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Evolution

Galapagos Islands: Remote Northern & Central Isles

Evolution

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Galapagos Islands: Remote Northern & Central Isles

There’s no more intimate an experience with nature than International Expeditions’ Galapagos Islands cruise aboard the 32-guest Evolution. Accompanied by only the highest-rated native naturalist guides, you experience the unrivaled access and adventure offered by IE’s small-ship Galapagos Islands tour.

The enchanting central and remote nothern islands feature a diverse menagerie of species found nowhere else! Marvel at the impressive bird populations of Genovesa Island, send a postcard from historic Post Office Bay, and search the tide pools of Puerto Egas for sea life. Each day on our Galapagos Islands cruises is a true highlight, blending hikes through lush forests, kayaking and snorkeling. 

The Highest Rated Galapagos Islands Travel Guides

Our highly qualified naturalist Galapagos Islands travel guides are authorities on the wildlife, history, geography and fauna of the Galapagos Islands. You’ll learn from an expedition leader and local naturalist who are passionate about the islands and licensed at the highest level — Level 3 — by Galapagos National Park. 

Skip the Crowds on our Galapagos Islands Cruise

The Galapagos Islands are a treasure meant to be experienced with a small group of true nature enthusiasts – not 100 “tourists.” Our small group size of just 32 aboard the Evolution ensures you enjoy ample time and attention as you explore. Plus, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort and world-class service to discover the Galapagos. Each day during this Galapagos Islands tour, you “come home” to a comfortable, intimate expedition ship. TheEvolution is the perfect haven for relaxing between daily hiking and snorkeling excursions, or for joining fellow travelers for a briefing by our knowledgeable naturalists.

Galapagos Voyage with International Expeditions

Optional Pre-Trip Extensions

Guayaquil Trip Extension

Daily Itinerary

Central Galapagos Islands Cruise Itinerary

  • Day
    1

    Arrive Guayaquil

    Fly independently to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and transfer to the Hotel Oro Verde. (Meals Aloft)

  • Day
    2

    San Cristobal / Isla Lobos

    Fly to the islands and board the Evolution. Snorkel with sea lions at Isla Lobos as well as watch boobies and frigatebirds. Enjoy a sunset stroll with view of Kicker Rock. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    3

    South Plaza Island / Mosquera Island

    At only 426 feet wide, South Plaza is one of the smallest islands in the archipelago. Look for yellow land iguanas on a walk to a grove of prickly-pear cactus.  Non-hikers can enjoy a Zodiac ride, watching for swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds and blue-footed boobies. Since there is no true trail on Mosquera Island, you are able to stroll at your leisure. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    4

    Santiago Island: Puerto Egas

    The tiny uplifted island of Sombrero Chino – or Chinese Hat – features a primeval landscape of volcanic rubble and lava tubes. The “land” is made of a few adjacent craters and old, fragile pahoehoe lava flows. Vegetation is just starting to take hold, including colorful carpetweed plants. Enjoy a Zodiac ride and swim before lunch. This afternoon, search the tide pools of Puerto Egas for sea life. During low tide, we may see marine iguanas feeding on algae. Our naturalists will point out the birdlife, including great blue herons, lava herons, oystercatchers and yellow-crowned night herons. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    5

    Genovesa Island

    Genovesa is often referred to as “Bird Island” for the vast numbers of pelagic seabirds that come here to nest. And while Genovesa harbors one of the Galapagos’ largest and most diverse bird populations, there are no land reptiles — with the exception of some very small marine iguanas. This is due to the direction of the ocean currents, which couldn’t carry the terrestrial animals here. Climb Prince Philip’s Steps to an area with colonies of red-footed boobies. Watch for short-eared owls which feed on the petrals that fly about. Explore Darwin Bay, home to the rare lava gull. While anchored at Genovesa, enjoy an opportunity to swim, kayak and snorkel in the calm caldera of this partially eroded volcano. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    6

