The next leg of your journey sees you departing the Ecuadorian mainland and flying to the Galapagos Islands, one of the most extraordinary ecosystems in the world. The islands’ unique volcanic landscapes and vast number of endemic species were key to Charles Darwin’s development of the theory of evolution, after he visited in the 1830s. You’ll explore the islands with seven nights on the MV Origin
, a luxurious ship which has raised the bar for cruising in the Galapagos. The islands’ most knowledgeable guides will lead you on one of two itineraries, which will see you meeting iconic Galapagos wildlife, such as marine and land iguanas, giant Galapagos tortoises and red-footed boobies, in their natural habitat.
On the Southern Central Cruise, you’ll begin on San Cristobal, where you’ll find nesting colonies of red-throated frigatebirds, and lava lizards scurrying over the rocks. You’ll then go ashore at Punta Pitt, where blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies nest alongside a multitude of other seabirds. On Espanola, you’ll walk up the beach to the welcome of barking sea lions, spot hawks and mockingbirds, and explore the local islets and caves in kayaks. The island of Floreana is home to the Devil’s Crown, where you’ll snorkel with white-tipped sharks, sea turtles and spotted eagle rays. On Santa Cruz, the most populated of the islands, you’ll disembark for a trip to the highlands, where you’ll visit a reserve dedicated to the protection of the iconic Galapagos tortoise.
The Northern Western Cruise similarly begins in San Cristobal, before heading to Genovesa, one of the Galapagos’ bird hotspots, home to short-eared owls, boobies, and red-billed tropicbirds. At Darwin Bay, you can lounge on the beach or swim with sea lions in the bay. On Santa Cruz, you’ll visit flamingos feeding in saltwater lagoons, before you spot dolphins, whales and mola-mola en route to Isabela, home to lounging iguanas, giant tortoises, and flightless cormorants. This cruise also takes in Tagus Cove, where the presence of pirates is recorded in graffiti dating from the 1800s; Rabida, where marine iguanas laze on a blood-red beach; and, again, a trip to the giant tortoise reserve on Santa Cruz.
The itineraries follow different routes in the interest of conservation, in order to give the wildlife a break from human interaction. Whichever cruise you choose, you’re guaranteed to spot iconic Galapagos species, with the experience enhanced by the passion and expertise of the Origin’s guides. In between the excursions and activities, you’ll stay in supreme comfort in the boat’s spacious, stylish cabins, enjoy freshly-sourced gourmet cuisine, and relax in the comfortable lounge, cosy library, and outdoor Jacuzzi.