This 5-day itinerary through the southern islands visits the Charles Darwin Research Station in Santa Cruz, and combines the incredible shark canal off the coast of Isabela with the best flamingo lagoons of the Galapagos and spectacular snorkeling around Devil’s Crown on Floreana Island. The albatrosses, booby colonies, and marine iguanas on Española promise to be a highlight!
Land at Bachas Beach and look for sea lions, marine iguanas, and sharks
Land in the Tintoreras islets and observe resting white-tip reef sharks
Enjoy a relaxing walk on Cormorant Point's green and 'flour sand' beach
Take a meditative break on the basaltic cliffs of Suarez Point
Upon arrival in Baltra, a naturalist guide from the Nemo I greets you and transfers you to the harbor. Then, take a dinghy to the yacht and head to your first stop, Las Bachas in Santa Cruz. These two small beaches are composed of sand made from decomposed coral, making it soft and a favorite nesting place for sea turtles. Walk to a brackish water lagoon, where you may find flamingos, black-necked stilts, and whimbrels.
Start your day with a dinghy ride to Las Tintoreras, a small bay on an islet, to observe a colony of white-tipped sharks along with many other marine animals, including sea turtles, sea lions, rays, and marine iguanas. Las Tintoreras is one of Isabela's most beautiful spots for sightseeing and relaxing. The rocky shoreline with its intertidal life attracts Sally Lightfoot crabs, lava herons, and occasional Galapagos penguins. Galapagos sea lions occupy the sand beach and complete this stereotypical Galapagos image.
In the afternoon, tour the Arnoldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center, where you can visit about 300 tortoises of all ages and sizes. Isabela is the only island in the world that has 5 different species of giant tortoises. Visit the native botanic garden of this breeding center. It also attracts colorful songbirds such as yellow warblers, Darwin’s finches, and Galapagos and vermillion flycatchers. Finally there is no greater counterpart to the cumbersome tortoises as the graceful American flamingos that frequently filter the saline waters of the adjacent lagoon for shrimp and algae.
Spend the morning exploring Cormorant Point and Devil´s Crown on the gorgeous island of Floreana. Cormorant Point is home to the best and one of the largest flamingo lagoons in the Galapagos, as well as to many other shorebirds. After observing the wildlife and walking along the very distinct "Green Beach" and "Flour Sand Beach", head towards Devil´s Crown for some great snorkeling surrounded by colored tropical fish, such as yellowtail surgeon fishes, king angelfishes, and many other species. On the seabed you can distinguish resting white-tip reef sharks, different species of ray, and starfishes. A Pacific green turtle or Galapagos sea lion might swim by, and don’t scare when you encounter scalloped hammerhead sharks!
In the afternoon, sail past Post Office Bay and bring your unstamped postcards and post them in the peculiar barrel on this historic site. Together with James Bay (Santiago) this used to be a popular base to complement stocks. Its present barrel commemorates the improvised mail service between British 16th-century whalers and poachers.
After breakfast, walk along the shores of Suarez Point and observe one of the most impressive colonies of sea birds in the Galapagos. Suarez Point is also a massive breeding site for Nazca and blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and red-billed tropicbirds. Blue-footed boobies don’t bother to breed in the middle of the trail. Especially during the food-abundant garúa-season, you can admire amusing courtship dances, mating, breeding, emerging from the eggs, nurturing, or first flight-attempts.
Spent the afternoon relaxing, snorkeling, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Gardner Bay. Admire colorful reef fish, snorkel side-by-side with a Pacific green turtle, or find yourself in the middle of playful Galapagos sea lions. The striking white coral sand beach is an important breeding site for Pacific green turtles. But without doubt its main attraction is the Galapagos sea lion colony.
Because wild Galapagos giant tortoises don’t stop at official National Park boundaries, dozens of them also roam – and even mate – on the adjacent woodlands in the populated agricultural zone of Santa Cruz. Thanks to their concentrations around their favorite muddy pools, these semi-open pastures and moist scalesia-woodlands are the best place for a quick visit. Armed with a rain poncho and (provided) rubber boots you will get good chances to approach wild Galapagos giant tortoises within just a few meters! Their dome-shaped shells characterize the Santa Cruz subspecies. Most of their long lives are spent slowly and silently, except for a warning hiss, or loud screams during mating, which can be heard from afar in the first half of the year. Subsequently, females leave the highlands and descend all the way down to the beaches to dig holes and lay their eggs. It is estimated that in 2015 about 32,000 tortoises lived in the wild on all the islands, mostly in restricted locations of Isabela.
Transfer to Baltra airport for your flight back to Guayaquil or Quito.
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!