Travel aboard the
Refreshingly elegant and well-equipped too, the 32-passenger Galapagos Evolution is a real standout cruise vessel, both for its nostalgic appearance and the quality of itineraries it offers, with this particular route beginning from San Cristobal Island being no different. The Evolution itself boasts two sundecks, a Jacuzzi, lounge bar and modern interiors in addition to its expert crew and guides; plus, throughout this Galapagos tour you’ll also be treated to some truly iconic sights. Beginning at Isla Lobos, an early taste of Galapagos wildlife comes with this small island’s large Sea Lion population, though Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies are also popular here. Time will be spent exploring the dramatic rocky outcrops of South Plazas Island and Carrion Point, both known for their local birdlife such as Red-billed Tropicbirds and Swallow-tailed Gulls, as well as some fantastic snorkeling opportunities. With James Bay, lesser-visited Genovesa Island, wildlife-rich North Seymour, Santa Fe, Floreana and Santa Cruz Islands also featuring–each with their own species, viewpoints, beaches and volcanoes to admire–this is a truly versatile Galapagos itinerary offered by the Evolution.
ARRIVE SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND / ISLA LOBOS
Following a two-hour flight from Quito, land on San Cristobal Island. This is a fitting place to begin your Galapagos luxury cruise with the Evolution, following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin who stepped ashore here on his infamous voyage to the archipelago in 1835.
The ever-elegant Galapagos Evolution sets sail, traveling north of San Cristobal to reach a tiny islet, Isla Lobos, named after its raucous residents: Sea Lions, who are as playful as they are loud! Snorkel around these friendly creatures, before encountering more native species on a hike along milky-white sands and meandering walking trails on-land, searching for endemic Galapagos shorebirds like Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies. After your exploration of Lobos Island, settle into your luxe cabin back onboard and enjoy your first evening with the Evolution crew.
SOUTH PLAZAS ISLAND / PUNTA CARRION / MOSQUERA ISLET
Day two of your Galapagos Evolution cruise begins by sailing to South Plazas, a rocky, volcanic island that is instantly recognizable thanks to the abundance of scarlet-hued sesuvium plants, and a healthy population of cacti. Local birdlife such as Red-billed Tropicbirds and Swallow-tailed Gulls can also be seen nesting on the cliffs as you approach, while Land Iguanas are easily admired during a fun wildlife walk, having anchored just offshore.
Next up is Punta Carrion, a place of tranquil blue waters hosting all manner of marine life including Sharks and Rays, making it an ideal place to swim and snorkel. Today is rounded off in truly iconic fashion at the soft sands of Mosquera Islet. This enchanting stretch of beach, peppered with occasional volcanic rocks, is best known for its families of Sea Lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs, as can be seen while wandering the bay or snorkeling around its shoreline.
SANTIAGO ISLAND / JAMES BAY
Another day, another island, as you explore the highlights of Santiago with its mix of history, wildlife and natural formations. First, enjoy a visit to so-called ‘Chinese Hat’ for a chance to see Galapagos Penguins and Sea Lions, which you can swim and snorkel with or admire the marine life: Octopus, Moray Eels and Galapagos Sharks among them.
More of Santiago Island’s delights come this afternoon on the black beaches of James Bay. From these black sandy shores you’ll hike along a gentle trail joined by Galapagos Hawks, Lava Lizards, Finches and Oystercatchers, though this is also one of the best Galapagos spots to witness Seal and Marine Iguanas in their favored habitat too. A relaxing afternoon here can also include more swimming and snorkeling if you wish, before heading back to the Evolution.
GENOVESA ISLAND / DARWIN BAY / PRINCE PHILIP’S STEPS
Lesser-visited Genovesa Island is as dramatic and intriguing as any island in the Galapagos archipelago, a place of steep cliffs sheltering volcanic craters and home to countless nesting seabirds. It all makes for quite a sight, and one of the more memorable experiences due to the entirely untamed look of the landscape here. Of the many unusual native bird species that can be found on Genovesa, they include Puffball–chicks, Yellow–crowned and Lava Herons and Red-footed Boobies, so boat rides around the coast and intrepid nature walks on-land are always in order, during an entire day exploring the island.
