frigate birds are also called Man O’ War birds and they live up to that name in a literal way when they target boobies, pelicans, and other birds to steal their catch. Because the frigates are pelagic, they lack the ability to take off from the water, so they do better at snatching fish from the surface or simply stealing them. They also target marine iguanas and young baby sea turtles. The trail turns east and inland to reveal the nesting stronghold of the frigates. Here you can see males with large, bright red, inflamed throat sacks known as gular pouches, all done in an effort to attract females. Your guide will point out the difference between the Magnificent, or Man O’ War frigates, and their Great frigate bird cousins. Large puff-ball frigate bird chicks inhabit nests, waiting for their parents to return with a meal. Even at this young age they possess long hooked beaks and act defiant when they feel threatened. You will also get a closer look at the feathers of the proud parents and notice their iridescent quality and deep green tinge.

Another inhabitant along the trail is the yellow land iguana. The species was originally introduced to the North Seymour in 1932 by Captain Alan Hancock and his crew from Baltra with the aim of rescuing the creatures from the poor conditions left by goats and other feral animals. The iguanas colonized the island without a problem. The original colony disappeared from Baltra when it became a US military base in WWII. In 1980 Charles Darwin Station began a breeding program using some of the animals found on Seymour and successfully reintroduced their prodigy to both islands. Today the population on Seymour is roughly 600 and on Baltra 1,500. Our snorkeling site at North Seymour also attracts scuba divers. You have a chance to see many types of rays here including marble rays, golden eagle rays, spotted eagle rays, stingrays, and even manta rays. Dormitories of white-tipped reef sharks sleep on the bottom while schools of king angelfish and yellow-tailed surgeonfish swarm the rocky shoreline passing the occasional parrot and damselfish. Some of the rocks are actually well-disguised scorpionfish. Large schools of tightly packed blue and gold snappers, grunts, and jacks are usually found plying these waters. Sea lions pay visits from both Seymour and nearby Mosquera Island as sea turtles and the occasional hammerhead shark can been seen down in the depths. Creole fish, the color of red salsa, hieroglyphic hawkfish, with neon-like etchings on their flanks, and burrfish, which look a bit like a swimming shoebox with a cartoon face also inhabit the region.

PM: Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves on the islands. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies southeast of Santa Cruz Island within sight of Puerto Ayora. Geologically it is one of the oldest islands in the archipelago and for many years was thought to be a product of an uplift event. Through satellite imagery, it has been possible to determine the island’s volcanic origins. A wet landing on a sandy white beach brings us into contact with one of many sea lion colonies. Bulls contend for the right of being beach master, while smaller males mask as females to make stealthy mating moves. Galapagos hawks are sometimes easily approached, perched atop salt bushes. An ascending trail leads toward the cliffs, where a dense thicket stands to the inland side of the island. The cliffside provides an expansive view of the ocean. You will be struck by the forest of giant prickly pear cactus found here that live up to their name, with tree-sized trunks! These are the largest of their kind in the Galapagos.

At the top of the trail, our goal is to spot one of the large species of land iguana endemic to Santa Fe. Beige to chocolate brown in color with dragon-like spines, these big iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs. An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thicket, and lucky hikers may spot harmless Galapagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than snorkeling in the calm waters of the bay where sea lions play, sea turtles swim, and tropical fish hide amidst the islets that form the natural reef. Santa Fe offers a more advanced kayaking route along its northern shore that ends at sea caves and is subject to conditions.

Evolution's Eastern Islands Cruise Footsteps Back in Time 8-Day Itinerary Day Five - Frigate Bird Close Up.
Location
North Seymour - Santa Fe
Day
5 / 8

Post Office Bay, Punta Cormorant & Champion Islet

AM: Floreana has had a colorful history: Pirates, whalers, convicts, and a small band of somewhat peculiar colonists—a self-proclaimed Baroness among them - who chose a Robinson Crusoe existence that ended in death and mystery. Today roughly a hundred Ecuadorians inhabit the island. In 1793 British whalers set up a barrel as the island’s post office, to send letters home on passing ships. The tradition continues to this day, simply by dropping a postcard into the barrel without a stamp. The catch is you must take a postcard from the barrel and see that it gets to the right place. That is how the system began and continues to this day. Some claim it works better than the official Ecuadorian post office. You’ll have a chance to continue the traditions by sending your own card and picking up others. Continuing a bit farther inland at Post Office Bay you will have the opportunity to enter the underworld of Floreana in the form of a lava tube. The lava tube descends fairly deep into the earth back toward the ocean, where you can swim in a subterranean grotto beneath the tide. Bring a good waterproof flashlight. Snorkeling in Post Office Bay offers choice encounters with waiting sea turtles and tropical fish. We return to the Evolution for lunch and a siesta.

