Arrive at the San Cristobal airport this morning and transfer to the boat. Cruise the shores of San Cristobal en route to Galapaguera, located on the northern end of the island. Here view giant turtles living peaceably in the wild.
Hike along the coastline of Santa Fe Island and discover colorful flora and fauna. The well-known land iguanas here can grow over five feet long. The Santa Fe species of iguana are more bright yellow and have uncommonly large spikes on their spine. In true Galapagos style the opuntia cactus, a favorite food of the land iguana, has responded by growing tall and woody - up to 33 feet high and are the largest of their kind in Galapagos. Manta rays and sea turtles flit by as dark shadows against the sandy bottom of Santa Fe's beautiful anchorage. After a long hike, relax with a swim in the calm waters of the beautiful bay, or snorkel along in the company of sea lions at the base of the rocks.
Explore the shores of South Plaza Island, covered by the opuntia cactus and home to the largest sea lion colonies in the Galapagos. Also here you will find the lazy but colorful yellow and red land iguana. This animal likes this island because of its richness in the opuntia cactus, which is an iguana delicacy. There are about 700 iguanas on the island and this species seems to be one of the smallest iguana species.
Rábida is a bird-watchers delight. Some of the rarest species are in abundance, such as 9 varieties of finches, large billed flycatchers, Galapagos hawks and brown pelicans. The dark red sand beaches and a horde of snoring sea lions make for spectacular snorkeling. Also, the island is home to the skinny legged Flamingo, which can be seen in a salt-water lagoon near the beach. From the observatory on the southeastern part of the island, you can appreciate the red color of the beach and the rocks surrounding it.
Land on the black beach of Puerto Egas on the island of Santiago, once home to salt mining enterprise. Explore this unique beach and its environs including plenty of sea lions and fur seals. Santiago provides habitat for many of the 30-40,000 fur seals that call the Galapagos home, and provides ample photography opportunities for these animals.
Tagus Cove on Isabela Island is one of the landing spots on the island and was historically used as an anchoring site for pirates and whalers. The trail that goes from Tagus Cove will take you through many different vegetation zones and offers spectacular views of Darwin Lake, which is a saltwater crater lake. Once you get to the top of the trail, you will be able to see Darwin Volcano as well as Wolf Volcano, which is the highest point of the islands.
Continue to Fernandina Island, with a stop at Mangle Point. Here witness the amazing views and wildlife on the shorelines. Mangle Point is a small inlet on Fernandina’s coast providing ample snorkeling opportunities. On shore, watch playful sea lions, curious penguins, and catch a glimpse of where flightless cormorants reside.
Return to Isabela this morning and explore Urbina Bay, located at the base of the Alcedo Volcano on the western coast between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay. This scenic bay offers great snorkeling opportunities.
Return to Fernandina for a visit to Espinoza Point. Fernandina Island has yet to be invaded by foreign species making it is one of the world's most pristine island ecosystems. The volcano “La Cumbre” dominates the landspace with lava fields reaching the ocean. This area provides a great opportunity to see the Galapagos hawk.
Bartolome is home of the famous Pinnacle Rock, which is the most representative landmark of the Bartolome Island in Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. Climbing to the top of this popular landmark rewards visitors with panoramic views of varied lave formations, volcanic peaks and moon-like landscape. Walking on the rocks at the base of Pinnacle Rock are Galapagos Penguins. This is the smallest species of penguins and the only species found north of the Equator.
North Seymour was like a few other islands, uplifted by underground seismic activity. This tiny island is packed with countless sea lions and it's one of the most popular breeding grounds for sea birds. A very large colony of frigate birds nest here, and it's almost guaranteed to see a few males proudly displaying their red pouches to impress a mate. It is also one of the best places to see blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of their courtship dance, which is quite peculiar and amusing. Also, while visiting this island, you might very well witness a great show of acrobatic flight, namely a frigate bird robbing a booby, a gull or even another frigate bird of their food.
Visit the Charles Darwin Station, where you will be able to observe tortoise research and breeding programs. Scientists, park rangers, and park managers among others conduct the conservation of the islands and make huge efforts to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Continue to El Chato, a tortoise reserve located in the Highlands of Santa Cruz, where these giant tortoises can be observed in the wild.
Enjoy a visit to Islet Lobos, located just across a small channel from San Cristobal. The name means Sea Lion Island, which is certainly appropriate since many sea lions frolic, leap and make their homes here. This island is also a great place for snorkeling opportunities as well as to view blue-footed boobies.
Continue to the airport for your journey home.
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