Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO
Baltra to Las Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz Island
After arriving at Baltra airport, your guide will take you to the yacht Angelito. The cruise begins right away to Las Bachas Beach. 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".
Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island
Afternoon: The Bachas Beach, which meanders along the coast of Santas Cruz Island, seems to be full of life. But also the Turquoise Bay and the symmetrical tuff-cone island of Daphne Major attract attention. After a short walk, you will come to a lagoon in the dunes that is home to various species of wading and shorebirds, including black-necked wilts, blue-cheeked ducks (or Bahamian ducks) and hunting herons. Migratory birds that hibernate in the Galapagos in winter, such as whimbrels, also stay in this lagoon. As soon as the water level drops and the lagoon becomes salty in the dry season, you might even come across some American flamingos who tirelessly filter 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 at night before crawling ashore.
Morning: 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.
Cerro Dragón, 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 favorite 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.
Tagus Cove, Isabela
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 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.
Punta Espinoza, Fernandina
Afternoon: 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.
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.
Elizabeth Bay in 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.
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 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!
Puerto Villamil, Isabela
Afternoon: At around 10:30 in the morning, the ship begins the 6-hour navigation along the beautiful shoreline and around the Volcano Cerro Azul on the way to Puerto Villamil. Keep an eye out for dolphins and whales in these waters. Just before the dark, you will arrive in the small harbor, Puerto Villamil.
Sierra Negra Volcano, Isabela
Morning: Spend the morning exploring the volcanic landscape of Isabela Island, created by five neighboring shield volcanoes, whose lava flows have united to form a landmass. Although Sierra Negra is not the highest volcano at 1,200 meters, it has the second-largest volcanic cone on earth, with a diameter of about 9 kilometers. From the edge of the crater, visitors are treated to a magnificent view out over the island of Isabela. Note: Please remember to bring high SPF sunscreen. The Sun's harmful rays can be very strong here.
Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center, Isabela
Afternoon: 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.
Punta Cormorant and Devils Crown, Floreana
Morning: After breakfast, dip your toes into the soft white sand at Punta Cormorant. In the evenings, green turtles come out to nest on this beach. A short stroll brings you to another beach, where the carpet of olivine crystals shimmers green in the sunlight. Behind Punta Cormorant, you will discover a salt water lagoon that often attracts a flamboyance of wild flamingos.
Devil’s Crown is a submerged eroded volcanic crater. The interior of the crater forms an ideal coral reef habitat, making it one of the most fascinating places to snorkel in the Galapagos. Here you can observe beautiful corals, sea lions, reef fish, hammerhead sharks, and several other species of fish.
The Devil's Crown is a ring of jagged rocks that jut out of the water not too far from shore. They get their name from the fact that they look roughly like a crown: they are in a circle and rather pointy when seen from a distance. The rest of the name comes from the notion that only the Devil could wear something so uncomfortable!
Over thousands of years a wonderful coral reef was formed in the center of the crater below the water surface, which today offers one of the most wonderful snorkeling spots in the archipelago.
Afternoon: Daphne Island is a cone formed by the accumulation of volcanic ash. Daphne is home to thousands of birds, including blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and tropic birds. You won't go ashore here, but you’ll navigate around the volcanic cone, so binoculars are recommended to get a good look at the birds. Daphne is a great research site on which many scientists have spent years studying the behavior of Darwin’s finches.
To learn more about evolution and the studies conducted here, we recommend "The Beak of the Finch" by Jonathan Weiner
Return to Baltra Airport
Transfer to Baltra Airport by bus for your return flight to Guayaquil or Quito, or continue on with your individual Galapagos travels
Chinese Hat, Santiago Island
Morning: 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, which allows the visitor to look deep into the blue water. On the island there is the possibility to walk a short path along the western coast and see the impressive landscape. You can see 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 overhead. 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 various tropical fish. Since not all boats have a permit to go to this island, it is worth it even more in any case.