Our next landing is further along the shore to the northeast. On route, we pass within view of Baroness Point in an area of mangrove-lined lagoons. Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet, the self-proclaimed Baroness (of Floreana) frequented this overlook, but we will leave the rest of her intriguing story to your Galapagos guide. Punta Cormorant offers two highly contrasting beaches; the strand where we land is composed of volcanic olivine crystals, giving it a greenish tint that glitters in the sun. From here you’ll notice the small cinder cone that forms the point. Our landing is just to the west of the cinder cone where a trail crosses the neck of an isthmus to a beach of very fine white sand known as Flour Beach. Flour Beach was formed by the erosion of coral skeletons. Between the two beaches, in a basin formed by the surrounding volcanic cones, is a hyper-saline lagoon frequented by flamingoes, pintails, stilts, and other wading birds. We stop at the lagoon and then continue on the trail to Four Beach. Be careful not to wade into the tide with bare feet! If you stand at the edge of the water and look into the tidal area you will soon notice that the silty surf is rife with rays. Sea turtles also surf the waves off the beach. We return to our yacht and set out to our snorkeling destination as we don wetsuits while making our way around Punta Cormorant.

PM: Not far from the north shore of Floreana is the tiny islet known as Champion. Champion is considered one of the top snorkeling sites in the Galapagos offering prime underwater sea lion interactions. Dolphins are frequently seen near the shore along with humpback whales who like the bay off Flour Beach. As you swim with the sea lions you will be surrounded by an assortment of tropical fish including yellowtail grunts, amberjacks, and schools of king angel. You may spot sleepy white-tipped reef sharks hugging the bottom. Sea turtles glide by, while torpedo-like Galapagos penguins can also be encountered in the waters off Champion. Alternatively, we may snorkel at Devil’s Crown which is located some 250 meters (700 ft) north of Punta Cormorant. The crown is an old submerged volcanic cone that has been worn down by waves. Devil’s Crown is home to a myriad of marine species including several species of corals, sea urchins, and many other creatures including a great number of fish species, making this place one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos. The eroded crater walls form a popular roosting site for seabirds including boobies and pelicans. The snorkeling begins outside the crater to the southeast, where a swift current will take you for a ride along the north side of the crown and right into the middle. Relax, enjoy the ride, and let the current do the work. After the ride keeps your eyes open for spotted eagle rays and golden rays that like to swim near the crown. Once back aboard the Evolution, you’ll want to soak in the warm Jacuzzi after peeling off your wetsuit and then retire for hors d’ouevres and drinks to enjoy the sunset.

Evolution's Eastern Islands Cruise Footsteps Back in Time 8-Day Itinerary Day Six - Post Office Bay Excursion.
Location
Floreana
Day
6 / 8

Darwin Station & Santa Cruz Highlands

AM: Santa Cruz, our next stop, is the second-largest island in the Galapagos and something of a hub for the archipelago. Baltra, where one of the archipelago’s two airports is found, is on the far north end of the island. Puerto Ayora, located in the south of this large, round volcanic island is the seaside economic center of the Galapagos, focused on fishing and tourism. The little port town offers restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, internet cafés, and a place to get your laundry done! This morning we visit Puerto Ayora, home to both the Galapagos National Park Service Headquarters and Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of the great restorative efforts taking place in the park, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here we visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding & Rearing Program run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 14 tortoises on the island of Española in 1970. This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today. You will see many of these animals, with their sweet ET necks and faces; from hatchlings to juveniles to large, distinguished individuals. This is where famed tortoise, Lonesome George, lived out his last days as the last of his particular race of tortoise.

PM: A highlight of any trip to the archipelago is a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands, where the sparse, dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. Our afternoon destination is the Wild Tortoise Reserve where we will have chances to track and view these friendly ancient creatures in their natural setting. This extends to the adjacent pasturelands, where farmers give tortoise safe quarter in exchange for allowing paying visitors to see them. When viewing the tortoise in their natural setting you are literally scratching the surface because there is another world awaiting you beneath the highlands. Lava tubes are formed when the outer surface of a lava flow cools, insulating the interior lava, which continues to flow on leaving a hollow tube as the result. The tubes become covered with earth over time and the result is a perfectly formed underground tunnel courtesy of Mother Nature. A wooden stairway descends to the mouth of the arched entrance to one of these underground passages and continues to the narrow opening that marks its exit. There are lights to show you the way but it’s also a good idea to bring a flashlight. The terrestrial world of the tortoise and underworld of the lava tubes meet at Los Gemelos (the twins). These two large sinkholes craters were formed by collapsed lava tubes.

The contrast between the marine desert coast and the verdant Lost World look of the highlands is most striking here and you can easily encounter rain even when the sun is shining half an hour away at the coast. Los Gemelos is surrounded by a Scalesia forest. Scalesia is endemic to Galapagos and many endemic and native species call the forest home. This is an excellent place to view some of Darwin’s famous finches along with the elusive and dazzling vermillion flycatcher. We return to Puerto Ayora with time for shopping, visiting an internet café, or simply enjoying this little port town near the edge of the world.

