Galapagos Cruise Seaman Journey : West-East Route (15)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, Genovesa, Española and more onboard Seaman Journey

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer from Baltra's airport to the port

After arrival at the airport of Baltra Island, transfer to the harbour to board the Seaman Journey

Highlands of Santa Cruz

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

Las Tintoreras and Arnaldo Tupiza on Isabela

Morning: Take in the gorgeous scenery and unique wildlife on Las Tintoreras. On the sandy beach, the sea lions loll in the sun or laze in the shade of the mangroves and along the shores, the blue-footed booby males show off their striking blue feet in an attempt to woo the females. Marine iguanas warm themselves up on the black lava rocks next to the Galapagos penguins and Galápagos sea lions, recovering after their dives. Even white tip reef sharks are not uncommon to find in the calm waters of the bay.

Only one and a half kilometers from the small town of Puerto Villamil, you will find the Breeding Station Arnaldo Tupiza. The station dedicated to the protection and repopulation of the endangered giant tortoise subspecies of Isabela Island. The most threatened species at the station are the Cinco Cerros and Cerro Paloma, however guests will also see Cazuela, Roca Unión, San Pedro, and Tablas.

After the eruption of the volcano Cerro Azul in September 1998, rescued Cinco Cerros tortoises were brought to safety with the help of the Ecuadorean Army. Thanks to the breeding program, there are now 17 Cinco Cerros living in the station today.

Los Humedales and Wall of Tears on Isabela

Afternoon: 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.

The Wall of Tears is about 150 meters long and was built under cruel conditions by convicts of the infamous penal colony "Porvenir" in the 40s and 50s. First named the Wall of Tears by local residents, who state that the wall often emits an eerie, crying sound and the area is said to have a "heavy energy". The penal colony was closed after a prison uprising in 1959, but the wall remains intact as a memorial to the large number who needlessly lost their lives during the construction of the wall. Rumor has it that there are still descendants of the prison escapees living on the island.

Day 3

Punta Moreno on Isabela

Morning: 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!

Urbina Bay on Isabela

Afternoon: 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.

Day 4

Punta Espinoza on Fernandina

Morning: Fernandina is the youngest island in the archipelago, at only around 700,000 years old. 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.

Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela

Afternoon: 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.

Day 5

Espumilla Beach and Buccaneer Cove on Santiago

Morning: Espumilla Beach is known for its marine iguanas and red cliff crabs, also know as Sally Lightfoot crabs. The crabs attract hunting herons, who perform their hunter-prey dance. The richness of marine fauna, such as octopus, moray eels and various sharks lends a unique feel to snorkelling in the waters off Espumilla.

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.

Puerto Egas on Santiago

Afternoon: 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.

Day 6

Rábida Island

Morning: On arrival at Rábida Island's red sand beach you will be greeted by the resident sea lions, basking in the sun. The island's otherworldy red colouring is a result of the high level of iron and magnesium left behind from previous volcanic activity.

A stroll along the beach reveals marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. If you look carefully you may also spot the bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs, who have found possibly the only place on earth where they can effectively camouflage themselves.

Chinese Hat Island

Afternoon: One of the most recognisable of the Galapagos Islands, Sombrero Chino's name means "Chinese Hat" and it's easy to see why: this islet off of Santiago is shaped like an old-fashioned Chinese hat, with its gently sloping cone rising out of the clear Galapagos water. It's one of the smallest Galapagos Islands but don't be fooled - it has a terrific visitor site with an unforgettable view!

Day 7

Sullivan Bay on Santiago

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.

Bartolomé Island

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.

Day 8

Las Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz

Morning: 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".

North Seymour

Afternoon: 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.

Day 9

Prince Philip‘s Steps on Genovesa

Morning: 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.

Darwin Bay on Genovesa

Afternoon: 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.

Day 10

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.

Day 11

La Galapaguera on San Cristóbal

Morning: In the highland plains of the island of San Cristóbal lies the reserve La Galapaguera - a breeding ground for giant tortoises. The leisurely giants move freely in their natural habitat, seek out cooling mud pots, slowly munching a few blades of grass, or leisurely ambling on their way without taking any notice of the tourists. The dry and tropic climate attracts not only giant tortoises but also scarlet flycatchers and mockingbirds.

Interpretation Center on San Cristóbal

Afternoon: 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 12

La Galapaguera on San Cristóbal

Morning: Return to La Galapaguera to admire native plants and giant tortoises in their natural habitat.

Cerro Brujo on San Cristóbal

Afternoon: 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.

Day 13

Gardner Bay on 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.

Osborn Islet and Punta Suarez on Española

Afternoon: 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.

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 14

Punta Cormorant, Floreana Island and Champion Islet

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.

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.

Post Office Bay on 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 15

Charles Darwin Station on Santa Cruz

Morning: At Charles Darwin Station, you will get a chance to learn more about the friendly giants that you met in the highlands earlier in your travels.

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 into 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 wild adults you saw in the highlands!

Return to the harbour of Baltra

Transfer to Baltra Airport by bus for your return flight to Guayaquil or Quito, or continue on with your individual Galapagos travels.

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