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Join underwater photojournalist Brian Skerry and a team of top National Geographic photographers in one of the planet’s most photogenic places for an in-depth exploration over two weeks. Whether you’re a published pro or a rookie looking to build a portfolio, you’ll learn new shooting skills in the field and editing and gear tips during on-board sessions. Enjoy daily excursions including snorkeling, hiking, Zodiac tours, and kayaking, and experience up-close photography opportunities with the unique wildlife of the Galápagos.
Explore the Galápagos archipelago and undersea in great depth with hikes and Zodiac cruises paced for photo ops and timed to take advantage of the best light.
Shoot with and learn from top National Geographic photographers and the Lindblad-National Geographic Director of Expedition Photography
Go on daily photo assignments to help build your personal portfolio with wildlife legendary for uniqueness and lack of fear of humans - allowing for up-close and magical photo opportunities with blue-footed boobies, sea lions, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and more.
Enjoy a mid-voyage photo seminar with our expert photographers and a special photography tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station.
Itinerary - 17 Days
Day 1 — U.S. / Guayaquil, Ecuador
Depart the U.S. and arrive in Guayaquil by late evening; it’s a short drive to the Hotel Hilton Colon, where we spend the night.
Day 2 — Guayaquil/ Galápagos Islands
After a short flight to the Galápagos, we’ll board the National Geographic Endeavour or National Geographic Endeavour IIand begin to explore the Galápagos with a landing at the beautiful Las Bachas beaches, lined with endemic coastal plants and protected saltwater lagoons. (B,L,D)
Day 3 — North Seymour Island and Rabida Island
North Seymour Island is an uplifted piece of seafloor, home to land iguanas, sea lion colonies, blue-footed boobies and frigate bird nesting colonies. We will spend the morning observing and photographing the rich wildlife of this islet as we hike the rocky trail. The afternoon will be the first of many great snorkeling opportunities. You can also opt to kayak along the picturesque volcanic coast. Later you’ll land on the bright red sand of a charming beach and take a hike into the island to search for hawks and other land birds to photograph. (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Fernandina Island
Fernandina Island is the youngest and most pristine island in Galápagos. The stark black lava flows are home to some of the largest marine iguana colonies in the archipelago, and the peculiar-looking flightless cormorants nest along the coast. Bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs scamper among the black rocks, and sea lions play along the coast against the dramatic backdrop of volcanoes. Later today, sail across the channel to Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island. Snorkel in a sea turtle feeding area and then take Zodiac rides along the coast to look for Galápagos fur seals and penguins. Late afternoon, gather on the outer decks to get a look inside the huge collapsed caldera of a volcano while crossing the Equator at sunset. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Isabela Island
Land on a turtle nesting beach of black sand, and choose from various hiking options to look for the wildlife of the area including a large land iguana nesting colony and occasional giant tortoise sightings.
In the afternoon the ship repositions to the historical Tagus Cove, a sheltered bay that has been a popular anchorage for centuries of visitors, including Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle. Activities you can choose here include a scenic hike overlooking a volcanic crater, Zodiac and kayaking excursions to look for penguins, flightless cormorants, and shorebirds, and even some deep water snorkeling. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Santiago
Hike up into a coastal forest behind one of the largest turtle nesting beaches in Galápagos, explore the spectacular Buccaneer Cove by Zodiac and kayak, and enjoy snorkeling among the dense schools of reef fish that find refuge in the indented shoreline.
Afternoon hikes at Puerto Egas lead you through a fascinating geological landscape of mixed ash and lava flows, tidal pools and grottoes. Inhabiting the area you will find both Galápagos sea lions and fur seals, marine iguanas, land and shore birds, and brilliant Sally Lightfoot crabs. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galápagos National Park Service. You’ll learn about the science and conservation work undertaken in the islands, and meet some of the key players in the local conservation world. This afternoon, our photo team will be hosting a Photo Seminar on-board the ship, followed by a late-afternoon photographic outing in town. (B,L,D)
Days 8 & 9 — San Cristobal
Visit Punta Pitt with its fascinating geology, also the only site where all three booby species that occur in the Galápagos nest together. Take hikes up to the plateau for wonderful views, and Zodiac cruises along the base of the cliffs to look for red-footed, Nazca and blue-footed boobies, and possibly even snorkel and kayak among young sea lions.
