Galapagos Cruise Isabela II : Western Route (5)

Tour/Activity in Baltra Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Discover the islands of Santa Cruz, Bartolome and Fernandina

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer from Baltra Airport to Santa Cruz Island

Arrival at Baltra Airport and then we take you to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. A 30-minute bus ride takes us to a restaurant in the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island to enjoy lunch, and then continue to Puerto Ayora.

Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island

Afternoon: 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 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 400kg!

Day 2

Bartolome Island

Morning: After landing at Baltra Airport, we drive to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. A 30-minute bus ride takes us to a restaurant in the fascinating, more humid Highlands of the island to enjoy lunch, and then continue south down to Puerto Ayora on the coast.

Sullivan Bay

Afternoon: At the eastern end of Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the archipelago, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, the islands’ headquarters for scientific research and conservation. Later in the afternoon, we stroll along the main street of Puerto Ayora before embarking. Captain’s welcome cocktail and dinner.

Day 3

Dragon Hill

Morning: The north coast of Santa Cruz hosts the fascinating landscapes of Dragon Hill. After disembarking, the first part of our walk passes a brackish-water lagoon frequented by shorebirds, ducks, and American flamingos, while further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western islands of the archipelago, as well as the chance of observing land iguanas (for which the visitor site is named, following a concerted effort to conserve them by the Galapagos National Park). After our walk, we can snorkel from the shore, hoping to spot rays, green turtles, and sharks.

Salt Mines James Bay

Afternoon : Our wet landing on James Bay follows in the footsteps of Charles Darwin. The young naturalist spent about six days exploring this island in 1835, enthralled not only by the species he encountered — finches, mockingbirds, lava lizards, and yellow warblers, as well as Galapagos doves, hawks, and flamingos — but also by the vegetation and the fascinating geological formations. Our hike takes us uphill to one of these for panoramic views: a crater filled with brackish water. The salt from this lagoon was mined in the 20th century, but the businesses didn’t prosper. More active explorers can hike all the way around the cone.

Day 4

Punta Vicente Roca

Morning: Since there is no landing site at this location, we explore the captivating coast by dinghy, seeking out abundant wildlife including colonies of Galapagos fur seals, the nesting sites of Nazca boobies, not to mention flightless cormorants, penguins, and marine iguanas. Depending on the conditions of the ocean, we’ll be able to snorkel along the cliffs, hopefully in the company of green sea turtles. Back on board, we navigate along the Bolivar Channel, where nutrient-rich upwellings provide fertile fishing grounds for cetaceans.

Punta Espinoza

Afternoon: We end our journey on a high note, by visiting the island of Fernandina, the youngest island of the archipelago and arguably one of the most pristine ecosystems on the planet. Our visitor site of Punta Espinoza boasts an amazing combination of apparently barren landscapes and abundant wildlife, all dominated by the lofty volcano at the heart of the island. Highlights to spot include hawks, penguins, huge numbers of marine iguanas, and the famous flightless cormorant, with its beguiling blue eyes.

Day 5

Transfer to Baltra Island

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in time for your flight back to the mainland, or continue on with your planned trip through the Galapagos Islands.

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