In the afternoon, climb the famous Prince Philip’s Steps. So-called after the British monarch’s visit here in the 1960’s, the path leads up to an open plateau that provides fantastic views of Darwin Bay, which itself can then be enjoyed as Sea Lions lounge on these chalk-white shores. Finally, return to the Evolution for an evening at leisure up on deck.
NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND / SANTA FE ISLAND
Having enjoyed another memorable evening aboard the Galapagos Evolution, first up on day five is North Seymour Island, where you can hike through a forest of Palo Santo trees–a favorite nesting place for Blue-footed Boobies–and follow coastal trails that provide a privileged view of Brown Pelicans, Frigate Birds and Yellow Land Iguanas. Then, swim with an astonishing array of marine life, such as Rays, White-tipped Reef Sharks and King Angelfish.
This afternoon, visit Santa Fe Island, a sandy haven of iconic coastline, turquoise seas and lounging Sea Lions. Having anchored nearby and disembarked, there’s plenty of walking trails and wildlife observation spots to enjoy here. Every walking route here is a joy, so be sure to make the most of them, as well as spending time on the beach, kayaking, snorkeling or simply admiring the views.
FLOREANA ISLAND / CORMORANT POINT
Today’s Galapagos adventures begin at Post Office Bay, once a pirate’s hangout and home to an 18th century whalers post office, where you can still pop a postcard in the rum barrel box and it will find its way home to this day! Next, the Floreana Highlands and Asilo de la Paz or ‘Peace Haven’, a scenic spot surrounded by Scalesia Trees and Giant Galapagos Tortoises, Frigate Birds and an endemic snail population.
After lunch comes Cormorant Point on Floreana Island, south of Santa Cruz. There are two contrasting beaches here: Papakolea which appears green in color due to its composition of volcanic olivine crystals, and Flour Beach, so-called for its powdery white sands. Keep an eye out for the Flamingos, Pintails, Stilts and other wading birds here, before snorkeling at the foot of Devil’s Crown and Champion Islet, swimming with reef fish, Giant Mantas and Dolphins.
SANTA CRUZ ISLAND / CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH CENTRE
Your final full day on this versatile Galapagos itinerary begins, quite rightly, with a visit to the all-important Charles Darwin Research Center at Puerto Ayora. Here, exciting exhibits and interactive displays go together with real-life conservation projects, including Giant Tortoise breeding and rehabilitation programs, allowing you to witness the legacy of Charles Darwin first-hand.
Learn more about these gentle creatures in the Wild Tortoise Reserve up in the highlands of Santa Cruz, a place of dense, green forests awash with moss and lichen. Then, after a nature hike through subterranean lava tunnels and a Scalesia forest frequented by Darwin’s Finches, spend the rest of the day at leisure. As one of the most diverse of all the Galapagos Islands there are many highlights of Santa Cruz to explore, so take a stroll along the paradise-like Tortuga Bay, or maybe a bicycle tour in Puerto Ayora, if you’re feeling active.
BLACK TURTLE COVER / FLIGHT HOME
Your last day in the Galapagos brings one final opportunity to marvel at fascinating flora and fauna, this time at Black Turtle Cove, found on the northern shores of Santa Cruz Island. A tangle of dense mangroves, this cove unfolds for nearly a mile inland and is a stomping ground for Sea Turtles, Rays, Brown Pelicans and Herons, which can be spotted from your panga.
Afterwards, it’s farewell to the Galapagos as your guides escort you to the airport and assist with any luggage, in plenty of time for your onward flight.
NOTE: The above itinerary reflects an intended program, however, it should be read purely as a guide. This is because weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control on the day may affect the eventual itinerary, and route.