ISABELA YACHT - 5 DAYS ITINERARY - NORTHERN ISLANDS

Isabela - Northern Islands 5 days

NORTHERN ISLANDS

(Thursday - Monday) 5 Days / 4 Nights

Our journey begins with giants, of the tortoise kind. After landing at Baltra airport, we will soon be among these lumbering creatures in their natural, highland habitat. The next day takes us to the beautiful coast of Santiago Island, home to sleepy fur seals and where there’s a chance to snorkel alongside marine iguanas, before an afternoon visit to the sandy beach of Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat Islet). Overnight we sail up to “Bird Island”, Genovesa, where we spend the entire day enjoying its remote colonies of nesting birds, including the rare red-footed booby, and explore its cliffs, shoreline, and beaches. Returning to the central islands, Santa Fe offers glimpses of the islands’ top avian predator, the Galapagos hawk, while in the afternoon, we can hope to observe sea lions and sharks in the waters off South Plaza. From tortoises to boobies, hawks to sea lions, our northern itinerary makes for a truly memorable 5 days in the Galapagos.

ROUTE:

DAY BY DAY ITINERARY:

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Day 1 - Santa Cruz Island

Baltra Airport and Santa Cruz Island     
After landing at Baltra Airport, we drive to the Itabaca Channel to take a ferry across to Santa Cruz Island. A 30-minute bus ride takes us up to the fascinating, more humid Highlands of the island where we’ll learn about its unique ecosystems and biodiversity. Lunch is served at a local restaurant.

Highlands of Santa Cruz Island 
After lunch, we drive to a nearby reserve that is one of the best places in the archipelago to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The tortoises are easy to spot, lumbering around, munching on grass and leaves and wallowing in small pools. There are several lava tunnels to explore in the reserve, too. A short bus ride takes us down to Puerto Ayora to board Yacht Isabela II.
 

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Day 2 - Santiago Island & Chinese Hat Islet

Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)
Following a wet landing on a black, sandy beach, our trail takes us to enjoy close-up encounters with recently-reintroduced land iguanas, plus land and marine birds amid a landscape of tuff-stone layers, craggy rocks, and lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds. We can also observe a colony of fur seals, usually dozing in the shade of some rocks.

Chinese Hat Islet
This islet, formed only fairly recently, makes a beautiful afternoon visit as we explore the wildlife along its 1,312 ft long (400 m long) trail, which begins at a crescent-shaped, white sandy beach. The cove offers excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities amid white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos penguins.

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Day 3 - Genovesa Island

Prince Philip’s Steps (Genovesa Island)           
The day kicks off with a panga ride along the cliffs of “Bird Island”, as Genovesa is affectionately nicknamed, followed by a landing at a steep staircase which connects us with a flat plateau. From here the trail winds its way through large colonies of Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds, and storm petrels. With luck, we’ll be able to spot the short-eared owl. Those who do not wish to disembark can enjoy a longer panga (inflatable dinghy) ride along the cliffs, weather conditions permitting. Snorkeling and kayaking activities are available.

Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island)
We land after lunch at the beautiful white beach of Darwin Bay.  Here we walk amid literally hundreds of birds, most of which are frigatebirds, red-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as gulls, herons, finches, and mockingbirds.

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Day 4 - Santa Fe & South Plaza Islands

Santa Fe Island
We take the dinghy over to this idyllic sandy-white beach populated by colonies of sea lions. Galapagos hawks are often easily observed, perched atop salt bushes. The Santa Fe land iguana may be spotted during our exploration. Following the walk, we can snorkel and swim along a natural wave barrier or ride the glass-bottom boat.

South Plaza Island

Following lunch and a rest, we disembark (dry landing) in this channel, whose turquoise waters contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. Beyond, a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop. Along the coastline we find sea lion colonies, while frigates, swallow-tailed gulls and shearwaters glide, playing with the thermals.

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Day 5 - Baltra Island

Our journey ends at Baltra Island where we transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.

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