JUNE 8-17, 2011

"Christmas" Iguana Green Sea Turtle Blue-Footed Booby

A 10-day program examining the geology and environment of the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador,
guided by experts in geology and Galápagos ecology.
Led by
Professor of Geology Jim Reynolds


Our excursion through the Galápagos Islands will take place aboard the yacht Floreana. It will take us to the remotest part of these remote islands, allowing us to see parts of the islands that few visitors ever see, including Isla Fernandina, home of the most active volcano in the islands. We will see nature in its purest state, practically untouched by human intervention. To minimize our impact on the islands we visit, we will live aboard the yacht, in relative luxury, with excellent meals prepared by our private chef and attended by a crew of expert, experienced sailors. We will be accompanied by a National Park Ranger who is an expert naturalist as well as a fountain of knowledge and experience with regard to the ecosystems found in the islands. The trip is now filled. If you wished to be put on a waiting list, in case someone cancels, please contact me at reynoljh@brevard.edu.


Our itinerary is outlined below:


WEDNESDAY: June 8, 2011


Our group will convene at the departure gate at Hartsfield Airport (ATL) in Atlanta (details to be announced later). The 4-hour flight will land in the heart of Quito where our tour company, Columbus Travel, will provide transfer service to our downtown hotel.

Giant Galápagos Tortoises wallow in a shallow pond on Isla Santa Cruz.


THURSDAY: June 9, 2011


After breakfast, our morning flight will take us from Quito to the airport on Isla Baltra, the site of an old U.S. airbase. From there, by bus and ferry, we will drive to the Itabaca Channel between islas Baltra and Santa Cruz where we will board our yacht, the Floreana. After stowing our gear we will take the pangas to the Santa Cruz landing and board a bus to explore the summit region of thhe island. Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galápagos and has the most developed vegetation zoning found in the archipelago. On the short journey to the highlands we will drive through Coastal, Arid, Transition, Scalesia, Miconia, and Pampa Zones. During this visit we will have the opportunity to see the famous giant tortoises (during the rainy season) in their natural environment, walk through a lava tube, and visit the twin volcanic craters, formed when large lava tubes, left empty by flowing lava, collapsed. We may also find Darwin’s finches, vermilion flycatcher, and the Galápagos Hawk. We will then return to the Itabaca Channel, board our yacht, and embark on an overnight voyage to Genovesa, crossing the Equator en route.


FRIDAY: June 10, 2011

ISLA GENOVESA (also known as bird Island): DARWIN BAY, is the caldera of a collapsed volcano. We land on a small coral beach, where we take an easy walk. For those who want, this will lead into a more demanding walk over older lava flows. This will provide stunning views from the cliffs and allow ample time and opportunity to photograph the amazing bird life such as swallow-tailed gulls, red-footed booby, Nazca booby, large ground finch, large cactus finch, sharp-billed ground finch, small marine iguanas, and the great frigate bird.

EL BARRANCO, This is a demanding walk up a steep cliff, where tropicbirds, red-footed boobies and other nesting seabirds can be found. We follow the trail through a palo santo forest to a storm petrel colony passing boobies and great frigate birds along the way.

A panga cruises along the edge of the caldera
rim at Darwin Bay, Isla Genovesa.

Isla Bartolome's Pinnacle with the volcanoes of Isla Santiago in the background. Note the submerged circular crater.


SATURDAY: June 11, 2011

ISLA SANTIAGO: SULLIVAN BAY: The main attraction of this bay is the broad, pahoehoe or ropey lava flow. It is one of the most incredible places to compare the lava flows and their characteristics.

ISLA BARTOLOME , most likely the first of the islands to rise from the sea, Bartolome, is a small island that has beautiful white sand beaches and luxuriant green mangroves.Galápagos penguins swim in the bay on the south side. Sea lions and green sea tutles may also join us at the swimming beach, and a hike to the summit of a once-active volcano will reward us with beautiful panoramic views of the often-photographed Pinnacle Rock panoramic and its amazingly lunar landscape. White-tipped sharks are often seen on the north side of the tombolo.

SUNDAY: June 12, 2011

CHINESE HAT: Isla Sombrero Chino gets its name from its appearance, which is that of a Chinese hat. Sitting just off the south-eastern tip of Santiago, this fairly recently formed island makes for a pleasant visit as the island itself is quite beautiful and is definitely worth a trip.

To truly appreciate the shape of this island, we visit the northern end of Sombrero Chino. Here there is a tiny sea lion colony on the north shore cove, where one can anchor their boats and land. Galápagos penguins can sometimes be found swimming here. Follow the trail around the cove and you will catch a glimpse of American oystercatchers in action, along with marine iguanas, lava lizards and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Starting from a crescent-shaped white sandy beach, this 400 meter long trail provides some wonderful landscape views. There are also some good swimming and snorkelling opportunities in the cove area amidst white-tipped reef sharks and tropical fish.

WHALE BAY: This semicirclular green sand beach on the coast of Isla Santa Cruz has a high proportion of olivine crystals to give it the green color. It extends 25 meters from the base of the hill. The beach has some historical interest as it was the first trail to the highlands used to search for fresh water. There are a number of pieces of ceramics strewn about, although no verified information exists concerning the origins of the ceramic. Curious Galápagos Hawks are often seen here.

White-tipped sharks troll the waters just a few meters offshore.

Brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies indulge in a feeding frenzy on Isla Isabela.


MONDAY: June 13, 2011


Isla Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago, occupies over fifty-eight percent of entire landmass of the Galapagos. It is a relatively recent island and consists of a chain of five fairly young and intermittently active volcanoes.