    Santa Fe Island

    North Seymour is the nesting site for a large population of magnificent frigatebirds and the only place where we can always find males showing their red pouches to attract females. Plus, we are sure to see blue-footed boobies perform their comical courtship dance in the open areas. Hike to a scenic lagoon, where we may observe Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds and a variety of Darwin’s finches. You may kayak and snorkel from the beach. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    7

    Floreana Island

    Hike to Post Office Bay, once used by navigators to send mail with homebound messengers. Swim and kayak in the bay before a walk along the olivine beaches of Punta Cormorant. After hiking to a flamingo lagoon, spot fish and sea turtles during a relaxing stroll along the beach. Enjoy superb snorkeling at Devil’s Crown, where sea water has filled the sunken cone of an extinct volcano. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    8

    Santa Cruz Island

    Begin our day in the forested highlands, with ample opportunity to see and photograph giant tortoises in the wild. Stop at a family run farm before learning about the work being done to study and preserve wildlife at Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center at the Darwin Research Center. (B,L,D)

    Giant Galapagos tortoise
  • Day
    9

    Guayaquil

    Enjoy a Zodiac ride through Black Turtle Cove, drifting silently through this area of mangroves. Fly to Guayaquil, with time to relax at the Hotel Oro Verde. (B,L Aloft)

  • Day
    10

    Depart Guayaquil

    Board flights home. (B, Meals Aloft)

Optional Post-Trip Extensions

Quito & Andean Highlands Extension

Ecuador Amazon Extension

Machu Picchu & Cusco Trip Extension

Things to Know

When is the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands?

Fortunately, there is truly no “best time” for Galapagos Islands travel. There is always a variety of wildlife.

January: Green sea turtles arrive, land birds start nesting, good snorkeling
Average water temperature: 76°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 86/72°F

February: Marine iguanas and Galapagos doves start nesting 
Average water temperature: 77°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 86/75°F

March: Sporadic tropical rains, arrival of the waved albatross 
Average water temperature: 77°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 88/75°F

April: Land iguanas hatch, end of giant tortoise hatching season 
Average water temperature: 77°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 86/75°F

May: Sea turtles hatch, blue footed boobies begin courtship 
Average water temperature: 76°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 82/72°F

June: Giant turtle nesting season 
Average water temperature: 73°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 79/70°F

July: Whales can be seen, sea birds very active
Average water temperature: 72°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 79/68°F

August: Migrant shore birds start to arrive Average water temperature: 71°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 79/66°F

September: Penguins and sea lions very active, boobies raise their chicks, Galapagos fur seals begin mating 
Average water temperature: 72°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 79/66°F

October: Blue-footed boobies nesting, marine life very active, sea lions breeding
Average water temperature: 73°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 79/68°F

November: Sea lion pups born, green sea turtles display their mating behavior 
Average water temperature: 73°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 79/70°F

December: Giant tortoise’s eggs hatch
Average water temperature: 73°F 
Average temperatures (max/min): 81/72°F

What's included in the price of IE’s Galapagos Island travel packages?

  • Daily shore excursions, interpretive walks, swimming, snorkeling, hiking & panga rides
  • Seven nights on the Evolution
  • Hotel accommodations pre- and post-voyage
  • 23 meals (and lots of snacks)
  • Two Level 3 naturalists; Three naturalist guides for groups of 26-32
  • Snorkeling gear & shorty wetsuits
  • Kayaks
  • All bottled water
  • Onboard doctor
  • Full educational program, including lectures on history, ecology & marine life and field interpretation
  • Arrival & departure transfers
  • Tips to porters & to waiters for included meals

What kind of visas are required for travel to Ecuador?

Bring a valid passport that will not expire until at least six months after your departure date before you travel to Ecuador. Visas are not required for US or Canadian citizens.

What vaccinations are required for Galapagos Islands travel?

No inoculations are required to enter Ecuador or to return to the US. The CDC recommends malaria pills and the yellow fever shot if you are visiting the Ecuadorian rainforest (not part of our Galapagos islands travel package); however, you should consult with your personal physician.

