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9 Nights aboard Silver Origin
27 Dec 2023
27 Dec 2023
The most elegant ship ever to sail the Galapagos.
The first destination specific ship built by Silversea, Silver Origin is the height of experiential travel in the Galapagos. Never before have the islands been so superbly presented: a team of Ecuadorian national expert guides, the highest crew-to-guest ratio in the Galapagos, 8 Zodiacs, seamless hybrid spaces that offer an extraordinary voyage – for extraordinary people. All-suite accommodation, Horizon Balconies, butler service, sophisticated interiors, interactive basecamp, Ecuadorian inspired cuisine … no aspect of Silver Origin has been left to chance. The most environmentally conscious ship we have ever built, take a vertical leap and transform your idea of travel with Silver Origin.
Baltra Island, also known as South Seymour, is truly the entrance to the Galapagos Islands. Despite not being considered as part of the National Park proper, Baltra definitely offers a taste of the weird and wonderful nature that thrives on the islands. The island is located in the central part of the archipelago. At just eight sq. mi it is one of smallest islands, yet its flat, volcanic rock surface and central location in the archipelago makes it an ideal place for one of the islands’ two airports. The airport was built by the US Air Force, who used it as an army base during WWII. As a travel destination in itself it offers few attractions, and all travellers who come here are just passing through, either on either way to or from the islands. There is no tourism infrastructure (save a few agencies that offer tours of the islands) or shops on Baltra and any purchases that you might wish to make should be done at the airport if they can. However, land iguanas and Galapagos finches are popular sights, and the iguanas are often seen running across the runway itself. As you cross the Itabaca Channel to or from Santa Cruz, be on the lookout for some other Galapagian locals: giant turtles and playful sea lions completely oblivious to the humans around.
Isla Champion is a small islet off Floreana Island’s northeast coast. To cruise by it reveals a bare, rocky island without much allure, but to enter the infinitely blue waters around this small landmass is to discover a spectacular underwater realm. The visibility is generally impressive and thanks to this water clarity snorkelers often spot reef sharks patrolling the reef wall, cruising Pacific green turtles, and playful Galapagos sea lions. Encounters in the blue with thousands of small silver minnows, large tuna fish, or oceanic sunfish are not unheard of either.
Punta Suárez lies at the western point of Española, the oldest island in the Galápagos. Sheer cliffs provide superb thermals for seabirds and you may spot Swallow-tailed Gulls, Nazca Boobies and Blue-footed Boobies on the breeze. The largest seabird to nest in the Galapagos Islands is the Waved Albatross. These ocean wanderers can be seen seasonally here from April through December, when pairs reunite on Española, going through an elaborate pair-bonding display. View less Mockingbirds, doves, and occasional Galápagos Hawks can also be seen on the point, along with sea lions and colorful marine iguanas.
Bartolomé Island is a volcanic islet in the Galápagos Islands group, just off the east coast of Santiago Island. It is one of the “younger” islands in the Galápagos archipelago
Punta Vicente Roca is one of the marine sites Isabela Island has to offer. On the southern side of Ecuador Volcano, the tip of land on the western end of Isabela is named after Vicente Ramon Roca, President of Ecuador from 1845-49, who as Prefect of Guayas had proposed the Ecuadorian annexation of the Galapagos Islands in 1831. The geological formations, the underwater caves and lava tubes offer fascinating views of the coastline. View less The South Equatorial Countercurrent hits this part of the archipelago from the west and the water offers abundant food sources for different marine life and seabirds. It is normal to see Pacific green turtles, but sharks, rays, whales and dolphins can also be expected, apart from a small colony of fur seals. Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Brown Noddies and other seabirds nest in the cliffs and both the endemic Galapagos Penguins and Flightless Cormorants have established small colonies nearby. Marine iguanas also like this area because of the rich variety of seaweeds growing underwater along the western coast of Isabela. As a marine site, deepwater snorkeling is also possible at Punta Vicente Roca.
With the gentle slopes of La Cumbre volcano in the distance, the low, lava-forged coast of Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island is a spectacular sight. Hundreds of marine iguanas rest on the black rock of recent lava flows absorbing heat from the stone and defending their territories against one another. Galapagos sea lions and their pups also take shelter here, resting on the beach and playing in the shallow tide pools sprinkled along the coast. View less Walk past high sandy areas where marine iguanas lay their eggs and along low, shallow mangrove ponds ringed with bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs and Flightless Cormorants drying their stubby wings in the sunshine.