Snorkel around the famed Leon Dormido or “Kicker Rock” among graceful sharks, sea turtles, and other larger marine species. Then travel to the highlands of San Cristobal, drive up to a freshwater lake in an old volcanic crater, visit a semi-captive tortoise population, and spend time among the large sea lion colony that inhabits the picturesque waterfront of the town. Also land on Cerro Brujo (Wizard Hill), where we will take Zodiac rides and kayaking options along the spectacular cliffs, before landing on the beach for swimming and nature walks. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Española
The morning will be spent at the spectacular Gardner Bay, home to a pristine white sand beach inhabited by extensive sea lion colonies. Activities here include exploring the beach, deep-water snorkeling, and kayaking. The afternoon will be spent hiking among the sea bird colonies at Punta Suarez. (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Floreana
During an early morning hike at Punta Cormorant you’ll observe flamingos and shore birds, a turtle nesting beach, and fascinating vegetation. Later, while at Champion Islet, you’ll spend time looking for the endangered Charles mockingbird from our Zodiacs, then don your gear to snorkel among sea lions in clear waters. During the afternoon, you’ll explore the historical Post Office Bay by Zodiac and kayak, then land on one of the same beaches Charles Darwin set foot on, and check the barrel originally set up by 18th century whalers for mail. (B,L,D)
Day 12 — Santa Cruz
You’ll leave the ship early and head into the lush highlands where giant tortoises forage. Visit a charming sugar cane mill located in the highlands called El Trapiche, then continue to the coast to spend the rest of the afternoon at the picturesque El Garrapatero beach. (B,L,D)
Day 13 — Dragon Hill and Guy Fawkes/El Eden and Daphne Major
Today you will hike through giant cactus and incense tree forests to reach Dragon Hill, the habitat of the colorful Santa Cruz land iguanas that have been brought back from the brink of extinction. Later you will have the opportunity to snorkel along the steep, invertebrate-coated walls of the islets of Guy Fawkes. (B,L,D)
Day 14 — Bartolome and Sombrero Chino
This morning you will visit Bartolomé, an enchanting landscape where lava, mangroves, and golden sand converge. You will have the opportunity for an early morning hike to the summit of the cone, with stunning views of the famous Pinnacle Rock and the surrounding volcanic landscape. Later in the morning, enjoy snorkeling from the beach, where you might encounter sea lions, small reef sharks, and even Galápagos penguins.
In the afternoon you will continue to explore some of the small islets just off the coast of Santiago Island, including a small volcano called “Sombrero Chino”. The stark lava flows form tubes and caves that are an important nesting area for Galápagos penguins, and the waters bathing the shore are rich in fish life. (B,L,D)
Day 15 — Genovesa
Sail into the caldera of Genovesa, known as “bird island”, where you’ll enjoy hikes among nesting colonies of swallow-tailed gulls, frigate birds, red-footed and Nazca boobies, all while keeping a look out for hunting short-eared owls. Ride Zodiacs and kayak along the base of the caldera wall, and snorkel among large schools of parrot fish and other tropical species.
Day 16 — Galápagos / Disembark/Guayaquil
Disembark and fly to Guayaquil. The afternoon and evening are at yours at the Hotel Hilton Colon. (B)
Day 17 — Guayaquil/U.S.
Depart Guayaquil this morning, arriving home the same day. (B)
Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts — from naturalists to regional specialists — who will share their knowledge and insights on the wildlife, landscapes, and local culture. See one of the members of our extraordinary team below.
National Geographic photographer Michael Melford has produced more than 30 stories for National Geographic Traveler, including eight covers. Some of Michael's recent assignments have focused on America's national parks, and the need to preserve them. Michael has produced photography for eight books for National Geographic, including three on Alaska, his favorite being Treasures of Alaska, for which he spent four months traveling to every corner of the state. This past year, he traveled to Russia and Israel for upcoming articles for National Geographic magazine. When not shooting for National Geographic, Michael enjoys giving seminars and workshops on photography, and sharing both his love of nature and his extensive knowledge.