All cabins on board are deluxe, with well-appointed private bathroom, water, air conditioning, wall to wall carpeting. All have ocean views with large portrait windows (not portholes). All cabins are a minimum 175 square feet and the main deck rooms have the additional luxury of a private balcony.
The main deck also boasts the dining area and a separate comfortable lounge area complete with plasma TVs, lap tops, DVD player, stereo and library. The upper deck has a well-stocked bar, Jacuzzi and a beautiful open teak deck area for relaxation, alfresco dining and barbeques.
The huge sundeck is great for whale and dolphin watching or to simply relax and soak up the sun between island excursions. In the evenings there is no better place for star gazing. You have a crew of 10 and a naturalist guide. The crew is friendly, full time, experienced and highly professional.
We always receive great reviews about the food on board. There is a varied menu including international and local cuisines, designed to accommodate a variety of dietary needs including vegetarians. Breakfast and lunch are usually buffet style and dinner served a la carte. Light snacks, tea and coffee are served between meals. Meals are served in the dining area with the exception of some lunch buffets and barbeques that are served al fresco on the upper deck.
Day 1 (Saturday)
Arrive at Balta Island
Once you arrive at Baltra airport, you will clear immigration and be met by your guide, and escorted to the harbour. A motorized dinghy will then transfer you to the M/C Athala II, where you will be welcomed by the Captain and crew.
This tiny islet is actually home to a huge population of sea lions and is also home to many shorebirds. While at Mosquera, keep your eyes peeled, as there are occasional reports of dolphins and orcas sightings. Difficulty level: Easy.
Santiago Island – Sullivan Bay
Santiago Island is known for its spectacular volcanic formations, relatively young pahoehoe lava flows and unique geological scenery. Due to Sullivan’s relatively recent volcanic activity, few plants have been able to take root here, much less be successful, so pay particular interest to the low-lying pioneer plant known locally as “mollugo” as well as the lava cactus. Difficulty level: Moderate.
Bartolome is a small island that has two visitor sites. At the first site, you can snorkel around Pinnacle Rock, where penguins are usually seen. Then, it’s back on board for a quick change of clothes followed by a short dinghy ride to a dry landing for a climb to the highest point on the island. On the way up, you will encounter different volcanic formations, including spatter and tuff cones, lava flow and lava tubes. From the summit you will have a wonderful view of Sullivan Bay. For those not interested in the hike, there is the option of a panga ride. Usual fauna and flora also includes sea lions, pioneer plants, reef sharks, rays and colourful reef fish. Difficulty Level: Moderate.
Isabela Island – Urbina Bay
Urbina Bay is located in Western Isabela, at the foot of Alcedo volcano. After landing on a beautiful black-sand beach, you may be able to observe sea turtle nesting sites. This area is also known for penguin and flightless cormorant sightings and is one of the best places to see Darwin’s finches as well as large land iguanas. Be on the lookout for wild Galapagos tortoises which like to feed within the site’s dense vegetation. Difficulty level: Moderate.
Isabela Island – Tagus Cove
Tagus Cove was historically used as an anchoring place for pirates, buccaneers and whalers. On the hike, the trail goes through an area of vegetation and the volcanic landscape of Darwin volcano. At the top of the trail, you will enjoy an incredible view of the whole cove and Darwin Lake. Enjoy snorkelling, kayaking and dinghy rides. Difficulty level: Easy to Difficult.
Fernandina – Espinosa Point
Fernandina Island is one of the most pristine ecosystems in the entire world and also one of the most dynamic. La Cumbre Volcano last erupted in April 2009 and also dominates the landscape with lava fields stretching towards the ocean from its base. Punta Espinoza is a narrow piece of land where some of the most unique Galapagos species can be seen, including the flightless cormorant, Galapagos snakes, marine iguanas, penguins and the Galapagos hawk. Difficulty level: Moderate.
Isabela Island – Vicente Roca Point
Punta Vicente Roca is a wonderful snorkelling site, where you can usually see turtles as well as all kinds of fish. For those who do not snorkel, a dinghy ride will give you the opportunity to study some of the Galapagos spectacular geological rock formations. Nazca boobies, pelicans, swallow-tailed gulls, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants and penguins are often seen in the area. Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate.
Santiago – Puerto Egas
The trail leads to tidal pools which are home to a variety of invertebrate organisms, including sea urchins, octopus and starfish. You will also see marine iguanas, finches, oyster catchers and possibly the Galapagos Hawk. The trail leads to the Fur Sea Lion Grottos, one of the only places in the islands where these unique animals can be seen. After the walk, you will have time to swim or snorkel off the beach, where you will see sea lions, fish and maybe some turtles, rays and reef sharks. Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate.
Santiago Island – Espumilla Beach
The Espumilla Beach visitor site is on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay. The main attractions here are a Palo Santo forest, the beach and the landscape. The Palo Santo forest at Espumilla has some of the tallest specimens of the species in the entire archipelago. Also look out for the Galapagos Hawk as well as Darwin’s finches. The beach is an important site for nesting marine turtles. Difficulty level: Easy.
Santa Cruz – Puerto Ayora: Charles Darwin Research Station & Highlands
On your visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station you will gain insight into the great efforts being made by scientists, guides, rangers and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will see the famous Galapagos tortoises that are the islands’ namesake. After the visit we drive to the green highlands of Santa Cruz, where you will visit a tortoise reserve to search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings.
The afternoon is at leisure. Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate.
Genovesa Island – El Barranco
El Barranco, also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, is a steep path with stairs carved into the rock which leads to a plateau full of bird life amongst a Palo Santo forest. You will see Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds and petrels. With some luck, you may spot a short-eared lava owl. Difficulty level: Moderate.
Genovesa Island – Darwin Bay
Darwin Bay’s soft, coralline white sand is only the beginning of a spectacular excursion. A trail from the beach takes you into lush mangroves where red footed boobies nest. Other locals include sea lions, swallow-tail gulls, frigates and more. Snorkelling is a must here as sharks, colourful reef fish, rays and turtles are common. Difficulty level: Easy to Moderate.
North Seymour may very well be the perfect way to say goodbye to the Galapagos Islands. Although the island is characterized by arid vegetation, fauna abounds and you will soon find yourself surrounded by sea lions, blue footed boobies, marine iguanas, frigate birds and more. Difficulty level: Moderate.
You will then be transferred to Baltra airport for your flight back to the mainland.
Manor Cottage, Papermill Lane, South Moreton, Oxfordshire, OX11 9AH