How long are the flights to Guayaquil?

                 
Atlanta to Guayaquil: 6 hours and 13 minutes (typically stopover in Quito) 
Miami to Guayaquil: 4 hours and 8 minutes
Guayaquil to Galapagos Islands: 1 hour and 45 minutes              
Quito to Galapagos Islands: 2 hours and 45 minutes (stopover in Guayaquil)  

Accommodations

Evolution in Tagus Cove, Galapagos Islands

M/V Evolution

For our Galapagos Islands cruise ship we have selected the M/V Evolution, accommodating just 32 guests. This intimate ship features a great deal of public space, including an observation deck and a canopied bar on the roof deck, perfect for enjoying a snack and drink on the canopied roof deck while whale watching or chatting with fellow passengers. Two-person kayaks also are available and a doctor is aboard on every voyage and even accompanies your small group off-ship.

Because there is an "open bridge" policy aboard the M/V Evolution, you are welcome to visit the captain and crew and learn all about the ship’s operation and navigation. Each day our naturalist guides will give talks and briefings on the day’s events and about the natural and human history of the Galapagos. They will help you understand the context of what you’ve seen and help prepare you for the next day’s activities. A convenient boarding platform makes it easy and safe to board our excursion boats.

Meals

Meals are served in one seating in the dining room, and each meal boasts international and traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, fresh fruit and sumptuous desserts.

Cabins

Your air-conditioned cabin is the perfect haven between excursions, featuring private facilities and ample storage space. During every excursion, cabin stewards will service your spacious cabin.

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Field Leaders

galapagos islands guides boli

Bolivar Sanchez

Expedition Leader

A true native Galapagos Naturalist, guide Bolivar Sanchez is an expert in Earth science. He developed a strong interest in wildlife and the outdoors as a small boy, and has been learning as much as possible ever since. For the past 18 years he has worked as a certified naturalist and Galapagos travel guide in Galapagos National Park, sharing his knowledge of the flora and fauna with guests of his beautiful homeland. His great personality and wonderful sense of humor make him a joy to travel with. Boli's other interests include swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and hiking.

galapagos islands guides alex

Alex Cox

Expedition Leader

Level 3-certified guide Alex Cox developed a strong interest in wildlife and the outdoors as a small boy on the island of San Cristóbal before studying at the Central University of Ecuador, where he honed his passion for Earth science. Alex has spent the past 20 years as a Galapagos naturalist guide in the islands. When not leading our Galapagos Islands tour, look for Alex swimming, hiking or spending time with his two children.

Galapagos guide Cristina Rivadeneira

Cristina Rivadeneira

Naturalist

At age 11, Quito, Ecuador-native Cristina Rivadeneira took her first Galapagos Islands tour, and realized that this was where she wanted to be! After high school, she studied business and applied languages. Because of her fluency in English, German and French, Cristina worked for a travel agency as a translator, allowing her to visit all of Ecuador's national parks. Cristina began studying to be a Galapagos naturalist in 1996. When not working as a Galapagos Islands travel guide, she enjoys scuba diving, bird watching, hiking, sea kayaking and reading.

A Note About Field Staff

This is just a selection of the Expedition Leaders and Naturalists who may lead your ecotour.  A particular departure may be escorted by any one of them.  If you would like to find out which leaders are scheduled to lead each departure, please contact our office.

Wildlife

Sally Lightfoot Crab

The Sally Lightfoot crab is one of the world’s most beautiful crabs. Wow, how often does one hear the two words “beautiful” and “crab” in the same sentence? Well, this is certainly deserved as this hand-sized crab is ornately colored with red, orange, purple and blue coloration. These gorgeous creatures abound throughout the Galapagos Islands, and their typical niche is right at the tide’s edge on lava rocks. It does not matter if it is high tide, low tide, daylight or dark these crabs are at work feeding on algae.