TINTORERAS It takes approximately 10 minutes from Puerto Villamil to arrive at The Tintoreras by panga. The islet of the Tintoreras is situated to the south of Puerto Villamil. It has a small bay of completely tranquil turquoise water, where is possible to appreciate sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas, rays, etc. This bay is connected to a shallow crevice of crystalline waters whose entrance closes when the tide is low. In this crevice, it’s possible to see sharks swimming with other small fish and sea lions.

It is not advisable to swim in these beaches because of the presence of the colonies of sea lions which may be disturbed.

Humedales: This site is a series of lagoons know for its migrant bird populations the black-necked cormorant is one of the most famous birds of the area. Flamingos are often seen feeding in the shallow brine. The vegetation around the lagoons is dense and there are no trails, although the road to the highlands and the open beach does provide reasonable access.

Breeding Center: The giant tortoise rearing center of Isabela is located 1.5 kilometers from Pto. Villamil. This important center has a captive breeding program for tortoises from the populations of southern Isabela. In total there are 330 tortoises between juveniles and adults.


TUESDAY: June 14, 2011

ISLA FERNANDINA: PUNTA ESPINOSA, Isla Fernandina is the youngest and most active volcano in the Galápagos, with eruptions taking place every few years. The flat lava of Punta Espinosa offers a stark and barren landscape, but here flightless cormorants build their nests on the point, sea lions sprawl on the beach or play in the tide pools and large numbers of marine iguanas dot the sand. We also will have the opportunity to compare the aa and pahoehoe lava types here.

TAGUS COVE (ISLA ISABELA) is situated directly east of Fernandina Island on the west coast of Isla Isabela. It is a beautiful, well-protected cove sheltered by the shoulders of two volcanic craters. It has been used as an anchorage for over 300 years. A nature trail here ascends through the typical dry vegetation zone and offers spectacular views of Darwin Lake, a saltwater crater lake and the long narrow inlet that appears to connect with it. At the top of the trail it is possible to observe the different vegetation zones, catch a glimpse of Darwin and Wolf volcanoes, and observe Galápagos penguins, flightless cormorants, and pelicans.

Beautiful ropey pahoehoe lavas adorn the active volcanoes
on islas Fernandina and Isabela.

A curious sea lion blows bubbles in JR's face.


WEDNESDAY: June 15, 2011

ISLA SANTIAGO: EGAS PORT, with its black sand beaches, was the site of a small salt mining industry in the 1960’s and a hike inland to the salt crater is an excellent opportunity to see land birds such as finches, doves and hawks. Here we can also swim and play with Galápagos sea lions in a quiet grotto cut into the lava cliffs. We may see sea lions basking on the rocks beneath a natural rock bridge, diving blue-footed boobies, sally lightfoot crabs and colorful lava lizards scurrying at our feet. 

ISLA RABIDA, One of the special features of Isla Rabida is its remarkable red color, which is a result of the high percentage of oxidized iron in the composition of lava. Here we will witness the nine varieties of finches also the large-billed flycatchers and brown pelicans. Here a small salt-water lagoon where greater Flamingos can be seen and a beautiful colony of sea lions.


THURSDAY: June 16, 2011

ISLA DAPHNE MAYOR Daphne is a volcanic tuff cone, formed by successive explosions produced by the mixture of lava and water. On this island, Dr. Peter Grant has made a long-term study of Darwin's finches, which is why you can see these birds are banded. The palo santo present here Bursera malacophyla is endemic to the Daphne Islands, North Seymour, and Baltra. The blue-footed booby nests inside the craters while the masked booby nests on the flanks of the cone and the edge of the craters. The tropical bird nests in cavities in the cliffs. After finishing a partial circumnavigation of the island, we will disembark on the Baltra side of the Itabaca Channel and say good-bye to our yacht and crew. We will then board a bus, and drive to the Baltra Airport. From there, we will return to Quito and transfer to our Atlanta flight. There may be time to take a tour of Quito between flights.

Sunset over Daphne Mayor at the end of a great adventure.

FRIDAY: June 17, 2011

We will fly overnight to Atlanta and return home.

Note: Itineraries are subject to National Park regulations and can be modified without previous notice.


Round-trip airfare from Atlanta (departures from other airports are possible)
All land and sea transportation in Ecuador.
One night in Quito
8 days, 7 nights on a yacht touring the islands
All meals (prepared by the yacht chef)
Expert Ecuadorian park ranger naturalist
Daily hikes on different islands
Daily snorkeling at different islands

Volcanoes, birds, reptiles, fish, sea lions

*Costs not included in the program are: 1) tips for the ranger and yacht crew, 2) airport departure tax, 3) personal expenses, such as beverages consumed aboard the yacht, souvenirs, and 4) baggage handling fees.



You may receive academic credit for this trip by enrolling in
GEOL 271 for the Summer of 2011 (2 hours of Pass/Fail credit).

This trip is limited to 15 participants.



The cost of the trip for participants not affiliated with Brevard College is $4250.
Members of the Brevard College Community (students, faculty, staff, alumni, and families)
will receive a discount.

Registration Deadline: April 1, 2011.


  1. Register with a check or credit card in the Brevard College Business Office.
  2. Register by calling Ms. Janie McCall at 828-884-8310.
  3. A deposit of $850 is due upon registration. This deposit is nonrefundable.*
  4. Submit a signed waiver form which you can download by clicking here.
  5. A second payment of $850 is due on February 15, 2011.
  6. The balance ($2550) is due March 15, 2011.

*If the trip is canceled by Brevard College, registrants will receive a full refund.

**Registration is open exclusively to Brevard College Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and their families until January 31, 2011. After that date, peoplenot affiliated with Brevard College may also register to fill any remaining spots.