Board the Angelito to explore the Northern Islands of the Galapagos. Enjoy the unique flora and fauna such as flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, and sea lions. Spend time exploring cactus forest trails, snorkeling around Pinnacle Rock, and walking along beautiful beaches on this 5-day tour.
Baltra is a small island, the only of the Galapagos that is not included in the National Park's area. The Americans built Baltra's airport in 1941-1948, using it as their air force base in the Pacific during the Second World. The airport and harbor are now Ecuadorian military territory. Unfortunately, both of the military presences have left back their traces. Even if people always speak about Baltra, the airport's official name is South Seymour, and its air code is GPS. With an essential reduction of energy consumption for lighting and ventilation, rainwater recovery, waste recycling, and more, the new building of 2013 has been promoted as the first ecological airport worldwide.
North Seymour is a beautiful place to start your tour through the Galapagos, just north of Baltra. It is a flat, uplifted island in the rain shadow of the island of Santa Cruz, and so the vegetation is typically dry in Arid Zone. The dry landing on a small peer is sometimes a bit tricky due to the waves. A dry landing means you will move from the Yacht to the zodiac and onto the island while staying completely dry. The loop trail leads from a small peer along the rocky coast and is full of surprises: sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls, sally lightfoot crabs, and marine iguanas, and walk through the nesting area of blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds. Activities: Hiking
Sombrero Chino or Chinese Hat is only a 200-meter wide channel that separates this small island from the big Santiago Island. The shape of the volcanic island looks like a Chinese hat. The scenery is very charming. The wet landing is on a small, white coral beach with many sea lions. Wet landing means you will get your feet and lower parts of your legs wet while exiting the zodiac. The smooth and short trail leads along the coast with very fragile lava. There are a lot of small lava tubes and tiny but very attractive vegetation. Pillow lava is to see on the turning point of the trail. First snorkeling activity of this week! Fantastic and recommendable, even if you never did it before. Snorkel equipment is included in cruise prices. If you need a wetsuit, you can rent it on board. Activities: Hiking, Snorkeling
Bartolome: With the Pinnacle Rock, a classic beauty and the most photographed Galapagos scenery! The dry landing is on a jetty, and then the summit trail leads to Bartolome's highest point on a wooden footbridge and steps to protect the fragile environment. The view from the top across Bartolome, Santiago with Sullivan Bay, and the surrounding islands is superb! All the secondary cones, lava flows, and lava tubes mimic a moon landscape. In the later afternoon, enjoy a panga ride to look out for the Galapagos penguins; they live and nest in the lava tubes of the rocky shore. Activities: Hiking, Panga Ride
Day 3: Prince Phillip's Steps, Genovesa | Darwin Bay
The bird island Genovesa is low and flat, the most northern and isolated to visit by cruise ships, and one more of the highlights of the itinerary. The longer navigation is during the night, crossing the equator!
Darwin Bay: The wet landing is on the small white beach of coral sand. The trail follows the shore vegetation of red mangrove, saltbush, and the unique prickly pear cactus that here often grows like a hanging cactus with soft hairy spines. Under the shore vegetation, the swallow-tailed gulls do nest, and in the bushes and trees nest the red-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds. A few Nazca boobies nest on the ground. The trail leads along small tidepools up to the cliff with a spectacular view over the caldera. By low tide, there are thousands of Galapagos fiddler crabs in the sandy ground. The snorkeling in the blue water of this bay is delicious! Activities: Hiking, Snorkeling
Prince Philip's Steps: The dry landing is at the cliff, and Prince Philip's Steps are the only possibility to climb the steep basaltic cliff. Then, the easy trail leads first through a small nesting colony of masked boobies and then crosses a low and dense forest of palo santo trees where red-footed boobies have their nests. Arriving on the edge of the island, thousands of small petrels fly around! These little birds have their nests in the crevices and tubes of the fragile lava. They are the favorite food of the short-eared owl. Keep your eyes open to find the hunter; not easy; the owls are well camouflaged! On both sides of the trail are big Nazca booby-nesting colonies. End the excursion with a panga ride at the foot of the cliffs. Activities: Hiking, Panga Ride
Puerto Egas, Santiago Island: The landmark of Puerto Egas is the large tuff formations of cliffs with relief structures. The wet landing is on a black beach. Here, it is an excellent place to discover shore life. The hike with the intertidal life during the constantly changing tide levels shows an unusual, unique fauna. Often, you can observe lava herons fishing in the isolated tidal pools. You can see Galapagos sea lions, Sally lightfoot crabs, and marine iguanas during the whole walk. Depending on the season, many migrant shorebirds are living on these rich coasts during wintertime. On the turning point of the trail is the Fur Seal Grotto, where the Galapagos fur seals have found an ideal living space in the crevices and caves of the rocky lava coast. Activities: Hiking
Rabida: Incredibly unique is the red sand of the beach, contrasting with the saltbush vegetation and the silvery palo santo trees on the slopes. The source of the peculiar red color is the lava that contains a high proportion of ferric oxide. Before the last El Niño, the beach of Rabida had one of the most significant Galapagos sea lion colonies; now, reduced to a small remaining population, they are still recuperating. There is a small lagoon behind the zone of saltbush vegetation, depending on the season, with flamingos and white-cheeked pintail ducks. This beautiful beach is another special snorkeling place. Activities: Hiking, Panga Ride
Day 5: Santa Cruz | Baltra | Disembark
Puerto Ayora is a small charming town, the largest in the Galapagos, and the head of tourism, and offers several hotels, bars, restaurants, a hospital, banks, and many small shops. The airport Baltra is in the north, linked by a road to cross the island.
The Galapagos National Park's offices and the Charles Darwin Research Station are in Puerto Ayora.
Visit the Station early in the morning to learn about the significant scientific effort to protect the National Park Galapagos. Especially the raising programs of the different subspecies of giant tortoises are well documented. The Van Straiten Exhibition Hall offers interesting documentation about the Galapagos Islands, illustrated by photos and diagrams. The vegetation on the walk to the Station and back is exuberant green, and Darwin's finches are easy to spot.
Disembark and be escorted to the Itabaca Channel from where you go to Baltra to catch the flight back to Ecuador's 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!