Tagus Cove is bordered by a steep rocky coastline and has for centuries offered shelter for ships and yachts. The cove is named after the British frigate HMS Tagus visiting the Galapagos in 1814. Already by the 1830s other ships had their visits recorded by painting or scratching their name onto the rocks. On approach Galapagos Penguins and Flightless Cormorants –both birds mainly found on Isabela’s west coast and neighboring Fernandina- are often seen. View less From the landing a trail through an incense tree forest leads past Darwin Lake to a viewpoint on top of a splatter cone. During the hike several land birds including Medium Ground-Finches, Galapagos Hawks, Yellow Warblers as well as Large-billed and Vermilion Flycatchers are often present. Brown Noddies and Blue-footed Boobies prefer the rocks along the shore.
Elizabeth Bay is one of the marine sites on Isabela’s west coast. South of Alcedo Volcano and north of Sierra Negra, Elizabeth Bay is found at Isabela’s narrowest east-west extension where the lava flows of these two volcanoes have connected each other. Elizabeth Bay’s shores show mangroves and specifically the easternmost part, a cove which can only be entered via a narrow channel, has red, white and black mangroves. Different animals prefer different parts of Elizabeth Bay. Las Marielas, three rocks at the entrance to the bay, are favored by Blue-footed Boobies, Flightless Cormorants and Galapagos Penguins as a resting place, while the mangrove area is preferred by Great Blue Herons for hunting or the Magnificent Frigatebirds for perching. The bay is used by turtles, rays and even sharks for feeding or resting. The shallow water and the root system of the mangroves in the small inlet allow smaller fish to hide from bigger predators.
Floreana’s Post Office Bay has received its name as the site was used to leave mail for retrieval by others who were thought to stop at the Galapagos Islands or might be heading for the addressee’s direction. First mentioned by Porter in 1813 as “Hathaway’s Postoffice”, HMS Beagle’s captain FitzRoy stated that it was not in use in 1835 as the island was already settled at that time. Floreana had been the first island to be settled by Ecuadorians in 1832. View less Today a barrel instead of the original box is used by visitors who leave their own postcards and retrieve mail for hand-delivery. Apart from the beach and mail barrel the bay offers good swimming and snorkeling. The area holds remains of a failed Norwegian fish canning plant and settlement dating back to the 1920s. A lava tube in the vicinity can also be explored. Although Floreana is inhabited, the number of residents is reduced because of the difficult access to water. A track from Post Office Bay connects with the only road from Puerto Velazco Ibarra on the west coast to a spring in the highlands.
Champion Islet is a small islet some 700 meters off the northeast coast of Floreana. It is one of four marine sites surrounding Floreana and offers excellent deepwater snorkeling opportunities. Curious sea lions approach the snorkelers while turtles slowly swim by and sharks, sting rays, and a high diversity of colorful fishes can usually be seen. During a Zodiac cruise around Champion Islet not only seabirds such as Nazca Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, or Red-billed Tropicbirds will be seen, it is also possible to spot the rare Floreana Mockingbird.
Floreana Island’s northernmost point is called Punta Cormorant – named after the British naval vessel HMS Cormorant and dating back to the late 19th century. From the landing beach a short track leads to a shallow lagoon that is famous for its flamingos. The brilliantly pink birds skim the salty waters for shrimp and tend to chicks on the nest. The trail then scales a low hillside through scattered Palo Santo trees to reveal an idyllic white-sand beach on the other side of the point. View less Standing at the edge of the lapping waves, you might spot mammoth female sea turtles hauling themselves out of the sea to lay eggs in the sugar sand dunes that lay high above the tide line. Before returning to the landing site your guides may also point out White-cheeked Pintails, Blue-footed Boobies, Yellow Warblers, and Medium and Small Ground Finches.
Los Gemelos (The Twins) is a visitor site in the Santa Cruz highlands. Found some 15 kilometers northwest of Puerto Ayora, the road leading from Puerto Ayora in the south of Santa Cruz to Itabaca in the north dissects the twin pit craters. Pit craters are formed when the roof of an underground void collapses. The smaller pit crater is on the eastern side of the road, while the larger one is on the western side. See from above, the two openings in the ground are not at all identical. View less Their layout might imply an elongated magma chamber or a lava tube leading further west and the larger twin actually having formerly been two small pit craters whose connecting wall collapsed as well. Trails through a Scalesia forest not only give access to good views of the pit craters, but also permit to observe some of the smaller land birds. Vermilion Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers, Galapagos Doves, Medium Ground Finches and several other finch species can often be seen there.
Cerro Dragón’s land iguanas once played an important part in a conservation program headed by the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park. When the reptiles’ numbers declined in the 1970s, some animals were taken to breed in captivity and were released back into undeveloped areas. Today, it is an honor to see the success of this program firsthand at Cerro Dragón. Walk inland on a trail past small saltwater lagoons that periodically feature flamingos, to see the reintroduced animals. In a periodic local phenomenon, during rainier times the salinity in the lagoons drops with the inflow of freshwater. As a consequence crustacean populations decline, which in turn means the shorebirds become scarce.
9 Nights aboard Silver Origin
Departs 27 Dec 2023