Galapagos Cruise Aqua Mare: North- Southern Route (8)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Visit the islands of Genovesa, Santiago, Bartolomé, Española, Santa Fé and Plaza Sur

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Arrival on Baltra Island

You will arrive at Baltra airport in the morning where you will be met by the crew. Your guide will then escort you to the ship and you will be informed about the coming days and can settle into your cabins.

Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: The Bachas Beach, which meanders along the coast of Santas Cruz Island, seems to be full of life. But also the Turquoise Bay and the symmetrical tuff-cone island of Daphne Major attract attention. After a short walk, you will come to a lagoon in the dunes that is home to various species of wading and shorebirds, including black-necked wilts, blue-cheeked ducks (or Bahamian ducks) and hunting herons. Migratory birds that hibernate in the Galapagos in winter, such as whimbrels, also stay in this lagoon. As soon as the water level drops and the lagoon becomes salty in the dry season, you might even come across some American flamingos who tirelessly filter this water in search of shrimp and algae. The remote northwest coast on the main island of Santa Cruz has become the preferred nesting site for Pacific green sea turtles. Females wait for the tide at night before crawling ashore.

Day 2

Prince Philip's Steps, Genovesa Island

Morning: El Barranco, named after Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip, this natural rock formation runs steeply upward to the highest point of the cliff. From there, a pledge runs into the interior of the island. Genovesa is known for the variety of birds that live here and you will not be disappointed. After and already during the slightly slippery climb you will be surrounded by blue footed boobies, red footed boobies, masked boobies, little Galapagos owls, Galapagos doves and many more shore birds. Besides birds, sea bears, cliff crabs, sea lizards and sea lions also reside here. And with a little luck, you may also spot a hammerhead shark in the water.

Darwin Bay, Genovesa Island

Afternoon: On Genovesa Island, the ship docks in Darwin Bay, an ancient volcanic crater now flooded by the sea. The inflatable boats land on a picturesque sandy beach where Galapagos sea lions often rest on the fine white sand. Exploring along the coast, you may see numerous marine iguanas that look like prehistoric dinosaurs in miniature. A short distance inland, you will repeatedly encounter seabirds of all shapes and sizes. Dozens of young red-footed boobies perch on branches in the bushes along the way, just an arm's length away. Also, watch for the large frigatebirds and yellow-crowned night herons along the trail.

Day 3

Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island

Today you can do an optional dive.

Morning: To the east of Santiago Island, you will reach the white coral beach of Sullivan Bay. Although this beach deserves your full attention, the day will surprise you with another highlight: Santiago's cooled lava blanket. Almost 100 years ago, lava flows flowed across the island here, leaving behind different ground shapes: braided and thread-like lava fields alternate with sharp-edged jagged formations. Feel the warm stones of the black, unreal lava landscape under your hands and transport yourself back to the time when volcanoes raged here and ultimately created a paradise.

Chinese Hat Islet

Afternoon: The small island gets its name from its shape because when you approach the island from the north, it looks like a traditional Chinese hat. The island is close to Santiago Island and the sea between the islands is well protected, which allows the visitor to look deep into the blue water. On the island, there is the possibility to walk a short path along the western coast and see the impressive landscape. You can see volcanic rocks and residues of lava that once flowed here. The atmosphere and rocks of the island are reminiscent of what the Galapagos Islands once were. Sea lions and Galapagos penguins bask on the island's shores or seek refuge from the sun and cool off in the shade. In the island's skies, you might see a Galapagos hawk or two circling overhead. One of the main reasons to visit this island, however, is the sea that surrounds it. It is a fantastic place to snorkel and spot marine life such as sharks, rays and various tropical fish. Since not all boats have a permit to go to this island, it is worth it even more in any case.

Day 4

Bartolomé Island

Today you can do an optional dive.

Morning: One of the most popular destinations for visitors to the Galapagos, Bartolomé is known for its double beach. The popular photo motif can be admired from a platform that can be reached via a path from the beach. The path leads up just under a kilometre with many erected wooden steps, but rest assured that the climb is worth it. From here, you will not only have a great view of the double beach but also of Pinnacle Rock, which rises 120 meters to a point. You can also see Sullivan Bay, the small island of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor. On your way back, observe the different rock formations formed by the lava, such as tuff cones or various rocks. The island is also a good example of how the environment adapts to its circumstances. Pay attention to the plants that grow here, they may look like they don't have leaves, but when you look closer you can see little white hairs that reflect the light so the plant can store water. Then on the beach, you have the opportunity to snorkel in underwater caves and meet sharks, rays and tropical fish. With a little luck, you might even see a penguin or two swimming by.

Cerro Dragón, Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: You won't find a more fitting place name than Cerro Dragón, "Dragon Hill", located behind a flamingo lagoon. Dragon-like land iguanas roam across the sun-scorched, boulder-strewn island, grazing freely on the fruits and flowers of their favourite food, the Opuntia Cacti. Cerro Dragón is a great opportunity to get out your camera and capture some of what makes the Galapagos Islands so unique.

Day 5

Highlands, Santa Cruz Island

Today you can do an optional dive.

Morning: As the only island that makes all vegetation zones accessible to visitors, it is a great place for a short trip to the highlands. Already from the beach, you will be greeted by magnificent flora and fauna that will follow you up to the highest point of the island. The bus trip will take you along the island's agriculture and will smoothly transition into the green, mist-covered forests. Here you will experience a stark contrast to the other islands, which have less altitude and more aridity. Together with your guide, visit different places here in the highlands, such as the giant tortoise reserve and the famous lava tubes. Look forward to a breathtaking landscape and a short walk with unforgettable phenomena.

