San Cristobal island - Puerto Baquerizo capital of the Galapagos Islands
Land Visitor Sites
Situated on the north eastern tip of the island there is a wet landing onto the beach. The trail is a steep climb up a cliff path and starts through a narrow ravine. A number of different birds can be seen here, in particular all three species of boobies. Frigatebirds are present, as are swallow-tailed gulls and storm petrels.
El Junco Lake
This site is reached by road and is about a half hour drive from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The road goes through the small farming settlement of El Progreso. The lake itself is the caldera (collapsed cone) of an extinct volcano and is about 300 metres wide.The name El Junco is Spanish for sedge, which is present along the banks of the lake.
After a ride into the highlands of San Cristobal, you will tour one of the Galapagos National Park's tortoise breeding centers. You can see the giant tortoises in their natural habitat and learn more about their origin and evolution. If you prefer to walk this is a 4-6 hour fairly strenuous hike, but the reward is an excellent opportunity to get a look at a large number of giant tortoises in the wild.
One of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin, Cerro Brujo is a beautiful white sand beach where brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and marine iguanas are all found. An onshore version of nearby Kicker Rocks, Cerro Brujo is a very striking, eroded tuff cone.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the provincial capital of the Galapagos and the second largest settlement area in the islands. It originated as a penal colony more than a hundred years ago. Now a sleepy town overlooking the harbor known for its relaxed attitude.
The beaches near town are one of the few places where visitors are allowed to camp in the islands, the National Park Information Site located just outside of town is happy to provide information. There are a number of hotels and restaurants available for those interested in staying a few extra days in the area to explore some of the local visitor sites.
An Interpretation Center 's new buildings, lush gardens and sweeping ocean views are a strong contrast to the 1960's style buildings at the Charles Darwin Center . Visitors to the Interpretation Center can learn about both the geological and human history of the islands, conservation issues, and natural history. The older Museum of Natural History attempts to preserve the natural history of the islands.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno has one of the island's two airports.
Frigate Bird Hill
At a short distance from the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and close to the interpretation center is Frigate bird Hill.
To reach Frigatebird Hill the trail begins starts just on the road beyond Cabañas Don Jorge. At the end of the road there are two paths one leading through the woods and along Playa Mann Beach and the other up a rocky path. A pleasant journey goes up one way and returns along the other path. The trip to the Hill takes approximately 20-40 minutes. Once there, visitors are treated to a spectacular view of the white beaches on one side and the roofs of Puerto Baquerizo on the other.
The hill is often visited by Frigatebirds, giving it its name. Both Magnificent Frigatebirds and Great Frigatebirds can be seen. The birds are not always present, making it is best to ask park officials as to the best times to see the birds when planning your trip. Here it is possible to see Magnificent Frigatebirds and Great Frigatebirds in the same colony. This is the perfect place to compare and learn to distinguish them.
Located up the hill up the main road from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is El Progreso, a small village, with the original settlement on the island.
About 500 people live in El Progresso which has a rather sordid past. In the mid-1800s a penal colony was established there for prisoners from Ecuador. This was later taken over by Manuel Cobos who treated the convicts as slave laborers and developed a sugar cane and coffee plantation. Unsurprisingly, the convicts murdered Cobos during an insurrection. El Progreso, is the oldest surviving settlement in the Galapagos Islands, established in 1869. Today the town is a sleepy farming community.
El Progreso is easily accessibly by bike (as long as your gears work, as it is uphill!), or a sturdy walk or an inexpensive cab/truck ride.
Nearby El Progreso is La Soledad - a very small settlement not too far beyond El Progreso...not much there except a nice mirador (view point) up above a little church, looking out onto the sea on the southwestern side of the island.
The road that passes by El Progreso takes you to El Junco lagoon.
A short 10 minute bus ride or a nice 30 min. walk south from Puerto Baquerizo is La Lobería. Traveler's frequently note the unusual color of the plants as they near the beach.
La Lobería is home to a large sea lion colony and nursery. There are frequently dozens of sea lions visible at any time. Low tide is one of the best times to visit however, since it is when the mother's bring the pups into the tide pools for swimming lessons.
Here you'll enjoy the sea lions, marine iguanas, bird watching, and even Galapagos giant tortoises. You have to always stay on the path and try not to disturb the wildlife!
San Joaquin Hill
Traveling to San Joaquin Hill is best done by bus or by truck. It is important to remember to bring rain gear with you just in case. The journey offers visitors a glimpse of the Galapagos island's many zones and their eco-systems. The summit at nearly 2400 feet (720 m) brings visitors above the tree line.
Lobos Islet is a seasonal nesting location for the blue footed boobie, although the basalt island outcropping is named for the sea lions sometimes present there.
Isla Lobos is located heading up the coast from Wreck Bay and Puerto Baquerizo north of San Cristobal Island also known as Chatham, 1 hour across a small channel. Isla Lobos means ”Sea-Lion Island”, and the name is certainly appropriate because they frolic, leap and make a racket here. It is also a good place for snorkeling.
Ochoa beach is very close to Puerto Baquerizo moreno airport and usually is the first visit on many cruise trips. A small Island just an hour from San Cristobal Island. A subtle introduction to the Galapagos Islands. It is an easy wet landing with a short trail leading to a sand beach good for swimming.
Pelicans and other Galapagos sea birds fly up overhead. There is a small tidal lagoon behind the beach where sea birds can be observed as well as the rare Chatham mockingbird.
This is a great place to practice your snorkelling skills and ask your guide for some tips on how to improve them before taking on the more exciting sites.
Marine Visitor Sites
No landing - marine site
A panga ride around this tuff cone formation gives you the opportunity to see masked boobies, blue-footed boobies, and frigatebirds along the cliffs.
Located about an hour and half to the northeast of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Kicker Rock is remnant of a vertical tuff conformation, abruptly rising almost 500 ft from the ocean. Erosion has split the rock and given it its characteristic shape, which some see as shoe, the origin of the name Kicker Rock. Others see it as a sleeping sea lion or Leon Dormido in spanish.
San Cristobal is geologically one of the oldest islands, reflected by its eroded volcanic peaks in the north and densely vegetated slopes in the south. The town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of Galapagos Province. A bus ride through highland farms brings you to El Junco, the only freshwater lake in Galapagos.
Cruise to spectacular Kicker Rock, or Leon Dormido, the jagged remains of an old tuff cone whose flanks are covered with seabirds.
San Cristobal bears the name of the Patron Saint of seafarers, "St. Christopher" its English name was given after the English nobleman Count Chatham. This 558-sq-km is the fifth largest in the archipelago and has the second largest population.
This island hoasts frigatebirds, sea lions, giant turtles, blue and red footed boobies, tropical birds, marine iguanas, dolphins, swallow-tailed gulls. Its vegetation includes Calandrina Galapagos, Lecocarpus Darwinii, trees such as Lignum Vitae, Matazarna.
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