It’s currently 2-0 to the raffle in our Darwin vs Raffle contest, but who has the better itinerary?
Darwin: The first sighting of the Galapagos Islands by the Beagle‘s crew was of San Cristobal (at the time called Chatham) on 15 September 1835. They spent eight days anchored off the island whilst they surveyed the coast, during which time Darwin went ashore five times. They next visited Floreana (then Charles Island) were Darwin spent three days exploring and collecting specimens before travelling to Isabela (Albermarle) and anchoring in what is today known as Tagus Cove. Darwin again went ashore to examine the volcanic terrain and collect plant and animal specimens. On 3 October, the Beagle sailed east to survey the coasts of Pinta (Abingdon), Genovesa (Tower) and Marchena (Blindloe), and then arrived at Santiago (James Island). Darwin and three others went ashore on Santiago and stayed for nine days exploring and collecting specimens before being picked up in two small boats on 17 October and returned to the Beagle. Darwin would never set foot on Galapagos again. Five weeks after arriving, the Beagle set sail into the Pacific and eventually on home to England.
Raffle: The 8-day ‘Fernandina itinerary’ encompasses a number of the most famous sites in the central and west of the archipelago. Departing from Baltra, your first stop will be Santa Cruz where you will hopefully spot your first giant tortoises roaming the highlands before visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station. From there you will go to Floreana, where you will visit Punta Cormorant and have a chance to snorkel before calling in at Post Office Bay. Following this you will travel to the south coast of Isabela, where you will visit the tortoise breeding station in Puerto Villamil and the flamingo lagoon. Then, having rounded the south-west part of the island, you will stop at Punta Moreno and Elizabeth Bay, home to Galapagos penguins, green turtles and golden rays. Further up the west coast of Isabela, you will call into Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove before crossing the Bolivar Channel to the pristine shores of Fernandina. After another stop on Isabela, this time at Punto Vicente Roca, you will round the northern end of the island and head east to Santiago which offers a wide array of seabirds, marine iguanas and fur seals. Next on the agenda is a stop at Bartolome and the famous sight of Pinnacle Rock before heading to North Seymour and finally returning to Baltra.
Verdict: The Fernandina itinerary is a fantastic way to explore the western side of the archipelago and calls into eight of the islands, double the number that Darwin visited. However, Darwin’s five weeks in the Islands is far more than the eight days that the lucky raffle winners will spend there, and whilst he may not have made landfall on so many of the islands, the Beagle did survey the coastlines of many. Add into the mix the fact that Darwin had free reign when on the islands, whereas the raffle winners will of course have to stick to the trails set out by the Galapagos National Park, and I think this round must go to Darwin!
For your chance to win this incredible trip of a lifetime, enter our raffle today!