Galapagos Photo Safari - Cover

7 night Galapagos Photo Safari

The route we follow on board the Eclipse is quite simply the ultimate itinerary for an 8-day Galapagos photo safari.

The photo safari will be led by our guest photographer Jonathan R. Green. Born and raised in England, Jonathan travelled extensively through Europe after obtaining his B.S. in Geography & Geology. His travels then led him to the Galapagos Islands in 1988, where he trained as a naturalist with the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station. Jonathan has been published in Time Magazine and BBC Wildlife amongst others. He has also exhibited at the Natural History Museum and the Olympia Exhibition Center of London as well as other venues around the world.

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Day 1


On arrival at Baltra Airport you will transfer to the dock and be checked-in to your cabin. After your introductory briefing & safety drill enjoy lunch before dry landing at North Seymour.

North Seymour is a perfect introduction to the Galapagos Islands. Fauna abounds and you will soon find yourself surrounded by frigates and blue footed boobies. Keep an eye out for land iguanas and sea lions too!

Jonathan's photo tip: Prepare yourselves for the photographic bonanza that awaits you on this tiny island. You won´t know which direction to point the camera in! Sea lions on the foreshore, blue footed boobies along the trail, land iguanas munching on the succulent plants at the back of the beach and magnificent frigate birds with inflated gular pouches... and this is only the first afternoon! Fortunately I´ll be there to help with advice as to what to focus on and what is unique to this visitor site as opposed to those subjects that we will see on other landings or every single day.

Difficulty level: Moderate

Enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner back on board after your briefing on Sunday's itinerary.

Please watch our personal overview of the expedition from Jonathan here.

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Day 2


Morning excursion to South Plaza Island. Although quite small, South Plaza is home to a large Opuntia cacti forest, land iguanas and one of the largest sea lion colonies in the central region of the archipelago. An endemic plant, Sesuvium, inhabits this island and is a great climate indicator as its colour is a greenish-yellowish during the rainy season and bright red during the dry season. You will also be able to see Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and other kinds of sea birds as well as different types of finches.

Jonathan's photo tip: Here I am after two specific shots. Firstly, land iguanas against a plain green or blue background using either the vegetation or the sea and secondly, red billed tropic birds in flight against the ocean or the sky. More than enough to keep you busy for the morning! 

Difficulty level: Moderate

Post-lunch excursion to Sante Fe Island. Santa Fe was formed by uplifting, rather than by a volcano. Some of the island's endemic species include the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, rice rats, different types of finches, and the Galapagos mockingbird. The visit includes a hike on a trail past salt bushes where Galapagos hawks as well as the Santa Fe land iguanas tend to roam. Playful sea lions may accompany you during your snorkeling activities.

Jonathan's photo tip:  We will be seeking out the second species of land iguana that only lives on this island. This is where I have been able to get some of my best Galapagos hawk shots as well. Plus there may just be a couple of hundred sea lions on the beaches at the beginning and end of the hike.

Difficulty level: Easy

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Day 3


Punta Pitt is located on the eastern tip of San Cristobal Island. You will hike up to a plateau where the view and landscape are so spectacular it is definitely worth the effort. Watch out for the Red Footed Boobies nesting in the cliffs. The power hike is followed by kayaking, snorkeling and panga rides opportunities.

Jonathan's photo tip: Besides all three species of booby that are to be found here, my main interest is held by the landscape. Towering tuff-stone cliffs are the backdrop to the green vegetation, blue sky and fire red beaches, a combination of colour and texture. Next it's snorkeling with sea lions and time to try the underwater cameras. Even the small point and shoot models in a waterproof housing can produce some world class results, why not give it a go?

Difficulty level: Difficult (longest hike of the cruise 2hrs30)

Enjoy the fantastic landscape of Cerro Brujo as well as swimming, snorkeling and panga ride experiences. Cerro Brujo's gorgeous beach is also home to many sea lions and it's also the first coast where Charles Darwin first stepped foot on in the Archipelago.

Jonathan's photo tip: Lagoon birds with deep reflections, flamingoes, stilts and whimbrels stalk the shores of the lagoon, whilst back at the beach more underwater subjects await.

Difficulty level: Easy

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Day 4


Floreana is one of the Galapagos most famous islands due to many strange stories regarding past settlers. There are many diverse sites to visit including Post Office Bay. There is also an abundence of Marine life in Floreana's coastal regions making it a fantastic site for snorkeling. Flamingos populate the island and may be seen during your visit. Take in the scenery and learn about the mysteries of Floreana's early settlers.

