Begin your adventures in the Galapagos on Baltra Island. Fly into Baltra, an arid, uplifted island dotted with salt bushes, prickly pear cactus, and palo santo trees. Head to the harbor and board your cruise ship.
Journey across to Santa Cruz Island for a visit to 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.
Today begins with a visit to Black Turtle Cove, a small, exclusive destination nestled into the northern side of Santa Cruz. Surrounded by red mangroves, this quiet cove constitutes an ideal nursery for a variety of sharks and rays. No landing sites exist in the cove, so you can either paddle in with a kayak or a panga. Observe large groups of white and black-tip reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, and schools of golden and spotted eagle rays. It is also possible to spot sea turtles, pelicans, and herons in this unique environment.
In the afternoon, journey on to Chinese Hat, a small islet off of Santiago. Named for its distinctive shape, Chinese Hat is a recent volcanic cone that exhibits fascinating lava formations. Admire its lava tubes and flows, and observe its entertaining colonies of sea lions and penguins.
Cruise to Genovesa Island today, beginning at Darwin Bay. Darwin came into existence when Genovesa's crater collapsed into the sea, leaving beautiful white coral sand beaches in its stead. This island is favored by bird-watchers, boasting numerous species including red footed and masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels, and various herons. A trail takes you across the island and up to a cliff edge. From here, admire the incredible view of the island landscape below.
In the afternoon, ascend the southern plateau of Darwin Bay, known as El Barranco. This area is a popular nesting site for masked and red-footed boobies as well as storm petrels and short-eared owls.
Cruise over to Bartolomé this morning to take in one of the most scenic areas in the Galapagos. Set at an altitude of 114 meters, enjoy the view from Bartolomé of the volcanic features of the surrounding islands. Spot cones, craters, lava fields, and famous Toba pinnacle. Sparse in vegetation, but rich in beaches, Bartolomé is home to sea turtles and a small colony of Galapagos penguins.
Travel on this afternoon to Santiago Island. Santiago is still an active volcano, great for getting up close to young lava flows. Its flows are also visible from Darwin's summit, and, more impressively, outerspace!
Today get to know Santa Cruz Island, beginning with a tour of Charles Darwin Station. Here you will learn about Galapagos protection and conservation. Your understanding of the important conservation efforts taking place across the archipelago will be greatly enhanced by your first-hand experience with the Galapagos' natural wonders and precious wildlife.
In the afternoon visit Santa Cruz's the picturesque highlands. Take a trail from Bellavista, through an agricultural area, along the National Park boundary, the Miconia zone, and into the Fern and Sedge zone. On a clear day, enjoy views of rolling hillsides and extinct volcanic cones.
Today you will take a zodiac ride to the "Tintoreras," a cluster of islands off of the coast of Puerto Villamil. Here herons perch on the mangroves, Galapagos penguins and sea lions lounge on shore, and white-tipped reef sharks rest in the shallow waters.
In the afternoon venture to the highlands of Isabela Island. Hike up the Sierra Negra slope to the volcano's rim. From this vantage point you will have a fantastic view of the 5 mile wide crater and surrounding islands. Continue on to Chico Volcano and watch the striking lava formations that have helped shaped Isabela.
Disembark this morning at Punta Moreno on the north coast of Isabela Island. From here, take a trail to a group of coastal lagoons, winding across the island along a Pahohoe lava flow.
In the afternoon, visit Elizabeth Bay in a zodiac. Your boat ride will take you through the Marielas islets into a cove surrounded by red mangroves. This area is home to the largest colony of Galapagos penguins in the archipelago, and is a great place to view sea turtles, spotted eagle and golden rays, sea lions, and schools of impressive pompano and dorado fish.
Explore Punta Espinoza this morning, on the northeastern tip of Fernandina Island. This site is a mecca for rare wildlife, most notably the flightless comorant and marine iguanas.
In the afternoon, tour the cliffs of Tagus Cove in a zodiac, disembarking for a 30 minute hike to the cliff-top. From here, enjoy views of Darwin Lake, surrounding volcanoes, and cliff-side graffiti written by pirates centuries ago.
Travel to Santiago Island, hitting Espumilla beach in the morning. This beach provides an important nesting site for marine turtles and is abutted by the beautiful Palo Santo forest.
After Esupmilla, head to the west side of the island for a visit to Puerto Egas. This black sand beach was formed by volcanic tuff deposits and is considered Santiago's main attraction.
This morning will find you at Isla Lobos, a small island made up of a dry vegetation zone, volcanic rock, and beautiful, sandy shorline. Lobos is also home to a particularly large colony of sea lions.
Venture on to San Cristobal this afternoon, and visit the Cerro Colorado Tortoises Protection and Growing Center on the south east side of the island. Take this opportunity to learn about San Cristobal's tortoise population, as well as its other fascinating species of native flora and fauna.
This morning you will cruise to Gardner Bay on the northeastern coast of Española Island. Swim snorkel, kayak, and enjoy the crystal clear waters of the bay.
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.
Today begins with a visit to Punta Cormorant, home of the best flamingo lagoon in the Galapagos. Located on Floreana Island, the lagoon is uniquely situated between two tuff lava cones and is home to flamingos, common stilts, white-checked pintail ducks, and many others. The area features two distinct beaches: "The Green Beach," made up of olivine crystals, and "The Flour Sand Beach," formed by particles of coral.
This afternoon, pay a visit to historical Post Office Bay. In the 18th century whalers placed a barrel at this site to serve as a post office for mariners and inhabitants of the island, and it's been in use ever since. Ascend to nearby Baroness Lookout, along the north slope of Floreana. From here, enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Today you will journey to Santa Fe, a distinctly flat island formed by a geological uplift rather than a volcano. Some theories identify Santa Fe as the oldest island in the Galapagos. Walk along the island trail, winding through salt bushes and giant cactus while viewing unique species such as the Galapagos hawk, snake, and mockingbird. Take advantage of the crystalline waters, snorkeling with tropical fish and playful sea lions.
Venture to South Plaza Island this afternoon. Diminutive in size, but rich in wildlife, Plaza houses some of the Galapagos' most fascinating creatures. Most notably, the island boasts a large population of hybrid iguanas, a cross between their land and marine counterparts.
In the morning, venture to North Seymour Island. Its landscape is flat and boulder-strewn, providing excellent nesting conditions for blue-footed boobies and vibrant frigate birds. Take a circular path around the island and along its lovely, rocky shore.
Spend the afternoon at Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz Island. Decomposed coral has formed the soft, white sand of Bachas, making it a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Two abandoned barges are visible off of the coast, remnants of the military's presence during WWII.
This morning, before your departure, visit the Mosquera Islet. A great place to snorkel and swim, Mosquera is home to a rock and coral reef, pristine white sand beach, and a large population of sea lions and shorebirds.
Travel back to Baltra in the afternoon for your departing flight.
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