This 8-day adventure does far more then cover the highlights of the central islands of the Galapagos. This cruise gives you the opportunity to Indulge yourself in the picturesque beauty of the unique landscape, relax on the beach, do some exploratory snorkeling, and wander to the hidden center of the islands. Be entertained by the antics of friendly sea lions or get up close and personal with the incredible giant tortoises that make their home here.
Day 1 : San Cristobal Day 2 : Santa Fe - South Plaza Island Day 3 : Santa Cruz Island - Charles Darwin Center Day 4 : Isabela Day 5 : Isabela Day 6 : Fernandina Day 7 : Santiago - Bartolome Day 8 : North Seymour- Baltra
Arrive at San Cristobal Island Airport and transfer to the boat for check-in. Enjoy your first excursion to the Breeding Center at Cerro Colorado. Here you can observe the giant tortoise in all its various stages of life. This reserve has lush vegetation and the tortoises roam free.
Santa Fe is home to the small picturesque bay and anchorage on the island’s northeast coast. The bay has two visitor trails, one leading to a scenic viewpoint atop a cliff, and the other spanning from a small beach to a tall prickly pear cactus forest.
In the morning, head to South Plaza Island which is a small island with steep cliffs that were formed by rising lava. It is now covered by Opuntia cacti. This is also the home to one of the largest sea lion colonies as well as colorful yellow and red land iguanas. The most characteristic plant is Sesuvium. During the rainy season its color is a greenish to yellowish tone and in the dry season it changes to a bright red.
The Charles Darwin Research Station is home to turtles ranging from 3-inches when they are new hatchlings to 4-feet long. Subspecies of turtles interact with one another and many of the older turtles are accustomed to humans stretching out their hands for some friendly interaction. The babies are kept until they are about four years old and strong enough to survive on their own. This facility prepares tortoises for reintroduction into their natural habitat.
Los Gemelos, or the Twin Craters, are located opposite each other on both sides of the road leading from Puerto Ayora to Baltra. These are not real craters. The formations were created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. The view is breathtaking and a must to see.
The Sierra Negra Volcano boasts the largest basaltic caldera in Galapagos at 9 x 10 km. The site offers some very impressive views. Enjoy the opportunity to observe up to 7 species of finch as well as a rich display of vegetation. The north side of the caldera provides evidence of its most recent volcanic activity in 2005.
The Wetlands of Isabela Island are located just outside of Puerto Villamil and consist of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves. This landscape is home to a variety of unique bird species such as common stilts, whimbrels, white-cheeked pintails, and gallinules. The Wetlands can be visited on foot by way of a path that weaves through the swamps.
Located near Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island is Moreno Point. There is a plethora of birds that can be seen during a dinghy ride along the striking rocky shores. They can also be viewed along a hiking path through lava rock leading to tide pools and mangroves. This area is a birdwatcher’s delight. Spot green sea turtles or white-tip sharks in the tide pools.
Urbina Bay is located at the base of Alcedo Volcano on the west coast between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay. This area experienced a major uplift in 1954 causing the land to rise over 16 feet. The coast expanded half a mile out leaving marine life stranded on the new shore. This area is great for snorkeling.
No foreign species have ever invaded Fernandina Island, and therefore it is one of the world's most pristine island ecosystems. The volcano “La Cumbre” dominates the landspace with lava fields reaching the ocean. One of the island's highlights features the flightless cormorant nesting site and provides the opportunity to see the Galapagos hawk.
Vicente Roca Point is located on the northwestern coast of the island and comprised of two separate coves. This site is a large bay with spectacular sea life. Seahorses, sea turtles, and the strange yet fascinating Mola mola can be spotted here. This bay is great for enjoying some spectacular diving and snorkeling.
Espumilla Beach is a popular place for witnessing marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs. The crabs attract the hunting herons which can be seen performing the dance of predator and prey. With an abundance of marine life including octopi, moray eels, and sharks, snorkeling is highly recommended.
Bartholeme is home to the famous Pinnacle Rock. It consists of an extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, black and even green volcanic formations. A trail of stairs leads to the summit of the volcano which has one of the best views of the islands. The beach is perfect for an exploratory snorkeling trip and possible sightings of the Galapagos penguin.
Day 8 North Seymour- Baltra
Galapagos sea lions, blue-footed boobies, and magnificent frigatebirds are bountiful on North Seymour Island. The island is characterized by its arid vegetation zone and was formed by a series of submarine lava containing layers of sediment that were uplifted by tectonic activity.
Later in the day, transfer to the Baltra Airport and return to the mainland.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!