After arriving at the Baltra airport, there will be a guide to accompany you to the boat for check-in. This adventure begins with a trip to Las Bachas Beach which is located in the north of Santa Cruz Island and has incredible soft, white sand that is derived from decomposed coral. This fine grain sand makes this area a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Wander behind the beach and discover a small brackish lagoon where it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels.
Genovesa, or Tower Island, is the northernmost island in the archipelago that is allowed to be visited by non-diving cruises. This island is extremely remote and home to literally millions of birds belonging to many different species. Amongst these species include the red-footed booby as well as frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, and even endemic owls.
El Barranco, also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, is a steep path with stairs carved into the rock that leads to a plateau with an abundance of bird life amongst a Palo Santo forest. The inhabitants are abundant and amongst there species the Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, and petrels are included. With some luck, have a chance to spot a short-eared lava owl.
Darwin Bay is home to a stunning coralline beach that is perfect for a blissful stroll. A trail from the beach immerses you into lush mangroves where red-footed boobies nest, and there are multiple opportunities to enjoy the other local inhabitants that roam this area including sea lions, swallow-tail gulls, frigates, and more. Snorkeling is a must here as sharks, colorful reef fish, rays, and tortoises are common.
Despite South Plaza Island's small size, it is home to a large Opuntia cacti forest, land iguanas, and one of the largest sea lion colonies in the central region of the archipelago. Sesuvium is an endemic plant that inhabits this island and is a great climate indicator. It changes colors with the seasons, greenish-yellowish during the rainy season and a bright red during the dry season. There will also be opportunities to see Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and other kinds of sea birds as well as various types of finches.
Santa Fe was uniquely formed by an uplifting rather than by a volcano. Some of the island’s endemic species include the Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Snake, rice rats, different types of finches, and the Galapagos Mockingbird. Wander around the island to see salt bushes where Galapagos hawks and Santa Fe land iguanas tend to wander. Enjoy the company of friendly and playful sea lions as they accompany you during your snorkeling activities.
Enjoy an excursion to Punta Pitt which is located on the eastern tip of San Cristobal Island. Take a hike up to a plateau to view the spectacular landscape which is so unique and beautiful it is definitely worth the effort. Watch out for the Red-Footed Boobies nesting in the cliffs. The water is great here so enjoy the opportunity for kayaking, snorkeling or swimming. Cerro Brujo’s breathtaking beach is also home to an abundance of sea lions. They are curious and extremely friendly creature that make for an awesome up close and personal experience. This is also the first coast where Charles Darwin first stepped foot on in the Archipelago!
The Galapagos Turtles Breeding Center was created to conserve the San Cristobal tortoise species. The center has the goal to educate the tourists on conservation topics and protection of the environment. This area contains native plants and giant tortoises living in their natural habitat. This is a great location to see these amazing creatures in all stages of life. The Interpretive Center is a scientific research and environmental education facility that helps with conserving the natural beauty of the Galapagos. Tortoises range in size from three inches as a hatchling to a grown adult at four feet.
Observe unique colonies of marine birds, including albatross, while exploring the stunning landscape of Punta Suarez. Espanola is very isolated from the other islands allowing it to have a high proportion of endemic fauna. Make friends with the whimsical sea lions that inhabit the beach at Gardner Bay. This location is also an important nesting area for sea turtles. Further inland, Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest near the trail and Galapagos doves peck around and finches go about their day to day business unaware of visitors. Further down the trail there is a blowhole, a fissure in the lava where water spurts high into the air resembling a geyser.
One of the Galapagos most famous islands due to many unique stories about past settlers is Floreana. Post Office Bay is home to a unique “post office” which was a wooden barrel that was used as an unofficial mail box in 18th century by whalers and other frequenters of the island. Feel free to leave a postcard in the barrel but make sure to grab another to mail when you return home. This is part of the tradition of this post office. Floreana is also a magnificent site for swimming and kayaking, or climbing down into lava tunnels and exploring the inner workings of this island. Watch your step because this tunnel has been kept untouched and completely natural over these many years. Punta Cormorant is a great site for bird-watching. Cormorant Point has a large lagoon where an array of species including flamingos, stilts, and pintail ducks tend to wander.
An early visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and Interpretive Center will be an excellent educational experience to head home with. The scientific research and environmental education being practiced here helps with conserving the natural beauty of the Galapagos. The bus will take you to the airport in Baltra for your return to the mainland.
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