Galapagos Cruise EcoGalaxy : Special offer - West route (6)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Explore the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago and Rabida onboard EcoGalaxy

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Arrival in Baltra

Upon arrival in Baltra, you will be greeted by the crew at the airport. Your guide will accompany you to your ship and a briefing will be conducted onboard.

South Plaza Island

Afternoon: One of the smallest and most colourful islands in the archipelago, Plaza Sur, or 'South Plaza' in English, is just a short sail from Santa Cruz. Reaching dry land, you will come across some of the island’s friendly sea lions, one of the many types of animals in South Plaza for you to discover.

Wander by the nesting places of swallow-tailed gulls, Audubon shearwaters, red-tailed tropicbirds, masked boobies and frigatebirds. The entire island is carpeted with dense sesuvium plants. From June to November, during the colder and drier season, the plants turn a deep red color which gives the island a dramatic, fascinating atmosphere. Watch the iguanas searching high up in the opuntia trees for fruit - a sight you'll never see anywhere else in the world.

Day 2

Highlands of Santa Cruz

Morning: As you venture into Santa Cruz's higher altitude areas, you will notice the changes in the vegetation as the climate becomes wetter and warmer. The earth in the upper altitudes is rich in minerals. Coffee plantations and fruit orchards line the streets and giant tortoises roam around at ease in their natural environment. The Scalesia forests in this area offer the opportunity to discover endemic species of the Galapagos Islands, as well as giant cacti and a variety of deciduous trees and edible fruits. Here you can also visit the twin 'craters' Los Gemelos. While they are not craters in the technical sense, these 70-meter vertical gullies with a carpet of lush vegetation are an impressive sight to behold.

Charles Darwin Station, Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: At Charles Darwin Station, scientists from around the world research the many tortoise subspecies that are endemic to the Galapagos Islands. The highlight of the research center is the breeding station, Fausto Llerena, where baby turtles take a training course over rocks, branches, and sandy stairs in preparation for their upcoming release into the wilderness. Since the 1970s, at least 2000 tortoises have been released into the wild from the station.

Visitors leave the station with a stronger understanding of the tortoises, iguanas and much of the flora native to the islands. You'll be impressed by the tiny tortoises, often only the size of your hand, who will grow over the next 100 years to become as large as 400kg! If time allows, you can also explore the town of Puerto Ayora.

Day 3

Punta Moreno, Isabela Island

Morning: Punta Moreno is a rugged young lava bay. At first it appears to be a lifeless landscape, however as you walk over the cooled lava, you'll see new green areas and lagoons hosting a wide variety of birds. Marine iguanas and lava lizards are usually found in the lagoons you'll often meet flamingos foraging here for their favorite meal. While the sharp rocks make this hike a little tricky, its path itself is easy enough to be enjoyed by everyone and provides an unforgettable landscape set against a backdrop of the volcanoes Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul.

We recommend bringing plenty of water during this visit, as the lava field reflects the sun making the temperature higher than average. Don't forget to apply sunscreen!

Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island

Afternoon: The wide and sheltered Elizabeth Bay, on Isabela's east coast, hosts a bevy of the archipelago's unique wildlife. The mangrove-lined shore contrasts starkly against the surrounding lava fields. The myriad of small islets and rocky reefs make this is a particularly rich area for wildlife.

The waters here are particularly clear, and this makes Elizabeth Bay a great place to spot the rays, sharks, green sea turtles, Galapagos penguins, pelicans, and Galapagos sea lions known to gather here. Nearer to the shores and mangroves you'll see Galapagos flightless cormorants and the sunbathing marine iguanas.

Day 4

Urbina Bay, Isabela Island

Afternoon: Urbina Bay graces the southeast flank of the Alcedo Volcano. After volcanic activity in 1954 caused a significant uplift, the coast expanded almost a kilometer out. Marine life found a way to thrive in this newly fertile area and many species chose to stay. Today, this area is a great place for snorkeling. During your 3,5 Kilometer hike, you may see a large colony of land iguanas, Darwin's finches, giant tortoises (from June to September) and flightless cormorants.

Several species of whale have been spotted in the waters you'll be navigating through today.

