Arrival at Baltra Island Airport
Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz Island.
Prepare to be welcomed ashore by a stunning white sand beach which is known as a popular nesting site for turtles. You will surely be guaranteed to see an array of vibrant red Sally Lightfoot crabs and hermit crabs and may even be lucky enough to spot some flamingos in the lagoons behind the beach. The remnants of a rusted barge, that was likely to have been abandoned by the Americans during WWII, also provide an insight into the human history of the island.
Darwin Bay, Genovesa Island
Arrive at this horse-shoe shaped island and step ashore the white sand and coral beach that was formed by a submerged volcanic crater. This is an ideal place to snorkel in calm, sheltered waters amongst hammerhead sharks, rays and a plethora of colorful reef fish. A short trail leads past a tidal lagoon and mangroves, home to a variety of land bird species, including Nazca and red-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. The top of the craggy hill provides the perfect viewpoint to pause and look down on the bay below.
Prince Philip’s Steps, Genovesa Island
Begin your expedition at the bottom of the rocky stairway where you may be lucky enough to spot a small colony of seals. As you ascend the steep steps up the 25-meter cliff face, be sure to look out for the sea life nestled in the crevices and flocks of storm petrels, short-eared lava owls, and Galapagos Doves. Catch your breath at the top and take in the dramatic view before continuing along a rocky lava plateau that is a popular nesting spot for red-footed boobies and frigates.
The Twins, Santa Cruz Island
Although volcanic activity here ceased long ago, the island’s geological features provide an insight into its history and formation. A trail will lead you around the rim of two remarkable, almost identical, craters located side by side. The surrounding highlands are lush with ferns and Scalesia trees and are home to mockingbirds, Bahama ducklings, white-cheeked pintail duckling, and Darwin finches. Nearby you will also have the unique opportunity to walk through some of the extraordinary underground lava tubes, which have been carved out by molten lava.
Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island
As a result of a relatively recent volcanic eruption, Sullivan Bay is covered in unusual black rope-like formations of cooled lava with small openings known as ‘hornitos’ (literally meaning ‘little ovens’), caused by the release of pressure built up under the surface. Despite the seemingly hostile environment, you will still find many Sally Lightfoot crabs, marine iguanas and to end up the day snorkeling with sea lions and penguins.
Sierra Negra, Isabela Island
As the largest and one of the youngest islands, Isabela Island is still fairly volcanically active. The Sierra Negra is one of the six volcanoes that form the island, and it boasts the second largest caldera in the world, spanning an impressive 9 x 10 km. As you hike or horse ride up to and around the caldera, observe how the landscape changes seamlessly from barren lava fields to forests full of guava trees and revel in the breathtaking views across the island and the neighboring volcanoes.
The Wall of tears,
Breeding Center, Isabela Island
Located just outside Puerto Villamil, the wetlands, comprising of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves, are a paradise for migratory birds such as stilts and flamingos. Next, a visit to the intriguing historical site known as The Wall of Tears built by prisoners between 1945-1959, sheds light on the island’s human history. Finally, a visit to the Breeding Centre provides a rare opportunity to see giant tortoises at all stages of development and find out about the invaluable work that is being carried out to preserve and protect this incredible species.
Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island
This is an exclusive area teeming with wildlife, that is only accessible by dinghy. It is surrounded by a number of islets, where blue-footed boobies and penguins can be sighted on the rocks, and the bay itself features an unusually high and colorful mangrove forest.
The cool, calm waters attract schools of fish and make it a popular place for turtles, rays, sea lions and even sharks to gather, giving rise to a thrilling location for snorkeling and swimming.
Urbina Bay, Isabela Island
Located at the foot of the Alcedo and Darwin volcanoes, the Urbina Bay is a product of a major volcanic uplift that occurred in 1954. As a result, the shore is strewn with corals and remains of marine life. However, in a relatively short space of time, endemic plant species and wildlife have already started to thrive. It will certainly be hard to miss the impressive giant land iguanas (the largest in the Galapagos), but also keep an eye out for Galapagos hawks, giant tortoises and Darwin’s cotton plant.
Tagus Cove, Isabela Island
Known to have been a popular anchorage site since the 1800s, here you will be able to see where the names of ships have been carved into the rocks, providing an intriguing historical record. A scenic trail will lead you around Darwin Lake, and if you choose to continue up to the top of the hill you will be rewarded with a majestic view back over the crystal clear waters of the lagoon; an unmissable photo opportunity.
Espinoza Point, Fernandina Island
This untouched area of natural beauty is home to a booming population of iguanas and is known as a key nesting site for flightless cormorants. The combination of beautiful beaches and mangroves contrasted with the stark black lava flows create a memorable landscape.
This is also one of the best locations to see the remarkably resilient lava cactus. To top it off, you will find several good diving spots where you can be entertained by the fearless and playful sea lions and penguins.
Espumilla Beach, Santiago Island
The name Espumilla, literally meaning ‘meringue’, refers to the dream-like trail of foam left by the waves that lap this picturesque white sand beach. Here you will encounter an abundance of the brightly colored Sally Lightfoot crabs, which attract predatory birds such as hawks, herons and pelicans. This peaceful setting on the northern coast of Santiago island provides an unmissable opportunity for snorkeling and swimming amongst a raft of marine life, including species of octopi, eels, and sharks.
Buccaneer Cove, Santiago Island
Buccaneer Cove was frequented over the centuries by pirates, buccaneers, and whalers. Now, it is an important nesting site for turtles and is also popular with sea lions and sting-rays. Intriguing formations in the rocks, caused by erosion, can also be observed.
The arid Rabida island is characterized by steep volcanic hills and a red sand beach. The surrounding salt bush is home to nesting pelicans, and common stilts and flamingos can be seen feeding at the lagoon. Inland, keen birdwatchers can also observe mockingbirds, yellow warblers and Darwin finches.
This small, sandy islet, located between Baltra and North Seymour, is known for its untouched beauty. Bird watchers can delight in seeing a plentitude of shorebirds such as lava gulls herons, and you will be sure to see a number of sea lions lounging on the beach and Sally Lightfoot crabs clinging to the rocks. With no fixed trail on the island, you can do a bit of exploring or jump into the water for a snorkel for a chance to lay eyes on some sharks, turtles, and rays.
Departure from Baltra Island Airport