Galapagos Cruise Cormorant - Southern Route (8)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands of Santa Cruz, Bartolomé, Santiago, Plaza Sur, Santa Fé, San Cristóbal, Española and Floreana

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer from Baltra Airport to the Harbour

Arrival in Baltra airport and transfer to the boat. Once you've arrived on board, you will receive a safety briefing and an introduction to the boat and the islands.

Las Bachas, 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 2

Prinz Philip's Steps, Genovesa Island

Morning: 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, Genovesa Island

Afternoon: Genovesa Island is secluded from the other main islands in the north of the archipelago and is well-known as Bird 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 snorkelling. With some luck, you may also encounter peaceful hammerheads and black spotted stingrays.

Day 3

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 islands friendly sea lions, one of the many types of animals on Plaza Sur 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 won't find anywhere else in the world.

Santa Fé 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. Cool off with a snorkel or swim in the bay, or take one of the kayaks out to get a little closer to the offshore wildlife.

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

Day 4

Punta Pitt, San Cristobal Island

Morning: Punta Pitt, situated on the north-eastern tip of the island, hosts frigatebirds, storm petrels, and all three types of the Galapagos's species of Booby - the nazca, blue-footed and red-footed boobys. A steep trail goes up a cliff and through a ravine leading visitors to an area with a special abundance of birds. After the hike, grab your snorkelling gear and cool off with some world class snorkeling and scuba diving.

Cerro Brujo, San Cristobal Island

Afternoon: Located on the northern coast, Cerro Brujo (aka Witch Hill) and its surroundings present one of the most picturesque beaches in the Galapagos. With white powdery sand, a beautiful view out to the famous León Dormido rock formation, and an abundance of friendly animals, for Cerro Brujo it is certainly worth remembering your camera. Wildlife includes sea turtles, rays, and various types of Boobys. The clear water provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy swimming and snorkeling.

Day 5

La Galapaguera, San Cristóbal Island

Morning: Opened in 2003, at the beginning the centre could only be reached on foot from the coast, but today it can be reached by road from the streets of the harbour town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The journey takes about 1 hour and takes you across the island. Also known as Cerro Colorado (coloured hill), it offers an informative visitor centre that explains more about the origin and development of the Galapagos giant tortoises. The breeding station also displays measures taken to protect the endangered species from habitat destruction and introduced species. The baby tortoises and young animals at the station are released back into their natural habitat when they are about 4 months old. The larger giant tortoises can then be observed from a short hiking trail.

Isla Lobos

Afternoon: Isla Lobos is sometimes known as Sea Lion Island, for the huge colony of resident sea lions. Fire engine red Sally Lightfoot crabs strike a strong contrast against the black volcanic rocks during your hike on Isla Lobos. Other curious creatures living on the otherwise uninhabited island include land iguanas and pelicans. Bring your snorkelling gear and treat yourself to a refreshing dip.

León Dormido, San Cristóbal Island

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 spotted darting between eagle rays and sea turtles.

Day 6

Punta Suarez, Española Island

Morning: 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-billed 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, and 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.

Gardner Bay, Española Island

Afternoon: 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, parrotfish, manta rays and white-tip reef sharks all call these waters home.

Afterwards, visit Osborn Island for a stroll along a beautiful, white sand beach, again covered in sunbathing sea lions. If you choose not to sunbathe with the locals, you might prefer to swim or snorkel here.

Day 7

Post Office and Baroness Lookout, Floreana Island

Morning: Here at Post Office Bay, 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.

Baroness Lookout is a fantastic place to absorb the environment of the Galapagos. Once inhabited by an indulgent Baroness and her three lovers, the history of this island is an intriguing tale. The legends about this baroness are associated with a fascinating murder mystery. There are easy trails in this area for exploring the unique flora and fauna of Floreana.

Punta Cormorant and Champion Islet, Floreana Island

Afternoon: 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 regal flamingos and adorable white cheeked pintails.

Champion Islet, located just off Floreana Island, is considered one of the most beautiful snorkelling spots in Galapagos. Seahorses, green sea turtles and surgeonfish are common to Champion. This is one of the best opportunities for dolphin watching, and is one if the last two natural habitats of the Charles Mockingbird.

Day 8

The Highlands of Santa Cruz

Morning: The highlands of Santa Cruz offer an impressive contrast to the arid climate in the lower altitude zones of the island.

As you 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. Coffee plantations and fruit orchards line the streets. Here you can observe the famous Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild, learn about the underground lava tunnels and see giant cacti and a variety of deciduous trees and edible fruits.

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. However, they are not craters in the technical sense, rather 70 meter vertical gullies, carpeted with lush vegetation.

Transfer to Baltra Harbour

Please keep in mind that on departures days, your morning visit will be early and short. The crew need to be prepared before heading back toward the airport in time for your return flight to Ecuador’s mainland, or your individual Galapagos program.

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