Upon arrival at Baltra Airport, meet your guide and transfer via a short bus ride to the port of Seymour. Please note: A park entrance fee of $100 is charged at the airport inspection point.
Embark the Darwin Yacht, meet the Captain and crew, and set off to El Chato (Tortoise Reserve) in the afternoon. Follow the trail starting in Santa Rosa, which is surrounded by tall grass and borders the boundaries of some farms. Depending on the season, it can contain mud and slippery rocks. At 1 km there is a pool of water that is filled with tortoises during the rainy season. The road to the reserve is one of the best places to observe land birds. Tree and ground finches, vermilion flycatchers, and cattle egrets inhabit the area and sometimes Galapagos rails have been seen.
The islet Las Tintoreras is located south of Puerto Villamil. It has a small bay of completely calm turquoise waters, where you can appreciate sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas, rays, and more. The bay is connected to a crevice of crystal clear water that is shallow, and when the tide is low the entrance closes. In this crevice, you can see how reef sharks swim along with other small fish and sea lions. Most of the trail is lava AA, except for a white sand beach and a black stone beach. At the first beach are colonies of sea lions and nesting sites for marine iguanas. The second beach is entirely surrounded by mangroves, button mangrove (Conocarpus erecta) and white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa). Throughout the trail you can see many marine iguanas in the rocks or under the mangroves.
Spend the afternoon at the Isabela Wetlands, a complex of trails that includes Cerro Orchilla, a lookout which you can access via a staircase and from which you can see the bay and the town of Puerto Villamil, Sierra Negra Volcano, the Cerro Azul Volcano, islets, and rocks. Enjoy this spectacular scenery. Other trails at this site lead to picnic areas, mangrove forests, lava tubes, rocky beaches, and the Tortoise Breeding Center.
On the east coast of Rábida Island, explore a red sand beach, a coastal lagoon behind the beach, and a loop trail of approximately 1.1 kilometers. The color of the rocks and sand on the beach is due to the very porous volcanic material, which with the help of environmental factors (rain, salt water and sea breeze), has acted as an oxidizing agent. The main attraction of the place is the red sand beach, aside from the vegetation of the arid zone and the presence of native and endemic species.
Dragon Hill, located in northwestern Santa Cruz Island, consists of a trail that runs through three different environments at just 1,600 m long. Its name is derived from the fact that in 1975, this site was one of the only places on Santa Cruz Island where there were land iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus) in a healthy state. In the lagoons at this site, there are shrimp (Artemia salina), the same as is the food of flamingos; at certain times of the year they are more abundant and therefore the population of these birds is larger. During rainier times the water of the lagoons becomes too sweet and therefore shellfish and shorebird populations decline.
Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat) is a small islet located near the southeast coast of Santiago, shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from afar. It is an island consisting of a cone “splatter” (ejected lava falls in drops close to where it came from, forming a cone) that forms the summit and many lava tubes that go down to the coast. On the west you can see pillow-type lava formations, which are an indicator that the flows were formed under the sea and have been raised upward, which is why coral heads are found on the lava. This visit provides an excellent opportunity for the interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows. The trail is 700 m (round trip) and the minimum trekking time is half an hour.
In the afternoon, enjoy a non-motorized Panga ride in Black Turtle Cove, a mangrove estuary on the north coast of Santa Cruz Island. Many rays, sea turtles, pelicans, and others live in the mangroves.
Conclude your Galapagos adventure at Daphne Island off the coast north of Santa Cruz Island. Daphne is a volcanic tuff cone, formed by successive explosions produced by the mixture of lava and water. On this island, Dr. Peter Grant has made a long-term study of Darwin’s finches, which is why these birds are banded. The palo santo (Bursera malacophyla) herein is endemic to the Daphne Islands, North Seymour, and Baltra. The blue-footed booby nests inside the craters while the masked booby nests on the flanks of the cone and the edge of the craters.
Disembark the ship on Baltra for your flight back to the mainland.