Incorporate a Galapagos Islands Cruise to your tailor made tour. South America Travel Centre uses the very best operators in the Galapagos Islands and we can incorporate this Classic Galapagos voyage or a shorter or longer voyage into your tailor made itinerary. Contact us to create your own customised tour.
|Fly from Quito to Baltra Island, commence Galapaogs Islands cruise, Dragon Hill
|Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island and Punta Espinosa
|Santa Cruz Island
|Charls Darwin Research Centre
Post Office Bay, Champion Islet, Punta Cormorant
|Flight to mainland Ecuador
Morning flight from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra Island (Galapagos). Arrive at Baltra in the morning where you will be met by a local representative for transfer to the catamaran where you will commence your Galapagos Islands cruise. You will have some time to settle in before lunch and a welcome briefing.
In the afternoon, visit Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) on Santa Cruz Island. Here you can enjoy a guided walk that passes a brackish-water lagoon frequented by shorebirds, ducks and flamingos before heading inland where beautiful views of the bay and western islands can be enjoyed. Along the trail you may encounter land iguanas.
After breakfast visit Punta Vicente Roca and, since there is no landing site at this location, a coastal exploration is included when your naturalist-guide will explain the dramatic geology of the area with its remains of lava flows and tuff stone layers. This is also the nesting place for flightless cormorants, the only birds in the world that have changed their condition from flying birds to diving birds. Wildlife here also includes sea lions, Galapagos penguins, Blue-footed and Nazca boobies and noddy terns. Depending on the conditions of the ocean, it may be possible to schedule a snorkelling outing along the cliffs of partly-sunken Ecuador Volcano, near the northern tip of Isabela Island. This area has a very rich marine life, and is seasonally visited by green sea turtles and oceanic sun fish (Mola mola).
After lunch, sail on to Fernandina Island, named after King Fernando de Aragón, and disembark for a 1.5km walk. At 642 square km, this island is the third largest and also the most westerly of the Galapagos Islands. The immense shield of the Fernandina volcano provides an impressive backdrop for the landing place of Punta Espinosa, a narrow spit of sand and lava rock. Its black volcanic rocks are draped with hundreds of marine iguanas and are rimmed by a mangrove forest. It is also home for the flightless cormorants, penguins, sea lions and marine turtles.
This morning after disembarking in the main town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, visit the Charles Darwin Research Centre, staffed by international scientists doing biological research and conservation projects. Learn about the conservation and research efforts taking place on the islands, such as the tortoise breeding and hatching programs that are saving several races of tortoises from extinction.
This afternoon you have several options including a trek along trails amid miconia forest in the highlands, home to many elusive birds including the dark-rumped petrel. A mountain bike (mostly downhill) to Garrapatero Beach. Some some kayaking long a beautiful, sandy beach or you can experience sustainable agriculture in an organic coffee plantation.
Today sail to Floreana Island, one of the few populated islands in the Galapagos. Studded with small volcanic cones, Floreana presents a history rich with mystery and intrigue. Take the Pangas (dinghies) to Post Office Bay. Back in the 18th century, sailors passing by set up a barrel in which they would place their mail; later others would drop their own mail whilst retrieving any letters from the barrel which they could deliver to their destination. Today you, too, will have the chance to continue this tradition by posting some of your mail in the barrel.
Enjoy a ride in the glass bottom boat among the maze of channels on the northern side of the island, where you will see colonies of sea lions, marine turtles in shallow waters and occasionally penguins. Make another landing and take a short walk up to Mirador de la Baronesa (Baroness Viewpoint), an impressive lookout named for the self-styled Baroness von Wagner who arrived in the 1930s with her three German lovers, with plans to build a hotel for wealthy yachtsmen. The plans never went beyond the construction of a corrugated tin shack (of which some traces remain) and a year later all members of the party had either died or mysteriously disappeared. Continue cruising around Champion Islet, an extinct shield volcano, regarded as one of the best snorkelling spots in the archipelago.
In the afternoon stop at Punta Cormorant to set foot on the green-sand beach, alive with the sounds of sea lions. Follow a trail to a brackish lagoon, home of pintail ducks, common stilts, and the pinkest flamingos in the world. Wind your way past a rich variety of plants including morning glories, cut leaf daisies, Palo Verde and Scalesia to the other side of the island. Once there, find yourself standing in power-soft ‘flour’ sand – sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand dunes and rays swim in the shallow water beyond the beach. In the afternoon visit nearby Champion Islet which offers great snorkelling.
After breakfast farewell the crew and transfer to Baltra Island Airport for your domestic flight to mainland Ecuador.