Black Turtle Cove is one of the most beautiful marine sites with its complex maze of tranquil salt-water inlets. It is surrounded by three different species of mangrove and its waters are a nursery site for sea turtles, rays, and sharks. It is also a nesting site for sea birds. This is a site that is only accessible by panga.
Rábida is a small island with red volcanic rocks surrounding a beautiful red sand beach. Here there is a colony of sea lions and a pelican nesting site. The trail 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, or if you prefer to kayak or take a panga ride, that is also available.
Puerto Egas (James Bay) is located on the northwest side of Santiago Island. The landing is on a black beach with eroded rock formations surrounding it. The trail crosses the dry interior where you will pass the remains of a salt mining enterprise and then continues along the coast. Tidal pools are home to an abandant 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. There is a trail that leads to the Fur Sea Lion Grottos, one of the only places in the islands where the Fur Sea Lion can be viewed.
After the walk, take some time to swim or snorkel. This will allow you the chance to see sea lions, various fish, and possibly turtles, rays, and reef sharks.
Tagus Cove was historically used as an anchoring place for pirates, buccaneers, and whalers. They would paint the names of their ships on the high ridges, a practice that is now forbidden. There are the name of hundreds of ships left on these walls. Take a hike through an area of vegetation and the volcanic landscape of Darwin volcano. At the top of the trail, you will enjoy an incredible view of the whole cove and Darwin Lake.
The early morning activity is followed by kayaking or a panga ride. This will give you the opportunity to see a large number of blue-footed boobies perched on the ledges of the cliffs. Also enjoy the chance to see marine iguanas, penguins, brown pelicans, brown noddy terns, and swallow-tailed gulls. While exploring the channel between Fernandina and Isabela Islands, an encounter with dolphins and whales is sometimes possible.
Fernandina Island is one of the most pristine and dynamic ecosystems in the entire world. La Cumbre Volcano last erupted in April 2009 and its lava flows dominate the landscape here all the way to the ocean. Punta Espinoza is a narrow piece of land where some of the most unique Galapagos species can be seen. These include the flightless cormorant, Galapagos snakes, marine iguanas, penguins and the Galapagos hawk.
Located in Western Isabela, Urbina bay is at the foot of Alcedo volcano. After a wet landing on a breathtaking black-sand beach, you may be able to observe sea turtle nesting sites. This area is also known for penguin and flightless cormorant sightings as well. It is also one of the best places to see Darwin’s finches and large land iguanas. Keep an eye out for Galapagos tortoises while on this excursion. They like to feed within the site’s dense vegetation.
Punta Vicente Roca is a fantastic snorkeling site, where you can usually see turtles as well as several varieties of fish. For those who do not snorkel, a panga ride will give you the opportunity to study some of the Galapagos’ spectacular geological rock formations. Nazca boobies, pelicans, swallow-tailed gulls, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants and penguins are often seen in the area.
On your visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station you will gain insight into the great efforts being made by scientists, guides, rangers and park managers to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can view the tortoises at many stages of life. Newly hatched tortoises average 3 inches long, while the adults can reach over 4 feet. This research station helps prepare these incredible creatures for reintroduction into their natural environment.
After the visit we drive to the green highlands of Santa Cruz, where you will visit a tortoise reserve. Take some time and search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings. This is a leisurely afternoon.
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 full 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’s soft, coralline white sand is only the beginning of this next spectacular excursion. A trail from the beach immerses you into lush mangroves where red-footed boobies nest. Other locals inhabitants include sea lions, swallow-tail gulls, frigates, and more. Snorkeling is a must here as sharks, colorful reef fish, rays and tortoises are common.
Bartolome is a small island with has two visitor sites. Snorkel around Pinnacle Rock at the first where penguins are usually seen. Then take a short dinghy ride to a dry landing for a nice climb to the highest point on the island. Encounter different volcanic formations, including spatter and tuff cones, lava flow, and lava tubes and your way up. At the summit there is a wonderful view of Sullivan Bay. There is the option of enjoying a panga ride instead of taking the hike. This will include a chance to see sea lions, pioneer plants, reef sharks, rays, and colorful reef fish.
The name Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) comes from the fact that it was one of the few sites on Santa Cruz Island where a very large population of land iguanas were found. Take a hike to a salt water lagoon behind the beach that is frequented by common stilts, pintail ducks, and occasionally flamingos. A short walk up the hill leads you to a land iguana nesting site. Also enjoy breathtaking views of the bay. Have an opportunity to enjoy a nice swim after the walk.
Las Bachas Beach is located in the north of Santa Cruz Island and has incredible soft, white sand that is derived from decomposed coral. This makes this area a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind the beach there is a small slightly salty lagoon. Here it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. Disembark to the airport and head back to the mainland.
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