THE BEST WAY TO VISIT GALAPAGOS!
"The species that survive are not the strongest, nor the fastest, nor the smartest; but those that adapt better to change."- Charles Darwin
|Sunday||Baltra - North Seymour|
Chinese hat - Bartholomew
|Tuesday||Genovesa: Darwin Bay - Prince Phillips Steps|
|Wednesday||Puerto Egas - Rabida|
|Thursday||Darwin Station - Santa Cruz Highlands|
|Friday||Spanish: Playa Gardner - Pta. Suárez|
|Saturday||Santa Fe - South Plaza|
|Sunday||Black Turtle Cove - Baltra|
Baltra Island is the only island of all the Galapagos which is completely outside of the National Park Area. From 1941 to 1948 the Baltra airport was built and used as a base for the United States Air Force in the Pacific during the Second World War. The airport and the port are now Ecuadorian military territory. Unfortunately, both military presences have left their traces.
The flight from Guayaquil to Galápagos lasts 90 minutes. Upon arrival at the airport, visitors first have to pay the entrance fee of US $ 100 for the National Park. When leaving the Arrivals Hall, the National Park Guide will be waiting and will accompany the visitors to the Baltra port, where they anchor their "Yacht Angelito I". The cruise can begin!
This island was created thanks to the elevation of a submarine lava formation, near Baltra Island. The island was named after an English noble named: Lord Hugh Seymour (superior officer of the British Royal Navy). The whole island is covered by low and dense vegetation.
The arrival to the rocky coast is full of surprises with sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls, sally-lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas. The trail leads through the nesting area of Blue-footed Boobies and Magnificent Frigatebird colonies.
This Island is located between Santiago Island and Santa Cruz Island. It is called "Chinese Hat" for its shape. The island has an incredible view, since its beach is coral white.
While you visit "Chinese Hat" you can find fragile lava formations such as pipes, splashes and cones; You can also see sea lions, marine iguanas, lizards, shorebirds and some penguins.
This is one of the youngest islands, it is located near Santiago Island and it was named after the naturalist Sir James Sulivan Bartholomew. Bartolomé has a path that leads to the summit of the island where you can appreciate its magnificent landscape, and that of two neighboring islands Santiago and Sullivan Bay. Thanks to all the petrified lava you can see flows and lava tubes that mimic a lunar landscape.
You also have the possibility to dive around Pinnacle Rock, the famous natural peak on the island. At the end of the afternoon, the tour extends by boat along the coast to observe the Galapagos Penguins, who live and nest in the lava tubes.
GENOVESA ISLAND/ GREAT DARWIN BAY
The Great Darwin Bay is part of Genovesa Island, a horseshoe-shaped island. The Bay is surrounded by several cliffs. The small beach that surrounds it has white coral sand, and a trail with coastal vegetation of red mangrove and the special prickly cactus that grows in Genovesa (often as a hanging cactus with only hairy and soft spines).
In the beach you can also find nests of Swallow-tailed gulls, in the bushes and trees there are countless nests of Red-footed boobies, Magnificent frigate birds, several Nazca boobies and at low tide thousands of fiddler crabs. The same path leads you to small tide pools and to a cliff with a spectacular view of the caldera.
PRINCE PHILIP'S STAIRCASE
Also called "the paradise of birds" this is another location belonging to Genovesa. The first trail offers the wonderful possibility of climbing the steep basaltic cliff, the next trail will lead you to a small colony of nests of Boobies, the trail crosses the dense forest of Palo Santo trees where one can find another large colony of Red-footed boobies and on the side of the trail you can see a colony of Nazca Boobies.
When you reach the edge of the island you can see thousands of Petrels nesting in the cracks, and in the tubes of the fragile lava. These birds are the favorite food for the Short-eared Owls.
Also known as South James Bay, this spot is located to the South of Santiago Island, this is one of the most popular islands since in the past it was a zone of high volcanic activity.
Puerto Egas sports a wide variety of animals such as: sea lions, land iguanas, lizards, marine iguanas, sally lightfoot crabs, herons and several migratory shorebirds that come during the winter. You can also visit the black sand beach.