Fausto Llerena, Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: Visit the Galapagos giant tortoises and land iguana breeding programme, where the famous Lonesome George (the last surviving specimen from Pinta Island) lived for decades. The centre is managed by Galapagos National Park (GNP) staff in collaboration with scientists from the Charles Darwin Station (CDS). Here, eggs from Pinzon, Santiago and Santa Cruz Islands hatch without the risk of introduced species. After artificial incubation, the "galapaguitos" (newborn turtles) are bred until they are 5 years old so that when they are released in their original habitats, they have enough skills to survive on their own. Since the 1970s, more than 2,000 specimens have returned to their native islands. In addition, Darwin Station works on several scientific projects, botanical research and provides environmental education for local communities, schools and tourists. If there is still time, you can take a stroll through the small town of Puerto Ayora.

Day 6

Punta Suarez, Española Island

Morning: Dry landing. A geologically interesting island where you will explore the volcanic formations and diverse fauna: large sea lion and seabird colonies, including the Española Mockingbird, the Nazca Booby and the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird. Furthermore, there are sea lizards, lava lizards and the colourful cliff crabs. After a rather long hike past Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, you will reach the nesting sites, which are sometimes located in the middle of the trail. Other interesting birds include the Galapagos Pigeon, Galapagos Buzzard, Fork-tailed Gulls and the world's largest colony of Galapagos Albatrosses which only come here to breed. Galapagos albatrosses hover far out at sea for most of their lives, coming ashore only to breed and care for their enormous chick (March-December). Huge waves crash against the southern basalt cliffs of Suarez Point. They create a spectacular blowhole where water sprays meters into the air (depending on the time of year, the tide, and how hard the ocean breeze pushes the waves in). Take your time to enjoy this fantastic view and let this unforgettable moment sink in.

Bahía Gardner, Española Island

Afternoon: The striking white beach of Gardner Bay is an important breeding ground for the Pacific green sea turtle. But without a doubt, the large Galapagos sea lion colony is the main attraction here. The females stay in this "nursery" all year round and nurse their young until they are 3 years old, although they begin to fish on their own after 5 months. During the breeding and mating season, the colony becomes even larger. The strongest bachelors and oldest males return from their remote places and start again to conquer and defend a part of the 1300 m long beach for themselves. Since there are no trails, stay on the shore and observe from there the Galapagos buzzards, American oystercatchers, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, golden warblers, lava lizards, sea lizards and three species of Darwin's finches: Geospiza conirostris, a subspecies of the large cactus finch that resembles the large ground finch; the small ground finch (Geospiza fuliginosa); and the wood warbler finch (Certhidea olivacea), another endemic species. Gardner Bay, located on the eastern side of the island, is the breeding ground of nearly all of the world's 12,000 Galapagos albatross pairs. While swimming and snorkelling, we will see the diverse underwater world: California angelfish, neon fish, parrotfish, manta ray and white tip reef shark.

Day 7

Santa Fé Island

Today you can do an optional dive.

Morning: You will reach the island, which is 24 km² and 60 meters high, only with a wet landing and is a unique place in the middle of the archipelago. You will enter the island in an incredible bay, filled with turquoise waters and surrounded by a rocky reef. The island is home to many land dwellers, like one of the land lizard species of the archipelago, They live on this island and feed on the fruits and leaves of the cacti that grow here. In addition, a large sea lion colony lives here and Galapagos hawks may be circling over your heads. If you are interested, you can also swim and snorkel here to explore the underwater world a bit. Here sea turtles, sea lions, rays and various tropical fish cavort in the water. If you don't want to go into the water you can watch sea lizards, Galapagos doves or cliff crabs on the shore. The Galapagos National Park has ordered a temporary ban on swimming, snorkelling and/or diving in the waters around Santa Fé. But rest assured, your tour operator will replace it with something equally fantastic!

Plaza Sur Island

Afternoon: A geological uplift created the small islands of Plazas, these two small islands are located to the east of Santa Cruz Island. The northern Plaza Island is inaccessible to visitors, but the southern Plaza Island offers something for the bird discoverer and nature admirer. The north coast of Plaza Sur Island is a dry landing, while the south coast is a 25-meter high inaccessible bluff. The island is about 1.5 km long and 500 m wide. The island is home to a considerable number of giant opuntias and a sea of sesuvia. Both plants are endemic to the islands. The sesuvias, with their almond-shaped leaves, are green in the rainy season from December to May and then turn yellow in the dry season, later turning red and purple, giving the island a somewhat otherworldly appearance. Sea lions await you at the jetty. From there you will hike to the cliff. On the way, you will see many, stately land iguanas. An ideal place to admire the flight maneuvers of the fork-tailed gulls and other seabirds.

Day 8

Los Gemelos, Santa Cruz Island

Morning: The Twin Craters are not craters at all, they were formed when underlying magma chambers collapsed and the earth caved in. This makes them no less impressive to see. They are easily accessible via a path from Puerto Ayora and offer a fantastic view. In addition to the avoidable craters, some of the endemic bird species also cavort here. The path leads you through the Scalesia forest, past Galapagos doves, Darwin's finches, Galapagos flycatchers, Galapagos owls and many other inhabitants of the air. And once you reach the crater rim, a view awaits you that you will never forget!

Departure from Baltra Island

You will arrive at the port of Baltra. From there, you will either transfer to the airport for your return flight to the mainland or continue with your individual Galapagos program.

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