Upon arrival in Baltra your tour guide will met you there and transferred to Santa Cruz Island across the Itabaca Cannal on a 5 minute’s ferry boat ride Once on Santa Cruz, another vehicle will be waiting for you to take you for a tour in the highlands looking for giant tortoises in the wild. This will imply a walk through dirt trails and grassland. Water and lunch will be available at one of these private properties before heading down to the town of Puerto Ayora for a visit of the Charles Darwin Scientific Research Station. You will have some free time to stroll through town for a couple of hours at leisure. Based on the itinerary, you should be prepared for the activities of the day for which we suggest you to wear comfortable walking shoes, light clothes (preferably cotton), T-shirts or shorts as per your personal preference, and depending on the season, a light windbreaker in case it is misty during your excursion through the highlands.
** Please be aware that timing or sequence of visits might be altered depending on arrival of flights, force of nature or other unexpected conditions beyond our control.
Plazas Island: It is situated off the east coast of Santa Cruz. You will alight at South Plaza via a dry landing. The island has one of the largest populations of land iguanas in the archipelago and can be observed feeding on the prickly pear cactus. There are also iguanas that are a cross between the marine and land varieties. Along the sea cliffs frigate birds, shearwaters, brown pelicans and masked boobies may be seen. You may snorkel from the beach where turtles, sharks and other fish are found.
Santa Fe Island: Here you will enjoy one of the most beautiful coves of all the visitor sites in the region, a turquoise lagoon protected by a peninsula of rocks and small islands that extends from the shore. The Santa Fe species of iguana are a brighter yellow colour and have uncommonly large spikes on their spine. The opuntia cactus, a favourite food of the land iguana, grows unusually tall here, up to 33 feet high and are the largest of their kind in Galapagos. Manta rays and sea turtles may be seen against the sandy bottom of Santa Fe’s beautiful anchorage.
Cerro Brujo (San Cristobal Island) is located just up the coast on San Cristobal Island. You will have the chance to stretch your legs on the beach, perhaps go for a swim and there is a usually a small population of sea-lions and seabirds.
El Junco Lagoon (San Cristobal Island) is one of the few permanent fresh water lakes in the Galapagos. It is located at an altitude of 700 metres, about 45 minutes by road from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. On your way to El Junco Lagoon you will pass different vegetation zones, before you reach the panoramic site, where the bird watching is exceptional as well as the view.
Gardner Bay (Española Island): Disembark at a white coral beach where you can take a short walk and watch the sea lions, mockingbirds and finches enjoy the beach. There is great snorkelling in this area.
At Punta Suarez (Española Island), take a walk along the lava terrain to visit its sea bird colonies, including the waved albatross (May – December), masked and blue footed boobies. Waves crash onto jagged cliffs and the famous blowhole shoots water up to 30 metres in the air.
Punta Cormorant & the Devil’s Crown (Floreana Island): Disembark by wet landing at Punta Cormorant on the green sand beach for an easy walk to see the flamingos that inhabit a brackish-water lagoon, and other birds like ducks, stilts, sandpipers, etc. The walk continues to the white sand Flour Beach on the other side of the point. The nearby Devil’s Crown is widely considered to one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos. The eroded remains of a completely submerged volcano and home to sea lions, eagle rays and sea turtles. Please note that the water can be rough and the current can be strong here.
Post Office Bay (Floreana Island): Wet landing at the historical Post Office Bay to learn about the human side of the islands, its early inhabitants and the adventures of pirates and whalers. The first “post” service was established by early whaling ships in the late 1700’s and the tradition has continued down the years since. There is also the remains of a Norwegian Fishing Village a commercial fishing operation established in 1926 and abandoned a couple of years later.
The north shore of Santa Cruz hosts Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill). A dinghy ride among mangrove-lined islets allows the observation of the dramatic landscape and coastline, an area of amazing past volcanic activity. While exploring the nearby waters, various types of birds can be seen, such as boobies, frigates, and pelicans. Quite commonly, the black lava will reveal the presence of marine iguanas. The navigation in shallow turquoise coloured water gives the chance to see marine turtles, rays and sharks. Make a dry landing for a walk that includes a brackish water lagoon frequented by greater flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks and a variety of shore and lagoon birds.
Further along the trail, head to Dragon Hill, which offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. This area is a natural nesting site of a large number of land iguanas, which is constantly monitored and assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The arid-zone vegetation can be a rewarding location for bird watching, where Darwin’s finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, the endemic Galapagos flycatcher, and yellow warblers are regular sightings.
The Sullivan Bay (Santiago Island) lava field shows a variety of interesting patterns, the shapes and textures of trees, which once existed there and hornitos caused when pockets of gas or water trapped under the lava exploded. The Sullivan Bay lava is known a pahoehoe , Hawaiian for rope. This thin-skinned lava’s molten material cools down after an eruption causing the surface materials to buckle creating a rope like appearance. Pahoehoe lava is rare in the rest of the world, but is common to the volcanoes of Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands. In the 100 years since the last major lava flow little in the way of fauna has returned except the lava cactus.
El Barranco (Genovesa Island) is a low-lying volcano rising just above the ocean surface in the north eastern part of the archipelago. The variety and number of birds found here are incredible. After entering Darwin’s Bay via a narrow channel you will take a zodiac ride along the rocky caldera walls observing the many seabirds who choose to nest here. Frigate birds, red-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and storm petrels all breed here by the thousands. A steep climb up Prince Phillip Steps leads to a flatter trail where you may see masked, blue and red footed boobies. The interior of the island is also home to four types of Darwin finches and short eared owls.
Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island): Afternoon wet landing for an easy stroll observing bird life, mainly frigate birds, red footed and masked boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds. If you wish, you can continue walking over sharp lava and uneven terrain, or go back to the beach to enjoy swimming and snorkelling at this beautiful natural harbour.
Black Turtle Cove (early short visit), Santa Cruz Island: The panga will take you into a tidal lagoon to see three kinds of mangrove plants, red, white and black. White-tipped sharks, spotted rays, mustard rays and Pacific marine turtles frequent the waters here.
Disembark from the Chachalote for the last time.
Transfer out: You will be met and taken to the airport.