Difficulty level: Moderate

In the 18th century whalers passing through the islands placed a wooden barrel on Floreana Island for use as an unofficial mail box. The tradition continues today as visitors leave addressed postcards in the barrel and sort through left mail to deliver at home. This is one of the archipelago's most famous spots. Don't forget to look in your logbook for your postcards! For the more adventurous guests, there is an option for a visit inside a lava tunnel. This tunnel has been kept untouched and completely natural, so please, watch your step! 

Difficulty level: Easy to difficult (lava tunnel)

A great site for bird-watching, Cormorant Point has a large lagoon where everything from flamingos to stilts and pintail ducks tend to roam. Don't forget your binoculars! Prior to the excurions, you will also have an opportunity to participate in a magnificent snorkel at Champion Islet. 

Difficulty level: Easy

Jonathan's photo tip: Early morning light on the dramatic landscapes of Floreana. Then a panga ride that might bring unexpected bonuses. This is the only place in the world where I have seen a penguin sitting at the base of a cactus!

Up for the challenge? Sea lion pups dance a lightning fast ballet around you in clear, sparkling waters. Catching the movement and grace of these creatures is exciting and rewarding.

Practice with your underwater camera in a swimming pool near your home and try to catch the moment a friend, spouse or one of your children jumps into the pool. Try with and without flash...) Late afternoon we will get as close to the flamingoes as possible for some magical late light on these fluorescent birds.

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Day 5


Elizabeth Bay is one of the furthest points of the Galapagos that we will visit on our cruise. We will enter a sheltered cove accessible by panga only - a wonderful mangrove ecosystem that is a refuge for sea turtles, rays, blue-footed boobies, penguins, herons and more.

Jonathan's photo tip:  A quiet ride on the dingy, (panga), through the mangrove lagoons. A long lens and you can capture the heads of the Green sea turtles as they pop up to breath. Blue footed boobies sitting on black lava rocks and penguins will challenge you skills at portrait shooting from a moving platform. 

Difficulty level: Easy

Moreno Point is located just southwest of Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island. Observe and learn about different types of lava and pioneer plants while being surrounded by some of the most incredible scenery that Galapagos has to offer. In the tide pools green sea turtles or white-tip sharks can be spotted. Afterwards you will enjoy a panga ride along the striking rocky shores observing penguins, sea lions, blue footed boobies and marine iguanas.

Jonathan's photo tip:  Ever wanted to land on the moon? This is the landscape we will walk through. Close up shots of lava formations, volcanic landscapes using wide angle techniques will provide the subjects for the afternoon. 

Difficulty level: Moderate to difficult

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Day 6


On your visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station you will gain an insight into the huge 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. 

Jonathan's photo tip:  Today is like a scene from the bygone era as we capture these magnificient giants in muddy pools with reflections and deep in the undergrowth. Low light photography and composition will be the theme for the day.

Difficulty level: Moderate to difficult

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Day 7


Gardner Bay offers the chance to enjoy a wonderful white sandy beach. It is home to one of the most important colonies of sea lions, and it is also a nesting site for sea turtles. Throughout the morning there are opportunities for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. 

Jonathan's photo tip:  Today is our last snorkel with sea lions and your last chance to get the shot of one blowing bubbles with your underwater cameras...will you have mastered the technique?

Difficulty level: Easy

Punta Suárez is one of the most popular and attractive sites in the Galapagos. Due to its isolation from other islands, it has a high proportion of endemic fauna. A few steps inland from the landing site, groups of Española marine iguanas bask in the sun. Further inland, Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest near the trail, Galapagos doves peck around unaware of visitors and finches go about their day to day business. The trail continues towards a blowhole, which is a fissure in the lava where water spurts high into the air like a geyser. The cracks in the cliffs are home to swallow-tailed gulls and red-billed tropicbirds. Further up the cliff in an area of low-lying trees you will find waved albatrosses nesting. The 15,000 to 17,000 pairs of albatrosses on Española represent almost the entire population of this species on the planet. They perform one of the most spectacular courtship rituals of the animal world. 

Jonathan's photo tip:  Another bonanza with sea lions, iguanas, boobies, albatrosses and marine iguanas. A dramatic landscape with red and green vegetation makes the perfect backdrop for both portraits and action shots off the cliffs of Española. Bring extra memory and batteries, even the pros run out here!

Difficulty level: Difficult

Enjoy a farewell cocktail & dinner on board

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Day 8


Mosquera Islet is a tiny islet, home to a huge population of sea lions and also home to many shorebirds. While at Mosquera, keep your eyes peeled as there are occasional reports of dolphins and orcas. 

Jonathan's photo tip:  We bid farewell to the most photographed of all the wildlife in the Galapagos, the sea lions. Time to reflect and seek out that perfect last shot... until next time of course. 

Disembark for airport transfer.

Please note that this is our Espanola itinerary and our photographic expedition also operates on our Genovesa itinerary.