December 6-14

Gálapagos Islands

Explore the fabled Galapagos Archipelago, one of the greatest natural history destinations on Earth. Our expedition takes place aboard the prestigious S/S Mary Anne, and is guided by renowned photographer Pete Oxford and Oceanic Society CEO Rod Mast who have decades of experience in the islands.

  • Get up close to iconic species including giant tortoises, iguanas, sea lions, sea turtles, and blue-footed boobies.
  • Swim alongside penguins and sharks.
  • Enjoy a week in luxury on a beautiful square-rigged sailing ship.
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Itinerary

This remote archipelago 600 miles off of Ecuador’s coast provided the seeds for Darwin’s theory of evolution. Its uniquely adapted flora and fauna continue to provide visitors with a living classroom of evolution, offer intimate encounters with wildlife, and unparalleled photographic opportunities. For this expedition we have chartered the S/S Mary Anne, one of the best boats operating in the national park, and each day we will enjoy a range of activities that give you maximum exposure to this spectacular environment.

December 6 | Guayaquil

After arriving at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil we will transfer to the hotel for the night.

December 7 | Baltra Island, Santa Cruz Island Highlands

Today we fly to Baltra Island, the gateway to the Galapagos. Transfer to the S/S Mary Anne, our home for the next 8 days.

December 8 | Genovesa (Tower) Island: Darwin Bay & Prince Philip’s Steps

Today we sail into a sunken crater of this isolated island. The crater walls form tall cliffs above sea level but also plunge down over 60 meters, allowing for excellent cliff face snorkeling. We'll see the largest red-footed booby colony in Galapagos, yellow-crowned night herons, and well as swallow-tailed gulls, widely recognized as the most beautiful gull in the world and the only one that is nocturnal. We'll snorkel and kayak in the caldera, then climb Prince Philip’s Steps and cross lava fields to see thousands of minuscule storm petrels on which the local short-eared owls have learned to feed.

December 9 | Bartolomé Island - Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay

Now in the heart of the archipelago, we hike to the most famous viewpoint in the Galapagos, the Pinnacle Rock of Bartolomé. The iconic view across the pinnacle to Santiago Island is spectacular and often evokes the sensation of being on the moon.  A small family of penguins lives in the area and its members are easily photographed in shallow water as they ‘fly’ past snorkelers in the bay. There are also sharks, playful sea lions, rays and a host of colorful fish.

In the afternoon, we head across to Sullivan Bay to view the different lava formations, crystallized minerals and pioneer plants. There’s great snorkeling here and we hope to interact with turtles, sea lions and rays.

December 10 | Rábida Island - Santa Cruz Island: Cerro Dragón

The dramatic red beaches of Rábida Island are made of sand eroded from cinder cliffs to the west, backed by large palo santo-covered cliffs and Opuntia cacti. The beach is home to several young, approachable sea lions. Some of the 9 species of Darwin’s finches found on this island. While snorkeling, we hope to find large schools of black-striped salema fish and some playful sea lions underwater. At Cerro Dragón beach on Santa Cruz, we hike inland through palo santo trees on a trail frequented by land iguanas. A saltwater lagoon is the occasional home to flamingos, black-necked stilts and other waders.

December 11 | Santa Cruz Island: Giant Tortoise viewing, Charles Darwin Station, & Puerto Ayora

After landing at the dock in the town of Puerto Ayora, we head up to the lush, misty highlands, where giant tortoises roaming across the landscape. These 600lb (270kg) prehistoric giants roam free around the local ranch where we'll have lunch. Back in Puerto Ayora, we visit the world-renown Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about the history and science of the islands. Returning through town we have a chance to shop for souvenirs or continue photographing the juxtaposition of the abundant wildlife in the urban environment.

December 12 | South Plazas Island - Santa Fe Island

On the tiny island of South Plazas, we'll walk among a red carpet of the succulent Sesuvium vegetation growing between Opuntia cacti, passing by swallow-tailed gulls, land iguanas and sea lions. At the clifftop, we can sit and watch Galapagos shearwaters gliding over the waves and gulls, tropic birds and frigates cruising lazily below and at eye-level on the up-draught. Santa Fe is idyllic -- it has a beautiful natural bay filled with turquoise water and two lovely white sand beaches used by sunbathing sea lions. Inland, we hike past a grove of giant, prickly pear cactus trees, a different land iguana species endemic to the island, and perhaps an endemic Galapagos hawk or two. We follow the land visit with some fantastic snorkeling with turtles, rays, surgeonfish, parrotfish and possibly even sharks.

December 13 | Española (Hood) Island: Gardner Bay, Gardner Islet, Osborn Islet, Punta Suárez

We go for a morning snorkel around the offshore islands of Hood, where we may find and play with curious sea lions in the water. We then visit one of the most beautiful beaches in the islands, and sit with sea lions, walk the length of the beach or find a quiet place to sit in self-reflection. Punta Suárez, which we'll visit in the afternoon, is a true naturalist’s paradise. The island’s endemic mockingbird is here, as are sea lions, finches and the archipelago’s most colorful marine iguanas. We see nesting blue-footed and Nazca boobies, Galapagos hawks, and possibly some waved albatross chicks. We spend time and sit quietly while observing the complex courtship rituals.

December 14 | Santa Cruz Island: Los Gemelos & Baltra Island - Guayaquil

We disembark the S/S Mary Anne for the last time in Puerto Ayora. Making our way across Santa Cruz Island, we stop at the twin craters (Los Gemelos) and some of the largest lava tunnels in the world. From here we head to Baltra airport where our journey began, for our flight back to mainland Ecuador and international flights home.

Trip Price

$7,480 per person in shared double-occupancy cabins; limited single cabins are available for an additional cost of $795/person. For detailed pricing information, contact us using the form below.

Group Size

Limit of 16 passengers.

theme

Ecotourism

Oceanic Society has spent 50 years "creating a more oceanic society" by engaging and empowering the public to take personal action for ocean conservation, beginning with innovative citizen science programs like the Farallon Patrol, the widely-circulated Oceans Magazine, our Bay Area whale watch program (among the first in the country), and our international ocean expeditions. We continue many of these efforts today, and in 2014 launched our Blue Habits program, an innovative effort to develop science-based tools and approaches to engage people in adopting behaviors that reduce major threats to ocean health.

Your Trip Leaders

RODERIC MAST is Oceanic Society’s President and CEO. He is a lifelong conservationist, a marine biologist, and an experienced travel guide who got his start as a naturalist in the Galápagos Islands. Rod is an expert in sea turtles, and is the both the co-chair of theIUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group and the founder of the State of the World’s Sea TurtlesProgram, which is managed by Oceanic Society. Rod is also a passionate photographer, author, and public speaker.

PETE OXFORD works in some of the world’s most pristine and remote wildlife and cultural destinations as a full-time professional photographer. His images have appeared in major magazines including National Geographic, Time, Outdoor Photographer, and Smithsonian, and have been featured ten times in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. Pete and his wife Reneé also lead expeditions to some of the world’s richest cultures and most biodiverse areas of our planet.

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