Galapagos Cruise Tip Top II : West-South Route (15)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands Floreana, Española, San Cristóbal, Genovesa, Fernandina, Santiago, and more onboard Tip Top II

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer to the yacht

Flight from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra. Your guide will welcome you upon arrival at the airport on Baltra Island. Then drive about 5km by bus to the harbor where the Tip Top II awaits you. After you have set yourself up, you will receive a safety briefing and enjoy your first lunch on board.

Mosquera

Afternoon: Between the two islands North Seymour and Baltra lies the small island Mosquera. The narrow island's coastline stretches out with white sand beaches, lava rocks and tide pools. Created by Geological uplift, the island has a relatively flat landscape. Mosquera is a great place for snorkeling, strolling on the beach, and enjoying the animal life without the tourist crowds that are common on many of the more popular islands. This islet is home to a huge colony of resident sea lions, and is also home to many shorebirds.

In the evening, you have an orientation about the Galapagos Islands in general: their origin and evolution. Enjoy a Welcome Cocktail with the entire crew, and later on dinner.

Day 2

Sullivan Bay, Santiago

Morning: Although this beautiful beach deserves its 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.

Rábida

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 otherworldy red colouring 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.

Day 3

Punta Espinoza, Fernandina

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.

Elizabeth Bay, Isabela

In the 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

Morning: 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 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, Isabela

Afternoon: 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, Santiago

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.

Bartolomé

Afternoon: 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.

Day 6

Chinese Hat

Morning: 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!

Cerro Dragón on Santa Cruz

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 7

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

Interpretation Center Fausto Llerena

Afternoon: A short walk along the promenade of Puerto Ayora will bring you to the breeding station Fausto Llerena, at the Charles Darwin station.

Since March 2017, the Fausto Llerena hatchery is home to the embalmed tortoise Lonesome George, who became the symbol of the Galapagos Islands. Lonesome George was the last surviving member of the Pinta Island Tortoise species and for a long time, was known as the rarest animal on earth.

On the "Ruta de las Tortugas" you will learn about the history of tortoises in Galapagos and then visit the breeding station. Here, tortoises eggs are incubated and the hatchlings spend the first 5 years of their life in protection as they are prepared for their release into the wild. Visitors leave with a stronger understanding of species conservation as well as the Galapagos Islands themselves.

Day 8

North Seymour

Morning: 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.

Las Bachas, Genovesa Island

Afternoon: On the north side of Santa Cruz, you will land on 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 9

Prince Philip‘s Steps, Genovesa

Morning: Genovesa Island is secluded from the other main islands in the north of the archipelago and is well-known as the "bird island". First, you'll visit the Prince Philip's Steps, a staircase sunken into volcanic rock that leads to a plateau rich of vegetation, home to nesting masked and blue-footed boobies, Bahama ducks, petrels and gulls as well as lots of other birds. The diurnal Galápagos horned owl basks here in the morning on the rocks - without taking any notice of the tourists around it.

Darwin Bay, Genovesa

Afternoon: Emerging from the narrow entrance, you'll reach Darwin Bay, surrounded by protective cliffs. Frigatebirds regularly patrol the skies here and petrels can be seen hunting coastal waters for smaller fish. The green water in the bay is evidence of a high plankton content which attracts fish and seabirds, making this wildlife-rich bay a wonderful site for snorkeling. With some luck, you may also encounter peaceful hammerheads and black spotted stingrays.

Day 10

Plaza Sur

Morning: 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.

Santa Fé

Afternoon: Upon arrival at the white sand beach, you will be greeted by a large colony of sea lions. A trail leads you from the beach into a forest of prickly pears and Palo Santo trees. It is not rare to spot Galapagos hawks and even owls in the salt bushes. Even harmless snakes and the endemic rice rat can be discovered with a little luck while exploring the island. Arguably the most special, however, is the Santa Fé iguana. This species differs from its peers due to its significantly lighter color and distinct dorsal spines. Snorkeling and swimming on the beach, kayaking or a tour with the glass bottom boat make this trip unforgettable.

The Galapagos National Park has placed a temporary ban on swimming, snorkeling or diving in the waters around Santa Fé. Rest assured, your tour operator will substitute underwater activities with something equally fantastic!

Day 11

La Galapaguera, San Cristóbal

Morning: Established by the National Park in 2003, the Galapaguera is a man-made breeding program for tortoises and an information center for visitors. Visitors can both observe giant tortoises living in a semi-natural habitat, but also learn about their origin, evolution, and threats by introduced animals.

