Galapagos Cruise Grand Daphne - Westroute (8)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands of Isabela, Fernandina, Santa Cruz, Santiago, Bartolomé and Seymour Norte.

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer from Baltra Airport to Santa Cruz Island

On arrival in the Galapagos, you collect your luggage and meet the cruise guide at the arrival’s hall. First youneed to take the bus from the airport to the dock. Our guide will provide you the ticket for this. On arrival to the dock you will then take the Ferry to cross the Itabaca Channel and get from Baltra to Santa Cruz Island.

Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: The dazzling white Bachas Beach, which winds along the coast of Santas Cruz Island, seems full of life. But the turquoise bay and symmetrical tufa cone island of Daphne Major also draw the eye. Much closer in your field of vision, in the tide pools at your feet, the orange-red cliff crabs run around on the dark substrate of the basalt rock. After a bit of walking, you'll reach a lagoon in the dunes that is home to several species of wading and shorebirds, including black-necked stilts, white-cheeked teals (or Bahama ducks), and hunting herons. Migratory birds that winter in Galapagos, such as Whimbrels, also stay in this lagoon. Once the water level drops and the lagoon becomes saltier in the dry season, you might even encounter some American flamingos tirelessly filtering 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 to come in at night before crawling ashore, which is a less noticed and safer way to do it, and more importantly, less strenuous.

Day 2

Rabida Island

Morning: The small island has only one access point for visitors, located on the east coast. The red beach, the lagoon near the coast and the 1.1-kilometre-long circular walk on the island are breathtaking. The red colour of the rock and beach is due to the porous ferruginous volcanic rock and various environmental factors such as rain, saltwater and the coastal winds. Along with the highest concentration of volcanic features and the environmental factors that act as oxidants, the red colour of the island is created.

After a wet landing, you can see sea lions and marine lizards relaxing on the Galapagos red beach. Just past the beach is one of the nesting sites for pelicans, which use the island's plants for shelter. It is one of the best places to see pelicans and sometimes a flamingo or two is spotted. The path of the island leads through opuntias, and a variety of birds can be seen here such as Darwin's finches, Galapagos doves or Galapagos mockingbirds. After the short walk, you can dive and swim in the bay, the clear water offers a good view of the underwater world.

Punta Albemarle, Isabela Island

Afternoon: Human history has left its mark on this small corner of the Galapagos. Punta Albemarle, the northernmost point of Isabela, was an important U.S. radar station to prevent any Japanese attempt to destroy the Panama Canal. A small, dilapidated building is a reminder of the boredom and routine that rusted the spirit of the young naval officers. The soldiers were in charge of the three-week shifts during which they never got anything to do. Yet the wildlife is the best example of the constant struggle for survival, a struggle that only the fittest survive. The only flightless cormorant in the world nests in the recent lava flows, and the largest marine iguanas of Galapagos bask there. Since not many boats visit this place, the cormorants, which are actually timid birds, show complete indifference to the presence of humans as they build their massive nests of seagrass. During the morning, the iguanas show their adaptability when they come to the shore to feed on green and red algae. This fantastic environment reminds us that the only constant on the islands is changes.

Day 3

Tagus Cove, Isabela Island

Morning: The historical pirate hideaway of Tagus Cove has been frequented by sailors since the 1800s. The names of visiting ships were often painted and carved in to the cliffs surrounding the cove.

Trails wind their way around Lake Darwin up to a ridge, offering wonderful views of the landscape and the ocean, with Wolf and Darwin Islands dotting the horizon. Punta Tortuga, just north of Tagus Cove, is another idyllic tropical beach surrounded by mangroves. Later, enjoy a panga ride through the cliffs, observing penguins, flightless cormorants, boobies, pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Return to the cove to relax on the shore or snorkel.

