Galapagos Cruise Millenium - Western Route (8)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Catamaran cruise visiting Santa Cruz, Puerto Villamil, Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, Seymour and Bartolomé

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

From Baltra Airport transfer to Santa Cruz

After arriving at Baltra airport, transfer to the harbour to board the Milennium.

In the afternoon, you will set sail for the north of Santa Cruz Island. Begin with a walk up Crocker Hill, offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding islands on a clear day. Your nature guide will explain some of the vegetation on the Galápagos Islands, for example, the tree ferns. Afterwards we will visit El Chato which is known for its Galápagos giant tortoise population.

Day 2

Las Tintoreras, Wall of Tears and Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center

Take in the gorgeous scenery and unique wildlife on Las Tintoreras. On the sandy beach, the sea lions loll in the sun or laze in the shade of the mangroves and along the shores, the blue-footed booby males show off their striking blue feet in an attempt to woo the females. Marine iguanas warm themselves up on the black lava rocks next to the Galapagos penguins and Galápagos sea lions, recovering after their dives. Even white tip reef sharks are not uncommon to find in the calm waters of the bay.

After your stop in the idyllic bay, make your way to the Wall of Tears. The structure is about 150 meters long and was built under cruel conditions by convicts of the infamous penal colony "Porvenir" in the 40s and 50s. It was first named the Wall of Tears by local residents, who state that the wall often emits an eerie, crying sound and the area is said to have a "heavy energy".

The penal colony was closed after a prison uprising in 1959, but the wall remains intact as a memorial to the large number who needlessly lost their lives during the construction of the wall. Rumor has it that there are still descendants of the prison escapees living on the island.

Only one and a half kilometers from the small town of Puerto Villamil, you will find the Breeding Station Arnaldo Tupiza. The station dedicated to the protection and repopulation of the endangered giant tortoise subspecies of Isabela Island. The most threatened species at the station are the Cinco Cerros and Cerro Paloma, however guests will also see Cazuela, Roca Unión, San Pedro, and Tablas.

After the eruption of the volcano Cerro Azul in September 1998, rescued Cinco Cerros tortoises were brought to safety with the help of the Ecuadorean Army. Thanks to the breeding program, there are now 17 Cinco Cerros living in the station today.

Day 3

Punta Moreno on Isabela and Punta Mangle on Fernandina

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 favourite 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!

Off the eastern coast of Fernandina, Punta Mangle offers great snorkeling and a beautiful location for riding in a dinghy through a grove of mangrove trees. Whether you hike, snorkel, or stay in your dinghy for a ride through the red mangrove trees, the second site of Fernandina Island is equally memorable. During your ride, you are likely to see sea lions, tortoises, pelicans, rays and many types of birds.

Day 4

Punta Espinoza on Fernandina and Tagus Cove on Isabela

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.

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.

Day 5

Puerto Egas on Santiago and Chinese Hat

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.

One of the most recognisable of the Galapagos Islands, Sombrero Chino's name means "Chinese Hat" and it's easy to see why: this islet off of Santiago is shaped like an old-fashioned Chinese hat, with its gently sloping cone rising out of the clear Galapagos water. It's one of the smallest Galapagos Islands but don't be fooled - it has a terrific visitor site with an unforgettable view!

Day 6

Black Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz and North Seymour

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. Travellers 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.

The small island of North Seymour is one of the most diverse islands in the Galapagos archipelago. It is only about two square kilometers in size and above all known for of the intensive courtship rituals of many magnificent frigatebirds, taking place here during mating season. The island is also home to large colonies of land iguanas, marine iguanas and sea lions. The characteristic bush landscape features diverse species of animals amongst the aromatic endemic balsa trees.

Day 7

Transfer to Bartolomé and Santiago

Bartolomé in the northern part of the archipelago was nominated for the World Travel Awards 2012 as the most beautiful beach of South America. Here, you will find a fascinating, lunar-like volcanic landscape. At its center, the famous landmark of Galapagos: Pinnacle Rock.

A climb to the highest point of the island offers a wonderful view of the landscape. Take a swim together with some of the penguins who play in the waters and on the shores of the bay here.

Although the beautiful beach at Sullivan Bay deserves its own place in the highlights list, the day will surprise you with another highlight: the special pahoehoe lava flows.

Almost 100 years ago, lava flowed across the island and left behind various forms of soil: braided and stringy lava fields alternate with sharp-edged jagged formations. Feel the warm stones of the black, unreal lava landscape under your hands and move back to the time of origin, when volcanoes raged here, ultimately creating a paradise.

Day 8

Las Bachas Beach and transfer to Baltra Airport

On the north side of Santa Cruz, you will land on Las Bachas Beach - one of the most important nesting sites for the Galapagos Island's sea turtle population.

A hidden lagoon behind the bay reveals a treasure trove of animal sightings - sunbathing iguanas, curious shorebirds, and Darwin finches, mockingbirds and seagulls frolic here. Native plant life is also interesting in this area. Red and black mangroves and salt bushes line the edges of the pond.

In this heavenly place you will also find the remains of barges that sank long ago when the US Navy operated a base on the island of Baltra during the Second World War. Local people changed the word Barges to "Bachas".

Afterward, you will return to the harbor of Baltra. From there, transfer to Baltra Airport in time for your return flight to the mainland, or continue with your planned route through the Galapagos.

Beach
Landscapes & Sceneries
Wildlife & Nature