Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO
Transfer from Baltra Airport to Santa Cruz Island
On arrival in the Galapagos, you collect your luggage and meet the cruise guide at the arrival’s hall. First youneed to take the bus from the airport to the dock. Our guide will provide you the ticket for this. On arrival to the dock you will then take the Ferry to cross the Itabaca Channel and get from Baltra to Santa Cruz Island.
Las Bachas, Insel Santa Cruz
Afternoon: The dazzling white Bachas Beach, which winds along the coast of Santas Cruz Island, seems full of life. But the turquoise bay and symmetrical tufa cone island of Daphne Major also draw the eye. Much closer in your field of vision, in the tide pools at your feet, the orange-red cliff crabs run around on the dark substrate of the basalt rock. After a bit of walking, you'll reach a lagoon in the dunes that is home to several species of wading and shorebirds, including black-necked stilts, white-cheeked teals (or Bahama ducks), and hunting herons. Migratory birds that winter in Galapagos, such as Whimbrels, also stay in this lagoon. Once the water level drops and the lagoon becomes saltier in the dry season, you might even encounter some American flamingos tirelessly filtering this water in search of shrimp and algae. The remote northwest coast on the main island of Santa Cruz has become the preferred nesting site for Pacific green sea turtles. Females wait for the tide to come in at night before crawling ashore, which is a less noticed and safer way to do it, and more importantly, less strenuous.
Seymour North Island
Morning: Located north of Baltra Island, today you will visit a lava plateau of submarine origin, North Seymour Island. At the jetty, you will be greeted by lazy sea lions lounging in the shade of balsam trees. As you hike along the rocky coastline and shrub-covered interior, you're sure to encounter a few land iguanas, frigatebirds or blue-footed boobies. The clumsy, waddling gait has helped the latter to its name.
Afternoon: Bartolomé Island in the northern part of the archipelago was nominated as the most beautiful beach in South America at the "World Travel Awards 2012". Not only the white sandy beach played a role, but also the striking rock "Pinnacle Rock", which especially inspires photographers. Equally worth seeing are the black lava fields with the lava lizards darting back and forth, the million-year-old tufa shapes and the view from the top of the island. If you go snorkeling, you can meet penguins and sea turtles.
Morning: The black beach along the northwest coast of Santiago Island is a great view, even from the ship. Upon arrival at the beach, two trails land for a walk. One leads you along the coast to "Fur Seal Grotto", here 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 path 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 and lucrative. The lagoon is often home to Galapagos flamingos and other birds such as the Galapagos hawk, which circles over the landscape in high altitudes.
After lunch you visit Espumilla Beach, on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay, is one of the most idyllic locations in the Galapagos Islands and is an important nesting site for marine turtles. With large waves, it is also often a favorite amongst beach lovers. Potentially we will see Galapagos hawks up close, ghost crabs, blue-footed boobies (often plunging for fish) and brown pelicans. It is also well known for its palo santo forest and some extraordinary lava formations.
We then go to view the spectacular geology of volcanic ash (tuff) of Buccaneer Cove. Here we can find remains of objects used by pirates in centuries past, hence the name Buccaneer Cove. A place of local legends and stories, it is where Darwin camped for nine days while making his study of the islands and their wildlife. If conditions are favourable, we can enjoy some further snorkelling.
Tagus Cove, Island Isabela
Morning: 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.
Punta Espinoza, Island Fernandina
Afternoon: Today you are heading towards Fernandina, the westernmost and, with only about 700,000 years, the youngest island in the archipelago. 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.
Morning: Elizabeth Bay is located on the east coast of Isabela Island. The bay includes many small islands that can be visited by dinghy. On these rocky islands penguins and blue-footed boobies can be seen. The abundance of marine life and clear waters make this the perfect snorkeling spot. Colorful schools of fish, sea lions and possibly even sharks make this trip an extraordinary experience.
Afternoon: After a short ride in a speedboat along the rocky coast, you will reach the bay on Isabela Island. Once ashore, you will have a fantastic view of the lava fields of the Cerro Azul volcano. Wander through the alien lands with your guide, gazing at the lagoons and pools that emerge from the tide and the mangrove trees of the lava landscape. This oasis provides a great home for some bird species and sea turtles or sharks enjoy the water in the basins of the tide, which you can wonderfully admire through the clear water. On the way back, look out for Galapagos penguins, different birds as well as herons or even Galapagos flamingos. This great excursion gives you the chance to see sea and land creatures and walk through a breathtaking landscape.