Urbina Bay, Isabela Island

Afternoon: On the east coast of Isabela Island lies Urbina Bay, one of the youngest bays in the Galapagos. It was formed in 1954, by an upwelling of the coast and was pushed up 5 meters. This brought a variety of corals to the surface, which can now be admired. However, this view will not last long as the air destroys the coral reef. After a wet landing in the bay, you will go on a 3.5-kilometre march into the interior of the island. Here you have a high probability of seeing giant tortoises and land iguanas, which are only found in the Galapagos Islands.

As the trail leads back to the coast, you encounter flightless cormorant colonies. The bay offers a fantastic place to snorkel and see Galapagos sea lizards feeding underwater.

Day 4

Punta Espinoza, Fernandina Island

Morning: Today you are heading towards Fernandina, the westernmost and, with only about 700,000 years, the youngest island in the archipelago. 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.

Punta Vicente 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 tuffstone 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 snorkelling sites in the Galapagos.

Day 5

Egas Port, Santiago Island

Morning: The black beach along the northwest coast of Santiago Island is a great view, even from the ship. Upon arrival at the beach, two trails land for a walk. One leads you along the coast to "Fur Seal Grotto", here fur seals lie in the shade and rest on the cool stones of the coast from the strong sun. The grotto provides an excellent place for this and the surrounding pools of the tide attract marine lizards to forage in them. The second path takes you to the island's Pan de Azucar volcano, it is responsible for turning the beach black. The volcano's crater is filled with salt water, which dries up in hot weather, leaving a dry saline landscape. Between 1928 and 1930, a salt mine was considered, but it was decided against because it was not feasible and lucrative. The lagoon is often home to Galapagos flamingos and other birds such as the Galapagos hawk, which circles over the landscape in high altitudes.

Buccaneer Cove, Santiago Island

Afternoon: At the time of piracy in the 16th century, this cave on the northwestern coast of Santiago was used by pirates and privateers to rest, get fresh water and replenish food supplies. From here it is best to go inland to find water and bring turtles as provisions to the ship, since the ship was well protected and undetected in the cave. Nowadays, numerous Galapagos bird species nest on the cliffs of the cave and circle in the skies above the red beach of the island. This is also a great place for snorkeling and relaxing on the beach with a sea lion or fur seal or two.

Day 6

Bartolomé Island

Morning: Bartolomé Island in the northern part of the archipelago was nominated as the most beautiful beach in South America at the "World Travel Awards 2012". Not only the white sandy beach played a role, but also the striking rock "Pinnacle Rock", which especially inspires photographers. Equally worth seeing are the black lava fields with the lava lizards darting back and forth, the million-year-old tufa shapes and the view from the top of the island. If you go snorkeling, you can meet penguins and sea turtles.

Sombrero Chino 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, allowing visitors to look deep into the blue water. On the island, there is the possibility to walk along a short path along the western coast and see the impressive landscape. There are 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 overheads. 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 a variety of tropical fish. As not all boats have permission to go to this island, it is well worth it.

Day 7

Seymour North Island

Morning: Located north of Baltra Island, today you will visit a lava plateau of submarine origin, North Seymour Island. At the jetty, you will be greeted by lazy sea lions lounging in the shade of balsam trees. As you hike along the rocky coastline and shrub-covered interior, you're sure to encounter a few land iguanas, frigatebirds or blue-footed boobies. The clumsy, waddling gait has helped the latter to its name.

Fausto Llerena Research Station, Santa Cruz Island

In the afternoon you will visit the Fausto Llerena Breeding Station in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, where giant tortoises are bred in captivity. Giant tortoises range in size from just under 8 centimeters (newborns) to 1.2 meters (adult tortoises). Subspecies of the giant tortoise interact with each other. Many of the older turtles are already accustomed to humans and will stick their heads out for a photo. The baby tortoises are raised separately until they are strong enough to survive on their own at age 4.

Day 8

Baltra Airport

You will return to the harbour of Baltra. From there transfer to Baltra Airport by bus for your return flight to the mainland or you continue with your individual Galapagos program.

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