Galapagos Cruise Solaris: West Route (8)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, Rábida and North Seymour onboard Solaris

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Arrival in Baltra

After arrival at the Baltra Airport, your guide will help you to transfer to the bus to Baltra Harbour in order to board the Solaris.

Las Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz

Afternoon: 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".

Day 2

Las Tintoreras

Morning: 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.

Los Humedales, Tortoise Breeding Center and Wall of Tears, Isabela

Many people consider Los Humedales to be one of Isabela's most spectacular hidden gems. The wetlands house all four mangrove species found in the archipelago. Following along the paths of the wetlands, you can admire the unique landscape of volcanoes, islets and rocks. You will discover secluded beaches, natural pools, lava tunnels and a nesting site for many of the island's flamingo population. In recent years, graduates of the Isabela Breeding Center's giant tortoise breeding and release program have been released in to this area, so you may encounter some small 5 year old and 25 year old giant tortoises in the wild.

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.

Afternoon: 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.

The Wall of Tears is about 150 meters long and was built under cruel conditions by convicts of the infamous penal colony "Porvenir" in the 40s and 50s. 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 "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.

Day 3

Punta Moreno, Isabela

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 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!

Punta Mangle, Fernandina and Tagus Cove, Isabela

Afternoon: 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.

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 into 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 4

Punta Espinoza, Fernandina

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.

Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela

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 snorkeling sites in the Galapagos

Day 5

Espumilla Beach, Santiago

Morning: Espumilla Beach is known for its marine iguanas and red cliff crabs, also known as Sally Lightfoot crabs. The crabs attract hunting herons, who perform their hunter-prey dance. The richness of marine fauna, such as octopus, moray eels and various sharks lends a unique feel to snorkeling in the waters off Espumilla.

Puerto Egas, Santiago

Afternoon: 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.

Day 6

Rábida Island

Morning: 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 otherworldy 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.

Chinese Hat Island

Afternoon: One of the most recognizable 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 7

Charles Darwin Station, Santa Cruz

Morning: 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.

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!

Highlands of Santa Cruz

Afternoon: 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. Here you can observe the famous Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild, using the new knowledge you gained at Charles Darwin Station in the morning.

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.

Day 8

North Seymour and conclude in Baltra

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.

The cruise will conclude in 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.

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