After arriving in San Cristobal, a guide will escort you to the yacht where you will have a chance to check-in and get settled. The first excursion of the trip will be to the Galapagos National Park Interpretation Center provides a complete history of the Galapagos, primarily focusing on its volcanic origins to the present. Tijeretas Hill provides an excellent location to view the bay and the surrounding areas of San Cristobal. Have the chance to observe the magnificent and great frigate birds that wander this area.
An excellent location filled with amazing lava beds to walk to and chances to observe unique colonies of marine birds, including albatross is Punta Suarez. Espanola is very isolated from the other islands allowing it to have a high proportion of endemic fauna. Gardner bay is an excellent place for making friends with the playful sea lions that inhabit the beach here. The young pups can be quite curious. This location is also an important nesting area for sea turtles. Further inland you can see Nazca and blue-footed boobies nest near the trail and watch as the Galapagos doves peck around and finches go about their day to day business. A blowhole is a unique feature from a past eruption which is a fissure in the lava where water spurts high into the air resembling a geyser.
Floreana is one of the Galapagos most famous islands due to many unique stories about past settlers. Post Office Bay is home to a unique “post office” influenced by 18th century pirates and buccaneers who used a wooden barrel as an unofficial mail box. Continue the tradition by leaving addressed postcards in the barrel and sorting through left mail to deliver at home. Floreana is also a magnificent site for swimming and kayaking and for the more adventurous guest, climb deep underground and explore the inside of a lava tunnel. Punta Cormorant is an excellent location for bird-watching, and Cormorant Point has a large lagoon that is filled with various species including flamingos, stilts, and pintail ducks. Bring binoculars so you can see these incredible creatures up close.
Make an early visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and its interpretive Center where scientific research and environmental education is practiced here helping with conserving the natural beauty of the Galapagos. You can see tortoises here in all stages of life, from a three inch hatchling to a grown adult at four feet. The highlands of Santa Cruz are usually shrouded in mist which helps plant life to flourish, making this an idea environment for various animals. The giant tortoise thrives here due to the cool temperatures of this area. There are also incredible volcanic features in the highlands including lava tunnels and two gigantic craters from collapsed tunnels.
Isabela Island is the largest and youngest of the archipelago, formed by five volcanoes. Take some time to wander around the friendly port town of PuertoVillamil on this excursion. Visit the Tortoise Breeding Center where visitors and locals are educated on the importance of the giant tortoise. This is also a facility that helps protect the giant tortoise in its first years. This facility helps tortoises to be prepared for returning to their natural environment. Located south of Isabela Island are the Wetlands which consists of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves. This is an excellent location for viewing various bird species.
Elizabeth Bay consists of several islets and is on the western side of Isabela. This is a wonderful mangrove ecosystem here that is a refuge for sea turtles, rays, blue-footed boobies, penguins, herons, and more making it an excellent place to see wildlife. Moreno Point is located just southwest of Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island. This is a great opportunity to be surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery whole observing and learning about different types of lava and pioneer plants. In the tide pools, have a chance to spot green sea turtles and possibly white-tip sharks.
Today, enjoy the opportunity to observe sea turtle nesting sites as well as penguins and flightless cormorants at Urbina bay. It is also one of the best places to see Darwin’s finches and large land iguanas. The giant tortoises which like to feed within the site’s dense vegetation can also be seen here.
Tangus Cove was used as an anchoring place for pirates, buccaneers, and whalers. The high ridges are decorated with the names of hundreds of ships that were painted there when they came to the island, a practice that is now forbidden. Take a hike on a trail that goes through an area of vegetation and the volcanic landscape of Darwin volcano. Once the top has been reached, enjoy the stunning view of the whole cove and Darwin Lake. The view is definitely worth the trek.
Fernandina Island is one of the most pristine and dynamic ecosystems in the entire world. The lava fields from the 2009 eruption stretch towards the ocean from its base and dominate the landscape. Punta Espinoza is a narrow piece of land where some of the most unique species of the Galapagos can be seen. Amongst these are the flightless cormorant, Galapagos snakes, marine iguanas, penguins, and the Galapagos hawk. It is the perfect place for getting an abundance of wildlife photographs.
Have the chance to participate in some outstanding snorkeling at Punta Vicente Roca. This is a great location for seeing turtles and various types of vibrant fish. There is some spectacular geological rock formations located in this area and it is also great for seeing Nazca boobies, pelicans, swallow-tailed gulls, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, and penguins.
Rábida is a small island with red volcanic rocks surrounding a beautiful red sand beach. A colony of sea lions makes its home here and a pelican nesting site can also be viewed. The trail leads to a salt water lagoon where various types of shore birds can be viewed. Rábida is considered to be one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos Islands, so enjoy the opportunity to go on an exploratory snorkel.
Located on the northwest side of Santiago Island, Puerto Egas (James Bay) has a stunning black sand beach with eroded rock formations surrounding it. The trail crosses the dry interior where you will pass the remains of a salt mining enterprise, pass tidal pools that are home to an abundant variety of invertebrate organisms, including sea urchins, octopus, and starfish, and have the chance to see marine iguanas, finches, oyster catchers, and possibly the Galapagos Hawk. The Fur Sea Lion Grottos is one of the only places in the islands where the Fur Sea Lion can be viewed making it a must see destination.
Chinese Hat (Sombrero Chino) got its name from the unique shape of the island that resembles a traditional Chinese hat. It is a small island off the coast of Santiago Island and is an excellent choice for viewing. Galapagos penguins, eagle rays, sea lions, and marine iguanas on the rocky shoreline. This is an excellent snorkeling site as well and there will be time for those who would like to enjoy the pristine waters.
Pinnacle Rock is definitely a main highlight while visiting Bartolome and is usually a great place to see penguins. On the way to the highest point of Bartolome, encounter different volcanic formations, including spatter and tuff cones, lava flow, and lava tubes. At the summit there is a wonderful view of Sullivan Bay that will makes the journey worth the effort.
North Seymour is a low, flat island, formed as a result of submarine lava formation uplift. It's land cover is made up of low, bushy vegetation that contains the largest colony of magnificent frigate birds in the Galapagos. There is also a large population of blue-footed boobies in this area that perform an amusing courtship dance when nesting conditions are right which is definitely an amazing site to behold. Then transfer to Baltra airport for departure back to the mainland.
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