The Galápagos Islands is an isolated and intriguing destination that has held fascination among luxury travellers for decades —and for good reason. This archipelago of volcanic islands situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador is known for its minimal human footprint and incredible profusion of animal and marine life. The remote isolation of this World Heritage Site and the lack of predatory animals allow visitors to get up close to a living museum of friendly giant tortoises, sea lions and the famous Galápagos iguanas.
To coincide with Lindblad Expeditions’ 50th anniversary-year visiting this exceptional ecosystem, the luxury tour provider has announced a ten-day exploration through the Galápagos, led by an impressive team of eight naturalists, an undersea specialist, a National Geographic photographer and a veteran expedition leader, with complimentary return flights to South America from Sydney or Melbourne.
Land in Guayaquil, the vibrant commercial heart of Ecuador and settle in to your hotel. If time allows, head out to explore the city’s waterfront lined with gardens, open-air restaurants, shopping and museums.
Following a short flight to the Galápagos, board your ship the National Geographic Endeavour II or National Geographic Islander. With comfortable cabins and suites, lounges, a library, fitness centre and wellness services these ships make no sacrifice on comfort. Fresh and local cuisine is served by onboard chefs.
Galápagos Blue Footed Booby | Photograph by Stewart Cohen
Days three – nine
Over the following week, explore the following islands (the exact routing is dependent on the National Park Service).
Bartolome is home to the famous Pinnacle Rock – an impressive volcanic rock formation that towers above the water. This island offers mangroves, golden sand beaches, great walks and the chance to snorkel with Galápagos penguins.
Embark on a challenging hike across rugged shoreline, mix with an iguana colony and swim, snorkel or kayak off the black sand beach.
Santa Cruz is home to the Charles Darwin Research station. Here learn about the island’s scientific studies and the captive breeding program for endangered species the Galápagos giant tortoises.
Enjoy close encounters with fur seals and study the inhabitants of the island’s countless tide pools.
Fernandina is the westernmost, youngest and most pristine tropical island. Snorkel among sea lions off Champion Islet and spot marine iguanas; encounter flamingos, pintail ducks, Sally Lightfoot grans and flightless cormorants. Hike over recent lava flows to a stunning white-sand beach, a favourite nesting site for sea turtles.
This four-million year old island is the sole breeding ground for the world’s population of Waved Albatrosses. Snorkel and stroll along the island’s lovely beaches and observe Darwin’s finches, sea lions, the Española mockingbird and Española lava lizard.
Disembark and fly back to Guayaquil, with the late afternoon and evening free to explore the city. Stay for the last night of the tour at the five-star Hilton Colon.
Fly home in the morning from Guayaquil.