Day 1 - TUESDAY - BALTRA ISLAND -Arrival , transfer & Check Dive
AM - Baltra Island
Guests fly to the Galapagos Islands from mainland Ecuador, arriving in the late morning. The GWSP dive masters and yacht dive master/naturalist guide will be waiting at the airport on Baltra Island. Once the group has collected their luggage and cleared the National Park immigrations we will board the Yacht which will be anchored in the port 10 minutes travel by bus. After everyone has settled in their cabins the guides will give a briefing on ship life, national park rules and diving safety, whilst the galley crew prepare the dining room for a delicious buffet lunch.
PM - Baltra Island (Check dive, equipment and weights)
After a briefing on the dive platform all equipment should be set up in readiness for the test dive. This will be at a nearby anchorage in calm shallow waters. Maximum depth of 12m. Although plentiful fish and usually sea lions and other species are to be seen, the objective is to check weight and equipment for the following days.
Day 2 - WEDNESDAY - Bartolome Island / Roca Cousins
AM - Bartolome Island (1 Dive)
An early morning dive close by Bartolome in a sheltered area with a rock / sand seabed that provides a variety of habitats for many different fish species. Green sea turtles, white tip reef sharks and stingrays are commonly sighted here with numerous colourful parrot fish and wrasses. Returning to the boat we will have a full breakfast before continuing to the next dive site.
AM / PM - Roca Cousins (2 Dives)
A short sail of around 30 minutes and we arrive to Cousins Rock. Here we often find playful sea lions, Eagle rays, Golden rays and sometimes Mobula and Giant Pacific manta rays. The underwater topography provides refuge for sleeping turtles and white tip sharks whilst the stepp walls are covered by marine invertebrates. Two species of black coral, sponges and colonial tunicates are a colourful backdrop for the abundant fish that frequent this emergent volcanic cone. The currents often found here attract some of the larger shark species such as hammerheads and black tip sharks. Amongst the corals we sometimes find Pacific golden sea horses and frogfish.
After the third dive a late lunch will be served as we set sail for the next day's destination Wolf Island. The sailing time is around 14-16 hours as we sail through the late afternoon and all night past the majestic volcanoes of Isabela Island to the far north of the Galapagos archipelago.
Day 3 - THURSDAY: WOLF ISLAND
AM & PM - Wolf Island (4 dives)
The powerful marine currents around Wolf are part of the reason we see so many sharks. Schooling hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, Black tip and Silky sharks are the usual protagonists. Dolphins are often present as we end our dives with a drift in the blue. Two turtle species, the Green and Hawksbill are frequently sighted along the rocky walls and slopes of this island. Eagle rays and large schools of fish, snappers, grouper and jacks patrol the drop-off. The island is home to vast numbers of sea birds, Red footed and Nazca Boobies, frigate birds, the endemic Swallow – tailed gull and the elegant Red – billed tropicbird. Finches and doves are often spotted hoping amongst the rocks. We stay at anchor overnight and depart at dawn for Darwin Island.
Day 4 - FRIDAY: DARWIN ISLAND
AM & PM - Darwin Island (4 dives)
All four dives are at the same site, the world renowned Darwin Arch. We drop on to a rocky ledge and from a protected position watch the marine life swim by. Hammerhead and Galapagos sharks, Black tips and Silkies. Marine turtles abound and Bottlenose dolphins often pass by overhead. Huge schools of fish, tuna, jacks and Creole fish swim in the blue whilst dozens of other species inhabit the coral covered platform and ledges.
This is also the realm of the biggest shark of them all, the Whale shark. Frequenting the Islands between June – December over 95% of all sightings occur here at the Arch. Of these a staggering 99% are female and in an apparent state of advanced pregnancy. Why they come to this rocky volcanic outcrop remains a mystery and one that the Galapagos Whale Shark Project team is trying to solve. After our last dive the vessel returns to Wolf to anchor overnight.
Day 5 - SATURDAY: WOLF ISLAND
AM & PM - Wolf Island (3-4 dives)
Another full day exploring the diverse dive sites of Wolf. The dives may take us to the swim through arches and along the spectacular walls and cave entrances. Again the local conditions will decide which are the best options dependent on current and swell. More time to observe the sharks and marine megafauna or study the massive diversity of life that inhabits the large coral heads and boulder slopes. Towards evening we set sail for the north of Isabela Island, once again sailing overnight.
Day 6 - SUNDAY: Punta Vivente Roca / Cabo Douglas
AM - Punta Vicente Roca (2 dives)
This morning we will dive at Punta Vicente Roca. Best known for the frequent sightings of Mola alexandrini, the southern ocean sunfish. The Molas approach the wall to visit the cleaning stations where wrasses and angelfish await. Sea lions and Galapagos fur seals abound and often follow divers playing with bubbles and darting in and out of schools of sardine sized Brown striped Salemas. The wall is one of the most diverse of all Galapagos for marine invertebrates and is one of the favourite sites for macro photography. Brightly coloured blennies, Long nose coral hawkfish, frogfish and sea horses can be found amongst the solitary corals, anemones, tunicates and sponges. Green sea turtles are present all year and whales are often spotted in these waters.
PM - Cabo Douglas (1 dive)
After sailing across the Bolivar channel to Fernandina Island we will dive at Cape Douglas. Showcased by many documentaries including BBC’s Blue Planet I & II, this is where marine iguanas are to be found feeding in the shallow bays between 5-10m. A unique experience that can only be had in the Galapagos we also find the endemic flightless cormorant and Galapagos penguins feeding here. The cold ocean upwelling from the Cromwell current brings a myriad of life to an apparently stark volcanic shore.
Day 7 - MONDAY: Roca Blanca/PINZON ISLAND / Santa Cruz
AM - Roca Blanca & Pinzón Island (2 dives)
Roca Blanca is a small emergent rock that only recently has been added as a new dive site. Diverse marine life includes sharks, turtle and rays including the Giant Pacific manta ray with a wingspan of up to 7m. The cooler upwelling waters that surround this rock off the south east coast of Isabela island make for exciting dives with frequent bait balls of Salemas. After the early morning dive we return to the boat for a hearty breakfast as we sail to Pinzon Island.
Our last dive is off a small rocky outcrop south of Pinzon island. A sandy slope where Red-lipped batfish can be found even during the daytime, leads to a dramatic wall. Sea lions, turtles, rays and sharks are the usual inhabitants of this area. Big schools of mixed grunts, jacks, tuna as well as the tropical Moorish idols, King Angels and Parrotfish make this a memorable send-off to the trip.
PM - Santa Cruz
After the dive we will go to Santa Cruz Island. Here we visit the Charles Darwin Station and the Giant Tortoise Rearing Centre. Afterwards you will have some free time to walk around the town Puerto Ayora, maybe do some souvenir shopping or enjoy a cold beer and meet local people.
Day 8 - TUESDAY: SANTA CRUZ HIGHLANDS / BALTRA AIRPORT
AM - Santa Cruz
Before going to the airport for flights back to the mainland we make a last stop in the highlands of Santa Cruz to see Giant tortoises in the wild.
The group will then continue on to Baltra Island for check in for flights. This is certainly one adventure that will change your lives and you will remember forever... until you return perhaps?
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