Galapagos Cruise Xpedition - East-Western Route (8)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands of Bartolomé, Rábida, Santiago, Isabela, Santa Cruz, Daphne and San Cristóbal

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Arrival at Baltra

You will arrive at the airport in Baltra in the morning and the crew from the cruise will welcome you. Your guide will accompany you to the ship where a briefing regarding the following days onboard will be given. Then, you will be shown to your room.

Black Turtle Cove, Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: Black Turtle Cove is a red mangrove lagoon serving as a nursery for sharks and rays. Black Turtle Cove is a great location to observe mating sea turtles during the nesting season. Travelers often see large groups of resting white-tip reef sharks, schools of golden rays and the incredibly beautiful spotted eagle rays. As the water is usually very calm, this area can be navigated using paddles instead of the loud panga engines, increasing your chances of wildlife encounters.

Day 2

Rabida 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 otherworldly red coloring 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. This is also a great place to snorkel.

Puerto Egas, Santiago Island

Afternoon: On the black sand beach of Puerto Egas, Santiago Island there are 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.

There are two hiking trails for you to choose from. The one first one leads you along the coast to the "fur seal cave" where adorable fur seals can be found laying in the shade or resting on cool rocks by the coast. The cave and nearby areas are a favorite feeding location for marine iguanas as well. The second path leads you to the Azucar Volcano who we hold responsible for the unusually dark color of the beach. The crater of the volcano is filled with saltwater, and when it is dried out during the warmer days, a gorgeous salt landscape reveals itself. Between 1928 and 1930, the place was once taken inconsiderate to be used as a salt mine. However, upon realizing that it is not realistic or lucrative to do so, this plan has fortunately been abandoned. Do keep a lookout for the Galapagos Flamingos, Galapagos Falcon and other birds on the island. Sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks and lava herons can also be found on this island!

Day 3

Tagus Cover, Isabela Island

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 into 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. You can enjoy a panga ride through the cliffs, observing penguins, flightless cormorants, boobies, pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs or return to the cove to relax on the shore or snorkel.

Punta Espinoza, Fernandina Island

Afternoon: 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. This is a perfect spot for finding the flightless cormorant.

Day 4

Urbina Bay, Isabela Island

Morning: 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.

Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island

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 tuff stone 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 snorkeling sites in the Galapagos.

Day 5

Bartolomé Insel

Morning: Galapagos Island Bartolomé is one of the most frequently visited islands in the Galapagos archipelago. With its extraordinary lava tubes, cinder cones, tuff formations, luxuriant green vegetation, and sandy white beaches, you cannot miss out on this island. However Bartolomé Island is no longer visited by all cruises, so be sure to check out the cruise itinerary in advance or simply ask us.

One of the most breathtaking moments on Bartolomé Island would be watching the sunset at the large needle-shaped Pinnacle Rock in the north. This allows for a great photo opportunity only from the cruise. One of the main highlights of this Galapagos Island is swimming and snorkeling with the Galapagos penguins! These lovely animals love swimming around visitors and inviting them to play. You can also observe them from the dinghy that goes past the cliffs. Snorkeling along the rocky coasts will allow you to get close to many big fishes, sea turtles, sharks, rays and large schools of vibrant colored fishes.

Las Bachas, Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: On the north side of Santa Cruz, you will land on Las 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".

Daphne Island

Daphne Island is a cone formed by the accumulation of volcanic ash. Daphne is home to thousands of birds, including blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and tropic birds. You won't go ashore here, but you’ll navigate around the volcanic cone, so binoculars are recommended to get a good look at the birds. Daphne is a great research site on which many scientists have spent years studying the behaviour of Darwin’s finches.

Day 6

Prince Philip's Steps, Genovesa Island

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 the 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 to the tourists around them. If you are lucky, you may also chance upon hammerhead sharks in the waters here.

Darwin Bay, Genovesa Island

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 7

Charles Darwin 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 preparation for their upcoming release into the wilderness. Since the 1970s, at least 2000 tortoises have been released successfully into the wild! 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 400kg!

Santa Cruz Highlands

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. Here you can observe the famous Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild, using the new knowledge you gained at Charles Darwin Station in the morning.

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 8

Departure from Baltra

Upon arriving at the Baltra harbor, from there you will be driven to the airport to catch your flight back to the mainland or continue with your planned itinerary in the Galapagos.

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