Magnificent Frigatebird

The Magnificent Frigate is not endemic to the Galapagos, but it is one of its most impressive inhabitants. With bodies up to 45 inches long and a massive wingspan, they soar (often in the updraft created by ships) aloft, never touching water, feeding by either snatching fish from the ocean’s surface or forcing other birds to regurgitate their meal so they can steal it. During mating season, males inflate their red throat pouches dramatically to attract females, making for fantastic photos.

Galapagos: Nesting waved albatrosses

Waved Albatross

Not many people go to the Galapagos Islands for a show, but that is exactly what they may get if they run into an albatross pair along the craggy cliffs of Española (Hood) Island. Between April and December, the critically endangered birds nest on this island, the only place in the world where they nest, providing visitors who stop off during Galapagos Island cruises with plenty of entertainment. Although they sharing plumage with the common seagull, these birds are hard to mistake as common. Their white heads and chestnut brown to gray bodies measure nearly three feet long, and their wingspan is more than eight feet, making the waved albatrosses the islands’ largest bird.

Blue Footed Boobies

Boobies

The three booby species rank among the most popular birds of the Galapagos. Red-footed boobies are the smallest and most abundant, nesting in huge colonies in trees and shrubs of the outer-most islands, as they feed far out to sea. Blue-footed boobies feed close to shore, making spectacular dives into the sea to feed, and are widely distributed in small ground-nesting colonies. Nazca boobies, formerly known as masked boobies due to their distinctive facial markings, are known for siblicide – they lay two eggs, but the oldest chick typically kills the youngest.

Galápagos Flamingo

With less than 350 individuals, the Galápagos Flamingo is the world’s smallest, and is listed as Endangered by the IUCN. They can be found is saltwater lagoons near the sea, feeding on the brine shrimp whose aqueous bacteria and beta carotene give them their pink color. Where populations elsewhere require large groups for successful breeding, Galápagos Flamingos can breed with just a few pairs present, producing chicks with grey plumage.

Galápagos Fur Seal

The Galapagos fur seal is the smallest fur seal, with six other fur seals in other areas of the world being larger. The scientific name, Arctocephalus, translates to “bear head” as its face and head are small with fairly large ears and a very pointed snout. The Galápagos fur seal has very large eyes which aid in their foraging strategies of being nocturnal. Through long term studies, it appears that fur seals prefer small moon phases for feeding at sea and during full or big moon nights, the fur seals remain ashore. This may be a self-preservation tactic.

Galápagos Land Iguana

Commonly spotted on Fernandina, Isabela, Santa Cruz, North Seymour and Baltra islands, these ancient-looking iguanas are among the most colorful of all Galapagos Island animals. Growing 3-5 feet long and weighing up to 25 pounds, they come in colors ranging from vivid yellow and rusty orange to red. Land iguana populations were nearly decimated by invasive species during the 20th century, but breeding efforts at the Charles Darwin Research Station in the 1990s led to a successful reintroduction campaign. Nearly 10,000 iguanas roam the islands today, living 50-60 years and feeding primarily on prickly-pear cactus.

Galápagos Penguin

Found mainly on Fernandina and Isabela, where there are fewer than 1,000 breeding pairs left, this equatorial Penguin measures around 19 inches long and weighs just five pounds. They’ve genetically adapted to the heat (which ranges from 59º-82ºF), thermoregulating by stretching out their flippers, avoiding the sun, panting and swimming in the islands’ cooler waters.

From: $6,198 per person
Duration
10 Days, 9 Nights
Guest Capacity
32 Guests
Trip Type
Sea

Special Offers

Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy the archipelago's best guest-to-guide ratio on small-group departures of just 26-32 guests
  • Hike among red-footed boobies, storm petrels & short-eared owls on outlying Genovesa Island
  • Snorkel in an extinct volcanic cone at Devil's Crown
  • Savor the most public outdoor space & largest cabins of any ship in this class aboard the M/V Evolution
  • Learn about wildlife conservation efforts at the Charles Darwin Research Station