Galapagos Cruise Beluga - Central-Western route (15)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the almost every islands of the Archipelago

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer from the airport of Baltra to the port

On arrival at Baltra Airport, transfer to the harbour to board the Beluga.

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 2

Santa Fé

Morning: 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.

Please Note: The Galapagos National Park has placed a temporary ban on swimming, snorkeling or diving in the waters around Santa Fé.

Plaza Sur

Afternoon: 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.

Day 3

Cerro Brujo and León Dormido on San Cristóbal

Morning: 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.

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. In the 19 meters between the surface and the seabed, León Dormido offers snorkelers and divers a dazzling array of sealife. White tip reef sharks, Galapagos sharks and even hammerhead sharks are often seen darting between spotted eagle rays and sea turtles.

El Junco Lagoon or Frigatebird Rock and Interpretation Centre on San Cristóbal

Afternoon: This afternoon's activitly will be lqargely determined by the weather conditions. First, you will visit either the El Junco Lagoon or Frigatebird Rock, and then make a trip to the Interpretation Centre.

The green highlands of San Cristóbal are the agricultural heart of the island. Here livestock and organic fruit cultivation farming are the backbone of the local communities.

In the middle of this area is the only freshwater lake in the entire archipelago. El Junco is filled solely by rainwater and has a capacity of 360,000 m³ of water. The lake has a diameter of around 270 m and measures 6 metres at its deepest point. In the dry season, the level drops to 1 metre and in the rainy season, the lake often overflows, forming a small stream.

A variety of endemic ferns and perennials grow around the lake, as well as the Miconia robinsoniana - an endemic species only found in San Christobal.

Enjoy a unique hike up to the Cerro Tijeretas - directly translated: Frigatebird Rock. As the name already suggests, this visitor point is home to innumerable frigatebirds, who also choose this place as a nesting site.

Marvel at the "Pirates of the skies" with their red throat sacs and black plumage. Did you know that they can not dive into the water and are often forced to steal prey from other seabirds to survive? Did you know that frigatebirds can fly for weeks at a time?

Cerro Tijeretas is the ideal place to enjoy a spectacular view of the rooftops of the provincial capital of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and the volcanic rocks contrasting against the white sand of the Island's dazzling bright beaches.

The National Park Interpretation Center, located on San Cristóbal, was built in collaboration with the Spanish Science Center. The tour offered by the Center for Interpretation's staff gives guests a good overview of the Galapagos Islands. The tour takes us through the history of the islands in the context of nature, humankind, and conservation. It also tells the story of the first settlers on the islands.

Day 4

Gardner Bay on Española

Morning: 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.

Punta Suarez on Española

Afternoon: 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.

Day 5

Charles Darwin Station on 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 prepareation for their upcoming release in to 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 the adults you'll likely meet in the highlands!

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 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!

Sullivan Bay on Santiago

Afternoon: 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 7

Darwin Bay on Genovesa

Morning: 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.

Prince Philip‘s Steps on Genovesa

Afternoon: 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.

Day 8

Black Turtle Cove on 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.

Highlands of Santa Cruz and Charles Darwin Station, Santa Cruz

Afternoon: Return to the highlands, where coffee plantations and fruit orchards line the streets and giant tortoises roam around at ease in their natural environment, then head down to Charles darwin Station to watch the baby turtles take a training course over rocks, branches and sandy stairs in preparation for their upcoming release into the wilderness.

Day 9

Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island

Morning: After breakfast, dip your toes in to 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.

Post Office Bay on Floreana

Afternoon: Floreana offers wonderful testament to the fascinating human history of the Archipelago. Although paling in comparison to the geological history, the human history extends far beyond the island's first residents.

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.

Day 10

Puerto Villamil on Isabela

Morning: Puerto Villamil is a charming little town with a white sand beach. There is a tortoise breeding station and a flamingo lagoon.

Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela

Afternoon: 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. 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.

Day 11

Punta Moreno on 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!

Elizabeth Bay on Isabela

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 12

Urbina Bay on 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 on 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 13

Punta Espinoza on 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.

Punta Vicente Roca on 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 snorkelling sites in the Galapagos.

Day 14

Puerto Egas on 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 Island

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 15

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.

Transfer

Transfer to Baltra Airport by bus for your return flight to Guayaquil or Quito, or continue on with your individual Galapagos travels.

This activity is not suitable for people with reduced mobility. In this activity, excursions take place in groups of up to 16 people.

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