Morning: Just off the port of Puerto Villamil, on the largest island of Isabela, a group of islands juts out of the ocean. The jagged black formations, dotted with mangroves and candelabra cacti, are the remains of a lava flow that entered the ocean thousands of years ago. This has since been eroded by the waves and today a collapsed lava tube forms a channel that fills during high tide and closes off the channel during low tide. Marine life is retained in the channel, including the spectacular whitetip reef sharks (called "tintoreras" in Spanish). This species of shark is quite common in the archipelago and is usually spotted snorkeling on the seabed as they recover from their nocturnal hunts. But in this unique place, you can comfortably observe the various animals in the crystal clear turquoise waters from the shore. Sometimes you can see turtles and elegant white-spotted eagle or golden rays gliding through the calm channel, as well as smaller fish and Galapagos sea lions. The rocky coastline with its tidal habitat also attracts red cliff crabs, lava herons and Galapagos penguins.
Sierra Negra is the third highest volcano on Isabela Island and the fifth highest in the Galapagos. (1124 m). It erupted a total of 7 times in the 20th century, the last time in October 2005. It is the only volcano of Isabela whose crater region is open for tourism. A half-day hike through the cloud forests brings you to a viewpoint on the rim of the crater, offering fantastic views of the caldera (clear weather required, although unpredictable; thanks to prevailing winds, most clouds dissipate at the viewpoint). The caldera measures about 7 x 9 km and is the largest in the archipelago. A somewhat muddy path along the rim takes you through an evergreen cloud forest that exists only in the highlands of the main islands. The dense and rich vegetation includes ferns, tree ferns and endemic scalesias loaded with epiphytes such as lichens, orchids and bromeliads. The fog and drizzle - frequent during the cool Garúa season (June-December) - adds to the mysterious atmosphere. Along the way, you may also spot striking songbirds such as the Vermilion Finch, Golden Warbler, and Woodpecker Finch (among six other species of Darwin's Finches); this particular species hammers branches like a woodpecker and uses twigs as tools to catch insects!
Afternoon: It is one of the most important wetlands in the Galapagos. With marshes and lagoons, there are many things to admire here. Walk along the pond on good ground or a wooden walkway and observe different birds like flamingos, Galapagos finches, Galapagos doves, Galapagos mockingbirds and also sea lizards. Those interested in the flora of the wetlands will not be disappointed here either. This is one of the few places where you can see all four species of mangroves. These mangroves are not only important for the inhabitants of the wetland but they also protect the coast from the crashing waves of the sea.
Morning: Dragon Mountain represents a great success in the history of the maintenance and protection of the nature of the Galapagos Islands. By 1975, almost all the land lizards of Dragon Mountain were extinct, as introduced dogs hunted them and drastically decimated the numbers. With the Galapagos breeding program, the population was increased again and by 1991 the last captive-born land lizard was released into the wild. Since then, the breeding stations control populations and try to restore and support the species' population as much as possible. But not only the mountain has a lot to offer, already the coast is impressive! The rocky beach is a beautiful place to learn about the underwater world and see rays, sharks and green sea turtles. At the foot of the mountain you will pass two saltwater lagoons where you can see one or the other flamingo and during the short hike up you might also meet Darwin finches and mockingbirds.
Afternoon: After lunch aboard your day tour boat, you'll have the opportunity to jump into the cool water from the boat at Punta Carrion. The northeast coast of Santa Cruz is best known for the white tip sharks, but sea turtles and colorful tropical fish can also be spotted snorkeling near the shore.
Fausto Llerena Research Station
In the morning you will visit the Fausto Llerena Breeding Station in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, where giant tortoises are bred in captivity. Giant tortoises range in size from just under 8 centimeters (newborns) to 1.2 meters (adult tortoises). Subspecies of the giant tortoise interact with each other. Many of the older turtles are already accustomed to humans and will stick their heads out for a photo. The baby tortoises are raised separately until they are strong enough to survive on their own at age 4.
You will return to the harbour of Baltra. From there transfer to Baltra Airport by bus for your return flight to the mainland or you continue with your individual Galapagos program.