Cruise across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island, home of the Charles Darwin Station. Here you will have the opportunity to learn about Galapagos protection and conservation efforts before exploring the archipelago. Visit the National Park information center, the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, and the Breeding and Research Center for Galapagos tortoises.
In the afternoon, disembark in Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. Venture up the highlands along Sierra Negra's volcanic slope. Arrive eventually at its impressive 5-mile-wide crater, the widest of its kind in the world. From here, admire the fantastic view of the surrounding volcanoes and the island below. Hike on to Chico Volcano for an up-close look at lava formations, the building blocks of the archipelago.
This afternoon travel via zodiac to Elizabeth Bay. Boat around the Marielas islets, home of the largest penguin colony in the Galapagos. Admire the mangroves, observe sea turtles, flightless cormorants, schools of Dorado fish, among many others.
In the afternoon, take a zodiac tour of Tagus Cove. The cliffs of Tagus are ideal for spotting the Galapagos penguin and other entertaining sea birds. Embark on a 30 minute hike leading to the top of a cliff that overlooks picturesque Darwin Lake. From here, soak in spectacular views of the surrounding volcanoes and keep an eye out for historic graffiti left on the cliff walls by pirates and whalers.
This afternoon head to the west side of the island for a visit to Puerto Egas. This site is known for its distinctive black sand beaches, formed by volcanic tuff deposits.
Head to San Cristobal in the afternoon for a visit to Cerro Colorado Tortoise Protection and Growing Center. This is an excellent place to be introduced to the wildlife of the archipelago. Visit the corral, breeding and visitor centers, and take a walk on the interpretive trail, observing tortoises and native birds along the way.
Move on to Punta Suarez in the afternoon, a rocky outcropping on Española's southern shore. This site provides habitat for the largest, most varied populations of sea birds in the Galapagos. Watch as birds soar along the cliffs, dodging the spectacular water spouts and pounding surf.
This afternoon embark on a historic excursion to Post Office Bay. In the 18th century, whalers placed a wooden barrel at this site that has served as a post office for mariners and tourists ever since. Continue on to Baroness Lookout, hiking up a gentle slope for a rewarding view of the island below.
Plaza, though small in stature, is home to some of the Galapagos' most interesting creatures. Notably, hybrid iguanas are found in abundance here. These species are a cross between marine and land iguanas. The rugged cliffs of the island are also home to a variety of entertaining sea birds.
From North Seymour, journey to Bachas Beach in the afternoon. This stunning beach is located on Santa Cruz Island, just west of Turtle Cove. The white sand of Bachas, a product of decomposed coral, is a favorite nesting site for sea turtles.
Visit Dragon Hill in the afternoon. Located on the northwest side of Santa Cruz, this site features a trail leading to a hyper-saline lagoon, home to a variety of bird species. Take a short walk up the Hill and soak in the stunning view of the islands and bay below.
Journey on to Chinese Hat in the afternoon. This island derived its name from its distinctly conical shape. Chinese Hat is an ideal destination for viewing volcanic formations, such as lava tubes and flows, and is also home to sea lions, marine iguanas, and Galapagos penguins.
The southern portion of Darwin Bay features El Barranco, a trail leading hikers up to a gorgeous plateau, perfect for admiring the picturesque beach.
In the afternoon, travel on to Santiago, a volcanically active island located in the west-central area of the archipelago. Explore Santiago's lava flows, which can still be seen threading across the island, and are even visible from the far reaches of outerspace!
Before departure, visit Baltra, an uplifted island rich in wildlife and unique in terrain. Enjoy the antics of the marine birds and the beauty of the rocky shoreline as you traverse the island.
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