Formerly called Jervis Island, Rábida is located between Santiago Island and Isabela. This island is characterized by the sand of the beach that presents a reddish color due to the high iron content of the lava.
On this island you can find recovering colonies of sea lions, a small saltwater lagoon with flamingos and White-cheeked ducks.
SANTA CRUZ ISLAND/ CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION
The visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station provides the opportunity to learn about the scientific work that is taking place in the National Park. Especially the breeding programs for the different subspecies of the giant tortoises. It is also a perfect opportunity to observe the Galapagos Turtles, emblematic reptile of the islands.
In the Van Straiten exhibition hall, there is great documentation about the Galapagos Islands with photos and diagrams. The vegetation you can see is green and lush, plus you can find many of Darwin's finches that are easy to spot.
HIGHLAND SANTA CRUZ
By bus you can reach the highest part of the volcanic island. In a short time you can see the transition between the different vegetation zones from the arid zone to the Scalesia area (and the agricultural area). This area suffers significant problems due to the introduction of non-endemic fauna and flora.
The island is a dormant volcano, it is estimated that its last eruption was 1,500,000 years ago. One of its natural attractions is two huge cavities called "Los Gemelos", part of a magma chamber.
The reserve "El Chato": exhibits the magnificent Giant tortoises in their natural habitat, it also allows to watch several endemic birds. The reserve is located in the highlands of Santa Cruz.
Hood is the oldest island of the Galapagos Archipelago. It is 14 million years old. Due to its geographical isolation, you can find a large number of endemic species on the island, which makes it one of the most appealing. The Galapagos albatross comes exclusively to Hood island to reproduce during the months of April to December.
On this island the most popular places are Bahía Gardner and Punta Suárez, both attractive for their beauty in flora and fauna.?
The Gardner Bay of Galápagos, is located to the north of Hood Island, has a great beach of white coral sand, with calm turquoise waters perfect for diving. The US Internet portal CNN published a list of the one hundred best beaches in the world placing Gardner in 18th place.
The Bay has a great variety of endemic species, some unique in the world, such as: Sea lions, three species of Darwin's finches, lava lizard and a red marine iguana.
Punta Suarez is to the west of Hood Island, its terrain is stony and rocky due to the basaltic lava rocks which makes the path difficult.
From the moment of their arrival, visitors can find the endemic colorful Hood marine Iguana, Galapagos sea lions, the Hood mockingbird, which often approaches visitors. You can also observe nesting colonies of Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Spanish Lava Lizards and Albatross.
You can rest near the cliff, a perfect opportunity to observe the different seabirds along the coast.
This island is considered one of the oldest, it is in the center of Galapagos Islands. Its vegetation is characterized by the presence of a dense forest of Giant Cactus and Palo Santo species, there are several coastal cliffs where Seagulls and Petrels live.
There is a path that takes you directly to a sea lion colony, and to a second beach. Only very attentive visitors can observe the terrestrial Iguana, which, due to its colors, perfectly camouflages itself in the vegetation.
It is located in front of Santa Cruz Island, it is a small island that rises on a cliff 25 meters high, its name comes from the former Ecuadorian President Leonidas Plaza. This island is one of the most popular among domestic and foreign tourists for its beauty in fauna and flora.
On the banks with a steep slope of the beach you can see several birds such as: Swallow-tailed gulls. Another very important attraction is the thick vegetation, which depending on the season changes its intense green color to orange in the rainy season and purple in the dry season. In addition to the great variety of Cactus, colonies of land Iguanas of Galapagos and a large colony of Galapagos sea lions.
You can walk along the steep banks or enjoy the beautiful view from the cliff.
BLACK TURTLE COVE
Caleta Tortuga is a mangrove sanctuary located north of Santa Cruz Island. A short distance from the arrival the engines of the boat are turned off and paddled by the waters to observe the sea turtles, rays, pelicans and other wild animals who live in the mangroves.
The island is an ideal place to rest for underwater life because of the shallow water. You can often see white sharks, white-tip reef-sharks, young Galapagos sharks, spotted eagle rays and golden rays.
At the end of the cruise, passengers leave the Angelito again in the port of Baltra and their guide takes care of everything until he flies back to the mainland.