Galapagos Cruise Archipel I: West North Route (8)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina, Genovesa, Bartolomé, Nord Seymour and Santiago

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1


Arrival at the airport of Baltra Island and transfer to the Harbour to board the Archipell I.

Hacienda Primicias on Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: After lunch, the Hacienda Primicias is your next stop. There you can observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Some highland birds such as cattle egret, mockingbirds, finches or flycatchers can be seen here. The day is completed with a short hike through the beautiful highlands

Day 2

Punta Moreno on Isabela Island

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!

Urbina Bay, Isabela Island

Afternoon: On the east coast of Isabela Island lies Urbina Bay, one of the youngest bays in the Galapagos. 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 is destroying the coral reef. After a wet landing in the bay, you will go on a 3.5 kilometer 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 will encounter flightless cormorant colonies. The bay offers a fantastic place to snorkel and see Galapagos sea lizards feeding underwater.

Day 3

Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island

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.

Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island

Afternoon: As one of the best places to snorkel or dive in the Galapagos Archipelago, you have the chance to marvel at a breathtaking underwater world. Directly from the boat you go into the water and are equipped with a snorkel under the water's surface. But the landscape here is also magnificent, look at the cliffs and caves of the two volcanoes that formed them. The bay is sheltered from waves, allowing you to snorkel undisturbed and in peace, even with little experience. Look out for whales, dolphins, Galapagos sea lions, tuna, blue-footed boobies and many other shore birds. If possible, you can also explore some of the caves by dinghy and meet cormorants or fur seals.

Day 4

Puerto Egas on Santiago Island

Morning: The black beach along the northwest coast of Santiago Island is a great sight, even from the boat. After arriving at the beach, two paths invite you to take a walk. One leads you along the coast to "Fur Seal Grotto", where 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 trail 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 or lucrative. The lagoon is often home to Galapagos flamingos and other birds such as the Galapagos hawk, which circles high above the landscape.

Island Rabida

Afternoon: 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.

Day 5

Black Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz Island

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.

Las Bachas on Santa Cruz 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 6

Prince Philip's Steps on Genovesa Island

Genovesa Island is secluded from the other main islands in the north of the archipelago and is well-known as the Bird Island.

Prince Philip's Steps are a staircase sunken into volcanic rock that leads to a plateau rich with vegetation and wildlife. True to the nickname of Bird Island, this area is home to nesting masked and blue-footed boobies, Bahama ducks, petrels and gulls amongst a host of other local species. The Galápagos horned owls bask on the warm volcanic rocks here, paying no attention the tourists around them

Darwin Bay on Genovesa Island

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 eagle rays.

Day 7

Bartolomé Island

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.

Sullivan Bay on Santiag Island

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.

Day 8

Los Gemelos on Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: The Twin Craters are not craters at all, they were formed when underlying magma chambers collapsed, and the earth caved in. This makes them no less impressive to see. They are easily accessible via a path from Puerto Ayora and offer a fantastic view. In addition to the avoidable craters, some of the endemic bird species also cavort here. The path leads you through the Scalesia forest, past Galapagos doves, Darwin's finches, Galapagos flycatchers, Galapagos owls and many other inhabitants of the air. And once you reach the crater rim, a view awaits you that you will never forget!

Transfer to the airport

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.

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