Galapagos Cruise Cachalote Explorer - North-South Route (8)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands Santa Cruz, Plaza, Santa Fé, Española, Floreana, San Cristóbal, Santiago and Genovesa by boat

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer from Baltra to Santa Cruz Island

After arrival at Baltra Airport, transfer to the harbour to board the Cachalote.

Highlands of Santa Cruz Island

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 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.

Day 2

Plaza Sur Island

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 Fe Island

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.

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

Day 3

Cerro Brujo, San Cristobal

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.

El Junco or Frigatebird Hill and Interp. Center, San Cristóbal

Afternoon: 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. Depending on the weather, your guide will take you to El Junco Lagoon or Cerro Tijereta, aka. Frigatebird Rock.

El Junco 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.

Frigatebird Hill Enjoy a unique hike up to the Cerro Tijeretas - directly translated: Frigatebird Hill. 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.

After this, your guide will take you to the National Park Interpretation Centre. 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, 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, 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

Punta Cormorant, Floreana

Morning: 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.

Post Office Bay, 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 6

Cerro Dragón, Santa Cruz

Morning: 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.

Sullivan Bay, 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, 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, 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, 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.

Conclude in Baltra

The cruise will conclude in 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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