Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO
Transfer from Baltra Airport to Santa Cruz Island
After arriving at Baltra Airport, transfer to Santa Cruz to visit the highlands. Dress appropriately for a hike.
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.
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 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. 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.
Morning: 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 snorkeling gear and treat yourself to a refreshing dip.
Interpretation Center, San Cristóbal Island
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.
Gardner Bay and Osborn Islet, Española Island
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.
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.
Punta Suarez, Española Island
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.
Punta Cormorant and Devils Crown, Floreana Island
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.
Devil's Crown is a half sunken volcano crater offering a small snorkeling paradise. The sandy sloping crater walls are a playground for starfish, sea turtles and tropical fish, while white tip reef sharks seem to prefer the rocky caves at the bottom of the crater. Schools of white-and-yellow Surgeonfish, large, colourful Parrotfish, and dazzling King Angelfish are a regular sight at the Devil's Crown. It is important to note that this site can get some stronger currents and there is no easy place to stand if you are getting tired. The boat remains nearby should you require it.
Post Office Bay, Floreana Island
Afternoon: 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.
Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz Island
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've already met!
Transfer to Baltra Airport
Return to the harbour of Baltra and transfer to the airport in time for your return flight to Ecuador mainland, or continue with your planned route through the Galapagos.