Arrive at the airport in Baltra and be escorted to the port where you will board the Yacht. The first excursion of your trip will take you to the highlands of Santa Cruz. The highlands 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 of the archipelago, formed by five volcanoes, as well as the youngest of the islands. Puerto Villamil is a friendly port and will be your home-base during a diverse and exciting day where choices for adventure and relaxation abound. 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 and prepare them for survival in their natural environment. Located south of Isabela Island are the Wetlands which consists of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves. There are paths that wind through the swamps and are excellent for viewing various bird species including common stilts, whimbrels, white-cheeked pintails, and gallinules.
Elizabeth Bay consists of several islets and is on the western side of Isabela. This is a wonderful mangrove ecosystem that is a refuge for sea turtles, rays, blue-footed boobies, penguins, herons, and more. Moreno Point is located just southwest of Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island. Surround yourself by some of the most magnificent scenery while observing different types of lava and pioneer plants. In the tide pools, have a chance to spot green sea turtles and possibly white-tip sharks. This area is made of up rocky shores that are great for observing penguins, sea lions, blue footed boobies, and marine iguanas.
Urbina bay is located in Western Isabela, at the foot of Alcedo volcano. Have the opportunity to observe sea turtle nesting sites as well as penguins and flightless cormorants. It is also one of the best places to see Darwin’s finches and large land iguanas. With some luck, you might spot the giant tortoises which like to feed within the site’s dense vegetation.
Pirates, buccaneers, and whalers would use Tangus Cove as an anchoring place. The high ridges are covered with painted names of hundreds of ships that came to the island. This is 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 incredible view of the whole cove and Darwin Lake.
One of the most pristine and dynamic ecosystems in the entire world is Fernandina Island. The volcano here, La Cumbre, last erupted in April 2009 and the lava fields from this 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.
A wonderful snorkeling site that would be tested out is Punta Vicente Roca. Here you can usually see turtles and various types of fish. A panga ride allows for the opportunity to study some of the Galapagos’ spectacular geological rock formations. In this area you can see Nazca boobies, pelicans, swallow-tailed gulls, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, and penguins.
The island of Rábida is covered with red volcanic rocks surrounding a beautiful red sand beach. At this location there is a colony of sea lions and a pelican nesting site. Follow the trail thats leads to a salt water lagoon where you can view various types of shore birds. Rábida is considered to be one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos Islands, so enjoy the opportunity to go snorkel.
Puerto Egas (James Bay) is located on the northwest side of Santiago Island and is home to a black sand beach with eroded rock formations surrounding it. The trail crosses the dry interior where you will pass the remnants of a salt mine and tidal pools that are home to an abundant variety of invertebrate organisms including sea urchins, octopus, and starfish. Have the chance to also 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 and is definitely worth the walk.
Start the day with a trip to Chinese Hat (Sombrero Chino), a small island off the coast of Santiago Island. It got its name from its unique shape that resembles traditional Chinese hat. Here you can observe Galapagos penguins, eagle rays, sea lions, and marine iguanas on the rocky shoreline. This is an excellent snorkeling site so enjoy some time for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking.
Bartolome is a small island with has two visitor sites. Snorkel around Pinnacle Rock at the first where penguins are usually seen. From the highest point on the island, encounter different volcanic formations, including spatter and tuff cones, lava flow, and lava tubes on your way up. At the summit there is a wonderful view of Sullivan Bay. There are opportunities to see sea lions, pioneer plants, reef sharks, rays, and colorful reef fish while touring the island.
North Seymour is located slightly in the north of Baltra. This is a low, flat island, formed as a result of submarine lava formation uplift. It is covered with low, bushy vegetation that contains the largest colony of magnificent frigate birds in the Galapagos. The males have a red gular pouch that they will inflate when trying to attract a mate There is also a large population of blue-footed boobies in this area that perform an amusing courtship dance when nesting conditions are right.
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. This path leads to a plateau with an abundance of bird life amongst a Palo Santo forest. Some of the inhabitants include Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, mockingbirds, and petrels. With some luck, have a chance to spot a short-eared lava owl.
Darwin Bay is home to a stunning soft, coralline white sandy beach that is perfect for a blissful stroll. A trail from the beach immerses you into lush mangroves where red-footed boobies nest. 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.
South Plaza Island happens to be quite small, but it is actually 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. Its color is a 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.
Rather than by a volcano, Santa Fe was formed by uplifting. 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 and have a chance to witness friendly and playful sea lions 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 is located in the northeast part of San Cristobal Island. This was created to conserve the San Cristobal tortoise species. The center has the goal to lead and guide the tourists in conservation topics and protection of the environment. This area contains native plants and giant tortoises in their natural habitat. This is a great location to see these amazing creatures in all stages of life. After this, transfer to the airport for your flight back to Quito or Guayaquil.
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