Galapagos Cruise Beluga - Western Route (8)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands of Santa Cruz, Chinese Hat, Rabida, Isabela, Fernandina, Bartolomé, Seymour and Santiago

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer Baltra Airport to Santa Cruz Island

From Baltra Airport, transfer to the boat on Santa Cruz Island.

Highlands and Darwin Station, Santa Cruz

Afternoon: After lunch, venture into the 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, and coffee plantations and fruit orchards line the streets. Here, you can observe the famous Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild.

The Scalesia zone between 250 and 600 meters altitude offers the opportunity to discover many endemic tree species not found in the Ecuadorean jungle. The twin craters, Los Gemelos, are also in this zone. Los Gemelos are not craters in the technical sense, rather 70 meter vertical gullies carpeted with lush vegetation.

Charles Darwin Research Station is a research and information center, a museum and a tortoise hatchery all rolled in to one. During the tour you will learn about the different species of Galapagos turtles and the breeding program, meet yellow land iguanas as they snack on the fruit of the Opuntia, and learn about the various endemic plants of the Galapagos archipelago.

In preparation for their release in to the wild, the young tortoises in the breeding program are put through a rigorous "training course", involving scrambling over stones, branches and sandy terrains. This is adorable to watch and many visitors list this as a highlight of their trip.

Day 2

Chinese Hat Island, Santiago Island

Morning "Sombrero Chino", as the island is called in Spanish, is a small volcanic islet off the south-east coast of Santiago. The name came from the shape of the island, which looks like a Chinese hat.

Rabida, Santiago Island

Afternoon: Rábida is a small island of dark red coral sand, and is considered the epicentre of the Galapagos because of its geological diversity. From July to September, nesting brown pelicans can be seen here, as well as nine species of the famous Darwin's finches. You will be able to observe other seabirds here and snorkel amidst a diverse underwater world off the coast.

Day 3

Sierra Negra Volcano, Isabela Island

Morning: Spend the morning exploring the volcanic landscape of Isabela Island, created by five side by side shield volcanoes, whose lava flows have united to form a landmass.

Make your way with a small group to the highlands and ascend to the volcano Sierra Negra. Although this 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. The hike covers interesting terrain, and provides your guide plenty of time to fill you in about the geological history of the island. The fruit of your labour is 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.

Puerto Villamil, Isabela Island

Afternoon: Puerto Villamil is a charming small town on a white sand beach. Highlights include the Tortoise Breeding Station and the flamingo lagoon. Other visits (depending on conditions) are the Tintoreras or Los Humedales.

Day 4

Punta Moreno, Isabela Island

Morning: Punta Moreno is located on the west coast of Isabela Island. Ornithophiles will be delighted by the variety of birds along the impressive rocky coast or during a hike through the lava rocks to the tide pools and mangrove forests. The tide pools regularly attract green sea turtles and white tip sharks.

Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island

Afternoon: High, colorful mangroves contrast with the lava on the shoreline that is accessible only by dinghy. Schools of colourful fish and sea lions play in the water here between the islets of Eizabeth bay.

On these rocky islets, penguins and blue-footed boobies can be spotted. The abundance of marine life and the clear water make this place a brilliant snorkeling spot.

Day 5

Urbina Bay, Isabela Island

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.

Tagus Cove, Isabela Island

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, 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, take 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 6

Punta Espinoza, Fernandina Island

Morning: Fernandina is the westernmost and youngest island of the archipelago. In the midst of a cactus and mangrove-covered lava landscape, you will find the visitor's site Punta Espinoza. Sea lions and hundreds of marine iguanas sun themselves on the black lava rocks and on the beach. When snorkeling, you might come close to the resident penguins whizzing through the water at lightning speed.

Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island

Afternoon: This sea-horse-shaped island 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. High cliffs and tuffstone, ash and lava formations give this area a majestic touch.

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 snorkelling sites in the Galapagos.

Day 7

Puerto Egas, Santiago Island

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 Island

Afternoon: he island of Bartolomé in the northern part of the archipelago was nominated for the "World Travel Awards 2012" as the most beautiful beach in South America. Not only for its beautiful white sand beach, but also the Pinnacle Rock, a rock formation that is especially interesting for photographers. While you're here, we recommend seeing the black lava fields patrolled by resident lava iguanas, the million-year-old tuff formations and the view from the summit of the island. If you go snorkelling, you can meet penguins and sea turtles.

Day 8

North Seymour Island

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 endemic balsa trees.

Transfer to Baltra Airport

Transfer to the Baltra Airport for your return flight to Quito or Guayaquil.

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