Evolution's Eastern Islands Cruise Footsteps Back in Time 8-Day Itinerary Day Seven - Galapagos Sea Lion.
Location
Santa Cruz
Day
7 / 8

Disembarkation

AM: This last morning of our visit to the Galapagos we visit Black Turtle Cove. Located on the northern shore of Santa Cruz, the cove is a living illustration of how mangroves alter the marine environment to create a rich and unique habitat. Four species of mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon, which stretches almost a mile inland. As we drift through the quiet waters in our dinghy, we are likely to see spotted eagle rays and cow nosed or golden rays, which swim in a diamond formation. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat and Pacific green sea turtles come to the surface for air and to mate. Sea birds, including brown pelicans, blue herons, and lava herons, come to feed in the cove which has also been declared a “Turtle Sanctuary”.

It’s time to begin your journey home as we set sail for nearby Baltra Island. During WWII the island was a US Air Force base and one can still see the remnants of the old foundations left behind from that era once ashore. It doesn’t take long for the Evolution to navigate north along Baltra’s western shore to the island’s port. Don’t worry about your bags, your guide will instruct you on how to prepare your luggage and have it ready for pick up in your cabin. Our crew will see to transporting your luggage ashore where you will reunite with it at the airport. All you need to do is take along your carry-on luggage in the panga for the short crossing to shore. Once there a bus will pick us up for the 5-minute drive to the airport. Your guide will be there to make sure you are checked in on the proper flight. This is your last chance to purchase souvenirs in the Galapagos and the airport offers an assortment of shops where you can purchase everything from baseball caps and t-shirts to animal figurines, jewelry, and much more; all with a Galapagos theme. There is one final checkpoint before you enter the waiting area from which you will board your flight. Almost all flights to the mainland stop in Guayaquil and continue on to Quito so make sure you know where to get off the plane. We say farewell to the Galapagos as you begin your journey home, or on to other destinations like the Ecuadorian highlands, Amazon, or nearby Peru.

Evolution's Eastern Islands Cruise Footsteps Back in Time 8-Day Itinerary Day Eight - Baltra Disembarkation.
Location
Santa Cruz - Baltra
Day
8 / 8
1 / 8

Accommodations

Social Areas

Al Fresco Dining
Al Fresco Lounge Saloon
Al Fresco Lounge
Boarding
Chefs
Deck
Dining Room
Hot Tub
Dining Room
Saloon
Tables at Al Fresco Dining
Outdoors sitting area
Outdoor sitting area sofas and tables
People boarding form the skiff
Chefs presenting a dish
Deck and sunset
Indoor Dining Room
Jacuzzi on the sun deck
Dining room
Indoor lounge

Suites & Cabins

Evolution's Deluxe Stateroom - Double. Evolution's Deluxe Stateroom - Twin. Evolution's Deluxe Stateroom - Bathroom. Evolution's Deluxe Stateroom.

Deluxe Stateroom

Guests
2
Size
18-21 m² / 200-229 ft²
Beds
Double / Twin

The Deluxe Stateroom features a phone for internal communications, a spacious closet, and a safety deposit box for your items. The room has air conditioning for your comfort, and the private hot water bathroom comes with a hairdryer, an amenities kit, and a vanity kit.

Evolution's Premium Stateroom - Twin. Evolution's Premium Stateroom - Bathroom. Evolution's Premium Stateroom. Evolution's Premium Stateroom - Double.

Premium Stateroom

Guests
2
Size
14-21 m² / 154-226 ft²
Beds
Double / Twin / Triple

This ample-sized room comes with a telephone for internal communications. It features a closet, a safety deposit box, and multiple electrical outlets for your devices. The beautiful bathrooms have hot water and all the necessary amenities you will need to stay refreshed.

Evolution's Suite - Double. Evolution's Suite - Bathroom. Evolution's Suite.

Suite

Guests
2
Size
19 m² / 208 ft²
Beds
Double / Twin

The Evolution suites come with a spacious wardrobe to fit all your clothes and luggage. They feature ocean-view windows, which let in adequate natural lighting. You will find all the amenities you need like a biodegradable shampoo, conditioner, and hairdryer in the gorgeous private bathrooms.

Evolution's Master Suite. Evolution's Master Suite. Evolution's Master Suite - Bathroom. Evolution's Master Suite. Evolution's Master Suite.

Master Suite

Guests
2
Size
24 m² / 263 ft²
Beds
King

The incredibly spacious suite features ocean-view windows to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Galapagos Island. The rooms are air-conditioned with ample luggage and clothing space. The private bathrooms have a walk-in shower and an amenities kit for the guests' convenience.

Technical Information

Deck Plan

Evolution deck plan

Features

  • Air conditioning
  • Deck shower
  • Pool / Jacuzzi
  • Massage room
  • Lecture room
  • WIFI available
  • Kosher Meals
  • Medical staff

Equipment

  • Satellite phone
  • Diving platform
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Wetsuits
  • Kayaks / Canoes
  • Yoga mats
** Use of certain equipment at additional cost, ask for details