Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO
Transfer from Baltra to Santa Cruz Island
After arrival in Baltra Airport, transfer to the harbour to board the Petrel.
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
Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island
Morning: 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.
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.
Darwin Bay, Genovesa 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 snorkeling. With some luck, you may also encounter peaceful hammerheads and black spotted stingrays.
Prince Philip's Steps, Genovesa Island
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.
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.
Espumilla Bay & Buccaneer Cove on Santiago Island
Afternoon : Espumilla Beach is a popular place for marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot Crabs. The crabs attract the hunting herons, performing the dance of predator and prey. With an abundance of marine life including octopi, moray eel, and shark, snorkeling is highly recommended.
Buccaneer Cove is evidence of Santiago's long history as a haven for British buccaneers. These pirates were likely anchoring in this sheltered bay to make repairs and, among other things, to increase their supplies of turtle meat. The steep cliffs surrounding the bay, where hundreds of seabirds settle on the dark red sand beach, are an impressive sight to behold.
Punta Carrion, Santa Cruz Island
Morning: Punta Carrion is a sheltered lagoon with beautiful, turquoise water where visitors can see a variety of fish, rays and perhaps the harmless white-tip reef sharks while snorkeling.
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.
Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela
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.
Punta Espinoza, Fernandina
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.
Tagus Cove, Isabela
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.
Urbina Bay, Isabela
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.
Elizabeth Bay, Isabela
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.
Punta Moreno, Isabela
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!
Sierra Negra Volcano, Isabela
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.
Los Humedales, Isabela
Many people consider Los Humedales to be one of Isabela's most spectacular hidden gems. The wetlands house all four mangrove species found in the archipelago. Following along the paths of the wetlands, you can admire the unique landscape of volcanoes, islets and rocks. You will discover secluded beaches, natural pools, lava tunnels and a nesting site for many of the island's flamingo population. In recent years, graduates of the Isabela Breeding Center's giant tortoise breeding and release program have been released in to this area so you may encounter some small 5 year old and 25 year old giant tortoises in the wild.
Charles Darwin Station, Santa Cruz
At Charles Darwin Station, you will get a chance to learn more about the friendly giants that you met in the highlands this morning! Here, scientists from around the world research the many special 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 preparation 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 have most likely seen on your journey thus far!
Concluding in Baltra
You will return to 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.