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Saturday, 20 July 2019
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ITINERARY C- The Western Island Loop

ITINERARY C- The Western Island Loop
DAY 1
Baltra

You land on the island of Baltra and you are met by Encantada yacht staff and drive from the island
of Baltra to the Itabaca canal where the Encantada is waiting. We board the yacht, settle in to our
cabins and enjoy lunch. Then it’s a short ride to the north side of Santa Cruz Island for a wonderful
hike at Dragon Hill.


Dragon Hill
This is one of the longer trails in the Galapagos and offers a good variety of flora and fauna. We hike
to the top of a small hill, past a brackish lagoon where there may be flamingos and pintail ducks and
walk along a trail where we encounter our first land iguanas. We return to the boat to enjoy sunset
over the Galapagos. Then, in the night, we begin our voyage across the sea towards Isabela Island.


DAY 2
Tintoreras Islet

Isabela is the largest of the Galapagos Islands and also one of the youngest, so there is still volcanic
activity. The most recent eruption was in October of 2005. We anchor in the harbor of the small
town of Puerto Villamil and take a dinghy a short distance to Tintoreras island. The island is a stark,
rocky place with sharp volcanic rocks that shelter hundreds of marine iguanas. We walk along a
narrow trail and peer into a small lagoon filled with white-tipped reef sharks. Further along the trail
we are likely to see sea lions lounging and perhaps a Galapagos penguin or two. We have time to
snorkel near the island and then return to the Encantada for lunch.


Wall of Tears
After lunch we head into the small town of Puerto Villamil, a fishing village with sand streets and a
laid-back feel. Our destination is outside of town to a place called the Wall of Tears. From 1945 to
1959 there was a penal colony here and part of the forced labor program was constructing a huge
wall some 65’ high. It’s an interesting part of the human saga of life on the Galapagos Islands. From
here we head to a nature trail that takes us to an inland lagoon with mangroves and shallow water
creating the perfect habitat for various birds including flamingos, common stilts, gallinules, pintails
and whimbrels.


Tortoise Breeding Center
The trail ends at one of the Galapagos National Park tortoise breeding centers where the local
ranger explains the mission of the center and their success in helping increase the tortoise
population on Isabela. 


DAY 3
Moreno Point

We wake up near Elizabeth Bay and Moreno Point on the west side of Isabela Island and go ashore
for a hike through a lava rock landscape. The mix of mangroves and tide pools make for an area rich
in life and diversity. We see a number of birds, sea turtles and perhaps white-tip sharks and
flightless cormorants as we explore.


Elizabeth Bay
After lunch on the boat we had to nearby Elizabeth Bay that has a number if islets that we visit by
dinghy. There are penguins and blue-footed boobies along with other birds and sealife.


DAY 4
Espinoza Point

We arrive early at Fernandina island, the youngest and furthest west of all the Galapagos Islands.
Fewer boats make it this far and it’s the least-visited of all the Galapagos Islands. For some,
Fernandina is the highlight of the trip as there are literally thousands of marine iguanas, along with
almost incredulous numbers of other animals. We land to walk along a lava trail on Punta Espinoza.
Wildlife sightings include the flightless cormorant, hawks, tortoises, herons of varying species, crabs,
Sea lions (of course) and more! Because it is so remote, this is the most pristine of all the Galapagos
Islands and no species of mammals were ever introduced here.


Tagus Cove
After lunch on the boat we cruise a short distance to Tagus Cove on Isabela Island. This cove has
been used as a sheltered anchor point for ships since the 1800s. We disembark for a hike to one of
the most spectacular views found anywhere in the Galapagos. At the end of our hike we’re perched
on a cinder cone with views down to Darwin Lake, a small saline lake within a volcanic tuff cone.
Along the way we’re likely to see Galapagos hawks and flightless cormorants. We return to the
Encantada to watch the sunset and with any luck, perhaps see some dolphins and whales. The water
in this area is some of the coldest in the Galapagos, coming from cold Antarctica and bringing rich
nutrients. These in turn feed a wide variety of wildlife including the Galapagos penguin which is
more numerous in this area than anywhere else in the islands and is a big reason our chances of
seeing whales near here are better than in many other parts of the islands.


DAY 5
Egas Port

We wake up at Santiago Island and Egas Port, also known as James Bay. British buccaneers came to
this bay to anchor in the 1600’s and later and found it a good source of firewood, water, tortoises
and salt. Indeed our anchorage is near the old salt mine of Puerto Egas. No people live here now of
course, but there are sea lions and brown pelicans among other creatures that offer welcome. We
walk along a lava shoreline with marine iguanas basking, land iguanas saunter along and Sally
Lightfoot crabs scatter from us. Then we walk about an hour along a dusty trail through of scattered
forest of Palo Santo trees. We ascend to the edge of a crater with wonderful views of a salt lake andmine below us. Upon our return to the water’s edge there’s time for snorkeling to see a wide variety
of tropical fish and perhaps some playful sea lions.


Espumilla Beach
We return to the boat for lunch, then head to Espumilla Beach, an excellent snorkeling location.
Hundreds of Sally Lightfoot crabs live here, providing food for herons and other shorebirds. While
snorkeling you may see eagle rays, eel and reef sharks.


Bucanero Cove
We continue to Buccaneer Cove, a favorite of the pirates and a place with steep cliffs and many
birds.


DAY 6
Daphne

We pass by Daphne Island where Peter and Rosemary Grant have done important research relative
to Darwin’s finches (we highly recommend you read the book “The Beak of the Finch”) and then
head to the Itabaca channel.
Here we say good-bye to our yacht crew and head to the airport on Baltra to fly back to Guayaquil or
Quito. 

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