DAY 1 (Friday): Baltra Airport & Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach
AM: Flight to Galapagos from Quito Airport.
Upon arrival at San Cristobal travelers pass through an airport inspection point to ensure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands and to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless prepaid), and $10 for the required INGALA card. Guides will meet you, collect your luggage, and escort you on the short bus ride to the harbor. Motorized rafts, called “pangas,” will transport you to the M/C Anahi and the crew will welcome you onboard. After departure and lunch, the first island visit is made.
PM: Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz Island
These two small beaches are found to the west of Turtle Cove. Their sand is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white and soft, making it a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there is a small brackish water lagoon, where occasionally it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. The other beach is longer, and has two old barges that were abandoned during the WWII when the United States used Baltra Island as a strategic point to protect the Panama Canal. (Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 2 (Saturday): Genovesa Island: Darwin’s Bay & El Barranco
AM: Darwin Bay
This bay originated when the island’ crater collapsed and submerged. The wet landing is on a beautiful white coral sandy beach. This is a favorite island for birdwatchers, who stand a great chance of seeing red footed-boobies, masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels, yellow- and black-crowned lava herons, and yellow warblers.
Continuing on the trail, visitors climb gradually to the edge of the cliff to observe Red-Foots nesting in the Mangrove trees below. Bird watching includes sightings of sharp-beaked finches, large cactus and ground finches, Galapagos doves, and swallow-tailed gulls. Reaching the end the trail at the cliff’s edge offers an incredible view of the island and the many birds living there.
PM: El Barranco
The visitor site of El Barranco is located in the southern part of Darwin Bay on Genovesa Island. The 1.5-kilometer trail is on volcanic rock and the tour can be done in about 2 hours. The youngest area of the island, from a geological point of view, is found in this area. The cliffs located in the south are composed of very fragile lava. The natural erosion that has occurred in these lava flows has become the ideal place for nesting Storm petrels. You can see two species of petrels that nest in cavities and holes in the lava. One of its main predators is the short-eared owl. The red-footed booby, which nests only in these outer islands of the archipelago, can be found here as well as Punta Pitt, and Gardner (Floreana) and Wolf islands. Also present on this island is the masked booby. During the panga rides along the cliffs fur sea lions can be seen along with several species of seabirds. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 3 (Sunday): Plazas Island & Santa Fe Island
Plazas is located at the east of Santa Cruz Island, and forms part of two islands known as Islas Plazas. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the Galapagos are found here. The Plazas land iguanas are smaller than its relatives found on other islands. Throughout the island are several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a male marine iguana and a female land iguana. The hybrids are unique, recognizable at first glance by their black/gray color, but with a land iguana’s crest and the face and tail of the marine iguana. The big population of iguanas is due to the presence of tuna, their favorite food. Swallow-tailed gulls nesting in the rugged cliffs are seen along with other sea birds such as Audubon shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and brown pelicans.
PM: Santa Fe
Located in the southeastern part of the Galapagos, this island was formed from an uplift rather than volcanic activit6y, which is why it is mostly flat. Some theories suggest this could be the oldest island in the Archipelago. Santa Fe is the home of a number of endemic species like the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, Galapagos mockingbird, rice rats, and one of the two species of land iguanas of the islands. After disembarking in the beautiful and clear waters you will be in contact with one of the many sea lion colonies. Along the trail the rampant vegetation includes salt bush and giant prickly pear cactus; gigantism is a characteristic of oceanic islands. There are great possibilities of snorkeling with playful sea lions and tropical fishes. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 4 (Monday): San Cristobal Island: Pitt Point & Kicker Rock & Lobos Island
AM: Pitt Point
This place is on the north of San Cristobal, the home of endemic species such as lava lizards and red-footed boobies. The view is impressive when you walk to the high part of the island.
You may be lucky to come across the infrequently seen red-footed booby but also the Chatham mockingbird, found only on San Cristobal Island.
PM: Kicker Rock
Also known as the Sleeping Lion because of the resemblance, it is located of the coast of San Cristobal. A lava cone eroded by the sea, the two vertical rocks rising 500 feet from the ocean form a small channel that is navigable by small boats. This Galapagos Islands natural monument has become a favorite sight for cruises due to the reliability of seeing many tropical birds, frigates, and boobies that fill the surrounding air.
Beneath the sea the nearly crystal waters offer a brilliant show of colorful tropical fish and invertebrates.
Isla Lobos is about an hour by boat from Port Baquerizo Moreno. The 850-meter trail takes about an hour to walk, along which you can see nesting blue-footed boobies and common frigate birds. You can observe the two species of sea lions living in the archipelago. During the tour you go through a dry vegetation zone, a substrate of volcanic rocks and a sandy area. During the panga tour brown pelicans and several species of shorebirds can be observed; although while snorkeling it is common to see juvenile sea lions, manta rays and sea turtles. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 5 (Tuesday) San Cristobal Island: Interpretation Center, Tijeretas Hill & Airport
AM: Interpretation Center.
The Interpretation Center’s lush gardens and sweeping ocean views are a strong contrast to the 1960s-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.
Called Tijeretas for the common name of frigates, it is located within walking distance of Port Baquerizo Moreno. The loop is 3.5 miles and estimated travel time is 2 hours. There are many vistas where you can appreciate the beautiful scenery and also an inlet where you can snorkel. It is one of the only places where you can watch the two species of frigate birds nesting in the same colony.
After visiting this amazing place you will be taken to the airport for your return flight to the mainland. (Breakfast)