Tagus Cove on Isabela Island

Afternoon: Dry landing on Galapagos’ largest Island where we will learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that formed it. The trail leads to Darwin salt-water Crater Lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations. This us a great site to see landbirds such as Galapagos Hawks, Ground and Tree finches, Large-billed flycatchers and Yellow warblers. You will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where you will admire a variety of Seabirds such as Blue-footed booby, Brown Noddy, Terns, Flightless Cormorant and, depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos Penguins which are only 35 cm tall; the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the Equator. They lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, on the lower parts of the island near the shoreline not reached by the ocean waves. Most of the individuals live on this Western portion of Isabela, others are scattered further South on the Island. You will have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water. Graffiti believed to have been left by19th-century pirates is a curious reminder of an intriguing past. Many names of the early visitors to this site, pirates and whalers, are written on the cliffs along the shore. Difficulty level: intermediate Type of terrain: flat and steep Duration: 1 hour walk / dinghy ride 40 minutes / deep water snorkeling: 1 hour

Day 5

Espinoza Point, Fernandina Island

Morning: Fernandina is the youngest island in the archipelago, at only around 700,000 years old. Surrounded by hills amidst a lava landscape covered with cacti and mangroves is the visitor location, Punta Espinoza. Meet sea lions and hundreds of marine iguanas basking on the black lava rocks and on the beach. While snorkeling you might come close to the resident penguins darting quickly through the water. This is a perfect spot for finding the flightless cormorant as well as the Galapagos Hawk.

Punta Vincente Roca, Isabela Island

Afternoon: The sea-horse-shaped island of Isabela is the largest of the archipelago and the most volcanically active. Punta Vicente Roca is considered one of the most impressive and spectacular places of the enchanted Galapagos Islands with high cliffs and tuff stone giving this area a majestic feel.

While you explore the two coves and the large bay with spectacular sea life, keep an eye out for seahorses, sea turtles, and the weird and wonderful mola-mola, also known as sunfish. In good conditions, Punta Vicente Roca is considered one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos.

If possible, you can explore some of the caves with a dinghy and spot some cormorants or fur seals.

Day 6

Egas Port, Santiago Island

Morning: After landing on the black sand beach of Puerto Egas, Santiago Island hike along a 2km long coastal area boasting sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks and lava herons. The rugged lava coast with natural pools, where sea lions bathe and herons play marks the end of your hike. An excursion to Santiago Island is also one of the rare chances to see Galápagos fur seals in the wild, though not in large numbers.

The second path leads you to Pan de Azucar Volcano, which is responsible for the dark-colored beaches. The craters of the volcanoes are filled with salt water which is dried up during hot weather conditions. It was once considered to build a salt mine there but as it was not lucrative nor feasible, the idea was abandoned. In this lagoon, Galapagos Flamingos and Galapagos Hawks can be found.

Rabida Island

Afternoon: On arrival at Rábida Island's red sand beach, you will be greeted by the resident sea lions, basking in the sun. The island's otherworldly red coloring is a result of the high level of iron and magnesium left behind from previous volcanic activity.

A stroll along the beach reveals marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. If you look carefully you may also spot the bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs, who have found possibly the only place on earth where they can effectively camouflage themselves. The beach is also a nesting place for pelicans and they utilize the plants on the islands as protection. As you travel along a path with opuntias, various birds such as Darwin Finches, Galapagos doves, and the Northern Mockingbird can be spotted. You can also swim and snorkel under crystal clear waters here.

Day 7

Black Turtle Cove, Santa Cruz Island

Morning: Black Turtle Cove is a red mangrove lagoon serving as a nursery for sharks and rays. Black Turtle Cove is a great location to observe mating sea turtles during nesting season. Travelers often see large groups of resting white-tip reef sharks, schools of golden rays and the incredibly beautiful spotted eagle rays. As the water is usually very calm, this area can be navigated using paddles instead of the loud panga engines, increasing your chances of wildlife encounters.

End of the cruise

Afternoon: The cruise anchors at Baltra where you will transfer to the airport for your flight back to the mainland or continue with your planned itinerary in the Galapagos.

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