Afternoon: One of the most popular destinations for visitors to the Galapagos, Bartolomé is known for its double beach. The popular photo motif can be admired from a platform that can be reached via a path from the beach. The path leads up just under a kilometer with many erected wooden steps, but rest assured that the climb is worth it. From here, you will not only have a great view of the double beach, but also of Pinnacle Rock, which rises 120 meters to a point. You can also see Sullivan Bay, the small island of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor. On your way back, observe the different rock formations formed by the lava, such as tuff cones or various rocks. The island is also a good example of how the environment adapts to its circumstances. Pay attention to the plants that grow here, they may look like they don't have leaves, but when you look closer you can see little white hairs that reflect the light so the plant can store water. Then on the beach you have the opportunity to snorkel in underwater caves and meet sharks, rays and tropical fish. With a little luck, you might even see a penguin or two swimming by.
Darwin Bay, Genovesa Island
Morning: On Genovesa Island, the ship docks in Darwin Bay, an ancient volcanic crater now flooded by the sea. The inflatable boats land on a picturesque sandy beach where Galapagos sea lions often rest on the fine white sand. Exploring along the coast, you may see numerous marine iguanas that look like prehistoric dinosaurs in miniature. A short distance inland, you will repeatedly encounter seabirds of all shapes and sizes. Dozens of young red-footed boobies perch on branches in the bushes along the way, just an arm's length away. Also, watch for the large frigatebirds and yellow-crowned night herons along the trail.
Prince Philip's Steps, Genovesa Island
Afternoon: El Barranco, named after Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip, this natural rock formation runs steeply upward to the highest point of the cliff. From there, a pledge runs into the interior of the island. Genovesa is known for the variety of birds that live here and you will not be disappointed. After and already during the slightly slippery climb you will be surrounded by blue footed boobies, red footed boobies, masked boobies, little Galapagos owls, Galapagos doves and many more shore birds. Besides birds, sea bears, cliff crabs, sea lizards and sea lions also reside here. And with a little luck, you may also spot a hammerhead shark in the water.
Puerto Egas, 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.
Afternoon: The small island has only one access point for visitors, it is located on the east coast. The red beach, the lagoon near the coast and the 1.1 kilometer long circular walk on the island are breathtaking. The red color of the rock and the beach is due to the porous ferruginous volcanic rock and various environmental factors such as rain, salt water and the coastal winds. In addition to the highest concentration of volcanic features and the environmental factors that act as oxidizers, the red color 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 goes through opuntias and different birds can be seen here like Darwin's finches, Galapagos doves or Galapagos mockingbird. After the short walk you can dive and swim in the bay, that clear water offers a good view of the underwater world.
Charles Darwin Station, Santa Cruz Island
Morning: Visit to the Galapagos Giant Tortoises and Land Iguana Breeding Program, where the famous Lonesome George (the last preserved specimen from Pinta Island) lived for decades. The center is managed by Galapagos National Park (GNP) staff in collaboration with scientists from the Charles Darwin Station (CDS). Here, eggs from Pinzon, Santiago and Santa Cruz Islands hatch without the threat of introduced species. After artificial incubation, the "galapaguitos" (newborn turtles) are bred until they are 5 years old, so that when they are released into their native habitats, they have sufficient skills to survive on their own. Since the 1970s, more than 2,000 specimens have returned to their native islands. In addition, Darwin Station works on several scientific projects, botanical research and provides environmental education to local communities, schools and tourists. If there is still time, you can take a stroll through the small town of Puerto Ayora.
Highlands, Santa Cruz Island
Afternoon: As the only island that makes all vegetation zones accessible to visitors, it is a great place for a short trip to the highlands. Already from the beach you will be greeted by a magnificent flora and fauna that will follow you up to the highest point of the island. The bus trip will take you along the island's agriculture and will smoothly transition into the green, mist-covered forests. Here you will experience a stark contrast to the other islands, which have less altitude and more aridity. Together with your guide, visit different places here in the highlands, such as the giant tortoise reserve and the famous lava tubes. Look forward to a breathtaking landscape and a short walk with unforgettable phenomena.