Leon Dormido and Cerro Brujo, San Cristóbal

Afternoon: An impressive rock formation towering 150 meters above the Pacific Ocean, León Dormido (aka Kicker Rock) hosts a tropical underwater playground in the narrow channel between the two rocks. From a distance, locals thought they saw a sleeping lion in the rock formation, while, from the other direction, the British saw a boot.

Whether a lion or a boot, the tropical birds at home on León Dormido don't seem to mind. Blue-footed boobies, red-billed tropicbirds, and frigatebirds regularly enchant visitors with their daring flight maneuvers, as they hunt and socialise around this ancient volcanic cone.

Cerro Brujo is a volcanic cone that looks over a beautiful white sandy beach which has plenty of sea lions, pelicans, blue-footed boobies, and marine iguanas. From atop the hill you also have a great view over to Leon Dormido. After the hike, cool off with a dip in the perfect aquamarine waters.

Day 12

Post Office Bay and Baroness Lookout, Floreana

Morning: Here at Post Office Bay, you can learn about the historic barrel that has served as a post office in the archipelago for over two centuries. Lonely sailors, away from home for years at a time, would stop at Floreana to restock their supplies of food and water. The homesick sailors devised a clever solution - they left letters in a makeshift 'post box' on Floreana, and when passing ships stopped on the way back to their home port, they would pick up all the letters destined for that place and deliver them.

To this day, the system is alive and well - each year thousands of visitors continue to leave letters for loved ones, and search for letters to bring home and deliver. To keep the tradition alive, hunt for a letter destined for a town near you and hand deliver it.

Baroness Lookout is a fantastic place to absorb the environment of the Galapagos. Once inhabited by an indulgent Baroness and her three lovers, the history of this island is an intriguing tale. The legends about this baroness are associated with a fascinating murder mystery. There are easy trails in this area for exploring the unique flora and fauna of Floreana.

Punta Cormorant, Floreana

Afternoon: Punta Cormorant is home to two stunning natural beaches. You'll make a wet landing in the first bay, where you'll find a special black sand beach that twinkles green in the sunlight. The shimmering sand is made of olivine crystals, remnants of a long-gone violent volcanic eruption. Following the short trail along the beach, you'll come to a second little bay. Visitors will be delighted by the soft, white powdery sand that feels like walking in fine baking flour. This gorgeous beach certainly earned the name "Flour Beach". In the bay you will likely spot green sea turtles, and if you wander back from the sandy stretch, you can find a salt water lagoon that attracts vibrant flamingos and the adorable white cheeked pintails.

Day 13

Punta Suarez, Española

Morning: Española is a geologically interesting island where you can explore the volcanic formations and spot a lot more of the Galapagos's unique fauna. Regular sightings include large sea lion colonies and flocks of seabirds, such as the Española mockingbird, the nazca booby and the spectacular red-beaked tropicbird. There are also marine iguanas, lizards and Sally lightfoot crabs.

A long hike will take you past the world's largest colony of Galapagos albatrosses! During mating season (May to December) you will have the opportunity to see the nesting area of the albatrosses and if you're lucky, you'll even get to witness their courting dance. The courting dance of the albatross is extra special as it is the start of a life-long bond for these birds who mate for life. Other interesting birds include Galapagos doves, Galapagos hawks, whip-tailed gulls.

Make a final stop to admire the dramatic topography of the famous Blow Hole, catapulting seawater an impressive 23 meters into the air.

Gardner Bay, Española

Afternoon: Join the colony of sea lions on the beautiful white coral beach. From the shoreline, you can observe the Galapagos hawks, American oystercatchers, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, gold-warblers, lava lizards, marine iguanas and three different types of Darwin finch! When snorkeling or diving, you have the opportunity to see the diverse underwater world of Gardner Island. Californian angelfish, neon fish, parrotfish, manta rays and white-tip reef sharks all call these waters home.

Day 14

Cerro Meza, Santa Cruz

Morning: In the morning, explore the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. You stop at the lookout point Cerro Meza and then visit a coffee and sugar cane plantation.

Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz

Afternoon: After a delicious lunch on board and a little rest, in the afternoon you will have the opportunity to observe the underwater world of Galapagos one last time in Tortuga Bay.

Day 15

Black Turtle Cove, Santa Cruz

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. 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.

Transfer to Baltra Island

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.

Outdoor & Sports
Wildlife & Nature
Landscapes & Sceneries