Punta Suarez, Española Island
Morning: Dry landing. A geologically interesting island where you will explore the volcanic formations and diverse fauna: large sea lion and seabird colonies, including the Española Mockingbird, the Nazca Booby and the spectacular Red-billed Tropicbird. Furthermore, there are sea lizards, lava lizards and the colorful cliff crabs. After a rather long hike past Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, you will reach the nesting sites, which are sometimes located in the middle of the trail. Other interesting birds include the Galapagos Pigeon, Galapagos Buzzard, Fork-tailed Gulls and the world's largest colony of Galapagos Albatrosses which only come here to breed. Galapagos albatrosses hover far out at sea for most of their lives, coming ashore only to breed and to care for their enormous chick (March-December). Huge waves crash against the southern basalt cliffs of Suarez Point. They create a spectacular blowhole where water sprays meters into the air (depending on the time of year, the tide, and how hard the ocean breeze pushes the waves in). Take your time to enjoy this fantastic view and let this unforgettable moment sink in.
Bahía Gardner, Española Island
Afternoon: The striking white beach of Gardner Bay is an important breeding ground for the Pacific green sea turtle. But without a doubt, the large Galapagos sea lion colony is the main attraction here. The females stay in this "nursery" all year round and nurse their young until they are 3 years old, although they begin to fish on their own after 5 months. During the breeding and mating season, the colony becomes even larger. The strongest bachelors and oldest males return from their remote places and start again to conquer and defend a part of the 1300 m long beach for themselves. Since there are no trails, stay on the shore and observe from there the Galapagos buzzards, American oystercatchers, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, golden warblers, lava lizards, sea lizards and three species of Darwin's finches: Geospiza conirostris, a subspecies of the large cactus finch that resembles the large ground finch; the small ground finch (Geospiza fuliginosa); and the wood warbler finch (Certhidea olivacea), another endemic species. Gardner Bay, located on the eastern side of the island, is the breeding ground of nearly all of the world's 12,000 Galapagos albatross pairs. While swimming and snorkeling we will see the diverse underwater world: California angel fish, neon fish, parrot fish, manta ray and white tip reef shark.
Santa Fé Island
Morning: You will reach the island, which is 24 km² and 60 meters high, only with a wet landing and is a unique place in the middle of the archipelago. You will enter the island in an incredible bay, filled with turquoise waters and surrounded by a rocky reef. The island is home to many land dwellers, like one of the land lizard species of the archipelago, They live on this island and feed on the fruits and leaves of the cacti that grow here. In addition, a large sea lion colony lives here and Galapagos hawks may be circling over your heads. If you are interested, you can also swim and snorkel here to explore the underwater world a bit. Here sea turtles, sea lions, rays and various tropical fish cavort in the water. If you don't want to go into the water you can watch sea lizards, Galapagos doves or cliff crabs on the shore. The Galapagos National Park has ordered a temporary ban on swimming, snorkeling and/or diving in the waters around Santa Fé. But rest assured, your tour operator will replace it with something equally fantastic!
Plaza Sur Island
Afternoon: A geological uplift created the small islands of Plazas, these two small islands are located to the east of Santa Cruz Island. The northern Plaza Island is inaccessible to visitors, but the southern Plaza Island offers something for the bird discoverer and nature admirer. The north coast of Plaza Sur Island is a dry landing, while the south coast is a 25 meter high inaccessible bluff. The island is about 1.5 km long and 500 m wide. The island is home to a considerable number of giant opuntias and a sea of sesuvia. Both plants are endemic to the islands. The sesuvias, with their almond-shaped leaves, are green in the rainy season from December to May and then turn yellow in the dry season, later turning red and purple, giving the island a somewhat otherworldly appearance. Sea lions await you at the jetty. From there you will hike to the cliff. On the way you will see many, stately land iguanas. An ideal place to admire the flight maneuvers of the fork-tailed gulls and other seabirds.
Departure from Baltra Island
You will arrive at the port of Baltra. From there, you will either transfer to the airport for your return flight to the mainland or continue with your individual Galapagos program.